Islamic State killing, Ashya King comment, Boris Island and 'Captain Fatso'
- 3 September 2014
For the second time in a fortnight, front pages feature images of an American journalist who is believed to have been beheaded by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.
While many papers use video stills taken from the footage purporting to show Steven Sotloff's death, others - such as the i and the Express - picture the reporter before his kidnap.
Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, broadcaster Lynn Faulds Wood highlighted the Independent's choice of photograph which showed Mr Sotloff "as the journalist, the man". She added: "It's interesting to see the editorial decisions which have gone on behind this… Well done to the Independent for choosing to show such a horrible, terrible story in this way. Some of the images are so graphic that you think it appeals to the nastier side of human nature."
However, Peter Kellner, president of the YouGov polling organisation, said he didn't think editors were choosing images in a bid to "send papers flying off the shelves", adding: "They are wrestling with a genuinely difficult judgement as to… [whether to show] the full truth - the horror, the knife - or do you find another way of telling the story which is less brutal?"
Richard Spencer, in the Telegraph, calls the latest video a "mirror image" of the previous one showing James Foley's killing but says the locations appear different, with the location in the video of Mr Foley's death identifiable by a green valley and path, and that there are clues to the timing of its filming in references to recent bombing raids.
"The killer's build looks more slender in the latest film, but this could have been distorted, as Sotloff's body also looks narrower," writes the Times's Deborah Haynes, describing the footage as a "carefully scripted sequel to the first". "Both videos feel more like a horror movie than real life because of the way they are staged," she adds.
Also in the Times, Tom Coghlan remembers Mr Sotloff as "one of a generation of young freelance foreign correspondents who came of age as reporters in the Arab Spring of 2011" and as someone who loved the Middle East and Arab culture.
Ed Pilkington writes in the Guardian that Mr Sotloff "made it his business to report from some of the world's most febrile and dangerous locations in the three years before he was captured in 2013".
Many papers focus on threats made in the militants' video to kill a British captive. The Guardian says the warning will "throw a spotlight on the UK government's insistence that it does not pay ransoms - unlike other European countries, which have been accused of encouraging further terrorist abductions as a result".
The Telegraph says the Briton - whose identity has not been revealed by the papers - was "left behind" in a failed bid by the US military to rescue hostages, including Mr Foley.
"The British connection will fuel the debate about whether the UK should join the US in mounting air strikes against IS in Iraq and, possibly, in Syria," writes the Independent's political editor Andrew Grice.
The Sun says it's time for PM David Cameron to act and makes the case for arming the Kurds, who are fighting IS in northern Iraq. "Short of sending in British troops, the Kurds, backed by our technology and firepower, are our best bet. We must empower them to destroy this psychotic cult for the good of the Middle East and Britain."
The Daily Mirror cautions against acting in haste, however, arguing: "Calibrating a response requires reason, not anger, and we must refuse to be panicked or intimidated by fascists in black who would love to push governments into making wrong calls."
The option of developing "Boris Island," as the mayor of London's dream of a Thames estuary airport has been dubbed, may have been ruled out by airports commissioner Sir Howard Davies but Boris Johnson isn't giving up on the idea, reports the Mail. However, it's not one of the "three options still on the table" spelled out by the paper, which include runway extensions at Heathrow, a new runway at the west London airport or at its southern rival, Gatwick.
The cartoonists enjoy a joke at Mr Johnson's expense, with the Telegraph's Adams picturing the mayor as a toddler playing with toy aeroplanes on a tiny island. Morten Morland, in the Times, creates his "deserted island" from Mr Johnson's blond thatch, with a solitary air traffic control tower on top. For Brian Adcock, in the Independent, the scheme is simply "sunk", as he draws Mr Johnson's face flattened on the river bed crying: "Nooo!"
Still, Independent travel correspondent Simon Calder reckons Mr Johnson might still have a say, particularly if he gets elected as MP for Uxbridge, given that he declared Heathrow to be "completely in the wrong place". The writer believes the debate is a long way from resolution, adding: "We could be stacking up for years."
And Mr Johnson has a cheerleader in the Times, which accuses the Sir Howard's commission of a "stitch-up" to enable the PM to more easily renege on his promise not to expand Heathrow. It calls for politicians to follow his example by "lifting their sights and their ambition".
The release from a Spanish prison of terminally ill Ashya King's parents is welcomed by most papers. The couple had been arrested via European warrant amid fears for their five-year-old son's health after they removed him from a Southampton hospital and took him abroad to seek alternative treatment for his brain tumour.
And the columnists are keen to offer their opinions on the situation, with the Daily Express's Ann Widdecombe saying the idea that they should have been forcibly extradited "was born of power rather than compassion".
She adds: "I do not say this because I believe the parents are necessarily right but because I believe everyone in this sad case has acted with good faith and that to use the law is to use a blunt instrument."
The Sun's Jane Moore says that soon after she saw the "missing child" headlines, "it became clear that, far from being a sinister situation, this was a desperate act borne solely out of love". She adds: "The critical question is: Why didn't the authorities reach this same, blindingly obvious conclusion and react accordingly?"
"It sparked a real sense of fury across Britain. Because every parent I've talked to says they'd have acted exactly the same as the Kings," says Alison Phillips in the Mirror. "This situation was about more than the injustice of one sick little boy being torn from his parents. It represented the breakdown of trust that is going on between our health service and us, the patients."
"Hanging over this dreadful episode has been the sad sight of that little boy lying alone in a hospital bed in Spain while his parents were in police custody accused of neglecting him," writes Melissa Kite in the Daily Mail. "The ultimate irony, Kafkaesque in its cruelty, seemed to be lost on those intent on the Kings' extradition: while the child's parents were fighting charges of neglect, Ashya was, indeed, suffering from neglect — because his mother and father were prevented from being with him."
The Independent is glad the Crown Prosecution Service has "come to its senses" but warns: "A patient's perceived knowledge of the facts should not usually override the experience of doctors. And if that principle is to be maintained, there will be occasions when relevant agencies of the state need the powers to protect vulnerable patients from attempts by relatives to undermine the judgement of professionals."
It's not the deference you might expect a man leading his country to be shown. "Captain Fatso," declares the Star's back page in a reference to a jibe attributed to Norwegian defender Vegard Forren about new England skipper Wayne Rooney ahead of Wednesday night's friendly.
He reportedly said the Manchester United star was "a bit chubby". Meanwhile, "fat chance" is the Mirror's assessment of Rooney's chances of leading England to glory. Despite that, the Telegraph focuses on the centre forward's declaration that he wants to be "a role model for young kids".
His first job, as the Independent reports him acknowledging, will be to win back the fans. The Mail reports that Wembley's top tier will be shut for the friendly, with only 35,000 to 40,000 fans - less than half the stadium's 90,000 capacity - expected to turn up.
Even then, "a section of their most loyal supporters are set to leave before they have even kicked off," reports the Star, explaining that fans taking part in the walk in, walk out protest are only turning up to secure their loyalty points for away matches and Euro 2016. "They will avoid staying for the match because they are disgruntled at prices for burgers and beer as well as fed up with results," it says, demanding that the FA respond.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times speculates that - should any of the home nations qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia - the event could be subject to a boycott over Moscow's foreign policy in any case. During a meeting of EU ambassadors, it reports, several nations - including Estonia and Lithuania - "showed great enthusiasm for the idea" in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
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