Newspaper headlines: Police terror threat and PM's Obama 'bromance'

Newspapers continue to ponder the threat to the UK from Islamic extremists in the wake of terror attacks and arrests in Europe.

According to the Guardian, police chiefs are considering handing out extra stun guns to officers. The paper says the threat level to police has risen to "severe" - its highest yet. Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror reports that two suspects shot dead during a series of raids in Belgium had "wanted to snatch a senior police officer or judge from the street and decapitate them".

Describing a "continent on edge", the Independent reports arrests of suspected jihadists in Belgium, France and Germany. Its graphic shows the estimated numbers of citizens from European countries believed to have joined Islamic State extremists in Syria, including 1,400 from France and 600 from the UK.

James Slack, analysing matters for the Daily Mail, says it's impossible for security services to monitor the 300 who are believed to have since returned to the UK. The writer says officials view the most likely forms of attack as the beheading of a "high value" target or mass-stabbing, adding: "Such attacks are fiendishly hard to detect. Trying to buy explosives or an automatic rifle is likely to alert the security services. Grabbing a kitchen knife from a drawer will not."

Meanwhile, the Daily Express says Britain's top anti-terror police officer has warned of an increased threat to the Jewish community in the wake of last week's attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris that saw four people killed. Armed patrols are planned at potential targets, it says.

'Get a room'

While security and combating Islamism were high on the agenda when US President Barack Obama met British Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington, the papers focus on the reaffirmation of the "special relationship" between their countries.

And it's Mr Obama's description of his opposite number as a "great friend" and "outstanding partner" that hits the headlines, with the Sun interpreting the comments as a "bromance". It prints a heart over its photograph of the pair.

Image copyright Reuters

Daily Mail sketchwriter Quentin Letts, in the US capital, detects something similar in the air, writing: "Cue the violins, soften the focus, dim the lights. Get a room, guys!" He continues: "Those with delicate systems may have found the president's extraordinary bigging-up of the prime minister something of a digestive challenge."

Reminding readers that "most Americans have never heard of the supposed special relationship", the Independent's editorial says: "We should not... assume that the transatlantic relationship is quite as buddy-buddy as it was in the Blair era. It is looser, more pragmatic and businesslike now. Good."

Still, reckons Times diplomatic editor Roger Boyes, Mr Cameron's "red carpet treatment in the White House" might "turn out to be the knockout blow in the uneven contest with Ed Miliband to win high-level international plaudits before election day". Both Mr Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have "ducked out" of chances to hear about Labour's foreign policy proposals, he says.

Eye-catching headlines

  • "'I hope you die' - man locked in his body heard mother say" - the Daily Telegraph describes the low point of a man who recovered from a condition which rendered him unable to communicate, aged 12
  • "Corrie Tina's baby chump" - Soap star Tina O'Brien tells the Daily Mirror of her partner's "calamitous efforts" when she went into labour
  • "Batteries included: the train set changing the branch line" - Simon Calder writes in the Independent about a train which charges batteries from overhead lines to power it on non-electrified tracks
  • "What a gold-plated life I picked up at Poundland" the Daily Mail hears from entrepreneur Steve Smith, who set up the store in 1990 and sold it a decade later for £50m

'Last of the Victorians'

According to the Daily Telegraph, she was the "last living link to a golden era". In reporting the death of Ethel Lang, who had been the last surviving person born during the reign of Queen Victoria, the paper uses graphics to chart a "momentous lifetime". It takes in the Wright brothers' first flight, the sinking of the Titanic, two world wars, and both the creation and destruction of the Berlin Wall.

Image caption Ethel Lang was said to be the last person living in the UK born in the reign of Queen Victoria

Recording "Ethel's life in numbers", the Times counts six monarchs, the same number of manned moon landings, 22 prime ministers, 29 Olympic Games and 10 billion births. The Sun remembers the day Mrs Lang was born, saying it cost 1d (one old penny) to post a letter or buy a loaf of bread, 3d to buy the Times, and 2d for a pint of milk.

"Ethel was born into a world unrecognisable today," says the Daily Mirror. "Life expectancy was 47 for a man and 50 for a woman." The Mirror records some of Mrs Lang's memorable birthdays, including her 41st - on which German battleship the Bismarck was sunk. When she turned 55, Anthony Eden's Conservatives were elected, while her 64th birthday saw the death of modern India's founder Jawaharial Nehru, the paper says.

As the Telegraph notes, Isle of Wight resident Gladys Hooper becomes Britain's oldest person. She turns 112 on Sunday.

Rules of the game

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's claim that - when it comes to refereeing - his team are "treated differently" from their rivals in English football's top flight makes several back pages. The Telegraph's Henry Winter describes the Portuguese "returning noisily from his self-imposed silence".

Image copyright Getty Images

Under the headline "you bend the rules", the Daily Mail has both Mourinho and his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger questioning how Manchester City managed to sign striker Wilfried Bony from Swansea City for £25m. This, the paper says, was despite the champions being limited to a £49m net transfer spend by European governing body Uefa for breaking Financial Fair Play regulations.

However, the Daily Mirror reckons the Chelsea man is simply "paranoid".

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher writes in the Mail of his belief that Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal is "very lucky" to be escaping the criticism suffered by his predecessor David Moyes, despite spending more and winning fewer games. However, he reckons one word - "belief" - sums up the different attitude of fans, players and the Old Trafford board, saying the Dutchman has the record to back up people's confidence.

Meanwhile, the Sun is unimpressed that West Brom striker Saido Berahino was allowed to "dodge the media" when prosecutors agreed to him appearing in court three days earlier than scheduled to receive a drink-drive ban. "It makes the public believe the law favours the rich and famous," the paper says, adding that it also sends the message that "celebrity means not having to face the repercussions of your bad behaviour".

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