Newspaper headlines: Health pills scare, and the SNP question

As further migrants die in the Mediterranean Sea and more boats send out distress signals, the newspapers are full of dramatic pictures of people being pulled - alive and dead - from one capsized craft on the Greek island of Rhodes.

The Times, which says more than 3,000 people died attempting the crossing from North Africa in 2014 and an estimated 1,500 have drowned so far this year, quotes an Italian volunteer scouring the sea where a packed migrant ship sank on Saturday.

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Image caption It is thought as many as 975 people may have drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday

"We think we have seen everything, but there I saw children's shoes, lifejackets, a school book, a rucksack and a boy face down in a huge oil slick that marked the tomb of all those poor unlucky people - but I didn't see a single survivor," said fisherman Vincenzo Bonomo.

The victims of the trafficking routes do not all just die at sea, the paper adds in another story.

It is thought the 30 Ethiopian Christians murdered by jihadists professing loyalty to the Islamic State group were trying to make the crossing to Europe, it says.

The Sun says criminal gangs led by the Italian mafia can make up to £3.5m from each boat trip to Europe, with some desperate passengers paying as much as £5,000 to be smuggled from war-stricken Syria.

The Guardian has an article written by Hakim Bello, a Nigerian who himself fled Libya on a people traffickers' boat in 2011.

Mr Bello said he was working as a tailor in Libya but had to leave when civil war engulfed the country and his colour made him a target for extortion and threats from armed militias.

"The boat wasn't built for the journey and it flipped up every time a big wave hit. All I could do was say my last prayer - I felt like I was dead already," he recalls.

In its analysis, the paper's Europe editor Ian Traynor notes that there is no common European ommunity policy when it comes to immigration because "an EU-wide scheme is a no-go for national governments".

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Image caption Black Africans have not felt safe in Libya since the fall of Col Gaddafi

The patchwork of differing policies and unequal distribution of refugees and asylum-seekers has left the European commission with nothing to offer but "handwringing impotence" and "sad and empty words".

The Independent's front page demands that a solution is found by European leaders to stop the "tide of death".

Its report headlines the words of the UN's human rights chief that EU inaction is turning the Mediterranean "into a vast cemetery".

The paper lists various options that could be used to mitigate the crisis, including an extension of the search and rescue operations in the area; allowing a "corridor of controlled immigration"; tackling the Libyan crisis by diplomacy to help restore state authority there; sending a UN force to Libya to restore order; and blockading the smugglers boats.


The intervention of former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major has kept the debate on the front pages about the influence which the SNP may have in national politics.

The Daily Telegraph leads on Sir John's claim that a Labour administration dependent on SNP support would face a "daily dose of political blackmail".

The paper's editorial, while accusing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon of "pushing" socialism and "narrow sectarian interest", finds much to admire in the Scottish leader.

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Image caption Nicola Sturgeon: a true believer, the Telegraph says

"While the leaders of the bigger parties dance around trying to disavow their most cherished policies in a forlorn search for the elusive centre ground, Ms Sturgeon convinces because she believes what she says, however misguided it may be," it writes.

The Times says with her manifesto launch, the SNP chief "makes a power grab as she extends the hand of friendship" to non-Scottish voters.

In analysis in the paper, Rachel Sylvester says the "parties will regret holding guns to each other's heads when they need to look responsible after the election.

"As the polls remain stuck, even after manifesto launches, leaders' debates and billboard ads, the threats are being ramped up in an attempt to break the deadlock.

"The most important thing for the next prime minister will be to try to bring unity to a divided nation. but, after the insults and threats, will it be too late," she concludes.

The Financial Times goes back 105 years and compares the role Mrs Sturgeon's party may play in the new parliament, to that of John Redmond's Irish Parliamentary Party before World War One.

In 1910, Redmond's nationalists held the balance of power and after a failed attempt to agree a common approach by Britain's then big two parties, two elections had to be held in a year and an Irish home rule bill was forced on to the parliamentary agenda.

The FT's opinion column says Mrs Sturgeon is not "the most dangerous woman in Britain" as right-leaning tabloids have labelled her, and it is not "illegitimate for her party's MPs to maximise their influence in the Westminster parliament."

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Image caption John Redmond: Edwardian politics "kingmaker"

It adds, though, that her "wish list" of policies contains "pitfalls" for the UK as a whole and the Labour Party in particular, and Ed Miliband should resist acceding to it.

The Guardian leads on fears expressed by Tory peer Lord Forsyth that his party has "talked up" the SNP in an effort to undermine Labour in Scotland and in doing so has strengthened the threat it represents to the Union.

The Independent's cartoon shows Ed Miliband in a dinghy encircled by a serpentine Loch Ness Monster which looks very much like Ms Sturgeon.

The Labour leader is saying: "It's a myth, a fantasy... there's no evidence, just a phony picture concocted by the Tories... the very idea of Labour in the grip of the SNP... unbelievable!!"

'More harm than good'

Tuesday's other main story concerns health concerns surrounding various types of pills.

The Daily Express leads on concerns expressed by US researchers that taking too many vitamin supplements could increase people's risk of heart disease and cancer.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Among the substances singled out for concern was beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor, which could raise heart disease and lung cancer risk in high doses, and raise the risk of lung cancer and heart disease by 20% when taken at above the recommended dose.

Vitamin B9, or folic acid, was was found to increase potentially cancerous bowel polyps if taken above recommended levels. Another study has linked excessive Vitamin E with a raised prostate cancer risk.

Dr Tim Byers, who led the 10-year study, is quoted as saying: "If taken at the correct dosage, multivitamins can be good for you.

"But there is no substitute for good, nutritional food. And we have discovered that taking extra vitamins and minerals does more harm than good."

The Daily Mirror says the vitamin supplement industry is worth £385m in the UK, with 35% of people having bought such pills at some time, according to 2012 market research.

Nutritionist Dr Carina Norris tells the paper: "I think there is an assumption that if a nutrient is good for you, then more is better.

"But in some cases increasing the dose can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases."

Banned diet pills bought over the internet contributed to a tragedy featured in many newspapers.

The Times reports how Shropshire student Eloise Parry "burned up from the inside" after taking eight pills containing DNP, a substance used in explosives.

The paper says the substance has long been used in slimming aids but was banned in the US in 1938 for its severe side effects.

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Image caption Mindfulness encourages people to disengage from negative thoughts, the Guardian writes

Eloise's mother Fiona Parry is quoted as asking, "How many of us have ever thought: 'If one tablet works, surely it won't hurt to take one or two more'?

"Most of us don't believe that a slimming tablet could kill us."

The Times adds that police are investigating where Ms Parry purchased the tablets.

Not all the health stories in Tuesday's press are bad.

The Guardian is among papers reporting that Mindfulness, a kind of cognitive behaviour therapy which encourages "individuals to pay more attention to the present moment" can be as effective as drugs at treating people suffering from recurrent bouts of depression.

The paper says that a small trial reported in the Lancet found that outcomes were the same for depressed patients encouraged to use Mindfulness based cognitive therapy, as those on conventional antidepressants.

It adds that the study suggests a new option for those not wanting to remain on drug therapies for too long, or suffering from side effects.

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