US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Only conservatives can end the death penalty (Washington Post)

E.J. Dionne Jr. lays out the US conservatives' case against state execution.

2. Budget like it's 1995 (Los Angeles Times)

Republicans in Congress should remember the lessons of the Gingrich House and compromise, argues Tom Campbell.

3. Euro Zone Death Trip (New York Times)

There is a frightening gap between what the euro needs to survive and what the policy elites are willing to do, says Paul Krugman.

4. The Economy Needs a Regulation Time-Out (Wall Street Journal)

Why send jobs overseas by creating more rules for American business? asks Susan Collins.

5. Bachmann is right (The Washington Times)

This editorial argues that HPV vaccine has dangerous side effects

6. Retro TV revisits birth of 'culture war' (Chicago Tribune)

Clarence Page asks: Do Mad Men, Pan Am, The Playboy Club and BBC America's The Hour exploit society's barely suppressed appetite for a more sexist, racist and conservative era?

7. Seeing is not believing (St. Louis Today)

The questions surrounding the case of Troy Davis have not died with him, writes this editorial.

8. Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics (New York Times)

Apocalyptic fears helped fuel the antigovernment movements of the 1930s and '40s and could play a role in the 2012 elections, too, says Matthew Avery Sutton.

9. The Postal Service's ticking time bomb (Boston Globe)

The US Postal Service is going under, and there isn't much anyone can do to stop it, says John E. Sununu.

10. Supporting female innovators (Washington Post)

Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen describe how to attract women to scientific fields.

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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