Beheading 'horror', UK 'gearing up for war' and Calais 'besieged' by migrants

A photograph of grandmother Palmira Silva, 82, appears on some front pages, with the Daily Mirror describing her as "beheaded in her back garden".

Image copyright Daily Mail

Her attacker "had decapitated two cats in a quiet London street" before the attack, the Mirror reports. It quotes Ms Silva's next-door neighbour describing events: "I heard lots of screaming and shouting next door. Then a guy with a knife was in our back garden."

Another local resident told the paper how police warned people to leave their homes: "I was in the house when a cop started banging on the door, he was shouting, 'You've got to get out'." The Metro hears from a taxi firm manager how police rescued a family from the house where Ms Silva was attacked. "There was a lot of panic and they were trying to get through the windows on the ground floor. They were talking to the family inside. I saw two kids - I think they were boys - being held out of the window by a woman. She looked like their mother and was older than the guy they were after. Then the police smashed their way into the house."

Other neighbours tell the Sun Ms Silva was a "sweet old lady" who still worked in a local cafe. One says: "I was speaking to her yesterday. She was weeding in the front garden, she loved her gardening."

'Preparing the ground'

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There are several strands to the coverage of the Nato summit, scene of discussions about the West's approach to the rise of Islamic State (IS).

The Independent reports that David Cameron is "preparing the ground for authorising British air strikes" against IS forces in Iraq and Syria "within weeks", while the Daily Telegraph says No 10 has begun gauging the views of Conservative MPs to see whether there would be enough support for action. Meanwhile, the Mirror suggests the UK could join bombing raids as early as "the anniversary of 9/11".

Ian Black writes in the Guardian that the PM's suggestion that raids against IS targets in Syria would not need the approval of the country's President Bashar al-Assad reveals the thinking of London and Washington. "In the UK prime minister's formulation, the Syrian president is 'part of the problem, not part of the solution', while Assad's record of war crimes obviates any need to consult him".

However, the Mirror questions whether we want to be "sucked into" another conflict, arguing: "We need a public debate and another vote in Parliament - not a rush to war."

Price of life

According to the Times, some of the young Britons who travelled to Syria to join the fight against President Assad's forces have been left "despondent" that they have instead become embroiled in battles between rival rebel groups. The paper says one man contacted London's International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence and "effectively sought amnesty, saying that the group feared long prison terms but would be willing to enrol on a deradicalisation programme and submit to surveillance".

Anthropologist Scott Atran writes in the Guardian about the lure of jihad as an "egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool" to Western volunteers he describes as "mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives - immigrants, students, between jobs or girlfriends". He adds: "They are self-seekers who have found their way to jihad in myriad ways: through barbecues or on the web; because they were perhaps uncomfortable with binge-drinking or casual sex; or because their parents were humiliated by form-checking bureaucrats or their sisters insulted for wearing a headscarf."

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The Guardian's main focus is the PM's complaint that too many other countries are paying ransoms to secure the release of hostages. "That money goes into arms... it goes into terror plots, it goes into more kidnaps. It is utterly self-defeating," it quotes Mr Cameron saying.

A graphic in the Times shows which allies were "shamed", indicating that France has paid $58m (£35m), Switzerland $12.4m (£7.6m) and Spain $11m (£6.75m) since 2009. Many countries disguise payments as aid, the paper says, naming Germany. It claims others with official policies of not paying have dropped cash from planes.

"Negotiation confers a sense of legitimacy on the most illegitimate of organisations," complains the Independent. The Times's editorial calls on Nato countries to agree not to pay ransoms, arguing: "Only a united Western front has a hope of stopping the scourge of this violent, self-proclaimed caliphate."


Image caption The migrants were escorted off the ferry by police on Wednesday after failing to board it

"Besieged" is the word the Daily Mail uses to describe the French port of Calais, after some 250 illegal migrants clambered over a 20ft security fence and attempted to storm onto Dover-bound ferries.

"They were only held back when staff turned on the emergency water jet and desperately pulled the walkway up," says the Daily Express. Photographs of the incident are used by many papers, with the Sun promising readers a video on its website. One lorry driver tells the paper: "I've never seen anything like it in 20 years of driving. They were all desperate. It was a free-for-all. Holidaymakers and truckers were looking on gobsmacked."

Another trucker, quoted by the Mail, describes the situation as like a "war zone". He says: "If you get into Calais or park anywhere in Calais you can be 99% sure you will get the immigrants in your trailer." While the town's mayor complained that the situation is caused by UK immigration policies making the country an "El Dorado" for immigrants, the Express quotes its columnist, former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, saying the incident proves the UK is a "soft touch" She says: "It speaks volumes. These migrants are in a safe country and under the rule of law yet instead of applying for asylum they look to enter Britain illegally."

The Daily Star says Britain must end its "benefits free-for-all", arguing: "We need to get tough and stop rolling out the red carpet." However, the Financial Times says the situation should be viewed in a wider context. "The EU as a bloc has been far too reticent in dealing with the challenge of irregular immigration," it says, pointing out that Germany, Italy, the UK, France and Sweden took in 70% of those granted refugee status, while eastern states have been less generous. "What governments need to realise, however, is that illegal migration is not a problem that can be wished away," it adds.

The Guardian's Alexandra Topping meets refugees at a Calais soup kitchen, where the meals ran out, and a young Pakistani tells her he tried up to three times a day to travel to Britain. One migrant was so desperate, reports the Mirror, that he managed to wedge himself behind the driver's seat of a Fiat Panda to reach Britain without the driver realising until she arrived at her Kent home.

Still 'swithering'?

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It's First Minister Alex Salmond's turn to edit Scotland's Daily Record as he argues the case for independence ahead of this month's referendum, his "no" campaign opponent Alistair Darling having taken the hotseat on Thursday.

And the Daily Express looks ahead to "life without Scotland" should the nationalist leader get his way, starting with what the rest of the UK would be called, whether citizens would need new passports and how the flag would look.

The Times's headline boils down the thoughts of Labour leader Ed Miliband, who joined campaigning for a "no" vote on Thursday, to: "I feel responsible for saving [the] Union." It's not just the fate of the United Kingdom that rests on the result of the vote, suggests the Financial Times's George Parker, saying: "The independence referendum is Labour's to lose and [Mr Miliband's] political fate could hang on the outcome".

But Chris Green, in the Independent, says the Labour leader's bid to rally supporters in Blantyre - birthplace of party founder Keir Hardie - "fell flat". He quotes locals sounding unimpressed by what one dubbed "Tories in red ties". Asked about the impact of a "yes" vote on his future, Mr Miliband says the referendum is about more than one man. However, the Daily Mail says his opposite number David Cameron is adamant he will not resign. "Mr Cameron, who is unpopular north of the border, is anxious not to give the Scots another reason to vote Yes," the Financial Times explains.

As for the voters, the Guardian's Michael White finds one describing Mr Salmond as "a piper leading us over the cliff", another complaining "the no campaign is losing it through a lack of passion" and still more "swithering" (uncertain) of their choice.

'Wicked wit'

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The death of comedienne Joan Rivers at 81 leads the Independent to crown her the "Queen of Comedy". It's marked by a headline in the Mirror featuring a joke the woman it remembers as the "Queen of Mean" cracked at her own expense: "I've had so much plastic surgery, when I die they'll donate me to Tupperware."

The Telegraph says the New Yorker was best known for her "acerbic, backbiting humour". It says: "Tiny and sharp-boned with candyfloss blonde hair and talon-like fingernails, she started her routines with her catchphrase 'Can we talk?'" Like many papers, the Daily Express publishes some of her "wicked wit and wisdom" including one-liners such as: "I once dated a guy so dumb he could not count to 21 unless he was naked."

The Times's obituary notes that British chat show hosts "liked the fact that there were no holds barred for Rivers and her acerbic thrusts. Virtually in the same breath that she used to discuss her own plummeting breasts she would talk less than kindly about the Queen or the American first lady of the day". "Her outrageous barbs defied good taste. But Joan Rivers... was the funniest woman of her time," writes Michael Thornton in the Mail. But he also remembers her softer side, writing: "In reality, Joan was not the Queen Bitch she liked the public to believe she was."

Sun head of showbiz Dan Wootton says "outrageous" is the only way to describe Rivers. "Outrageously funny. Outrageously entertaining. And outrageously controversial."

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