'Skull cracker' arrest, halal food outrage and has Miley Cyrus gone too far?
- 8 May 2014
A photograph of the fugitive nicknamed "Skull Cracker" - on the pavement and apparently handcuffed - covers the front page of the Daily Mirror.
Inside, the paper describes how events unfolded since Michael Wheatley absconded from an open prison in Kent on Saturday. It records several sightings of the convicted armed robber in the London area on Monday and a building society raid in Surrey on Wednesday.
The Metro quotes witnesses describing the moments before his arrest, involving a police chase which ended in a black BMW crashing into an east London housing block.
Wheatley had failed to return to jail after his day release and the Daily Telegraph says his case has "started a political debate about the handling of violent criminals". It says the Conservatives will pledge to force violent criminals to earn early release, rather than qualify for it automatically.
Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, the Independent's Whitehall editor Oliver Wright said: "I don't think the government should be saying we should be changing the law on when you let people out on the basis of this case. It might be good politics but it's pretty ineffective policy."
His fellow panellist Zamila Bunglawala added: "Before we start reforming the penal system we need to look at the how many people we currently have in prisons and those numbers are horrific."
However Rod Liddle, in the Sun, criticises "do-gooders" who "decided it might be a good idea to let him out", despite him being only 12 years through his 13 life sentences. "The system no longer cares about the public it was set up to protect," he complains.
And the Telegraph argues: "What this most exposes... is the disconnection between the sentences passed by the courts and the length of time served." It adds that more honesty in sentencing policy would restore public confidence.
Millions of Britons are eating halal food without realising, warns the Daily Mail, before explaining that many supermarkets and restaurants switched to slaughtering animals in line with Islamic ritual because the meat can be eaten by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The Mail's Guy Adams explains that halal abattoirs account for roughly a quarter of the UK's 352 slaughterhouses but - while most stun their animals with an electric shock - he visits one which uses "old-fashioned, scripturally correct" methods which ensure the animal is still conscious as its throat is slit. And while it might save the chains money because they don't have to offer alternatives from different sources, he hears from consumers who object to the "Islamification of food".
For the Sun, it's "fowl play" that vendors don't tell customers when they're being served halal meat. Its poll suggested 73% of Britons believe restaurants should be made to say when that is the case.
Brendan O'Neill, writing in the Telegraph, doesn't mind. "All meat is a slaughtered beast, so it seems pointless to worry about how the creature in question was done in," he says. What he finds hard to swallow, however, is that "the food-related sensitivities of 4.8% of the British population should apparently trump the right of the other 95%".
The Daily Star accepts the "jury is out" as to whether halal meat production is any less humane than factory farming methods but says: "It is appalling we're still not being told what is in our food. Lessons should have been learned after the horsemeat scandal."
However, the Guardian's Hugh Muir writes: "Better in this changing Britain to make your products acceptable to those who might buy them, especially if others without specific requirement raise no significant objection. If they do, the [company's] policy will change. In the meantime, better to keep costs down by using one method of production rather than several."
For the Financial Times, Miley Cyrus's latest show is both "celebration of the twerk ethic" and "carnival of bad taste". It dispatched reviewer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney to London's 02 Arena where, in between various "alarmingly tiny body suits" and a "giant flying hot dog", he saw a problem.
"Cyrus didn't come across as a good singer. In fact, when massacring the soulful tear-jerker My Darlin', she sounded like a very bad one. She can belt 'em out - a cover of her godmother Dolly Parton's Jolene proved that - but the wild oscillations of the other songs, from dance-pop to rap to rock, lay well beyond her range."
It wasn't her voice that worried the Mirror's Alison Phillips, rather the show's "sex, drugs and the vilest swear words" served up to an audience who "still need help crossing the road".
She adds: "There is nothing ground-breaking or edgy about what she is doing. She has simply joined the world's oldest profession - selling sex to make money. And I'm not buying it."
Annabel Cole, who - through "a mixture of naivety and ignorance" - took her 15-year-old daughter along, writes in the Mail: "Only 20 minutes into the show, I was wincing so much I wished we hadn't come at all."
For her it was the "deeply cynical conflating of extremes - childish playfulness and suggestive cavorting" that made her most uneasy.
So has Cyrus "gone Mileys too far"? Yes, according to the Sun's Jen O'Brien, who argues that the "her need to shock seems to be taking over from the music". However, colleague Lia Nicholls argues otherwise: "I haven't been so entertained at a gig for a long, long time. Remove the gimmicks and you've still got a star with an amazing presence and incredible voice."
And the Times's Lisa Verrico - who rated the show as four-of-of-five - believed the "two-hour pop-art extravaganza felt fresh, fun and oddly innocent", adding: "Metaphorically speaking, that famous tongue was firmly in its cheek."
As the campaign to trace more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Nigerian Islamists gathers pace, the Guardian uses a montage of photographs of women wearing red at demonstrations or posted on social media with the message "#BringBackOurGirls".
It says the hashtag has "mobilised the world", helping an online petition to attract 400,000 signatures and gaining support from politicians and celebrities such as Sean Penn, Hillary Clinton, Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake.
The Times, which reports that SAS troops based in the Nigerian capital Abuja have switched focus to "evaluate the UK's capacity to help the rescue", focuses on the support for the cause of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl and girls' education campaigner who survived being shot by the Taliban.
The Daily Mirror reports the latest activities of the Boko Haram militants who, it says, "slaughtered" around 300 civilians during a 12-hour killing spree in the country's north-east.
"These sadistic monsters must be stopped," argues Max Hastings in the Daily Mail but he suggests that while Britain can provide military advice, things will only improve when the "kleptocrats" who rule "offer some portion of social justice" to the poorest. "Africa can be saved from itself only by Africans, not by heroes from Hereford," he adds.
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