By Alan W. Dowd

Meet "Crusher"
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled “Crusher,” an unmanned—and in the assessment of one report “nearly unstoppable”—vehicle designed to prowl enemy-occupied cities and urban warzones.

According to a Fox News report, the seven-ton, six-wheeled ground-reconnaissance vehicle is equipped with GPS sensors that allow it to plot its way to a destination and cameras that allow it to see enemy troops from 2.5 miles. It can travel at speeds of 25 mph, can be remotely operated and can withstand blasts that would destroy a typical Humvee—and kill or paralyze American personnel.

In a testament to American ingenuity and practicality, Crusher uses a diesel engine from a Volkswagen Jetta, parts of an Apple iPhone for internal diagnostics and an Xbox 360 video-game controller for manipulating its cameras, raising its antenna and firing its weapons, as Fox News reports.

Clip a Coupon, SUpport a Soldier
There are many ways to serve our country. Some do it with weapons, and as The Washington Post reports, some do it with scissors and coupons.

All across the country, “a small army of old ladies determined to do their part in the war on terror” clip hundreds of coupons every day and mail them off to troops and their families deployed overseas. Military families and military personnel then use the coupons at commissaries around the world, saving millions on much-needed food, household and personal items.

Many of these scissor warriors meet in Legion posts like Post 136 in Greenbelt, Maryland, where members of the local Legion Auxiliary gather every Tuesday to clip coupons.

The national office of the American Legion Auxiliary estimates that as much as $54 million in coupons are sent to deployed personnel and their families annually.

Pick a Card, Stop a Terrorist
Thanks to a joint DoD-ColoradoStateUniversity effort, U.S. personnel can learn about Iraqi and Afghan artifacts while playing poker.

Some 50,000 decks of playing cards, with depictions of antiquities, artifacts and archeological sites, are being shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan to help U.S. forces “prevent any unnecessary damage to ancient sites and to curb the illegal trade of stolen artifacts,” according to Colorado State University (CSU).

CSU officials note that “each card in the deck displays an artifact or site and gives a tip on how to avoid” damaging the item or place. And each suit includes a specially tailored theme:

  • “diamonds for artifacts and treasures,”
  • “spades for historical sites and archeological digs,”
  • “hearts for winning hearts and minds” and
  • “clubs for heritage preservation.”

Thankfully, every card includes the phrase “ROE first!”—a reminder that the Rules of Engagement are more important than playing part-time archeologist.

The cards could help serve America’s military and security interests as well as Iraq’s desire to recover lost treasure, some of which was stolen in postwar looting. As the Associated Press reports, Marine Reserve Col. Matthew Bogdanos, who helped recover many of the looted materials and even wrote a book on the mission (Thieves of Baghdad), argues that insurgent groups are using looted artifacts to finance their attacks. “They don't have opium in Iraq,” he explains, referring to how the insurgency is being funded in Afghanistan. “What they have is an almost limitless supply of antiquities. And so they're using antiquities.”

Home Sweet Homeschooling
A recent study published by the Fraser Institute reveals some fascinating facts about the historic roots and growing influence of homeschooling:

As recently as 1980, homeschooling was illegal in 30 states. Not until 1993 was it legal in all 50 states. But it has exploded in the past 20 years, educating just 50,000 American kids in 1985, 300,000 by 1992, 850,000 by 1999, and “perhaps as high as 2.1 million” by the mid-2000s.

The study, “Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream,” notes that Presidents George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were all homeschooled, as were John Jay, John Marshall, Thomas Edison, Robert E. Lee, Booker T. Washington, Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie.

Find out more at http://www.fraserinstitute.org/.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.