US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Grand rhetoric, smaller ideas (Washington Post)

State of the Union speech is full of soaring rhetoric but skips over some major challenges, says this editorial.

2. State of the Union: Mixing politics and policy (Los Angeles Times)

Obama offers economic fixes -- and previews his 2012 campaign -- in his State of the Union speech, according to this editorial.

3. Romney's Fair Share (Wall Street Journal)

The candidate's tax return is an argument for tax reform, argues this editorial.

4. A test for Egypt: hearing all voices (New York Times)

Egypt won't be a full democracy until its people value the lonely defiance of a man like Maikel Nabil, argues Michael Wahid Hanna.

5. Republicans and the constitution (Chicago Tribune)

The Republican presidential candidates talk a lot about amending the constitution, but they don't mean it, writes Steve Chapman.

6. Defence cuts and America's outdate miltary (Wall Street Journal)

Yes, the US spent more after 9/11 -- but in ways that impeded modernization, writes Mackenzie Eaglen.

7. Central America's free-fire zone (Miami Herald)

Dramatic crisis in Honduras demands action, argues this editorial.

8. Obama's common touch (Los Angeles Times)

It was a blue-collar State of the Union speech, aimed at the swing voters the president needs to woo, writes Doyle McManus.

9. A way to make people buy homes again (New York Times)

There is a way to buy a home with less risk to one's hard-earned cash: a down-payment protection plan.

10. Now, GOP ought to be licking its chops (New York Post)

Barack Obama doesn't have his mojo back, writes John Podhoretz.

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Shimon Peres dies: President Obama leads tributes to Israel's former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner

World leaders rushed to pay tribute to the former Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize winner. 

Shimon Peres, the former Israeli prime minister, president and Nobel Prize winner has died aged 93.

Peres, who served as prime minister twice and later became Israel's ninth president, suffered a stroke two weeks ago and has been seriously ill at a hospital near Tel Aviv since. His condition had improved before a sudden deterioration on Tuesday led to his death.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role negotiating the Oslo Peace Accords a year earlier, which talked of an independent Palestinian state. 

His son Chemi led the tributes to his father — praising his seven decades of public service and describing him as "one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel" who "worked tirelessly" for it.

World leaders rushed to honour his memory with President Obama calling him "the essence of Israel itself".

"Perhaps because he had seen Israel surmount overwhelming odds, Shimon never gave up on the possibility of peace between Israelis, Palestinians and Israel's neighbours," Obama wrote.

Britain’s chief rabbi Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis bid farewell in an emotional statement: "There will be countless tributes to Shimon Peres over the coming days, but I fear that few, if any, will adequately capture the palpable sense of collective grief felt across the world, nor do justice to the memory of a true giant amongst men," he said.

"It is true that Shimon Peres was a great statesman. He was the noblest of soldiers, a born leader, a uniquely talented diplomat, an inspiring speaker and a relentless campaigner."

The former US president Bill Clinton called Peres a "genius with a big heart" and said he would never forget “how happy” Peres was in 1993 when the Oslo Accords were signed on the White House lawn. 

"The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate for peace and reconciliation and for a future where all the children of Abraham build a better tomorrow together," he said.

"And Hillary and I have lost a true and treasured friend.”

Peres’s former political opponent, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in his statement: “Along with all the citizens of Israel, the entire Jewish people and many others around the world, I bow my head in memory of our beloved Shimon Peres, who was treasured by the nation.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "even in the most difficult hours, he remained an optimist about the prospects for reconciliation and peace".

French president Francois Hollande said "Israel has lost one of its most illustrious statesmen, and peace has lost one of its most ardent defenders"

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Indian PM Narendra Modi have also paid tribute.

Among the world leaders expected to attend his funeral in Jerusalem on Friday are President Obama, Prince Charles and Pope Francis.