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TBR News July 19, 2019

Jul 19 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. July 19, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for July 19:”Trump will not shut up concerning the liberal women in Congress. A number of Republicans in Congress are growing increasingly restive about Trump’s loose mouth and he has been discreetly advised to dummy up. Of course he won’t and the result will be a defection on the part of Republicans that will be coming up for reelection next year. Trump is far too stupid to realize what he is doing and he does not realize that it might be effective to fool others, one ought not fool oneself.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Is a New US Mideast War Inevitable?
  • America stumbling towards civil war one terrible tweet at a time
  • Allies play hard to get on U.S. proposal to protect oil shipping lanes
  • Here’s Trump hating on America. Is it time for him to leave?
  • German churches lose 430,000 Catholic and Protestant members in 2018
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Analysis: Threat from disease weapons

 

Is a New US Mideast War Inevitable?

July 19, 2019

by Patrick J. Buchanan

In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions.

Said supreme commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.”

President Harry Truman awarded the brigade a Presidential Unit Citation.

In 1951, Turkey ended a neutrality dating to the end of World War I and joined NATO. In the seven decades since, there has been no graver crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations than the one that erupted this week.

Turkey has just received the first components of a Russian S-400 air and missile defense system, despite U.S. warnings this would require the cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” said the White House.

The sale has been canceled. The Turkish pilots and instructors training in the U.S. are being sent home. Contracts with Turkish companies producing parts for the F-35 are being terminated. Under U.S. law, the administration is also required to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian weaponry.

Wednesday, the Pentagon warned Turkey against military action in an area of Syria where U.S. troops are deployed. The Turks appear to be massing for an incursion against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces Ankara regards as terrorist allies of the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey.

How America and Turkey avoid a collision that could wreck NATO, where the Turks field the second-largest army in the alliance, is not easy to see.

U.S. hawks are already calling for the expulsion of Turkey from NATO. And expulsion of U.S. forces and nuclear weapons from the Incirlik air base in Turkey in retaliation is not out of the question.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounds defiant: “We have begun to receive our S-400s. … God willing, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020. … The S-400s are the strongest defense system against those who want to attack our country. Now the aim is joint production with Russia. We will do that.”

While potentially the most crucial of recent developments in the Middle East, the U.S.-Turkish situation is not the only one.

The UAE is pulling its forces out of Yemen as Congress seeks to restrict U.S. support for Saudi forces fighting Houthi rebels there and to sanction Riyadh for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

If the UAE pulls out, and the U.S. cuts its military aid, the Saudis cannot prevail in a war they have been unable to win with our help after four years of fighting. And if the Houthis win, the Saudis and Sunni Arabs lose, and Iran wins.

This week, to strengthen the U.S. presence for any confrontation with Iran, President Donald Trump is sending 500 additional U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia.

While the U.S. and Iran have thus far avoided a military or naval clash that could ignite a major war, the “maximum pressure” sanctions Trump has imposed are choking Iran’s economy to death. How this ends in a negotiated resolution and not a shooting war remains difficult to see.

In Doha, Qatar, the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban over the conditions for a withdrawal of the 14,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan. And with the Taliban controlling more of the countryside than they have since being ousted from power in 2001, and conducting regular suicide bombings in Afghan cities and towns, it is hard to see how this Kabul regime and its army prevail in a civil war when we are gone, when they could not while we were there.

In this new century, leaders of both parties have plunged our country into at least five wars in the Middle and Near East.

In 2001, after ousting the Taliban and driving al-Qaida out, we decided to use our power and ideas to build a new democratic Afghanistan. In 2003, we invaded and occupied Iraq to create a pro-Western bastion in the heart of the Middle East.

In 2011, Barack Obama ordered U.S. planes to attack Colonel Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. We brought him down. Obama then backed Syrian rebels to overthrow the dictator Bashar Assad. In 2015, U.S. forces supported a Saudi war to roll back the Houthi rebels’ victory in Yemen’s civil war.

None of these wars has produced a victory or success for us.

But taken together, they did produce a multitrillion-dollar strategic and human rights disaster. Meanwhile, China gained much from having its great rival, the world’s last superpower, thrashing about ineffectually in the forever wars of the Middle East.

“Great nations do no fight endless wars,” said Trump.

Yes, they do. As the British, French, Germans, Japanese and Russians showed in the last century, that is how they cease to be great nations.

America stumbling towards civil war one terrible tweet at a time

July 19, 2019

by Robert Bridge

RT

With populist Donald Trump ensconced in the White House and Liberals seething with revenge, voters have been left behind in this game of thrones. Will the confrontation spill over the internet borders and into the streets?

Let’s begin by stating the obvious, and that is the Republicans and Democrats are presently locked in a fierce power struggle that seems destined to end in unmitigated disaster. It’s not just that the competition between the two major parties is scorching hot, but that their competing visions for America are so radically different. With the Liberals becoming ever more ‘progressive’ in ways the Conservatives will never accept it is nearly impossible to see how the two groups can ever live peacefully together under the same roof. Eventually something must give, and perhaps it already has.

The political temperature in Washington, DC is hotter than the surface of Venus as the two major parties go head-to-head every minute of every day inside of the modern day Circus Maximus known as social media, which is in reality about as anti-social as it gets. This new trend in American politics appears to be doing far more harm than good. Indeed, it is almost frightening to consider that the political landscape, if not the future of American democracy itself, is being shaped by rapid-fire, 280-character tweets as opposed to calm, rational, interpersonal debate. And just because Russiagate was proven to be a wild conspiracy theory doesn’t mean the partisan viciousness will subside. In fact, it has already become worse.

Presently, the roaming Inquisition of the Democratic Party, in constant search of new dragons to slay, has turned its attention to the question of race – or more precisely, racism. The Russians will be happy to know they haven’t been blamed – yet – for this latest political debacle. In fact, there is a brand new twist in this developing saga and it does not bode well for the future of the country.

First, some necessary background. Last month, four ‘progressive’ members of the Democratic Party, newly elected members of Congress known as ‘the Squad’, (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley) went to battle against members of their own party. They were opposed to their fellow lawmakers supporting a $4.6 billion bill that provides emergency aid to the thousands of immigrants attempting to cross illegally into the US from Mexico.

The four progressives said the massive spending bill, which does not provide a single copper penny for Trump’s promised wall, by the way, leaves the illegals vulnerable to the “concentration camp” conditions they must endure. It would be refreshing to see a similar outpouring of concern, not to mention money, over the quiet plight of millions of homeless Americans now living very precariously in tent cities across the country. Photo ops with these disenfranchised citizens, however, just don’t carry the same political punch as do photo ops with illegals making a reckless dash for the border with children in tow. But I digress.

This is where things start to heat up. In the course of the dispute, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called out the first-year progressive lawmakers, all women of color, and the isolated “Twitter world” she said they inhabit. Pelosi’s criticism only focused on the political positions of the four women, never on their skin color or racial background. Yet that is exactly how the far-left progressives framed the Speaker’s remarks.

In comments to the Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez took Pelosi to task, criticizing her “explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s colleague, Rashida Tlaib, provided similar sentiments in an interview with CBS This Morning, when she remarked, “Acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out be aware of that and what you’re doing, especially because some of us are getting death threats…”

These comments are significant. It shows that the social justice mentality, which the Liberals have wielded like an ax to chop down anyone who falls out of line with their peculiar belief system, has come full circle to attack the Democratic Party itself. The misguided argument says that just because particular politicians are “of color” then they stand beyond all criticism, even from members inside of their own party. That is an incredibly dangerous proposition, which led Republican congressman Mike Kelly to quip: “I am a person of color too. I am white!”

The question must be asked as to how a fiercely multicultural country is expected to move forward when cries of ‘racism’ will be heard every time an objection is made to a piece of legislation presented by the minority. It is not too difficult to imagine, especially in this day of virtue signaling, bad legislation getting passed for fear of offending some marginalized group.

Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story. Donald Trump, sensing blood inside of the Democratic Party, launched a salvo of Tweets aimed at the ‘four horsewomen of the Apocalypse’ where he advised them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Of the four, only Ilhan Omar was born outside the US, in Somalia.

Needless to say, the response from the Democrats came fast, furious and very clumsy. Nancy Pelosi, fresh from reprimanding the freshmen females, fell from her horse as she was forced to side with ‘the Squad’ against the president’s terrific tirade. She went so far as to call Trump’s tweets “racist” on the House floor, with yet more promises of impeachment proceedings against the Republican leader. Trump, meanwhile, used the opening to slam the progressive congresswomen of being anti-Israel, pro Al-Qaeda and supporters of Communism. If this is a taste of things to come as we head into the 2020 elections, we may be in for many more ugly surprises.

In any case, the main question at this point is whether this vanity-driven insanity really serves the interests of the American people. If being entertained by their government representatives with periodic Twitter meltdowns and in-house fighting over petty insults qualifies as having their interests served, then the American people have nothing to complain about.

I am guessing, however, that many Americans are at their wits’ end over the non-stop battle being waged daily between the Republicans and Democrats ever since Trump entered office. The dry leaves and kindling of partisan antipathy are piled high and a single spark could trigger a real crisis in the Heartland that no amount of tweeting will be able to contain.

Finally, absurd claims with regard to race and racism in the most multicultural country in the world will never serve the interests of the United States, where so many people are the direct descendants of immigrants. In fact, they will only serve to destroy it.

 

Allies play hard to get on U.S. proposal to protect oil shipping lanes

July 19, 2019

by Sylvia Westall and John Irish

Reuters

DUBAI/PARIS (Reuters) – The United States is struggling to win its allies’ support for an initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes because of fears it will increase tension with Iran, six sources familiar with the matter said.

Washington proposed on July 9 stepping up efforts to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen where it blames Iran and its proxies for tanker attacks. Iran denies the charges.

But with Washington’s allies reluctant to commit new weaponry or fighting forces, a senior Pentagon official told Reuters on Thursday that the United States’ aim was not to set up a military coalition but to shine a “flashlight” in the region to deter attacks on commercial shipping.

Because of fears of confrontation, any involvement by Washington’s allies is likely be limited to naval personnel and equipment already in place – near the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf and the Bab al-Mandab strait in the Red Sea, two Gulf sources and a British security source said.

“The Americans want to create an ‘alliance of the willing’ who confront future attacks,” a Western diplomat said. “Nobody wants to be on that confrontational course and part of a U.S. push against Iran.”

Addressing such concerns or possible misunderstandings, Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the most senior policy officials at the Pentagon, told Reuters in an interview that the new initiative was “not about military confrontation.”

Under Washington’s proposal, the United States would provide coordinating ships and lead surveillance efforts while allies would patrol nearby waters and escort commercial vessels with their nation’s flags.

Iran has said foreign powers should leave securing shipping lanes to Tehran and other countries in the region.

France, which has a naval base in the United Arab Emirates, does not plan to escort ships and views the U.S. plan as counterproductive to easing tensions because Tehran would see it as anti-Iran, a French official said.

The British security source said it was not viable to escort every commercial vessel, a view shared by several other countries.

A senior Western official based in Beijing said there was “no way” China would join a maritime coalition. A South Korean official said Washington had yet to make any official request.

A decision by Japan to join such an initiative would be likely to inflame a divide in Japanese public opinion over sending troops abroad. Japan’s military has not fought overseas since World War Two.

“The Americans have been talking to anyone interested about setting something up, mainly looking to Asia as it’s of vital importance to their security of (oil) supply and asking for ships, but it’s gone a bit quiet,” a Gulf official said.

India has deployed two ships in the Gulf to protect Indian-flagged vessels since June 20. Other Asian oil importers are unlikely to have anything but a symbolic presence, such as the involvement of a liaison officer, officials and diplomats said.

“It’s just impossible. The Strait is already too crowded,” an Asian official said of an escort system in the Strait of Hormuz which is 21 miles (33 km) wide at its narrowest point.

A second Gulf official said: “We’re not going to do anything like that, we are not going to do anything on our own.”

Tensions rose further on Thursday after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they had seized a foreign tanker smuggling fuel. A U.S. military commander in the region said the United States would work “aggressively” to ensure free passage of vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

Tension has mounted since U.S. President Donald Trump last year quit a 2015 nuclear pact under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.

France, Britain and Germany, which with Russia and China are party to the agreement, have tried to rescue the deal and defuse tensions.

Failure to secure support for the maritime initiative would be a blow to efforts by the United States, and its Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to isolate Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Iran-backed forces in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are already patrolling the coastline off Yemen where they are leading a coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, though the UAE has said it is scaling down its presence there.

Asked what role Riyadh could play in the U.S. initiative, a Saudi military official said it would be the role that the Saudi-led coalition has been playing for the past few years in the Red Sea as part of the war in Yemen, including escorting and securing commercial shipping.

The United States does not want to go it alone.

“There are enough resources in the region now for the job at hand. The Americans want an international stamp on this effort,” one of the Gulf sources said. “They (the United States) also don’t want to bear the financial burden.”

Technical and financial aspects, such as refueling, bunkering and maintenance costs, still need to be ironed out before countries sign up, the source said.

Policing burdens would largely fall on the United States, which has protected shipping lanes in the region for decades with its Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. It also heads the Combined Maritime Forces, a 33-nation naval alliance that carries out security and counterpiracy operations in the region.

Britain has a base in Oman and China has a military base in Djibouti, which lies off the Bab al-Mandab strait. Beijing has had to tread softly in the region because it has close energy ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

SMALL SHIPS

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi support U.S. sanctions on Iran, which lacks a strong conventional naval fleet but has many speed boats, portable anti-ship missile launchers and mines.

A U.S. State Department official, who asked not to be named, said Bahrain would host a working group meeting on maritime and aviation security in the autumn as part of a follow-up to a global conference in Warsaw in February that gathered some 60 nations to discuss stability in the Middle East.

Gulf States, which are big purchasers of Western arms, have invested more in air and land capabilities than in naval assets, and have little experience coordinating large naval missions.

The majority of vessels are small patrol craft and corvettes that would struggle on extended missions, said Tom Waldwyn, research associate for The Military Balance at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Wheelbarger, the U.S. Pentagon official, suggested small, quick ships would be helpful. She said several countries has expressed interest in the initiative but did not name them.

Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and Lesley Wroughton in Washington, Guy Faulconbridge and Jonathan Saul in London, Ben Blanchard and Cate Cadell in Beijing, Hyonhee Shin in Seoul, Alexander Cornwell and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous and Timothy Heritage

 

Here’s Trump hating on America. Is it time for him to leave?

The president says if Democratic congresswomen criticize the US, they should go elsewhere. But mocking America is one of his own favorite pastimes

July 29, 2019

by Luke O’Neil

The Guardian

At a campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, the president’s attacks against four progressive congresswomen of color culminated in his most overt attack yet. Referring to Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib as “hate-filled extremists”, he continued his tirade to the delight of his supporters.

“They’re always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they don’t love it, tell ’em to leave it,” Trump said to the crowd, who soon erupted into a chant of “send her back”.

Yet Trump himself has repeatedly denigrated and criticized America, perhaps more so than any other presidential candidate in recent memory. If he holds himself to his own standards, perhaps it’s time for him to leave and “go back home”?

Here are some examples of Trump’s attacks on the US.

A longtime critic of Obama, Trump has said he came upon his famed slogan the day his predecessor was elected to his second term. The Maga slogan implied that America was no longer great, something he also repeatedly and explicitly stated in much starker terms in the years before and during his run. Speaking to the Washington Post in 2017, he said:

I looked at the many types of illness our country had, and whether it’s at the border, whether it’s security, whether it’s law and order or lack of law and order.

Crippled America

Trump’s 2015 book, Crippled America, was rife with critical quotes, referring to the country as “this mess” and “Uncle Sucker”, among other things, and took great pains to point out just how weak we had become.

The idea of American Greatness, of our country as the leader of the free and unfree world, has vanished … I couldn’t stand to see what was happening to our great country. This mess calls for leadership in the worst way.

American carnage

On the day he took office in 2017, Trump painted a picture of America as a dystopian nightmare.

Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

Laughing stock

The idea that criticizing the country is grounds for being dismissed from it would be news to the Donald Trump of the Obama years, when he described our collective humiliation many dozens of times.

Stretching back to 2011, he regularly tweeted about which countries and other political bodies were laughing at us and Obama, from Opec to “the mullahs”, Sudan, and, most frequently, China and Vladimir Putin.

Lots of killers

When asked during an interview with Bill O’Reilly in 2017 about his praise for Putin, Trump said America wasn’t much better. But was Putin was “a killer”, O’Reilly said. Trump replied:

There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?

Infrastructure

Trump has not only often referred to the symbolic collapse of America, he’s also pointed out its literal state of disrepair. His speech to the 2016 Republican national convention was a laundry list of things that he found shameful about the country, including our infrastructure. He told the crowd:

Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in third-world condition.

 

German churches lose 430,000 Catholic and Protestant members in 2018

July 19, 2019 The Catholic and Protestant churches both lost over 200,000 members last year. The losses have hit the churches hard, as members of both churches pay up to 9% of their taxable income as church taxes.

DW

Germany’s Catholic church lost 216,078 members and Protestant churches lost some 220,000 in 2018, according to data published on Friday by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

In total, around 23 million German citizens are still members of the Catholic church and 21.14 million are members of the Protestant churches. The two groups account for 53.2% of the country’s total population of over 83 million.

Pater Hans Langendörfer, secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, described Friday’s figures as a “worrying” statistic.

“Every departure hurts,” said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, president of the EKD. “Since people today, unlike in the past, decide out of freedom whether they want to belong to the church, it is important for us today to make even clearer why the Christian message is such a strong basis for life.”

Falling for years

Church membership can officially be renounced by making a declaration in person at a local government agency, sometimes a district court. There is no need to provide any reason for wanting to leave.

Unless they renounce their membership with an official declaration, members of the Catholic and Protestant churches pay up to 9% of their taxable income as church tax, generating billions of euros in income for both organizations. The money is automatically deducted, just like payroll taxes or social insurance.

Membership set to halve by 2060

A study published by the University of Freiburg in May concluded that the number of people belonging to Germany’s two main churches will drop by half by 2060.

The main reasons for declining membership in the two churches include adults leaving the church, fewer baptisms and an aging population, the researchers said.

The study predicted that the combined membership in the two churches will drop from about 45 million now to 34.8 million by 2035 and 22.7 million by 2060.

Encyclopedia of American Loons

John Stephen Piper

John Stephen Piper is a Calvinistic Baptist Christian preacher, author, pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and founder of the evangelical organization Desiring God (named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist). As with most fundie crazy preachers, Piper has a knack for taking natural phenomena as signs unequivocally pointing to whatever political opinion fits his fancies at the time. For instance, a small tornado occurring during a conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in 2009 was a “gentle but firm warning” from God regarding the ELCA’s consideration of its position on issues concerning homosexuality (rather than a warning to him for being a piece of shit). In 2012 he told the victims of the recent tornado storms in the South and Midwest that “God gave the command” for the tornadoes that left at least thirty-nine people dead. Pat Robertson had earlier claimed that the tornadoes resulted from a lack of prayer rather than being God’s doing, but Piper argued instead that God sent the tornadoes because of the sins of the region, recognizing God’s “fierce fingers” all over them; and of course it must be God: “We do not ascribe such independent power to Mother Nature,” said Piper. Apparently the fact that tornados tend to hit areas that are statistically very religious and don’t support marriage equality is not taken to be relevant, however, since in that case the obvious conclusions wouldn’t fit as well with Piper’s preconceptions and bigotry.

But wasn’t God supposed to be, you know, good? . Basically, the idea is that you don’t deserve an explanation, but you better thank God for killing your family else he’ll do it again. Some insight can, however, be garnered from what Piper, as shown by his actions, assumes a good person to be.

He is also a staunch misogynist, arguing that a husband should lead and provide and the wife joyfully and intelligently affirm and submit to her husband’s leadership. With Wayne Grudem he has co-edited the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which promotes exactly the views you’d expect. On Obama and abortion, Piper has claimed that Obama is “spiritually blind” or an “evil hypocrite” for invoking Martin Luther King Jr. while not seeking to make abortions illegal since it is “against the ideals that civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. stood for,” despite the fact that King was, of course, pro-choice. But intellectual honesty is not a virtue for Piper’s ilk. Here he weighs in on marriage equality (again). Piper is also into all of the usual, fanatic endtimes stuff, which really should suffice to qualify him for an entry all by itself.

Diagnosis: It is hard to find any redeeming qualities in this case either. An abomination.

Leslie Manookian

The Greater Good is an antivaccine documentary (and illustrative example of the pernicious genre medical propaganda film) that made its rounds in the expected circles, and were promoted by the usual group of conspiracy theorists and anti-science advocates (such as Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher). They even tried to push it on public schools. It is dealt with in some detail here.

The basic set-up is familiar, and the agenda clear:

Present some tragic stories of “vaccine injuries” to manipulatively appeal to the viewers’ emotions, without too much discussion of details to ensure that it is impossible to verify or falsify (at least one of the central stories has been demolished in court, thus giving the interviewees even more room to recruit the viewer’s empathy in their attempt to build a conspiracy theory targeted at Big Pharma, the courts, all of medicine, science and the need to evaluate evidence carefully; the other cases present no evidence whatsoever that vaccines are actually to blame for the tragic events beyond correlations that do not really seem even to be genuine correlations). Nor does it, of course, mention how vaccines prevented uncountable tragedies by eradicating small-pox and polio, since that doesn’t really fit the chosen narrative.

Create a manufactroversy by pitting a few real experts against a panel of pseudoscientists and conspiracy theorists, then editing he results to fit the desired narrative.

Then dismiss the real experts (but trying to make it seem like everything is fair and “balanced”) and plump for the conspiracy theories and the pseudoscience the “documentary” had built up to accepting all along.

The pseudoscientistst and conspiracy theorists presented as experts include:

Bob Sears, who has now firmly endorsed the anti-vaccine movement, and whose misinformation about medical issues targeted at parents is a serious cause for concern given his celebrity status. In the documentary, he primarily runs a blatantly dishonest toxins gambit and tries to claim, against better knowledge and judgment, that vaccines haven’t been sufficiently well studied for safety (This is false, and Sears knows it; he’s lying.)

Larry Palevsky, who writes articles for anti-vaccine sites and promotes and recommends a wide array of quackery and faith healing, including “acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, cranial-sacral therapy, environmental medicine, homeopathy, and essential oils, along with natural healing modalities such as aromatherapy, yoga, Reiki, meditation, reflexology, and mindfulness.” In the documentary, Palevsky pushes the toxins gambit for all its worth, since it’s a more effective means for scaring people without background in chemistry or medicine than being accurate or truthful; he even tries the breathtakingly intellectually dishonest “the vaccines didn’t save us”gambit.

John Green III, another anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist.

Christopher Shaw, a currently legendary, Canadian anti-vaccine crank responsible for several of the garbage “studies” frequently cited by the antivaccine movement.

Barbara Loe Fisher, the granddame of the anti-vaccine movement herself.

There are also a couple of lawyers (such as Kevin Conway), bent on misrepresenting the role of the vaccine court. It is also worth noting, if anyone had any doubts about what kind of “documentary” this is, that the end credits state that “this film was vetted by Dr. Lawrence D. Rosen, MD, FAAP and Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD, FRCP for scientific and medical accuracy,” which is more or less like consulting whale.to. Dr. Rosen is an “integrative” pediatrician who is chair-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Complementary and Integrative Medicine and staunchly anti-vaccine; indeed, he seems to still think that thimerosal causes autism (though he is notoriously vague), which is an idea approximately as well-refuted as flat earth). You can read more about Dr. Shoenfeld here.

The producer, Leslie Manookian (formerly Leslie Manookian Bradshaw), is – apparently – a homeopath, which means she is about as ridiculous as you can get in the realm of pseudoscience (though she had the whereabouts not to list those qualifications on the filmmaker bio page), and has previously been active in the comment sections of vaccine-related blog posts. (She also used to list mercola.com, Mothering Magazine and the anti-vaccine website NVIC at the top of her list of vaccine information sources). After the “documentary”, Manookian has apparently become something of a mainstay at pseudoscience and anti-vaccine conferences, such as Freedomfest, and has been associated with the Weston A. Price foundation, a quack organization if there ever was one. In 2015, Manookian and the foundation’s Kim Hartke managed to get a piece of anti-vaccine propaganda posted as press release on CNBC’s Globe Newswire, consisting primarily of the old antivaxx shedding myth disguised as “news”.

Diagnosis: Apparently an influential figure in the antivaccine movement, Manookian is a crank through and through. Dangerous.

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

July 19, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

Conversation No. 4

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 1996

Commenced: 9:32 AM (CST)

Concluded: 10:08 AM (CST)

RTC: Hello, Gregory. Sorry I was out the last time you called but we were off on family business. My son’s family. By the way, I have some information for you that might interest you. You know, there are a number of people here who are not happy with you and they are certainly not pleased that I am talking with you. Not at all. This morning I had a call from some shit at Justice who wanted to warn me, being a friendly and caring person of course, that you were a very bad person and I would ruin my reputation by telling you anything. He had a similar talk with Corson yesterday. Bill called me last night about this and we both laughed about it. This is a sure sign that you must be right. Both of us know you were friends with Müller and the thought of him loose in America is something the Company, and now Justice, does not want talked about. First off, they don’t know what name he used while he was here.

GD: Are you serious, Robert?

RTC: Oh yes, very. You see, the CIA and don’t forget the Army, used high-level Nazis after the Cold War broke out. We especially went after the Gestapo and SD  people because they had the most to do with fighting the Communists, both in Germany in the ‘30s and then during the war.

GD: I knew Gehlen very well and met some of them. I agree. His top recruiter was old Willi Krichbaum who was a Colonel in the SS and a top Gestapo person. I talked many times with Willi who had been in the Freikorps after the first war and he was quite a fellow. He was Müller’s top deputy in the Gestapo and in charge of the border guards at one time. And, don’t forget, Willi was head of the Wehrmacht’s Geheime Feldpolizei who had a terrible reputation with the troops. Hanging deserters at the end of the war. Yes, Gehlen told me the SS intelligence men were his best people.

RTC: You have a grasp of this from the time, don’t you? So, of course no one now wants to infuriate the rah-rah patriotic idiots and most especially the Jews by letting anyone know about this. You see, they brought Müller and others over here and gave them new names and identities. The higher they had been, the more they concealed them. Now your friend Müller’s name was known to Truman, Beetle Smith, Critchfield, Gehlen and about three others. Now that everyone is dead and you are tearing open old caskets, they are absolutely frantic to find out what name Mueller was here under and actually so they can run around the files and burn anything with that name on it. Then they can say, like the pious frauds they are, that Oh no, we never heard of that person. We searched our records, sir, and believe us, there was no such person anywhere. That’s what they want. Smith is dead, Truman is ditto, Critchfield will never talk because he ran Müller and still has his pension to consider. I know the name but they have never brought the subject up to me. They think you’re a loose cannon, Gregory, with no loyalty to the system and they think I am getting daft in my old age and marginalize me.

GD: Think they’ll shoot me? A boating accident? Something like that?

RTC: When I was in harness, yes, they would. A bungled robbery or a rape like Kennedy’s lady friend but not now. Besides, they don’t know what you have on them and if you were crushed to death by an elephant falling out of a plane, who knows what might come out? I have to send you some documentation which you then have to let them know you have. But in a safe place, not in a local storage locker under your name or in your attic or garage. A gentle hint of joys to come. I have hinted at that and very strongly. The Justice oaf today got an earful from me and when I told him I would tell you about this, he got scared and hung up on me. Now, I can expect Tom Kimmel to call me and try to find out if I’ve told you or given you anything. You know, you got some rare documents that were very helpful to his case to clear the Admiral but now he’s a torn person. The family wants desperately to accept these as genuine but are furious that you, a terrible person in their eyes, had them. No gratitude. I suppose if that awful Wolfe had found them and passed them along, he would be a great hero to the Kimmel family but you are one whose name is never to be mentioned. You know, Gregory, I find this very entertaining. And Kimmel is horrified that Bill and I like you and talk to you. Both of us have been warned, I by people from the Company I haven’t seen since I retired and Bill by the fringe wannabees like Trento and others. I think it’s time we nailed Critchfield, don’t you?

GD: I’m game, Robert. If he ran Müller, he must be scared.

RTC: Will be scared shitless. In the old days, he’d have had you killed at once but those days are no more. You knew Gehlen and that will be my approach. You are quick enough with in-house terms so that I can convince Jimmy that you were once part of his operation. You’ll have to play it by ear but you are about ten times smarter than him so you should have fun. I want you to convince him that you were really there and knew some his people. And most important, convince him you knew Mueller. Oddly enough, Jimmy never met Mueller because he operated him out of Switzerland through Willi and later, Müller moved up the ladder to the point where Jimmy had no access to him. Let’s keep his bowels open, Gregory, what do you say?

GD: I have no problem. Should I tape him?

RTC: Why not get him on a speaker phone with both a tape recorder going and a reputable witness? That way, if something comes of this and they get to the witness, you have a backup.

GD: I have a retired colonel acquaintance who was with your people in ‘Nam. He’d be perfect as a witness. Just let me know. Is Justice going to do something nasty to me?

RTC: God no. They just want to scare me off of you, that’s all. They’re all such pinheads, Gregory. They chatter like old whores at a tea party and I can remind you that gossip is king here. Everyone inside the Beltway runs around like the little self-important toads that they are, pretending to be really important. They see a Senator in a restaurant, wave at him and get waved at back. This impresses their client who does not realize that the Senator will always wave back on the assumption that the waver might be someone important he might have forgotten. And they tell you that the President, or the Secretary of this or that said this to them when no one knows them at the White House or anywhere else. This jerk from Justice is a small, malformed cog in a big and brainless machine. Typical. I had to deal with these punks for years and I have more respect for a black tart, believe me. At least they don’t try to hide the fact that they fuck for money.

GD: (Laughter)

RTC: It really isn’t funny. If the public was aware of the crooked, lying sacks of shit that run this country, they would be boiling the tar and preparing the chicken feathers.

GD: You know, speaking of Gehlen, he told me in ’51 that his famous ’48 report about the Russians being poised to invade Europe was made up at the Army’s specific request. Gehlen told me that far from moving hundreds of armored units into the east zone, the Russians had torn up all the railroad tracks after the war and shipped them back to Russia. And most of the armored divisions were only cadre.

RTC: But it did work, didn’t it? Big business got to gear up for a fictional coming war and the military got a huge boost.

GD: Ever heard of General Trudeau?

RTC: Oh yes, I knew him personally. What about him?

GD: He found out about Gehlen and bitched like hell about what he called a bunch of Nazis working for the CIA and inventing stories about fake invasion threats.

RTC: Now that’s something I didn’t know. You know they shipped him out of the European command and sent him to the Far East? Yes, and I met him when I was in Hawaii. I’m surprised they didn’t do to him what they did to George Patton. A convenient truck ran into his car and shut him up.

GD: Why?

RTC: George found out that the top brass was stealing gold from the salt mine and many generals and colonels were getting very rich. And then the accident and with George dead, they just went on stealing.

GD: I can use that.

RTC: I can get you some paper on that out of my files. Patton was strange but one of our better generals. Lying thieves. Gold has a great attraction for people, I guess.

GD: A few years ago, one of your boys, Jimmy Atwood and I went down into Austria to dig up some Nazi gold. Atwood is a terrible asshole but very useful. I think he viewed me the same way. Anyway, we had a former SS officer and a Ukrainian camp guard along. What a wonderful adventure, Robert.

RTC: Were you successful? Treasure hunts rarely are.

GD: Oh, very. And we brought most of it back with us.

RTC: How ever did you get it through customs?

GD: Boat. Brought it in by boat. I’ll tell you about this some time. Did you ever hear about it?

RTC: No, I didn’t. Should I have?

GD: Probably a rogue operation. Two Limeys got knocked on the head and put over the side on the way to the Panama Canal but other than that, it was an uneventful trip.

RTC: Well, someday, I’ll discuss the Kennedy assassination and you can tell me about the gold hunt. Sounds fair?

GD: Oh yes, why not?

RTC: I remember the time we had to fly the KMT general out of Burma with an Air America transport full of gold. He was our boy out there but he had a hankering to make more money so he began to raise opium and used our weapons to kill off the locals. Thirteen million in gold and twelve trunks full of opium. Quite a problem getting it all into Switzerland and into a bank. But he performed and we kept our word. That fucking Colby was into drugs as well.

GD: William?

RTC: Yes, our beloved DCI. A nasty piece of work, Gregory. Was working in SEA doing the drug business when he was tapped for PHOENIX. And just kept on going when he got to Saigon. PHOENIX  got to be a really nasty business and Bill set up torture centers all over our part of the country. Regional Intelligence Centers they called them. Well, Church got his hands on some of the goings on and guess what? Colby snitched on all his co-workers. I know for a fact from some of the old ones that they’re going to kill him for that. I remember he has some kind of a telephone device hidden in his glasses. Princeton man. You can always tell a Princeton man, Gregory, but you can’t tell him very much. Watch the papers pretty soon.

GD: How will they nail him? Run down in a crosswalk? A stampede of elephants flatten him in his garden?

RTC: You have an overheated imagination. I don’t know the how but I do know the why. Give it six months and the Dictator of Dent Place will be another stone in the cemetery.

GD: What about the one who killed himself by tying weights to his legs and shooting himself in the back of the head before jumping off his boat?

RTC: John Arthur Paisley. He used to be the deputy director of the Office of Strategic Research. Paisley. Tragic. Shouldn’t have sold out to the Russians. He was such a rotten mess when they found him that it took weeks to do an ID on him. There’ve been more.

GD: I have a packet coming in from overseas and the mail truck is at the end of the block. Let me ring off now, Robert and I can call you back later today.

RTC: Make it tomorrow. OK? Things to do.

 

(Concluded at 10:08 AM CST)

 

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Analysis: Threat from disease weapons

BBC News

Anthrax anxiety has gripped America

Anthrax is not the only potential biological weapon. Other well-known diseases such as smallpox, botulism and Ebola could also be used in a terrorist attack.

And biological warfare is not only limited to diseases that directly target humans. Those that affect our food sources – wheat smut, rice blast, insect infestations, even foot and mouth – will in turn affect the humans that depend on them.

Botulism

What is it?

Botulism is a muscle-paralysing disease caused by a toxin from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three main types – food-borne, wound and infant botulism.

Symptoms

The first recognisable symptoms, usually appearing 12 to 36 hours after exposure to the toxin, include blurred vision, vomiting and difficulty in swallowing.

If untreated, the disease can eventually lead to respiratory failure and paralysis. It is fatal in 5 to 10% of cases.

How is it spread?

Botulism is caused by eating or inhaling the bacterial toxin. It cannot be spread from person to person.

If used as a biological weapon, the toxin could be sprayed as an aerosol – it is colourless and odourless – or used to contaminate food.

Is there an antidote?

Anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthacis

An antitoxin is available, but it is only effective if administered early in the course of the disease. There is also a vaccine, but concerns about its effectiveness and possible side-effects mean it is not widely used.

Availability

The bacterium from which botulism is derived occurs naturally in the ground, so many samples are likely to be held around the world. The Japanese cult Aum Shikrikyo dispersed it in aerosols on at least three occasions in the early 1990s. According to John Eldridge, the editor of Jane’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence, Iraq, Russia and Iran are likely to have large quantities at their disposal.

Overall risk

One problem for health experts would be distinguishing a terrorist attack from a natural outbreak of food poisoning.

John Eldridge said: “Botulism toxin was considered by coalition forces to be a viable threat during the Gulf War. Some 10,335 kg was destroyed under UNSCOM [United Nations Special Commission] supervision.”

Smallpox

What is it?

Smallpox is a viral infection caused by the variola virus. One of the biggest killers in history, the disease was effectively wiped out in the 1970s by a worldwide vaccination plan.

Symptoms

The incubation period is about 12 days. First symptoms include fever, tiredness and an aching head and back. Over the next few days, a distinctive rash develops, usually on the face, legs and arms.

Lesions then appear, which form crusts and fall away within a few weeks. Death occurs in up to 30% of cases.

How is it spread?

Smallpox can be caught by inhaling the virus from an infected person. Sufferers are most infectious during the first week of illness.

In the event of a purposeful attack, the virus could be released in an aerosol, or suicide attackers could deliberately infect themselves. Its stability in air and high infection rate make the smallpox virus potentially very dangerous.

Is there an antidote?

There is a vaccine against smallpox but routine public inoculation ended in the 1970s as incidence of the disease declined. Everyone born before 1972 was vaccinated, but immunity has probably worn off by now.

In people exposed to smallpox, the vaccine can lessen the severity of, or even prevent, illness if given within four days of exposure. The US currently has an emergency supply of the vaccine.

There is no proven treatment for smallpox victims – except supportive therapy to combat the symptoms.

Availability

There are two World Health Organisation-approved repositories of variola virus – one at the US Center for Disease Control and the other in Novosibirsk, Russia.

The extent of secret stockpiles in other parts of the world remains unknown, but according to Jane’s Defence, Iraq and Russia are likely to have the virus.

Overall risk

Smallpox is often cited as the most feared biological weapon. There is no proven treatment, and the virus could race through a population before anyone realises it has been released.

According to John Eldridge: “It is possible that cultures have found their way out of Russia and could be in the hands of terrorists.”

Plague

What is it?

Plague is an acute bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis. There are two main strains – bubonic and pneumonic.

Symptoms

India had an outbreak of pneumonic plague in 1994

In bubonic plague, the bacteria invade the body causing swollen lymph nodes and fever. The less frequent pneumonic plague causes severe respiratory problems, including coughing and breathing difficulties. The incubation period is usually between one and seven days.

How is it spread?

Bubonic plague is generally not spread from person to person, except through direct contact with fluids from the swellings. The disease is mainly transmitted from the bite of infected fleas carried by rodents.

But pneumonic plague can be passed on by face-to-face contact, through the inhalation of bacteria from a sneeze or cough of an infected person.

Terrorists would most likely attack by spraying an aerosol containing plague bacteria, causing the pneumonic variety.

Is there an antidote?

Plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline. In treated cases, death occurs in fewer than 5% of victims, but if left untreated mortality rates can be higher than 90%. There is no vaccine.

Availability

Natural outbreaks of plague still occur – most notably in Africa, Asia and western USA. The bacterium responsible is also widely available in microbe banks around the world.

According to Jane’s Defence, America, Iraq, Russia, Iran and possibly North Korea have supplies of the bacterium.

Overall risk

Pneumonic plague is less virulent than smallpox but more so than anthrax. John Eldridge said: “Plague is a possible low-tech choice as successful vectors include insects and rodents.”

Tularaemia

What is it?

Francisella tularensis, the organism that causes tularaemia, is one of the most infectious bacteria known.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to the method of infection. If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms can be similar to pneumonia.

Victims who ingest the bacteria may get a sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. Untreated, the disease could progress to respiratory failure, shock and eventually death. The overall mortality rate is about 5%.

How is it spread?

Tularaemia is not spread though human-to-human transmission. Many small mammals harbour the disease, and naturally-acquired human infection occurs through animal bites, ingestion of contaminated food or water and inhalation of infective aerosols.

Aerosol dispersal would be the most likely method of terrorist attack.

Is there an antidote?

There is an effective vaccine, and the disease is treatable with antibiotics.

Availability

Quarantine is used to prevent the spread of Ebola in Africa

During World War II, the potential of F. tularensis as a biological weapon was studied by both sides.

Tularaemia was one of the biological weapons stockpiled by the US military in the late 1960s, but the supply was subsequently destroyed.

The Soviet Union continued production into the early 1990s. Jane’s Defence believe that Iraq and Russia are likely to have stockpiles of this bacterium.

Overall risk

Tularaemia is considered to be dangerous because of its extreme infectivity and because it is easily spread. But it would not kill the vast majority of those infected.

Haemorrhagic fever

What is it?

The most well-known haemorrhagic fever is Ebola, caused by a virus of the same name. A similar disease, also found in the tropics, is caused by the Marburg virus. Both are lethal and relatively easily transmitted.

Symptoms

Within a few weeks of exposure, ebola victims suffer from headaches and muscle aches. They may also experience nausea, chest pain and profuse bleeding. More than half of all Ebola sufferers die from the disease.

How is it spread?

The virus can spread from person to person, through direct contact with blood or other secretions.

Is there an antidote?

For both Ebola and Marburg, there is no cure, no vaccine and no treatment.

Availability

Like cholera and typhoid, these diseases are endemic in many poor countries. There is also speculation that the Soviets experimented with the Marburg virus for its use as a biological weapon.

Overall risk

Haemorrhagic fevers are unlikely to be an obvious choice as they are so hazardous to work with. But, said John Eldridge, perpetrators could quickly acquire the capability to use these germs as weapons.

Crop diseases

Many countries have investigated the effects of purposefully inflicting crop diseases on an enemy. Japan, Germany, France, Britain, the former Soviet Union and the US have all – at various stages – invested in anti-crop warfare of various kinds.

Potato blight, soybean rot and diseases that can affect staple crops like wheat and rye are all capable of decimating huge swathes of agricultural land. So too are infestations by insects such as the Colorado and rapeseed beetle.

The potato blight of 19th Century Ireland and the brown spot disease responsible for the Bengal famine in 1942 show just how devastating these crop diseases can be.

Many developing countries are largely reliant on rice

Dr Simon Whitby, from the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, said that while attacking a crop is unlikely to cause widespread starvation in anywhere but the very poorest countries – those largely reliant on one staple crop – the method could still be effective as an “economic weapon” elsewhere.

This is especially true when the agriculture is concentrated on intensive farming of genetically similar crops.

“There would be social disruption at one end of the scale, and starvation at the other,” he said.

Two of the main crop diseases identified as potential bio-weapons are wheat stem rust and rice blast.

Rice blast

What is it?

This is one of the most important rice diseases and is caused by the fungus Pyricularia oryzae. There are 219 types, so breeding a resistant crop is complex.

Characteristics

Grey-white lesions appear on the leaves, which eventually produce a brown margin when the lesion stops growing. The fungus may also attack the stem of the plant. Yield losses may be large as few seeds are likely to develop.

Availability

The US chose blast disease as its main anti-rice agent. The US anti-crop programme, an intensive operation throughout the 1950s and 60s, had a cache of nearly a tonne of rice blast at the time it was disbanded. The stockpile would have been intended for a potential attack on Asia, said Dr Simon Whitby.

Other countries apart from the US are also likely to have investigated this disease as a biological weapon, but information is limited.

Overall risk

Rice blast is a fungal disease, in which thousands of spores form on the infected plant. These spores multiply rapidly and float through the air infecting other plants. This easy dispersal, coupled with the complexity of breeding resistant plants, make rice blast a potentially dangerous biological weapon.

Wheat stem rust

What is it?

Stem rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia graminis tritici.

Characteristics

Dark red postules appear on both sides of the leaves and stems of the infected plant. As well as attacking wheat, the fungus can also affect barley, rye and other grasses.

Availability

Between 1951 and 1969, the US stockpiled more than 30,000 kg of wheat stem rust spores, which Dr Simon Whitby estimated is probably enough, in theory at least, to infect every wheat plant on the planet.

The US used to have a stockpile of over 30,000 kg of anti-wheat spores

The US also developed means of disseminating the spores. An early design, according to Dr Whitby, was a 500-lb bomb originally designed to release propaganda leaflets. Instead it was packed with bird feathers which carried the fungal spores.

Other countries have also investigated the use of wheat diseases in biological warfare. Dr Simon Whitby said: “Iraq has looked into its military capability and has carried out limited testing. The potential target was probably Iran.”

And the USSR’s huge programme in the 1970s, mostly concentrated on wheat diseases, is believed to have employed 10,000 personnel working solely on agricultural biowarfare, said Dr Whitby.

Overall risk

As stem rust is a fungal disease, the spores are easily dispersed in air. The use of resistant wheat strains limits its effectiveness as a biological weapon, but it still has the potential to be dangerous.

Animal diseases

The warfaring potential of diseases that affect animals is often overlooked. “This is a new type of hazard,” said John Eldridge, from Jane’s Defence. “In the UK we are already experiencing the effects of one of the most virulent animal pathogens, from a natural outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.”

According to Piers Millett, a specialist in anti-animal biowarfare from the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, the main targets for terrorists are likely to be rinderpest, anthrax, foot and mouth, swine fever and Newcastle disease, which affects poultry.

Could foot-and-mouth disease be used as a biological weapon?

During the two world wars, both sides investigated the capability of anti-animal weapons. In World War I, Germany conducted a sabotage programme infecting animals destined for use on the battlefield.

In World War II, the British trials of anthrax infection on Gruinard Island off the coast of Scotland rendered the island uninhabitable for almost 50 years.

The Americans also experimented with rinderpest and swine fever, but according to Piers Millett, this was abandoned through fear of spreading the disease to America’s own cattle. “The last thing you want to do is end up infecting your own country,” he said.

Other countries such as Russia, Iraq and Japan have also investigated biowarfare of this kind, and Piers Millett said that anti-animal weapons were technologically easier to develop than anti-crop weapons.

While unlikely to kill humans, a biological attack on livestock can have severe results.

According to Piers Millett, “The recent foot and mouth disease in the UK is a good simulation of what a biological attack of this nature would look like.”

 

 

 

 

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