Obama’s disbelief after staring into N. Korea

After squinting through binoculars into a nation frozen in time, US President Barack Obama reeled off a contempt-laden and startlingly frank indictment of North Korea.

The Stalinist remnant of the Cold War was, in Obama’s eyes, nothing but a nation which cannot make “anything of any use”, “doesn’t work”, and even its vaunted weapons exports were hardly state of the art.
“It is like you are in a time warp,” Obama said Sunday, after he toured a rocky border post in the demilitarised buffer zone that has split the Korean peninsular for longer than he has been alive.
“It is like you are looking across 50 years into a country that has missed 40 years or 50 years of progress,” Obama marvelled later, after taking a helicopter back to teeming, prosperous Seoul, just 25 miles (40 kilometres) away.

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War Drums

Report: Iran planned to bomb Israeli ship in Suez Canal
Egyptian paper Al-Ahram reports that two Egyptian citizens received instructions from Iranian agents to attack an Israeli ship, and offered a third man 50 million Egyptian pounds to carry out the act.

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EXECUTIVE-ORDER PANIC: MARTIAL LAW IN U.S.?

White House quietly releases document that creates widespread worry

The White House’s late-week release of an executive order has sent the online community into an uproar, worried that President Obama had secretly provided himself means to institute martial law in America.

In the common practice of dumping government documents on a Friday afternoon, just as the news cycle is wrapping up for the week – a move critics say allows the administration to avoid widespread coverage of embarrassing actions – the White House released an executive order on “National Defense Resources Preparedness.”

Filled with language about “government-owned equipment” and a “defense executive reserve,” among other vague statements, rumors began to spread that the executive order expanded the president’s power to do everything from seizing whole industries to drafting private armies.

A Canada Free Press article titled “Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law!” spread concerns of gasoline ration cards; while an Examiner article declared the order would “nationalize everything” and “allow for a civilian draft.” Facebook, email and Twitter were suddenly abuzz, and even the extremely popular Drudge Report posted a link to the White House release under the title “Martial Law? Obama Issues Executive Order.”

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US soldier suspected in Afghanistan massacre identified

Sgt. Robert Bales

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians, has been deployed three times to Iraq where officials say he suffered a traumatic head injury. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.
By Miguel Almaguer and Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News

U.S. officials told NBC News on Friday that the soldier suspected of shooting 16 civilians in Afghanistan is Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Bales, 38, was deployed to Afghanistan in December with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash., the officials said.

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George Clooney arrested, handcuffed, outside Sudan embassy in D.C.

Clooney Arrested

At the moment of his arrest outside of Sudan’s embassy in Washington, D.C., Oscar-winning actor George Clooney told The Daily Caller that he did not discuss the planned protest during his Thursday meeting with President Obama, and said that he was most “concerned” about his father who was also in handcuffs.

TheDC asked Clooney, the co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, if he accomplished what he had hoped for at the protest.

“We’ll find out, won’t we? Sorry officer. It’s a long process so we’ll see,” said Clooney, in handcuffs.

“I’m concerned with my father, making sure he’s okay right now, you know. He’s 78 years old and never been arrested before.”

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DISTRUST: MARINES DISARMED FOR PANETTA AT CAMP LEATHERNECK

Afganistan

US soldiers were asked to disarm during a speech by Leon Panetta, the American defence secretary, in a sign of grown concern over spates of seemingly random violence in Afghanistan.

Less than a week after a US staff sergeant allegedly massacred 16 civilians in Kandahar, American soldiers were banned from bringing guns into a talk by Mr Panetta at a base in Helmand province.

Around 200 troops who had gathered in a tent at Camp Leatherneck were told “something had come to light” and asked abruptly to file outside and lay down their automatic rifles and 9mm pistols.

“Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy – we just adjust,” said the sergeant who was told to clear the hall of weapons.

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Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk

James T Kirk

Captain James T. Kirk is one of the most famous Captains in the history of Starfleet. There’s a good reason for that. He saved the planet Earth several times, stopped the Doomsday Machine, helped negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, kept the balance of power between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and even managed to fight Nazis. On his five-year mission commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, as well as subsequent commands, James T. Kirk was a quintessential leader, who led his crew into the unknown and continued to succeed time and time again.

Kirk’s success was no fluke, either. His style of command demonstrates a keen understanding of leadership and how to maintain a team that succeeds time and time again, regardless of the dangers faced. Here are five of the key leadership lessons that you can take away from Captain Kirk as you pilot your own organization into unknown futures.

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Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I Don’t Bluff’

Dismissing a strategy of “containment,” the president tells me it’s “unacceptable” for the Islamic Republic to have a nuclear weapon.

At the White House on Monday, President Obama will seek to persuade the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to postpone whatever plans he may have to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities in the coming months. Obama will argue that under his leadership, the United States “has Israel’s back,” and that he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.

In the most extensive interview he has given about the looming Iran crisis, Obama told me earlier this week that both Iran and Israel should take seriously the possibility of American action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.” He went on, “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

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American officers shot dead in Kabul ministry


Nato said an “individual” had turned his gun on the officers but denied earlier reports he was a Westerner.

Afghan security officials said those killed were an American colonel and major. Local media reports suggest the incident followed a “verbal clash”.

Nato commander Gen John Allen said all Nato personnel were being recalled from Afghan ministries on security grounds.

A UK embassy spokesperson had earlier said all British civilians were being withdrawn from the ministries in what was hoped would be a temporary measure.

The shootings come amid five days of deadly protests over the burning of copies of the Koran by US soldiers.

The interior ministry was put in lock-down after the shootings, officials said.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin in Kabul says eight shots were reported inside the building, which should be one of the safest in the capital, and that any Afghan who carried out the attack would have had the highest clearance.

Local media reports said the gunman was an Afghan policeman but this has not been confirmed.

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