TBR News October 31, 2017

Oct 31 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., October 31, 2017: “When an empire slips into decline, it does so in clearly identifiable stages. This is the case with the American empire at the present time.

Franklin Roosevelt pushed the US into what became the Second World War for personal reasons. (The Roosevelt family were Jewish on both sides and Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies enraged the president) and the result of this was that at its conclusion there were two dominant nations left in the rubble.

These were the United States and Russia and the struggle then began to see which would dominate.

Initially, the United States was successful, and through duplicity and threats, reduced Russia to a squabbling and disintegrating state.

But those in power in the United States also saw that Russia had enormous natural resources and so a frantic effort was made to not only subjugate Russia but also get physical control of her oil, gas and other assets.

America was initially a democracy, then a republic and finally, an oligarchy. The men who controlled the policies of this country are a handful of very rich and powerful people; bankers and the oil industry predominant.

And to secure America’s world leadership designs, small wars were fought to gain control of natural resources and establish American business interests and the American dollar as the world standards.

The British empire had achieved this goal at one point but lost everything through arrogance and carelessness and now the American empire finds itself in the same position as Britain did in 1914.

Like the British, America has fought a series of wars against small and relatively defenseless countries to gain control of their resources. As an example of this, America attacked Iraq, not because we disliked Saddam Hussein (whom we captured and subsequently executed) but to gain control of the enormous but untapped Iraqi oil reserves.

Iraq slipped through American control because of religious infighting and with that defeat, the next goal was Russia and her Arctic and Black Sea oil reserves.

The CIA, attempting to get control of Crimean offshore oil and the strategic naval base at Sevastopol, fomented riots in Kiev, shot a few people from a rooftop perch and got control of the Ukraine.

But Putin stirred up so much rebellion in the predominantly Russian Donetz Basin heavy industrial area that no one could get their hands on it and by quite legal means, got Russian control back over the very strategic Crimea.

If the CIA were only successful once, they could justify their enormous budget.”


Table of Contents

  • What Robert Mueller’s indictments of former Trump campaign officials mean for the president
  • From America With Love
  • Canadian certified gold bar exposed as fake: how many more are out there?
  • Man accused of plotting to kill Putin injured and wife killed in Ukraine attack
  • U.S. court bars Trump from changing military policy on service by transgender people 
  • Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals
  • 20 Countries by Most People Living with HIV-AIDS
  • In the U.S. market for human bodies, almost anyone can dissect and sell the dead


What Robert Mueller’s indictments of former Trump campaign officials mean for the president

By indicting two former Trump campaign officials and getting a guilty plea from a third associate, the independent probe into Russian election meddling has entered a new phase. Here’s how it will affect the presidency.

October 31, 2017

by Michael Knigge


How dangerous are the indictments for US President Donald Trump?

It is important to note that the indictments against the former manager of Trump’s presidential campaign, Paul Manafort, and another former campaign associate, Rick Gates, are not directly linked to the Trump presidential campaign and the president. It is also important to state that Manafort and Gates are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Having said that, the 12-count-indictment against Manafort and Gates which include charges of money laundering, failure to report foreign bank accounts and failure to report working as a foreign agent for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party “reveals strong ties to Russia and financial motives to assist Russia,” said Lisa Kern Griffin, a law professor at Duke University.

And because three of the charges against Manafort include the period he served as Trump’s campaign manager — contrary to what Trump tweeted — there is at least a chronological connection between the Manafort case and the Trump campaign.

Still, Trump’s first reaction was likely relief that the indictments were not directly campaign-related, said Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina. And should the case go on trial and the defendants be acquitted, the danger the issue poses for the Trump presidency would be greatly reduced, said Peter M. Shane, a law professor at Ohio State University.

But assuming, as the scholars tend to, that this is likely just the first major step in Mueller’s widening probe into Russian election meddling and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow, then President Trump has reason to be worried.

“This is very threatening”, said Professor Shane. That’s because even while not directly linked to the Trump campaign, the indictments and the guilty plea convey a clear message to others who may be in Mueller’s legal crosshairs.

“It sends a strong signal to all potential witnesses and potential defendants that Mueller is going to proceed without fear of the external political noise and he is going to charge everyone for whom the facts support a charge”, said Professor Kern Griffin. “Everyone in the orbit of the Russian connections to the campaign has reason to be concerned.”

What’s more, unlike the indictments against Manafort and Gates, the indictment against Papadopoulos, albeit a lower level campaign aide, does assert a direct Russia link.

According to the document, Papadopoulos tried to facilitate a contact with a “professor” with ties to the Russian government and met with a “female Russian national.” The focus of at least one of their conversations was “thousands of emails” allegedly in the possession of the Russian government containing “dirt” on electon rival Hillary Clinton

Papadopoulos’ guilty plea is also a reminder to others potentially in Mueller’s crosshairs to consider whether they may not want to cut a deal to provide valuable information to authorities in exchange for going free or for a more lenient sentence. The information provided in these initial cases can then be used to build additional indictments.

“There is no doubt that these prosecutions do give increased leverage over the people who have been indicted in terms of their providing information”, said Shane. “It is clear that this not the end of the investigation.”

“There will be more defendants charged,” predicts Duke’s Kern Griffin.

Can President Trump fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller?

Yes, he can. Given that Trump has repeatedly called the probe into Russian meddling in the US presidential election and the Trump campaign a “witch hunt” and that he fired former FBI chief James Comey who had alleged in a memo that the president had asked him to close the Russia investigation which Comey would not do, it is not a stretch to wonder whether Trump would be considering firing Mueller to end his Russia investigation.

The best legal option for him to do so would be via the Justice Department. Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the matter because he is implicated in it himself, Trump could ask Sessions’ deputy Rod Rosenstein to dismiss Mueller. But firing Mueller is not easy since it would require him to establish a “good cause” as to how he violated the Justice Department’s prosecution policy, said Shane. Should Rosenstein refuse to dismiss Mueller, Trump could fire him and essentially continue with this process until he finds someone willing to do so, he added. But firing Mueller would surely cause a major political firestorm and probably lead to legal challenges.

“If he tries to fire Mueller on his own it will be on the constitutional basis that could be disputable,” said Michael Gerhardt, constitutional law professor at University of North Carolina. The “disputable” constitutional foundation that Gerhardt refers to is called “unitary executive theory” and stipulates in a nutshell that the constitution gives the president complete authority to fire anyone in the executive branch. It is highly contentious among legal scholars; should Trump fire Mueller directly based on this principle, the move would surely be challenged in the courts.

Can President Trump pardon his former campaign manager Manafort and other aides?

Yes, he can. Not only can he pardon Manafort and any other defendants for any federal offenses committed, it is pretty well established, noted the scholars, that he can even issue a presidential pardon before a trial has begun.

But the reported collaboration of Mueller’s team with New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s office on the Manafort case could blunt the benefit of any potential presidential pardon. That’s because while the president can pardon for federal offenses, he can’t pardon state offenses. And several of the charges filed against Manafort and Gates — such as money laundering — could be prosecuted under state law as well. So should Trump issue a pardon, then Manafort and Gates could be charged under New York state law.

While pardoning Manafort and Gates would thus appear to have a limited impact, they would trigger a major backlash. But that still does not mean that Trump wouldn’t do it.

“If he can pardon Sheriff Arpaio, he can likely pardon Manafort,” said UNC’s Gerhardt.

Asked about the likely steps President Trump and his team would take now next after his former campaign manager has been indicted, Duke’s Lisa Kern Griffin summed up the legal scholars sentiment like this.

“What happens in TrumpWorld defies the logic of past political actions and similar investigation.”


From America With Love

U.S. Commandos Are a “Persistent Presence” on Russia’s Doorstep

October 29, 2017

by Nick Turse


“They are very concerned about their adversary next door,” said General Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), at a national security conference in Aspen, Colorado, in July.  “They make no bones about it.”

The “they” in question were various Eastern European and Baltic nations.  “Their adversary”?  Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Thomas, the commander of America’s most elite troops — Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them — went on to raise fears about an upcoming Russian military training event, a wargame, known as “Zapad” or “West,” involving 10 Russian Navy ships, 70 jets and helicopters, and 250 tanks.  “The point of concern for most of these eastern Europeans right now is they’re about to do an exercise in Belarus… that’s going to entail up to 100,000 Russian troops moving into that country.” And he added, “The great concern is they’re not going to leave, and… that’s not paranoia…”

Over the last two decades, relations between the United States and Russia have increasingly soured, with Moscow casting blame on the United States for encouraging the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine a year later.  Washington has, in turn, expressed its anger over the occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia following the Russo-Georgian War of 2008; the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine after pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was chased from power; and interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  There have been recriminations on both sides over the other nation’s military adventurism in Syria, the sanctions Washington imposed on Moscow in reaction to Crimea, Ukraine, and human rights issues, and tit-for-tat diplomatic penalties that have repeatedly ramped up tensions.

While Zapad, which took place last month, is an annual strategic exercise that rotates among four regions, American officials nonetheless viewed this year’s event as provocative.  “People are worried this is a Trojan horse,” Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who commands U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Reuters. “[The Russians] say, ‘We’re just doing an exercise,’ and then all of a sudden they’ve moved all these people and capabilities somewhere.”

Russia is not, however, the only military power with “people and capabilities” in the region. In passing, SOCOM’s Thomas also mentioned the presence of other forces; troops that he readily admitted the public might not be aware of.  Those soldiers were — just as he feared of the Russian troops involved in Zapad — not going anywhere.  And it wasn’t just a matter of speculation.  After all, they wear the same uniform he does.

For the past two years, the U.S. has maintained a special operations contingent in almost every nation on Russia’s western border.  “[W]e’ve had persistent presence in every country — every NATO country and others on the border with Russia doing phenomenal things with our allies, helping them prepare for their threats,” said Thomas, mentioning the Baltics as well as Romania, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia by name.

Commandos and Their Comrades

Since 9/11, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) have grown in every conceivable way from funding to manpower, the pace of operations to geographic sweep.  On any given day, about 8,000 special operators — from a command numbering roughly 70,000 in total — are deployed in around 80 countries.  Over the course of a year, they operate in about 70% of the world’s nations.

According to Major Michael Weisman, a spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, elite U.S. forces have deployed to 21 European countries in 2017 and conducted exercises with an even larger number of nations. “Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally or through various multinational events,” he told TomDispatch.

The number of commandos in Europe has also expanded exponentially in recent years.  In 2006, 3% of special operators deployed overseas were sent to the continent.  Last year, the number topped 12% — a jump of more than 300%.  Only Africa has seen a larger increase in deployments over the same time span.

This special-ops surge is also reflected in the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program, overseas missions designed to prepare American commandos in a variety of warfighting skills while also strengthening relations with foreign forces.  In 2012, special operators conducted 29 JCETs on that continent.  Last year, the number reached 37, including six in Bulgaria, three in Estonia, three in Latvia, three in Poland, and three in Moldova.

The United States has devoted significant resources to building and bolstering allied special ops forces across the region.  “Our current focus consists of assuring our allies through building partner capacity efforts to counter and resist various types of Russian aggression, as well as enhance their resilience,” SOCOM’s Thomas told members of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year.  “We are working relentlessly with our partners and the Department of State to build potency in eastern and northern Europe to counter Russia’s approach to unconventional warfare, including developing mature and sustainable Special Operations capabilities across the region.”

This year, U.S. commandos could be found in nations all along Russia’s borders.  In March, for example, Green Berets took to snowmobiles for a cold-weather JCET alongside local troops in Lapland, Finland.  In May, Navy SEALs teamed up with Lithuanian forces as part of Flaming Sword 17, a training exercise in that country.  In June, members of the U.S. 10th Special Forces Group and Polish commandos carried out air assault and casualty evacuation training near Lubliniec, Poland. In July, Naval Special Warfare operators took part in Sea Breeze, a two decade-old annual military exercise in Ukraine. In August, airmen from the 321st Special Tactics Squadron transformed a rural highway in Jägala, Estonia, into an airstrip for tank-killing A-10 Thunderbolts as part of a military drill.  That same month, U.S. special operators advised host-nation commandos taking part in Exercise Noble Partner in the Republic of Georgia.

“Working with the GSOF [Republic of Georgia’s Special Operations forces] was awesome,” said Captain Christopher Pulliam, the commander of the Georgia Army National Guard’s Company H (Long-Range Surveillance), 121st Infantry Regiment.  (That, of course, is a unit from the American state of Georgia.) “Our mission set requires that we work in small teams that gather specific intel in the area of operations. The GSOF understand this and can use our intel to create a better understanding of the situation on the ground and react accordingly.”

Special Warriors and Special Warfare

The United States isn’t alone in fielding a large contingent of special operations forces.  The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that Russia’s Spetsnaz (“special purpose”) troops number around 30,000, a sizeable force, although less than half the size of America’s contingent of commandos.  Russia, SOCOM’s Thomas told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year, is “particularly adept at leveraging unconventional approaches to advancing their interests and it is clear they are pursuing a wide range of audacious approaches to competition — SOF [special operations forces] often present a very natural unconventional response.”

Indeed, just like the United States and myriad militaries around the world, Russia has devoted significant resources to developing its doctrine and capabilities in covert, clandestine, and unconventional forms of warfare.  In a seminal 2013 article in the Russian Academy of Military Science’s journal Military-Industrial Courier, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov explained the nature of modern hybrid warfare, including the use of elite troops, this way:

“In the twenty-first century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template… The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness… [t]he broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures… is supplemented by military means of a concealed character, including carrying out actions of informational conflict and the actions of special operations forces.”

Spetsnaz troops have indeed played a role in all of Russia’s armed interventions since 2001, including in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria.  During that same span, U.S. Special Operations forces have been employed in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Niger, and the Central African Republic.  They have also had a presence in Jordan, Kenya, Djibouti, and Cameroon, among other countries to which, according to President Trump, U.S. combat-equipped forces are currently deployed.

In an interview late last year, retired Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland, chief of U.S. Army Special Operations Command from 2012 to 2015 and now the Senior Mentor to the Army War College, discussed the shortcomings of the senior military leadership in regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the “bad national policy decisions… that shaped U.S. campaigns in those theaters,” and a reliance on a brand of conventional war-fighting with limited effectiveness in achieving political goals.  “[I]t is important to understand why SOF has risen from footnote and supporting player to main effort,” he added, “because its use also highlights why the U.S. continues to have difficulty in its most recent campaigns — Afghanistan, Iraq, against ISIS and AQ [al-Qaeda] and its affiliates, Libya, Yemen, etc. and in the undeclared campaigns in the Baltics, Poland, and Ukraine — none of which fits the U.S. model for traditional war.”

U.S. Special Operations Command Europe‎ failed to answer TomDispatch’s questions about those “undeclared campaigns” on Russia’s doorstep, but more public and conventional efforts have been in wide evidence.  In January, for example, tanks, trucks, and other equipment began arriving in Germany, before being sent on to Poland, to support Operation Atlantic Resolve.  That effort, “designed to reassure NATO allies and partners… in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine,” according to the Congressional Research Service, began with a nine-month rotation of about 3,500 soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who were replaced in September by 3,300 personnel and 1,500 vehicles from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which would be deployed to five countries.  Earlier this month, Russia’s Defense Ministry complained that the size of the U.S. contingent in the Baltics violates a Russian-NATO agreement.

Red Dawn in the Gray Zone

Late last year, a group of active-duty and retired senior military officers, former ambassadors, academics, and researchers gathered for a symposium at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C., titled “Russian Engagement in the Gray Zone.”  Conducted via Chatham House rules — that is, in accounts of the meeting, statements could not be attributed to any specific speaker — the Americans proceeded to vilify Russia both for its bellicosity and its underhanded methods.  Among the assessments: “Russia is always at a natural state of war and it prioritizes contactless war”; “Russia de-emphasizes kinetic activities and emphasizes the indirect/non-lethal approach”; and “Russia places a priority on subversion.”

The experts at NDU called for a comprehensive campaign to undermine Russia through sanctions, by courting “disenfranchised personnel” and “alienated persons” within that country, by developing enhanced cyber-capabilities, by utilizing psychological operations and “strategic messaging” to enhance “tactical actions,” and by conducting a special ops shadow war — which General Charles Cleveland seems to suggest might be already underway. “[T]he United States should learn from the Chechnya rebels’ reaction.  The rebels used decentralized operations and started building pockets of resistance (to include solo jihadists),” reads a synopsis of the symposium.

“SOCOM actions will need,” the NDU experts asserted, “to be unconventional and irregular in order to compete with Russian modern warfare tactics.”  In other words, they were advocating an anti-Russian campaign that seemed to emphasize the very approach they were excoriating Russia for — the “indirect/non-lethal approach” with a “priority on subversion.”

In the end, Russia’s much-feared “West” war game, in which Spetsnaz troops did participate, concluded with a whimper, not a bang.  “After all the anxiety, Russia’s Zapad exercise ends without provocation,” read the headline in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes on September 20th.

For months, while Russia insisted its war game would involve fewer than 13,000 soldiers, the U.S. and its allies had warned that, in reality, up to 100,000 troops would flood into Belarus.  Of those Russian troop levels, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Möller, a Swedish military observer who attended Zapad, said, “We reported about 12,400.”  Of such exercises, he added, “This is normal military business as we do in all countries with armed forces. This is not training for attacking anyone. You meet the enemy, you stop the enemy, you defeat the enemy with a counterattack. We are doing the same thing in Sweden.”

Indeed, just as Möller suggested, more than 20,000 troops — including U.S. Special Operations forces and soldiers from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden — had gathered in his country during the Zapad exercise for Aurora 2017.  And Sweden was hardly unique.  At the same time, troops from the U.S., Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom were carrying out Rapid Trident, an annual military exercise, in neighboring Ukraine.

What message was the U.S. sending to Russia by conducting training exercises on its borders, Catherine Herridge of Fox News asked General Raymond Thomas in Aspen?  “That’s a fascinating question because I am — I try to appreciate the adversary’s optic to — I realize that a way to gauge a metric if you will for how well we’re doing,” the SOCOM chief replied somewhat incoherently.

Herridge was, of course, asking Thomas to view the world through the eyes of his adversary, to imagine something akin to Russia and its ally Syria conducting war games in Mexico or Canada or in both countries; to contemplate Spetsnaz troops spread throughout the Western hemisphere on an enduring basis just as America’s elite troops are now a fixture in the Baltics and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

In the end, Thomas’s take was understated in a way that undoubtedly wouldn’t have been the case had the roles been reversed.  “I am curious what Putin and his leadership are thinking,” the special ops chief mused. “I think it was a little unnerving.”


Canadian certified gold bar exposed as fake: how many more are out there?

October 31, 2017


The Royal Canadian Mint has launched an investigation into the sale of a gold wafer that turned to be a fake. The one-ounce piece of gold was sealed and marked with proper mint stamps.

On October 18, Ottawa jeweler Samuel Tang purchased a wafer, which was supposed to be 99.99 percent pure gold from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch located across the street from his shop.

Tests carried out by the jeweler apparently revealed the small bar contained no gold. The wafer was hard to roll, snapped instead of being easily bent and failed an acid test.

Who is going to make sure those are real? I am worried there are more of those out there, and no one knows,” Tang told Canada’s CBC News.

Tang contacted the media after both the mint and RBC refused to take back the fake gold. The news channel took the same wafer to one of the Ottawa buyers of precious metals, who confirmed that it is a fake.

“The bar that came from that package is a piece of junk. That’s the million-dollar question, how it ended up in that plastic case,” said Ernest Marbar, the owner of the Gold Lobby that tested the metal.

RBC has reportedly taken the wafer back and returned it to the mint for internal testing. The bank refunded Samuel Tang the $1,680 purchase price.

The Royal Canadian Mint is testing the piece of metal, according to a statement.

“Although the appearance of the wafer and its packaging already suggests that it is not a genuine Royal Canadian Mint product,” it said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is reportedly aware of the incident with no formal complaint has been made so far


Man accused of plotting to kill Putin injured and wife killed in Ukraine attack

Husband-and-wife team fought as volunteers alongside Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed insurgents in the east of the war-scarred country

October 30, 2017


A Chechen volunteer soldier previously accused of plotting to kill Vladimir Putin has been wounded and his wife killed when their car was attacked near Kiev.

Amina Okuyeva died and her husband Adam Osmayev was injured when their car was hit by a hail of bullets while crossing a railroad track, said Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko. The apparent assassination of Okuyeva is the latest involving high-profile figures in Ukraine who are opposed to Russia.

“Adam Osmayev was wounded but he will live,” Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook.

“I just spoke to him by phone.”

Interior ministry spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo confirmed Okuyeva’s death to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Osmayev was in 2012 accused by Russian authorities of plotting to kill the Russian president. He was held for two years in a Ukrainian prison but never extradited to Russia.

Osmayev survived one assassination attempt in Kiev on 1 June. The assailant was shot dead by Okuyeva on that occasion.

The husband-and-wife team fought as volunteers alongside Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed insurgents in the east of the war-scarred country.

Monday’s incident occurred less than a week after Ukraine opened a terror probe into a bombing attack that wounded a nationalist Ukrainian lawmaker in Kiev.

Radical party member Igor Mosiychuk was walking out of a television studio after giving an interview on Wednesday when an explosive device went off near a scooter parked on the street.

Mosiychuk’s bodyguard died on the way to hospital and a passerby was killed at the scene.

Both Mosiychuk and Ukrainian prosecutors said they suspected the Russian security services of being behind the attack. A string of politically charged bombings have hit the Ukrainian capital since last year.

A car bomb killed journalist Pavlo Sheremet in July 2016. The independent Ukrainska Pravda news site’s reporter had denounced the political courses taken by both Russia and Ukraine. And a colonel with the Ukrainian defence ministry’s intelligence service was killed when his car exploded in Kiev in June.

All three cases remain unsolved and Russia rejects all charges of involvement.

Former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov – a Kremlin critic who had moved to Kiev – was gunned down in broad daylight in the Ukrainian capital in March.


U.S. court bars Trump from changing military policy on service by transgender people 

In July, Trump tweeted that he was going to ball all transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity

October 30, 2017

by David Crary and Jessica Gresko


WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington on Monday barred President Donald Trump’s administration from excluding transgender people from military service.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that transgender service members who had sued over Trump’s policy were likely to win their lawsuit. She directed a return to the situation that existed before Trump announced his new policy this summer.

Trump had ordered a return to the policy in place before June 2016, under which transgender individuals were barred from joining the military and service members could be discharged for being transgender. Under President Barack Obama, that policy was changed to allow transgender service members.

The Trump administration may appeal Kollar-Kotelly’s decision, but for now, the proposed ban remains unenforceable.

“We are enormously relieved for our plaintiffs and other transgender service members,” said Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, an attorney handling the lawsuit.

“Their lives have been devastated since Trump first tweeted he was reinstating the ban,” Minter said. “They are now able to serve on equal terms with everyone else.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked about the ruling at the White House briefing, said it was something that had just been announced and said the Justice Department was reviewing it.

Trump announced on Twitter in July that the “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” He followed with an August memo directing the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, and gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to come up with a policy on “how to address” those who are currently serving.

Under the Obama administration, the Department of Defense had announced in 2016 that service members could not be discharged solely based on their gender identity. Transgender individuals were to be allowed to enlist in the military effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Minter said the new court ruling means they will be able to do that.

The Trump administration had asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit; Kollar-Kotelly refused to do so

Other lawsuits challenging president’s directive have been filed in Seattle and Baltimore.


Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals

October 30 ,2017

by Gona Kolata

The New York Times

Call it a classic case of supply meeting demand.

Universities, colleges, even community colleges insist that faculty publish scholarly research, and the more papers the better. Academics and the schools they teach at rely on these publications to bolster their reputations, and with an oversupply of Ph.D.’s vying for jobs, careers hang in the balance.

Competition is fierce to get published in leading journals. But what about the overworked professors at less prestigious schools and community colleges, without big grants and state-of-the-art labs? How do they get ahead?

As it turns out, many of their articles are appearing in “journals” that will publish almost anything, for fees that can range into the hundreds of dollars per paper. These publications often are called predatory journals, on the assumption that well-meaning academics are duped into working with them — tricked by flattering emails from the journals inviting them to submit a paper or fooled by a name that sounded like a journal they knew.

But it’s increasingly clear that many academics know exactly what they’re getting into, which explains why these journals have proliferated despite wide criticism. The relationship is less predator and prey, some experts say, than a new and ugly symbiosis.

Many faculty members — especially at schools where the teaching load is heavy and resources few — have become eager participants in what experts call academic fraud that wastes taxpayer money, chips away at scientific credibility, and muddies important research.

“When hundreds of thousands of publications appear in predatory journals, it stretches credulity to believe all the authors and universities they work for are victims,” Derek Pyne, an economics professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, wrote in a op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen, a Canadian newspaper.

The number of such journals has exploded to more than 10,000 in recent years, with nearly as many predatory as legitimate ones. “Predatory publishing is becoming an organized industry,” wrote one group of critics in a paper in Nature.

Many of these journals have names that closely resemble those of established publications, making them easily mistakable. There is the Journal of Economics and Finance, published by Springer, but now also the Journal of Finance and Economics. There is the Journal of Engineering Technology, put out by the American Society for Engineering Education, but now another called the GSTF Journal of Engineering Technology.

Predatory journals have few expenses, since they do not seriously review papers that are submitted and they publish only online. They blast emails to academics, inviting them to publish. And the journals often advertise on their websites that they are indexed by Google Scholar. Often that is correct — but Google Scholar does not vet the journals it indexes.

The journals are giving rise to a wider ecosystem of pseudo science. For the academic who wants to add credentials to a resume, for instance, publishers also hold meetings where, for a hefty fee, you can be listed as a presenter — whether you actually attend the meeting or not.

One of those meetings, held in New York in June by a group called the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, seemed more like a Potemkin village. On the publisher’s website, the convention promised to be large and lavish.

But when I visited, the only venue was a small windowless room on the sixth floor of a hotel undergoing renovation. A handful of people sat in the room, diligently listening to a talk. Most who were listed on the program were not in attendance.

Participating in such dubious enterprises carries few risks. Dr. Pyne, who did a study of his colleagues publications, reports that faculty members at his school who got promoted last year had at least four papers in questionable journals. All but one academic in 10 who won a School of Business and Economics award had published papers in these journals. One had 10 such articles.

Academics get rewarded with promotions when they stuff their resumes with articles like these, Dr. Pyne concluded. There are few or no adverse consequences — in fact, the rewards for publishing in predatory journals were greater than for publishing in legitimate ones.

Dr. Pyne does not know if what role those studies played in the promotions. But, he said, “I can say that such publications do not seem to hurt promotion prospects.”

Tensions over this kind of scholarship have spilled over Queensborough Community College, part of CUNY, the City University of New York.

Although it is hardly known for its research, college administrators urge the faculty to publish. Recently group of concerned professors complained that nearly a dozen colleagues have repeatedly published in at least one of the dubious journals — and have been promoted and rewarded for it.

Noting that a number of these papers apparently depended on federal and city funds, the professors brought the matter to the attention of the vice chancellor for research and even wrote to the New York State inspector general’s office.

The school referred inquiries to its head librarian, Jeanne Galvin.

“Just as with many colleges, faculty submit their work for publication in a variety of journals based on individual judgment,” she said in an email. “Queensborough offers several advisory resources, such as workshops and individual consultation with expert librarians. The research that I have seen published by our faculty is of the highest quality.”

Some say the academic system bears much of the blame for the rise of predatory journals, demanding publications even from teachers at places without real resources for research and where they may have little time apart from teaching.

At Queensborough, faculty members typically teach nine courses per year. At four-year colleges, faculty may teach four to six courses a year.

Yet “every university requires some level of publication,” said Lawrence DiPaolo, vice president of academic affairs at Neumann University in Aston, Pa.

Recently a group of researchers who invented a fake academic: Anna O. Szust. The name in Polish means fraudster. Dr. Szust applied to legitimate and predatory journals asking to be an editor. She supplied a résumé in which her publications and degrees were total fabrications, as were the names of the publishers of the books she said she had contributed to.

The legitimate journals rejected her application immediately. But 48 out of 360 questionable journals made her an editor. Four made her editor in chief. One journal sent her an email saying, “It’s our pleasure to add your name as our editor in chief for the journal with no responsibilities.”

The lead author of the Dr. Fraud sting operation, Katarzyna Pisanski, a psychologist at the University of Sussex in England, said the question of what motivates people to publish in such journals “is a touchy subject.”

“If you were tricked by spam email you might not want to admit it, and if you did it wittingly to increase your publication counts you might also not want to admit it,” she said in an email.

The consequences of participating can be more than just a résumé freckled with poor-quality papers and meeting abstracts. Publications become part of the body of scientific literature.

There are indications that some academic institutions are beginning to wise up to the dangers.

Dewayne Fox, an associate professor of fisheries at Delaware State University, sits on a committee at his school that reviews job applicants. One recent applicant, he recalled, listed 50 publications in such journals and is on the editorial boards of some of them.

A few years ago, he said, no one would have noticed. But now he and others on search committees at his university have begun scrutinizing the publications closely to see if the journals are legitimate.

“If something gets published in one of these journals and it’s complete garbage, it can develop a life of its own,” Dr. Fox said.

“Think about human medicine and how much is on the line. When people publish something that is not replicable, it can have health impacts.”


20 Countries by Most People Living with HIV-AIDS

This is the list of Top 20 Countries which estimated of people living with HIV infection. Approximately 260,000 children died of AIDS in 2009 alone. South Africa is the highest infected HIV/AIDS, and many countries in the continent of Africa highly infected by HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS killed more than 25 million people from 1981 to 2006 worldwide. The ranking of the country by most Peoples infected with HIV/AIDS in the World, estimated by the Word Fact Book


  1. Myanmar

Myanmar is the country in southeast Asia, recognized as a disease of concern by the Burmese Ministry of Health. According to UNAIDS, there were 200,000 to 570,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.

Total Population: 51,486,253

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 200,000 – 570,000

  1. Indonesia

Indonesia is the country in Southeast Asia, is a 4th populous country in the world. There were around 300,000 people with HIV/AIDS, somewhere 0.1 percent of the population.

Total Population: 237,424,363

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 310,000

  1. Botswana

Botswana is the country in South Africa, fastest growing economy. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 24% for adults in 2006, making Botswana is the highest infection rate in the World.

Total Population: 2,029,307

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 340,000

  1. Cote d’Ivoire

Republic of Cote d Ivoire, popularly known as Ivory Coast is the country in West Africa. As of 2014, around 460,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, prevalence was 0.60 per 100 adults in 2003. There were an estimated 47,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

Total Population: 20,617,068

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 460,000

  1. Thailand

In 1984, HIV/AIDS was first reported, over half million people having died since 1984, Thailand is one of the highest prevalence of HIV in Asia.

Total Population: 66,720,153

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 532,500

  1. Cameroon

Cameroon is the country in the continent of Africa, As of 2004, approximately 560,000 people (given recent stats below) living with HIV/AIDS, somewhere around 6.90 per 100 adults.

Total Population: 19,100,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 610,000

  1. Ukraine

Ukraine is the European Sovereign State, is the largest country in Europe. It is high in death rate and low in birth rate. Ukraine is one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS disease in the world. According to UNAIDS, there were 685,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.

Total Population: 45,888,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 685,000

  1. China

China is the most populous country, people affected by HIV has been estimated around 800,000 somewhere around 0.1% of the total population of China. The government of China has taken many developments to prevent HIV infections.

Total Population: 1,339,724,852

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 740,000

  1. Russia

Russia largest country by Area with adequate population, According to Federal HIV center by 2019 the number of HIV infections will reach 2 million.

Total Population: 143,030,106

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 980,000

  1. Zambia

Zambia’s population is around 13 million and HIV infection in this country reached 1 million. Infection rates are highest in the towns and cities and lower in rural areas with low population density.

Total Population: 12,935,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,000,000

  1. Malawi

Approximately 1.1 million (10.8% of the country’s population) people living with HIV-positive. People in Malawi responding of services provided for HIV/AIDS and resulted in the gradual decline in HIV prevalence.

Total Population: 14,901,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,100,000

  1. United States

About 1.2 million people live with HIV as of 2009, and about 1/8th of whom are unaware fo their infection. The infection first found in 1980. Around 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year in U.S.

Total Population: 313,263,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,200,000

  1. Uganda

Uganda a country in the Continent of Africa, is one of the Highly HIV/AIDS infected country in the world. Ugandan Government has been fighting against HIV/AIDS since 1990 and established AIDS Information Centre tp provide HIV testing and counselling services.

Total Population: 32,369,558

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,300,000

  1. Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the countries in Eastern Africa, According to WHO (World Health Organization) in 2012 estimated the prevalence of HIV was 3.1%. Comparing to 2012 with 2001 data, AIDS death has decreased 33%.

Total Population: 43,188,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,400,000

  1. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is one of the small countries by area and low population, estimated national HIV Prevalence rate is 15% while 12% infection rate for men and 18% for women.

Total Population: 12,521,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,600,000

  1. Mozambique

Mozambique is the country in the continent of Africa, is one of the poorest and most undeveloped countries in the world. In 2011, over 11.5% of the population were infected, and according to health authorities estimated about 1.7 million people were HIV-positive.

Total Population: 22,894,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 1,600,000

  1. India

India is the 2nd populous nation, the government made many efforts to prevent HIV infection and now it’s under control, which is down from 0.41% in 2002 to 0.27%. The last decade has seen a 50% decline in the number of new HIV infections

Total Population (2015 estimate): 1,276,267,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 2,000,000

  1. Kenya

Kenya is one of the countries with high rate of HIV infections, more than 3 million Kenyan are HIV-positive, and more than 700 people a day die of HIV illness, over 1.5 million people died since 1984 because of HIV/AIDS. The Kenyan Government declared HIV/AIDS is the national disaster.

Total Population (2014 estimate): 45,010,056

People Living with HIV/AIDS: over 3,000,000

  1. Nigeria

Nigeria is the 7th populous nation, the rate of HIV in Nigeria is much lower compared to other nations of African nations on total population. As of 2014, the HIV prevalence rate among adults ages 15-49 just 3.1 percent of total population.

Total Population (2015 estimate): 182,202,000

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 3,300,000

  1. South Africa

South Africa is the 24th populous nation, According to the 2013 UNAIDS Report, South Africa has an estimated 6.3 million people living with HIV (13.6% of blacks people, 0.3% of whites people). The government made efforts to fight AIDS, increased funding for the scope of AIDS treatment.

Total Population (2015 estimate): 54,956,900

People Living with HIV/AIDS: 6,300,000



From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2017, Issue No. 77

October 31, 2017


North Korea’s rapidly maturing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile programs have prompted urgent reconsideration of what to do about them.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service identifies and examines seven possible directions for US policy, none of them risk-free or altogether satisfactory:

*    maintaining the military status quo

*    enhanced containment and deterrence

*    denying DPRK acquisition of delivery systems capable of threatening the US

*    eliminating ICBM facilities and launch pads

*    eliminating DPRK nuclear facilities

*    DPRK regime change

*    withdrawing U.S. military forces

For a copy of the 67-page report (which was first reported by Bloomberg News), see The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Military Options and Issues for Congress, October 27, 2017.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers, October 27, 2017

Taiwan: Issues for Congress, October 30, 2017

Doing Business with Iran: EU-Iran Trade and Investment Relations, CRS Insight, October 25, 2017

Renegotiating NAFTA and U.S. Textile Manufacturing, October 30, 2017

The Vacancies Act: A Legal Overview, October 30, 2017

Department of Health and Human Services Halts Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) Payments, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 26, 2017

GAO Issues Opinions on Applicability of Congressional Review Act to Two Guidance Documents, CRS Insight, October 25, 2017

Treasury Proposes Rule That Could Deliver a “Death Sentence” to Chinese Bank, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 30, 2017


In the U.S. market for human bodies, almost anyone can dissect and sell the dead

October 24, 2017 Part 1: When Americans leave their bodies to science, they are also donating to commerce: Cadavers and body parts, especially those of the poor, are sold in a thriving and largely unregulated market. Grisly abuses abound.

by Brian Grow and John Shiffman


LAS VEGAS – The company stacked brochures in funeral parlors around Sin City. On the cover: a couple clasping hands. Above the image, a promise: “Providing Options in Your Time of Need.”

The company, Southern Nevada Donor Services, offered grieving families a way to eliminate expensive funeral costs: free cremation in exchange for donating a loved one’s body to “advance medical studies.”

Outside Southern Nevada’s suburban warehouse, the circumstances were far from comforting. In the fall of 2015, neighboring tenants began complaining about a mysterious stench and bloody boxes in a Dumpster. That December, local health records show, someone contacted authorities to report odd activity in the courtyard.

Health inspectors found a man in medical scrubs holding a garden hose. He was thawing a frozen human torso in the midday sun.

As the man sprayed the remains, “bits of tissue and blood were washed into the gutters,” a state health report said. The stream weaved past storefronts and pooled across the street near a technical school.

Southern Nevada, the inspectors learned, was a so-called body broker, a company that acquires dead bodies, dissects them and sells the parts for profit to medical researchers, training organizations and other buyers. The torso on the gurney was being prepared for just such a sale.

Each year, thousands of Americans donate their bodies in the belief they are contributing to science. In fact, many are also unwittingly contributing to commerce, their bodies traded as raw material in a largely unregulated national market.

Body brokers are also known as non-transplant tissue banks. They are distinct from the organ and tissue transplant industry, which the U.S. government closely regulates. Selling hearts, kidneys and tendons for transplant is illegal. But no federal law governs the sale of cadavers or body parts for use in research or education. Few state laws provide any oversight whatsoever, and almost anyone, regardless of expertise, can dissect and sell human body parts.

“The current state of affairs is a free-for-all,” said Angela McArthur, who directs the body donation program at the University of Minnesota Medical School and formerly chaired her state’s anatomical donation commission. “We are seeing similar problems to what we saw with grave-robbers centuries ago,” she said, referring to the 19th-century practice of obtaining cadavers in ways that violated the dignity of the dead.

“I don’t know if I can state this strongly enough,” McArthur said. “What they are doing is profiting from the sale of humans.”

The industry’s business model hinges on access to a large supply of free bodies, which often come from the poor. In return for a body, brokers typically cremate a portion of the donor at no charge. By offering free cremation, some deathcare industry veterans say, brokers appeal to low-income families at their most vulnerable. Many have drained their savings paying for a loved one’s medical treatment and can’t afford a traditional funeral.

“People who have financial means get the chance to have the moral, ethical and spiritual debates about which method to choose,” said Dawn Vander Kolk, an Illinois hospice social worker. “But if they don’t have money, they may end up with the option of last resort: body donation.”

Few rules mean few consequences when bodies are mistreated. In the Southern Nevada case, officials found they could do little more than issue a minor pollution citation to one of the workers involved. Southern Nevada operator Joe Collazo, who wasn’t cited, said he regretted the incident. He said the industry would benefit from oversight that offers peace of mind to donors, brokers and researchers.

“To be honest with you, I think there should be regulation,” said Collazo. “There’s too much gray area.”


Donated bodies play an essential role in medical education, training and research. Cadavers and body parts are used to train medical students, doctors, nurses and dentists. Surgeons say no mannequin or computer simulation can replicate the tactile response and emotional experience of practicing on human body parts. Paramedics, for example, use human heads and torsos to learn how to insert breathing tubes.

Researchers rely on donated human body parts to develop new surgical instruments, techniques and implants; and to develop new medicines and treatments for diseases.

“The need for human bodies is absolutely vital,” said Chicago doctor Armand Krikorian, past president of the American Federation for Medical Research. He cited a recent potential cure for Type 1 diabetes developed by studying pancreases from body donors. “It’s a kind of treatment that would have never come to light if we did not have whole-body donation.”

Despite the industry’s critically important role in medicine, no national registry of body brokers exists. Many can operate in near anonymity, quietly making deals to obtain cadavers and sell the parts.

“There is a big market for dead bodies,” said Ray Madoff, a Boston College Law School professor who studies how U.S. laws treat the dead. “We know very little about who is acquiring these bodies and what they are doing with them.”

In most states, anyone can legally purchase body parts. A Tennessee broker sold Reuters a cervical spine and two human heads after just a few email exchanges.

Through interviews and public records, Reuters identified Southern Nevada and 33 other body brokers active across America during the past five years. Twenty-five of the 34 body brokers were for-profit corporations; the rest were nonprofits. In three years alone, one for-profit broker earned at least $12.5 million stemming from the body part business.

Because only four states closely track donations and sales, the breadth of the market for body parts remains unknown. But data obtained under public record laws from those states – New York, Virginia, Oklahoma and Florida – provide a snapshot. Reuters calculated that from 2011 through 2015, private brokers received at least 50,000 bodies and distributed more than 182,000 body parts.

Permits from Florida and Virginia offer a glimpse of how some of those parts were used: A 2013 shipment to a Florida orthopedic training seminar included 27 shoulders. A 2015 shipment to a session on carpal tunnel syndrome in Virginia included five arms.

As with other commodities, prices for bodies and body parts fluctuate with market conditions. Generally, a broker can sell a donated human body for about $3,000 to $5,000, though prices sometimes top $10,000. But a broker will typically divide a cadaver into six parts to meet customer needs. Internal documents from seven brokers show a range of prices for body parts: $3,575 for a torso with legs; $500 for a head; $350 for a foot; $300 for a spine.

Body brokers also have become intertwined with the American funeral industry. Reuters identified 62 funeral operators that have struck mutually beneficial business arrangements with brokers. The funeral homes provide brokers access to potential donors. In return, the brokers pay morticians referral fees, ranging from $300 to $1,430, according to broker ledgers and court records.

These payments generate income for morticians from families who might not be able to otherwise afford even simple cremation. But such relationships raise potential conflicts of interest by creating an incentive for funeral homes to encourage grieving relatives to consider body donation, sometimes without fully understanding what might happen to the remains.

“Some funeral home directors are saying, ‘Cremation isn’t paying the bills anymore, so let me see if I can help people harvest body parts,’” said Steve Palmer, an Arizona mortician who serves on the National Funeral Directors Association’s policy board. “I just think families who donate loved ones would have second thoughts if they knew that.”

Some morticians have made body donation part of their own businesses. In Oklahoma, two funeral home owners invested $650,000 in a startup body broker firm. In Colorado, a family operating a funeral home ran a company that dissected and distributed body parts from the same building.

When a body is donated, few states provide rules governing dismemberment or use, or offer any rights to a donor’s next of kin. Bodies and parts can be bought, sold and leased, again and again. As a result, it can be difficult to track what becomes of the bodies of donors, let alone ensure that they are handled with dignity.

In 2004, a federal health panel unsuccessfully called on the U.S. government to regulate the industry. Since then, more than 2,357 body parts obtained by brokers from at least 1,638 people have been misused, abused or desecrated across America, Reuters found.

The count, based on a review of court, police, bankruptcy and internal broker records, is almost certainly understated, given the lack of oversight. It includes instances in which bodies were used without donor or next-of-kin consent; donors were misled about how bodies would be used; bodies were dismembered by chainsaws instead of medical instruments; body parts were stored in such unsanitary conditions that they decomposed; or bodies were discarded in medical waste incinerators instead of being properly cremated.

Most brokers employ a distinctive language to describe what they do and how they make money. They call human remains “tissue,” not body parts, for example. And they detest the term “body brokers.” They prefer to be known as “non-transplant tissue banks.”

Most also insist they don’t “sell” body parts but instead only charge “fees” for services. Such characterizations, however, are contradicted by other documents Reuters reviewed, including court filings in which brokers clearly attach monetary value to donated remains.

A lien filed by one body broker against another cited as collateral “all tissue inventory owned by or in the possession of debtor.” In bankruptcy filings, brokers have claimed body parts as assets. One debtor included as property not only cabinets, desks and computers, but also spines, heads and other body parts. The bankrupt broker valued the human remains at $160,900.

“There are no real rules,” said Thomas Champney, a University of Miami anatomy professor who teaches bioethics. “This is the ultimate gift people have given, and we really need to respect that.”

Last December, Reuters reported that more than 20 bodies donated to an Arizona broker were used in U.S. Army blast experiments – without the consent of the deceased or next of kin. Some donors or their families had explicitly noted an objection to military experiments on consent forms. Family members learned of the 2012 and 2013 experiments not from the Army but from a Reuters reporter who obtained records about what happened.

In another case, Detroit body broker Arthur Rathburn is scheduled to stand trial in January for fraud, accused of supplying unsuspecting doctors with body parts infected with hepatitis and HIV for use in training seminars. U.S. officials cited the case as an example of their commitment to protect the public. But Reuters found that, despite warning signs, state and federal officials failed to rein in Rathburn for more than a decade, allowing him to continue to acquire hundreds of body parts and rent them out for profit. He has pleaded not guilty.

Given the number of body brokers that currently operate in America, academics and others familiar with the industry say regular inspections of facilities and reviews of donor consent forms wouldn’t place a big burden on government.

“This isn’t reinventing the wheel,” said Christina Strong, a New Jersey lawyer who co-wrote a set of standards that most states largely adopted for the organ transplant industry. “It would not be a stretch to envision a uniform state law which requires that those who recover, distribute and use human bodies adhere to uniform standards of transparency, traceability and authorization.”

But without consistent laws or a clear oversight authority – local, state or national – “nobody is accounting for anything,” said Todd Olson, an anatomy and structural biology professor at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Nobody is watching. We regulate heads of lettuce in this country more than we regulate heads of bodies.”


Body brokers range in size from small, family-operated endeavors to national firms with offices in several states. Brokers also vary in expertise.

Garland Shreves, who founded Phoenix broker Research for Life in 2009, said he invested more than $2 million in quality-control procedures and medical equipment, including $265,000 on an X-ray machine to scan cadavers for surgical implants.

But other brokers have launched their businesses for less than $100,000, internal corporate records and interviews show. Often, the largest capital expenses are a cargo van and a set of freezers. Some brokers have saved money by using chainsaws to carve up the dead instead of more expensive surgical saws.

“You have people who want to do it in a pretty half-assed way,” Shreves said. “I have really grown to dislike the business.”

Brokers can also reduce expenses by forgoing the meticulous quality control procedures and sophisticated training called for by a national accreditation organization, the American Association of Tissue Banks.

In Honolulu, police were called twice to storage facilities leased by body broker Bryan Avery in 2011 and 2012. Each time, they found decomposing human remains. Both times, police concluded that Avery committed no crimes because no state law applied.

Steven Labrash, who directs University of Hawaii’s body donation program, said the Avery case illustrates the need for laws to protect donors.

“Everybody knows that what he did was unethical and wrong,” Labrash said of Avery. “But did he break any laws? Not the way they are written today.”

Avery defended how he ran his business and said the incidents were the result of misunderstandings. He said he is now raising capital for a new company, Hawaii BioSkills, which he said will use body parts to train surgeons.

“I’m all for oversight, and companies that are doing this need to be transparent,” Avery said. “As long as it doesn’t infringe upon the flow of business, that’s fine.”

Walt Mitchell, a Phoenix businessman involved in the startup of three brokers, said one reason the industry attracts entrepreneurs is that businesses can profit handsomely from selling a donated product.

“If you can’t make a business when you’re getting raw materials for free,” Mitchell said, “you’re dumb as a box of rocks.”

Even so, a third of the 34 brokers Reuters identified went bankrupt or failed to pay their taxes, according to court filings. When failing businesses in the industry cut corners to save money, the consequences for the families of donors can be emotionally wrenching.


Harold Dillard worked with his brother resurfacing bathtubs and kitchen countertops in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer the day after Thanksgiving in 2009.

“He was 56 years young, active, healthy, had a great life, and one night – bam!” said his daughter, Farrah Fasold. “He wanted to do the last selfless thing he could do before he died, and so he donated his body.”

As her father lay dying, Fasold said, employees from Albuquerque broker Bio Care visited father and daughter, and made a heartfelt pitch: The generous gift of his body to science would benefit medical students, doctors and researchers. Fasold said Bio Care cited several sample possibilities, including that her father’s body might be used to train surgeons on knee replacement techniques.

Fasold’s view of Bio Care soon changed. It took weeks longer than promised to receive what she was told were her father’s cremated remains. Once she received them, she suspected they were not his ashes because they looked like sand. She was correct.

In April 2010, Fasold was told by authorities that her father’s head was among body parts discovered at a medical incinerator. She also learned – for the first time, she said – that Bio Care was in the business of selling body parts.

“I was completely hysterical,” she said. “We would have never have signed up if they had ever said anything about selling body parts – no way. That’s not what my dad wanted at all.”

Inside Bio Care’s warehouse, authorities said they found at least 127 body parts belonging to 45 people.

“All of the bodies appeared to have been dismembered by a coarse cutting instrument, such as a chainsaw,” a police detective wrote in an affidavit.

Bio Care owner Paul Montano was charged with fraud. According to the police affidavit, Montano denied abusing bodies and told detectives that he ran Bio Care with “five volunteer employees,” including his father. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Prosecutors later withdrew the charge against Montano because they said they could not prove deception or any other crime. No other state law regulated the handling of donated bodies or protected the next of kin.

Confused and outraged, Fasold spoke by phone with Kari Brandenburg, then the district attorney in Bernalillo County. Fasold recorded a portion of the call.

“What happened was horrible, but New Mexico law is silent on this kind of activity,” Brandenburg told Fasold. The prosecutor said that, although Montano was perhaps “the worst businessman in the world,” his failures were due in part to deals that fell through.

“So,” Fasold replied, “because other people reneged on their agreements, it’s OK for him to go ahead and chop up my dad’s body and have it incinerated?”

“No, it’s not OK,” the prosecutor replied. “But it doesn’t make it a crime. There’s no criminal law that says this is wrong.”

In a recent interview, Brandenburg said that she, too, was frustrated to find that no law protects people like Fasold and her father. “It was outrageous,” the former prosecutor said. “These families were devastated and injured in a deep way.”

Authorities ultimately recovered the other body parts of Fasold’s father and returned them to her for proper cremation. Some had been found in tubs at the incinerator and some at the Bio Care facility.

Fasold said in an interview she is surprised that the law hasn’t been changed to protect relatives.

“They could have done something long ago, passed new laws,” she said of the body broker industry. “It’s just so shady and devious.”


Partnerships between body brokers and funeral homes can sometimes yield sizeable businesses.

In 2009, Oklahoma funeral home owners Darin Corbett and Hal Ezzell invested $650,000 for a 50 percent stake in a company created by former executives of a large Phoenix-based body broker, court records show. According to an investor prospectus reviewed by Reuters, the new firm’s five-year revenue forecast was $13.8 million based on 2,100 donated bodies.

“Darin and I felt like we had, through our funeral home ties, the ability, if we wanted, to encourage donors,” Ezzell said in an interview.

The Norman, Oklahoma firm, United Tissue Network, converted to nonprofit status in 2012 to comply with a change in state law. But a for-profit company co-owned by Ezzell, Corbett and United Tissue President David Breedlove is paid to provide management services, leased equipment and loans. In 2015, for example, their nonprofit paid their for-profit $412,000 for services, tax records show.

Ezzell and Corbett said they are passive investors. But, Corbett added, “we suggest families consider (United Tissue) first because they are local and time delay is critical,” obliquely referring to the fact that bodies decompose quickly.

The nonprofit United Tissue also has supplied donated human remains to Breedlove’s for-profit company, Anatomical Innovations. That company sold authentic human skulls, elbows, livers and eyeballs, among other body parts. Online, it advertised free shipping on purchases over $125. After inquiries from Reuters, Breedlove closed Anatomical Innovations.

Breedlove said consent forms signed by United Tissue donors permitted the dissection and transfer of body parts to for-profit entities, including the one he owned. The forms allow United Tissue, at its “sole discretion,” to use a body as deemed necessary “to facilitate the gift.”

“Our consents are pretty clear about what the anatomical uses may be,” he said.

According to Oklahoma state filings obtained under public records laws, United Tissue has grown steadily. From 2012 through 2016, United Tissue received 3,542 bodies. Almost half were referred by funeral homes. Ezzell said that last year, no more than 10 percent came from mortuaries owned by Corbett or him.

During that five-year period, the records show, United Tissue distributed 17,956 body parts to clients. Supply has sometimes exceeded demand. In late 2015, the broker sent an email in which it offered customers a price break to help move surplus arms, pelvises and shoulders.

“I wanted to let you know of a few specimens we have an overstock that we are trying to place before the end of the year,” United Tissue Executive Director Alyssa Harrison wrote to a bone research organization. “We are offering these as a discounted fee for December.”

Harrison said in an interview that while she always respects the dead, she has a duty to sustain the operation.

“It is a product, a very precious product,” she said. “I still have to make enough money to pay my employees and keep our doors open. Yes, it is human tissue, but there is still a market value.”


The 2015 incident outside Las Vegas involving the frozen torso was also the product of a partnership between a body broker and a funeral home.

Both the broker, Southern Nevada Donor Services, and the funeral home, Valley Cremation and Burial, were struggling financially. Valley agreed to allow Southern Nevada to dissect and prepare cadavers and body parts at its funeral home. The remains and related paperwork would be kept at Valley’s warehouse in the suburban industrial park, a few miles away.

Southern Nevada’s owner, Joe Collazo, had a decade’s experience selling body parts. Court records show he also served nearly two years in prison in the late 1990s for forgery. And a former employer once accused him in a lawsuit of stealing donated body parts valued at $75,000 and selling them to a customer in Turkey.

Collazo said his forgery conviction is irrelevant and the theft allegation untrue. His business followed industry best practices, he said, and served an important public service to the medical community.

Local and state officials reported that they found other troubling signs, beyond the torso, at the storage facility. These included a bloody, motorized saw typically used by construction workers, and moldy body parts inside an unplugged freezer.

Valley is no longer in business, and the owner died, according to state records. Southern Nevada also dissolved – in a trail of debt and desecrated body parts.

Seven months after health officials inspected the place, the courtyard remained littered with empty coolers bearing Southern Nevada’s initials. Nearby stood a rusted kiln, a pair of filthy mops and a gunmetal gray coffin, broiling in the desert sun.

The only person charged in the incident was Gary Derischebourg, a funeral home employee who said his duties included helping prepare body parts for Collazo. Derischebourg said he was too busy to defrost the torso, so he asked an unemployed friend to do it. Derischebourg pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pollution citation for the stream of water that contained human tissue.

Someone, he said, needed to take responsibility. “I’m a stand-up guy,” he said.

As for the defrosted torso? Collazo said he rented it to a group of surgeons, then had it cremated.

Today, Collazo is a manager at a car dealership. Derischebourg drives for Uber.

Additional reporting by Adam DeRose, Elizabeth Culliford, Mir Ubaid and Sophia Kunthara



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