Iraq deaths, gender change and online danger

  • 11 August 2014

The plight of those fleeing Islamist militants in northern Iraq - and the response of the West to the crisis - dominates the papers.

The Telegraph's Jonathan Krohn on Mount Sinjar files a dispatch from what the paper describes as "Iraq's mountain of death". "On the dry mountain, the Yazidis fight with the goats for the remaining water. In the distance, the lights of Islamic State checkpoints loom menacingly," he writes.

"On Sunday, those stuck behind Islamic State lines began reporting the group's latest slaughter: hundreds of members of their arcane but colourful sect massacred for refusing to convert to Islam."

Telegraph columnist Boris Johnson says he has been looking with "sickened disbelief" at the "Ebola-like spread of the fanatics". "Yes, we have got it wrong before," he says, "and yes, we cannot do everything. But that doesn't mean we should collapse into passivity and quietism in the face of manifest evil. These people need our help."

Image copyright AP

Times columnist David Aaronovitch compares the Islamic State with Hitler's SS in eastern Europe: "There is the same idea of a mystical destiny that doesn't just permit killing, but demands it". The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh believes it may be too late to stop the Islamist militants. He says Barack Obama - whom he describes as America's "slow-coach commander-in-chief" - is "responding to this terrifying threat to global security with pea-shooter air attacks".

The Daily Mirror is equally critical: "Unless the world acts, there is a dreadful possibility we will witness a genocide on a scale not seen since the slaughter in Rwanda 20 years ago." The Independent says Baghdad said there was "striking evidence" that at least 500 Yazidis were murdered in recent days and hundreds of women enslaved.

Women and children have been buried alive in mass graves by the fanatics terrorising Iraq, says the Daily Mail. The Daily Express says Islamist militants sparked worldwide outrage. The Mail criticises what it perceives to be a lack of political leadership over the crisis: "David Cameron remains in Portugal. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is similarly on holiday, in Spain. Not a single minister appeared in front of the TV cameras yesterday."

The Guardian's Martin Chulov, in the town of Duhok, reports on the escape of at least half of the 40,000 people besieged by jihadists on a mountain top in northern Iraq. He says the refugees, all members of the Yazidi sect, began streaming back into Iraqi Kurdistan after a perilous journey past Islamic State militants.

The Times says a group of MPs expressed dismay at Britain's efforts so far to save minority religious groups in the north of Iraq, and called on Mr Cameron to recall Parliament. On US strategy, the Financial Times says air strikes have failed to roll back the Islamic State's advance and can be seen as a propaganda victory for the group.


Support for Maloney

Image copyright PA

There is plenty of reaction to the revelation that former boxing promoter Frank Maloney is undergoing a gender change and now lives as a woman called Kellie.

The Independent's boxing correspondent Steve Bunce pays tribute to Maloney.

"Maloney managed and trained some stupidly brave fighters, men who took terrible risks in a fearless business," he writes "and yesterday morning the trainee priest, apprentice jockey, amateur fighter, promoter, publican and manager of fighting men showed that she was their equal. Well done, Kellie."

The Daily Mirror comments: "What has been particularly heartening has been the reaction to the news. A few years ago such an announcement would have been met with derision and prejudice. The response to Kellie has been warmly supportive."

Sun boxing columnist Colin Hart says he was "gobsmacked" when he heard the news - there was no indication he was leading a double life.

One expert tells the same paper that most gender non-conformists were still "invisible" but growing numbers were gaining more confidence.

The Times says Frank became Kellie in an announcement that stunned boxing. There was broad support in the super-macho world of boxing for coming out as transgender though mocking remarks were also rife, it adds.

The reaction from the world of sport was almost universally supportive, says the Daily Telegraph.

"Strange things happen in boxing but one of the toughest figures in the business wearing a dress in a tabloid newspaper took a few members of the fight fraternity by surprise," says a commentary piece in the Guardian.

"Then again, it can be a surprisingly sentimental business, a tight-knit and protective community that gathers around when under siege - and that is what happened when Frank became Kellie."

Transgender campaigner Jane Mae writes in the Daily Mail that while many might be shocked, it comes as no surprise to her.

"There's no rule which says that hairdressers are more likely to be transgender than sporting professionals," she says.


Bullies and groomers

The Independent reports that a former government adviser has warned that the internet is a "lawless jungle that will soon be too dangerous for children to use".

Charity director Anthony Smythe tells the Independent that legislation is needed to protect young people when they are online.

The interview is the first in a week-long series of articles in the paper about the role of the internet in the lives of children and young people.

In an editorial, the Independent says more must be done to stop online bullies and groomers.

"The internet remains a fantastic resource," it says. "It is a great leap forward that most of us can no longer imagine living without. But it does have a dark side - and children need protection from it."

The Times reports that self-harming among children as young as 10 has surged by 70% in the past two years.

The paper has obtained NHS figures that show the number of children aged between 10 and 14 treated in hospital after deliberately hurting themselves has risen to more than 2,700 since 2012.

The Times says experts reacted with alarm to the news.

Meanwhile, the same paper says young people are seriously underestimating how much they will spend during their lifetime - by a figure which researchers put at just over £1m.

In a survey, teenagers thought the average deposit for a house was £27,000 when it was actually £60,000, and £12,000 for a wedding which should be more like £18,000.

They also thought they would need £33,000 a year in retirement - six times more than the state pension.


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