Iraq crisis, Robin Williams' death and Rory McIlroy's celebrations
- 12 August 2014
Striking photographs from northern Iraq are effective in highlighting the suffering of the Yazidi minority as they flee from advancing Islamist militants.
The Daily Mirror devotes almost its whole front page to an image of a boy walking through the desert in oversized boots, while pictures of an entire community on the move - such as that used by the Financial Times - show the scale of the problem. The Telegraph's Jonathan Krohn, on Mount Sinjar where thousands of Yazidis remain stranded having fled their homes, describes people resorting to using water from troughs left out for the goats and eating raw meat.
Like Krohn, Hannah Lucinda Smith recounts in the Times stories - difficult to verify - of mass killings by Islamic State (IS) fighters. She describes mountain slopes "strewn with unburied Yazidis dead from hunger and thirst". Meanwhile, the Guardian articulates the fears fathers have that their abducted daughters could be married off or sold as sex slaves.
According to the Daily Star, the IS extremists are "so brutal even terror mastermind Osama bin Laden disowned them". Daily Mail cartoonist Mac re-imagines the Ascent of Man drawings, with a jihadist fighter ordering homo sapiens and his forebears backwards, with the command: "This way, infidels!"
Some papers focus on the political turmoil contributing to events, with the Financial Times suggesting that the nomination of a new prime minister to replace Nouri Maliki could lead to a "prolonged power struggle". The US has agreed to give Kurdish fighters direct military aid to fight the Islamists, the FT says.
Call to arms
Much of the coverage focuses on the world's response and particularly that of the UK, with PM David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg both on holiday and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond being left to "mind the shop", as the Times puts it. Spelling out "who's where", the Daily Mail notes that Labour leader Ed Miliband is also on holiday, as are a host of senior cabinet ministers. Its cartoonist, Pugh, imagines their positions being advertised on a "temp jobs" board at an employment agency.
Times cartoonist Morten Morland sums things up in eight sections, seven filled by the corpses of Iraqis and the last containing a ruddy-cheeked Mr Cameron supine on a beach towel. London Mayor Boris Johnson and former head of the army Lord Dannatt are among those calling for the UK to take military action, reports the Daily Express, while some MPs have called for Parliament to be recalled.
However, the Independent's Steve Richards says Mr Cameron may be reluctant to recall MPs following his previous defeat in a vote on military action in Syria: "He would need to... be wholly confident he could win a vote on taking military action. He could not lose a second vote and be taken seriously as a leader."
The Times is among papers suggesting that the RAF Tornado fighter-bombers sent to the region to help the aid operation are also "ready for combat". And the Sun uses the headline "Send in the RAF" above a report on an opinion poll suggesting that 37% of Britons would approve of anti-IS combat missions, as opposed to 36% who would not. Some 27% of those asked were undecided.
Iraq veteran and former commander of British forces in Afghanistan Col Richard Kemp writes in the Daily Mirror that air strikes will not be enough and that "we must put forces on the ground".
However, the Express's editorial warns: "There is no guarantee that British intervention would make Iraq a better place. It would be irresponsible and immoral to risk the lives of our troops in poorly planned military manoeuvres ordered as a knee-jerk reaction."
After he secured his fourth major title, the focus quickly shifted from Rory McIlroy's performance on the greens to the party in honour of his US PGA Championship victory.
Reproducing a selfie the golfer took aboard his private jet, the Daily Express says he's roaring off for a "swinging celebration". The Daily Star calls it "a week-long bender". He's "got his life down to a tee", just three months after splitting from former fiancee and tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki, says the Sun, explaining that he had the help, of his family, sponsors, fitness regime and "birdies".
The Guardian says the Northern Irishman will soon turn his attention to the Ryder Cup, insisting he's ready to handle the extra pressure and spur the European team on to victory over the US at Gleneagles. Meanwhile, the Times argues that McIlroy is proof that "in sport as in evolution, the nice guys can finish first".
News of the death of much-loved actor Robin Williams came too late for UK newspapers' early editions but many updated their front pages to record the news, with both the Sun and Mirror reporting that he is believed to have killed himself.
The Telegraph devotes page three of its later editions to photographs spanning the star's career, showing his rise to fame in TV comedy Mork & Mindy, in one of his most famous roles as a US army DJ in Good Morning Vietnam and as a psychologist in his Oscar-winning supporting role in Good Will Hunting. Ben Endley, in the Express, runs through his most famous performances which became "some of the most unforgettable movie roles of the late 20th century".
Peter Bradshaw describes on the Guardian's website the "brutal shock" of losing such "a superb, mercurial standup comic with a staggering talent for improv and verbal riffing". Despite that, he adds: "He clearly suffered from depression - these were symptoms hiding in plain sight - and his brilliance assumes a deeply sad aspect."
On the Independent's website, LA Correspondent Tim Walker writes: "In his more emotive roles - the widowed therapist of Good Will Hunting, the troubled English teacher of Dead Poet's Society, even the desperate, divorced, cross-dressing father of Mrs Doubtfire (1993) - a viewer could discern inklings of what may now be interpreted as Williams' own deep and authentic pain. It is to his credit that he used it to create such indelible characters."
"The history of comedy is peppered with real-life tragedy and yesterday another life that brought laughter to millions ended far too soon," writes Rhys Blakely in the Times.
Mark Simmonds' explanation that he resigned as a Foreign Office Minister and plans to quite politics because the rules governing MPs' expenses mean he cannot afford to maintain a family life prompts little sympathy in the press.
The Daily Telegraph gives his finances a thorough once-over, suggesting that he has received more than half a million pounds through the expenses system since being elected in 2001 and made a similar sum after selling a house, "the mortgage interest of which was paid by the taxpayer for almost all the time he owned it".
Being eligible for £27,875 in housing allowances, Mr Simmonds could rent "a mid-terrace Georgian house conversion with three large double bedrooms, a big kitchen, living room and a garden in Oval... less than two miles from Parliament," says the Telegraph. "If he were willing to use public transport, like most working Londoners, the allowance would also get him a four-bedroom, semi-detached property with large garden in Streatham, south London, or a four-bedroom flat with private garden in St John's Wood, north-west London, one of the capital's most sought-after neighbourhoods."
The Daily Mail describes Mr Simmonds as "moaning" and quotes a TaxPayers' Alliance spokesman calling his complaint "ridiculous". The Mirror argues: "It goes without saying his comments are insulting to those who struggle to afford one home, never mind having another paid for by the taxpayer. But what makes the jaw drop is he appears completely unaware just how offensive they are."
Meanwhile, the Sun reports that MPs' claims for small items such as paper clips and staples are to be "kept secret" after politicians complained they were "being ridiculed" in the press. "Presumably the taxpayer must take it on trust that MPs will not be putting in a bogus claim for 25,000 staples every time the moat needs draining," the paper's editorial complains.
Making people click
Guardian: Robin Williams: 'I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust - that's hard to recover from' (From September 2010)
Times: Suddenly it feels uncomfortable to be a Jew
Telegraph: Two-headed dolphin washes up on beach in Turkey
Mail: 'The pain must have been ridiculous!' Sarah Harding reveals her thoughts on Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's famous rose tattoo