Newspaper headlines: Middle class drink 'epidemic', aid 'giveaway' and a galactic cousin

Research suggesting that harmful drinking among the over-50s has become a "middle-class phenomenon" attracts much attention.

The Daily Mail features the study conducted for the charity Age UK on its front page, and its headline says the findings are evidence of a "drink epidemic".

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More than 9,000 people in England took part in the study which the Mail says portrays a "generation of problem drinkers" and bolsters a growing body of evidence about the issue.

According to the Times, the situation is a "crisis". It notes that Age UK says the research "challenges popular perceptions".

Doctors fear that older, more hardened drinkers are contributing to increasing rates of obesity, cancer and liver disease in a group who are otherwise healthy, wealthy and socially active, reports the Daily Mirror.

"Although affluent middle-aged people often appear to look after themselves by eating well and exercising regularly, they are actually far more likely to drink too much than their less successful peers," says the Daily Telegraph.

Eye-catching headlines

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  • "Arm and a Clegg" - Former deputy prime minister has been signed up by a US-based motivational speaking agency which is charging up to £35,000 for his services Daily Mirror
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Freight train stowaways

It's a mixed day for front page stories, with many papers carrying their own exclusives.

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The Daily Telegraph reports its undercover investigation has found evidence that senior NHS England staff, who help decide which drugs are used by GPs and hospitals in England, are being paid to work as consultants for pharmaceutical companies. The disclosures will prompt concerns about a potential conflict of interest and raise questions about the impartiality of public sector staff who control budgets, it says.

A photograph appearing to show about 40 illegal migrants arriving in the UK on freight train through the Channel Tunnel appears in the Sun. Hundreds of migrants have exploited travel chaos at Calais to board empty carriages returning to Folkestone overnight, says the paper. Although the Sun says it is not known what happened to the migrants shown in the image taken by a worker earlier this month, a group of about 80 who arrived this week using the same method are said to have been apprehended by police.

In its lead story, the Daily Express reports that a decades-long open door policy on immigration has led to English-speaking pupils becoming a minority in hundreds of classrooms. It cites five schools where one particular south Asian language - Bengali, Punjabi or Urdu - is spoken by the great majority of pupils.

The Daily Mirror carries claims that asbestos fibres are present in nearly 90% of schools in England, putting seven million children at risk of being exposed to the harmful material. Ministers say the substance is safe unless disturbed but unions are calling for total removal, and the Mirror says it is backing an audit of all classrooms.

'Secret stash'

A foreign aid project part-funded by the UK taxpayer amounts to a "giveaway", the Times says in its front page lead. The paper reports that more than £500m of taxpayers' money was rushed to the Switzerland-based Global Fund at the last minute to meet a government target of spending 0.7% on foreign aid, but the total is above its own contribution cap.

Some mosquito nets distributed by the fund are said to have been misused for fishing or to make wedding dresses, says the Times. The Global Fund also aims to fight Aids and tuberculosis and the Department for International Development says the agency is saving lives and working to ensure the fund delivers "the results and value we expect".

What the commentators say...

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Media captionThe Sun's Whitehall correspondent, Kate McCann, and the deputy editor at Buzzfeed UK, Jim Waterson, review Friday's front pages for the BBC News Channel.

The Independent says officials at the Cabinet Office are examining a secret stash of highly classified documents which could shed new light on some of the most controversial episodes of British political life over the last 50 years. It comes after the existence of an MI5 letter was revealed on Thursday warning of the risk of "political embarrassment" from child sexual abuse claims levelled against an MP.

Meanwhile, the race to become Labour leader shows no sign of disappearing from the headlines amid polls indicating that left-wing contender Jeremy Corbyn is ahead.

The Guardian leads with comments from John Mills, one of Labour's biggest donors, that the party could split if Mr Corbyn wins. A donor to the Blairite Liz Kendall's leadership campaign, the businessman suggests victory could trigger a split similar to the breakaway in 1981 that resulted in the formation of the SDP.

And interviewed by the Daily Mirror's political editor Jason Beattie, Mr Corbyn himself likens his popularity to rise of the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece. He says a direct comparison should not be drawn but there were "large numbers of people" in the UK who wanted to end "grotesque inequality".

Galactic cousin

The discovery by Nasa's Kepler telescope of a world sharing many characteristics with Earth and potentially capable of supporting life fascinates the papers.

Dubbed Earth 2.0, Kepler-452b could have liquid water on its surface and was reports the Times, "the stuff of science fiction until last night".

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But it is around 1,400 light years, or 8,400 trillion miles, away and the prospects of ever exploring the planet is a distant challenge, adds the paper.

In its leader column, the Daily Telegraph suggests Kepler-452b, at least 1.5bn years older than Earth, "can fuel the imagination" and might eventually offer a glimpse of our own future.

The Independent hails the discovery of "our bigger old cousin", while the Guardian notes that "the closest twin to Earth" outside the solar system was tracked down by scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Kepler-452b is in the so-called Goldilocks zone where it is "not too hot and not too cold for life to exist", says the Daily Mail.

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