In early May, 1995, DKBA members crossed border rivers and raided several Karen refugee camps on the Thai side of the border, burning hundreds of buildings and killing at least one person. The raiders forced hundreds, including women and children, back across a border river into Burma, relief workers said. Thailand warned Burma of tough action against intruders from Burma saying it would not tolerate territorial violations that it said have been increasing over the past four months. Many of the more than 70,000 Karen refugees in the Thai camps are supporters of the KNU, driven from their homes by Burmese army offensives against the autonomy-seeking rebels. KNU sources say the raids are aimed at cutting the KNU off from its civilian support base by either forcing the refugees back to government-controlled parts of Burma or by pushing them off the border and deeper into Thailand.
Hundreds of Thai troops, border patrol policemen and defense volunteers, supported by helicopter gun ships and armored personnel carriers, have moved in to guard the 23 Karen refugee camps strung out along a 110 mile stretch on the Thai side of the frontier. Thailand is drawing up plans to move Karen refugees away from the Thai-Burmese frontier after a series of cross-border raids on their camps by a Karen rebel splinter faction.
The Burmese Government Attacks Khun Sa
On March 11, the Burmese government sent 35,000 soldiers to take on Khun Sa, the opium drug lord, and his 14,000 troops. In May, the government captured the Pachan mountains, west of Thailand, which has driven a wedge between Khun Sa's forces. The warlord still has sanctuaries in Thailand.
The Chinese Drug Connection
Since 1988, there has been a threefold increase in drug production in the Golden Triangle. Opium output is now forecast to be 3,500 tons per year. Prosecutions have been increased in Thailand, but new Chinese gangs are entering the fray. Not only has the quantity gone up, but prices have gone down , and purity has been improved by 1000% or more.
The reason for this is China. In the 1980s, China began courting Burma as an economic satellite. When the current Burmese regime killed hundreds of protesters after canceling a "free" election, China dropped its support for SLORC, and opened up its borders to the ethnic tribes that control the countryside. These insurgents traffic in heroin and gems. It is being reported that these new routes have eclipsed the infamous Burmese drug warlord, Khun Sa, and his Thailand drug routes. SLORC presently leaves these tribes to their drug trafficking, and probably rakes off a profit. It may be only a small time before the Burmese government takes on these traffickers, but they are presently busy fighting the Shans and Khun Sa. This new policy is not without its downside. Junkies are proliferating among Beijing's yuppies. China admits to having 300,000 registered addicts. Health officials put the real number at 2.5 million.
All of these problems may dramatically effect the supply of Burma goods. Gems are used to finance the rebel groups, so do not expect the supply to completely disappear. However, based upon the geopolitics of this area, placing a portion of your assets into unheated Burma ruby seems a prudent position at this time.
Prices for gem tanzanite continue to rise. Prices have risen 25% since last year. The mines are getting deeper and more difficult to work, and maintaining legitimate gem operations is now more expensive due to rising inflation and taxes in Tanzania.
One of the greatest collection of gems is now owned by the Indian government. The government paid $66 million for the gems, or half of the appraised value, after a decade long battle with the heirs.
The collection belonged to Mir Osman Ali Kahn, who died 40 years ago. Most of the gems were acquired in the 18th and 19th centuries. When his son died in 1970, the gems went into trust for sale and distribution to the 300 heirs. The trust tried to sell the gems to the government in 1972, but failed. When the trust tried to sell the collection through an international auction house, the Indian government blocked the sale by calling it a national treasure. Sotheby's valued the collection at $162 million, and Christie's at $135 million.
The cornerstone of the collection was the 184.75 Jacob Diamond valued at $12 million. The collection had 22 unmounted emeralds valued at $2.3 million. Other pieces include a necklace with 100 emeralds, a turban with 30 faceted and cabochon emeralds weighing 510 carats and 90 carats of diamonds, a turban made with rubies, and a buckle with 638 carats of diamonds. The government plans to exhibit the collection in New Delhi.
Mong Hsu ruby is producing high-quality rubies. Mogok production of ruby, sapphire, and spinel has practically stopped. About 90% of the goods are being smuggled. Transport has slowed considerably due to the Civil War.
Production of ruby and sapphire has dramatically decreased. Many of the gem parcels are being salted with synthetics.
Low quality blue sapphire is being produced.
Ruby and sapphire production is way down due to heavy mining in the area the last few decades.
Supplies are way down due to political turmoil.
Production has decreased due to bad weather and political turmoil.
Nothing significant to report in regards to high quality gems.
The last two years emerald production has come in waves. A few clean Chivor stones are reaching the market, the quality which has not been seen in decades.
Production of emerald in the Nova Era region of Brazil has increased. Some high-quality emeralds are being found. Pink and bi-color tourmaline was discovered in Minas Gerais. A new alexandrite deposit was discovered in 1994, but so far the production has been disappointingly small. Brazil is producing aquamarine, morganite, and rubellite.
Dark sapphires are being reported in Siberia. Production of demantoid garnet has resumed. Most of the stones are under 3mm. Plans are being made to reopen the famous emerald mine in the Urals.
In the past, the IRS had to search through county offices to acquire this information. Now the IRS is armed with computers and modems, and they are searching Department of Motor Vehicles, county tax assessor's offices, state and municipal taxes, child support records, building permits, and professional licensing information, credit reporting agencies' data, news stories, informant tips, and US Census records. Also, federal records of crop subsidy payments, boat and airplane ownership, currency transactions, wages, stock transfers, foreign corporations, and civil and criminal investigations will be collected. Their goal is to find people who are underreporting their business sales, overestimating their deductions, or are hiding assets.
This plan recently went into effect. In the past, the IRS had a computer matching program, which easily allowed it to discover underreported income from employers, banks, and brokerage firms. This computer matching goes a step further by targeting tax deductions, such as the property taxes people pay on cars and business deductions. The program is designed to discover problem areas in the IRS's 64 separate districts. This information will include currency and banking data, license information, and census data. For example, they will look at how many people claim to be self-employed, and match that against tax returns with self employment income. The second part of the program will be to find people who have dropped off of the tax rolls. The IRS will be searching through TRW, Trans Union, and Equifax credit-reporting files to find these people, and get their addresses. If you owe taxes, the IRS will search through the DMV and property records to see if you have a car or property that can be confiscated.
Privacy experts are appalled. David Banisar of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington said, "They're creating dossiers on everyone in America." Evan Hendricks editor of Privacy Times, stated, "The IRS wants to wipe out the line between the private sector and government."
The following is for snail mail only:
P. O. Box 42468
Tucson, AZ 85733
Call: 1-800-458-6453 or (520)-577-6222
For comments, questions or price quotes E-mail NGC, Attn: R. Genis
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