Newspaper headlines: Nuclear test, Ramadan exams, Labour reshuffle and Prince George

North Korea's claim that it has tested its first hydrogen bomb is widely covered, and it makes the front page lead for the Guardian.

The paper reports doubts at the White House and among nuclear experts globally about whether Pyongyang actually detonated such a device.

It notes that even a miniaturised bomb would be expected to have created a blast far bigger than the more rudimentary atomic bombs North Korea has tested previously.

But the Telegraph says the trial was viewed by experts as further evidence of the steady expansion of North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The Independent reports that all 15 members of the UN Security Council, "including China, its powerful neighbour and only potential United Nations ally", strongly condemned the nuclear test.

In an an editorial, the Guardian says Kim Jong-un and the bomb is a puzzle for China: "China's role will be key - it is North Korea's sole ally and economic backer, and it has made a staple of throwing its weight around in the region.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption North Korea said its nuclear test was authorised by the country's leader Kim Jong-Un

"Chinese impatience with this new test will likely show in the UN, and there is a possibility that a new layer of sanctions will be added to those already existing.

"But China has also long used - and upheld - North Korea as a bulwark against the kind of regional chaos and US military encroachment that Beijing fears would follow regime collapse."

The Independent agrees, saying that North Korea's "latest provocation" puts China on the spot.

The Times grimly warns that North Korea is "speeding towards a bomb that threatens us all".

"The possession of nuclear weapons can transform even erratic tinpot dictators into objects of global concern," it says.

"Kim Jong-un of North Korea may cut an absurd figure, but as long as his finger is close to a trigger button, he has to be taken seriously."

Religious considerations

Another story that captures the interest of the papers involves school exams this summer being scheduled to take account of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Daily Mail says hundreds of thousands of teenagers will have to take key exams earlier than usual to help pupils fasting for Ramadan.

The paper notes that the holy month moves backwards through the calendar by about 11 days a year - meaning similar measures are likely to be in place for at least five years.

The Times reports: "The holy month will fall within the exam season, meaning that thousands of Muslim pupils would sit crucial tests without eating or drinking during daylight hours.

"It is thought to be the first time that exam chiefs have taken religious considerations into account.

"Ramadan last fully coincided with the exam season in 1984, when the Muslim population in Britain was far smaller. There was a slight overlap last year but no concessions were made."

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Media captionPolitical commentator Lance Price and Bronwyn Curtis, from the Society of Business Economists, join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages.

The Telegraph says tests could be taken earlier in the day, when Muslim students are least hungry, or even before the start of the traditional exam season, to lessen the effects.

As the Guardian explains: "Ramadan - when the Qur'an was said to be revealed to the prophet Muhammad - is commemorated by Muslims with fasting during the hours of daylight.

"Head teachers fear that Muslim pupils could suffer as a result during the stress of sitting exams."

Although generally welcomed, the announcement has not gone down well with everyone.

Colin Hart, of the charity The Christian Institute, tells the Telegraph: "What about students who have medical conditions?

"How can you start changing the rules for everybody, just for those particular pupils who are Muslims, which are a minority."


The fallout from Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet reshuffle features heavily in the press.

The Guardian says Mr Corbyn faces a continuing struggle to assert his authority over the shadow cabinet after shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said he had not been "muzzled" and would carry on in his post in exactly the same manner as before.

The remarks, says the Guardian, were at odds with statements made by the leadership that claimed Mr Benn had agreed to act collectively with Mr Corbyn at all times.

"It took 34 hours and 13 minutes for the longest shadow cabinet reshuffle in recent memory to be completed," it states.

"It was not until the early hours of yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn's aides were able to declare the leader was happy with his new, more unified team.

"There had been just two headline sackings, that of Michael Dugher and Pat McFadden; one reluctant sideways move, involving Maria Eagle; and one return, of an old ally, Emily Thornberry."

The Guardian is far from impressed, saying that "after a shambolic show of strength, the malady lingers on".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Emily Thornberry: Jeremy Corbyn's "big prize" in the reshuffle, says the Times

The Independent says Mr Corbyn was caught in a "quitter-storm" - referring to the resignations of frontbenchers Kevan Jones, Jonathan Reynolds and Stephen Doughty in reaction to the reshuffle.

In the view of the Independent, the exercise was a shambles that did Mr Corbyn's leadership no credit.

The Times says the reshuffle took Labour a step closer to abandoning its support for the UK's nuclear deterrent after the appointment of Ms Thornberry, who is against Trident.

"The reshuffle combined brutality and compromise and failed to live up to its billing but still delivered Mr Corbyn his big prize: the unilateralist Emily Thornberry in the post of shadow defence secretary," it says.

The Telegraph believes Labour is even further from power in the wake of the changes.

"It is tempting to regard Labour as a sideshow and let them get on with their fratricidal shenanigans," it states.

"But the government only has a narrow Commons majority, and who knows what circumstances might arise that could conceivably put Mr Corbyn in Downing Street.

"Fortunately, the events of the past few days have made that prospect more remote."

First day

One little boy whose image appears on most of the front pages is Prince George, on his first day at nursery school.

The Mail says the third in line to the throne could not have looked more excited as he toddled into Westacre Montessori School in Norfolk.

"In a picture taken by his mother Kate on their arrival, the two-year-old is seen smiling at a brightly coloured mural - and striking a pose remarkably similar to that of his grandfather Prince Charles," the Mail reports.

"In another, he looks boldly down the lens - clearly brimming with confidence."

Sun fashion editor Joely Chilcott says the prince had a more modern look than has been seen before, with his blue, quilted coat and light blue rucksack.

The Mirror remarks that his low-key arrival was in contrast to his father's first day at nursery in west London in 1985, to which the media were invited.

Image copyright Duchess of Cambridge
Image caption Prince George was said to be "brimming with confidence" on his first day at nursery

Finally, a real good-news story about the village where residents have carried out 800 random acts of kindness over the past year, one to mark each year since the parish church was founded.

The Times says that kindly deeds have been recorded on cards posted into a box at St Andrew's Church in Congresbury, Somerset.

These have included delivering aid to refugees in Calais, secretly paying a neighbour's vets bill, giving warm clothes to a rough sleeper and teenagers painting public benches.

Organiser of the scheme, Becci North, tells the Times: "Everyone embraced the project. It didn't matter how small or large the act was, it was the fact someone took the time to help another person."

Eye-catching headlines

  • First taste of egg and chips plant: Horticulturalists have come up with a single plant that provides the ingredients for moussaka, apart from the lamb. The "new egg and chips" plant produces aubergines - or eggplants, if you are an American - and potatoes from the same stem Times
  • Who ate all the nuts? Squirrels pile on pounds in mild winter: Wildlife experts say that the unusually balmy temperatures mean more food has been available than usual, allowing squirrels to fatten up Telegraph
  • "Hitler cats" have their faulty genes to blame: New scientific research suggests the seemingly random colouring of black and white cats, some known as "Hitler cats" because of the markings under their noses, is determined before they are born by a faulty gene Independent

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