Newspaper headlines: Jordan pilot killing, Mockingbird sequel and English votes

The latest hostage killing by Islamic State (IS) militants provokes outrage in the press.

Still images from a video apparently showing Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive by his captors are used by papers including the Daily Star and Daily Mail. The latter says the 22-minute film "appears to be professionally shot and edited in the same style as previous beheading videos from the terror group", with the alternative method of killing an attempt "to find a new way of provoking disgust".

Times diplomatic editor Roger Boyes says the public immolation has "trumped" decapitation as the "pinnacle of Islamic State barbarity". He says the group - also known as Isis - aims to spread popular opposition among members of the "fragile coalition" it's fighting. The Guardian's Ian Black suspects it might succeed, writing that the murder is "likely to have a devastating impact on Jordan and may in the long term undermine its role in the US-led coalition".

Image copyright Reuters

However, the Independent's Robert Fisk writes that "months ago, Isis put captive Syrian soldiers to the torch - and then barbecued their heads on video. And no-one said a word". Now, he says, the message may backfire: "Those tens of thousands of Jordanian Sunni Muslims who had demanded that Lt Kasaesbah be freed now know what their fellow Muslims in Syria and Iraq had in mind for him."

According to Daily Mirror defence editor Chris Hughes: "The entire region is on a knife edge and could erupt in violence. This is what IS wants. A state crackdown on jihadism in Jordan is possible and could spark an explosion of jihadist sleeper cells."

Several papers choose not to use images from the IS video, and the Independent is among them. Its deputy managing editor Will Gore explains: "It is the ability to exercise restraint that defines liberal democracy... This is not about ignoring the gory details, but about refusing to bend to the narrative of lunatics."


Eye-catching headlines

  • "And I would make 500 grand and I would make 500 more" - The Proclaimers could make £1m from sales of a cover of I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) used during a Super Bowl ad break, says the Mirror
  • "Tomato retch-up" - the Sun describes a student's "extreme fear of ketchup and tomato-based sauces"
  • "Coast to coast by a canoe" - the Daily Star on a £1.3m donation from its owner's Desmond Foundation to the Canal and Rivers Trust to help create a 150-mile canoe trail linking Merseyside and Humberside
  • "Britain's still No 1 - on paper at least" - The UK produces more books per head than any other nation, says the Times

Scout's honour

"Whatever happened to Scout?" asks a Guardian headline, referring to the lead character from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. "After five decades, Harper Lee is ready to tell you." It's a reference to the imminent publication of a novel the author wrote in the mid-1950s, featuring the character Scout as an adult. The announcement of Go Set a Watchman's existence "sent the literary universe into a spin," the paper says, quoting Lee's opinion that "it's a pretty decent effort".

Image copyright Getty Images

For Gaby Wood, writing in the Telegraph, the excitement is "perfectly justified, whatever the book's content or quality". She says: "It is, if nothing else, of immense historical significance that such a book should exist... What it shares with its famous successor stylistically will be fascinating to see."

However, in the Times, professor of English literature John Sutherland questions the explanation that the manuscript had been mislaid. "[Harper Lee] may have a political motive. Mockingbird was exquisitely timed to lobby for the social changes that culminated with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Go Set a Watchman will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches led by Martin Luther King, and the film commemorating them."

The Mail profiles the "reclusive spinster" Lee, who has earned a reported £26m from her debut novel and since "has published nothing more than a few short essays". It says: "She has never married, rejected the limelight and has given almost no interviews or made any public appearances."

Despite the 55-year wait for new material, the Sun ventures: "Great works do take time... We waited 20 years for Dumb and Dumber To."


English votes?

The "West Lothian Question" - or English Votes for English Laws - keeps opinion writers occupied. Commons leader William Hague announced Conservative plans to ensure MPs representing English seats would have a veto on tax, and issues like schools and health - which affect only England - and so limit the power of Scottish MPs in matters that apply only south of the border.

The Daily Express welcomes the proposal, saying it "would go some way to ensuring that English people have the same level or representation enjoyed by citizens in other parts of the union". It adds: "It is certainly better than Labour's spineless plan to ignore the problem until after the general election, a strategy they dreamed up to preserve the power of its large number of Scottish MPs."

Likewise, the Telegraph sees a "balanced plan to secure the union", arguing: "Mr Hague's approach has the twin merit of being both fair and moderate. Indeed, there is no reason why it should not appeal to English Labour MPs, who have been let down by their own leadership's failure to take this matter seriously."

Image copyright Getty Images

However, the Sun notes that while only MPs in England - and Wales, where relevant - would be allowed to thrash out the details of a bill, the full UK parliament would take part in the final legislative vote. So it sums up the "farce" as: "Let leftie Scottish MPs retain the final veto on laws only affecting England. And be ready to ditch the entire policy if a potential coalition partner objects."

The Daily Mail agrees, saying: "Instead of a clear-cut settlement giving England the same legislative rights as Scotland, Leader of the House William Hague has come up with a fudge that will satisfy nobody."

The Financial Times says that - despite the assumption that Scotland's rejection of independence six months ago would preserve the union - the uncertainty over England's place within the kingdom "may yet reignite nationalist sentiment across the British Isles in ways that puts the union once more under threat".

For the Guardian, Mr Hague is "playing with fire". It says: "His proposals offer immense opportunities for a Westminster version of the gridlock that has brought the US system of federal government almost to its knees." Further, it calls his proposals "both partial - aimed at England alone - and partisan: aimed at advantaging the Tories".


Making people click

Times: Rotherham: politicians and police 'abused girls'

Mail: The romantic trip to Ibiza that ended with a 17 year jail sentence: Ex Royal Marine and his lover who befriended drug dealer on party island are caught with £1million of MDMA

Mirror: Nicole Scherzinger 'dumps Lewis Hamilton after he refuses to marry her'

Telegraph: Mongolian scientists study 200-year-old mummified monk who is 'still alive'