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The paper clip, 3 May

Thursday 3 May 2012

French media lead with coverage of last night's presidential debate in France, which lasted for two hours fifty minutes. The camp of President Nicolas Sarkozy is keen to stress that Socialist challenger François Hollande was the more aggressive of the two, Le Monde writes. Le Figaro writes that a clear distinction between Sarkozy and Hollande emerged on immigration, particularly on the question of voting rights for foreigners. Libération reports that most observers do not expect the debate to have a significant impact on the election. Sarkozy “failed to land a killer blow” on his rival, the UK's Daily Telegraph writes. Sarkozy repeatedly called his Socialist opponent a “liar” and a “slanderer” during the debate, watched by 20 million French people. Austria's Die Presse comments that Sarkozy is “insufferable” and yet the better choice. Hollande's greatest achievement, it says, is not to be Sarkozy.

The daughter of Yulia Tymoshenko, the jailed former prime minister of Ukraine, says her mother is “very physically weak” after what she claims was a severe beating, the UK's Guardian reports. The governments of Austria and Belgium have joined other EU countries in saying that no ministers will attend football matches in the European championships in Ukraine this summer, writes the Kyiv Post.

George Osborne, Britain's finance minister, is the lone hold-out among EU finance chiefs against a compromise deal on bank capital requirements, according to Germany's Handelsblatt. While the other ministers could have outvoted the UK, there is no appetite to push through the most important regulatory reform since the financial crisis without buy-in from Europe's most significant banking hub, the paper writes.

“The powerless on a visit to the desperate” is how the Süddeutsche Zeitung describes a meeting today of the European Central Bank's governing council in Spain. The governing council is  expected to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1%, the Irish Times writes. 

Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, has admitted that the bank failed to do enough to warn people about the risks ahead of the financial crisis, the UK's Daily Telegraph writes.

Michael Noonan, Ireland's finance minister, had denied trying to scare voters into a ‘Yes' vote in the referendum on the fiscal compact treaty. Noonan had earlier said that a ‘No' vote would make the next budget more difficult. The Irish Times has the story.
Mary McAleese, a former Irish president, has voluntarily returned more than €500,000 in personal allowance funds that she did not use during her two terms in office, the Irish Times writes. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised by advisers to Mitt Romney, the prospective Republican candidate for the US presidency. They attacked a recent White House “love-in” with President Barack Obama, saying: “You don't take sides in an election year.” The Guardian has the story.

The New York Times reports on Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese dissident who sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing and yesterday agreed to be transferred to a Chinese hospital. What initially looked like a diplomatic achievement is now turning into an embarrassment for the US state department: Chen now says he agreed to the transfer after receiving death threats against his family from the Chinese authorities. The incident is unfolding just as Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, begins talks on strategic issues with China's leadership.

Italy's Corriere della Sera leads with an investigation into possibly illegal party financing.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, is on track to win re-election in September, writes Ha'aretz.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that Cuban prisoners were forced in the 1980s to make furniture for Ikea, a Swedish-Dutch company. The report follows earlier allegations that prisoners in Socialist East Germany were manufacturing for Ikea.


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