Federal/Private Police State To Result From New Obama Order

A new executive order signed into law by President Barack Obama quietly last week further empowers the Department of Homeland Security by helping it to create local partnerships between Federal and private institutions “to address homeland security challenges.”

According to the executive order (the 141st signed by Obama), the purpose of the decree is to allow the Federal government and private entities to operate more closely “to use resources more efficiently, build on one another’s expertise, drive innovation, engage in collective action, broaden investments to achieve shared goals, and improve performance” in embolden National security.

“This approach recognizes that, given the complexities and range of challenges, we must institutionalize an all-of-Nation effort to address the evolving threats to the United States,” the executive order declares.

The efforts to encourage more Federal and private collaboration with regard to national security will be headed up by a “steering committee” consisting of representatives “at the Deputy agency head level” from a number of Federal agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and others. The resulting Homeland Security Partnership Council will be chaired by either the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism or a designee from the National Security Staff.

Besides allowing the government more wiggle room on private Homeland Security partnerships, the executive order will also reportedly give local law enforcement more incentive to operate alongside Federal agencies.

The End Is Near

We’re almost done with the endless parade of stupidity that has been the 2012 electoral season. We’re almost done listening to Mitt Romney try very hard to establish the conservative credentials he avoided until sometime in March. We’re almost through with enduring President Barack Obama’s daily litany of disgraceful lying. We’re almost finished watching party flacks wail, corporate media trash spin and self-appointed experts bloviate.


On Tuesday, those of us who have yet to cast our ballots (that’s most of us) will step into polling places nationwide and partake of our still Constitutionally protected right to select the man who, right or wrong, will then become the single most important human being on the planet. In some heavily Democratic districts and selected cemeteries, some of us will partake of that right more than once. Afterward, those ballots will be counted — again, some more than once. The totals will be checked, the absentee and provisional ballot numbers (except for the ones the Democrats have thrown into the nearest convenient storm drain, Great Lake or community activist’s basement) will be tallied, and Ann Romney will begin selecting new drapes for the White House residency.

Again, almost.

What I’ve described represents the most likely scenario to unfold over the next 10 days. However, thanks to the magic of the U.S. Constitution, the possibility exists that Election 2012 may well make the George Bush-Al Gore battle of 2000 look like a disputed ballot for homecoming queen.

As of this moment, polling indicates Romney holds a slight lead in the popular vote, but he and Obama are running neck and neck for the Electoral College vote. Although a disparity in the popular and Electoral College results is highly unlikely (such an outcome has occurred only twice), lurking in the ballot booth is an even less common — but even more potentially catastrophic — finale. Romney and Obama could tie.

As is the norm for Presidential elections (they can’t all be Ronald Reagan v. Walter Mondale), neither of the major party candidates is likely to steamroll the other. However, should a couple of swing States fall in a certain way, Romney and Obama actually could wind up with 269 Electoral College votes apiece. For the victims of teachers’ unions, that’s one short of the number needed to forward your mail to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Indeed, the website 270towin.com offers different scenarios, some of which don’t stretch credulity particularly far, in which the swing States from Nevada to New Hampshire split between Romney and Obama and create the worst Constitutional crisis since Obamacare.

Just imagine the fun we would all have. With Romney and Obama splitting the Electoral College down the middle (presuming some elector doesn’t bolt his party, itself the political equivalent of a hand grenade in the proverbial potato salad), the responsibility for electing the next President would immediately fall to the 435 passengers in the Capitol Clown Car: the U.S. House of Representatives.

If one believes the Democrats’ overt threats of murder, rioting and other behavior currently spreading across Twitter and social media outlets like a scorching case of something carried by Lady Gaga and reminiscent of the so-called “Occupiers” (or of Detroit when the Pistons win the NBA title), then the House will convene while the Nation burns.  Given the current makeup of the House and the fact that even the most extreme liberal outlets like The New York Times and Dailykos agree that the GOP will keep control of the body through the elections, the House subsequently will proclaim Romney the new President.  Following that announcement, the aforementioned Motor City and a host of America’s other garden spots and States will fall into the sort of chaos that normally accompanies a pack of Skittles and what the media calls a “white Hispanic.”

Presuming said unrest doesn’t make the rest of the country look like East St. Louis, Ill., after a Louis Farrakhan speech, we’ll all get to enjoy the second act: the election of the Vice President. That’s right, kids. The House elects the President, and the Senate elects the guy (or gal; we’ll get back to that) who stands next to the Commander in Chief and gazes longingly at “the button.” And the Senate is projected to remain under the thumb of reprobate liar and accused serial farm-animal abuser (that’s what I heard, anyway) Senator Harry Reid and his Democratic do-nothings. Therefore, President Romney would be joined by Vice President Joe Biden. Even the gridlock of the 2006-2008 House under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi would seem like a meeting of the ladies’ sewing circle compared to the legislative pileup that would ensue.

In actuality, the real outcome of an Electoral College split actually would send us even farther off the deep end. Instead of staying in the Naval Observatory, Biden would join his boss, Obama, at the Michael Dukakis Home for Formerly Relevant Politicians. Biden is a national embarrassment whose invitation to all the cool parties at the White House depends entirely on Obama’s largesse. Once Obama hits the unemployment line, the Senate Democrats would experience no qualms about placing someone less likely to make racist comments about the guys behind the counter at the 7-Eleven, someone more likely to set the stage for a resurgence of Democratic power in Washington, someone like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

With Romney in the Oval Office, Clinton just down the hall, the House controlled by the GOP and the Senate controlled by the Democrats, the pace of business in Washington would likely roll to a pace slower than Al Sharpton running uphill in a hurricane. Scandals would follow scandals with even more frequency than they do currently. Voters nationwide would unite in ubiquitous disgust at the stupendous incompetence of and hyper-partisan quibbling by the people charged with the day-to-day operation of everything from the military to the Federal prison system.

The above scenario is hardly the most likely outcome of next week’s festivities. But it is a possibility — a worst-case result that could plunge the Nation into absolute disarray. However, the long-term blowback from an Electoral College tie between Romney and Obama actually offers a real light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the failure of the two major parties to reach meaningful accord, there was no realistic chance for a third party candidate to legitimately challenge them for the Presidency in 2012.

Four years of a Romney/Clinton “Administration” would not only break the stranglehold in which the current two-party system holds our future, it could even force the Republicans and Democrats to meet in a new battle: the fight to determine who gets to remain one of the two “major” parties and who gets to hang out with the lunatics from the Green Party at the also-rans convention in 2016.

–Ben Crystal

Left Targets Immature Voters

Recent reports show that, despite the increasingly kitschy campaign ads from the left (called by some pundits an attempt to lure younger, more immature voters), the campaign for President Barack Obama lacks youth support in key battleground States.

A survey of college-aged voters conducted by Sky News in Ohio, a political battleground State, shows Obama failing to energize young voters with the “rock star” persona he touted in 2008. Many young voters polled said that Obama’s youth appeal has been largely exposed as fraudulent to younger voters after four years of policy that doesn’t match.

From the article:

The president has been campaigning hard for the youth vote in Ohio, which is widely seen as a must-win state for both candidates.

But some students at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) told Sky News Mr Obama had failed to recreate the rock star appeal of his historic 2008 campaign, when hyped-up voters aged under 30 formed a vital part of his achievement.

The president still attracts a larger share of young voters than Mitt Romney, polls suggest, but he is now only polling with a slight overall lead over his rival in Ohio. That means he needs every vote he can get and with each one he loses, he is more exposed to Mr Romney’s gains in other areas.

Slipping youth support appears to be driving the left into a frenzy to create ads of little political value that seem to serve most as a ploy for a chuckle to cement the candidate in the minds of younger, less informed and less politically active Americans.

Like this “message from the greatest generation” from Michael Moore:



Or Lena Dunham’s tasteless sex-themed advertisement paid for by Obama for America:


China: Rare-Earths Exports Slow Down

BEIJING (UPI) — China’s exports of rare-earths have fallen due to sluggish global demand and not because of its territorial island dispute with Japan, its officials said.

The rare-earths, a collective name for 17 metals, are crucial in the manufacture of a host of items, from iPods, low-emission cars and computers to missiles, and China accounts for about 95 percent of the world supply.

Liu Yinan, vice chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, said no embargo has been placed on Japan because of the island dispute, and that lower exports to Japan reflected a general trend, China Daily reported Tuesday.

Japan, a major importer, is locked up in a dispute with China over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea that has affected their bilateral trade. The dispute has worsened since Japan nationalized the islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

China Daily, quoting China’s customs statistics information center, said total exports of rare-earths from January to September this year totaled only 9,967 metric tons, or a third of 30,996-ton quota set for all of 2012. Last year, China exported 18,600 tons against a quota target of 30,258 tons, the report said.

This year’s exports both in volume and value are expected to be the lowest in a decade, said Chen Zhanheng with the China Rare Earths Industry Association, adding prices, after dropping for 14 consecutive months, may fall further, China Daily said.

China has reduced output since 2006, claiming it needs to conserve its scarce resources and to protect its environment from mining damage. Unfair trade practice complaints have been lodged by the United States and the European Union at the World Trade Organization against China, saying its export restraints are causing massive distortions and harmful disruptions in supply chains across the world.

Home Prices March Higher

NEW YORK (UPI) — Home prices rose July to August in 19 of 20 major U.S. markets, the closely-watched Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller report said Tuesday.

Home prices rose 0.9 percent month-to-month in both the 10-city index and the 20-city index S&P/Case-Shiller tracks.

In 20 major markets, only Seattle bucked the trend with prices dropping 0.1 percent in the month.

On an annual basis, the prices in the 10-city index rose 1.3 percent, while prices in the 20-city index rose 2 percent, the report said. For 18 of the 20 cities, the annual price gains were improved August compared with July.

Annual returns for Dallas were unchanged, while the annual rate in Chicago was lower at minus 1.6 percent compared with minus 1 percent in July.

Two other cities besides Chicago posted negative annual returns. Atlanta’s annual return came to minus 6.1 percent. In New York, it was minus 2.3 percent.

“Phoenix continues to lead the home price recovery. It recorded its fourth consecutive month of double-digit

positive annual returns with a [plus] 18.8 percent rate for August. Atlanta posted a minus 6.1 percent annual rate; however, this is significantly better than the nine consecutive months of double-digit declines it posted from October 2011 through June 2012,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indexes.

“The sustained good news in home prices over the past five months makes us optimistic for continued recovery in the housing market,” he said.

Besides Phoenix, strong annual gains were posted by Detroit (up 7.6 percent), Minneapolis (up 7.4 percent), Miami (up 6.7 percent) and San Francisco (up 5.3 percent).

Retail Sales Gain Up 0.5 Percent Last Week

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 percent during the week ending Saturday, rising at a slower rate than in the same week of 2011, a Washington retail trade group said.

Sales receipts rose 2.7 percent from the same week of 2011, the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs weekly consumer tracking survey released Tuesday said.

Store traffic during the week was lower year-on-year, except at grocery and apparel stores, where demand for groceries and emergency supplies was stimulated by the approach of Hurricane Sandy along the U.S. East Coast.

The annual gain in the previous week was 2.9 percent, but week-to-week sales in the previous reported noted a decline of 0.7 percent.

Weather Trends International, which advises retailers on climate factors that influence shopping, said the week on average was 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than during the same week of 2011 and 2.8 degrees above normal.

That did not apply everywhere. Temperatures across the country were “mild, on average … across the eastern half of the nation, while a snowstorm socked the mountains of the West and heavy rain soaked the valleys,” WTI said.

The ICSG-GS report noted the AAA Fuel Gauge measured the national average price at the pump of a gallon of regular gasoline was at its lowest since July 30, but was still higher than at the same time in 2011.

Food Lasts 4 Hours In Refrigerator If There Is No Power

WASHINGTON (UPI) — During a power outage, an appliance thermometer is invaluable to test the temperature of food in the refrigerator and freezer, U.S. health officials said.

Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in case of a power outage, the appliance thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe — the freezer temperature should be at or below 0 degrees F and the refrigerator should be at 40 degrees F or below.

If the power does go out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is left unopened.

A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours — or 24 hours if it is half full — if the door remains closed, officials said.

When the power comes back on, check the temperature in the freezer and if it reads 40 degrees F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen, FDA officials said.

“If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor,” the FDA said on its website. “If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.”

Discard any perishable food — such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers — that has been above 40 degrees F for 2 hours or more, the FDA said.

Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk and eggs not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen might cause illness if consumed, even if thoroughly cooked, the FDA said.

The volunteers will then bring the forms to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and wait for ballots. The volunteers will distribute the ballots to patients on Election Day, collect them and deliver them to the nearest polling place for counting, Rotter says.

“Our volunteers really take pride in being part of our democratic process by helping our patients exercise their right to vote,” Rotter says in a statement. “It also means a lot to our patients, who want their voices heard and their votes counted.”

Volunteers Help Hospital Patients Vote

LOS ANGELES (UPI) — More than 25 volunteers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles are helping patients obtain absentee ballots so they can vote, hospital officials say.

Allison Rotter, volunteer services manager at Cedars-Sinai, says often patients end up in the hospital unexpectedly, or have been ill and may not have had time to obtain an absentee ballot. The volunteers will visit hundreds of patient rooms to ensure any registered voter can exercise their right to vote.

The volunteers will visit hundreds of patients next Monday — the day before Election Day — with necessary applications needed for absentee balloting.

Well-Being May Boost Health/Immunity

MADISON, Wis. (UPI) — A lack of education is linked to poorer health and earlier death, but a U.S. researcher says psychological well-being may compensate for schooling.

Study co-author Carol Ryff, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues measured levels of Interleukin-6 — an immunity protein associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers and other health problems — in participants in the Survey of Midlife in the United States.

“If you didn’t go far in your education, but you walk around feeling good psychological stuff, you may not be more likely to suffer ill-health than people with a lot of schooling,” Ryff said in a statement. “Low educational attainment does not guarantee bad health consequences, or poor biological regulation.”

The study, published in the journal Health Psychology, found less-educated people who scored high on measures of general happiness or self-acceptance or who felt that the circumstances of their lives were manageable showed levels of the inflammatory protein comparable to similarly satisfied, but highly educated peers.

“Other research shows that these psychological factors respond well to intervention,” Ryff said. “Therapies exist that give people the tools to keep all these psychological characteristics working in their favor. They’ve been shown to keep people from falling back into depression and anxiety, which we know means bad things for their health.”

Study: Horror Films Burn Calories

WESTMINSTER, England, Oct. 29 (UPI) — Scientists at a British university said their research indicates horror movie viewers could burn up to 113 calories in 90 minutes.

Dr. Richard Mackenzie of the University of Westminster, England, said he and his team monitored the heart rate, oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output of people watching scary movies and discovered some of them were burning the same amount of calories found in a chocolate bar, The Mirror reported Monday.

“The 10 films tested set pulses racing,” Mackenzie said. “Adrenaline is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate and ultimately burn calories.”

Mackenzie said those watching “The Shining” burned an average 184 calories viewing the film, while “Jaws” viewers burned 161 calories, those watching “The Exorcist” burned 158, “Alien” watchers burned 152 and “Saw” watchers burned 133.

Horse’s Paintings Gain International Fame

COLUMBUS, Ind. (UPI) — An Indiana woman said abstract paintings created by her horse, Justin, have been selling for $75 to $2,500.

Adonna Combs of Columbus, a commercial artist, said her 9-year-old horse, Justin, began painting two years ago when she noticed him using her riding whip to draw in the sand and she attached a paint-covered brush to the end of the whip, WDBR-TV, Louisville, Ky., reported Tuesday.

“It just made sense to tie a brush on the end of the whip, so I did. And to my surprise he kept painting. He kept making those brush strokes,” Combs said.

Combs said the paintings have sold for $75 to $2,500 and buyers have contacted her from as far away as Denmark, Austria and Australia.

She said one of the animal’s most unique works is a red splotch that resembles a horse.

“And I told everybody about him painting a self portrait, everyone is skeptical and then they see it and say ‘It is a horse!'” Combs said.

Horse’s Paintings Gain International Fame

COLUMBUS, Ind. (UPI) — An Indiana woman said abstract paintings created by her horse, Justin, have been selling for $75 to $2,500.

Adonna Combs of Columbus, a commercial artist, said her 9-year-old horse, Justin, began painting two years ago when she noticed him using her riding whip to draw in the sand and she attached a paint-covered brush to the end of the whip, WDBR-TV, Louisville, Ky., reported Tuesday.

“It just made sense to tie a brush on the end of the whip, so I did. And to my surprise he kept painting. He kept making those brush strokes,” Combs said.

Combs said the paintings have sold for $75 to $2,500 and buyers have contacted her from as far away as Denmark, Austria and Australia.

She said one of the animal’s most unique works is a red splotch that resembles a horse.

“And I told everybody about him painting a self portrait, everyone is skeptical and then they see it and say ‘It is a horse!'” Combs said.

Woman, 108, Voting In Her First Election

BEAUFORT, S.C. (UPI) — A 108-year-old South Carolina woman, participating in her first election, has decided to vote for President Barack Obama.

Arinethia Ferguson, 43, said her cousin, Joanna Jenkins, 108, of Beaufort, has never voted and resisted registering to vote prior to previous elections. But during this election season, “she just got kind of [got] carried away with wanting to vote,” The (Hilton Head, S.C.) Island Packet reported Tuesday.

“Every time she sees President Obama on television, she really gets excited,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said Jenkins had feared she would not be able to vote because she does not read or write and lacks a state-issued ID card. However, elections officials said the recently passed voter ID law will not apply to this year’s general election and Jenkins’ doctor offered to assist her with the registration process.

Ferguson said she helped her cousin fill out an absentee ballot by reading her the options for each office.

“She really didn’t draw any interest other than hearing Obama’s name,” Ferguson said.

Obese Dog At Center Of Custody Battle

PORTLAND, Ore. (UPI) — An Oregon judge said an obese 70-pound dachshund at the center of a custody battle will remain with his caretaker while legal proceedings continue.

Jenell Rangan, owner of the Oregon Dachshund Rescue, had sought to have Obie the obese dachshund placed in the rescue’s care while litigation went forward on her lawsuit against the animal’s caretaker, Nora Vanatta, but the judge ruled Monday to keep the canine with Vanatta while the lawsuit goes into arbitration and potentially a trial, KATU-TV, Portland, reported Tuesday.

The parties said the rescue learned Obie was in need of a home a few months ago and Vanatta responded to a Facebook post. A volunteer picked up the canine and brought him to Vanatta’s home.

However, Rangan’s lawsuit says she is unhappy with the care Vanatta has been giving Obie and he should be returned to the rescue.

Vanatta said Obie has been improving since entering her care and has since lost 15 pounds. She said she expects the dog to continue losing one or two pounds per week until he reaches a healthy weight.

Las Vegas Street Renamed For Guns ‘N Roses

LAS VEGAS (UPI) — Officials in Las Vegas said a city street will be temporarily renamed in honor of rock band Guns N’ Roses while they are performing at a hotel.

Clark County officials said they have endorsed changing the name of Paradise Road to Paradise City Road, a name inspired by Guns N’ Roses tune “Paradise City” while the band is playing the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, doing eight shows from Oct. 31 to Nov. 24, the Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday.

Officials said the street name will change back once the band’s engagement ends.

California Inmate Wins Death Penalty Reprieve

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — The death sentence of Douglas Stankewitz, California’s longest-serving death row inmate, was overturned by a federal appeals court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Monday in a 2-1 ruling that Stankewitz, convicted of murdering Theresa Greybeal in 1978 in Fresno, should be re-sentenced to life imprisonment without parole unless prosecutors want to retry the penalty phase of his murder trial.

Stankewitz’s conviction stands, but the appellate panel said his lawyer made only a “paltry” attempt to persuade jurors against a death sentence, ignored documentation of the defendant’s “deprived and abusive upbringing,” potential mental illness and long history of substance abuse.

The ruling upheld a decision by a district court judge, Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, who reviewed the case, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

FEMA Extends Deadline For Isaac Aid

NEW ORLEANS (UPI) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the deadline for applications for Hurricane Isaac aid in Louisiana.

Applications can now be submitted until Nov. 29, three months after Isaac hit the state, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

“We requested this extension because several parishes were added to our disaster declaration weeks after Hurricane Isaac,” said Kevin Davis, head of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. “The state wanted to make sure everyone with damage had plenty of time to apply for FEMA aid. We know that some people who had real damage to their homes might not have applied for assistance yet and we encourage them to take advantage of this 30-day extension to register with FEMA so they can get the help that they need to fully recover from this storm.”

The storm damaged at least 59,000 homes in Louisiana, state officials say. Almost 200,000 Louisianans have applied for FEMA aid, and the agency has already approved $112.5 million in direct aid.

Chicago Says 438 Dead In 2012 Gun Violence

CHICAGO (UPI) — Chicago recorded 438 homicides so far this year, three more than in all of 2011, making it one of the most violent cities in the United States, officials say.

In a recent killing, a 33-year-old father of four was shot and killed Monday, an innocent bystander in a turf war between gangs, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

The city’s homicide toll has made headlines around the world, a fact that is proving a challenge to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The total, however is nowhere near the record 790 recorded in 1974.

Emanuel said he’s proud of milestones the police department has achieved toward cutting the crime rate.

Crime is down 9 percent overall, the largest drop on record, he said. Emanuel noted the city has torn down 200 buildings in a campaign to eliminate hangouts for criminals. He added that crime this month dropped 30 percent from 2011, one of the biggest declines on record.

The city’s homicide rate has been declining for about two decades. In the early 1990s, Chicago recorded 900 homicides a year. Since 2004, the rate has been lower than 500 every year except 2008.

Compared to other major U.S. cities, Chicago’s homicide rate is still high, the Chicago Tribune reported.

New York, which has more than twice the Chicago population, had 339 homicides through Oct. 21, a drop of nearly 20 percent from a year ago. Los Angeles reported 238 homicides through Oct. 20, a dip of 1 percent.

U.S. Amphibious Unit Off Middle East

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A U.S. Marine amphibious unit has reported for duty in the Persian Gulf area, the Corps announced Tuesday.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit sailed into the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, which includes the Persian Gulf, the overall Middle East and eastern Africa.

The 15th MEU has about 2,400 troops aboard three transport ships, including the amphibious assault ship USS Peleilu. They will take part in routine exercises with allied nations during their stay and otherwise be on call to respond to any crisis in the area that might call for U.S. troops, the Marine Corps said in a written statement.

The force set sail from San Diego last month and took part in amphibious exercises off Timor before reporting to the Indian Ocean.


Afghan Shoots, Kills 2 ISAF Troops

KABUL, Afghanistan (UPI) — A person dressed as an Afghan police officer killed two International Security Assistance Force members in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, officials said.

The matter is being investigated, the ISAF said in a release.

ISAF did not provide other information about the incident nor the identities of the victims. It is ISAF policy to defer to relevant national authorities for victim identification.

The ISAF also said Afghan and coalition forces arrested a Taliban leader in Helmand province Tuesday, Khaama Press reported.

The arrested leader was believed to have been providing tactical information to senior Taliban leaders and help moving roadside bombs to terrorist cell members.

Coalitions and Afghan forces also arrested a Taliban weapons and IED facilitator in Kandahar province Tuesday, the ISAF said. The detainee is suspected of smuggling weapons throughout the province and obtaining bombmaking materials.

The First Time

Oh, my! The kiddies do seem riled up about the newest video sensation that’s confusing the Nation. As the clock ticks down on President Barack Obama’s chances to avoid being a Presidential footnote, Obama turned in an unusual — and not just a little bit creepy — direction to rally what he seems to think is some vast reservoir of untapped teenage voting muscle. And when I say “creepy,” I really mean “unmarked panel truck parked across from the elementary school for three straight days” creepy.

As last week drew to a close, a new viral ad hit the Web. In it, a young woman named Lena Durham — otherwise noteworthy for acting in, writing, directing and producing some witless, juvenile shlock named “Girls” for HBO (It’s not TV; it’s HBObama!) — describes voting for Obama in tones that I might use to describe Rebecca De Mornay showing up at my door with a bottle of The Black Grouse and a winning Powerball ticket. Actually, the “My First Time” ad is worse than my idea — if only because I’m not using sex to sell the most duplicitous President in history to children.

Here’s the ad.



Yikes. Now, don’t lump me in with the puritanical types who are screaming bloody murder about the unbelievably inappropriate tone of “My First Time.” Pointing out that this unsettling little bit of pro-Obama hype represents the sort of thing that makes my older brother consider sending my niece to a convent in the Yukon Territory is as obvious as suggesting Obama occasionally struggles with the truth. But I learned back when I was a kid that harping on overtly sexualized entertainment is a fool’s errand. Democrats responded to criticism of the spot by claiming that only “old white guys” criticized the ad. They might be right. By the standards of the audience at whom apparently everything produced by young Durham is aimed, I’m an old white guy; and I thought the project needed crampons and a pickaxe to reach insipid.

But being old and white doesn’t make me wrong. “My First Time” is supposed to inspire kids to cast their ballots for Obama.  It inspires me to wonder if we should reexamine the 26th Amendment. Of course, I don’t really think we should raise the voting age. Nearly 70 million Americans voted for Obama in 2008. The overwhelming majority of them were well past their 18th birthday. Given the Democrats’ predilection for — ahem — electoral mischief, some were likely well past their final birthday. But I would suggest that the Nation is in dire need of serious civics tutoring; and I don’t just mean the kiddies.

Perhaps I’d be better served by addressing the kids directly.

Hey, kids. Forget about Obama’s unprecedented failure as a diplomat, an economist and a man. This guy is right in the middle of record National debt; record underemployment; record loss of wealth; record numbers of Americans requiring government assistance to survive; record job losses; the cover-ups of Operation Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the murders (which could have been prevented) of at least five Americans; the most arrogantly corrupt Federal government since the Warren Harding Administration; and the most divided populace in 150 years.

But ignore all of that. Instead, consider this: If you think that casting a ballot for some jug-eared, mom-jeans-wearing blowhard who lies as easily as you breathe and who runs and hides in the girls’ locker room whenever he gets caught is anything like doing “it,” then you’re doing “it” wrong.

–Ben Crystal