Waco Raid: A Look Back 20 Years After The Branch Davidian Controversy

Waco Raid: A Look Back 20 Years After The Branch Davidian Controversy

The Waco raid began 20 years ago today. On February 28 the federal government initiated a “military style” raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Texas. The highly debated and controversial raid lasted until April 19. A massive media presence converged around the Waco compound, offering nearly unprecedented coverage as the violent scene unfolded. David Koresh was the leader of the Waco compound.

A private ceremony is planned to mark the 20th anniversary of the Waco raid, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will honor the four agents who died during the raid on David Koresh’s compound. The agents who died include Todd McKeehan, Conway LeBleu, Robert John Williams, and Steven Willis.

The ATF agents died on the first day of the 51-day standoff. Six members of the Branch Davidian sect also perished during the first hours of the federal raid at the compound. By the end of the ATF raid in Waco, 80 Branch Davidian members died. The death toll included two dozen children.

Those inside the Branch Davidian compound were often referred to as a doomsday cult who anticipated a confrontation with the government. The Waco residents’ fears were realized and even 20 years later controversy is sparked when discussing who is to blame for the carnage.

In David Limbaugh’s book, Absolute Power, an argument is made that David Koresh was witnessed off the Mount Carmel Center compound multiple time and could have been arrested by agents without the need for a massive raid, Hoosier Access notes. The Branch Davidian leader was allegedly tipped off about the Waco raid in advance

15-Year-Old Alleged Maldives Rape Victim Sentenced To 100 Lashes For Premarital Sex Charge

15-Year-Old Alleged Maldives Rape Victim Sentenced To 100 Lashes For Premarital Sex Charge

A 15-year-old Maldives girl who was allegedly raped by her stepfather has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex, but prosecutors allege that the punishment relates to a separate incident and not the rape case.

Last year, police began investigating allegations that a 15-year-old had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather and impregnated after a baby was found buried on the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, the BBC reports. However, charges were brought against the teenage girl for premarital sex unrelated to the alleged rape.

During questioning, the alleged rape victim reportedly admitted to having sex with another man, according to independent Maldives news organization, Minivan News. This man has not been identified, arrested or charged. Meanwhile, the stepfather is accused of killing the baby and faces 25 years in jail if convicted of rape and murder.

Zaima Nasheed, a spokesperson for the Maldives juvenile court, defended the punishment of 100 lashes and eight months house arrest, claiming the girl had “willingly committed an act outside of the law,” the BBC writes. She will receive the flogging when she turns 18, unless she requests it sooner.

Masood Imad, a spokesman for Maldives President Mohamed Waheed, also rationalized the penalty.

“She is not going to be lashed to cause her pain… rather, it is for her to feel the shame for having engaged in activity forbidden by the religion,” Imad told the Agence France-Presse.

However, human rights groups have condemned the premarital sex charge against the 15-year-old.

“The girl is already a victim and is traumatised, the authorities should be trying to protect her, not punish her,” Meenakshi Ganguly, south Asia director for Human Rights Watch told the AFP, calling flogging “an inhuman, degrading practice… the kind of punishment that should not exist in their law books.”

The Maldives — an island nation located in the Indian Ocean — is a popular tourist destination, but the country has faced criticism for its Islamic fundamentalism and practice of Sharia law.

Under the country’s laws, pre-marital sex is a a crime and those found guilty are often flogged. In September 2012, a court ordered the public flogging of a 16-year-old woman who had confessed to premarital sex, while in the summer of 2009 a pregnant 18-year-old woman received 100 lashes in public after she admitted to having sex with two different men.

Minivan News notes that the state’s motives for punishing a rape victim, who has suffered physical and mental trauma, are unclear.

In January, when the premarital sex charges were first brought up, Amnesty International spoke out in defense of the young girl.

“This is an absolute outrage, regardless of the reason for her charges. Victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse should be given counselling and support – not charged with a crime,” Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives researcher, said. “We urge the Maldivian authorities to immediately drop all charges against the girl, ensure her safety and provide her with all necessary support.”

He added that the punishment could induce more damage, saying “The fact that this time a 15-year old girl who has suffered terribly is at risk makes it all the more reprehensible. Flogging is not only wrong and humiliating, but can lead to long-term psychological as well as physical scars.”

Cyber Superweapon Stuxnet Even Older Than Thought: Researchers

Cyber Superweapon Stuxnet Even Older Than Thought: Researchers

Stuxnet, the cyber superweapon that purportedly damaged an Iranian nuclear facility, was slinking through cyberspace years earlier than previously thought, according to a new cyber security report.

Researchers at Symantec, one of the firms that analyzed Stuxnet when it was first discovered “in the wild” in 2010, said in a new white paper that a previously unknown variant of Stuxnet, called Stuxnet 0.5, was operational between 2007 and 2009 and may have been operating as early as 2005. Researchers had previously believed Stuxnet was created in 2009.

At the time of Stuxnet’s discovery, it was deemed by cyber security analysts one of the most complex and sophisticated cyber weapons in history, the product of years of coding and possibly millions in funding – likely from a nation-state.

No government has publicly taken responsibility for Stuxnet, but The New York Times reported it was one attack in a wave of cyber operations launched by the U.S. and Israel against Iran. The Times report said that the cyber campaign, codenamed Olympic Games, began under President George W. Bush but was “accelerated” under orders from President Obama after he took office in 2009.

Symantec said the date that Stuxnet 0.5 was designed to stop infecting computers was July 4, 2009, America’s Independence Day. A newer version of Stuxnet, called Stuxnet 1.001, had appeared on the scene just a few days beforehand and continued operating after 0.5 called it quits.

Compared to 0.5, later versions “significantly increased their spreading capability and use of vulnerabilities” and “adopted an alternative attack strategy” that targeted spinning centrifuges in the Iranian facility rather than “uranium enrichment valves,” Symantec said.

MORE INFORMATION: Stuxnet 0.5 Disrupting Uranium Processing at Natanz (Symantec.com)

The discovery of Stuxnet was followed by the unearthing of a handful of other programs designed for cyber espionage that researchers have tied to the mystery team behind Stuxnet.

why gun control leads to ammo shortage and a people future war with its government

why gun control leads to ammo shortage and a people future war with its government

Charles Biddle of Downers Grove, Ill., considers himself a gun-control moderate. He said he is agnostic on whether the government should ban, for example, the kind of high-capacity magazines used in many of the recent mass shootings that occurred around the country.

But that hasn’t stopped him from spending about $1,000 over the last month to stock up on high-capacity magazines and other assault-style accessories for his AR-15. He would have spent more, he said, but for a problem reported by many gun owners across the U.S. who are loading up on supplies in advance of proposed new legislation to restrict firearm sales: Gun store shelves are cleaned out, leaving only online retailers charging outrageous prices for what little inventory is left.

“Nothing makes people want something they do not necessarily need more than fear of never being able to get it,” Biddle said, acknowledging that he is part of this constituency. “There’s so much uncertainty that people are freaking out.”

Gun shops have reported a surge in sales ever since the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., left 27 people dead and reignited a public debate over gun laws. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced his plan to make gun laws more restrictive, which may include an assault-weapons ban. But so far, any move to tighten regulations — or even just chatter about it — has had the reverse effect of the proposed laws: It has put more guns into the hands of the public, as gun sales have spiked. Increased sales have also helped to send gun manufacturer stocks soaring, and shares spiked again on Wednesday during Obama’s announcement.

“Sales have been off the charts, and it has been that way at every gun store,” Brandy Liss, the owner of the Arms Room in League City, Texas, said. “We have no inventory left.” The store normally displays between 30 and 40 different kinds of 9 mm pistols, but by last Monday her supply of that size gun had dwindled to one, Liss said.

Other gun stores contacted by The Huffington Post on Wednesday repeated the same thing: They were swamped with customers as gun enthusiasts continue to stock up on weapons and ammunition. Some stores used their websites and answering machines to make out-of-stock announcements. “It’s just a zoo in here,” said Henry Parro, the owner of Parro’s Gun Shop in Waterbury, Vt., on Wednesday afternoon.

Following the December shootings in Newtown, a gun rush caused the federal system that processes background checks for firearm purchases, known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to experience heavy delays, according to reports. The FBI also reported that gun sales set a record last year.

During his speech, the president laid out a comprehensive plan for tightening gun ownership laws and reducing gun violence in the United States. He said the plan’s goal was not only to “help prevent mass shootings” but also to “reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

Some of the proposed law changes included universal background checks for gun sales; the reinstatement and strengthening of the assault weapons ban; capping ammunition magazines to a 10-round limit; and banning armor-piercing ammunition. Obama also proposed a number of measures aimed at beefing up public security and creating harsher punishments for gun-related crimes. Additionally, the president ordered more research into the health implications of gun violence.

At the Connecticut Gun Exchange near Newtown, store clerk Justin Fleisch was getting ready to eat a sandwich at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday because he had spent his lunch hour dealing with a constant stream of customers.

“Business has perked up,” he said. “A lot of good people come in here, and we try to do our best to accommodate them.” A few feet away, customers were browsing empty shelves in hopes of finding passed-over ammunition. One asked about a bayonet blade to affix to an automatic rifle, but the store did not carry the accessory.

Gun owner Biddle said that his biggest worry is that if certain weapons or magazines are made illegal, he will not be able to find replacement parts for his weapon if parts of it wear out. He is from Kentucky, he noted, and enjoys shooting targets with frends when he returns home. But magazines with 28-30 bullets that used to sell for $15 are now gone from store shelves, and online retailers are charging at least $50 for them. Biddle said that he wouldn’t pay these super-inflated prices.

Even as the run on ammunition and weapons has led to inventory shortages for gun owners, the problem may have a very real public safety consequence: The shortages are even occurring for police departments. “It’s never easy to get ammo, but since the tragedy in Connecticut, it’s become even more difficult,” Sgt. Chris Forrester of the Greer Police Department in South Carolina said according to PoliceOne.com, a trade publication about police.

“It’s difficult to get inventory,” Texan gun seller Liss added, speaking on the phone from the Shot Show, an annual gun show in Las Vegas. “Manufacturers won’t be able to ship out until 2015.”