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

Al Qaeda

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:

1. Al Qaeda has selected Ayman al-Zawahiri to be its leader, following the killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces in May, an Islamist website announced on Thursday. Al-Zawahiri has long been a divisive figure within Al Qaeda.

2. The Washington Post reports: “The security relationship between the United States and Pakistan has sunk to its lowest level since the two countries agreed to cooperate after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, endangering counterterrorism programs that depend on the partnership, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.”

3. Pakistan’s army chief, who is arguably the country’s most powerful man, is in real danger of losing his job because he is perceived to be “too close” to the United States. Anti-Americanism amongst officers in the Pakistani armed forces is rampant.

4. The Obama Administration yesterday argued that it does not need Congressional approval for its military adventure in Libya because it is only playing a “supporting” role in the conflict. Congressional reactions to this argument ranged from bemused to flabbergasted.

5. In an interview with The Washington Post, Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned that the international community’s failure to jump-start Middle East peace talks this spring may lead to the outbreak of a new armed uprising in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

6. Greece’s financial crisis is now a political crisis and a crisis of social cohesion. George Papandreou, the prime minister, yesterday promised a cabinet reshuffle after talks to form a “national unity” government collapsed.

7. Markets around the world fell as concerns about Greek default grew more acute. The working metaphor throughout this week has been that Greece is the Lehman Brothers of the Eurozone and that its default would produce Lehman-like disruptions in world financial markets.

8. Of all the things Americans worry about, having enough money for retirement remains the chief financial concern. Two-thirds of all Americans are either very or moderately worried about financing their retirements.

9. States are set to lose $90 billion in Medicaid funding on June 30, as that federal subsidy runs out. The loss of funding will increase the cost of medical care for everyone and make it less accessible to those who most need it.

10. Mitt Romney has solidified his status as the Republican front-runner for the 2012 presidential nomination. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll finds him running comfortably ahead of his nearest rival, Sarah Palin.