Target Centermass


Saudi Women Make Electoral Breakthrough

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:48 pm

There is little in this world more inspiring than the tales of those who faced incredible odds, who took unprecedented steps, who were true pioneers. These two Saudi women have to rank among the bravest and most daring on the globe today.

Two candidates became the first women to win elected office in Saudi Arabia yesterday when they took seats on the board of Jeddah’s chamber of commerce.

In a country where women are generally excluded from public life the surprise result was viewed as significant. When the conservative kingdom held local government elections earlier this year – the first in more than half a century – women were not allowed to vote or run for office.

“I’m a bit in shock, but this shows people are ready for women to play a role,” Lama Sulaiman, one of the winners, told Reuters. She and fellow-businesswoman Nashwa Taher will join 10 elected men on the board, along with six other people to be appointed by the government.

Some 21,000 members of the chamber were entitled to vote, with a choice of 71 candidates – 17 of whom were women. Voting was spread over four days and, in accordance with the Saudi tradition of segregating the sexes, the first two days were reserved for female voters.

It became clear yesterday that the women, who both secured more than 1,000 votes, had been elected mainly through male support. About 100 women voted, compared with around 4,000 men.

Americans have a long history of admiration for their pioneers who ventured westward, who stepped forward for their race, who ventured into space.

Then again, a lot of our pioneers died in their endeavours, whether the victim of nature or those they openly struggled against. If I were these two, I would not worry overly much about what percentage of my check to dedicate toward retirement. Still, the wall had to be cracked, and potential sacrifices sometimes just have to be faced.

Lama Sulaiman. Nashwa Taher. Honor them and remember them, no matter what may come, as truly courageous pioneers.

Sharp Objects may be Allowed on Planes

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:31 pm

The decorations, the music, so many other signs tell me we’re moving into the December holiday season, but, for some reason, it really seems that we instead are heading backward … to Sept. 10.

Airport security screeners are reportedly going to let passengers bring sharp objects on board airplanes again. Today’s Washington Post says the Transportation Security Administration plans to announce security changes Friday.

Sources quoted by the paper say the new rules will allow things like scissors in carry-on bags. The reasoning is that such items are no longer regarded as the greatest threat to airline security. Homeland Security Department officials are said to be more concerned about preventing suicide bomb attacks at airports. Officials want screeners to focus more on finding things that can explode rather than things that are sharp.

The Post reports the newly relaxed rules would allow scissors under four inches long tools [sic] shorter than seven inches.

TSA spokeswoman says the new initiatives will be positive for both security and customer service.

Hmmm … about those “tools shorter than seven inches,” would those include boxcutters? Scissors are fine, as terrorists will be asked to run with them.

Look, I don’t care about customer service anywhere near the amount I care about customers not being turned into corpses and innocent people on the ground dying, possibly again by the thousands. It does not matter that sharp devices are no longer considered the greatest threat. If they are any threat at all, there is no reason for a change that may cost lives.

Activists’ Group Blames U.S., Britain for Iraq Kidnappings

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:31 pm


A peace group has blamed the United States and Britain for the abduction of four of its activists in Iraq.

The activists were kidnapped on Saturday.

Among them is 74-year-old Norman Kember, a retired professor from London.

Christian Peacemaker Teams, which has been working in Iraq since 2002, has released a statement saying it is saddened by a video tape, which aired on Arabic television channel Al Jazeera, showing the four men being held hostage by insurgents.

It says the kidnapping is a direct result of the actions of the US and UK governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq.

Unless the nabbed peaceniks are in the hands of coalition forces, which they’re not, I’d say that the U.S. and U.K. are no more to blame — no, wait, make that far, far less to blame — than the captured idealistic twits who foolishly, recklessly and quite voluntarily put themselves into danger. While I wish for the best for these activists, blaming those who will work to save them is pathetic.

Hey, here’s a crazy notion — why can’t we blame the thugs who actually did the kidnapping?


Texas Guard Unit Heading Home

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:53 pm

My dear friend William J. Hartmann, my former tank crewmate and close buddy of several years, prepped for deployment to Iraq. He served there. Now, he and his comrades from the Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Brigade are honorably returning home.

The Dallas Morning-News recently covered this deployment and return by interviewing the brigade’s Lt. Col. Jeffrey Breor. The following is the paper’s intro to the story:

After almost a year in Iraq, the 3,000 soldiers of the National Guard’s 56th Brigade Combat Team are heading home this month, completing the largest deployment of the Texas National Guard since World War II.

They traveled more than a million miles, providing security for supply convoys and searching for roadside bombs. They built new schools in impoverished villages and helped secure ballots for the country’s historic elections.

And they saw some of their friends and neighbors die.

“Yes, we’re getting to the end of our mission,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Breor of McKinney, speaking recently from Camp Tallil in southern Iraq. “But I’m not ready to say we’re done.”

Staff writer Vernon Smith Jr., who spent time with the brigade earlier this year in Iraq, spoke to Col. Breor by telephone about the brigade’s experiences over the last year.

As the full story of the interview requires free subscription (which I have found tolerable), I have waited a few days and posted the rest of the insightful Q&A at the option of the reader.


Two Arrested in Attacks on Oakland Liquor Stores

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:27 pm

Though media attention during the war against radical Islamism has been focused on international culprits, the rising danger of militancy of a made-in-America variety has occasionally found the limelight. Usually, this has tended to be descendants of Arab immigrants or caucasian converts like that bastard John Walker Lindh. Stories about black Moslems in America have tended to be about how they have been a people of peace, quite happy and settled in American society, aside from the occasional threat of Islamist gang-related terror.

I propose that this is all a little too politically correct and that there is a militancy in portions of the American Moslem population that would readily lend itself to the efforts of our civilization’s enemies. As anecdotal evidence, I present the following duo, allegedly two of a group willing to commit violent crime based upon their rigid religious beliefs.

Two men were arrested late Tuesday for their role in vandalizing a pair of stores for selling alcohol to blacks, Oakland police said.

Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan said that Donald Cunningham, 73, and Yusef Bey IV, 19, turned themselves in to face charges including robbery, felony vandalism, conspiracy and terrorist threats. Police have obtained warrants charging four other suspects with similar crimes and expect arrests soon.

Bey, who has been linked to a black Muslim group that runs the Your Black Muslim Bakery store chain, was taken to North County Jail and was being held on $200,000 bail, according to police.

The arrests cap a bizarre week that has included the vandalism of the San Pablo Liquor store and the New York Market last Wednesday by men wearing suits and bow ties.

The men, all of whom were black, smashed liquor bottles and toppled food racks while demanding that both stores stop selling alcohol to black people, authorities said.

Then, days later, the store clerk at the New York Market was kidnapped and the business was burned down.

Store employee Abdel Hamdan was found safe in the trunk of a car Monday, about 12 hours after the fire, as police sought to get to the bottom of the attacks.

“We’re very happy that he came back safe,” said Frank Hernen, manager of New York Market. “We don’t want this to go further.”


The incident at San Pablo Liquor was caught on surveillance tape, and police said they have identified six of the 10 or 11 vandals and believe the same men trashed the New York Market.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Nation of Islam, a group of Muslims whose members often wear suits and bow ties. However, Jordan said the suspects are not members of the Nation of Islam. He held out the possibility that they belong to a separate Muslim group based in Oakland.

In 1993, Muslims affiliated with a group which operates the Your Black Muslim Bakery store chain and whose members also wear suits and bow ties, were involved in a similar incident at a Richmond liquor store, police said.

Investigators were looking into the recent vandalism as hate crimes because the store owners are of Middle Eastern background and are Muslims, Jordan said Monday.

“In both incidents, the suspects entered the store and questioned why a Muslim-owned store would sell alcoholic beverages when it is against the Muslim religion,” police said in a statement.

Interestingly, currently this is apparently a matter of Moslem-on-Moslem violence. I see little reason to see that this could not expand to other targets and grow to more violent methods. There are, after all, only large chunks of the history of the religion in question upon which to base these possibilities of escalation.

Venezuelan Opposition Quit Poll

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:19 pm

Too long have I failed to mention Venezuela and the growing problems caused by its potentially unstable president, Castro-wannabe Hugo Chavez. That oversight needed to be corrected, as I feel the country, already grown quite problematic, is going to shortly become quite a thorn in the side of regional stability.

Today, its own stability took a hit, as opposition parties have bailed out of congressional elections only five days before the scheduled voting.

Three Venezuela opposition parties have pulled out of Sunday’s congressional poll, accusing the electoral body of favouring pro-government candidates.

The head of the main opposition party, Democratic Action, said they felt the result would be biased against them.

However, Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said the party was pulling out because it was facing defeat.

Venezuelans will vote for an expanded 167-seat congress, where supporters of President Hugo Chavez have a majority.

Correspondents say that the government has vowed to increase its majority to two-thirds, which would allow it to pass constitutional reforms that opposition leaders strongly oppose.

Democratic Action chief Henry Ramos said his party was demanding a suspension of the elections until equal conditions existed for parties.

He told a news conference the electoral board had not convinced opposition candidates that the software used in the computerized voting system did not endanger voters’ confidentiality.

He said the decision to pull out had been a difficult one to take at such a late stage in the campaign.

“Imagine what it means to us to say today that under these conditions we cannot participate in the electoral process.”

Project Venezuela and the Social Christian Party, or Copei, later said they too were withdrawing and called for a suspension.

Publius Pundit and Gateway Pundit bring us stories of rioting breaking out in the oil-rich South American state, both in reaction to today’s news and in opposition to the strongly anti-American Chavez.

Carnival of Liberty XXII

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:42 pm

This week’s installment of the Life, Liberty, Property community’s Carnival of Liberty is up over at Below the Beltway. Go read another fine collection of posts from a libertarian slant.


A&M Fires Defensive Coordinator

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:33 pm

Well, I’ll reserve judgement for now.

There were tons of legitimate excuses along the way, but the results on the field and the restlessness of an alumni fanbase spoiled by Wrecking Crew memories pretty much made it a done deal. Today, the expected axe fell.

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Carl Torbush was fired on Monday, the first casualty from the Aggies’ disappointing 5-6 season, its second losing record in three seasons under head coach Dennis Franchione.

Franchione announced the firing in an e-mail Monday afternoon.

Texas A&M’s defense was ranked 108th out of 117 Division I-A schools and its pass defense was the worst in the nation. The Aggies allowed a whopping 443.82 yards per game and gave up 31.2 points a contest.


“After evaluating our defense, I felt like it was in the best interest of our football program to make a change at defensive coordinator,” Franchione said in the statement. “I think Carl is an outstanding person and an excellent coach, but for whatever reason, we were not effective on defense.”

Franchione said he would begin a national search for a replacement immediately.

The Aggies entered the season ranked 17th in The Associated Press poll, but lost their opener to Clemson and never entered the poll again.

Not mentioned is the disgusting 77 points given up on a single day in 2003.

Well, I assume these folks are happy.

Canadian Gov’t Falls on No-Confidence Vote

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:50 pm

On what otherwise seems a relatively slow news day, it seems a big winter political storm is brewing in the Great White North.

A corruption scandal forced a vote of no-confidence Monday that toppled Prime Minister Paul Martin’s minority government, triggering an unusual election campaign during the Christmas holidays.

Canada’s three opposition parties, which control a majority in Parliament, voted against Martin’s government, claiming his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation.

The loss means an election for all 308 seats in the lower House of Commons, likely on Jan. 23. Martin and his Cabinet would continue to govern until then.

Opposition leaders last week called for the no-confidence vote after Martin rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament in January and hold early elections in February. Monday’s vote follows a flurry of spending announcements in Ottawa last week, with the government trying to advance its agenda ahead of its demise.

Martin is expected to dissolve the House of Commons on Tuesday and set a firm date for the elections. Under Canadian law, elections must be held on a Monday — unless it falls on a holiday — and the campaign period is sharply restricted.

“The vote in the House of Commons did not go our way,” Martin said. “But the decision of the future of our government will be made by Canadians. They will judge us.”

The Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper joined with the New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties to bring down the government — prompting the first Christmas and winter campaign in mostly Christian Canada in 26 years. Recent polls have given the Liberals a slight lead over the Conservatives, with the New Democrats in third place.


“This is not just the end of a tired, directionless, scandal-plagued government,” Harper said after Monday’s vote. “It’s the start of a bright new future for this country.”

The opposition is banking on the public’s disgust with a corruption scandal involving the misuse of funds targeted for a national unity program in Quebec.

An initial investigation absolved Martin of wrongdoing, but accused senior Liberal members of taking kickbacks and misspending tens of millions of dollars in public funds.

Canadian Damian J. Penny of Daimnation! suggests his personal six-part strategy for the Conservatives in the pending elections. Here’s a little taste (hat tip to Viking Pundit):

The Conservatives are behind in most of the polls, but this election is ours to win. My advice:

1. Don’t let the Liberals set the agenda. They have betrayed the public trust, and the onus is on the Martin government to show why it deserves to stay in power – not on Stephen Harper to prove he isn’t “scary”.

2. Don’t be afraid to run as Conservatives, not a “Lite” version of the Liberal Party of Canada. Canadians are much more open to new ideas in areas such as health care and immigration than the CBC or Toronto Star would have you believe.

Go give the rest a gander.

Meanwhile, nearly-Canadian Captain Ed of Captain’s Quarters (hey, Canada, Minnesota, same thing from a Texas vantage — besides, the good captain has had the blogosphere’s best coverage of the recent Canadian Adscam scandals) thinks he has divined the Liberal’s strategy for the upcoming campaign.

I’m listening to the aftermath on CPAC, where the Liberal apologist wants to tell Canada that Adscam involved “a few Liberals”, but that “no one believes that it involved the party as a whole”. That apparently will be the line that the Liberals take in this election, along with a scolding tone about all of the great work that the Commons could be doing instead of holding another election seventeen months after the last one.

I’m still holding out for reaction from two of my favorite bloggers from our neighbor to the north: Small Dead Animals and Angry in the Great White North. If we’re truly lucky, Damian Brooks of Babbling Brooks will briefly rouse himself from his blogging hibernation.

Oregon Man Stole $200K Worth of Legos

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:22 am

Look, I have many fond memories of Legos from my childhood. Heck, I even bought a 1000-piece set recently to jack around with during dull times [bummer side note: no wheels included, so I can’t build two Lego cars to repeatedly crash into each other]. Vodkapundit‘s Stephen Green really digs them.

Still, with that disclaimer, I have never let a single Lego brick lead me to a life of crime.

Agents had to use a 20-foot truck to cart away the evidence from a suspect’s house — mountains of Lego bricks.

William Swanberg, 40, of Reno, Nev., was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday, accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the colorful plastic building blocks from Target stores.

Target estimates Swanberg stole up to $200,000 worth of the brick sets from stores in Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California. The Legos were resold on the Internet, officials said.

Attempts to reach Swanberg at a county jail, where he was being held on $250,000 bail, were unsuccessful. It wasn’t known if he had an attorney.

Swanberg is accused of switching the bar codes on Lego boxes, replacing an expensive one with a cheaper label, said Detective Troy Dolyniuk of the Washington County fraud and identity theft team. Police haven’t said how he was able to manipulate codes.

Records of the Lego collector’s Web site,, show that Swanberg has sold about $600,000 worth of Legos since 2002, Dolyniuk said.

If found guilty, the man should be sentenced to a supervised, brick-by-brick construction of his own cell.

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