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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Obamacare to cost $1.76 trillion over 10 yrs

Obama

President Obama’s national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law.

Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO’s standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama’s pledge that the legislation would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.” When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10 year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation.

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How America’s Wealthiest Get Rich

Want to be a billionaire? If you follow our World’s Billionaires list, you know there’s no single way to get the job done–you can get rich on energy drinks or yoga pants just as well as hedge funds.

But for those who like to read the tea leaves, we’d point out something that is probably fairly obvious to most: the tech industry is probably the best place to roll the dice.

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Apple Stock Closes At $552, Exceeds Exxon Market Cap By $100B

Apple (AAPL) stock continues to soar into the stratosphere, finally closing on Monday at $552.00 a share, which is an all-time record for the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company. Monday’s high now puts Apple’s market cap over $514 billion, which now exceeds Exxon’s market cap — the No. 2 company, currently standing at $403 billion — by more than $100 billion.

AAPL has been a stock demon in 2012, scaring all other stocks away as it continues its ascent to the very top of the market. On Jan. 24, Apple announced its record-breaking quarter for Q1 2012, claiming $46.33 billion overall, $13.1 billion in profit and $17.5 billion in cash for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2011. The final 14 weeks of 2011 proved to be the most successful in Apple’s 35-year history, thanks to the release of the iPhone 4S and its voice-activated AI tool Siri, and the outpouring of sympathy following the death of the company’s co-founder and chairman, Steve Jobs.

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US trade deficit hits $52.6 billion in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit surged to the widest imbalance in more than three years in January as imports hit an all-time high, reflecting big demand for foreign-made cars, computers and food products.

U.S. exports to Europe fell, raising concerns that the debt crisis in that region could dampen U.S. economic growth.

The January trade deficit widened to $52.6 billion, the biggest gap since October 2008, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Imports rose 2.1 percent to a record $233.4 billion. Exports were up a smaller 1.4 percent to $180.8 billion. Exports to Europe fell 7.5 percent.

Economists are looking for the deficit this year to widen from last year’s $560 billion imbalance, reflecting in part the economic woes in Europe, which represents about 20 percent of America’s export market. A wider deficit can depress economic growth because it usually means fewer export-related jobs.
A National Association for Business Economics forecasting panel has projected that the deficit for 2012 will narrow by 4.1 percent to $535.4 billion and will edge down further to $525 billion in 2013 as growth in exports keeps pace with import increases.

The economy grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in the final three months of 2011. For all of 2011, the economy expanded by just 1.7 percent, roughly half the rate in 2010. The NABE forecasting panel expects growth to improve to 2.3 percent this year and accelerate to 2.8 percent in 2013.

In January, the politically sensitive deficit with China rose 12.5 percent to $26 billion. Last year, the deficit with China hit a record $295.5 billion, the highest deficit ever recorded with a single country.
At a time of high unemployment in the United States, political pressure is growing to impose economic sanctions on what critics see as China’s unfair trade practices such as a currency regime that keeps the yuan undervalued against the dollar, making Chinese goods cheaper in U.S. markets and American products more expensive in China.

The deficit with the 27-nation European union dropped 11.7 percent to $8.5 billion in January but that occurred because European imports fell 8.7 percent, offsetting a 7.5 percent drop in U.S. exports to Europe. Economists are worried that a severe recession in that region resulting from a prolonged debt crisis will crimp U.S. exports.

The rise in imports in January reflected a 3.3 percent increase in petroleum imports to $39.1 billion and a 10.4 percent increase in imports of autos and auto parts, which hit an all-time high of $25.3 billion. Imports of capital goods such as computers and industrial machinery also hit a record at $44.7 billion. Imports of food products also hit a record high of $9.6 billion with demand for foreign-produced fish, meat, bakery products and wine and beer all rising.

The increase in exports reflected records in several categories with exports of U.S. made cars and auto parts setting a record at $12.7 billion and exports of U.S. made capital goods, a category that includes computers, aircraft and telecommunications equipment, setting a record at $43.2 billion.

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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MEDIA FINALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO ELIGIBILITY?

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Poll after poll in recent months has indicated that Americans have a high level of concern over Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, with one poll showing fully half of the nation wants Congress to investigate the question.

But reporters for the traditional media – networks, major newspapers, major news corporations and conglomerates – mostly have giggled when talk turns to the serious question of just what the U.S. Constitution requires of presidents.

The event is tomorrow at 1 p.m. Mountain Standard Time in Phoenix, 3 p.m. Eastern, and will be live-streamed by WND.

The topic of discussion will be an investigation by Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse into concerns about Obama’s eligibility. It’s the first time an official law enforcement report has addressed many of the allegations about the presumptive 2012 Democratic nominee for president.

The issues include Obama’s eligibility under the U.S. Constitution’s requirements, questions about his use of a Connecticut Social Security number and the image of his purported birth certificate from Hawaii.

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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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Stupid’ and Oil Prices, Obama’s Forrest Gump analysis of rising gas prices.

‘The American people aren’t stupid,” thundered President Obama yesterday in Miami, ridiculing Republicans who are blaming him for rising gasoline prices. Let’s hope he’s right, because not even Forrest Gump could believe the logic of what Mr. Obama is trying to sell.

To wit, that a) gasoline prices are beyond his control, but b) to the extent oil and gas production is rising in America, his energy policies deserve all the credit, and c) higher prices are one more reason to raise taxes on oil and gas drillers while handing even more subsidies to his friends in green energy. Where to begin?

It’s true enough that oil prices can’t be commanded from the Oval Office, so in that sense Mr. Obama’s disavowal of blame is a rare show of humility in the face of market forces. Would that he showed similar modesty in trying to command the tides of home prices, car sales (“cash for clunkers”), or the production of electric batteries.

The oil price surge has several likely sources. One is the turmoil in the Middle East, especially new fears of a supply shock from a conflict with Iran. But it’s worth recalling that Mr. Obama also blamed the last oil-price surge, in spring 2011, on the Libyan uprising. Moammar Gadhafi is now gone and Libyan oil production is coming back on stream, yet oil prices dipped only briefly below $90 a barrel and have been rising since October. Something else must be going on.

Mr. Obama yesterday blamed rising demand from the likes of Brazil and China, and there is something to that as well. But this energy demand is also not new, and if anything Chinese and Brazilian economic growth has been slowing in recent months.

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