Newspaper headlines: George Michael 'wanted to die' & Istanbul attack manhunt

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The death of George Michael continues to dominate several newspaper front pages.

The Daily Mirror leads with an exclusive interview with Michael’s partner, Fadi Fawaz, who reveals he slept in a car on the night the star died.

It also says Mr Fawaz denied he was responsible for several posts that appeared on his Twitter account claiming the singer “wanted to die” and had “finally managed it” after “trying to kill himself several times”.

Mr Fawaz said his Twitter account had been hacked and that the account has since been shut down.

Blemished hopes

The new year attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul was, for the Daily Mail, the “massacre of the beautiful people”.

The Guardian says the venue has earned a reputation as the place to be seen among Turkey’s young, secular elite – attracting footballers from the top Turkish sides, TV stars, tourists, business people and celebrities from around the world.

The i’s story says that for those who had wished for a new year that would see a diminution of the bloody attacks that have convulsed Turkey in recent months, their hopes survived unblemished for less than ninety minutes.

An hour after the gilded youth of Istanbul and well-heeled Middle East revellers had cheered the advent of the new year, the Times reports, the gunman began shooting and the noise turned from music to gunshots and screams.

It was by no means Turkey’s worst terrorist incident, the Daily Telegraph says, but the timing and death toll among foreign nationals who were in the city to celebrate the arrival of 2017 seems intended to rip the heart out of Istanbul’s tourism, and it must not be allowed to do so, the paper adds.

Restoring honour

The prime minister is to overhaul the honours system after making clear that controversial appointments in the new year list had been put forward under David Cameron’s tenure, the Times reports.

According to the paper, Theresa May wants the honours system to have five priorities.

It will recognise those who boost the economy; support young people in achieving their potential; aid social mobility; help local communities; and tackle discrimination.

The government’s plans for new garden villages in England make the lead for the Daily Telegraph.

It says Theresa May’s first announcement of 2017 suggests her government will make housing one of its main priorities in the year ahead.

The ambitious scheme has won support from campaign groups – it adds – despite earlier concerns that the developments would lead to urban sprawl and put added pressure on infrastructure.

On the mend

The Queen’s absence from church for the second weekend in a row because of a lingering heavy cold is the Daily Mail’s main story.

The paper has been told that she’s on the mend, but has developed a hacking cough.

A source is quoted as saying: “Her Majesty doesn’t like going to church with a cough because she thinks it’s off-putting for other celebrants.”

“Get better soon, Ma’am”, is the paper’s headline.

The Guardian led with a warning from Britain’s top GP that surgeries will have to stop seeing patients at some points during the week unless the government abandons its drive to guarantee access to family doctors across the weekend.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, tells the paper that ministers are ignoring the lack of demand among patients to see GPs at weekends and the serious shortage of family doctors.

Jam-packed trains

A number of papers also criticise the annual increase in rail fares that comes into effect today.

The Daily Mail reports that even if the train companies provided a decent service, the £600 average increase in the cost of annual season tickets since 2010 would be monstrous.

At this time of disruption by the unions, it adds, the rises are simply inexcusable.

In the Telegraph’s view, while it’s reasonable for people to be asked to fork out more for a better service, it’s galling to have to stump up more for trains that don’t arrive or are jam-packed if they do.

The Daily Mail also runs with a story saying cabinet ministers have urged Theresa May to threaten the House of Lords with a “bloodbath” if peers seek to frustrate Brexit.

According to the paper, senior Tories say the Prime Minister should stand ready to threaten the upper chamber with abolition or a huge cut in numbers and powers.

An un-named minister tells the paper: “We will be sending a one-line bill to the Lords on triggering Article 50. If they send it back to the Commons, it should be returned with a second line added – the abolition of the Lords”.

Jet-set carers

A Daily Telegraph investigation reveals that British expatriates are flying to the UK from their Spanish homes to earn lucrative sums as carers for the elderly, amid a spiralling crisis in social care.

The paper says thousands of expats are funding lifestyles in the sun by jetting in for fortnightly placements to take sole charge of the vulnerable, with just a few days’ training.

According to the report, many of the recruits have no professional qualifications or previous experience and are driven by financial desperation after a downturn in the Spanish economy, or to supplement income from businesses such as bars and restaurants.

High heels

A familiar sight in some newspapers at this time of year is pictures of new year revellers worse for wear after a night of partying and drinking in city centres across the country.

The Daily Express argues the results of party-goers’ hedonism was all too plain.

While some young women struggled to stay upright in towering high heels, others gave up completely and simply laid down, befuddled.

Many cared little for their modesty, the paper goes on, and they braved the cold and pouring rain in outfits more suited to high summer than midwinter.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Sarah Vine expresses her concern in an article headlined “Pictures that make me weep for today’s young women”.

The Sun has pictures of what it calls the “bedlam” in Hull – and quotes one reveller as saying it wasn’t a good advert for the UK City of Culture.

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