US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Lessons From the Amanda Knox Case (New York Times)

The overturned verdict in the Amanda Knox case should make us look hard at other murder trials, says Timothy Egan.

2. Another Boomlet for an Unknown Republican (Roll Call)

Like a heroin addict who needs his next needle, the national media have once again whipped themselves up into a frenzy about a noncandidate. This time, it's Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, writes Stuart Rothenberg.

3. Infant death ranking a shame on US (USA Today)

A country spending more per person on health care than any other stands 41st out of 193. This editorial says there is no excuse.

4. What if Christie were a woman? (Washington Post)

The extra weight would have precluded any kind of political career, says Ruth Marcus.

5. The mask of Anonymous (Boston Globe)

Anonymous' once-idealistic group of hackers are behaving more like web vigilantes now, and have turned their wrath against those who seek to expose that very fact, says Juliette Kayyem.

6. You're truly in love with your iPhone (St Petersburg Times)

Turn it off, order some good Champagne and find love and compassion the old-fashioned way, advises Martin Lindstrom.

7. In Defense of Romney (New York Times)

Mitt Romney does not fit the exciting mold Republicans think they want, but he may be just what the times require, writes David Brooks.

8. Sarbox and Immigration Reform for Jobs (Wall Street Journal) ($)

The president is right, says Bob Greifeld: America can't wait until 2012 for change.

9. Covering maternity care in California (Los Angeles Times)

Last month state lawmakers passed two bills that would require maternity coverage to be included in comprehensive health insurance policies. Gov. Brown should sign them into law, argues this LA Times editorial.

10. Chris Christie, unfit for the White House (New York Daily News)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would be a bull in a china shop if he were to become president, says Richard Cohen.

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Turkey's turmoil should worry David Cameron

Splits in the Turkish government could play into the Brexiteers' hands.

While Britain focused on Sadiq v Zac and Cameron v Corbyn, in Turkey an even more dramatic contest was coming to a head. For weeks there has been growing speculation about a split between Ahmet Davutoğlu, the wonkish prime minster, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the macho, mercurial kingpin of Turkish politics. The two men have differed over a growing crackdown on freedom of expression, the conflict with Kurdish militants in Turkey’s south east and Erdoğan’s ambitions to strengthen his own power. Yesterday, a nervous-sounding Davutoğlu confirmed on live television that he would leave his post.

To outside observers, this might seem like a faraway power struggle between two men with unpronounceable names. But it matters for Britain and the impending EU referendum in two crucial ways.

1. It throws the EU-Turkey refugee deal into doubt

The controversial €6bn agreement to stem the flows to Europe was born of the strong relationship between Davutoğlu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Not only does President Erdoğan have a far more ambivalent attitude towards the EU. He has also made Merkel’s life difficult by demanding the prosecution of a German comedian who penned a crude poem about him.

Though much criticised, the EU-Turkey deal has dramatically reduced the numbers being smuggled by sea to Greece. If it collapses, Europe could be heading for a repeat of last year’s crisis, when more than 800,000 people arrived on Greek shores. In Britain, such scenes will only fuel concern about migration - a key driver of anti-EU sentiment.

2. It plays into the narrative of the Brexit camp

Brexiteers have already sought to use Erdoğan’s growing illiberalism - and Turkey’s aspirations to join the EU - to win people over to their side. Turkey’s “palace coup” (as the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet called it) cements the image of Erdoğan as an all-powerful leader who will not tolerate dissent. The accusations against Turkey are often ill-informed and tinged with Islamophobia. But they are clearly seen as effective by both sides in the referendum campaign. Only this week, David Cameron was forced to distance himself from his previous enthusiasm for Turkish accession, insisting that the prospect would not be on the cards “for decades.”

For now, Erdoğan’s intentions towards the EU deal are unclear. Perhaps he would like to take credit for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to the Schengen Zone (but not the UK) - an attractive perk promised in return for Turkey’s cooperation. But it is just as easy to imagine him watching it collapse before railing against the perfidious west.

Either way, there will be nerves in Brussels, Berlin and London. Diplomats see the president as a much more difficult partner than Davutoğlu. “Erdoğan has to be handled very carefully,” said one official. “If Jean-Claude Juncker says something too blunt, who knows what will happen?”

Turkey still has several hurdles to clear before visa-free travel is approved. Ankara has made clear that it will not hold up its end of the bargain if the promise is not fulfilled. With the deadline for implementation set for the last day in June, the deal could begin imploding towards the end of next month. That, David Cameron will surely note with a gulp, would be just in time for the EU referendum.