The Best and the Worst of the British Press

Word that the British government might order limited use of vaccinations to combat the foot-and-mouth epidemic tops the news in most of the British papers this morning.

But before Tony Blair adopts a policy he once ruled-out, the prime minister will send his chief scientists out to pasture in some of the worst hit areas.

Their mission, writes The Financial Times, will be to convince farmers to accept the trade off for slowing the spread of the disease, which would ultimately mean accepting longer bans on British meat and dairy exports. Either way a decision would not stop the slaughter or put out the pyres of burning carcasses seen on televisions around the world.

The Daily Telegraph highlights fears that up to 250 children destined for a life of slavery in Nigeria may have been cast overboard by a ship's captain desperate to avoid arrest. Regional fighting has pushed the West African slave trade out to sea, and with no Western naval presence in the area the ship has virtually disappeared.

The Real IRA also grabbed attention on the front pages for its apparent bombing of a London post office depot. The Guardian reports the group's fifth bombing since June coincided with the 85th anniversary of the Easter Uprising in Dublin. Some fear the group is planning a new wave of violence in the run up to Britain's general election expected in June.

The Independent's lead story comes down hard on Israel, asking readers to decide if the recent demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza reaches the level of war crime. The accompanying photograph shows a young girl clinging to her father amid a pile of rubble that used to be their home.

Right Royal Ruckus

Embattled royal Sophie Rhys-Jones, the Countess of Wessex, graced several front pages in her first joint appearance with royal family members since her embarrassing comments about the royals were splashed through the tabloids. But the Daily Express reports Prince William is outraged over remarks in which she compared herself to Princess Diana.

A Ministry of Defense official could be in hot water for leaving a laptop loaded with military secrets in the back a London taxi, reports The Mirror. But as the story started to develop this morning it appeared the computer contained no sensitive information.

Finally, the Daily Star says you've got to be "Top of the Chops" to top the pop charts in America. The 24-year-old British Boyzone star Ronan Keating reportedly spent about $30,000 having his teeth fixed — just to please his American audience.

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