Newspaper review: Kerry's Syria statement pondered


The Guardian describes Monday's statement on Syria by US Secretary of State John Kerry as "powerful" and giving "every impression that the White House is moving towards some form of armed intervention"

The paper says warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, 100 miles from the Syrian coast.

Local residents confirm activity at the airbase is much higher than normal.

The Guardian says it is a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Syrian regime.

It notes any strike is likely to be against the president's elite units because damaging chemical stockpiles would risk releasing more neurotoxins, "potentially causing even more harm than Wednesday's gas attack".

The Daily Mirror reports that a weapons inspector looking for evidence of the suspected chemical attack in Damascus was told of "over 600 canister strikes".

But the former head of Britain's armed forces has urged David Cameron not to attack Syria.

General Sir David Richards - until recently the chief of the defence staff - tells The Sun that missile strikes will do little to alter the course of the civil war.

He says only massive Western intervention would have any effect - and that's something that cannot be contemplated at the moment.

'Devastating critique'

The Times carries a warning that Britain's benefits system is unsustainable, supports the workshy, and risks losing public backing unless ministers tackle the "something-for-nothing" culture.

That is the view of Lord Hutton of Furness, who was appointed by the coalition to oversee an overhaul of public pensions.

He says successive governments have "lost the plot" over the ballooning benefits bill and accuses them of ducking the hard edges that a new system would require.

In its editorial, the Times describes Lord Hutton's conclusions as a "devastating critique" and concludes that a welfare state that is too detached does not deserve to survive.

Maternity discrimination

The Independent leads with research which suggests up to 50,000 women a year who take maternity leave do not return to their old jobs because of discrimination by their employers.

The paper says some are told they cannot do their former jobs part-time and are forced into roles with less responsibility.

It says others are, in effect, constructively dismissed.

The Independent says those women who do return to their old roles sometimes find it harder to get promoted.

The Financial Times says MPs are stepping up the pressure for a break-up of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) amid concerns that it and the Treasury will try to scupper plans for "a good bank-bad bank split".

In a letter to the paper, the cross-party Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards says it is important for all options for the bank's future to be examined.

The FT says RBS and some Treasury officials would be delighted if the current inquiry into the bank's future rejected the split because they think it would be complex and unnecessary.

Mountainside queues

Several papers carry colourful photographs of the parade at the Notting Hill Carnival on Monday.

The Independent writes of one million people flocking to Europe's biggest street party.

But anyone who thought climbing Snowdon on Monday would be a good way to escape the crowds was badly mistaken.

As the Daily Express reports, so many headed to the summit there were queues all down the mountainside.

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