US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. The Obama Presidency by the Numbers (Wall Street Journal)

The president constantly reminds us that he was dealt a difficult hand. But the evidence is overwhelming that he played it poorly, writes Michael J. Boskin.

2. What the doctor ordered (Los Angeles Times)

Patients should know if their doctors get paid by drug firms, argue Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein.

3. A new way to remember 9/11 (Denver Post)

Ten years ago Sunday, Lynne Steuerle Schofield lost her mother, Norma Lang Steuerle, when American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon.

4. Romney 1, Perry 0 (Washington Post)

Following the first debate, Michael Gerson considers the ex-Governor of Massachusetts the more authentic Republican presidential candidate.

5. India could be way out of Afghan war (Chicago Sun Times)

Something new needs to be injected into Afghan policy, writes this editorial; and it could come from New Delhi.

6. Squeezing Syria (Washington Post)

A WP editorial argues that tougher sanctions could help save the lives of innocents.

7. Casino bill is deeply flawed; rank and file should kill it (Boston Globe)

The long-awaited gambling compromise endorsed by Governor Patrick and legislative leaders is deeply flawed, full of the kind of special deals Patrick had warned against, claims this editorial.

8. Do We Still Need the Patriot Act? (New York Times) ($)

In 2001, in the weeks after Sept. 11, the law passed through Congress easily. But, asks this editorial debate, has it protected us?

9. Prison Progress (Detroit Free Press)

Maybe you were too busy firing up the grill for the holiday weekend to notice, says Jeff Gerrit, but Michigan's prison population dropped to the lowest level in 13 years last Friday.

10. Ideas for the mayor, big and small (Chicago Tribune)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for it: Ideas on how to close the city's $635.7 million budget deficit, courtesy of Chicago Tribune readers.

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Britain is running out of allies as it squares up to Russia

For whatever reason, Donald Trump is going to be no friend of an anti-Russia foreign policy.

The row over Donald Trump and that dossier rumbles on.

Nothing puts legs on a story like a domestic angle, and that the retired spy who compiled the file is a one of our own has excited Britain’s headline writers. The man in question, Christopher Steele, has gone to ground having told his neighbour to look after his cats before vanishing.

Although the dossier contains known errors, Steele is regarded in the intelligence community as a serious operator not known for passing on unsubstantiated rumours, which is one reason why American intelligence is investigating the claims.

“Britain's role in Trump dossier” is the Telegraph’s splash, “The ‘credible’ ex-MI6 man behind Trump Russia report” is the Guardian’s angle, “British spy in hiding” is the i’s splash.

But it’s not only British headline writers who are exercised by Mr Steele; the Russian government is too. “MI6 officers are never ex,” the Russian Embassy tweeted, accusing the UK of “briefing both ways - against Russia and US President”. “Kremlin blames Britain for Trump sex storm” is the Mail’s splash.

Elsewhere, Crispin Blunt, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, warns that relations between the United Kingdom and Russia are as “bad as they can get” in peacetime.

Though much of the coverage of the Trump dossier has focused on the eyecatching claims about whether or not the President-Elect was caught in a Russian honeytrap, the important thing, as I said yesterday, is that the man who is seven days from becoming President of the United States, whether through inclination or intimidation, is not going to be a reliable friend of the United Kingdom against Russia.

Though Emanuel Macron might just sneak into the second round of the French presidency, it still looks likely that the final choice for French voters will be an all-Russia affair, between Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen.

For one reason or another, Britain’s stand against Russia looks likely to be very lonely indeed.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.