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Friday, March 12, 1999 Published at 06:45 GMT


The UK's papers today

A bull in a china shop, a firework that suddenly fizzled out, a tactless and brutally direct man.

The epitaphs on the political career of the German Finance Minister, Oskar Lafontaine, reflect little grief at his departure.

Rarely has one politician made such an impact in Europe in such a short time, remarks The Independent, and rarely has one gained such notoriety in so many quarters.

For the Daily Telegraph, Mr Lafontaine, was a living paradox: a force for ever greater European integration who refused to act as a team player.

As finance minister, he enraged almost everyone, it says.

But Daily Mail columnist, Stephen Glover, is one of the few to lament the turn of events.

Mr Lafontaine was, he contends, the Euro-sceptics' best friend, a walking advertisement for all they fear most.

"He was a useful hate figure and I shall miss him," he concludes.

Marriage guidance

For The Express and The Mirror, the main story is the report carried by a US television network, Fox, that the Clintons' marriage is all but over.

The Express suggests the story may have been leaked from the White House because the strains in the relationship are so bad that they are becoming obvious.

The Independent takes a more sceptical stance.

It believes that behind the story lies a furious battle for viewers between Fox and its rival news channels, who have seen ratings nosedive since the end of Mr Clinton's impeachment trial.

Clegg case

There are sharp divisions over the case of the paratrooper, Lee Clegg, acquitted of murdering a teenager in Northern Ireland.

A monstrous wrong has been put right, according to the Mail, which, with the Telegraph, campaigned for his release from prison.

But The Guardian describes the judge's verdict as "grudging", and notes that Clegg's own evidence was rejected as a farrago of deceit and lies.

The paper believes the case encapsulates the conflict in Northern Ireland, with unionists maintaining Clegg simply made a mistake, and nationalists accusing the British army of executing Catholics.

Scottish tax

The Herald in Glasgow focuses on the tax debate in the Scottish parliamentary election campaign.

It hails the Scottish National Party's expected pledge to reverse the Budget tax cut as a "bold move", commenting that the ball is now back in Labour's court.

It also notes two discreet camps emerging. On one side, Labour and the Conservatives are both committed not to use the Parliament's tax powers.

On the other, the SNP and Liberal Democrats are looking more like coalition partners to the paper.

Fallingwater's falling down

Finally, several papers carry the story of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater.

It is living up to its name, and falling into the stream which runs through it.

The Telegraph blames Wright's refusal to listen to his builder, who wanted to include more steel when the concrete house was constructed 63 years ago in the Pennsylvannia woods.

The paper recalls the architect did not like taking advice, and even threatened to abandon the project if his builder did not shut up.

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