THE BANKERS APOLOGISE
"Scumbag millionaires" the Sun crows this morning on its black front page fitted out for the "shamed bank bosses" who have offered up their apologies. The Mirror opts, more simply, for "Bunch of losers" adding that their attempts at saying sorry were feeble and pathetic.
Lord Stevenson and Andy Hornby of HBOS and Sir Fred Goodwin and Sir Tom McKillop of RBS said sorry for their role in the economic collapse.
Or, as the Sun puts it: "Four millionaires blamed over Britain's banking meltdown were forced to make grovelling apologies yesterday."
There are accusations this morning that it was an exercise in public relations after each of the men refused to acknowledge any significant personal culpability.
"They were sorry. God, they were sorry. They didn't care who knew how sorry they were. On the other hand, they weren't to blame. Not personally to blame anyway. Nobody had seen it coming. Everybody got it wrong. So they apologised, but it wasn't their fault," was Simon Hoggart's summation in the Guardian.
All the other sketch writers were in attendance to tear apart the so-called apology. Andrew Gimson in the Telegraph likened it to a medieval ritual:
"This was the most disappointing public execution it has been our misfortune to attend. A vast crowd assembled at Westminster in the happy expectation of seeing four bankers decapitated, only to watch the guilty men cheat death by opting instead to eat stupendous quantities of humble pie."
While Simon Carr in the Independent was not impressed.
"In fact, the apologies were rubbish. Artful, deferential, professional rubbish. All four banking titans had learnt the technical aspects of the modern apology from Tony Blair and £40,000 worth of PR."
The Sun: Scumbag Millionaires
FIRE AFTERMATH CONTINUES
The suspected death toll in the Australian bushfires has topped 230 and the country has been warned to brace itself for the number of confirmed dead – 181 – to rise sharply.
Australian police are attempting to stop people returning to their homes, saying the scenes would be too gruesome for them to deal with.
One – among the many harrowing descriptions – was firefighter John Munday, who told the Australian how he and his crew had to make the decision to save themselves knowing they were leaving people to die.
"We had people banging on the sides of our tanker begging us to go back to houses where they knew there were people trapped, but we couldn't because if we had, we'd all be dead too," he said.
"There were children running down the streets with flames behind them. It was hell. I never want to go back to that place, never."
In another emotive speech, the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, addressed parliament, speaking about the natural disasters that the country is forced to endure.
"The 7th February will become etched in our national memory as a day of disaster, of death and mourning. This nation has been scarred by natural disasters – disasters that remind us of our tenuous hold on this vast and forbidding land.
"'Her beauty and her terror', as our nation's poem reminds us of this wide brown land – except that the land is now black, the earth scorched and the people in mourning.
"Fire holds a great terror for us all. Its power, its speed, its roar, its relentless destruction, its capricious shifts in course … its want of mercy."
Sydney Morning Herald: Kevin Rudd, re-establishing identities
STALLION OF THE SOUTH
The Times has bestowed it with the name 'the Stallion of the South'. Turner prizewinning artist, Mark Wallinger's sculpture of the 50 metre (164ft) white horse has won the competition to mark the building of Ebbsfleet International in north Kent.
"Each hoof will be the size of a bungalow, each eye the length of a pillar box and each testicle the volume of a people carrier."
The man whose company is curating the project, Mark Davy, told the Times the horse had to be 50 metres tall to comply with Highways Agency demands.
"You have to be able to see it from a long way off. It would be too distracting for drivers if they came round a bend and suddenly saw a giant horse."
HEADLINE OF THE DAY
There is a major consensus today on how to headline a story about a woman who was on a trip to go trekking in San Jose when she ended up 1,300 miles away in Puerto Rico.
Samantha Lazzaris only realised she was in the wrong place when she asked a taxi driver to take her to her hotel. Apparently, the check-in staff placed the SJU (San Juan) code on her tickets rather than SJO (San Jose)
The headline? "Do you know the way to San Jose? Er, no" (Chosen by the Sun, the Mirror and the Times)
The Sun: Do you know the way to San Jose?