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Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 05:48 GMT
Papers scent blood over hunt vote
The papers scent blood and close in on their prey ahead of Monday's fox hunting vote.

The Times claims Tony Blair is backing last minute plans to allow fox-hunting to continue by promoting the argument that it acts as a pest control.

The paper says in a compromise deal, to be presented to the House of Commons on Monday, hunts would be licensed for three years but would lose the right to operate if there was any evidence of cruelty.

It says that as a "sop" to opponents of field sports, hare coursing would be abolished.

The Daily Mail argues that Labour is using Monday's vote as a ploy to boost party membership.

It claims to have seen a leaked document which urges Labour MPs to "make the most of legislation coming up that might encourage people to join or renew".

'Welcome back'

Under the headline "Huts for Heroes", The Mirror front page reports that paratroopers have returned from their tour of duty in Afghanistan to be housed in temporary cabins surrounded by barbed wire.

The Army says the huts at Colchester in Essex are an "interim measure".

But one soldier tells the paper: "It hardly makes you feel valued if this is all you get for putting your life on the line".

World Cup fever

The Sun and The Independent are among the papers to look ahead to the World Cup.

The Sun reveals that David and Victoria Beckham are planning to throw a pre-party - at a cost of 250,000 - for the England team before it flies to Japan.

The paper says the Oriental invitations alone cost around 10,000 to print and that at the party itself there will be Geisha girls on hand serving drinks and a sushi banquet.

While the Japanese fans at the 1998 World Cup in France became famous for voluntarily clearing up the litter at the ground after each of their team's games, they say English fans are "dirty, drunk...with rough manners", according to The Independent.

The paper reports that shop owners in Osaka are taking out special "hooligan insurance" in anticipation of any damage.

The head of the local chamber of commerce tells the paper: "The glaziers will do well because they'll have to repair all the broken windows".

'Lord of the Rings'

A colour photograph on the front page of The Guardian has to be seen to be believed.

It depicts a 71-year-old former banker showing off some of his 350 piercings ahead of the Modern Primitives show in Gottingen, in Germany.

The paper says that while adults flock to see the extreme exhibition, thankfully children are banned.

Cyber romance

The Times considers new research which claims to has discovered that internet dating could prove more successful than face-to-face romance.

Psychologists have found that even though most people lie about themselves over the web, they feel more able to exchange information and therefore get to know each other quite well before their first meeting.

The headline? "Why romance is as easy as falling off a log-on."

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