CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

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1. Afghanistan is a catastrophe. But we will have to wait for a new Chilcot to admit it (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins says that our leaders would rather avoid embarrassment than be honest about the horrific futility of the wars we are fighting.

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2. Fighting the drug trade helps the Taliban (Financial Times)

Anti-drug policies in Afghanistan run into the law of unintended consequences, says Mark Kleiman, giving rewards to the Taliban, warlords and corrupt officials.

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3. The convulsive power of referendums (Independent)

David Cameron wonders whether he is leading a historic realignment of the centre and centre right, says Steve Richards -- which might be consolidated by a change in the voting system.

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4. We Muslims must move beyond medieval laws (Times)

Most Islamic nations do not stone or flog women, says Ed Husain, discussing the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. It is time Iran moved out of the past.

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5. Nanny does know best, Andrew Lansley (Guardian)

The Health Secretary's belief that children should be responsible for their own diet choices would be risible, were it not so scary, says Felicity Lawrence.

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6. The demeaning of British democracy (Independent)

The leading article criticises how the five peers who have chosen to remain non-domiciled will retain their titles. Now is the moment for constitutional reform of the House of Lords.

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7. How high passes are hiding low expectations (Times)

Camilla Cavendish criticises the presentation of statistics on education. Overqualified and underachieving, a generation of children is being affected negatively by all this politicking.

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8. Obama has more cards to play in the Middle East (Financial Times)

Philip Stephens suggests that the publication of a plan for a two-state settlement -- and endorsement by the international community -- would create momentum for the Middle East peace process.

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9. The arts need a really big give that never stops giving (Guardian)

With deep funding cuts on the way, argues Peter Bazalgette, our cultural institutions must learn new ways of harnessing private philanthropy.

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10. No scandal quite like a French one (Independent)

Mary Dejevsky discusses the furore engulfing Nicolas Sarkozy. The reason it presents such a threat is that it plays to the president's personal flaws.

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