US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. 7 billion thirsts, and not enough drinkable water (Detroit Free Press)

On this threshold day, our greatest global challenge is figuring out how to get more people greater access to the planet's most precious resource, writes this editorial.

2. The battle of military suicides (Boston Globe)

The Veterans Administration estimates that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes, Juliette Kayyem reporst -- and the problem is growing.

3. Obama's spooky economy (Washington Times)

GDP may be up 2.5 per cent but consumer uncertainty casts a shadow over news of temporary growth, argues this WT editorial.

4. Flat Taxes and Angry Voters (New York Times)

This editorial reports that more Americans are questioning the Republicans' flat tax plans, which keep rewarding the rich.

5. 10 reasons why Russia still matters (Politico)

According to Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill, Russia is a player whose choices affect our vital interests in nuclear security and energy.

6. Uganda intervention a U.S. worthy cause (San Fransisco Chronicle)

Removing the Lord's Resistance Army seems an obtainable goal and has diplomatic dividends, argues this editorial.

7. Beyond Occupy (New York Times)

Bill Keller writes that in India, Anna Hazare and his team show what protest can accomplish.

8. GOP Not Giving Obama Enough Credit on Libya (Roll Call)

By any objective standard, the Obama approach to Libya has been a huge success, notes Norman Ornstein: not a single American life was lost, the United States worked in concert with the Arab League and in partnership with its NATO allies, and a hated and oppressive regime was toppled.

9. Wedding days are losing their way (USA Today)

Ceremonies should be about commitment and marriage, not mere romance, says Henry G. Brinton.

10. The zombies with six legs (Los Angeles Times)

The human undead have nothing on the creepiness of some insects, writes biologist Marlene Zuk. They routinely do things too grotesque even for horror movies.

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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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