Newspaper headlines: Paris sieges meet 'bloody end'

One word - "bloody" - stands out from several front-pages headlines about the violence in Paris which concluded with armed police bringing two sieges to an end.

Four hostages and three gunmen were killed, notes the Times. The action brought to a close three days of violence which began with the killing of 12 people during an attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and saw a policewoman shot dead on Thursday.

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The Daily Mirror attacks the gunmen - brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, and their friend Amedy Coulibaly - by focusing on the words they reportedly told negotiators - that they wanted to "die as martyrs". Its headline argues: "Instead they died as vile, pathetic, murderous scum." An editorial comment in the Sun echoes this, saying: "These atrocities were just that: hate incarnate. No God sanctions it... They're not martyrs. They are nothing. Just three swaggering losers who killed unarmed men and women with AK47s."

The roles played by some of those trapped by the gunmen are highlighted by the Daily Mail. One, in the kosher supermarket where Coulibaly shot dead four people before holding 15 more captive, had left a telephone line open so police could listen in, it says. When they heard the gunman start to pray, they made their move. Meanwhile, in a printworks where the Kouachis were holding one man hostage, a graphic designer hid in a box and updated police by phone.

Meanwhile, the Mail also points out that Coulibaly's girlfriend, Hayat Boumeddiene, was reportedly "armed and dangerous", and on the run, after escaping when police stormed the supermarket.


'From Algeria to Finsbury Park'

Much of the focus turns to the radicalisation of the trio who, the Daily Telegraph reports, were friends and members of a network of extremists who would meet in Buttes-Chaumont park in the French capital's 19th arrondissement a decade ago.

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During the early 2000s, some were sent to fight in Iraq but security forces thought they'd dismantled the network in 2005 says the Financial Times. "Police will no doubt now be trying to track down other members of the Buttes-Chaumont network, including the volunteers sent to Iraq," the paper suggests.

As the Times reports, the Kouachi brothers were on the UK terrorism watchlist because of links to an al-Qaeda network that originated in London's Finsbury Park mosque. During spells in prison, both Cherif Kouachi and Coulibaly had reportedly met French-Algerian Djemal Beghal, an extremist said to have links to both the mosque and Osama bin Laden, the paper says.

It was, according to the Independent's Kim Sengupta, "a complex network of dissidents that stretched from Algeria to Finsbury Park". He writes: "Beghal is said to have had a huge influence over a close-knit group of disaffected young Muslims," before quoting one former activist describing him as "charismatic, a very good speaker as well as a good listener. For young men who were confused and angry, he provided answers".


Surveillance debate

Ewen MacAskill, in the Guardian, notes MI5 head Andrew Parker's calls for greater powers to combat extremism. But, pointing to documents published by Wikileaks showing the scale of surveillance, he argues: "The tragic events in Paris should not be used as an excuse for an expansion of the already extensive surveillance powers enjoyed by the intelligence agencies."

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However Max Hastings, in the Daily Mail, says such leaked information has "damaged the security of each and every one of us, by alerting the jihadis and al-Qaeda, our mortal enemies, to the scale and reach of electronic eavesdropping". Suggesting that government spying on bank accounts, phone calls or emails would be less alarming than internet firms' knowledge of users, he backs Mr Parker's case. The writer quotes an intelligence officer saying: "[Electronic monitoring agency] GCHQ gives us the only edge we have got over these people."

Matthew Parris writes in the Times that a balance must be struck. He calls for "a resolution not to be panicked into illiberal surveillance measures, but at least to understand that liberty is not an absolute, and we should be prepared to consider measured proposals to help the state to keep tabs on dangerous people".


Eye-catching headlines

  • "Do ya think I'm seventy?" - the Sun celebrates veteran rocker Rod Stewart's birthday by picturing him with wife Penny Lancaster, 43
  • "My Freudian trip to see the other brother" - Adam Lusher writes in the Independent about meeting Stephen Freud, brother of artist Lucian and broadcaster Clement, who has died aged 93
  • "I'm selling my son to save my daughter" - the Daily Mirror highlights the case of a Chinese mother trying to raise cash to fund cancer treatment for the boy's twin
  • "Secret sorrows of the tea chimps" - In the Daily Express, Adrian Lee tells the "real story" of the animal stars of the PG Tips adverts

Unbearable Baftas?

The Bafta nominations trigger a variety of responses, with the Times saying "scientists of the old school" face a battle for awards.

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That's both a reference to Old Etonian Eddie Redmayne coming up against Harrow alumnus Benedict Cumberbatch for the Leading Actor gong and to the roles for which they are nominated - in biopics of physicist Stephen Hawking and computer scientist Alan Turing respectively.

The Independent notes the British Academy "favoured science over art". It awarded 10 nominations to The Theory of Everything, about Hawking, and nine to the Turing film The Imitation Game, while the biopic of painter JMW Turner failed to pick up a single nomination. For the Guardian's critic Peter Bradshaw, it's "unbearable" that Mr Turner should be overlooked in an Outstanding British Film category "which found room for Paddington".

Meanwhile, others focus on the hopes of British actresses, with the Daily Express highlighting a "thriller" for Rosamund Pike, who was nominated as Leading Actress for her role in the psychological drama Gone Girl. And the Daily Mail wonders whether this will be "the year Keira finally gets her Bafta". Keira Knightley was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as a codebreaker in The Imitation Game.


Hospital sickness

News that Circle, the first private firm to manage an NHS hospital, is pulling out of its contract to run Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire provokes much comment.

The Guardian says that while it would appear "a clear victory for all those who have repeatedly warned that privatisation and profits are incompatible", the truth is more complex. It points out that no NHS bidder "thought the sums could be made to add up" when it came to improving the hospital and paying off its debts.

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For the Daily Mirror, the failure "exposes the political bankruptcy of this government's ideological obsession with selling off healthcare". The Mirror's health editor Andrew Gregory says Circle's insistence it had transformed a "basket case" was contradicted by a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report declaring the hospital "inadequate".

However, the Daily Mail's editorial suggests it's "curious" that Hinchingbrooke was among the first hospitals targeted by the CQC - "one of whose inspectors is a Keep Our NHS Public lobbyist" - under its toughened inspection regime. "At the very least, isn't there a whiff of stitch-up in the air?" it wonders.

And the Sun complains that Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham's attempt to blame the government is "shameful". It argues: "The Tories... signed [the contract] with one of the three private contractors short-listed when he was health secretary... Now - jockeying for position with Red Ed Miliband and fancying his own tilt at the leadership - Burnham styles himself as privatisation's arch-enemy and the lone saviour of the NHS from the rapacious Tories."

Robert Colvile, in the Telegraph, laments the loss of Circle, saying its policy of removing managers and putting doctors in charge initially worked as "mortality rates and waiting times went down; A&E performance and patient satisfaction went up". He adds: "Circle's retreat will make it that much harder for new ideas and new approaches to gain a hearing. That, in the long term, will only make the NHS's problems worse."


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