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The paper clip, 20 March

Tuesday 20 March 2012

One of the largest manhunts in French history is under way after a gunman attacked a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing a teacher and three children. Le Monde and Libération are dominated by the news. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has activated his country's anti-terror plan in the wake of the attack, reports Belgium's De Standaard. The measure will provide extra police and security at Jewish and Islamic institutions and schools. Authorities said they are looking for an extremist who they believe is behind the attack and two other attacks against military personnel. De Volksrant, a Dutch daily, reports that Sarkozy and his centre-left opponent, Francois Hollande, have halted their presidential campaigns because of the shooting. The attack has prompted Jewish institutions around the world to step up security, writes the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. The UK's Independent is one of the many other papers with reports.

Two more Syrian generals have defected to rebel forces as gun battles rocked Damascus, writes Abu Dhabi's The National. Asma Assad, the British-born wife of Syrian president Bashar Assad, is to be added to a European Union sanctions blacklist, the Daily Telegraph writes. The role of Asma Assad has been thrown into sharper profile by the publication of private emails purportedly tracked by rebels. 

Mario Monti, Italy's prime minister, has begun talks with trade unions that will be critical for the fate of proposed labour reforms, writes Turin's La Stampa.

The German government is planning to allow retired people to keep a larger share of any money they earn from working in addition to their pensions, Handelsblatt reports.

Greece last year lost €9.8 billion in VAT revenue due to poor collection and evasion, a report by the Bank of Greece suggests. Kathimerini has a report.

Die Welt reports that mayors from some of Germany's most debt-laden cities want an end to fiscal transfers from western to eastern Germany. The German government has pumped hundreds of billions of euros into the former East Germany to help it catch up with the west. The transfer is financed in part by contributions from federal states. Frank Baranowski, the mayor of Gelsenkirchen, a former industrial city in North-Rhine Westphalia, said that the solidarity pact should end before 2019.

Željko Komšic, the Croat member of Bosnia's three-member presidency, has resigned from all his functions in the Social Democratic Party, writes Nezavisne novine, following a fall-out with party chief Zlatko Lagumdžija, who is also the country's foreign minister. Komšic in particular objects to Lagumdžija's backing of the candidacy of Vuk Jeremic, Serbia's foreign minister, for president of the UN General Assembly.

Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that large parts of Germany are being affected by public-sector strikes. Strikes have spread to Hessen, Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg. Public-sector workers are demanding a 6.5% pay rise this year.

There will also be a general strike in Portugal on Thursday, Publico writes.

British taxpayers are to be given an annual breakdown of how much they contribute to the government and how that money is spent, the Daily Telegraph writes. The move will be officially announced in tomorrow's budget. 

The Guardian has a report on the situation in the Falkland Islands, 30 years after the UK and Argentina were at war over the south Atlantic islands. Relations between the two sides have been strained in recent months.

Enda Kenny, Ireland's prime minister, will today meet US President Barack Obama in Washington, DC, the Irish Times writes. The meeting is part of a five-day tour of the US by Kenny; the tour coincides with St Patrick's Day festivities.

The US soldier who is believed to have carried out the killing of 16 civilians in Afghanistan on 11 March does not remember anything from the event, reports Belgium's De Morgen. The soldier's lawyer said it was unclear why his client did not remember the shootings. The soldier remains in custody at a high-security prison in the US state of Kansas. He is to be arraigned at the end of this week.

Who is the Russian responsible for brokering much of the Russian oil supplied to the Polish refinery PKN Orlen? Gazeta Wyborcza has a report on Ziyatvudin Magomedov.

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza focuses on doubts about the seriousness of the Catholic Church's commitment to rooting out child-abusing priests.

Eggs are selling at record prices in Slovakia, Pravda writes. The paper attributes the price rise to the introduction of EU rules to improve the conditions for battery hens.

The Czech daily Lidové noviny writes that a herd of bison reared from Polish stock will soon be released into Czech forests. The only EU states other than Poland in which bison are currently found in the wild are Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain.


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