Newspaper headlines: The defiant Remembrance Day

Two major commemorations fill the pages of Monday's papers - images of Remembrance Sunday in the UK, and the 25th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall in Germany.

Coverage of the former tends to focus on how the ceremonies around the country went ahead apparently unconcerned by potential terrorism threats.

Image copyright AP

The Daily Star expresses this as "Britain's 2 fingers to the terrorists", commenting that "the Queen bravely stood shoulder to shoulder with millions of proud Brits yesterday to remember our fallen heroes".

The paper says the monarch was greeted by an "unprecedented round of applause" as she left Whitehall, from a crowd aware of a reported terror threat to the event.

The Daily Telegraph's Tom Rowley speaks to one 91-year-old veteran marching past the Cenotaph, who said he hoped the ceremony showed defiance to would-be attackers.

"We had to send a huge message that they won't win. I wanted to honour those chaps who gave their lives in the war, my chums - and nothing was going to stop me," says Capt Rolfe Monteith, a Canadian-born former Royal Navy officer.

The Guardian's coverage notes the significance of the 2014 Remembrance: 100 years after the start of WWI; 70 years after D-Day, and the year when British forces withdrew from Afghanistan after a 13-year campaign against the Taliban.

It also remarks on another historic moment: "For the first time in almost 70 years, since Ireland withdrew from the Commonwealth, the Irish ambassador to the UK, Dan Mulhall, was invited to lay a wreath in recognition of 'the immense contribution and shared sacrifice made by many thousands of Irish men and women'.

"Some 200,000 volunteered to serve with the British armed forces during the first world war, with at least 35,000 dying."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Remembrance Sunday at a Commonwealth war cemetery in Israel

The Daily Mirror marks the occasion with a feature looking at the last resting place of the 1.7 million men and women who fought and died for Britain in the two world wars.

The scale of loss is truly mind-boggling to the modern reader, with 575,053 service dead being buried in France alone.

The global scale of the conflicts is laid open in a fascinating map, listing war graves in 153 countries, some surprising: the two dead in San Marino; one in Venezuela and 10 in Equatorial Guinea, for example.

The paper illustrates its article with Rupert Brooke's famous lines: "If I should die, think only this of me; That there's some corner of a foreign field. That is for ever England."

'Tears come back'

Sunday was also the time of major commemorations across the Channel into the momentous events of 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall, and reunification of Germany after 44 years of separation.

The Independent was at the scene to witness a celebration that it calls "poetic justice organised to Teutonic perfection" with a "vast party" organised along the 15km length of what had once been "a grim barrier".

The paper speaks to many at the event, including 58-year-old Hannelore Fahr, an East Berliner who had been one of the first to cross to the west when the barrier came down, making straight for the door of the West Berlin resident sister she had never met.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Germany marked the anniversary of its "peaceful revolution" by releasing thousands of balloons

"It's wonderful, the tears come back, but we are both reminded just how important freedom is," she tells the paper.

The Times notes German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the occasion to send "a tough message" to Russia's Vladimir Putin.

In what the paper calls "an unusually emotional" speech, the German leader - who was born in West Germany but grew up in the East - said the message of the Wall was "we can change things for the better".

She added: "That applies particularly to people in Ukraine, in Syria and in Iraq and in many other regions of the world where freedom and human rights are threatened... it is a message of confidence in our ability to tear down walls today.. walls of dictatorship, violence, ideology and hostility."

The Times adds, "her mention of Ukraine added a contemporary political message to a day of remembrance and showed how far she has come in a year that she began as the main broker between Moscow and the West in close contact with President Putin of Russia.

"Mrs Merkel became frustrated then infuriated that Mr Putin did not keep his word to withdraw Russian forces from Ukraine, and she was instrumental in the EU imposing tougher sanctions on Moscow."

The Independent's editorial is on Mikhail Gorbachev's observation that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War.

The paper says the events of 1989 left the West "giddy with success" but failing to see "the humiliation for the Soviet Union of being shattered without a shot fired, the disorientation for many in the East of the sudden end of a system that had guaranteed them education and housing and work and healthcare and much else".

But the idea that America - "the only superpower left standing" - could do whatever it liked, has lead to bitterness and backlash in Russia, a process the Independent likens to the years after the Peace of Versailles, which ended WWI.

Russia today, the paper says, combines the worst of the old Soviet Union, with the "dangerous resentments of an ex-superpower on the skids".


Back to domestic news, and another major story for Monday is David Cameron's impending announcement of a £15bn programme to improve more than 100 major roads throughout Britain.

Image copyright PA

Mr Cameron, who will outline the plan at the CBI conference, will flesh out details of how money already allocated for improvements will be spent.

The Independent says the five-year strategy, which aims to cut congestion and bottlenecks with extra carriageways and other traffic schemes, could benefit the Conservatives in a number of marginal seats.

"Conservative strategists hope the plan will give Tory candidates a useful local campaigning message and emphasis the party's national narrative that they are investing in infrastructure," the paper says.

In a comment piece, transport planner Stephen Plowden says the idea of increasing road capacity is not good.

He worries about the effect on UK carbon emissions of encouraging more journeys, and says "as everyone should know by now, road building does not ease congestion except in the very short-term".

The ecological agenda is also explored in the Times which says Mr Cameron is ditching his "green strategy".

"Environmental campaigners will claim that he has no intention of implementing ecologically friendly measures, which he reportedly referred to as 'green crap' a year ago," the paper adds.

It quotes Chris Todd from the Campaign for Better Transport, who says Mr Cameron is squandering money on "dinosaur roads".

More details on the road strategy are expected in George Osborne's Autumn Statement in December, but one scheme expected to be announced has already been widely trailed in the press.

Image caption Stonehenge, with the nearby A303 not pictured

The Daily Telegraph explains, "it is thought... Mr Osborne will announce that a tunnel will be built under Stonehenge on the A303.

"The stretch of road has long been blighted by traffic jams and the National Trust, which owns land in the area, has told ministers it could be prepared to support a tunnel of between 1.5 miles and 1.8 miles in length."

The news will be greeted with dismay by letter writers to the Times, many of whom today call for passing motorists to still be allowed to keep their view of the ancient monument.

Wilfred the Hairy

Hidden away in the foreign pages of Monday's press are a number of reports on an event which is nearly as significant for Spain as the Scottish referendum was for the UK.

The Guardian reports on the province of Catalonia's "symbolic" independence referendum from Spain.

It notes that despite the Madrid government's non-recognition of the vote, and an order from the country's Constitutional Court, almost 2m Catalans were expected to have cast ballots at 2,000 polling stations throughout the region.

"The atmosphere on the streets of Barcelona was festive, as young and old made their way to polling stations across the city, some with Catalan flags wrapped around them and others snapping selfies as they cast their ballots," the paper reports.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Catalonia has a population of almost seven million people and is one of Spain's wealthiest regions

Catalonia - like Scotland - is ruled by a pro-independence political party which will use the result of the elections to call for early elections, "which could act as a de facto poll on independence", the paper adds.

The Guardian says the region's main anti-independence leader said the vote, "wasn't a democratic process. Those carrying out the vote had a vested interest in the outcome".

The Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has urged "a return to sanity".

The Financial Times says the results of the poll is "expected to show an overwhelming majority in favour of independence" despite the Spanish government's insistence that "the constitution leaves no room for regional self-determination - let alone for a break-up of the country."

The Times devotes a leader column to the referendum, arguing that "schism is a bad idea but a new deal must be struck between Madrid and Barcelona".

The paper argues that an "atomisation" of Spain will worsen, not end its problems as a failing eurozone nation.

But it adds Madrid, "must address the major grudge in Barcelona that the region has given more tax revenue to the central government than any other, and received less in return" and make guarantees that the Catalan language and culture will be respected in its schools.

Otherwise - the paper says - the region's population may call on the spirit of Catalonia's fabled warrior founder, Wilfred the Hairy.


Looking forward to Christmas? Well kill that premature festive bonhomie stone dead when you read what Britain's press claim winter's weather will deal to us.

The Daily Star is not the only paper to claim we will be facing a "conveyor belt of 60mph storms" which will bring "floods and winter misery till Christmas".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Winter 2013 saw extensive storm damage in Britain

The paper adds that the Met Office forecast speaks of a succession of "vicious" fronts moving in from the Atlantic which could affect travel and could risk flooding in areas where the ground is saturated from recent rains.

South Wales and south-west Scotland are mentioned as particularly at risk.

The Daily Mirror piles on the misery, by noting that the aforementioned storms could be followed by a "beast from the east".

"Temperatures could plunge to -10C around New Year, thanks to Russian winds. The icy spells will last a week or more at times," it explains.

"The Met Office expects similar conditions to the deep freeze of December 2010."

Winter will "arrive with a bang" this week, the Mirror continues, "In Nottingham, Manchester and the North it will rain solidly from Thursday to Saturday."

"Floods could last until January and we could be hit by a festive washout like last year's flooding which damaged hundreds of homes and caused insurance payouts of £426m," it adds.

Duck for Christmas, anyone?

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