Politics In 60 Seconds: What You Need To Know Right Now

Sarah Palin

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Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:1. The New York Times reports: “Backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, government forces smashed what remained of an armed uprising in Jisr al-Shoughour, after residents fled into neighbouring Turkey.”

2. Western leaders always imagined that they could “engage” the Syrian regime; that it might someday be a force for “moderation” in the Middle East. That’s over. In Syria, massacre is a family tradition.

3. Al Qaeda and like-minded jihadis in southern Yemen are trying to seize territory near vital oil shipping lanes. They are having some success.

4. Nouriel Roubini says that the eurozone is headed for a break-up: “the benefits of staying in will be lower than the benefits of exiting, however bumpy or disorderly that exit may end up being.”

5. The Financial Times reports: “Some of Wall Street’s biggest banks are preparing to cut their use of US Treasuries in August as a precaution against any turbulence that could follow if warring Republicans and Democrats fail to increase soon the US debt ceiling, a senior bank chief said.

6. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that Medicare is more cost-effective than private insurance. “Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 per cent from 1969 to 2009. But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 per cent over the same period. So while it’s true that Medicare has done an inadequate job of controlling costs, the private sector has done much worse.”

7. President Obama has yet to put forward a serious program of fiscal reform, notes Clive Crook. That’s an abdication of his leadership role.  But it does not excuse, Mr. Crook writes, the ludicrous fiscal program put forward by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

8. A number of GOP presidential candidates will be in New Hampshire tonight for a debate. Front-runner Mitt Romney is likely to come under attack from the right. New Hampshire is the linch-pin of Mr. Romney’s campaign strategy.

9. Thousands of emails to and from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin were released on Friday.  They show that she focused on her job., mostly.

10. Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) continues his aggressive push to the right.  Yesterday, he attacked the Obama administration for transforming abortion into a U.S. export and, according to the AP,  “breaking faith with the nation’s founding principles by supporting taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research.”