The papers: the IS advance and '£75-a-night' hospital beds

IS fighters fly a flag on outskirts of Kobane Image copyright Getty Images

"President Obama's strategy of containing the Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria is in ruins," says the Independent, reporting gains made by Islamic State (IS) jihadists on the outskirts of the town of Kobane, in northern Syria, and near the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The advances, despite air strikes by US and allied jets, could allow IS to shell Baghdad's airport, the paper adds.

A source in Kobane tells the Guardian that the IS banners pictured in many papers within the boundaries of the mainly Kurdish town are a "ruse" and the militants have not gained a foothold in the city. Other residents are quoted as saying they can hear clashes in the streets.

The Times says US Apache helicopters have engaged IS forces in Iraq for the first time, in what the paper calls "a significant escalation in the war" against IS.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Apache helicopters are more useful for attacking targets close to civilian areas, military planners say

A former Pentagon official, Andrew Krepinevich, tells the paper: "Today is eerily reminiscent of Vietnam. Then, we wanted to avoid committing combat troops, so first we put in advisers to train and support the local military.

"Then we expanded the effort through bombing campaigns.

"Ultimately we were forced to commit ground forces, since bombing could not prevent the enemy from controlling and coercing the local population, and our local allies were not up to the task of defeating them on the ground."

The Times also notes that IS have been forging alliances with jihadist groups across Asia and in Libya.

"Western intelligence agencies fear that an endorsement from jihadist groups worldwide could lead to a flood of new recruits," the paper notes.

The Daily Mail says the Islamists' black flags were flying "on the fringe of Europe", due to the closeness to the Turkish border (two miles, six miles or "yards" away from the IS frontline, according to which newspaper you read).

The Mail paints a bleak picture saying fears are growing "that the fanatics were on the brink of a major strategic victory".

"The rest of the town of Kobane last night appeared doomed to fall, with the likelihood that its outgunned Kurdish defenders and those left behind in its battered streets will die in mass executions."

'Holding the jackets'

With Labour, Tory and UKIP party conferences out the way, the papers turn their gaze - and not an entirely friendly one - on the Liberal Democrats convention in Glasgow.

The Independent says that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg used the conference to attack the Tories, but "left himself some wiggle room for a second coalition with David Cameron".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nick Clegg's costume changes at Glasgow on Monday fascinates the press. This was combo #4

The paper adds: "Behind the scenes there is a growing sense that a 'continuing coalition' with Mr Cameron might prove more attractive than linking up with Labour."

One minister tells the paper it is a case of "better the devil you know".

Steve Richards, in his analysis in the paper, says the Lib Dems are facing electoral meltdown because they "abandoned their core voters".

He quotes Tony Blair who has said: "The Lib Dems stood to the left of Labour and then joined a government to the right of Labour. No wonder they are in trouble."

Polly Toynbee makes a similar point in the Guardian.

She writes: "Too late, now, for Nick Clegg to promise red lines on 'beating up on the poor' after holding the jackets of the bully boys raining down blow after blow."

A Daily Mail story says: "Senior Lib Dems are plotting to sign up to David Cameron's pledge for an EU referendum - in exchange for constitutional reforms."

The in/out referendum would be agreed to in return for proportional representation in local elections, and a fresh attempt to replace the House of Lords with an elected senate.

Ross Clark, the Daily Express's political commentator, also reckons the Lib Dems have alienated their traditional supporters.

To reduce the party's support from the 24% it gained in 2010, to its current poll standing of 7% "requires talent", Clark reckons.

"I don't think it can be done other than by listening carefully to your supporters and then going deliberately out of your way to offend them."

Human face

The case of Brenda Leyland, the woman who is alleged to have sent a string of abusive Tweets about the parents of missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann, is examined in many papers.

Ms Leyland, a 63-year-old divorcee was found dead days after being "door-stepped" by a Sky News team investigating internet "trolling" - the practice of sending offensive messages in the seeming anonymity of cyberspace.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Brenda Leyland

The Sun quotes research that suggests as many as one million Britons could be considered internet trolls.

Jamie Bartlett, who has researched the phenomenon, writes a feature in which he says trolls rarely fit the "crackpot outsider" stereotype.

"Often they are angry with the world and feel they've been hard done by in some way. And social media gives them a place to air it, a bit like shouting at the television.

"Often they are lonely or have low self-esteem. But others think trolling is an art form, a way of defending free speech.

"When a victim hits back, it makes the troll feel like a somebody - instead of a nobody."

Grace Dent, in the Independent, says Ms Leyland is a victim of "the internet Wild West era in which we're living".

Noting that the church-going mother of two had tweeted 4,300 times from an account dedicated to "proving" the McCanns were implicated "nefariously in their daughter's disappearance".

Dent says: "I've noticed the McCann conspiracy theory lobby to be some of the most furious, combative and unsettling message propellers one might come across.

"The McCann case appeals to firmly entrenched, class-war tensions that suppose these evil middle class folk are able to pull strings or use their money or power to cover something up.

"I cannot remember blame and spite directed at Jamie Bulger's mother or Sarah Payne's grandparents alleging that it was flaws in their attention which had led to utter woe. In these cases, empathy and compassion were abundant."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The bulk of Ms Leyland's abusive messages were aimed at Gerry and Kate McCann

She defends Sky reporter Martin Brunt against accusations that he "hounded" Ms Leyland.

"Should a person's privacy be respected even if their modus operandi is disrespecting privacy?" she asks.

"Leyland's meeting with Brunt was a reminder that when human beings propel anger electronically, the last thing they want to be greeted with is a human face."

The Times uses its leader column to argue that social media companies should do more to prevent such cases.

"It should be far easier to report abuse on social media, far easier for victims to be protected and far easier for prosecuting authorities to trace the identities of those who exploit such sites as a means of abuse, and then to pursue them through the courts.

"Only then can we protect the innocent and prosecute the offenders. The trolls need themselves to be trolled."

To "er" is human

The Daily Mail is not beating around the bush when it publishes a story on the difference between those who punctuate their speech with "um" and those who prefer "er" as a momentary pause.

To utter "er" marks you out as an older person, most likely an older male as men prefer the e-word, whereas young men and women of all ages prefer "um", the paper says.

Image copyright Thinkstock

It quotes trans-national linguistic research that suggests that "er" - and its US cousin "uh" - could eventually become extinct as "um" is being used more frequently in language as a whole.

However some experts, the Mail says, simply think um and er fulfil identical functions - with um being used for longer pauses for thought than er.

Maybe we are all thinking a bit more?

If saying um and er a lot is the mark of the stereotypical Englishman - think Hugh Grant or Boris Johnson perhaps - a story in the Daily Telegraph identifies the most English word of all.

Author Kate Fox, who has been analysing national linguistic trends, says the most typically English word is "typical".

"You have to be able to say it in a way that sounds simultaneously peeved, but also kind of stoically resigned, and at the same time smugly omniscient - almost pleased that your predictions have been fulfilled," she says.

Ms Fox adds that "never mind" and "mustn't grumble" are two phrases which "define a nation".

Well that's just typical!


There is much discussion in Tuesday's press about a government inquiry to be held into the extent that police forces used legislation intended to mount surveillance on terrorism suspects, to spy on journalists.

The Daily Telegraph says: "It was disclosed at the weekend that officers had used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa), to order telecommunications companies to hand over call logs belonging to The Mail on Sunday newspaper, sidestepping a judge's agreement to protect a confidential source."

Image copyright DMG Media
Image caption Police examined months of phone records from the Mail on Sunday's central London HQ

The Met detectives waded through newsdesk phone records to try to find the source of the story about politician Chris Huhne's wife taking his speeding points.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the government's Interception of Communications Commissioner, has urged the authorities to order a curb on the use of Ripa "to spy on journalists, lawyers, trade unions and other professionals".

The paper notes the measure was used to intercept communications 10,000 times a week last year.

The Sun, whose political editor Tom Newton Dunn also had his phone records examined by police, tackles the subject in an editorial.

Backing David Cameron's call for a "British bill of rights", it adds that such a document backs "the Press's right to uncover public scandals without fear of investigation from the police".

"That is a foundation stone of any democracy - as Nick Clegg, to his credit, has recognised. The PM should speak out on it."

In the Daily Mail, Richard Littlejohn asks "where's Hacked Off now the police are at it?"

Describing Ripa as a "deeply flawed" act, he says: "I's the way the police have used it to hack phones - something which when done by journalists is treated as the crime of the century - that gives rise to the greatest concern."

"It may be technically legal, but it is hardly ethical."

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