Mark Shand death, Madeleine 'clues' and Tony Blair call on radical Islam in papers

The death of the Duchess of Cornwall's brother, Mark Shand, after a fall in New York is widely reported.

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The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph and the Sun all carry the same picture of Camilla with her younger brother at an event in London in 2002 on their front pages - and her statement that she was "utterly devastated".

The Sun says the "freak" accident happened outside a cocktail bar when Mr Shand tumbled over and cracked his head while smoking a cigarette.

The papers recount Mr Shand's life of "aristocratic adventure". The 62-year-old was known for his swashbuckling travel books and passionate commitment to conservation, says the Daily Mail.

The Daily Express says he earned a playboy reputation as a young man but a trip to India in 1988 "changed his life forever" and led to the start of his efforts to save the endangered Asian elephant.

Mr Shand was in New York to host an auction to raise money for his Elephant Family charity. The sale is thought to have raised more than $1m (£600,000) and the Times quotes a member of the charity as saying "Today should have been a day of celebration. Instead it's quite the opposite".

'Ideological enthusiasm'

A call by Tony Blair for the West to set aside its differences with Russia and China to focus on a growing threat from radical Islam attracts the attention of the leader writers.

The Times agrees with the "premise" of the former prime minister's argument but sees a "flaw" in his case. "The West should champion modernity and democracy," it says, adding that "not everyone who opposes Islamism is an ally".

Mr Blair's desire to take sides leads him to abandon reasonable caution, says the Independent. It believes he is ignoring the reality on the ground, and asking the West to join arms with parties "who deserve no such backing".

The Daily Telegraph believes Mr Blair "has a habit of picking up causes with an ideological enthusiasm that can cloud his judgement".

In the Guardian, Seumas Milne sees Mr Blair as "reprising the theme that guided him and George Bush through the deceit and carnage of the war on terror".

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The Daily Mirror too sees the speech as evidence that Mr Blair "has learned nothing from his disastrous invasion of Iraq", while the Daily Mail wonders if it can "really be safe" to let him continue as international peace envoy to the Middle East.

Mr Blair's comments also inspire the cartoonists, with Adams in the Daily Telegraph portraying him with outstretched arms. A speech bubble spells out the word "peace" - but its letters are formed from a tank, an assault rifle, a fighter plane, a gun sight and missiles.

Brian Adcock in the Independent sees danger in Mr Blair's call to seek Moscow's help by portraying him siding up to Russian President Vladimir Putin who is clutching a document behind his back marked "plans for Ukraine".

'Real hope'

An update by Metropolitan Police detectives investigating the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann while on holiday in Portugal in 2007 is examined closely. Officers say a sex assault on a 10-year-old girl in the same resort two year earlier could potentially be "very significant" and also are looking into several break-ins.

The Daily Express sees the Scotland Yard statement as a "breakthrough" in the hunt for Madeleine and an indication that arrests in the investigation could be made.

The Times says despite differences of approach and "obvious tensions" it is expected Portugal will soon accept a UK request to allow British officers on the ground in the Algarve.

But according to the Daily Mirror, there is a fear local police could unwittingly be sitting on vital forensic evidence.

The Daily Star acknowledges there have been "many false leads" in the case to date but sees "some real hope" for Madeleine's parents, who believe their daughter will be found.

'About time'

An indication by the Conservatives that local residents are to be given powers to block new onshore wind farms under a future Tory government is seen as a positive development.

The Daily Telegraph says the announcement is the latest sign of a hardening of Conservative rhetoric on green energy. It also reports no subsidies will paid to operators.

"About time, too," says the Daily Mail in an editorial. It adds that the Tories "are the first major party to recognise how hugely unpopular these monstrosities are with those who have to live with them". It looks forward to a day when all wind farms - "an utterly inadequate answer to our energy crisis" - are dismantled.

However, the Daily Express notes the government statement that the move was possible because there were enough new onshore wind farms in the pipeline to meet the UK's renewable energy commitments.

Rural communities have had more than enough of being exposed to the sight and sound of vast wind turbines, adds the Daily Express.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror, would apparently like to see an end to the government's flagship free schools programme in England.

Along with the Independent, the Mirror highlights Labour party research that suggests that three-quarters of free schools failed to fill their places when they opened. The government is funding free schools for 1,500 more pupils than are actually attending, the figures indicate.

The Mirror sees free schools as an "expensive way of squandering precious cash on an ideological whim" and said money should be spent on schools in areas where places are oversubscribed.

But a spokesman for the Department for Education says applications for free school places are rising and cited the additional funding provided to councils to create new school places.

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