Pensions 'boost' and 50p fall-out - the papers

There's no let-up in the reaction - much of it apparently unhappy - to Labour's plan to reinstate the 50p top rate of tax in Monday's papers.

The Financial Times and Daily Telegraph both say the business community is warning it could have a seriously detrimental effect on investment in the UK.

Elsewhere, a "pensions revolution" - set to be outlined by the government - is covered in the Daily Mail and the Times. Both say the plans could boost people's contributions, but the latter sounds a somewhat louder note of caution about the possible risks involved.

The Metro, meanwhile, says it has got wind of a World Cup ticket fraud which could see England fans paying far over the odds to see games in Brazil.

Ros Altmann, pensions expert - discussing the papers for the BBC News Channel - said the Independent's story about a "brain drain" from the UK's regions to London comes as no surprise.

"We've got a real boom down in the south and it's sucking people in," she said. "If people who don't live down here haven't got a job... they're going to have a much better chance by moving here."

Mihir Bose, from the London Evening Standard, said the story "emphasises what we've known for a long time - that London is the big centre of our country", and "the recession we've had has further accelerated that".

He added: "I can't see a process by which the other centres can develop. We're not, I don't think, going to become France or Italy, let alone the United States, where you have four or five big cities."

Top rate trumps

The message in many of Monday's papers is that reinstating the 50p tax band would be bad for business.

"In office, Labour fully understood these facts of economic life - which is why the party kept the top rate at just 40p for 12 years," says the Daily Mail.

"In the ruthless global race for investment," writes the Sun, "any self-imposed handicap is madness." The policy is also "a cynical piece of electioneering" done to ensure Labour can say "it's on the side of fairness and the Tories are only interested in helping the rich".

For that very reason, the Independent thinks it's bad economics but good politics - it could help counteract the perception that Labour lacks "a convincing strategy to bring down the deficit" while also chiming well with Labour's "core vote".

But Leo McKinstry, in the Daily Express, doesn't even agree with that. He says "politicians used to maintain that elections must be fought on the centre ground", but the Eds - Balls and Miliband - seem to "think that the fetid bog of class warfare is the most suitable terrain for them".

But there are some supporters of the plan. The Daily Mirror, for one, says: "Fatcats and millionaires parading their personal self-interest as vital to the national economy, including some of Labour's wealthier supporters, are pathetic."

Elsewhere, the Guardian's leader says it is to be "warmly welcomed" and "gives some meaning to otherwise empty words about fair sharing of the pain".

"Decisions on income tax rates are the most symbolic decisions any political party can make to indicate its priorities and values," adds the Financial Times.

Wild weather

Image copyright PA
Image caption The beleaguered village of Muchelney in Somerset has been under water for the best - or worst - part of a month

Lightning, torrential rain, even tornados - the winter weather is back in the papers.

The Daily Mirror says "a freak tornado really made the fur fly", lifting several cats into the air in Chobham, Surrey. Fortunately, the animals were apparently unharmed.

Even the Royal Family didn't escape, with many papers showing the Duke Of Edinburgh, umbrella braced against the wind, as he and the Queen attended church in Sandringham, Norfolk. Nevertheless, "he's a stickler for walking to church on Sundays and yesterday was no exception," comments the Daily Mail.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Sistine strike: Pope Francis releases two doves from his balcony in the Vatican, only for at least one to be attacked by a seagull seconds later

Syria coming home?

Several papers feature pictures of Mohamed and Akram Sebah, reportedly a pair of brothers raised in Britain who travelled to Syria to fight for al-Qaeda and were killed.

Margaret Gilmore, terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute, tells the Daily Mirror "young Muslim men also went to wage jihad in Iraq but relatively few of them returned to Britain". This time though, she says, "more and more are being picked up at our airports by MI5 and counter-terrorism police, who find they are well-trained, radicalised and dedicated." The paper's leader thinks we must be "alert and vigilant" to the risks.

On a different note, the Times uses its editorial column to urge the government to "stop dragging its feet" over Syria's refugees. "The Home Office has been conspicuously callous towards asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan," it says. "This is its chance to make up for it." It thinks Labour's suggestion of letting in 500 refugees would be "a bare minimum, but better than slamming the door in Syria's face".

Beautiful game?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A family narrowly escape from a burning car as they find themselves in the centre of a violent protest in Sao Paolo

Dramatic pictures from Sao Paulo appear in some of Monday's papers of burning cars, furious demonstrators and "Fifa go home" banners.

"Fears of a World Cup 'war' grew last night after thousands of violent protesters tore apart a Brazilian city," writes the Sun. Oliver Harvey, chief feature writer, says that on a visit to the country last year, "protesters told me inequality, corruption and the huge cost of the tournament outweighed their pride in hosting it". He adds: "England fans should prepare for some beautiful Brazilian football - but some ugly scenes on the streets."

"Waving flags, carrying banners and chanting 'there will be no Cup', the demonstrators took to the streets in what the Anonymous Rio protest group billed as the first act in its 'Operation Stop the World Cup' campaign," writes the Guardian.

Ol' blue eyes

Image copyright Other
Image caption Several papers carry a series of images which show how the skull was gradually built up into a human face

"DNA taken from the wisdom tooth of a European hunter-gatherer has given scientists an unprecedented glimpse of modern humans before the rise of farming," says the Guardian. The result of the reconstruction shows the man, who lived in Spain 7,000 years ago, had blue eyes and "was probably lactose intolerant".

In fact, the man, whose bones were found in 2006, "has turned out to be the earliest known person with blue eyes", the Independent reports. It goes on: "It is not clear why blue eyes spread among ancient Europeans. One theory is that the gene could have helped to prevent eye disorders due to low light levels found in European winters, or that the trait spread because it was deemed sexually attractive."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A very happy Stanislas Wawrinka appears in every paper after his Australian Open win

Himmler's heart

A newly released collection of letters from feared SS leader Heinrich Himmler to his family prompts some revulsion in the papers.

They show "the chilling contrast between the public, murderous life of Himmler and the affectionate details of his private, domestic life", says Guy Walters, in the Daily Mail. "The letters reveal Himmler as seemingly able to separate the two sides of his personality."

"'I'm going to Auschwitz. Kisses, your Heini,' was a typically banal reference made about the biggest death camp run by the Nazis," writes the Times, agreeing it was "remarkable" how he "compartmentalised" his life.

"In his own words, Himmler reveals himself as an insecure romantic fantasist who kept his mass murder programme from those closest to him," adds Ben Rossington, in the Daily Mirror.

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