Top 10 Drugs That Used to Be Legal

October 15, 2012 Naster Rawal 2 Comments

10. Opium

Its usage is much older, but this form of dried juice from the opium poppy became popular in the United States during the 19th Century. Back then, it was freely prescribed by doctors and even available at grocery stores. Chinese laborers had brought the practice of opium smoking to the West during the mid-nineteenth century, and laudanum, a solution of opium and alcohol, was also popular. Opium was often given to women to treat menstrual cramps and to infants to help with teething pain. Around the turn of the 20th Century, most opium addicts were older women.
San Francisco first banned opium dens in 1875, and California restricted opium possession in 1907.  The 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act effectively outlawed the drug throughout America. Today, drugs derived from the opium poppy, such as morphine and codeine, are legal but heavily restricted.

9. Marijuana

Usage of the cannabis plant, from which the psychoactive drug marijuana is derived, was unrestricted in America until the early twentieth century. In fact, in 1619 a Virginia law required farmers to grow native hemp on their plantations in order to produce textiles! Ironically, given its later reputation, the earliest state to ban the plant was California in 1913. Federal laws passed in 1937 restricted marijuana usage to the medicinal, and later laws in the 1950s introduced mandatory sentencing for possession, with the justification that marijuana was a ‘gateway drug’ into heavier narcotics.
Medical marijuana is now legal in over a dozen states, although still prohibited by federal law. The current administration has indicated that federal laws involving medical marijuana will not be enforced in these states. (

8. Methamphetamine

Nowadays a popular target for public service announcements, methamphetamine was first created by a Japanese chemist in 1893. In 1944, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US to treat a selection of medical conditions including narcolepsy, alcoholism, mild depression, and even seasonal allergies. By the 1950s, this legal medication had become popular under the name of Methedrine, but abuse had also become common. Passed in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act severely restricted its usage, although meth is still available under the name of Desoxyn for very limited uses.
Bad news for the congested: since the 1980s, there have also been strict crackdowns on several legal cold-and-flu drugs that can be used to produce methamphetamine, like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These previously over-the-counter medications now often require ID to purchase.

7. Peyote

Mescaline, a hallucinogenic chemical derived from the peyote cactus, has been used by Native American religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Peyote use was outlawed in several US states in the 1920s and 30s, but remained legal in most of the US throughout the 1960s and was often shipped interstate to interested parties.
Mescaline was restricted by Congress under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Currently, members of the federally-recognized Native American Church are exempt from criminal penalties for peyote use, as long as further state restrictions do not apply.

6. Cocaine

Many famous people of the early 20th century, including Sigmund Freud and the Pope, were cocaine users. Although cocaine is derived from the coca plant, which has been in use for at least 3000 years, its modern incarnation only appeared around the 1860s. Available in many forms, including dissolved into wine, it was prescribed by doctors to treat depression and morphine addiction.
In America, it was popular as a treatment for coughs and pain, and was famously included in early versions of Coca-Cola. Although technically restricted by the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914, prosecution for cocaine usage was rare, and only became common after it was listed a controlled substance in 1970.

5. LSD

The psychedelic effects of LSD, or ‘acid’, were discovered by accident in 1943, after the Swiss scientist who invented the chemical accidentally absorbed some through his skin. During the 1950s the US Army, along with the CIA, researched the uses of LSD as a potential ‘truth drug’ for use in brainwashing. Their experiments involved giving LSD to everyone from CIA agents to prostitutes, and recording the results. Soon, psychiatrists also became interested in its potential therapeutic benefits. Although LSD was still being imported from Switzerland at this time, the drug’s formula could be purchased for a small sum from the US patent office, after which a user could synthesize LSD himself.
In 1966, after widespread abuse and ill-effects caused in part by people making the drug incorrectly, LSD was outlawed in California. In 1970, it was listed by Congress as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has no recognized medicinal or therapeutic uses.

4. GHB

Famous these days as a ‘date rape’ drug, GHB is a naturally-occurring neurochemical that produces a depressant, pain-relieving effect. A lab-made version was synthesized in the 1960s and was used widely in Europe as an anesthetic, particularly in childbirth. In the 1980s, it became popular among body builders as a legal sleep aid, and eventually as a legal recreational drug. After GHB became associated with abuse and accidental deaths, the FDA cracked down on its sale in 1990. It was not listed federally as a controlled substance (illegal to possess as well as to sell) until 2000 when, like LSD, it became a Schedule 1 drug. However, GHB has recently been approved as a heavily-controlled treatment for narcolepsy.

3. Magic Mushrooms

magic mushrooms
Also known as shrooms, magic mushrooms are fungi native to Asia and the Americas that contain psilocybin, a compound that produces an LSD-like effect in users. Magic mushrooms have been in use for millennia, but as recently as the early 20th century Western academics were still arguing whether or not they existed. Use among Westerners was popularized in the 1950s after an article on the subject appeared in Life Magazine. In the 1960s, psychologist Timothy Leary and many others promoted these mushrooms for psychological use.
Possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms was outlawed in 1968. However, since the mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin, spores are still legal in most states.

2. Ecstasy

MDMA, or ecstasy, was legal in the United States as recently as 1984. Synthesized and patented in 1912 by a chemist working for pharmaceutical company Merck, it was largely forgotten until the mid 1970s, when Berkeley professor Alexander Shulgin popularized it for use in psychotherapy. Shulgin claimed that it could help psychiatric patients achieve greater introspection and more openness with their therapists. Ecstasy also became popular in non-therapeutic settings, particularly nightclubs, and in 1985 was put under an ‘emergency ban’ and became a Schedule I controlled drug.

1. Heroin

First synthesized in 1874, heroin was first created as a non-addictive alternative to morphine. The word ‘heroin’ is actually a brand name created by the pharmaceutical company that invented it, Bayer. In the early 20th century, it was also marketed in the US as a treatment for coughs and as a kind of old-fashioned methadone program for morphine users.
Unfortunately, the drug turned out to be more addictive than morphine. Heroin used to be legal, until it became apparent that it is more addictive than morphine, and can cause opiate withdrawal symptoms when its use is abruptly stopped. After hundreds of thousands of Americans saw their sore throats relieved only to be replaced with crippling addiction and long-term stays at a drug rehab program; heroin usage was severely restricted in the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, and outlawed altogether in 1924.


Top 10 Failed Assassinations That Would Have Changed History

October 15, 2012 Naster Rawal 0 Comments

10. Charles De Gaulle

President of France, 1962 (re-enactment in video starting 4:50)
While the controversial French President and World War Two leader of the Free French had several close calls with assassins throughout his long political career, none came as close to success as that of August, 1962. Riding in his car down the Avenue de la Liberation, De Gaulle’s vehicle was suddenly sprayed with machine gun fire as it sped through the streets of Paris at 70 miles per hour. (The attack was carried out by a maverick French Air Force officer infuriated with DeGaulle’s decision to grant Algeria its independence.)
Though the attack killed two policemen, shattered the rear window of his Citroen, and took all out all four tires, his driver managed to get away with the President and his wife unharmed. Had he not, it’s interesting to consider what direction France might have gone without the larger-than-life De Gaulle at the helm for the next seven years.

9. Gamal Nasser

President of Egypt, 1954
Most people outside the Arab world have probably never heard of Gamal Nasser, but for almost two decades he was the driving force behind Arab nationalism in the region and the impetus behind the country’s many wars with Israel. As such, had he been hit by even one of the eight bullets fired at him while he was delivering a live radio speech in October of 1954, it’s unlikely the Arab/Israeli wars of 1956 or 1967 would have happened, nor would the deadliest of all Arab-Israeli Wars, the Yom Kippur conflict of October, 1973, have occurred. (Though this last war was engineered by his successor, Anwar Sadat—Nassar having died of a heart attack three years earlier—it was in direct response to the humiliation the Egyptians suffered at the hands of Israel six years earlier.)
Of course, it’s entirely possible one of his many lieutenants would have stepped into his shoes upon his death, but none of them appeared to possess Nasser’s charisma or bellicose tendencies, making the future direction Egypt might’ve taken less certain. It’s possible it would have been less confrontational; but, of course, there’s no way of knowing.

8. Andrew Jackson

President of the United States, 1835
While most people imagine Lincoln’s assassination to have been the first attempt on a sitting American president’s life, few realize how close one of his predecessors came from being the first to die at the hands of a gunman. It happened late in Jackson’s first term when a crazed man walked up to the president as he walked out of the Capitol building’s east portico and aimed two percussion pistols at “Old Hickory.” Remarkably, both pistols misfired, leaving Jackson unharmed but his attacker bloodied and bruised after a thorough thrashing by the burly commander-in-chief, who apparently was as adept at wielding his cane as he was a musket. The man was unceremoniously hauled away by authorities (including a former congressman named Davy Crockett) and, after being deemed insane by doctors, was left to rot in an asylum for the rest of his life. Had the two shots, fired at point blank range, succeeded, the impact on the political direction the country was heading under Jackson’s heavy handed federalism would have been dramatic. Whether it would have been better or worse for the country is debatable but that it would have been different is not.

7. Ronald Reagan

President of the United States, 1981
It’s interesting to imagine what the eighties would have looked like had one of John Hinkley’s hastily fired bullets found its mark and Reagan’s more moderate Vice-President George H.W. Bush become president eight years earlier than he eventually did. Would he have been able to rejuvenate the economy, as Reagonomics did in the mid-eighties, or rally the people to bring pressure on the Soviet Union? While much of Reagan’s agenda would probably still have made it through, it’s difficult imagining the more moderate Bush persuading the populace with the elegance of the “Great Communicator” or demanding that Gorbachev dismantle the Berlin Wall. Still, he did navigate the country through the collapse of the Soviet Union and two wars during his single term, so it’s entirely possible he would have been up to the task eight years earlier. Fortunately,modern medicine and Reagan’s hearty constitution ensured that the world would never find out what the eighties might’ve looked like without the “Gipper” at the helm.

6. Benito Mussolini

Fascist Leader of Italy, 1926
It appears that 1926 was not a good year for il Duce, who was to face—and survive—no fewer than four separate attempts on his life over the span of just seven months. (On the other hand, since none of the attempts succeeded, it may have been a very good year for him, if a very bad one for Italy.) The first attempt was made by an Irish woman who very nearly shot off his nose, while three others—all men—either missed their mark or were caught in the planning stages. In every case, they ended up deader than their intended target. Had any of them proven a little more steady on the trigger, however, the Fascists would have not only lost the driving force behind their movement, but quite possibly even their tenuous hold on power. Who—or what—would have replaced him? Another fascist who might have proven even more capable than il Duce himself? A reinvigorated monarchy? A pseudo-democratic republic? It’s anyone’s guess.

5. Franklin Roosevelt

President-Elect of the United States, 1933
It’s hard to imagine weathering the twin storms presented by the Great Depression and World War Two without Roosevelt at the helm, but that almost was the case. It (almost) happened in February of 1933 when the then president-elect was riding in an open car in Miami, Florida. A crazed Italian immigrant named Giuseppe Zangara fired five shots at him, missing him but managing to hit and kill the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak (who had been riding in the car with Roosevelt). Had Zangara succeeded, Vice-President John Garner would have been sworn in as the 32nd President and the thirties could well have been very different. Better? Worse? There’s no way of knowing what kind of president Garner would have made, but it’s hard to see how the more diminutive Garner would have gotten the New Deal, Social Security, or Lend-Lease through a hostile congress.

4. Abraham Lincoln

U.S. President, 1864
Lincoln’s assassination at the hands of actor turned southern agitator John Wilkes Booth in 1865 was the stuff of legend as well as an unmitigated disaster for the South, Yet, imagine if an earlier attempt in August of 1864 had succeeded. While not generally known to most people, someone took a shot at the president while he was riding in his carriage around Washington, missing his head by inches (and putting a hole in his trademark top hat). Had their aim been just a little better, the Great Emancipator would have been succeeded by Hannibal Hamlin (who?) which may have well given the upcoming election to Lincoln’s overly cautious former commander, General George McClellan. How either Hamlin (had he won reelection) or McClellan would have prosecuted the last year of the war—much less dealt with southern reconstruction—is a source for some debate. Lincoln’s death, if combined with a lame-duck Hamlin and a conciliatory McClellan, might have encouraged the South to hold on just a while longer and resulted in an armistice rather than a victory, dramatically changing the history of America.

3. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Russian Revolutionary and Founder of the USSR, 1918
Shortly before he became the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union, Lenin was nearly done in by a female assassin and fellow communist named Fanya Kaplin, who got off three shots at the man just as he was about to step into his car. Though seriously injured (he was hit in the arm and jaw), he recovered and used the attempt on his life to both bolster his popularity as well as instigate a reign of terror against his opponents.
But what would’ve happened if Fanya’s aim had been better? Would the Communists have prevailed against the Mensheviks or defeated the royalist White Army without their philosophical and political leader? Certainly the future would have been much more up for grabs without Lenin in charge, though it’s difficult to tell how it could have been much worse for the Russian people. It’s at least a safe bet that Stalin—the man who would eventually succeed Lenin and turn Russia into one giant gulag—was in no position to take power at that point, making it difficult to know who might’ve finally seized the reins of power. This makes this one of those failed attempts that’s difficult to assess whether its success would have been beneficial for Russia or detrimental; in either case, it certainly would have been different.

2. Wilhelm II

German Kaiser, 1901 (video is footage of Wilhelm II and son, not actual assassination attempt)
When an anarchist took a shot at the Kaiser while the king was visiting Bremen, Germany in March of 1901—only mildly injuring the man—few realized just how costly that miss would prove to be. How so? Had the shot found its mark, it’s possible World War One never would have happened and the course of history—especially in Europe— would have been dramatically altered. Of course, one can’t put all the blame for Europe’s descent into madness in 1914 on the bellicose Wilhelm II, but it’s entirely possible that a more practical and cool-headed leader might have been able to keep events from spiraling out of control as quickly and completely as they did. Would that man have been the Kaiser’s son, Wilhelm III? Probably. The only question then would be whether the boy king (he would have been just 19 years old when he succeeded his father in 1901) would have been the man to change history thirteen years later or would he have gone down the same tragic path his father took? We will never know.

1. Adolf Hitler

Leader of Germany, 1944
The details of just how close a band of conspirators headed up by a disfigured Army Colonel named Claus von Stauffenberg came to killing Hitler in his Prussian hideout in July of 1944 is the stuff of legend (and has even been made into a recent movie starring Tom Cruise). But, consider what it would have meant to the war in Europe had it succeeded. Clearly the conspirators would’ve had the upper hand and, with the help of key anti-Nazi elements within the Army—who saw the war as a lost cause at that point—might well have succeeded in ousting the Nazis and negotiating a quick surrender to the allies, shortening the war by ten months and saving millions of lives in the process. With Germany entirely unoccupied by foreign invaders at that point, it would not only have greatly reduced the level of death and destruction that was to be seen over the next few months, but would have undoubtedly altered the political landscape of Europe and likely changed the complexion of the looming Cold War, probably in the ally’s favor. As it was, the bomb that was planted under Hitler’s briefing table was a little too far away from der Fuhrer when it went off, dooming Germany in the process.


Top 10 Bank Robberies of the 21st Century

October 15, 2012 Naster Rawal 1 Comments

10. The Agricultural Bank of China Robbery (6.7 Million, 2007)

Executed in China
The largest bank robbery in China’s history occurred in April of 2007 when a cash total of what was equivalent to $6.7 million was embezzled from the Agricultural Bank of China. The robbery was done by two vault managers with the help of two security guards from the branch. Purchasing tickets for the Chinese lottery with money they had stolen (with the intent of winning it and more back from gambling), one manager surprisingly managed it once, but the second manager failed at the second attempt. Soon thereafter other branch managers discovered the missing money and notified police and those involved were arrested. The heist also included 3 other accomplices: a landlord, a cab driver, and a car saleswoman. All accomplices were found and arrested and the two bank managers were later executed for their displays of bank robbing bravado.

9.  The 2009 Bank of Ireland Robbery (9 million, 2009)

Millions of dollars scattered across Dublin
February 2009 at the Bank of Ireland in Dublin, the largest bank robbery in the Republic went down. Criminals included a junior bank employee who kidnapped another employee and forced him to remove $9 million in cash from the bank as his girlfriend and two others were held hostage. Seven people were later arrested, all believed to be members of a well-known Dublin gang. €1.8 million of the stolen cash was located the next day, scattered across Dublin, and in 2010 the man who claimed he was held hostage was also arrested on the suspicion that the robbery had been an inside job. A heist with a twist, earning a place higher on the list for almost $2 million more stolen and the extended rouse.

8.  Northern Bank ($50 million, 2004)

Bank managers’ families held hostage by gunpoint in Ireland
Coming in at number 8 is the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It makes a huge leap from number 9 with a mere $9 million stolen against the monstrous sum of $50 million that was taken, mostly in pounds sterling. In December of 2004, the heist was carried out by a large, proficient group of thieves making it one of the biggest bank robberies in British history. On the night before the heist, two different groups of armed men disguised as police visited the homes of two officials of the Northern Bank. Once at the homes, they held the families hostage at gunpoint. The following day when officials were sent to work, some remained with the families being held hostage while others waited until the bank closed and the bank officials gave admittance to other members of the gangs. After the cash was stolen, it was transferred from three different vehicles and family members were shortly released before midnight. With only one person being convicted of money laundering, the investigation is still ongoing and the case remains unsolved.

7.  The Graff Diamonds Robbery (65 million, 2009)

Robbers caught, diamonds never found
Buying its place as number 7, The Graff Diamonds robbery takes its place when the largest ever gems heist in British history commenced in August 2009. Nearly $65 million worth of jewelry and gems was stolen with the diamond theft being committed by two men in the guise of customers. Once in the store, the two men produced two handguns used to threaten staff. They made no attempt to conceal their faces from the premises’ CCTV cameras and police later discovered that they had used a professional make-up artist to alter their hair by using wigs and their skin tones and features using latex prosthetics. Later authorities discovered that the same make-up studio had helped disguise members of the gang that robbed the Securitas Depot in 2006 (on our list at number 5). The thieves left in a BMW vehicle and switched cars twice but stupidly left behind a cell phone in which the police were able to track them down. Up to 10 different suspects were arrested, but the gems and jewels have never been recovered.

6.  Banco Central Burglary (70 million, 2005)

Brazilians dig in to a bank vault
Tunneling in at number 6 is the Banco Central Burglary that took place in 2005 in Fortaleza Brazil. The robbers of this cash heist are awarded an A+ for effort on our list. Considered to be among the biggest bank heists of all time, the burglary was the result of painstaking planning by a small gang of burglars who tunneled over 250 feet to the bank’s vault from a nearby property. The robbers used a landscaping business as a front that allowed them to move massive amounts of dirt and rock without looking suspicious. The tunnel was expertly constructed and had sophisticated lighting and even an air conditioning system. After three months of digging, the thieves finally broke into the vault and made off with what was equivalent to $70 million dollars. Since then, police have made a number of arrests in connection with the burglary and recovered roughly $9 million dollars of the haul, but the majority of the suspects are still at large.

5.  The Kent Securitas Depot Robbery (92.5 Million, 2006)

Robber escapes to the West Indies with largest sum of money for four years of decadence
Jumping up in cost from $20 million from the Banco Central Burglary in Brazil was the bank robbery at The Securitas Depot in February 2006 in Kent, England. It makes its reputation as the largest cash heist in British crime history. At least 6 men abducted and threatened the family of the manager, tied up fourteen staff members, and stole what was equivalent to $92.5 million in bank notes. The manager of the depot (abducted while driving) was pulled over by what he thought was a police vehicle due to the blue lights behind the front grill. One of the criminals approached him in a police-style hat and handcuffed him and put him in their vehicle. He was taken to a farm in west Kent while at the same time the manager’s wife and eight-year-old son were being held hostage at their home. They too were then driven to the farm and the depot manager was forced by gunpoint to cooperate or else he and his family would be in danger. The main player of the heist wasn’t arrested until 2010, nearly 4 years later, after having lived it up in the West Indies with the largest sum of the stolen money.

4.  The Antwerp Diamond Center (100 million, 2003)

Thieves bypass one of the most complex security systems in the world in the largest diamond heist ever
The Antwerp Diamond Center in Belgium houses 160 vaults in which diamond brokers leave their stones. In February of 2003, 123 of those vaults were emptied of $100 million worth of their contents by four people. It took two years to orchestrate the details with the criminals renting an office space in the building in order to analyze the alarm system and to learn how to bypass it. They stole keys to the vaults and made copies. On the day of the break in, they recorded over all of the security cameras. Antwerp police later caught them but the $100 million worth of diamonds and other gems has never been found. For bypassing some of the world’s most comprehensive security systems and for two years of meticulous planning, the Antwerp Diamond Heist ranks in at number 4.

3.  Harry Winston Heist (108 Million, 2008)

Two men in Paris dressed in drag make off with diamonds
One of the most downright brazen robberies in recent memory was the Harry Winston Heist. It went down in 2008 when a group of four men stormed into one of Paris’s most exclusive jewelry stores and made off with $108 million in diamonds. The men were disguised as women and armed with a .357 Magnum and a hand grenade. They quickly herded the employees and customers into a corner and started breaking open display cases. After filling a suitcase with precious stones, they made their escape. No one from this robbery has ever been arrested with police suspecting that the robbers– whom they’ve nicknamed “The Pink Panthers”– are a part of a larger criminal organization of Yugoslavians that may have been responsible for a number of other high profile jewelry heists. In the meantime, a $1 million dollar reward is still up for grabs for any information leading to the arrest of the robbers.

2.  Sumitomo Bank in London Heist ($300 Million, 2007)

Expert hackers prove high-tech gadgetry isn’t all it takes to rob a bank and fail
Sumitomo Mistui, London
Considered one of the biggest in Britain’s history at $300 million, this heist took place at the Sumitomo Bank in London in September of 2007, but failed stupidly when experienced hackers made simple mistakes in the transfer form not being familiar with the SWIFT system for transferring money internationally. After 23 unsuccessful attempts during the course of two days to wire the money, the fiasco unraveled revealing 2 Belgium men and the security chief of the bank as the culprits. Chief of the bank, Kevin O’ Donoghue, 34, later explained that he had agreed to the heist after the master plan had already been formulated and his family was threatened. The plan almost worked after hackers used a USB memory stick to install “key-logger” software on worker’s computers to which they later downloaded user names and passwords from both private and business accounts of the bank. After attempting various money transfers, all of which failed, the trio was tracked down and prosecuted.

1. Central Bank of Iraq ($1 billion, 2003)

The lowest of the low: Saddam Hussein’s hands caught deep in the coffer
Saddam Hussein robs bank
The most shocking bank robbery of the 21st century based on the amount stolen and the complete brainless effort that it takes for a dictator to drain his own country’s bank accounts. In March 2003, Saddam Hussein stole nearly $1 billion from the Central Bank of Iraq before the US began bombing in Baghdad. This is considered the largest bank heist in history with approximately $650 million later found hidden in walls in Saddam Hussein’s palace by US troops. It is believed that this was the bulk of the stolen money. Also, in March a hand-written note surfaced, signed by Saddam, ordering $920 million to be withdrawn and given to his son Qusay. Bank officials state that Qusay and another unidentified man oversaw the cash, boxes of $100 bills, being loaded into trucks during a five-hour operation. Qusay was later killed by US troops in a firefight.



Top 10 Terrorist Attacks

October 15, 2012 Naster Rawal 1 Comments

10.  Bombing of USS Cole

Fatalities: 17; Injuries: 39
Terrorists usually pursue what are termed “soft targets”.  These are areas or property (including people) that offer little in the way of security or threat to the terrorist themselves.  It’s rare, therefore, that acts of terror are carried out on military targets.  Such, was the case, however, on October 12, 2000, when suicide bombers attacked the American warship, USS Cole.  The Cole was in port at Aden, Yemen to take on fuel.  Incidentally, this was the same port in which Al Qaeda attempted a suicide attack on the USS The Sullivans earlier in the year.  Without any warning to the contrary, security around the warship was light.  A small motorboat, laden with explosives, sped up to the anchored ship and exploded on the port side.  The small boat contained 400-700 pounds of explosives that caused a 40×40-foot rupture in the Cole’s hull.  The explosion occurred near the galley of the ship, where sailors were gathering to eat.
Al Qaeda, in the ongoing efforts directed against America, claimed responsibility.  US Naval forces, as a result, increased port security measures, but the damage was already done.  Al Qaeda, according to intelligence reports, realized a significant rise in recruitment and financing as a result of this success against an American military target.

9.  Anthrax Letter Attacks

Fatalities: 5; Injuries: 17
With the nation already on edge following the 9/11, attack the nation was again coping with the threat of terror just weeks later.  On September 18 and October 9, 2001, letters were mailed to several media news outlets, and two U.S. Senators, that contained the deadly chemical agent Anthrax (in powder form).  The notes that were included with the letters pointed to extremist religious groups.  As several people were exposed, and subsequently killed, from Anthrax exposure, the level of anxiety around the nation was high.
Investigators, however, soon became convinced that the attack was not carried out by any foreign religious group, such as Al Qaeda.  The investigation began to focus on Dr. Bruce E. Ivins, who was a scientist employed at a Federal bio-defense lab.  Dr. Ivins soon became the FBI’s primary suspect.  With federal charges being considered, Dr. Ivins committed suicide on July 27, 2008.  Several weeks later, federal prosecutors announced that Dr. Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the Anthrax attack.  This attack was the second of only two bio attacks to be carried out in the US.  It resulted in government officials taking Cipro, a powerful antibiotic, and increased security and scrutiny of mail.

8.  Salmonella Attack

Injuries: 750
The threat of a biological attack has garnered a good deal of attention and concern in recent years.  The threat, and its potential for harm, is clearly evidenced by the salmonella attack in Oregon.  From September 9-19, 1984, several hundred people were deliberately poisoned by salmonella spores.
The attack was perpetrated by a cult-like group called the Rajneeshee.  The group was led by an Indian mystic named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.  The group maintained a compound in Wasco County, Oregon.  The Rajneeshee were interested in gaining control of one of the open seats on the local circuit court.  As such, a conspiracy was hatched to incapacitate the voters in The Dalles, Oregon, who made up the largest block of voters in the upcoming election. To this end, salad bars in 10 restaurants were contaminated with Salmonella spores, and two county commissioners had their drinking water contaminated.
This was the first ever bio attack on the US, and remains the largest.  Rajneesh was never prosecuted for the attack, but was eventually deported to India on other grounds.

7.  Mid-Air Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

Fatalities: 270; Injuries 12
Planes are a prime target for terrorist.  This fact was made shockingly clear on December 21, 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 from Heathrow to JFK exploded in mid-air over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland.  The destruction of the plane was complete; all passengers and crew were killed.  Additionally, falling debris from the explosion struck homes in Lockerbee and caused injuries to a number of residents.  A number of extremist groups claimed responsibility, and investigators quickly determined that a bomb did indeed cause the explosion.  It was believed that the attack was in response to the shooting down of Iran flight 655 in July of that year.
As the investigation continued, officials came to believe that the attack was sanctioned by the Libyan government.  A Libyan national, Abdul-Basit al Megrahi, was eventually apprehended, charged and found guilty in connection with the attack.  In 2003, Libya admitted responsibility for the attack (but still displayed no guilt).

6.  Bombing of Marine Barracks

Fatalities: 301; Injuries: 161
For decades, the Middle East has been a hot bed for political unrest.  Such was the case in the early-1980’s, when the United Nations established a peacekeeping force in Lebanon, in an attempt to settle unrest in the area.  It didn’t work.  On October 23, 1983, two suicide truck bombs breached the security perimeter of the UN compound that was housing U.S. Marines and French Paratroopers.  Combined, the truck bombs carried 12,000 pounds of TNT.  The resulting explosion demolished the compound.  241 U.S. servicemen (220 of them Marines) were killed.
A group called The Islamic Jihad (suspected of being a front for the organization Hezbollah) claimed responsibility, citing America’s unwanted presence in the area.  As a result of the bombing, the UN soon pulled its peacekeeping forces out of the area.  The attack represented the largest, and deadliest, one-day death toll for the Marines since the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

5.  Truck Bombing of U.S. Embassies

Fatalities: 303; Injuries: 4,954
Prior to 9/11, acts of terror against the U.S. centered largely on targets on foreign soil.  Such was the case with the 1998 bombings of the U. S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Truck bombs, carrying up to 17 tons of high explosives, were detonated within minutes of each other at the site of each embassy.  While the intended targets were American property and personnel, the vast majority of the casualties were indigenous civilians.  Twelve Americans were killed, and both embassies were heavily damaged.  So-called collateral damage was widespread in the neighborhoods adjacent to the embassies, and several thousands of civilians were injured or killed.
The attack was linked to an extremist group call The Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ).  The group claimed it was retaliating for American involvement concerning the torture and extradition of four members of the EIJ.  Both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri came to American attention as a result of the attack.

4.  Beslan Massacre

Fatalities: 366; Injuries: 747
Acts of terror are not confined to the United States.  Terrorism is a worldwide problem, as our number four entry illustrates.  On September 1, 2004, armed Ingush and Chechen insurgents seized control of School Number One in Beslan, Russia.  The insurgents held 1,100 hostages (of which 777 were children) and demanded an end to ongoing Chechen military dispute between Chechnya and Russia.
By the 3rd day of the siege, Russian officials decided to act, and assaulted the school with tanks, heavy weapons and military troops.  An intense gun battle ensued that resulted in 30 insurgents killed.  Unfortunately, 334 hostages were also killed (of which 186 were children).  The backlash of the disastrous assault by Russian forces led to a number of policy changes, as well as widespread international criticism.

3.  Oklahoma City Federal Building Bombing

Fatalities: 169; Injuries: 675
While acts of terror seem to be carried out primarily by religious extremists, this wasn’t the case with the number three entry on our list.  On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb that he positioned in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The bomb itself was homemade, using chemical ingredients that were readily attainable.  The resulting explosion tore into the Federal building, demolishing much of it and causing widespread damage to the surrounding area.
Damages, in fact, totaled more than $652 million. Timothy McVeigh, and co-conspirator Terry Nichols, were quickly linked, charged and convicted for the attack.  The public soon became aware of the home-grown terrorism.  McVeigh, a militia sympathizer, espoused a hatred of the US government as his motivation.  McVeigh was sentenced to death by lethal injection and Nichols was given life without parole for their roles in the attack.  Prior to 9/11, this attack was the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil.

2.  1st World Trade Center Bombing

Fatalities: 6; Injuries: 1,040
While the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was devastating, it was not the first attempt to bring the two towers down.  On February 26, 1993, a yellow Ryder moving van was driven into the World Trade Center’s public parking garage in the North Tower.  Several minutes later, 1500 pounds of nitrate-hydrogen gas exploded, punching a hole 98 feet wide through four levels of concrete.
The plan was carried out by a group that called itself The Liberation Army, 5th Battalion.  This is believed to be a front, however, as this attack was financed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was the primary planner for the 9/11 attack. The attackers hoped to collapse the North Tower and have it crash into the South Tower, causing thousands of deaths.  Six men were eventually charged with, and convicted of, the bombing.

1.  9/11 Attack

Fatalities: 2,993; Injuries: 8,900
Any discussion concerning acts of terror has to begin with the September 11, 2001 attack.  By any measure, it was the most brazen and deadliest terrorist attack in recorded history.  Initiated by an extremist organization named Al Qaeda, and its leader Osama bin Laden, the attack led to America’s current War On Terror.
The attack itself was a coordinated affair: nineteen members of Al Qaeda managed to hijack four airliners.  Two of these planes were crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center.  A third plane was crushed into the Pentagon in Washington DC.  The fourth plane, which is believed to have been headed for targets in Washington DC as well, crashed into a field in Summerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers attempted to regain control of the plane from the hijackers.
The damage was horrific.  Both World Trade Center towers were demolished – literally crashing to the ground.  The Pentagon was heavily damaged as well.  9/11 is the most lethal attack carried out against the US, and continues to have ramifications in the nation’s foreign and domestic 


Top 10 Weirdly Racist Video Games

October 15, 2012 Naster Rawal 2 Comments

10.  Dead Rising 2

Dead Rising 2 is a simple game: you hit zombies with things until they die, and you meet wacky characters that you get to save.  One of these characters is LaShawndra, a woman of both size and color who, after you meet her, begins immediately complaining, in African-American Vernacular English no less, about how her husband has run off.  Through a combination of her sass and… um, more sass, she manages to save her husband’s “skinny ass,” and greets him with a punch in the face and a fake, half-hearted apology.
If you’re keeping track, that’s exactly how stupid white people who have never met a black person think black people act.

9.  The Legend of Zelda Series

The Legend of Zelda is a series of video games, started 26 years ago and still going strong.  It tells the story of Link, a white dude, who has to save princess Zelda, a white lady, from the villainous, thieving Ganondorf, who is…yeah, you see where this is going.  Since the very first Zelda game, the villain has been Ganondorf — and we’re very sorry to do this to you, Zelda fanboys, but Ganondorf is a racist stereotype.
Keep in mind, this isn’t just about one game having one dark-skinned villain- -he’s supposed to be representative of an entire culture.  His people, called the “Gerudo,” live in the desert, fight with scimitars and glaives, and oh, they’re all thieves.  When you have an entire race depicted as criminals and thieves — and you give that race qualities based on stereotypes of a real world ethnicity — then you’ve dropped the ball somewhere.  Somewhere racist.  Which is the worst place to drop a ball, because now it’s covered in racism, and that stuff is notoriously hard to wash off.

8.  Ghostbusters

In the mid-80s, Activision released a Ghostbusters game for the NES, Atari 2600, Sega Master System and the Commodore 64. It featured…
… three…wait, what?  That looks odd for some reason.  Let’s compare those Busters to the movie.
Oh, that’s right.  There’s four of them.  Technological limitations must have gotten in the way.  I wonder how they decided which one to cut.

7.  Resident Evil 5

When Resident Evil 5 was released in 2009, it attracted some controversy for its gameplay, which is made up entirely of a white guy in Africa gunning down diseased black people (the above clip contains the protagonist shouting “the natives are hostile!”).  We almost didn’t throw this one up here, since it got so much press when it first came out — but then we realized that a lot of people really didn’t understand the issue, so let’s take this chance to explain it:
Most of RE5′s imagery and motifs are lifted directly from a real-life tragedy occurring in parts of Africa right now, called the AIDS Epidemic.  Most of the imagery in this game (visibly sick Africans, crushing poverty) have entered the cultural mindset because of the growing international concern for this epidemic.  It’s fine to draw inspiration for horror from reality (in fact, it’s best to do so) but RE5′s posited solution to this problem iskilling everyone infected.
Then there’s the difference between this, and previous Resident Evil games.  People have argued that, because most of the zombies were white in Resident Evil 1-3, and hispanic in Resident Evil 4, then it’s hypocritical to say it’s only racist when the heroes are killing black people. This argument doesn’t hold up because the United States doesn’t have a history of oppressing and enslaving other white people and, as for the Hispanics well…yeah, that was kind of weird, but Spain doesn’t have the same problem Africa has with being depicted as a war-torn wasteland in American popular culture.
And no, this problem isn’t solved by the inclusion of Sheva.

6.  Diablo 3

In Blizzard’s latest click-fest, you choose one of five classes to play as you fight the hordes of Hell.  And of those five classes, only one is black — the witch doctor.  He speaks in a heavy accent, moves around like an animal, comes from the jungle and looks like every stereotypical witch doctor ever.  The only thing he doesn’t do is shrink heads and go OOH-EE-OOH-AH-AH-TING-TANG-WALLA-WALLA-BING-BANG, but that’s likely because Blizzard didn’t want to pay the Seville family any royalties.
This one is less “blatantly offensive” and more just “lazy stereotyping.”  If you’re not in the gaming community, you may not realize this but Diablo 3 is a really freaking big game.  Diablo 1 and 2 are legendary installments in the dungeon-crawler genre, and this latest installment sold 3.5 million units in the first day.  It’s a big, popular, fun game.
The weirdest part is that this is a step back from the preceding entries — Diablo 2 featured a black Paladin character that didn’t play off of any stereotypes of preconceptions.  Now, with Diablo 3,  if you’re a black gamer and you want an avatar who looks like you, the Witch Doctor is your only option.  Hope you like piercings!

5.  Spanish for Everyone

Some people would argue that, when teaching Spanish, it’s important to teach the horrifically negative stereotypes associated with the language.  Those people are idiots, and also apparently responsible for Spanish For Everyone.
Ostensibly a game designed to teach children Spanish, the gameplay is centered around a white protagonist chasing after Miguel (his hispanic friend) who stole his Nintendo DS.  Oh, and Miguel’s father is heavily implied to be a druglord.  But Spanish does happen!  Sometimes.

4.  Freaky Flyers

Cartoons live off of the human brain’s ability to recognize patterns.  Bugs Bunny looks nothing like a human being, but viewers recognize the pattern of what a smiling, wacky character is supposed to look like, and their brain automatically fills in the rest.
So what happens if you decide that instead of “wacky character” archetypes, you’re going to go with “racist” archetypes?  You get…Freaky Fliers.  We’re not going to go through a list of everything wrong with this game because we have lots of other things to get to this week, and honestly the gameplay itself doesn’t matter.  We’re just going to leave you to watch the above video, about a billionaire oil magnate from Arabia (zillionaire, depending on the current price of oil), named, naturally, Sheik Abdul.

3.  Pokemon

Wow.  Okay.  Jynx, huh?  Really…really?!  Yeah — that was a bad idea.

2.  Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!!

Racist Video Game lists are almost irresponsibly incomplete without Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.  This classic NES game tells the story of a plucky little white dude named Lil’ Mac, who fights his way through an army of racist stereotypes so he can unseat Mike Tyson, a black guy with authority.  People have written entire articles about the racism in this one game.  Our favorites are Piston Honda, the Japanese Samurai boxer, and Bob Charlie, because that’s almost a joke, right?

1.  Call of Juarez: The Cartel

While video game advocates would rather focus on the intellectual and artistic potential of video games, there’s really no denying that the industry is far more familiar with exploring the depths of stupidity — and so we come to Call of Juarez.
CoJ: TC is a game about the Mexican Drug War, and it is pretty much the worst thing to have ever happened to the industry.  The game caters blatantly to racist stereotypes by building gameplay mechanics that require you to cut-down wave after wave of black and Latino characters, to the point where they lack any semblance of humanity.  One level even features a special “achievement” for killing black people, in a level where your goal is to go into a slum and incite gang warfare.  The game even decides that sex-slavery is a great topic for it to tackle, as it depicts the tragedy of a bunch of American women being sold to rich Mexicans.  Too bad that, in reality, it’s the exact opposite.