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A child jihadi armed with a rocket-propelled grenade has threatened to execute President Obama in a chilling new video released by the Islamic State terrorist group. (Screen grab of Islamic State video via The Daily Mail)

No game for children

Innocence, once lost, vanishes forever. Spoiling a child’s only opportunity to laugh and play without the cares of adulthood is a crime. Many children are swept into the violence their parents unleashed across the world, and the fortunate ones cheat death only to endure wasted childhood years and a joyless life.

The candidates and the Court

The Republican presidential candidates have mostly ignored one of the most important issues the man (or woman) elected in November will face in his or her first term — filling vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton, however, has no reluctance to say that she will apply a litmus test in selecting nominees, and suggests that Barack Obama would be a good addition to the High Court.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at a town hall-style campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

A nation of dog-whistlers

Modern America is an ethnic minefield, and everyone must mind his step. It’s getting more dangerous as the presidential campaign moves toward crucial primaries in the bigger states. The unwary among us can step on one of those mines and blow holes in the peaceable land, and all unaware.

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. The annual event brings together U.S. and international leaders from different parties and religions for an hour devoted to faith. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama’s curious religious concerns

President Obama’s selective attitude toward religious persecution is puzzling, even to those who are eager to give him the benefit of every doubt. He’s eager to reassure peaceful Muslims in the United States that they are welcome among us. It’s right and good for him to do that, though he could have moderated his hectoring tone.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Hillary’s tin-ear disease

Willie Sutton, the famous bank robber of a bygone age, and Hillary Clinton are two of a kind. Someone, probably a psychology major working on a term paper, once asked Willie why he robbed banks. He answered simply, “because that’s where the money is.”

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Importance of music understated

Throughout history music has played an important role in human development. It is \a primary element in nearly all of hummanity's diverse cultures. Scientists are discovering that in addition to the positive effects on human health, music enhances intelligence. Research shows that music is to the brain what physical exercise is to the human body.

President Barack Obama closes his eyes while a prayer is made at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. The annual event brings together U.S. and international leaders from different parties and religions for an hour devoted to faith. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The profits of doom

"Doomsayer" is probably not on Al Gore's resume but it's as descriptive as "almost president." It perfectly describes the attention he has attracted in the decade since he took to the stage at the Sundance Film Festival and set off global warming fears with his agitprop film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of S-400 missiles in Syria as he and other officials in Moscow escalated a war of words with Ankara after Tuesday's shootdown, which Turkey claims was justified on grounds that two Russian fighters ignored repeated warnings to change direction after entering Turkish airspace. (Associated Press)

The threat to peace accelerates

Despite his deteriorating economy, Russia's Vladimir Putin is taking an increasingly aggressive tone of support for the Assad regime in Syria. He has tried to keep the Damascus corpse alive but can show little evidence of success against his opponents, some of whom have ties to international Islamic terrorism.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, poses for photographs after a campaign event at the Johnson County Fairgrounds, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Looking for the magic

Iowa isn't about actually winning, but persuading the political correspondents and prospective voters in the states following to think they see a winner. It's not even about delegates won, or the order in which a candidate finishes, but whether the result can be spun as a victory.

Oregon State Police man a roadblock at the intersection of highways 395 and 20 outside of Burns, Ore., Wednesday morning, Jan. 27, 2016. Authorities were restricting access on Wednesday to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters being occupied by an armed group after one of the occupiers was killed during a traffic stop and eight more, including the group's leader Ammon Bundy, were arrested. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Western ways matter

There's nothing like a fatal shooting to rile a community. The chain of events that led to the death of a rebellious rancher along a country road in Oregon last week is still under investigation, but for Americans who yearn for the wide-open spaces of the West, freedom's last refuge, the tragedy spells oppression. To them, Western lives matter.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a town hall in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The scramble for the top

The Iowa caucuses rarely produce the winner in November, but they always produce panic in the camps of the losers. It's an exaggeration to say the caucuses Monday night decided anything but temporary winners, but winning is always better than losing.

In this Jan. 25, 2016, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at the Knoxville School District Administration Office in Knoxville, Iowa. Battling across Iowa ahead of the first-in-the-country vote on Feb. 1, Clinton and Bernie Sanders are dueling on fertile populist ground: resentment against Wall Street, bailed-out big banks and a financial system seen as rigged. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Baggage to New Hampshire

The Clinton defense, first used by Bill and employed again now by Hillary, is getting a little frayed but it's difficult to give up something that has worked so well in the past.

A nun from Little Sisters of the Poor based in Scranton, Pa., holds her rosary beads as she participates in a "March For Life" walk on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Dunmore, Pa.  Friday marked the 43rd anniversary of the United States Supreme Court's decision to legalize abortion.  (Butch Comegys / The Times & Tribune via AP)  MANDATORY CREDIT

Relief for the Little Sisters

One of the most important human rights issues has reached the Supreme Court, which will decide whether the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic order, has the right to dispense charity according to its own code.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves after speaking during a campaign stop on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Gilbert, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Now to the real show

Soon the voters in Iowa will get a little relief from the invasion of candidates, their handlers, and the tsunami of reporters, pundits and assorted wise men who have trudged through snow and ice to make sure that no burp of the body politic goes unheard or unremarked. Iowans will get their state back, and to relish once more the silence of the cornfields.

Migrant children Nor, Saleh and Hajaj Fatema from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden. Interior Minister Anders Ygeman says Sweden could deport between 60,000 and 80,000 asylum-seekers in coming years. (Jessica Gow/TT News Agency via AP, File)

Scandinavia learns a hard lesson

The rewards of pride and piety have suddenly expired in Scandinavia. The northern democracies, accustomed to dispensing unwanted tutelage in sanctimony, have canceled their welcome for the wave of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa trying to break down the door to Europe.

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2015 file photo, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, makes a point as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas listens on during the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas. Ted Cruz once proudly wore a belt buckle reading “President of the United States” borrowed from George H.W. Bush. He campaigned and worked for, and helped write a book lavishing praise on, that former president’s son, Dubya. And the endorsement of George P. Bush, the family’s latest rising political star, lent credibility to Cruz’s then little-known 2012 Senate campaign. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

How to fix the debates

Donald Trump has a knack for drawing attention to a problem, but rarely has a way to fix it. He has done that again, largely by accident, with his row with Fox News over the Republican debates.

In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 photo, Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen raises her hand as she declares victory in the presidential election, in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana, FIle)

Good news from Taiwan

The Republic of China (Taiwan) has become an economic powerhouse, the fifth largest in Asia and in the top 20 in the world, and even more important, its political institutions are stable. Real growth has averaged about 8 percent over the past three decades. The older labor-intensive industries have steadily moved elsewhere, replaced by technology-intensive industries.

The grim news comes with less than a year left for President Obama to put the Affordable Care Act on firmer footing as he seeks to head off what is likely to be a last effort at repealing the act after November's elections. (Associated Press)

Obama's not-so-hot report card

Not everyone can win a popularity contest, which is why not everybody can be the president. As difficult as winning may be, staying in the good graces of the electorate is even more difficult. Seven years after climbing to the top of the heap, public-opinion has put President Obama in his rightful place: well below average. The judgment of his countrymen can be cruel, but it happens to every president.