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Friday, October 1, 1999 Published at 03:58 GMT 04:58 UK


Questions asked over Japan accident

Coverage of the Japanese nuclear accident dominates many of the front pages.

The Financial Times says the chain reaction must have been set off by "a serious human error". The Sun reports that the authorities were "seemingly ill-prepared" in their response.

As The Independent puts it, Japan has been "forced to confront a nuclear nightmare once more". The paper examines Japan's preference for nuclear power, and says it was "only a matter of luck" that the country hadn't faced an accident like this before now.

As the Labour Party conference enters its final day in Bournemouth, the political journalists and leader writers give their assessments of the week's proceedings. In the opinion of the Daily Telegraph, the effects of Tony Blair's speech "with its nasty, sneering attitude" are still resonating.

'Shiny conference'

It accuses him of attempting to revive the class war, and says the leadership is "increasingly revealed as bullying, intolerant and dishonest".

The Guardian's sketch writer says it's been a "terrifically shiny conference....but nothing shines as brightly as Tony Blair....When anyone on the platform makes a joke, no matter how small, he opens his mouth in a huge smile and it's like a stoker's view of the Flying Scotsman's engine".

Political correctness has been attacked by an Old Bailey judge in a speech to mark the end of his 45-year career.

The Daily Mail says Judge Henry Pownall departed from a personal and light-hearted address, to tell his audience: "I find it sad, even disturbing, that political correctness in all its horrid forms is creeping into all our everyday lives."

According to the Daily Telegraph, the remarks were greeted with "appreciative murmurs" - and can be interpreted as a thinly veiled attack on the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, who two days ago issued guidelines about avoiding any perceptions of racial bias.

Thorn in the side

Most of the broadsheets carry profiles of the German writer, Gunter Grass, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

He is generally portrayed as a thorn in the side of the German establishment, with the Financial Times describing him as someone who is "always prodding at the bruised conscience of a nation who would prefer to look forward and forget".

The Times leads with a story about plans by the new Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to help children who are the victims of so-called punishment beatings by paramilitary gangs.

The paper reports that more than 4,000 young people have been the affected by IRA and loyalist violence since the Good Friday agreement was signed.

It says a new commissioner is to be appointed, to look after the interests of children in the province and support compensation cases.

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