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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 07:31 GMT
Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

"Baby Number Four at Number Ten'' is the way The Scotsman reports that Cherie Blair is pregnant at the age of 45.

According to The Daily Mail, the Prime Minister's wife is following an increasing trend among British women of adding to their families after they reach their forties.

Despite a recent punishing schedule of engagements, the paper observes that Mrs Blair betrayed no sign of tiredness.

The Mirror, which claims to have broken the story, says Cherie is a terrific role model for women everywhere.

She will take the chance, the paper says, to show how age does not have to be a barrier to having a baby.

The child care expert, Dr Miriam Stoppard, writing in the paper, advises the mum-to-be to conserve energy, take cat naps and enjoy some early nights.

Mitchell "invaluable"

There's no shortage of praise for Senator George Mitchell's role in revitalising the political situation in Northern Ireland.

Writing in The Independent the veteran correspondent, David McKittrick, says the American's skills were invaluable.

They provided, he says, a safe context for unionists and republicans to explore avenues without being hostages to fortune.

But he warns that with more obstacles ahead, the former US senator may yet return for another rescue mission.

Peter Mandelson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, writing in The Daily Telegraph, sums up the situation left by the former senator.

Republicans, he says, are being offered a place in government, equality in society and human rights protection.

In turn, the unionists will enjoy a constitutional status quo, with the future of the Union safeguarded as long as the majority wishes it so.

Shortlist strife

But according to The Times cartoon one dispute is beyond even the former senator's powers.

As Mitchell walks away saying: ''Sorry, folks, not even I can sort this one out'', Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone are pictured at each other's throats.

This is a theme picked up by the Mail which predicts the Prime Minister faces months of internal strife now that the former GLC leader is on the party's shortlist for Mayor of London.

"Showdown" is the one-word The Express headline marking the start of the bitter libel trial between Neil Hamilton and Mohamed al-Fayed.

Or, as The Independent quotes from the proceedings: ''The day a 'habitual liar' met a 'politician on the make'.''

The Times says the high drama, being played out in court 13 at the High Court in London between two of the country's legal heavy weights, was ruthless and utterly compelling.

For its part, The Mail believes it could ''become the most viciously fought libel trial of the century.''

Camel milk

The Telegraph reports that four young British women have retraced Marco Polo's steps across Asia.

In doing so, they are believed to have become the first modern travellers to use traditional means to traverse four thousand miles of the ancient Silk Road.

The team started on horses and finished the journey ten months later on camels.

They crossed the scorching Gobi desert, avoided armed Uzbeck soldiers, fell sick and even lived for a time on fermented camel milk.

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