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The paper clip, 8 June

Friday 8 June 2012

United Nations monitors trying to investigate the alleged massacre of some 80 civilians near Hama, in central Syria, came under fire as they entered the area, writes Abu Dhabi's The National. The killings have accelerated diplomatic moves to find a way out of the violence in Syria, writes the New York Times, with preparations underway to launch a contact group of powers with influence on both the regime and the opposition in the country. “Sow strife in Syria and reap the whirlwind across the region” is the headline of a commentary in the UK's Independent arguing against military intervention.

Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita are dominated by the kick-off, later today, of the European football championships. Gazeta Wyborcza notes that the UK has joined the boycott of matches in Poland's co-host, Ukraine, over the jailing of four former government ministers. Don't judge a country by its hooligans, argues a commentator in the UK's Daily Telegraph, referring to the furore caused by British media coverage of racism among Polish and Ukrainian football supporters.

Greece's elections turned violent yesterday when a representative of the far-right Golden Dawn party physically attacked two female left-wing members of parliament on television. He is now being hunted by police. Kathimerini has a report. It also has reactions from other politicians.

Nikos Lekkas, head of Greece's tax investigation office, tells Germany's Die Welt that he agrees with Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, who recently slammed Greeks for their tax evasion. He put the value of tax evasion at 12%-15% of GDP, or €40 billion-€45bn a year. “If we could capture just half of that, Greece's [fiscal] problem would be solved,” Lekkas says.

El País and El Mundo have a wide range of articles on Spain's financial problems, the markets' reactions and the EU's potential role in helping Spain.

Finance ministers must realise the folly of their deficit obsession, writes a commentator in the Financial Times under a headline “you don't need to be a lefty to support [Paul] Krugman”, the American Nobel Prize-winning economist who has been arguing against Europe's focus on austerity.

Lou Jiwei, the head of China's sovereign-wealth fund – the world's fifth-largest – tells the Wall Street Journal that his funds sees a growing risk of a eurozone break-up and has shed European assets.

Lberation reports that polling shows that 53% of the French people want to see the Socialists ally with the leftist party of François Bayrou if they do not get a majority in this month's legislative elections. Only a quarter of people expect the Socialists to get a majority.

Le Monde writes about new French president Francois Hollande's image as ‘Mr. Normal', questioning whether it is just show.

The US should at the very least be able to say that it has explored all the alternatives on Iran before it embarks on “the madness of attacking an unknown enemy”, a commentator in the Financial Times writes.

The leader of Britain's Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has given a speech on British identity, Englishness and Scottish independence. There are comments from the left in the Independent and on the right in the Times.

Austria is running pilot projects for the possible introduction of a professional army, writes Der Standard, although the centre-right People's Party, in government with the Social Democrats, opposes the move.

Germany's exports dropped 1.7% in April, more than analysts expected, writes Handelsblatt.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, Germany's interior minister, has outlined plans to cut welfare payments to radical Islamists, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung.


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