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Sunday, June 6, 1999 Published at 03:56 GMT 04:56 UK


Press review: Serbs humbled in humble café

"Humbled" - that is the word used by The Sunday Express and many of the other papers about the capitulation of Serb forces as they are told by Nato how they must withdraw from Kosovo.

But humble could also be the description of the venue for the talks yesterday between General Sir Michael Jackson and the Serb commanders.

The point isn't lost on The Mail on Sunday which says that when the history of the war in Kosovo is written there will be a small but significant place for the Europa '93 restaurant - an unprepossessing stone-clad building previously famous only for its sausage sandwiches.

However, it has now become, as The Independent on Sunday sees it, the setting for the end of Slobodan Milosevic's savage Kosovo adventure.

The Sunday Telegraph isn't so sure. It thinks haggling by the Serb generals is putting the peace plan in jeopardy. This and other uncertainties, like the future of President Milosevic himself, leads The Sunday Mirror to conclude that we are not yet at the end - though the paper expresses the hope that it could be the beginning of the end.

But, as they prepare to go, the Serbs are reported to be destroying evidence of war crimes. The Observer says it has had accounts from witnesses that the bodies of hundreds of victims are being burned.

The paper quotes the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, saying Britain will send a forensic science team to Kosovo with the specific task of gathering evidence before the trail of the guilty soldiers goes cold.

The controversy over genetically-modified food continues in some of the papers. The Mail on Sunday says a British firm is on the verge of developing a new generation of GM crops which use genes from brown rats and poisonous funnel web spiders.

Scientists and environmental pressure groups are said to have expressed concern that the researchers are journeying into a dangerous new world with untold consequences.

The Independent on Sunday claims the list of prominent people who are worried includes the prime minister's wife. She is said to have made her views known to Prince Charles during a lunch engagement.

People whose holidays are ruined because they are having to wait longer than expected for their passport applications to be processed should be given compensation - according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.

The summer breaks of hundreds of people are said to be at risk because of the huge backlogs at Britain's five regional passport offices. And The Telegraph says trading standards inspectors are calling for the payment of compensation because they believe the service at present is "woefully inadequate".

The story of an old soldier from Gateshead whose life has apparently been made almost unbearable by yobs provides the News of the World with a reason for launching a campaign to beat Britain's bullies.

It says the 77-year-old man was subjected to a vendetta with local youths running riot over his allotment and attacking his pigeons. But when he tried to do something about it, he was the one arrested.

In an editorial, the News of the World says it is right for decent folk to fight back - and it is pledging to help those unable to do so on their own.

The Queen's english has now been pronounced dead - because even the monarch doesn't know how to speak it any more, according to The Observer.

An American academic has apparently analysed the Queen's words and cites an example from her Christmas message in which she says: "The young can sometimes be wiser than us." This, he says, is wrong; she should have said: "The young can sometimes be wiser than we are."

The Queen's English Society calls the mistake "a frightful howler". While The Observer's cartoonist has a carricature of the Queen apparently with an American accent saying: "Hey, Mac, nobody's poyfect".

The Sunday Times suggests that airlines concerned about the apparently increasing instances of passengers who become abusive and violent on aircraft may have come up with a solution.

The paper says studies indicate that most so-called "air rage" incidents on no-smoking flights are caused by people desperate for a cigarette. So, it says, the airlines are now considering providing their passengers with nicotine patches - as a substitute for smoking.

Dangerous motorists come under the spotlight in some of the papers.

The Sunday People reports on an 87-year-old woman who drove the wrong way up a dual carriageway for six miles before crashing into a car.

Drivers deemed to be dangerous may soon be forced off the roads permanently - according to The News of the World.

It says judges are to be given powers to ban for life drivers convicted of serious traffic offences. The government is said to be considering new laws to close legal loopholes which allow motorists to return to the road even if they have been responsible for killing someone.

The Metropolitan Police is coming in for fresh criticism, according to The Sunday Telegraph, for changing the way it describes black and Asian people. In future, they will apparently be referred to as "visibly minority ethnic groups".

The paper says officers are launching a new anti-racism campaign telling trainees that the new phrase is preferable and will avoid causing offence.

But The Telegraph quotes an official from the Plain English campaign who condemns the new wording as "daft" - and says it doesn't even make sense linguistically.

The Internet has hitherto been a haven largely untouched by the law - but The Observer says it will soon have its own electronic sheriff who will surf cyberspace.

The report says a new survey has revealed that big firms are losing up to £3m a year because of workers using the Internet when they are not allowed.

So affected companies are apparently set to install tracking systems to make sure their employees toe the line.

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