Newspaper headlines: Warnings over defence and health

Warnings over the UK's military and the health service make front page headlines, and there is news from the Olympic Games in Rio.

The Times leads with a leaked British army report that says Russia can outgun the UK on the battlefield, with technology and with propaganda.

According to the Times, the report warned that Russian weapons, including rocket launchers and air defence systems, were more powerful than their British equivalents, giving Russian President Vladimir Putin "significant capability edge".

A planned £3.5bn fleet of lightly armoured British army vehicles was said to be "disproportionately vulnerable" to Russian mortar and rocket fire.

The Times continues: "Marked 'official-sensitive', the assessment by the army's warfare branch also warned that the UK and its Nato allies were 'scrambling to catch up' with Russia's ability to use electronic means to hijack enemy drones and disrupt other military transmissions.

"It described Russia's mastery of tactics including jamming and hacking as a 'real game changer', which helped to level the playing field between Moscow and the West by threatening Nato aircraft, GPS-guided weapons and the ability of soldiers on the ground.

"Physical weapons are not the only tools in Russia's arsenal that outmatch the West. The report said that soldiers were at risk of being targeted over Facebook and Twitter."


Superpower image

Sir Richard Shirreff, former Nato deputy supreme allied commander Europe, writes in the Times that Russia is no longer a decaying post-Cold War power with obsolete or vanishing capabilities.

"Its priorities are modernising nuclear weapons and introducing new hardware and weapons systems into the aerospace forces, navy and ground force units - in that order," he says.

"Last year saw the formation of eight new brigades while in January Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, announced the formation of three new armoured divisions in the western military district, adjacent to the Baltic states."

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Media captionJournalist Lucy Cavendish and Reuters news agency business correspondent Tom Bergin join the BBC News Channel to review Wednesday's front pages.

In a leading article, the paper says Russia is giving Nato a run for its money despite an ailing economy.

"When the Soviet Union collapsed there were hopes that Russia would emerge as a democratic nation," it says. "President Putin, who has now served twice as both president and prime minister, has frustrated those hopes.

"Longing to restore Russia's superpower image and obscure its creaking economy and venal government, he has been ploughing resources into the armed forces as he flexes his military muscles in Ukraine and Syria.

"The results should give Nato members pause for thought."


Eye-catching headlines

  • Hunt for Zuma, tortoise on the run: Ninety-year-old tortoise Zuma escaped by hitching a ride on a refuse lorry heading for a south London incinerator but fortunately owner Sarah Joiner guessed what had happened and called the council Times
  • Headphones make for a happy horse: Experts at the French National Stud have found that playing excerpts of classical-style film music to horses during stressful activities such as being driven around in a horsebox or being shod by a farrier Telegraph
  • Hooray! Exercise can beat disease. Boo! You need to do 12 hours a week: If you thought going for brisk 30-minute walk a day was keeping a heart attack and stroke at bay you might need to rethink your fitness regime as US and Australian researchers say people should be doing either six-and-a-quarter hours of vigorous activity or 12-and-a half hours of moderate exercise a week Mail

Cataract surgery

Meanwhile, the Telegraph leads on a warning by Royal College of Surgeons vice-president Stephen Cannon that bans on all but the most urgent treatment would become "commonplace" because of NHS rationing.

The Telegraph reports: "The NHS is in the grip of the worst financial crisis in its history, with rising restrictions on cataract surgery and growing waiting times for hip and knee operations in most areas.

"St Helens clinical commissioning group in Merseyside took the unprecedented step on Monday of suspending all non-urgent treatment for four months, in an attempt to tackle its overspend.

"In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Cannon, an orthopaedic surgeon, said such bans would become widespread without a 'realistic' increase in funding.

"He also called for changes in the way existing funds are spent, to divert more money away from bureaucracy towards front-line care."

Meanwhile, the Mail says the UK has one of the worst records for the amount of cataract operations carried out, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

"Desperate patients have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to prove they need the operation," says the Mail. "Others are encouraged by hospitals to go private - paying around £3,000.

"Patients say they have been told to 'eat more green veg' or to wear dark glasses by doctors who have refused them surgery. And yesterday it emerged that one NHS trust is threatening to suspend all cataract operations for four months to save money."


Duel in the pool

The papers focus on the Olympic spat between US swimmer Lilly King and Russia's Yulia Efimova.

King beat Efimova in the women's 100m breaststroke, after the Russian controversially appealed against a drug ban to take part.

Picturing Efimova on its front page, the Telegraph says: "A Russian swimmer claimed the West was launching a new Cold War over Olympics drug-cheating allegations yesterday as a bitter row between athletes intensified in Rio.

"Finger-wagging, boos from the crowds and fierce criticism from rival athletes greeted the first Russian medal-winners after the country escaped a blanket ban for state-sponsored cheating.

"However, Yulia Efimova, allowed to compete at the 11th hour after appealing against a ban, claimed criticism was part of a new propaganda war as her silver medal in the breaststroke was met with jeers."

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Image caption Yulia Efimova won silver in the women's 100m breaststroke

The Guardian says Rio's Aquatics Centre became the centre of a bitter sporting dispute that looks set to run through the entire fortnight.

"The row, with Cold War connotations, coalesced around a showdown early yesterday between the US swimming sensation Lilly King and Yulia Efimova, the once banned Russian swimmer who gained a last-minute reprieve to be able to compete in Rio amid widespread doping claims against her home nation," it says.

The Sun reports that the water in the Olympic diving pool appeared to turn bright green on Tuesday - causing divers and audiences to speculate why it had changed as the women's 10m platform final progressed.

Matt's cartoon in the Telegraph has a group of people desperately looking on the floor in the Olympic Village, with one of them saying: "Nobody move! This is worse than a lost contact lens. I've dropped Tom Daley's swimming trunks".


The joy of text

Finally, the Times declares that teletext is not dead yet.

The paper explains that a gaggle of software engineers, digital artists and other devotees are attempting to resurrect the bright colours and blocky fonts of the defunct TV information service.

"They have created Teefax, an experimental system that appears identical to BBC Ceefax and other historical teletext services," says the Times.

Image caption Ceefax with its distinctive graphic style

The system runs through a Raspberry Pi computer into an analogue connector on a TV set with a teletext decoder.

Peter Kwan, who is leading the project, tells the Times: "Teletext was pulled about the same time as the Raspberry Pi came out. So me and a couple of guys got together to cook up something to make teletext work again.

"It's like the modern-day equivalent of restoring steam engines. It's completely useless but it keeps us occupied."