Friday, June 1, 2012

BBC News - Venezuela bans private gun ownership

Guess I won't be moving to Venezuela anytime in the near future :)

Venezuela bans private gun ownership

1 June 2012 Last updated at 00:54 ET
A worker destroys a weapon confiscated by the police during a news conference in Caracas May 18 2012. The government implemented a gun amnesty ahead of the introduction of the new law

Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.

Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company.

Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.

The ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October

Venezuela saw more than 18,000 murders last year and the capital, Caracas, is thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.

'Must do more'

The government has been running a gun amnesty in the run-up to the introduction of the new law to try to encourage people to give up their illegal arms without fear of consequences.

Continue reading the main story


Sarah Grainger BBC News, Caracas

Besides the health of President Chavez, security is the main concern for voters ahead of presidential elections in October.

While voters don't seem to hold Mr Chavez responsible for the insecurity, the situation has worsened throughout his 13 years in office.

The government's most recent statistics put the murder rate at around 48 per 100,000, although some non-governmental organisations estimate it's much higher - 60 per 100,000 in 2011, one of the highest rates in the world.

Critics say the new gun laws and other recently announced measures, like a victim's compensation fund, are just the latest in a long line of failed attempts to bolster security.

One member of the public in Caracas told the BBC: "They're killing people every day. This law is important but they need to do more, they're not doing enough now."

Hugo Chavez's government says the ultimate aim is to disarm all civilians, but his opponents say the police and government may not have the capacity or the will to enforce the new law.

Criminal violence is set to be a major issue in presidential elections later in the year.

Campaign group The Venezuela Violence Observatory said last year that violence has risen steadily since Mr Chavez took office in 1999.

Several Latin American countries have murder rates far higher than the global average of 6.9 murders per 100,000 people.

According to a recent United Nations report, South America, Central America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of murder by firearms in the world.

It found that over 70% of all homicides in South America are as a results of guns - in Western Europe, the figure was closer to 25%.

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Flurry of activity at Scioto Downs 'racino' locks up some machines

Great. That will make people wanna make a return visit... or after reading this probably reconsider a first visit

The Columbus Dispatch Feed
The new Scioto Downs racino opened at 2 p.m. today and a couple of thousand excited gamblers immediately began pouring through the doors of the glistening $152 million facility. However, the sheer volume of people playing the 1,791 video display terminals soon created problems, as scores of theb machines locked up.
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Obama Ordered Use of Stuxnet, Acceleration of Cyber Attacks Against Iran | SecurityWeek.Com

This puts a different light on things

Obama Ordered Use of Stuxnet, Acceleration of Cyber Attacks Against Iran

Author David Sanger Says President Obama Ordered Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran

According to a soon-to-be-released book by The New York Times' chief Washington correspondent, David Sanger, President Obama secretly ordered - and decided to accelerate - cyber attacks against systems that powered Iran’s prime nuclear enrichment facility, namely its Natanz plant. The famous attack, as we all know, was Stuxnet.

And according to a New York Times article authored by Sanger and adapted from his book Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, set to be released on Tuesday, Stuxnet was born under the Bush administration in 2006, and originally code named “Olympic Games”.

“Hawks in the Bush administration like Vice President Dick Cheney urged Mr. Bush to consider a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities before they could produce fuel suitable for a weapon,” Sanger notes. “Several times, the administration reviewed military options and concluded that they would only further inflame a region already at war, and would have uncertain results.”

Confront and Conceal, David SangerSo rather than strike Iranian facilities with a missile, U.S. officials decided to take another approach: strike with a cyber weapon.

In order to successfully execute their attack, U.S. officials felt as though they couldn’t do it alone, and called on Israel to help, mainly for technical expertise from a special unit of the Israeli armed forces, Unit 8200, which according to Sanger, had extensive intelligence on operations at the Natanz plant and would play a critical role in the cyber attack’s success.

Once the powerful Stuxnet work was developed, the cyber weapon needed to be tested. Accordingly, the United States built replicas of the primary target, Iran’s P-1 centrifuges, described as “an aging, unreliable design that Iran purchased from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear chief who had begun selling fuel-making technology on the black market.”

In July 2010, Stuxnet was discovered due of a programming error that allowed it propagate around the Internet and fall into the hands of security researchers who spent months analyzing it. It’s no surprise, as it has been wdely speculated and assumed that the powers behind Stuxnet are the United States in Israel, but nevertheless, the developers did not want news of their cyber weapon to leak.

“At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s ‘escape,’ Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised,” Sanger explained.

President Obama reportedly questioned if the attack should be shut down, but after being told is was unclear what details the Iranians knew about the worm, it’s code, and where it could have come from, Obama decided to continue the attack.

“The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium,” Sanger adds.

While the United States government has acknowledged that it is developing cyber weapons, it hasn’t officially admitted to putting them into action in an offensive manner.

“Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade,” Sanger concludes.

The story comes at an interesting time, as just this week news of Flame, another complex cyber weapon, emerged, again found targeting systems in Iran and the Middle East, though much wider in scope than Stuxnet and designed to steal more data than affect physical systems.

The five-page article is a fascinating read and the book is sure to be as well.

Managing Editor, SecurityWeek.
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Iceberg flipping over... This Iceberg was "calved" by Argentina's Uppsala glacier.