CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning’s papers.

1. America should be glad anyone is paying attention to its inconsequential messages (Independent)

US diplomats should be delighted that at long last their words are being taken seriously, says Patrick Cockburn.

2. Beijing's lost patience leaves Pyongyang with little to lose (Guardian)

China's exasperation with North Korea is a sign of how far it has moved away from its cold war ideology, argues Isabel Hilton.

3. The "imperial" Treasury refuses to cede power (Times) (£)

George Osborne may be committed to reining in the power of his department, but his civil servants are not, writes Rachel Sylvester.

4. Miliband is learning fast that leadership is a brutal business (Daily Telegraph)

Labour's new chief faces a huge challenge – and the past few days have not gone well, says Mary Riddell.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

5. Committed to transparency, so why the censorship? (Independent)

If WikiLeaks really believes in openness and transparency, it should make its material available to all media outlets, writes Stephen Glover.

6. Japan's banking crisis led to 20 years of stagnation. Is there a lesson there for us? (Guardian)

To see what Britain's economy might look like in the years ahead, just look at what happened to Japan, says Aditya Chakrabortty.

7. WikiLeaks shows out-of-control US secrecy (Financial Times)

America needs fewer secrets, shared with fewer people, writes David Rothkopf.

8. This unreliable narrator cannot rewrite the Lib Dem tragedy (Independent)

David Laws's new book makes clear that the Lib Dems' fate was not inevitable, writes Steve Richards. They chose the cliff's edge.

9. Ireland rescue is not a game changer (Financial Times)

The bailout delays but doesn't solve the EU crisis, warns Mohamed el-Erian.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

10. Confronting the snake (Daily Telegraph)

Arab countries should stop relying on the Americans and the Israelis to make all the running against Tehran, argues a Telegraph editorial.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.