TBR News February 21, 2018

Feb 21 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 21, 2018:” The political problems in the Middle East are rapidly degenerating to the point where a major could erupt without notice. As in 1914, no one wanted a major war but ineptness and misjudgement led to a war that did terrible damage to society. In 1914 as in 2018, no one wants a bloody conflict but with the exept for Russia’s Putin, none of the world leaders are competent or possessed of even the slightest degree of foresight. One always gets what one pays for after all.”


Table of Contents

  • Stakes rise in Turkey’s Afrin assault as pro-Assad militia arrive
  • New corruption cases entangle Netanyahu aides
  • Confidant of Israel’s Netanyahu turns state witness in corruption case: media
  • Jared Kushner-Qatar Redux: Robert Mueller Enters the Fray
  • ‘Thank you, Mama Merkel’: Syrian refugee lives with 2 wives, 6 kids on benefits in Germany
  • U.S. hate groups proliferate in Trump’s first year, watchdog says
  • Chinese counterfeiting of gold coins
  • The rise and fall of Mikheil Saakashvili
  • Under Trump, Border Patrol Steps Up Searches Far From the Border
  • Thousands of Americans jailed for debts chased by private collectors


Stakes rise in Turkey’s Afrin assault as pro-Assad militia arrive

February 21, 2018

by Ellen Francis and Ece Toksabay


BEIRUT/ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey warned on Wednesday that pro-Damascus forces would face “serious consequences” for entering Syria’s Afrin region to help Kurdish fighters repel a Turkish offensive.

Their arrival raises the specter of wider escalation on Syria’s northern battlefront, where the Syrian army, allied Iran-linked militias, Kurdish forces, rebels, Turkish troops, and Russian and American forces are all contending.

The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said Turkish planes bombed a town in Afrin on Wednesday. Turkey began its assault last month to drive out the YPG, which it deems a security threat along its border akin to the Kurdish PKK insurgency on its own soil.

Paramilitary forces aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Afrin on Tuesday. Turkey and the Syrian insurgents it supports tried to force them back with artillery fire..

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday the forces in a convoy of some 40-50 vehicles had retreated. “Any step by the (Syrian) regime or other elements in this direction will surely have serious consequences,” Ibrahim Kalin told a news conference.

But a YPG official and a pro-Assad military commander denied similar Turkish statements on Tuesday night.

The commander, in the alliance fighting alongside Damascus in Syria’s almost eight-year-old civil war, told Reuters the forces in Afrin had returned fire against Turkey-backed rebels.

A new confrontation, pitting the Turkish army directly against pro-Assad forces, would further scramble the web of alliances and rivalries already at play in northern Syria.


Erdogan described the pro-government fighters coming to the YPG’s aid as Shi‘ite Muslim militias acting independently and warned they would pay a heavy price.

“Any step there aimed at supporting the… YPG terrorist organization will mean they… become legitimate targets for us,” his spokesman said on Wednesday. Kalin added that Turkey was not in direct talks with the Syrian government, but its messages were being indirectly conveyed.

The forces that arrived – which included combatants allied to Assad but not Syrian army troops – will deploy near the Turkish border, the YPG said.

Before they entered, Erdogan said he had won Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing to block a Syrian government deployment to Afrin. The pro-Assad commander said Russia had intervened to “delay the entry” of Syrian army troops, and so allied “popular forces” with heavy weaponry went instead.

Syrian Kurdish officials have said Moscow sought to stop a deal between Kurdish forces and the Damascus government for army soldiers to deploy to Afrin. Moscow, they said, wanted to secure its interests in Syria and keep leverage with Ankara to advance its wider ambitions of brokering a settlement of the conflict.

Turkey and Russia have backed opposing sides during the seven-year war, with Moscow the closest ally of Assad and Ankara one of the main backers of rebels fighting to overthrow him.

But Ankara shifted its Syria policy, seeking to mend broken ties with Russia and turning its efforts towards fighting what it sees as a growing menace from Kurdish forces in Syria.

Turkey has in recent months lent support to diplomacy by Russia, whose firepower helped Assad’s government seize back most major cities from rebels and militants since 2015.

Ankara said last month it had sought Moscow’s agreement before launching the Afrin assault

“The Russians are the ones who decided this game,” said Kurdish politician Fawza Youssef.

“The Russians have been playing it like this for a while… They pressure the Turks with the Kurdish card (and vice versa),” said Youssef, a senior member of the Kurdish-led autonomous authority in north Syria.

The Turkish offensive was slow to achieve gains along the frontier but appears to have accelerated recently, pushing several km (miles) into Syria. However, the YPG still holds most of the Afrin region including its central town.

Turkey regards the YPG as the Syrian extension of the Kurdish PKK movement which has waged a three-decade insurgency on its territory, though the groups say they are independent.

Reporting by Ellen Francis and Ece Toksabay, with additional reporting by Angus McDowall in Beirut and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; writing by Ellen Francis; editing by Mark Heinrich



New corruption cases entangle Netanyahu aides

February 20, 2018

by Jeffrey Heller and Tova Cohen


JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police alleged on Tuesday that Benjamin Netanyahu’s former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Netanyahu’s wife, the latest corruption investigation encircling the long-serving prime minister.

The new bribery case was one of two revealed on Tuesday involving the same former spokesman, a close Netanyahu confidant. Police also named him as someone they had arrested two days earlier in a separate case involving allegations of corruption at Israel’s biggest telecoms company.

The rightwing leader, in office for 12 years since 1996, has seen his dominance of Israeli politics threatened by corruption investigations since police recommended a week ago that he be indicted for bribery and fraud.

He has denied wrongdoing in what are now four separate investigations, including two in which he is personally a suspect. He says the allegations are a political “witch hunt”.

In the latest case, police said former Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefetz had offered through an intermediary in 2015 to help a judge win the post of attorney-general if she agreed to use the position to block any proceedings against Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

Last September Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said he was considering indicting Sara Netanyahu for fraud over suspected use of state funds for personal dining and catering services amounting to some $100,000. She has denied the allegations and a final decision on charges is pending.


The prime minister rejected the allegation about the attempt to bribe the judge, calling it “hallucinatory”.

“I never approached Nir Hefetz about this, he never proposed to me anything about it, and you know what? I do not believe he raised the possibility with anyone,” Netanyahu said.

A lawyer for Hefetz could not be reached.

In the other case revealed on Tuesday, police said they had arrested Hefetz and another Netanyahu confidant, Shlomo Filber, who once ran the Communications Ministry, over allegations of corruption involving the telecoms firm Bezeq.

Bezeq’s main shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, was also arrested, along with his wife and son, and Bezeq’s CEO Stella Handler. Elovitch is a family friend of the Netanyahus. The arrests took place on Sunday but were not disclosed for two days under standard Israeli procedure.

Police suspect Bezeq received regulatory benefits in return for providing favourable media coverage of Netanyahu on Walla, a news website that is controlled by Elovitch’s holding company Eurocom.

Elovitch has denied any wrongdoing, as have his wife and son, and Bezeq CEO Handler, a Eurocom spokeswoman said. Filber’s lawyer declined to comment.

Netanyahu is not a suspect in that case but Israeli media said he was likely to be questioned soon.

Last week, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted in two cases. In one he is suspected of bribery over his acknowledged receipt of gifts from wealthy businessmen, which police say were worth nearly $300,000. In the other, he is alleged to have offered the publisher of Israel’s biggest daily to curtail circulation of a rival newspaper in return for positive coverage.

Netanyahu, who has maintained his normal working schedule and is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on March 5, has denied all the allegations and vowed to remain in office to serve out his term, which runs until 2019.

Mandelblit is weighing indictments in those investigations, with a decision possibly months away.

Additional reporting by Steven Scheer and Ori Lewis; Editing by Peter Graff and Gareth Jones




Confidant of Israel’s Netanyahu turns state witness in corruption case: media

February 21, 2018

by Jeffrey Heller


JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to turn state’s witness in one of several corruption investigations posing a serious threat to the conservative leader’s political survival, local media said.

Shlomo Filber’s decision to testify for the state against his former boss is a dramatic turn for Netanyahu, whose inner circle had so far seemed watertight. Filber’s change of heart could leave the tough-talking Netanyahu at his most vulnerable yet, with one critic writing him off as a “political corpse”.

The development has also fueled speculation that Netanyahu, 68, will call a snap election to try to stall legal proceedings during the campaign and rally his right-wing power base behind him.

The prime minister denies all the allegations against him and has said he will seek a fifth term in office in a national ballot due in late 2019. So far, partners in his governing coalition have stood by him, showing little appetite for bringing down the government over the affairs and risking an early poll.

Filber, a personal appointment of Netanyahu’s to head the Communications Ministry, was arrested this week along with top executives at Bezeq Telecom (BEZQ.TA), Israel’s largest telecommunications company.

In unsourced reports, Israeli media said Filber has now agreed to testify for the state in the case, providing evidence likely to complicate Netanyahu’s battle to overcome his legal crisis.

A spokesman for the police fraud squad declined to comment. Filber’s lawyer was not immediately available to confirm that a deal had been reached.

Police suspect Bezeq received regulatory benefits, and in return, Netanyahu enjoyed favorable media coverage on a popular news website controlled by Bezeq’s former chairman.

Bezeq executives have denied the allegations.

Netanyahu, who has led Israel periodically for 12 years since 1996, is awaiting a decision by the attorney-general on whether to indict him in two other cases as police recommended last week.


Polls before Filber’s decision suggested Netanyahu would just about survive if an election was held now, despite widespread suspicion against him.

A survey published on Feb. 14 showed that almost half of Israel’s electorate believe police allegations of bribery against Netanyahu, while 25 percent said they believed Netanyahu’s denials. The remainder said they did not know whom to believe

But when people were asked whether he should remain in office or temporarily step aside, 49 percent said he should stay put, while 43 percent that he should step down temporarily

Netanyahu posted an opinion poll commissioned by Likud on Facebook on Wednesday that showed that his party would boost its representation in the 120-member parliament from 30 seats to 34 if elections were held now.

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew,” Netanyahu, who has said he is a victim of a political witch hunt, wrote in the posting, quoting Exodus 1:12.

But political commentator Yossi Verter, writing in Israel’s left-wing Haaretz, a newspaper highly critical of Netanyahu and his policies, described him as a “political corpse” and predicted his own party would turn against him.

“He is likely to call early elections in the next few months. But it’s unlikely that he’ll still be head of the Likud party when they happen, even less likely that he would win them, and exceedingly unlikely that he’d be able to form a coalition with conviction and jail time staring him in the face,” Verter wrote.

On Tuesday, police alleged that Netanyahu’s former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Netanyahu’s wife. The same associate is also a suspect in the Bezeq investigation.

Netanyahu described that allegation as “hallucinatory”.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky


Jared Kushner-Qatar Redux: Robert Mueller Enters the Fray

February 21 2018

by Ryan Grim and  Clayton Swisher


Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing senior White House aide Jared Kushner’s attempts to secure financing for a distressed Manhattan property after the 2016 election, including pitches made to investment firms from China and Qatar, several news outlets reported this week.

The attempt by Jared Kushner’s father Charles to secure funding from Qatar before and after Donald Trump’s election — up until the spring of 2017 — was first reported in July by The Intercept and later confirmed publicly by a Kushner Companies spokesperson.

The property that is now tied up in Mueller’s probe, as well as linked to a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, sits at 666 Fifth Ave., and was bought by Kushner at the height of the housing bubble for what was even then considered an inflated price of $1.8 billion.

The building is now severely underwater and if Kushner can’t find refinancing sometime in 2018, the property risks blowing a hole in the family balance sheet. Kushner has worked doggedly to fend off that reckoning, talking with prospective investors around the globe.

As The Intercept reported last July, Charles Kushner solicited funds from Qatar’s former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, known as HBJ, who now runs the investment firm Al Mirqab Capital. The Qatari businessman pledged to provide Charles Kushner, then heading Kushner Companies in Jared’s place, with $500 million in capital provided Kushner was able to raise the rest of the multibillion-dollar refinancing elsewhere. Charles Kushner reportedly turned to China’s Anbang Insurance Group for an additional $400 million, but the holding company pulled out of the deal in March 2017 following conflict of interest claims. Left in the lurch, we now know that Jared Kushner just weeks later devised a plan with Saudi Arabia to form a coalition with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain to jump Qatar, an unexpected move given the Qatari emir had joined Trump in Riyadh just weeks before the blockade started, where no issues were raised with Qatar about any of its policies or relationships.

Trump publicly took credit for the diplomatic attack on Qatar, and when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to walk it back, Trump doubled down, issuing an additional aggressive statement that Tillerson would later say he suspected was the work of Kushner and his regional ally, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States.

CNN reported that the special counsel has not requested documents or records related to the hunt for cash for 666 Fifth Ave., a claim repeated to The Intercept by a source at Kushner Companies. Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Kushner, dismissed the CNN report. “Another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts — in all of Mr Kushner’s extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner Co deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions,” Lowell said in a statement.

But that could hardly be evidence that Mueller is not taking action, given he would be unlikely to telegraph his pivot toward the company’s activities in the open. As indicated by last week’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals accused of sowing information warfare to help get Trump elected shows, the special counsel is carrying out his investigation discreetly and is making surprise moves. Mueller could obtain a substantial body of records without Kushner’s immediate knowledge by sealed subpoena and search warrants for stored electronic communications. Mueller could also invite Kushner’s father or other involved Kushner Company officials to testify before these secret grand jury proceedings. This was a prospect that former Trump aide Steve Bannon commented on in “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. In it, Bannon is quoted, with the ellipses:

“Charlie Kushner,” said Bannon, smacking his head again in additional disbelief. “He’s going crazy because they’re going to get down deep in his shit about how he’s financed everything … all the shit coming out of Israel … and all these guys coming out of Eastern Europe … all these Russian guys … and guys in Kazakhstan. … And he’s frozen on 666 [Fifth Ave.]. … [If] it goes under next year, the whole thing’s cross-collateralized … he’s wiped, he’s gone, he’s done, it’s over. … Toast.”

Kushner’s hand in Middle Eastern affairs hasn’t worked out well for the United States or for the countries that took on Qatar by severing diplomatic ties in June. Saudi Arabia and its allies relied on a website hack and a smear campaign about Qatar’s warming relationship to regional foe Iran to justify the escalation. The Washington Post reported that the hack had been carried out at the direction of the United Arab Emirates, citing U.S. intelligence officials. Isolated by its neighbors, Qatar turned to Iran and Turkey to survive a monthslong air, land, and sea blockade. The kingdom’s claim that Qatar was fomenting extremism was roundly mocked in Washington. Now, the United States — ironically, the very country that enabled the fracas — appears to be re-aligning itself with the isolated Gulf nation. Just weeks ago, Trump praised Qatar for fighting terror, while Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis kicked off the inaugural United States-Qatar Strategic Dialogue.

Bannon, the “alt-right” nationalist and one of the prime anti-Qatar agitators, is no longer in the White House. Bannon reportedly declined to provide evidence to the House Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russian election interference, so as not to interfere with his ongoing testimony in Mueller’s criminal probe. Bannon reportedly met Mueller and FBI agents several times last week. It is widely known that Bannon had a particular hatred of “Javanka,” the portmanteau for Jared Kushner and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. If Bannon has any information that would incriminate Kushner’s or Trump’s families, some of whom he described as “treasonous” in “Fire and Fury,” there’s little reason to think he’d sit on it.

That could plainly be of worry for Trump, but Kushner too. Given the failure of the siege against Qatar and the bizarre moves by its Gulf Arab protagonists — including Saudi’s hostage taking of Lebanon’s prime minister — well-placed sources said Trump has largely sidelined his son-in-law, who conducted most of his disastrous diplomacy in secret with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Wolff’s recent tell-all disclosed that it was Trump’s innermost circle, including Bannon and Kushner, who devised the early summer 2017 foreign policy coup in the Arab Gulf to “change the conversation” away from Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Since last June, MBS has brutally kneecapped internal opposition to consolidate power, while encouraging the prolonged travel and trade isolation of Qatar.

Not all is falling apart for Kushner, however. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly recently sent a memo signaling that anybody working in the building without a permanent security clearance needed to get one soon or move on. But that, he has since clarified, doesn’t apply to Kushner.

“I will not comment on anybody’s specific security clearance situation or go beyond the memo released last week,” Kelly said in a statement first reported by The Intercept. “As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico. Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the President’s agenda. There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise.”



‘Thank you, Mama Merkel’: Syrian refugee lives with 2 wives, 6 kids on benefits in Germany

February 21, 2018


A documentary about a Syrian refugee in Germany, who happily lives on state handouts with his two wives and six kids, has angered many in the country where polygamy is against the law.

The Spiegel TV film was aired over the weekend, telling the story of 32-year-old Ahmad A. who fled the fighting in Syria’s Aleppo back in 2015 with his large family, and found a safe haven in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany.

The man lives in a two-story house provided by the community with two wives and six children. Despite polygamy being illegal in Germany, Ahmad was allowed to bring his second wife into the country as she is the mother of four of his kids.

The authorities weren’t even flustered by the fact that the Syrian married his second wife, Lina, when she was just 13 years old, below Germany’s age of consent. His first wife, Betool, was 14 at the time of the marriage.

Ahmad also has a third wife in Syria, but he told Spiegel journalists jokingly that the house needed to be bigger for her to come as well. As for the man’s plans for the future, he’s aiming for four wives and ten children.

Lina and Betool said that they were happy to share one husband and that it was “God’s will” for things to be that way. As a devout Muslim, Ahmad himself also sees no problem with having several wives as it’s in line with Sharia law, which he follows.

The wives reside in separate rooms on the second floor and the man said he makes sure there’s no dispute between them. The family’s bedroom is located on the first floor, with Ahmad specifying that he only sleeps with one wife at a time there.

Ahmad’s family live in social housing and the state provides them with an income.

“There’s support here. They give us social benefits, they give us this house,” Ahmad said, adding that Germany was his desired destination when he left his war-torn home country.

“I thank you very, very, very much, Mama Merkel. She is the only person who has felt the suffering of the Syrians. I also thank the Germans, even if there are racists among them. But the Germans have experienced war and show great compassion for the Syrians,” he said.

“And then they ask why more and more people choose AfD,” another comment read. Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a right-wing nationalist party, which has been gaining momentum in the country since the start of the refugee crisis in 2015. Last year, it became the third largest party in Germany after winning 94 seats in the Bundestag in the general election.

“It doesn’t matter how tolerant one is, some limits have to be respected. This will end badly,” another internet user warned. One commentator even said that he was waiting for cannibals to arrive in Germany in order to see if the state will show the same respect for their culture.

Earlier in February, Wochenblatt said that 34 refugees in northern Germany have brought in 130 family members to the country with them since 2015, which exceeded the number of asylum applications by a factor of four. In 2016, there were reports of a Syrian refugee bringing four wives and 22 kids to Germany. However, he had to live with only one official wife, while the other three spouses were housed separately.


U.S. hate groups proliferate in Trump’s first year, watchdog says

February 21, 2018

by Ian Simpson


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. hate groups expanded last year under President Donald Trump, fueled by his immigration stance and the perception that he sympathized with those espousing white supremacy, the Southern Poverty Law Center said on Wednesday

There were 954 hate groups in the country in 2017, marking a 4 percent increase over the previous year when the number rose 2.8 percent, the civil rights watchdog said in its annual census of such groups.

Since 2014, the number has jumped 20 percent, it said.

Among the more than 600 white supremacist groups, neo-Nazi organizations rose to 121 from 99. Anti-Muslim groups increased for a third year in a row, to 114 from 101 in 2016, the report said.

Last year brought “a substantial emboldening of the radical right, and that is largely due to the actions of President Trump, who’s tweeted out hate materials and made light of the threats to our society posed by hate groups,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told reporters.

Trump, who took office in January 2017, was elected in November of the previous year. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971, defines hate groups as organizations with beliefs or practices that demonize a class of people.

In the past, some groups have criticized the Alabama-based organization’s findings, with skeptics saying it has mislabeled legitimate organizations as “hate groups.”

In August, Trump came under fire for saying “both sides” were to blame for violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia where a counter-protester was killed.

The Republican president was also criticized for a string of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments, including using a vulgar term to describe Haiti and African countries last month.

In a backlash to Trump, the number of black nationalist groups such as the Nation of Islam increased by 20 percent last year, to 233, the non-profit’s report said. It added two male supremacy groups to its census for the first time.

A separate investigation by the group showed that people linked to the alt-right killed 43 people in the last four years, including 17 in 2017. The alt-right movement believes that white identity is under attack by multicultural forces.

The report identified 689 groups associated with the anti-government “Patriot” movement, with about 40 percent of them armed militias.

SPLC acknowledged that its report likely failed to capture the full extent of hate-group activity. It said many of them, especially from the alt-right, operate mainly online.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Frank McGurty and Tom Brown


Chinese counterfeiting of gold coins

February 21, 2018

by Christian Jürs

Australian Kangaroo Gold     1 oz.

Australian Kangaroo Gold     1/2 oz.

Australian Kangaroo Gold     1/4 oz.

Australian Kangaroo Gold     1/10 oz.

Australian Kangaroo Gold     1/20 oz.

Austrian Gold Philharmonic  1 oz

Austrian Gold Philharmonic  1/2 oz

Austrian Gold Philharmonic  1/4 oz

Austrian Gold Philharmonic  1/10 oz

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold    1 oz.

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold    1/2 oz.

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold    1/4 oz.

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold    1/10 oz.

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold    1/15 oz

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold    1/20 oz

China Gold Pandas              1 oz.

China Gold Pandas              1/2 oz.

China Gold Pandas              1/4 oz.

China Gold Pandas              1/10 oz.

China Gold Pandas              1/20 oz.

Germany                            20 Marks

Great Britain Britannia         I oz.

Great Britain Britannia         1/2 oz.

Great Britain Britannia         1/4 oz.

Great Britain Britannia         I /10 oz.

Great Britain Gold Sovereigns

1 Sovereign

Great Britain Gold Sovereign

½ Sovereign

Netherlands   10 Guilders


20 Francs

Isle of Man Cat Coins I oz.   1 Crown

Isle of Man Cat                   1/2 oz.

Isle of Man Cat                   1/5 oz

Isle of Man Cat                   1/ 10 oz.

Isle of Man Cat                   1/25 oz.

Mexico 50 Pesos

Mexico 1 Onza

South Africa Krugerrand      1 oz.

South Africa Krugerrand      1/2 oz.

South Africa Krugerrand      1/4 oz.

South Africa Krugerrand      1/10 oz.

U.S. American Eagles

1 oz.   US$ 50

U.S. American Eagles 1/2 oz.

U.S. American Eagles 1/4 oz.

U.S. American Eagles 1/10 oz.


The rise and fall of Mikheil Saakashvili

The Saakashvili saga exemplifies how easily one can stray from democratic promise to semi-authoritarian rabble rousing.

February 20, 2018

by Peter Zalmayev & Lincoln Mitchell


One of the most intriguing people at the recently concluded Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering of international relations nabobs from Europe, North America and elsewhere, was erstwhile Georgian President and Odessan Governor Mikheil Saakashvili. Saakashvili is no longer president or governor of anything, and is also no longer a citizen of Georgia, but remains a fascinating figure, and a bit of a cautionary tale.

Saakashvili, for many years the darling of the west because of his record on fighting low-level corruption in Georgia and hawkish rhetoric towards Russia, usually delivered in near-native English, has had a rough few years since his party resoundingly lost a parliamentary election in Georgia in 2012, and he was then term-limited out of office in 2013. After leaving the presidency, Saakashvili, after a year or so, due to his relationship with Petro Poroshenko, who was elected president of Ukraine in 2014, became an adviser to the Ukrainian government and then governor of Ukraine’s Odessa oblast. However, the Saakashvili that took over Odessa was no longer the energetic reformer who changed Georgia so much and proved unable to accomplish much there.

By late 2016, Saakashvili was out his job in Odessa and turning his attention to the man who had revived his political career. Like any politician, scholar or activist who gets in Saakashvili’s way, Poroshenko continues to be on the receiving end of a barrage of Saakashvili’s verbal attacks accusing him of being corrupt and a pawn of the Kremlin. This is standard Saakashvili fare and no longer gets any traction. Eventually, Poroschenko retaliated by stripping Saakashvili of his Ukranian citizenship, but a few months later Saakashvili returned to Ukraine without proper documentation and was arrested, released and then earlier this month things got even stranger.

On Monday, February 5, a Ukrainian appeals court turned down Saakashvili’s request that it overturn a Ukrainian lower court ruling that denied him refugee status. Saakashvili then left Ukraine for the Netherlands, his wife’s native country.

The drama and just plain weirdness around the Saakashvili saga can obscure a significant reality. As recently as two years ago, Saakashvili boasted that he and his supporters would soon be running two countries, Georgia and Ukraine; today, he is widely discredited and, more damagingly for him, almost irrelevant in both those countries.

In Georgia, his political party has devolved into competing factions, none of which get any significant amount of votes or wield any real power. Lately, his support in Ukraine has been hovering near two or three percent. The rallies he has held there in recent months generally draw fewer, and sometimes far fewer, than five thousand people. Saakashvili’s constant drumbeat about corruption in Ukraine is not so much wrong as it is sometimes overstated and usually presented in a way that does not resonate with a population weary from years of tumult. Ukrainians are indeed disappointed with their government and the pace of reforms, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to embrace the populism, instability and erratic leadership that have always been part of the Saakashvili brand.

In Ukraine, Saakashvili also faces the very grave charge that he conspired to receive funding from one of Former President Viktor Yanukovich’s most odious moneymen – one of his close aides was allegedly caught on video accepting several hundred thousand dollars from this moneyman’s envoy. That case has not come to trial, and Saakashvili adamantly denies any connection to Yanukovich, but the charges and evidence should not be so easily ignored.

A central irony of the latest iteration of Saakashvili is that despite his consistently harsh anti-Russia rhetoric, almost nobody outside of Russia and Russian operatives are doing more to try to discredit the Ukrainian state in the eyes of the West, sow the seeds of instability there and lead Ukraine down the path of right-wing populist democratic rollback than Saakashvili himself. At the Munich conference, Saakashvili has devoted most of his time to making verbal attacks on the Ukrainian government, referring to them as crooks and thieves and trying to undermine their support from Western financial institutions. It should not be overlooked that, in Ukraine, he attempted to make alliances with fringe far-right and outwardly xenophobic forces such as the “Svoboda” party and the Azov Battalion. At his encampment outside the Parliament, one could see posters and banners with outright anti-Semitic slogans.

In the bigger political picture, Saakashvili may no longer be particularly important. He holds no important office, has a limited, if devoted, following in Georgia and Ukraine, and has lost a lot of Western goodwill in recent years. Nonetheless, a decade removed from his last election victory, and even further removed from the years when he was an aggressive and successful reformer, he provides us with with an example both of how somebody can stray from democratic promise to semi-authoritarian rabble-rousing and how western policymakers should be more willing to confront a political client when that happens. Saakashvili once represented hope and promise for the global democratic project, but largely because of decisions he made that never happened. The 19th-century American poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote that the saddest words in the English language are “It might have been”, when thinking of where Saakashvili is today, these words come to mind, or if you prefer dialect of his adopted American hometown, “shoulda, coulda, woulda”.


Under Trump, Border Patrol Steps Up Searches Far From the Border

February 21, 2018

by Ron Nixon

The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Border Patrol officers are working without permission on private property and setting up checkpoints up to 100 miles away from the border under a little-known federal law that is being used more widely in the Trump administration’s aggressive crackdown on illegal immigration.

In Texas, a rancher has accused the Border Patrol of trespassing after he said he found a surveillance camera the agency placed on his property.

In New Hampshire, border officers working with state officials conducted what the American Civil Liberties Union described as illegal drug searches after residents were arrested at immigration checkpoints set up on a major interstate highway. One of the checkpoints was set up just before a local marijuana festival.

And recently in Florida, New York and Washington State, Border Patrol officers have been criticized for boarding buses and trains to question riders — mostly American citizens — about their immigration status.

Trump administration officials defend the government’s decades-old authority to search people and property, even without a warrant, far from the border. They call it a vital part of preventing weapons, terrorists and other people from illegally entering the United States.

But officials conceded that some of the searches — particularly those aboard Greyhound buses or Amtrak trains on domestic routes — had increased since the Obama administration. And under President Trump, field supervisors have regained the authority to order the searches, instead of officials at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington.

“The U.S. Border Patrol conducts transportation checks in accordance with the law,” said Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol. “Transportation checks are performed when and where there is an operational benefit.”

The agency is an arm of the Homeland Security Department, which would not provide statistics on how often, or where, it checks domestic travel passengers or patrols on private property. But agency data shows that less than 3 percent of foreigners entering the country illegally were caught at immigration checkpoints nowhere near the border.

Many of the searches turned up marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to the data. But the most drugs were seized in small quantities — about an ounce or less — and were taken from American citizens in 40 percent of the cases.

The department said in a statement that the checkpoints were “strategically placed where illegal cross-border smuggling is most likely to converge.”

Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said the department had occasionally pushed the limits of its authority to conduct searches without a warrant far from the border.

“Inevitably, one of these cases is going to get to the Supreme Court, which will have to revisit the seemingly limitless government authority the department claims it has,” Mr. Vladeck said. “It cannot be the case that anyone who lives or travels within 100 miles of the border has no Fourth Amendment rights.”

The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Current federal immigration law does not require the government to obtain a warrant before searching people and their property at ports of entry. Once away from a land or maritime border, but still within what the Justice Department has defined as a “reasonable distance” of 100 miles, officers can search people who are suspected of immigration violations and smuggling drugs.

But many border residents and travelers say that authority amounts to an invasion of privacy.

An estimated 200 million Americans live within 100 miles of the border, according to the A.C.L.U. At least 11 states — mostly in the Northeast and Florida — are either entirely or almost entirely in the 100-mile radius.

A measure to limit that distance to 25 miles passed the Senate in 2013 but was rejected by the House; it was proposed after Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, was stopped by the Border Patrol at an immigration checkpoint.

The legal dispute in Texas challenges the Border Patrol’s authority to search private property without permission. By law, officers can go onto private property within 25 miles of the border without permission from the owner.

Ricardo D. Palacios, the owner of the Juan Salinas Ranch, said in court filings that Border Patrol officers had been “roaming freely about” for years on his property near the small town of Encinal, Tex. He said that the searches were conducted with neither a warrant nor a good reason to be there, and that officers also had stopped his family members at checkpoints.

The last straw, Mr. Palacios said in court documents, came in November, when he found a surveillance camera hidden in a tree near his house.

Mr. Palacios removed the camera and kept it as evidence of federal officers trespassing on his property. Both the Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety claimed ownership of the camera and have asked Mr. Palacios to return it. State officials have threatened to arrest him on theft charges. Mr. Palacios sued both agencies.

Raul Casso, a lawyer for Mr. Palacios, said the ranch is more than 30 miles from the Rio Grande, which divides the United States and Mexico. He said that put Mr. Palacios’s property beyond the distance that Border Patrol officers can legally patrol without his permission.

“They either acted on purpose or incompetently,” said Mr. Casso, a former lawyer for the city of Laredo. “Either way, they are outside the scope of their authority.” Customs and Border Protection officials declined to comment on the case.

In New Hampshire, the A.C.L.U. is defending 18 people who were arrested at immigration checkpoints on a major interstate where Border Patrol officers stopped hundreds of cars about 90 miles from the Canadian border over the summer. Checkpoints on Interstate 93 were common after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but had abated by July 2012, Border Patrol officials said.

Border Patrol officers detained about 33 people on suspicion of immigration-related offenses at checkpoints in northern New Hampshire in August and September; the local police charged an additional 44 with drug possession. In all, the authorities seized about two pounds of marijuana and smaller amounts of cocaine and other drugs, court records show.

Gilles Bissonnette, the legal director for New Hampshire’s A.C.L.U. chapter, said the Border Patrol violated state law by conducting the drug searches. He said that New Hampshire courts have held that without a warrant, the authorities cannot deploy drug-sniffing dogs in searches — as they were at the checkpoints — without a reasonable suspicion of a crime.

“They were supposed to be conducting immigration checks,” Mr. Bissonnette said. The checkpoints must be brief and limited to confirming resident status, he said, not primarily used for drug searches or general law enforcement efforts.

New Hampshire officials maintain that the Border Patrol officers were in their jurisdiction since the checkpoints were under 100 miles from the Canadian border.

“These are federal agents working for a federal agency performing a federal function within the federation of states,” said Gabriel Nizetic, a lawyer in the state who represented a local police department that participated in the checkpoints. Officials at Customs and Border Protection declined to comment.

But perhaps no Border Patrol searches have generated as much controversy as the immigration inspections of passengers boarding Greyhound buses or Amtrak trains.

In January, officers arrested a Jamaican woman traveling on a bus from Orlando to Miami who had overstayed a tourist visa. That same month, officers in Spokane, Wash., arrested an undocumented immigrant traveling with his son on a Greyhound bus from Seattle to Montana. The man’s son, who was released, is living in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era initiative that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation. But the father was charged with being in the country illegally.

Both episodes have prompted widespread outrage. Videos taken by other bus passengers were widely distributed on social media.

“We are talking about purely domestic routes that happen to be within 100 miles of the border,” said Matt Adams, the legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle. He said the government was using the law “to justify racial profiling. There was no reason to think these men were sneaking across the border.”

Homeland security officials deny the charges of racial profiling and maintain their authority to conduct the searches. In a statement, Greyhound said it is required by law to “cooperate with the relevant enforcement agencies if they ask to board our buses or enter stations.”

Rosa Goldensohn contributed reporting from New York.


Thousands of Americans jailed for debts chased by private collectors

February 221, 2018


An estimated 77 million Americans have a debt that has been transferred to a private collection agency. Thousands have ended up in jail over debts as small as $28, with African-Americans and Hispanics the most affected.

The findings come from a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spanning 26 states and Puerto Rico, published on Wednesday. The practice violates many US state and federal laws, which prohibit the jailing of debtors.

In one case cited in the report, a disabled woman who wears a prosthetic leg was shackled by her waist and feet by two armed US marshals before being put in jail overnight.

“They had a warrant for my arrest and I asked them for what, he didn’t say what it was for. He said, ‘He’ll tell you later,’” said Tracie Mozie of Dickinson, Texas.

Law enforcement officials had entered Mozie’s bedroom to arrest her over a $1,500 federal student loan she took out in 1986 to pay for truck-driving school. The loan had mushroomed to $13,000 with interest and fees. Monzie was unable to pay because she is unemployed and lives on disability benefits.

The ACLU examined more than 1,000 cases in which civil court judges issued arrest warrants for debtors. In some instances the amounts were as small as $28. Letters were sent over bounced checks as low as $2, the ACLU found.

The report is the first ever to analyze the cooperation between courts and the private debt collection industry across the US, according to the ACLU. Private debt collectors use the criminal justice system to try to compel repayments, even when the debts are disputed or when the debtor cannot repay.  More than 6,000 debt collection firms operate in the United States, collecting billions of dollars each year.

Following their arrest, debtors may remain in jail for several days until they can pay the bail. In some cases, the ACLU found some people were locked up for as long as two weeks.

This practice violates the many state and federal laws as well as international human rights standards that prohibit the jailing of debtors.

The report finds that the long-term consequences of arrests for both courts and people can be profound and scarring. Arrest warrants can be entered into background check databases which mean they can jeopardize future employment, housing applications, education, and access to security clearances.

In one case in Maryland, an elderly couple were jailed because they did not appear at a district court hearing for which they had never been served notice. Isaac, 83, and his wife Doris owed $2,342.76 to their homeowners’ association and $450 in attorney’s fees. They had never been served with notice of the hearing, which had itself been scheduled because they failed to appear at a post-judgment proceeding for which they also had never been served. While in detention, Isaac began vomiting blood and became non-responsive, according to the report.

While debtors’ prisons were outlawed by Congress almost two hundred years ago, in reality the practice seems to live on.






  1. Scope

This document provides commanders and staffs with general information and technical data concerning chemical/biological (CB) agents and other compounds or military interest such as toxic industrial chemicals (TIC). It explains the use; classification; and physical, chemical, and physiological properties of these agents and compounds. Users of this manual are nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC)/ chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) staff officers, NBC noncommissioned officers (NCOs), staff weather officers (SWOs), NBC medical defense officers, medical readiness officers, medical intelligence officers, field medical treatment officers, and others involved in planning battlefield operations in an NBC environment.

  1. Purpose

This publication provides a technical reference for CB agents and related compounds. The technical information furnished provides data that can be used to support operational assessments based on intelligence preparation of the battlespace


  1. Application

The audience for this publication is NBC/CBR staff personnel and commanders tasked with planning, prepar ing for, and conducting military operations.

  1. Implementation Plan

Participating service command offices of primary responsibility (OPRs) will review this publication, validate the inform ation, and reference and incorporate it in service and command manuals, regulations, and curricula as follows: Army . The United States Army (USA) will incorporate this publication in USA training and doctrinal publications as directed by the Commander, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRA DOC) . Distribution is in accordance with Department of the Army (DA) Form 12-99-R (Initial Distribution Requirements for Publications). Marine Corps .

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) will incorporate the procedures in this publication in USMC training and doctrinal publications as directed by the Commanding General (CG), United States Marine Corps Combat i.Development Command (MCC DC) . Distribution is in accordance with Marine Corps Publication Distribution System (MCPDS). Navy .

The United States Navy (USN) will incorporate these procedures in USN training and doctrinal publications as directed by the Commander, Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC). Distribution is according to the military standard requisitioning and issue procedures (MILSTRIP).

Air Force .

The United States Air Force (USAF) will validate and incorporate appropriate procedures according to applicable governing directives.

  1. User Information
  2. The United States Army Chemical School (USACMLS) developed this publication with the joint participa tion of the approving service commands.
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Chapter I


  1. Background

The threat or use of CB weapons is a possible condition of future warfare and could occur in the early stages of war to disrupt United States (US) operations and logistics. In many of the regions where the US is likely to deploy forces, potential adversaries may use CB weapons. Potential adversaries may seek to counter US conventional military superiority using less expensive and more attainable, asymmetrical means. To meet this challenge, US forces must be properly trained and equipped to operate effectively and decisively in the face of NBC attacks. Additionally, US forces could be confronted in an environment where TIC present a hazard to US forces.

  1. Use of CB Weapons. Adversaries may employ CB agents and other toxic materials to achieve specific effects. In addition to the physical effects, there exist psychological effects, both in the immediate target area and in other vulnerable areas thatmay be potential targets.

(1) Chemical agents have effects that can be immediate or delayed, can be persistent or nonpersistent, and can have significant physiological effects. While relatively large quantities of an agent are required to ensure an area remains contaminated over time, small- scale selective use that exploits surprise can cause significant disruption and may have lethal effects.

(2) Biological agents can produce lethal or incapacitating effects over an extensive area and can reproduce. The delayed onset of symptoms and detection, identification, and verification difficulties for biological agents can also confer important advantages to adversaries who decide to use biological agents.

(3) The means available to adversaries for delivery of CB weapons range from specially designed, sophisticated weapon sy stems developed by nations to relatively inefficient improvised devices employed by terrorists and other disaffected individuals and groups.

  1. US Policy. 3 This paragraph contains brief descriptions of treaty, legal, and policy strictures on chemical and biological warfare (CBW ).

(1) The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating,

Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare,” also known as the Geneva Protocol of 1925, prohibits chemical and bacteriological methods of warfare. Most parties interpret the protocol as a prohibition only of the first use of these agents in war. It did not ban the development, production, or stockpiling of these weapons. In 1974, the US Senate gave advice and consent to ratification of this protocol, subject to the reservation that the US would not be bound by the provisions with respect to an enemy state or its allies who fail to respect the prohibitions of the protocol. On 22 January 1975, the US ratified the protocol subject to this reservation. The protocol entered into force for the US on 10 April 1975. The relevance of the Geneva Protocol is largely superseded by the more restrictive Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and

Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (also known as the Chemical Weapons

Convention [CWC] and by the Convention on the Prohibition of Bacteriological and Toxic

Weapons (also known as the Biological Weapons Convention [BWC]) summarized below.

(2) The Presidential Statement on Chemical and Biological Weapons,

November 1969, renounced the US use of lethal biological agents and weapons and confined biological research to defensive measures such as immunization and safety. Und er the terms of the BWC, parties undertake not to develo p, produce, stock pile, or acquire biological agents or toxins “of types and in q uantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective and other peaceful purposes,” as well as weapons and means of delivery. The BWC does not establish a specific verification regime. The US ratified the BWC on 29 March 1975.

(3) Executive Order No. 11850, 8 April 1975, Renunciation of Certain Uses in

War of Chemical Herbicides and Riot Control Agents, renounced first use of herbicides in war (except for specified defensive uses) and first use of RCAs in war except for defensive military modes to save lives.

(4) The CWC, which entered into force on 29 April 1997, ban s the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, or use of chemical weapons. It provides for the destruction of all chemical weapons stocks within 10 years after entry into force. It contains a vigorous challenge regime to ensure compliance. The US ratified the CWC on 25 April 1997.

  1. Threat
  2. Changes. Countries with chemical weapons programs are adding agents and more sophisticated delivery systems. Similarly, the sophistication of CBW capabilities is increasing. Proliferation of weapons techno logy, precision navigation technology, and CBW technology in developing nations presents the US with a complicated national security challenge. Intelligence efforts include collection and analysis of nations’ dual-use, CB industrial capabilities, and development of the indications and warning of adversarial use of dual-use capabilities.
  3. Challenges. The US faces a number of regional proliferation challenges. Many of these are detailed in the January 2001 report published by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Proliferation: Threat and Response. At least 25 countries now possess—or are in the process of acquiring and developing—capabilities to inflict mass casualties and destruction: NBC weapons or the means to deliver them.
  4. Proliferation. Proliferation of CBW technology also raises several important issues. Vaious nations could export a wide array of chemical products, including Australian group-controlled items to numerous countries of proliferation concern. The controlled items include specific chemical agent precursors, pathogens with biological warfare (BW) applications, and dual-use equipment that can be used in both CBW programs.
  5. Increases in Proliferation. In the next several years, the threat from the proliferation of CBW may increase. This could result from the development of CB agents that are more difficult to detect and from the adoption of more capable delivery systems. States with existing programs may master the production processes for complete weapons development and will be less depen dent on outside suppliers.

Any nation with the political will and a minimal industrial base could produce CBW agents suitable for use in warfare. Efficient weaponization of these agents, however, does require design and production skills usually found in countries that possess a munitions development infrastructure or access to such skills from cooperative sources.

(2) On the other hand, almost any natio n or group could fabricate crude agent dispersal devices. Such weapons might be capable of inflicting only limited numbers of casualties; nevertheless, they could have significant operational repercussions due to the psychological impact created by fears of CBW agent exposure.

(3) Genetic engineering gives BW developers the tools to pursue agents that could defeat the protective and treatment protocols of the prospective adversary.

Genetically engineered microorganisms also raise the technological hurdle that must be overcome to provide for effective detection, identification, and early warning of BW attacks.

(4) Numerous characteristics need to be controlled for a highly effective BW agent. Historically, the accentuation of one characteristic often resulted in the attenuation of one or more other characteristics, possibly even rendering the modified agent ineffective as a weapon. Advances in biotechnology, genetic engineering, and related scientific fields nprovide ever-increasing potential to control more of these factors, possibly leading to an enhanced ability to use BW agents as battlefield weapons.

  1. Novel BW Agents. Advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering may facilitate the development of potentially new and more deadly BW agents. The ability to modify microbial agents at a molecular level has existed since the 1960s, when new genetic engineering techniques were introduced, but the enterprise tended to be slow and unpredictable. With today’s techniques, infectious organisms can be modified to bring about disease in different ways. The current level of sophistication for many biological agents is low, but there is enormous potential—based on advances in modern molecular biology, fermentation, and drug delivery technology—for making more sophisticated weapons. The BW agents may emerge in two likely categories: man-made manipulations of classic BW agents and newly discovered or emerging infectious diseases. An example of a recent new pathogen (though not necessarily ideal BW agents) includes streptococcus pneumonia S23F, a naturally occurring strain of pneumonia resistant to at least six of the more commonly used antibiotics.

The potential types of novel biological agents that could be produc through genetic engineering methodologies are listed below. Each of these techniques seek to capitalize on the extreme lethality, virulence, or infectivity of BW agents and expl potential by developing methods to deliver more efficiently and to control these agents on the battlefield.

(a) Benign microorganisms genetically altered to produce a toxin, venom or bioregulator.

(b) Microorganisms resistant to antibiotics, standard vaccines, and therapeutics.

(c) Microorganisms with enhanced aerosol and environmental stability.

(d) Immunologically altered microorganisms able to defeat standard identification, detection, and diagnostic methods.

(e) Combinations of the above four types with improved delivery systems.

2) The future likelihood of infectious agents being created for BW purposes will be influenced by technological trends such as—

(a) Genetically engineered vectors in the form of modified infectious organisms may become increasingly available as medical tools and techniques become more widely available.

(b) Strides will be made in the understanding of infectious disease mechanisms and in microbial genetics that are responsible for disease processes.

(c) An increased understanding of the human immune system function and disease mechanisms will shed light on the circumstances that cause individual susceptibility to infectious disease.

(d) Vaccines and antidotes will be improved over the long term, perhaps to the point where classic BW agents will offer less utility as a means of causing casualties.

(e) Many bioengineering companies (both US and foreign) now sell all-in–one kits to enable researchers to perform recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) experiments. The availability of free online gene sequence databases and analytic software over the Internet further amplifies and disseminates this capability. It is now possible to transform relatively benign organisms to cause harmful effects.

  1. Militarily Significant Aspects of Toxic Chemical Agents
  2. Classification. A toxic chemical agent is any chemical which, through its chemical action on life processes, can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans or animals. For the purpose of this manual, chemical agents are further divided into chemical warfare (CW) agents and military chemical compounds. The terms “persistent” and “nonpersistent” describe the time chemical agents remain in an area and do not classify the agents technically.

(1) CW Agents. The CW agents are toxic chemica ls and their precursors prohibited under the CWC. These agents include choking, nerve, blood, blister, and incapacitating agents. Their physiological actions are as follows:

(a) Choking Agents. Choking agents cause damage to the lungs, irritation to the eyes and the respiratory tract, and pulmonary edema (“dry-land drowning”).

(b) Nerve Agents. Nerve agents inhibit cholinesterase (ChE) enzymes. This inhibition permits acetylcholine (ACh), which transmits many nerve impulses, to collect at its various sites of action.The body’s muscles and glands become overstimulated due to excessive amounts of ACh. At sufficient doses, this can lead to an inability of the body to sustain breathing.

(c) Blood Agents. The blood transports these agents to all body tissues. Hydrogen cyanide (AC) and cyanogen chloride (CK) are cellular poisons, and they disrupt the oxidative processes used by the cells. Arsine (SA) is different. It causes hemolysis of the red blood cells. The central nervous system (CNS) is especially vulnerable to lack of oxygen rega rdless of the etiology, and respiratory and cardiovascular collapse resulting from AC and CK poisoning. In the case of SA poisoning, the proximal cause of death is myocardial failure.

(d) Blister Agents (Vesicants). Blister agents are noted for producing reddening and blistering of the skin, but the eyes and respiratory tract are more sensitive than the skin. Eye exposure result s in reddening of the eyes and temporary blindness or permanent effects. Inhaled mustard damages mucous membranes and the respiratory tract.

(e) Incapacitating Agents. Used in a military context, incapacitation is understood to mean inability to perform one’s military mission. Since missions vary, for the purpose of this manual, incapacitation means the inability to perform any military task effectively. An incapacitating agent is an agent that produces temporary physiological or mental effects, or both, which will render individuals incapable of concerted effort in the performance of their assigned duties. Medical treatment is not essential but can facilitate a more rapid recovery.

(2) Military Chemical Compounds. Military chemical compounds are less toxic and include materials such as respiratory irritant agents, RCAs, smoke and obscurants, and incendiary materials. The term excludes CW agents. Their physiological actions are as follows:

(a) RCAs (Lacrimators). The RCAs are chemicals that rapidly produce in human’s sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within a short time following termination of exposure.  They are local irritants that, in very low concentrations, act primarily on the eyes, causing intense pain and tearing. At high concentrations they irritate the respiratory tract and the skin. They sometimes cause nausea and vomiting.

(b) Respiratory Irritant Agents. These agents were previously called vomiting agents. Their primary action is irritation of the respiratory tract. In addition, these agents cause lacrimation (tearing), irritation of the eyes, uncontrollable coughing, sneezing, nausea, and a general feeling of bodily discomfort. Usually symptoms disappear in 20 minutes to 2 hours, leaving no residual injury.

  1. Duration of Effectiveness. Several factors determine the time a chemical agent remains effective. These include, but are not limited to, the method of dissemination, weather and terrain conditions, and the physical and chemical properties of the agent.

(1) Method of Dissemination. Chemical agents are usually disseminated in the field in the form of vapors (gases), aerosols, or liquids. When a chemical agent is disseminated as a vapor from a bursting munition, initially the cloud expands, grows cooler and heavier, and tends to retain its form. Aerosols are finely divided liquid and/or solid substances suspended in the atmosphere and behave in much the same manner as vaporized agents. Liquid agents can be absorbed (soaked into) and adsorbed (adhered to) by surfaces. They can then be evaporated or desorbed (off-gas) from surfaces, causing a vapor hazard.

(2) Weather and Terrain Conditions. Many weather factors and terrain conditions influence the duration of effectiveness of chemical agents. Most important weather factors include temperature, temperature gradient, wind speed, relative humidity, and precipitation. Important terrain conditions include vegetation, soil, and terrain contours.

(3) Physical Properties. Some of the important physical properties are vapor density, vapor pressure (VP), volatility, freezing point (FP), and melting point (MP). Vapor density determines whether the agent is lighter or heavier than air, thus determining whether the agent will settle to low areas or float away and dissipate in the at mosphere. Vapor pressure is used to determine the volatility of an agent. The volatility has an effect upon the vapor concentration. It also affects the duration of an agent hazard after dissemination. The boiling and freezing points of chemical agents influence their operational use and the means of disseminating them.

(4) Chemical Properties. The chemical properties of an agent include its stability and reactivity with water and other substances.

  1. Potency and Physiological Actions. Factors that contribute to the adverse human health effects of chemical agents include toxicity, route of exposure (ROE ), dosage, exposure duration, minute volume (MV), temperature, endpoint, physiological stressors, rate of detoxification (ROD), and rate of action (ROA). Note that not all factors are applicable to all exposure scenarios. For example, MV is not applicable to a percutaneous liquid exposure. Dosages are given for a 70-kilogram (kg) male with an MV of 15 liters per minute (L/min). Additional toxicological data are required to determine if the toxicity estimates can be applied to women. Emphasis is placed on acute toxic effects. Acute toxic effects are those occurring within moments to a few days of the toxic exposure. The toxicity estimates provided are not applicable to the general population.
  2. CWC Chemicals. There are, by conservative estimates, 25,000 or more chemicals subject to the CWC regulation—listing each chemical by name is not practical. Chemicals covered under the CWC are divided into three categories as follows:

(1) Schedule 1 chemicals have little or no use in industrial and agricultural industries. They pose a high risk to the object and purpose of the CWC by virtue of their high potential for use in activities prohibited under the CWC.

(2) Schedule 2 chemicals may be useful in the production of chemical weapons; however, they also have legitimate uses in other industrial areas. They pose a significant risk to the object and purpose of the CWC.

(3) Schedule 3 chemicals have legitimate uses in industrial areas and pose a risk to the object and purpose of the CWC.

  1. Dual-Use Precursors. Precursors for CW agents also have civil uses in industrial and agricultural industries.
  2. Agent Mixtures. Mixing chemical agents with each other or with other materials can alter the characteristics and effectiveness of the agents. Mixtures may lower the freezing point, increasing agent effectiveness over a wider temperature range. The addition of thickeners or thinners to agents will in crease or decrease persistency: for example, soman (GD) mixed with thickeners will increase persistency; RCAs mixed with thinners will decrease persistency. In addition to changing the physical properties, mixing agents together will create special problems through their physiological effects. These problems can produce difficulty in identification, immediate and delayed effects, or contact and vapor hazards occurring simultaneously. Some mixtures would make it difficult to maintain the seal of the protective mask. Mixing some agents can also increase the toxic effects, eitherby a synergistic effect or by an improved absorption through the skin.
  3. Militarily Significant Aspects of Biological Agents
  4. Classification. A biological agent is a microorganism that causes disease in personnel, plants, or animals or causes the deterioration of material. Biological agents can be classified as pathogens, toxins, bioregulators, or prions.

(1) Pathogens. Pathogens are disease-producing microorganisms, such as bacteria, rickettsiae, or viruses. Pathogens are either naturally occurring or altered by random mutation or recombinant DNA techniques.

(2) Toxins. Toxins are poisons formed as a specific secreting product in the metabolism of a vegetable or animal organism, as distinguished from inorganic poisons. Such poisons can also be manufactured by synthetic processes.

Toxins are produced by a variety of organisms, including microbes, snakes, insects, spiders, sea creatures, and plants.

(3) Bioregulators. Bioregulators include biochemical compounds that regulate cell processes and physiologically active compounds such as catalysts and enzymes. Although they can be found in the human body in small quantities, introduction of large quantities can cause severe adverse effects or death.

(4) Prions. Prions are proteins that can cause neurodegenerative diseases in humans and animals. Proteins have a unique, genetically defined amino acid sequence that determines their specific shapes and functions. Normal cell proteins have the same amino acid building blocks but they fold differently than prions. When prions enter brain cells, they apparently convert normal proteins into prions. Ultimately, the infected brain cells die and release prions into the tissue. These prions enter, infect, and destroy other brain cells. Prions entered the public’s consciousness during the mad cow epidemic that hit England in 1996. Transmission of the prions from cows to man is suspected to cause human illness. There are no known therapies effective against prions.

  1. Uses. Biological agents can be disseminated and used against personnel, animals, plants, or material. Food and industrial products can be rendered unsafe or unfit for use by contamination or by the effects resulting from contamination with biological agents. The US military forces are deployed throughout the world. Associated with the movement of troops are risks of introduction of exotic agricultural pests and animal disease agents through soil contamination and transportation of regulated items such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, other food items, and animal products (e.g., trophies) The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APH IS) oversees the entry of cargo, personnel, equipment, personal property, mail, and their means of conveyance into the US.

(1) Antipersonnel. Biological antipersonnel agents are those that are effective directly against humans. The threat would select these agents on the basis of the agents’ability to cause death or disability. Potential biological antipersonnel agents include toxins, bacteria, rickettsiae, viruses, and toxins.

(2) Antianimal. Biological antianimal agents are those that could be employed against animals to incapacitate or destroy them through disease. The purposeful spreading of infectious agents that attack cattle or other domestic animals can lead to serious consequences for a country’s food supply or export of animal products (hides, wool, fats, and biological medicinal products such as adrenalin, insulin, pituitary extracts, cortisone, vaccines, and antisera).

(3) Antiplant. Biological antiplant agents are organisms that cause disease or damage to plants. These agents may be used intentionally by an enemy to attack food or economically valuable crops, thereby reducing a nation’s ability to resist aggression.

(4) Antimaterial. Antimaterial agents are organisms that degrade or break down some item of material. For example, fungi may damage fabrics, rubber products, leather goods, or foodstuffs. Some bacteria produce highly acidic compounds that cause pitting in metals; these agents could create potential problems with stockpiled material. Some bacteria can use petroleum products as an energy source and cause residues that might clog fuel or oil lines.

  1. Duration of Effectiveness. The duration of effectiveness of a biological agent refers to the persistency of the agent in the environment. It depends on the characteristics of the agent and environmental factors.

(1) Biological agent characteristics such as encapsulation (natural, such as bacterial spores, or manmade protective coverings), addition of dyes to the spray fluid, or possibly genetic engineering (of pathogens) may protect some agents from sunlight and other destructive natural forces. Bacteria that are resistant to environmental extremes frequently produce spores to allow survival during adverse conditions. Spore formation is not a method of reproduction inasmuch as each vegetative cell forms only a single spore and each spore germinates to form a single vegetative cell. The bacterium (vegetative cell makes a copy of its DNA. The DNA becomes surrounded by a series of membranes that accumulate calcium, dipicolinic acid (heat-resistant factor) and protein layers. The resistant spore might remain dormant for years without requiring nutrients or water and might survive under extreme ranges of temperature. When conditions become favorable, the spore develops into an actively growing vegetative cell.

(2) Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, relative humidity, wind speed, and temperature gradient are important weather factors in determining duration of effectiveness.

  1. Methods of Dissemination. Biological agents may be disseminated as aerosols, liquid droplets (toxins only), or dry powders.

(1) Biological agents may be delivered in either wet or dry form. Dry powders composed of very small particles tend to have better dissemination characteristics and have advantages in storage. Dried agents require an increased level of technological sophistication to produce, although freeze-drying and spray-drying technologies have been available in the industry for a number of years.

(2) The BW agents might be released against our forces or against civilian populations by means of sprays, explosive devices, and contamination of food and water. Most commonly, delivery methods use aerosolized agents.

(a) A BW agent can be released as a line source. A line source would be released perpendicular to the direction of the wind, upwind of the intended target area.

(b) A second type of aerosol source is a point source, which is a stationary device for aerosolization of the agent, such as a stationary sprayer. A modified point source would be a group of spray devices, such as specially designed bomblets dispersed in a pattern on the ground or a missile or artillery shell designed to release such bomblets.

  1. Physiological Aspects. Employment considerations for BW agents include the following:

(1) ROE. The important portals of entry are the respiratory tract, the exposed mucosal surfaces (moist surfaces of nose, mouth, and eyes), and the digestive tract.  In a biological attack the respiratory route would be the primary route of entry.  The respiratory system is much more susceptible to penetration. The body is more resistant to invasion by microorganisms through the skin; however, penetration across the skin can occur. This is particularly true of abraded (broken) surfaces and some toxins such as mycotoxins. Toxins absorbed through the respiratory tract can produce signs and symptoms different from those acquired through natural occurrence. For example, staphylococcal enterotoxin B when ingested in food causes acute gastrointestinal ( GI) illness; however, when delivered via aerosol to the respiratory tract, it produces respiratory disease. Personnel can encounter biological agents by natural routes, such as in water and food or by vectors.

(2) Dosage. The BW agents are inherently more toxic than CW nerve agents on a weight-for-weight basis and can potentially provide broader coverage per pound of payload than CW agents.

(a) Infective Dose. The infectivity of an agent reflects the relative ease with which microorganisms establish themselves in a host species. Pathogens with high infectivity cause disease with relatively few organisms.

(b) Lethal Dose. Some pathogens produce toxins that can result in disease (for example, anthrax, botulinum, choler a, diphtheria, and typhus). The extreme toxicity of many toxins causes the lethal dose to be much smaller than that of chemical agents. Hence, units of micrograms (µg) or even nanograms (ng) may be used instead of milligrams (mg) in expressing toxicity. Human toxicity estimates are based on an imaldata, and the ROE for the animals is not always what would be expected on the battlefield.

Some human toxicity data are based on accidental contact, ingestion, or inhalation of these natural poisons.

(3) ROA. The rate of reaction to toxins varies widely. Rapid-acting toxins generally incapacitate within minutes. Delayed-acting agents may take several hours to days to incapacitate. The time for maximum effects for pathogens is normally more than 24 hours (unless the pathogen produces a toxin). However, the incubation periods of microorganisms used in BW may be far shorter than those expected by examining the natural disease.

  1. Requirements for a Weaponized BW Agent. The key factors that make a biological agent suitable for an attack include availability or ease of production in sufficient quantity; the ability to cause either lethal or incapacitating effects in humans at doses that are achievable and deliverable; appropriate particle size in aerosol; ease of dissemination; stability (while maintaining virulence) after production in storage, weapons, and the environment; and susceptibility of intended victims with nonsusceptibility of friendly forces.

(1) Availability or Ease of Production .Many replicating agents (bacteria and viruses) can be produced in large quantities with modern fermentation and viral production technologies. Some toxins, like ricin, are widely available because their source in nature is ubiquitous and the process necessary to harvest the toxin is technically straightforward. On the other hand, some replicating agents are very difficult to grow in quantity, and many toxins are produced in nature in such low quantities that harvesting them is impractical (shellfish toxins are a good example).

(2) Incapacitation and Lethality. BW agents are likely to be selected for their ability to either incapacitate or kill the human targets of the attack. A BW agent does not necessarily have to be lethal to be useful as a military weapon. An agent such as Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus could cause incapacitation among large numbers of unit personnel. If lethality is desired, agents such as anthrax have high case fatality rates once infection is established in unimmunized hosts.

(3) Appropriate Particle Size in Aerosol. An effective weaponized BW agent is of a particle size that would allow it to be carried for long distances by prevailing winds and inhaled deeply into the lungs of the unsuspecting victims. The size range of particles that meets both of these conditions is 1 to 5 microns in diameter. Particles larger than this would either settle out into the ground or more likely be filtered out in the upper respiratory tract of those who inhale them. Particles in this size range are invisible to the human eye; thus, a cloud of such particles would not generally be detected by those attacked, even if such a cloud were to be carried through their position. It is worth noting, however, that particles outside this size range are still dangerous and able to cause deadly illnesses, even though their transmission efficiency is less.

(4) Ease of Dissemination. An effective weaponized BW agent is easily disseminated in the open air by using off-the-shelf devices such as industrial sprayers or other types of aerosol-producing devices. These could be mounted on an airplane, boat, car, or other moving vehicle, or even placed in a stationary position. An alternative method would be to disseminate the agent in an enclosed space (e.g., a building) where it could more efficiently infect or intoxicate humans living or working in the area.

(5) Stability after Production. Once an adversary produces a BW agent in quantity, it must be fairly stable—either in bulk storage or once put into a weapon or delivery system. It must, therefore, retain its viability and virulence or toxicity during production, storage, transportation, and delivery.

(6) Susceptibility and Nonsusceptibility. An effective BW agent is one to which the target force is known to be susceptible (i. e., not immunized against), but to which the adversary possesses high levels of immunity, usually via vaccination.

  1. Militarily Significant Aspects of Toxic Industrial Chemicals
  2. Classification. The TIC are chemicals that are toxic to plants, animals, or humans.
  3. Uses. The TIC are found in abundance in all countries, and are used in chemical manufacturing processes, agriculture (pesticides), water treatment (chlorination), and many other areas. Each year, more than 70,000 different chemicals amounting to billions of tons of material are produced, processed, or consumed by the global chemical industry. A large portion of these chemicals may exhibit characteristics or be sufficiently hazardous to be a threat in a military situation.
  4. Characteristics of TIC. The TIC of military concern may exist as solids, liquids, or gases. For many cases, release of a TIC may involve a change of the state of the chemical, therefore making protection difficult. Like CW agents, TIC include many lethal compounds.

(1) Toxicity. Many TIC, due to their toxicity, can cause incapacitation or death.

(2) Corrosiveness. Many TIC are highly corrosive. Special equipment containers and procedures are necessary to ensure safe handling.

(3) Flammability. Many TIC are highly flammable and present a major fire hazard.

(4) Explosiveness. Unlike CW agents, TIC can be highly explosive and present a serious threat when handled.

(5) Reactivity. Many TIC react violently with water or other materials, and thus present dangers upon contact with other materials, including air.

(6) Byproducts. When burned, mixed, or exploded, many TIC produce additional highly toxic byproducts.

(7) Quantities available. The sheer volume and widespread availability of TIC present a serious danger in the event of a release.

  1. Duration of Effectiveness. A number of factors determine the amount of time a TIC would present a danger after release. Factors include the physical properties of the TIC as well as weather, terrain, and conditions at the release site. These factors affect TIC in the same manner as that for chemical agents.
  2. Physiological Aspects. Exposure to TIC affects the body in a variety of ways. Generally, they disrupt bodily functions. The effects are dependent on the routes of entry, toxicity of the chemical, and the concentration to which exposed.

(1) ROE. The TIC can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, dermal absorption, or a combination of these methods. The primary concern for exposure is that of the inhalation of a TIC as a gas.

(2) Exposure Concentration and Levels of Concern. The type and seriou sness of effects from exposure to TIC, lik e any chemical is dependent upon the concentration and length of time one is exposed. This concentra tion and time relationship is unique to every chemical. The dosages of TIC are expressed in parts per million (ppm) In general, TIC tend to be at least one order of magnitude less potent than nerve agents and tend not be rapidly lethal in small quantities. Standards have been developed for industry for different exposure scenarios.

(a) Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH):  The definition of IDLH that was derived during the Standards Completion Program (SCP) was based on the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) definition stipulated in 30 CFR 11.3(t). The purpose for establishing an IDLH value in the SCP was to ensure that a worker could escape without injury or irreversible health effects from an IDLH exposure in the event of the failure of respiratory protection equipment. The highly reliable breathing apparatus providing maximum worker protection was permitted. In determining IDLH values, the inability of a worker to escape without loss of life or irreversible health effects was considered along with severe eye or respiratory irritation and other deleterious effects (e.g., disorientation or lack of coordination) that could prevent escape. As a safety margin, the SCP IDLH values were based on the effects that might occur as a consequence of a 30- minute exposure. However, the 30-minute period was not meant to imply that workers should stay in the work environment any longer than necessary. In fact, every effort should be made to exit immediately.

(b) Refer to the United States Army Center for Health Promotion andPreventive Medicine (USACHPPM) Technical Guide 230, Chemical Exposure Guidelines for Deployed Military Personnel, for obtaining the military exposure guidelines for assessing exposure concentrations for TIC.

  1. TIC Hazard Assessment. As part of the IPB process, a planner must assess the likelihood of a release or exposure as well as the actual TIC material. Some example considerations are –

(1) Accidents in civilian operations significantly increase when technically trained personnel flee an area, such as a combat zone (CZ). Civilian personnel remaining may be pressured to operate equipment beyond their training/technical expertise in an area of combat.

(2) Pipelines can offer a very attractive target for terrorists because actions can be planned well in advance of execution and pipelines do not rely on shipping or transportation scheduled.

(3) Storage yards, ports, airfields and rail yards often contain significant amounts of transiting TIC. This not only presents opportunities for improvised use against US forces, but also presents increased possibility of accidents and targets for those who want to destroy the TI C (such as ammunition precursor chemicals).

  1. Pesticides. Large stockpiles of obsolete pesticides have been accumulated in virtually all developing countries over periods sometimes exceeding four decades. The term “pesticides,” as used by US forces include insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, and herbicides. The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide. Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body.The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the dangers of many pesticides and publishes lists of those pesticides that are either banned or severely restricted in their use. Applicable service personnel (e.g., Army preventive medicine (PVNTMED), Air Force civil engineering, public health) can provide information on specific pesticides that could be used in specific areas of operation (AOs).


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