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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
Papers consider missing Iraq weapons

The suggestion that Saddam Hussein's regime may have destroyed its weapons of mass destruction before the US-led invasion of Iraq is the main story for many papers on Thursday.

For the Daily Telegraph, Donald Rumsfeld's remarks are the closest the Bush administration has come to an admission that it may never find them.

The Independent, in its headline, says the claim has "blown apart the case for war".

The paper contrasts the US defence secretary's remarks with statements made by President Bush and Tony Blair in recent weeks, that Iraq continued to possess the weapons.

The Mirror declares in its headline: "We've been conned."

And a strapline across the front page of the Daily Mail asks the prime minister: "No Saddam, no weapons, murderous anarchy in Baghdad - well, what WAS it all for?"

'Deeply split'

The Times is the only paper to give prominence to the growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

It leads on Mr Blair's remarks echoing the latest American warning to Tehran not to interfere in the rebuilding of Iraq and to cease its alleged support for terrorist groups.

Elsewhere, the paper says senior Bush officials are deeply split about whether to isolate, destabilise or engage Iran.

It says the stage is set for a foreign policy debate that could dwarf divisions over Iraq.

Baby joy

The announcement that Sir Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather, are expecting their first child receives plenty of attention.

It is the main story for the Mail and pictures of the couple dominate the front pages of the Times and the Telegraph.

Slaughtered dogs

The Mail also highlights what it calls the sickening trade in dogs in China.

Its report is accompanied by a striking picture, across two pages, of hundreds of slaughtered dogs spread out across a vast courtyard in a village in the north of the country.

Under the headline "Carpet of Cruelty", the paper says the dogs are slaughtered so that their flesh can be sold as meat and their coats made into handbags, shoes, car seat covers and briefcases.

The Chinese, the report points out, believe that dog meat holds special medicinal properties.

Beckham meeting

The Telegraph reports that David Beckham is to follow up his recent audience with Nelson Mandela by meeting the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York next month.

According to the paper, he will be attending a reception to mark Manchester United's role as ambassadors for Unicef.


Now, here's a question: "Why don't plants have brains?"

And: "What effect on the whole of society does someone crashing into a lamp-post have?"

If you are baffled, spare a thought for the students who applied for places at Oxford and Cambridge last year.

According to the Telegraph, these are some of the more bizarre questions they faced at their entrance interviews.

The Times publishes a list of 25 examples, including: "Would a good liar make a good lawyer?"

Another was: "Tell me about a banana."

A statement by Oxford carried in both papers says obscure questions are a good way to test a candidate's lateral thinking and logical coherence.

So, what about this one, then? "If a park has a 'no vehicles' sign, are you breaking the law if you take a pram in it?"

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