Newspaper review: Putin 'rebuke', new Band Aid song, and by-election fight

There is little good news for Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sunday's UK newspapers, as almost every one documents his falling out with the G20 group of developed and emerging economies.

"G20 lash for Putin" is the headline in the Sunday People, which says the Russian leader was "strongly rebuked by other world leaders" at the summit in Brisbane for his country's alleged role in destabilising eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron held "robust" talks with Mr Putin on Saturday, with the Sunday Telegraph saying the two men "agreed to disagree on several areas, including the Russian leader's claim that none of his troops are inside Ukraine".

The Mail on Sunday adds the word "frank" to reports of robust talks between the two leaders, and channels the classic BBC sitcom Yes, Minister by explaining such language is "diplomatic code for a row".

It may be hard to see Mr Putin as someone who flounces, but that is how the Sunday Times describes the president's decision to leave the summit early, especially after he was told by Mr Cameron that his country "faced new sanctions over Russia's aggression in Ukraine".

The UK leader's reported robustness - going so far as calling Mr Putin a "bully" ahead of their meeting - seems tame compared to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with the Sun on Sunday reporting he told the Russian leader: "I guess I'll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you - you need to get out of Ukraine."

The Observer says it "now seems likely" that more Russian individuals will be subjected to travel bans and asset freezes, although the paper notes "it is not expected there will be any more economic sanctions at this stage".

The papers' editorials are also scathing about Mr Putin. But the Observer says the means of bringing Mr Putin "to heel" are available, and that "increased financial pressure coupled with intensified diplomatic action and bolstered Nato support for European countries bordering Russia could convince Moscow that the costs of its anti-social behaviour are too high to bear".

However, the Independent in its leader column notes that while "it was right for world leaders to speak frankly about Ukraine... humiliating Mr Putin is likely to be counter-productive".


If Mr Putin is the Sunday papers' villain, then there is a new hero in the eyes of the columnists and science correspondents - Philae, the little spacecraft who could, and would have done more, had its batteries not run out of juice due to it landing in a shady part of a comet on the outskirts of our solar system.

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The plaudits begin with the Sunday Telegraph, which says the lander managed to transmit a "treasure-trove of scientific data back to Earth". The things it measured "throw new light on what could have been the building blocks of the universe", says the paper.

Joan Smith in the Independent on Sunday says the Rosetta project - the European endeavour to send a spaceship carrying Philae to Comet 67P - "has rightly caused huge excitement, dominating last week's news bulletins" and brings back the spirit of 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first person on the Moon.

Contrasting the Rosetta mission with Islamic State militants and the extremist Muslim group Boko Haram in Nigeria, Smith says she is "happy to be on the side of men and women who reach, literally, for the stars".

The Observer describes how the scientists working on the project tried to make the best of a bad job after Philae's less than optimal landing, noting how everything had to be completed within the 60-hour lifetime of the lander's battery. Valentina Lommatsch of the lander team tells the paper: "we juggled everything so that every instrument got to do a measurement, so we are very happy with the mission so far."

All hope is not lost for the fridge-sized lander - the Sun on Sunday reports scientist Stephen Ulamec saying he has hope that as the comet gets nearer to the sun it might wake from its current "idle mode".


Battle for Medway

Back to Earth, specifically the Kent towns of Rochester and Strood, where a by-election this coming Thursday might see the anti-EU UK Independence Party gain their second elected MP.

For some of the Sunday papers it is their last chance to get "on the ground" and gauge "the mood" in the two towns.

The Sun on Sunday canvasses the opinion of 39-year-old reader Nicky Rushen, a van driver from Rochester. He tells the paper he "plans to vote UKIP" and will be "turning his back on a lifetime of Labour", saying "UKIP talk sense about people coming over here and killing the health system, and sending money back to their own countries".

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The Sunday People tracks down a Romanian bar manager in the town, Camelia Adumitroaei, who came to the UK in 2006 and tells the paper "they let everyone in and that's not fair".

Across two pages, the Independent on Sunday's Cole Morton tries to describe the "battle of Rochester" where people are "feisty" and have "always been since the days of the Norman Conquest". But the people "are sick of politicians", Moreton reports, with four out of five voters having had "a visit, a call, a leaflet or an email and some are calling it harassment".

The Observer says the Conservatives have "written off their chances of winning - or even coming close to winning" the seat in an admission "designed to limit the shock to Tory MPs of a thumping defeat on the night".

The Sunday Express looks at the potential consequences for the Conservatives if they lose the seat which was won in 2010 by Mark Reckless, whose defection to UKIP has caused the by-election. It claims six Tory MPs will defect with Mr Reckless telling the paper a win for UKIP "could result in a realignment of British politics not seen since the collapse of the Liberal Party in 1922".

The Sunday Mirror quotes a "senior Tory" who believes Mr Cameron will face a no confidence vote unless he "puts together one hell of a meeting of the party and frankly apologises".

Tony Allen-Mills of the Sunday Times has also been to the banks of the Medway and finds a campaign "nominally" fought on local issues, but where immigration still looms large. "The reason for the hospital's problems is that too many immigrants have placed too much pressure on health services. The reason for the primary school crush is 'the strain of immigration', Mr Reckless told the audience," he reports.

But the Sunday Telegraph's Iain Martin says the Conservatives must convince UKIP voters they are taking "too much of a risk" and "could put Labour back in office". Martin urges the Tories "to make [UKIP leader] Mr Farage answer the hard questions".


A new movie about the celebrated World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing is given a variety of treatments in Sunday's papers.

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The Sunday People tells the story of Turing's relationship with Maria Summerscale, daughter of the psychologist who had been treating him following his 1952 conviction for gross indecency. Mrs Summerscale, who was eight when the mathematician sought help from her father, tells the paper how he invented an infallible system to help her move the pegs on a Solitaire board to ensure a win.

The Daily Express profiles Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who plays Turing in the film, The Imitation Game. It notes Cumberbatch "has been accused of playing similar types (troubled geniuses) but it is a mark of his skill that he has been able to make them all so different and show their different pains".

And the Observer considers whether the film will give a boost to the government's electronic surveillance agency GCHQ and also the preserved wartime base Bletchley Park where Turing broke the German Enigma code.


New Band Aid, new cause, new words, same Bono

As remarkable as Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? was in terms of money raised for famine relief in 1984, it could be argued its other achievement was how it has spanned the generations through its continual inclusion on festive compilation tapes, CDs and now downloads.

The 30th anniversary of the record-breaking charity single's release comes as there is a new deadly threat in Africa - the Ebola virus. None of the Sunday papers pass up a chance to report on the formation of a new star-studded group, Band Aid 30, which recorded an updated version of the song on Saturday.

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The Mail on Sunday has the "exclusive" story of Band Aid co-creator Sir Bob Geldof's decision to revisit Do They Know Its Christmas? after 30 years - despite having been disinclined to do so. The paper's Ian Gallagher says a single image from West Africa of a nurse brushing away a tear from a child - who died, as did the nurse - was enough to convince Sir Bob to reprise the track.

The new version of the song was recorded in the same studio, in the same month as the original, notes the Observer. But the lyrics have been changed to reflect the new cause, while the line famously sung by U2 front man Bono - "And tonight thank God it's them instead of you" has been replaced with "Well tonight we're reaching out and touching you", the paper reports.

The Sunday Mirror's Simon Boyles was with the stars - including Coldplay's Chris Martin, boy band One Direction, and singer Ellie Goulding - and said the experience was the "most moving I have ever heard" as the new voices sang out the (mostly) familiar lines.

Chancellor George Osborne has agreed to waive the VAT on sales of the single - unlike when the original song was released in 1984 and then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher initially ruled out such a gesture.,

According to the Sun there was one big name absent from Saturday's session - the singer Adele. The paper says she "sensationally snubbed the recording... despite '100 phone calls' begging her to take part". A spokesman for Adele told the Sun that "at no point was she confirmed". Adele "is supporting Oxfam's Ebola Appeal with a donation", the spokesman added.

But there remains a connection to Adele, notes the Independent, as her producer Paul Epworth is working with Band Aid co-founder Midge Ure "to prepare a rough mix in time for its debut" on Sunday night's the X Factor on ITV


Making them click

The Independent - Disturbing YouTube video shows dozens ignoring domestic violence in a lift

Sunday Mirror - I never knew my hunky boyfriend was born a girl but now we plan to start a family

Mail on Sunday - Racks of designer dresses, £800 diamond earrings, Gucci handbag and £2,800 Rolex watch... Is Romany Rose the most pampered BABY in Britain?

Sunday Times - Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone

The Observer - Germany warns Uefa may quit Fifa if World Cup report not published

Sunday Telegraph - Vladimir Putin to leave G20 early after 'tense' meeting with David Cameron