CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Drugs, royals and the lousy laws being rushed through

Johann Hari sets out two law changes that will harm Britain: illegalising mephedrone, which will drive the drug on to the black market, and exempting communications between Charles Windsor and goverment ministers from the Freedom of Information Act.

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2. Only drug dealers will benefit from this absurd ban on mephedrone (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins agrees that prohibition of mephedrone will only serve to drive supply underground, endanger users and make it tougher to wean addicts off harder drugs.

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3. Twelve good men no longer guarantee truth (Times)

As crime gets more sophisticated, sometimes the jury system will not be able to cope. Andy Hayman argues that it would be a good thing if trials by judge alone were more common.

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4. Honesty is the first casualty when there's an election to win (Daily Telegraph)

Jeff Randall bemoans how today's politicians are prepared to say almost anything but the truth. Substance is irrelevant; the goal is simply to nail a rival's "mistake".

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5. The battle for libel reform has only begun (Guardian)

Fresh from yesterday's ruling, Simon Singh writes in the Guardian. While he welcomes the ruling on his article, he calls for further libel reform: the law remains a huge hazard for journalists.

6. Get ready for Vince in No 11 (Independent)

There is a misconception that Nick Clegg will find it difficult to extract concessions from Gordon Brown in a hung parliament, says Sean O'Grady. In fact, a Lib-Lab coalition has the air of inevitability about it.

7. The profit motive has a place in the classroom (Times)

If businesses can help more children to learn, we should let them make money -- and hire and fire teachers, says Philip Collins.

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8. Cameron's big society is bound to become mean (Guardian)

Martin Kettle says that Blair is right to ask where the Tories are centred. Even Cameron's bold, warm vision of localism will of necessity be squeezed into something meaner because of the economic climate.

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9. Hamid Karzai is making some pretty unpleasant friends (Daily Telegraph)

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has an increasingly hostile attitude towards his western backers, writes Con Coughlin. His links to Iran and the Taliban are causing concern.

10. The Pope should reconsider his state visit to Britain (Independent)

The Pope may not be guilty of any crime, but regardless of this, he has failed in his role as pontiff. The leading article calls for him to reconsider his forthcoming visit to the UK. It is the wrong occassion, at the wrong time.

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Police shoot man in parliament

A man carrying what appeared to be a knife was shot by armed police after entering the parliamentary estate. 

From the window of the parliamentary Press Gallery, I have just seen police shoot a man who charged at officers while carrying what appeared to be a knife. A large crowd was seen fleeing from the man before he entered the parliamentary estate.

After several officers evaded him he was swiftly shot by armed police.

Ministers have been evacuated and journalists ordered to remain at their desks. 

More follows. Read Julia Rampen's news story here.

Armed police at the cordon outside Parliament on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Getty

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.