Jeep Gets Stuck Atop Border Fence

YUMA, Ariz., (UPI) — U.S. Border Patrol agents found a sport utility vehicle perched atop a 14-foot-high fence on the border between the United States and Mexico near Yuma, Ariz.

The silver Jeep Cherokee was abandoned along with a makeshift ramp by suspected smugglers and discovered early Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.

When the SUV was driven up the ramp it got stuck when it became “high-centered,” with its chassis stuck atop the fence between the front and rear axles.

Two suspects fled into Mexico.

After pulling the vehicle down, agents seized it and the ramp, the news website reported.

Axelrod Puts Mustache On The Line

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Obama advisor David Axelrod told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” he will shave his mustache if the president loses in Minnesota, Michigan or Pennsylvania.

Axelrod told host Joe Scarborough he will come on the program and shave his “mustache of 40 years” if President Barack Obama loses any of the states, which have trended Democratic in recent elections, to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Politico reported Wednesday.

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, responded to the wager by agreeing to grow a mustache if Obama wins North Carolina or Florida in the Nov. 6 election.

Poll: Russians Believe In Supernatural

MOSCOW, (UPI) — A Russian poll indicates nearly 40 percent of the country’s adults believe in supernatural phenomena.

The All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion on Social and Economic Issues said its poll indicates nearly 40 percent of Russians believe in the supernatural, with the figures being the highest among women and those who described themselves as religious, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

The center said 22 percent of respondents believe in omens and horoscopes, 6 percent believe in visitors from other planets and 2 percent said they consider zombies to be a real threat.

The pollster said 7 percent of those who described themselves as non-religious believers said they trust horoscopes.

Some 57 percent of those polled said they do not believe in any of the listed supernatural phenomena.

RIA Novosti did not reveal the methodology of the poll or a margin of error.

41 Million Trick-Or-Treaters Expected

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The U.S. Census Bureau said an estimated 41 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are expected to go trick-or-treating Wednesday night for Halloween.

The bureau said the children — as well as others younger and older — will have 115 million occupied housing units to choose from, although not everyone will be home and participating in the candy distribution tradition.

Officials said there are 1,155 chocolate and cocoa-producing companies in the United States and 409 non-chocolate candy makers likely to benefit from the Halloween holiday and revelers are likely to rent costumes or formal wear from one of the 1,634 businesses offering such services.

Book: Bush’s Bloopers Done On Purpose

ANN ARBOR, Mich., (UPI) — U.S. presidential campaigns provide a unique window into society and characterizes the culture’s obsession with celebrities, a U.S. anthropologist says.

Michael Lempert, a linguistic anthropologist at the University of Michigan, and anthropologist Michael Silverstein of the University of Chicago, authors of the book “Creatures of Politics: Media, Message and the American Presidency,” said the book dissects the construction and presentation of a presidential candidate’s “message” — revealed via a carefully choreographed persona composed of appearance, style of speech, gesture and publicly packaged biography.

“Basically, we’ve come to rely on the characterizations of candidates that this system has invented to help us make sense of which candidates we should support,” Lempert said in a statement. “We not only have debates, but endless debates about the debates.”

Rather than just being a chance to talk about the issues, the debates are also a form of theater to take the measure of the candidates their appearance, their pronunciation, their use of gestures, even their gaffes, the researchers said.

This explains why George W. Bush — famous for his trouble with language — could be perceived to have done well in the 2004 presidential debate with John Kerry, the researchers explained.

“Kerry was, ironically, viewed as being the more patrician — his extended family was wealthy, but his parents were upper-middle class — based on his grammar and elocution,” Silverstein said.

“And so he seemed like somebody who wasn’t real. When you look at W’s bloopers, they weren’t really bloopers at all. They were deliberate efforts to seem real, like a regular person. Bush deployed this tool to great effect and other politicians used this technique as well, by referring to Obama as Osama and then repudiating this as a simple mistake.”

Flyer: Bill Would Let Communists Teach

LONG BEACH, Calif., (UPI) — A Republican congressional candidate in California says his Democratic opponent authored a bill that would have allowed communists to teach at state colleges.

Gary DeLong made the accusations in a Vietnamese-language flyer mailed in the 47th Congressional District, which has a large population of Vietnamese-Americans who endured communism in their native country, The Orange County Register reported Tuesday.

His opponent, Alan Lowenthal, authored a bill while serving in the California Legislature in 2008 that removed a provision in the state Education Code making membership in the Communist Party by community college employees a firing offense.

The bill was approved by the Legislature but vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In his flyer, DeLong charged the bill would have allowed communists to teach without a formal check of their family history.

Lowenthal, who has strong name recognition and an 11 percent advantage in party voter registration, responded that his bill retained a ban on openly advocating communism in school.

Al-Qaida Mounting A Comeback In Iraq

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Nearly a year after U.S. forces left the country there are signs al-Qaida is mounting a comeback in Iraq, a U.S. inspector general found.

U.S. combat forces left Iraq in December 2011 according to the terms outlined in a status of forces agreement. A quarterly report by U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen said the number of violent attacks in Iraq is up to levels not seen in more than two years.

The report said the civil war in neighboring Syria was contributing to regional instability.

“Domestic security also has declined amid regular reports of a reviving al-Qaida in Iraq,” the report stated. “Overall in Iraq, violence this quarter was the worst in two years.”

A report from Bloomberg News cites U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, who said there were fewer than 800 fighters loyal to al-Qaida when U.S. forces left at the end of 2011.

Bowen said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister of Interior Adnan al-Asadi said groups like al-Qaida in Iraq were gaining strength, however, because the country lacked the intelligence capabilities to detect and prevent attacks organized by militant groups.

It’s been “a troubled year” in Iraq, the inspector general said in the report.

U.S. Senate Races Tighten In Key States

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Surges by U.S. Senate candidates in at least two races thought to have been pretty much decided have turned the races into nail-biters, political observers say.

Weakened support for President Obama in Ohio and Pennsylvania could be cutting into leads enjoyed by Democratic Senate candidates and give Republicans Josh Mandel in Ohio and Tom Smith in Pennsylvania a chance to pull ahead in the final days of campaigning, The Hill reported Wednesday.

In Nebraska, attack ads that have aired for months may be helping Democrat Bob Kerrey while forcing Republicans to spend funds for their candidate, Deb Fischer, a strong favorite from the start, political observers said.

While Republicans said they expect Fischer to win next week, GOP operative Karl Rove’s American Crossroads just bought $420,000 of advertising time and billionaire Joe Ricketts invested $400,000 in the race, The Hill said.

In Pennsylvania, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. led Republican challenger Smith in every poll, but the margin has grown smaller in the last month, the Washington publication said. GOP groups Restore Our Future and Americans for Job Prosperity pumped more than $3.2 million into the Keystone State in recent days.

In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown has seen his edge over Mandel shrink in recent days, The Hill said. Republican ad spending has topped $15.8 million.

Poll: Ohio Working Class Election Key?

COLUMBUS, Ohio, (UPI) — Working-class voters in Ohio may offer a key to President Obama’s re-election bid, a poll by Quinnipiac University, The New York Times and CBS News indicated.

In Ohio, with 18 electoral votes up for grabs, Obama runs nearly even with Republican rival Mitt Romney among white voters who don’t have college degrees, results released Wednesday indicated.

That slice of information may explain why Obama could be slightly better positioned in Ohio than in Florida and Virginia, where the polls indicate Romney has a 30 percentage point advantage among white voters without college degrees, the Times said.

Obama, who has a 50 percent-to-45 percent edge in Ohio over Romney, also may be benefiting from an improved economy in the Buckeye State, results indicated.

In terms of demographics, the poll indicated nearly half of all white voters without college degrees in Ohio say the economy is improving, and most give the president some credit. By comparison, only about 25 percent of voters in Virginia and Florida said their economy was improving.

In Florida, Obama holds a negligible 48 percent-to-47 percent lead over Romney. In Virginia, Obama has 49 percent support while Romney has 47 percent

The latest polls included 3,682 telephone interviews conducted Oct. 23-28 with adult residents of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, of which 3,394 said they were registered to vote. Results are based on 1,073 likely voters in Florida, 1,110 likely voters in Ohio and 1,074 likely voters in Virginia. The results in each state have a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.

U.S. Drops Visa Requirement For Taiwan

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — Taiwanese travelers will no longer have to obtain a $164 visa to visit the United States, the U.S. government has decided.

Beginning Thursday Taiwan joins 37 countries in a visa waiver program the United States reserves for nationalities it deems pose little security threat and are not major sources of illegal immigration, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The decision to end the cumbersome visa requirement is expected to boost tourism.

“I’m really very happy for Taiwanese citizens,” said Chung-Chen Kung, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles. “This is really a step forward.”

The Taiwanese government projects the number of visitors from the island may increase from 400,000 to as many as 600,000 a year.

A spokesman for China, which normally opposes any granting of diplomatic benefits to Taiwan, said the change will not have much of an effect on cross-strait relations.