Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bombshell: Kerry Caught Using Fake Photos to Fuel Syrian War

Bombshell: Kerry Caught Using Fake Photos to Fuel Syrian War

“Many friends stand ready to respond”
Julie Wilson
August 30, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry opened his speech Friday by describing the horrors victims of the chemical weapon attack suffered, including twitching, spasms and difficulty breathing.
Photo: Riana via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Riana via Wikimedia Commons
Attempting to drive the point home, Kerry referenced a photograph used by the BBC illustrating a child jumping over hundreds of dead bodies covered in white shrouds. The photo was meant to depict victims who allegedly succumbed to the effects of chemical weapons via Assad’s regime.
However, it was later exposed the photograph used had been taken in 2003 in Iraq.  It was not related to Syrian deaths whatsoever and was later retracted.
The Secretary of State announced the US will continue “negotiations” with Congress and the American people.
The decision came after UK Parliament voted no to military action against Syria Thursday evening, refusing to accompany the US in a missile strike against the Middle Eastern nation.
Germany also voiced their opposition to Syria military intervention saying they have “not considered it” and “will not be considering it.”
France, however, released statements saying they intend to act alongside the US in an attempt to “punish” Syria for the alleged chemical weapons attack.
Despite numerous allies’ refusal to get involved, Kerry argued “Many friends stand ready to respond.”
Kerry alleged that not just one, but several chemical weapon attacks have occurred. The attack last week in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta killed 1,429 Syrians, including 426 children. However, Infowars reveals that the “international aid group Doctors Without Borders reported 355 people were killed in the attack last week, not the wildly exaggerated figure cited by Kerry.”
The Secretary of State said the US government has “high confidence” Assad carried out the attack, affirming military intervention would be “common sense.”
He referred to the attack as an “indiscriminate, unconscious and horrific act,” claiming a Syrian senior regime official admitted responsibility. However, he offered no hard evidence backing this claim.
While Kerry blamed Syria for blocking and delaying the UN chemical weapons investigation, an Infowars report revealed the “Obama administration told UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that ‘there wasn’t adequate security for the U.N. inspectors to visit the affected areas to conduct their mission,’ a clear warning (or a blatant threat) that inspectors should pull out entirely.”
“Even when Syria allowed UN inspectors to enter the affected region, the Obama administration responded that it was ‘too late,’ and that the evidence could have been destroyed,” reported Infowars.
Unsurprisingly, Kerry failed to mention US’s true position of funding the Syrian rebels, leaving the uninformed public incompetent to form an accurate opinion.
The good news is for the first time in over two hundred years a “British Prime Minister lost a vote on war since 1782, when Parliament effectively conceded American independence by voting against further fighting to crush the colony’s rebellion,” reported Reuters.

This article was posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Who Benefits From A War Between The United States And Syria?

Who Benefits From A War Between The United States And Syria?

August 30, 2013
Saudi Arabia - Photo by KeepscasesSomeone wants to get the United States into a war with Syria very, very badly.  Cui bono is an old Latin phrase that is still commonly used, and it roughly means "to whose benefit?"  The key to figuring out who is really behind the push for war is to look at who will benefit from that war.  If a full-blown war erupts between the United States and Syria, it will not be good for the United States, it will not be good for Israel, it will not be good for Syria, it will not be good for Iran and it will not be good for Hezbollah.  The party that stands to benefit the most is Saudi Arabia, and they won't even be doing any of the fighting.  They have been pouring billions of dollars into the conflict in Syria, but so far they have not been successful in their attempts to overthrow the Assad regime.  Now the Saudis are trying to play their trump card - the U.S. military.  If the Saudis are successful, they will get to pit the two greatest long-term strategic enemies of Sunni Islam against each other - the U.S. and Israel on one side and Shia Islam on the other.  In such a scenario, the more damage that both sides do to each other the happier the Sunnis will be.
There would be other winners from a U.S. war with Syria as well.  For example, it is well-known that Qatar wants to run a natural gas pipeline out of the Persian Gulf, through Syria and into Europe.  That is why Qatar has also been pouring billions of dollars into the civil war in Syria.
So if it is really Saudi Arabia and Qatar that want to overthrow the Assad regime, why does the United States have to do the fighting?
Someone should ask Barack Obama why it is necessary for the U.S. military to do the dirty work of his Sunni Muslim friends.
Obama is promising that the upcoming attack will only be a "limited military strike" and that we will not be getting into a full-blown war with Syria.
The only way that will work is if Syria, Hezbollah and Iran all sit on their hands and do nothing to respond to the upcoming U.S. attack.
Could that happen?
Let's hope so.
But if there is a response, and a U.S. naval vessel gets hit, or American blood is spilled, or rockets start raining down on Tel Aviv, the U.S. will then be engaged in a full-blown war.
That is about the last thing that we need right now.
The vast majority of Americans do not want to get embroiled in another war in the Middle East, and even a lot of top military officials are expressing "serious reservations" about attacking Syria according to the Washington Post...
The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.
Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.
For the United States, there really is no good outcome in Syria.
If we attack and Assad stays in power, that is a bad outcome for the United States.
If we help overthrow the Assad regime, the rebels take control.  But they would be even worse than Assad.  They have pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, and they are rabidly anti-American, rabidly anti-Israel and rabidly anti-western.
So why in the world should the United States get involved?
This war would not be good for Israel either.  I have seen a number of supposedly pro-Israel websites out there getting very excited about the prospect of war with Syria, but that is a huge mistake.
Syria has already threatened to attack Israeli cities if the U.S. attacks Syria.  If Syrian missiles start landing in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel will respond.
And if any of those missiles have unconventional warheads, Israel will respond by absolutely destroying Damascus.
And of course a missile exchange between Syria and Israel will almost certainly draw Hezbollah into the conflict.  And right now Hezbollah has 70,000 rockets aimed at Israel.
If Hezbollah starts launching those rockets, thousands upon thousands of innocent Jewish citizens will be killed.
So all of those "pro-Israel" websites out there that are getting excited about war with Syria should think twice.  If you really are "pro-Israel", you should not want this war.  It would not be good for Israel.
If you want to stand with Israel, then stand for peace.  This war would not achieve any positive outcomes for Israel.  Even if Assad is overthrown, the rebel government that would replace him would be even more anti-Israel than Assad was.
War is hell.  Ask anyone that has been in the middle of one.  Why would anyone want to see American blood spilled, Israeli blood spilled or Syrian blood spilled?
If the Saudis want this war so badly, they should go and fight it.  Everyone knows that the Saudis have been bankrolling the rebels.  At this point, even CNN is openly admitting this...
It is an open secret that Saudi Arabia is using Jordan to smuggle weapons into Syria for the rebels. Jordan says it is doing all it can to prevent that and does not want to inflame the situation in Syria.
And Assad certainly knows who is behind the civil war in his country.  The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Assad...
Of course it is well known that countries, such as Saudi Arabia, who hold the purse strings can shape and manipulate them to suit their own interests.
Ideologically, these countries mobilize them through direct or indirect means as extremist tools. If they declare that Muslims must pursue Jihad in Syria, thousands of fighters will respond. Financially, those who finance and arm such groups can instruct them to carry out acts of terrorism and spread anarchy. The influence over them is synergized when a country such as Saudi Arabia directs them through both the Wahhabi ideology and their financial means.
And shortly after the British Parliament voted against military intervention in Syria, Saudi Arabia raised their level of "defense readiness" from "five" to "two" in a clear sign that they fully expect a war to happen...
Saudi Arabia, a supporter of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, has raised its level of military alertness in anticipation of a possible Western strike in Syria, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The United States has been calling for punitive action against Assad's government for a suspected poison gas attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21 that killed hundreds of people.
Saudi Arabia's defense readiness has been raised to "two" from "five", a Saudi military source who declined to be named told Reuters. "One" is the highest level of alert.
And guess who has been supplying the rebels in Syria with chemical weapons?
According to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak, it has been the Saudis...
Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.
“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.
And this is a guy that isn't just fresh out of journalism school.  As Paul Joseph Watson noted, "Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News."
The Voice of Russia has also been reporting on Gavlak's bombshell findings...
The rebels noted it was a result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them.
“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.
As Gavlak reports, Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels died in a weapons storage tunnel. The father stated the weapons were provided to rebel forces by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”
“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K’. “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”
“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.
Gavlak also refers to an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks stating that Prince Bandar threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia doesn’t agree to change its stance on Syria.
“Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” the article stated.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Saudi Prince allegedly told Vladimir Putin.
Yes, the Saudis were so desperate to get the Russians to stand down and allow an attack on Syria that they actually threatened them.  Zero Hedge published some additional details on the meeting between Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Russian President Vladimir Putin...
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
It is good of the Saudis to admit they control a terrorist organization that "threatens the security" of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games, and that house of Saud uses "in the face of the Syrian regime." Perhaps the next time there is a bombing in Boston by some Chechen-related terrorists, someone can inquire Saudi Arabia what, if anything, they knew about that.
But the piece de resistance is what happened at the end of the dialogue between the two leaders. It was, in not so many words, a threat by Saudi Arabia aimed squarely at Russia:
As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt's future.
The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”
At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.
Are you starting to get the picture?
The Saudis are absolutely determined to make this war happen, and they expect us to do the fighting.
And Barack Obama plans to go ahead and attack Syria without the support of the American people or the approval of Congress.
According to a new NBC News poll that was just released, nearly 80 percent of all Americans want Congress to approve a strike on Syria before it happens.
And according to Politico, more than 150 members of Congress have already signed letters demanding that Obama get approval from them before attacking Syria...
Already Thursday, more than 150 members of Congress have signaled their opposition to airstrikes on Syria without a congressional vote. House members circulated two separate letters circulated that were sent to the White House demanding a congressional role before military action takes place. One, authored by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), has more than 150 signatures from Democrats and Republicans. Another, started by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), is signed by 53 Democrats, though many of them also signed Rigell’s letter.
But Obama has already made it perfectly clear that he has no intention of putting this before Congress.
He is absolutely determined to attack Syria, and he is not going to let the U.S. Congress or the American people stop him.
Let's just hope that he doesn't start World War III in the process.

Friday, August 30, 2013

US Attack On Syria to Begin Saturday

- Infowars - -
Report: US Attack On Syria to Begin Saturday
Posted By yihan On August 29, 2013 @ 12:54 pm In Red Title Front Page,Tile | No Comments
Onslaught to begin when UN inspectors leave
Paul Joseph Watson
August 29, 2013
A reporter with Israel’s most widely read newspaper has been told by defense establishment officials that a US-led attack on Syria will begin on Saturday and end when Barack Obama meets Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Despite an apparent softening in rhetoric as British Prime Minister David Cameron faces a parliamentary revolt over military intervention, in addition to reports that the intelligence against Assad’s regime is by no means a “slam dunk,” Israel Hayom reporter Amir Mizroch tweets that the attack will begin on Saturday immediately after UN inspectors have left the country.
Inspectors had initially planned to leave on Sunday after concluding their investigation but their departure a day early has increased speculation that air strikes are imminent.
British and American military might is now fully in place and prepared for strikes which experts say will take the form of Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles fired from warships or submarines.
Mizroch also highlights remarks made by former Mossad director Danny Yatom, who says that the apparent delay on green lighting military strikes is only so Bashar Al-Assad can’t use the UN inspectors as human shields.
Mizroch was also told that Israel sent Assad a message via Russia threatening that if Syria attempts to attack Israel, Damascus will be targeted and Assad’s regime will be toppled.
This threat was made despite attempts by Gulf nations to secure a promise from Israel that it would act with restraint if Syria attempts retaliatory strikes against Israel in response to a western onslaught. Israel replied that it would act with restraint, but only if aggression against it “did not exceed reasonable bounds.”
In a related story, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro has promised a “strong and serious response,” to Assad’s alleged chemical atrocity last week, despite American officials admitting to the New York Times that there is no “smoking gun” that directly links President Assad to the attack.
US intelligence officials also told the Associated Press that the intelligence proving Assad’s culpability is “no slam dunk,” a far cry from the Obama administration’s rhetoric, which held that Assad’s responsibility was “undeniable.”
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for and Prison He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

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Will Boehner Stop Our Rogue President?

Will Boehner Stop Our Rogue President?

Pat Buchanan

8/30/2013 12:01:00 AM - Pat Buchanan
The next 72 hours will be decisive in the career of the speaker of the House. The alternatives he faces are these: John Boehner can, after "consultation," give his blessing to Barack Obama's decision to launch a war on Syria, a nation that has neither attacked nor threatened us.
Or Boehner can instruct Obama that, under our Constitution, in the absence of an attack on the United States, Congress alone has the authority to decide whether the United States goes to war.
As speaker, he can call the House back on Monday to debate, and decide, whether to authorize the war Obama is about to start. In the absence of a Congressional vote for war, Boehner should remind the president that U.S. cruise missile strikes on Syria, killing soldiers and civilians alike, would be the unconstitutional and impeachable acts of a rogue president.
Moreover, an attack on Syria would be an act of stupidity.
Why this rush to war? Why the hysteria? Why the panic?
Syria and Assad will still be there two weeks from now or a month from now, and we will know far more then about what happened last week.
Understandably, Obama wants to get the egg off his face from having foolishly drawn his "red line" against chemical weapons, and then watching Syria, allegedly, defy His Majesty. But saving Obama's face does not justify plunging his country into another Mideast war.
Does Obama realize what a fool history will make of him if he is stampeded into a new war by propaganda that turns out to be yet another stew of ideological zealotry and mendacity?
As of today, we do not know exactly what gas was used around Damascus, how it was delivered, who authorized it and whether President Bashar Assad ever issued such an order.
Yet, one Wall Street Journal columnist is already calling on Obama to assassinate Assad along with his family.
Do we really want back into that game? When John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy explored the assassination option with Fidel Castro, blowback came awfully swift in Dallas.
Again, what is the urgency of war now if we are certain we are right? What do we lose by waiting for more solid evidence, and then presenting our case to the Security Council?
Kennedy did that in the Cuban missile crisis. U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson made the case. And the world saw we were right.
If, in the face of incontrovertible proof, Russia and China veto sanctions, the world will see that. Then let John Kerry make his case to Congress and convince that body to authorize war, if he can.
But if Obama cannot convince Congress, we cannot -- and ought not -- go to war. The last thing America needs is an unnecessary, unconstitutional war in that God-forsaken region that both Congress and the country oppose.
Indeed, the reports about this gas attack on Syrian civilians have already begun to give off the distinct aroma of a false-flag operation.
Assad has offered U.N. inspectors secure access to where gas was allegedly used. It is the rebels who seem not to want too deep or long an investigation.
Our leaders should ask themselves. If we are stampeded into this war, whose interests are served? For it is certainly not Assad's and certainly not America's.
We are told Obama intends to hit Syria with cruise missiles for just a few days to punish Assad and deter any future use of gas, not to topple his regime. After a few hundred missiles and a thousand dead Syrians, presumably, we call it off.
Excuse me, but as Casey Stengel said, "Can't anybody here play this game?"
Nations that start wars and attack countries, as Gen. Tojo and Adm. Yamamoto can testify, do not get to decide how wide the war gets, how long it goes on or how it ends.
If the United States attacks Damascus and Syria's command and control, under the rules of war Syria would be within its rights to strike Washington, the Pentagon and U.S. bases all across the Middle East.
Does Obama really want to start a war, the extent and end of which he cannot see, that is likely to escalate, as its promoters intend and have long plotted, into a U.S. war on Iran? Has the election in Iran of a new president anxious to do a deal with America on Iran's nuclear program caused this panic in the War Party?
If we think the markets reacted badly to a potential U.S. strike on Syria, just wait for that big one to start. Iran has a population the size of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq combined, and sits astride the Straits of Hormuz through which the free world's oil flows.
And who will be our foremost fighting ally in Syria should we attack Assad's army? The Al-Nusra Front, an arm of al-Qaida and likely successor to power, should Assad fall.
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Rising Challenge of Food Security

RSIS presents the following commentary The Rising Challenge of Food Security by Barry Desker. It is also available online at this link. (To print it, click on this link.). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at

No. 161/2013 dated 29 August 2013
The Rising Challenge of Food Security
By Barry Desker

Demand for food is expected to increase, outpacing supply. As this situation worsens in the years ahead, the world will be burdened by the growing problem of food security. Expect more debate on this front in the years to come.
THE WORLD is being haunted again by the spectre of a global food shortage. Demand for food over the next decade is expected to increase by one per cent annually but global food productivity gains have declined from two per cent between 1970 and 2000 to  one percent today and continuing to decline.

A 2011 study reported that the world had consumed more than it had produced for seven out of the past eight years. These concerns will lead to growing attention to the nexus between food, water and energy resources, especially as climate change is expected to have an increasing impact globally.

Need for integrated approach to food security policy
Nineteenth century economists struggled with the Malthusian dilemma: as populations rose, it was assumed that a forced return to subsistence agriculture would act as a check on population growth. The reality was that the opening of new agricultural land, technological innovation and higher yielding crops resulted in a capacity to feed an ever growing population.

However, as once autarkic economies such as China and India have opened to global trade and more wealthy societies are eating more protein, consuming more calories and enjoying more varied diets in recent years, there is growing concern with the fragility of the global food system. These concerns were highlighted by the spike in food prices and disruptions in food supply during the 2007-2008 global food crisis.

My colleagues at the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies have emphasised that robustness in food security systems is critical and that governments need to work with the private sector and other key stakeholders. Instead of piecemeal strategies, an integrated and holistic approach to policy formulation and implementation is critical to deal with the four dimensions in food security: availability, physical access, economic access and utilisation.

Although agricultural issues appear distant from an urbanised Singapore, food security is politically sensitive precisely because we are dependent on international markets for our food supply. Sharp increases in the price of key food imports, export bans by major food suppliers and difficulties in obtaining adequate supplies could have significant domestic ramifications.

Three trends to watch

Three trends warrant attention.

Firstly, over the next decade, rapid urbanisation will increase the problem of managing food production. In Asia, major cities such as Jakarta, Bangkok and Yangon are located in fertile rice growing regions. Urban sprawl is taking over some of the most fertile lands in the surrounding countryside as rural migration to urban centres occurs. Rapidly increasing urban populations will lead to growing pressures on governments to curb food price rises, undermining the incentive for rural populations to increase food production. This phenomenon is replicated around the world.

Secondly, this is often accompanied by mistaken agricultural policies such as Indonesia’s encouragement under President Soeharto of rice consumption in the islands of eastern Indonesia. This led to shifts in food preference by the local population, even though these areas are better suited to growing root crops such as cassava. Elsewhere, food exporters like Argentina implemented export controls when local supply shortages occurred as farmers responded to global price increases.

This resulted in food importing countries seeking long term supply contracts and negotiating purchases of agricultural land in poverty-stricken economies. In recent years, this has been a significant cause of unrest in African and Asian countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, Myanmar and Cambodia as Chinese companies have purchased huge tracts of agricultural land. At the same time, price support schemes such as Thailand’s above-market purchases of rice produced rice mountains as the government is reluctant to sell on world markets at a substantial loss.

Thirdly, there is a negative impact on global food supply as major grain exporters such as the United States, Canada, Argentina and Brazil encourage biofuel production through high government subsidies. The diversion of grain production to produce biofuels is occurring at a time when there is rising demand for protein and cereals by a growing middle class globally. This “fuel/grains” trade-off will lead to grain prices fluctuating in global markets at prices higher than current levels.
Energy and food security nexus

Although it was earlier anticipated that energy security and food security would be competing objectives, the rise of the shale oil and gas revolution has changed the global outlook. The US  will soon be self-sufficient in oil and natural gas, Australia could rival Qatar as an exporter of gas and Europe is re-thinking its opposition to exploiting its shale resources.

Questions are being raised whether biofuel policies established as a response to energy supply panics will be re-thought as governments become aware of the negative impact on food supply. There is a policy lag as farmers will continue to push for biofuel subsidies even though the rationale for such subsidies has disappeared. In the US, for example, 30 to 40 per cent of the corn crop is diverted to biofuels annually and the influential American farm lobby will seek the retention of current subsidies.

We should expect greater attention to food supply over the next decade. A critical issue will be water management as agriculture uses 70per cent of global freshwater resources, primarily through the farming of livestock. With rising incomes, there is a shift to meat-based diets, especially in East Asia, leading to rising demand for meat products.

The issue of water management will assume growing importance as water scarcity will be a constraint in expanding food production. Pricing is a critical issue. Most governments charge farmers 10 to 20 per cent of the price paid by industrial users or households for water consumption. This leads to sub-optimal use of scarce water resources such as the growing of water-intensive crops in semi-desert conditions. With water scarcity, conflicts over access to water between countries as well as between farmers and ranchers within states will also attract attention.

Challenge of food-price inflation
If food-price inflation occurs, the greatest impact will be felt by food import dependent countries like Egypt and Bangladesh. There will be pressure to increase food subsidies for basic foodstuffs but their governments will find it impossible to accede. Rising powers like China and India will face similar pressures but could shield themselves through policies of self-sufficiency, increasing subsidies for vulnerable groups within their domestic population and imposing export bans to stabilise domestic prices.

Globally, the challenge of higher food prices will result in innovation and experimentation. Advances in molecular biology such as the transfer of genes from one plant species to another to produce crops with new or improved features offer the most promise for significant increases in food production. Although there is strong resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops, especially from the European Union and Japan, food price pressures will lead to greater acceptance elsewhere.

There are already commercially available herbicide and insect-resistant soybean, cotton, corn and potato species and on-going research on rice and canola is likely to result in commercial applications within the next five years. Salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant crops, micro-irrigation systems and hydroponic greenhouse technologies are significant new directions of research while techniques aimed at reducing inputs such as seed, fertiliser and water will reduce the negative environmental impact of farming and increase yields.

Concurrently, automation of farming processes will lead to greater efficiency, reduce manpower demands and lower costs of production. As there are major losses during post-harvest storage and transportation, significant increases in food crops for consumption could be obtained through better storage facilities and greater efficiency in food distribution and supply chain networks.

Policymakers and observers of international affairs tend to focus on ‘hard’ security issues such as great power rivalry, nuclear competition, territorial conflicts and competing maritime claims. But issues like food, energy and water security affect many more people and have an immediate domestic impact. The challenge of ensuring food security will command attention over the next decade as we live in an era where productivity gains in food production are falling and food surpluses are declining. Expect more debate on this issue.

Barry Desker is Dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. A version of this commentary first appeared in Today.

Americans WILL NOT Experience Syrian War In Comfort Of Homes! NSNBC ALERTS

It's not the gassing.  It's about greed.

Americans WILL NOT Experience Syrian War In Comfort Of Homes! NSNBC ALERTS

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 8:08

Americans are unprepared for the strong likelihood of a pending regional war, global economic collapse and World War III, according to an exclusive interview with political analyst and NSNBC’s editor-in-chief, who shed new insights from insiders on the presently pending attack on Syria.
“If any U.S. citizen believes he can experience a Syria war from the ‘comfort’ of his home, they are terribly mistaken,” stated NSNBC’s Dr. Cristof Lehmann in a Skype interview with Deborah Dupré. “People need to understand that.”
“And the media are silent,” he said about upcoming chaos at home.
The decision to attack Syria will be made within hours, Israeli media report, noting that it will be carried out – in a limited scope – by a broad alliance of Western, regional, and Arab countries.
Israel’s Channel 10 television station reported, by way of its Washington correspondent, that US President Barack Obama will decide on a military strike against Syria very soon, if not within a few hours.  
“An attack will most likely be launched over the weekend, not least because, as far as I know, it is a public holiday in the USA, where people drink and could not care less,” said Lehmann, in his European base.
That’s how Obama signed the nationally opposed NDAA 2012 — on New Years Eve as Americans partied, making the nation officially under military dictatorship, martial law, a police state. According to Lehmann, the next phase of the Obama regime’s human rights abuses is likely to bring even more suffering.
Born 1958 in West Germany, Lehmann was Advisor for Research in Psycho-traumatology to Yassir Arafat. He is a survivor of the Sabra Shatila Massace in 1982. His holds a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology and was advisor to Joshua Nkomo on the Impact of Torture and Psychological Trauma on Conflict Solution and Reconciliation in Zimbabwe´s Politics in 1986-1990.
Lehmann was also Advisor to Nelson Mandela on Social Politics, Public Mental Health and the Effect of Psychological Trauma on Peace and Reconciliation in 1994-1997.
A practicing clinical psychologist, Lehmann has been actively advocating Palestinians right to statehood and self determination. In 2011 he began writing articles to contribute to breaking what he perceives as “The Embargo on Truth” by founding and running an independent webmedia:
Background of Fossil Fuel Pipeline Battle
Lehmann’s rationale for his concern about Americans at home in the US was provided in a “very, very brief” explanation, beginning with the U.S. being “outcompeted” on a pipeline deal.
“The entire situation began with the world’s largest known gas resources in the Persian Gulf, shared by Qatar and Iran. The Nabucco pipeline, intended by the EU and US to provide an alterntive to Russia’s near monopoly on supplying gas to Europe, was not selected to transport gas from the Qatar/Iran field. The Russian South Stream and North Stream deliver gas to Europe.
“IF” the Iran, Iraq, Syria pipeline would have been completed, then Europe would, for the coming 100 – 120 years receive more than 45% of all its gas from Russian and Iranian sources, according to Lehmann.
“ISRAEL is thinking, ‘Hmmmm, let me see, what impact does that have on European Middle East policy?’ and so do many US Senators etc..
“THEREFORE, in 2007, QATAR sent USD 10 billion (not joking – the equivalent of what it would cost to build the Iran, Iraq, Syria pipeline) to the Turkish foreign minister Davotoglu.
“In 2007, Turkey began organizing the Turkish and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood for a war on Syria with that Qatari Money.
“Then came the arrest of 600 people in Turkey — 300 officers, scholars, opposition leaders, members of parliament — the ERGENKON plot, to assure the loyalty of the Turkish military.
“Last month, the Nabucco pipeline project, that was to have transported gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe, in order to bypass Russia, was cancelled.
“Nabucco-West, that was to have carried gas from Turkey to Austria, through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, was the only remaining part of the original project. At the end of June, it was announced this project would also be dropped.
“With the Nabucco pipeline failing, Romania and the Republic of Moldova began their own pipeline. Yesterday, they celbrated its inauguration connecting the Romanian city of Iasi to the Moldavian Ungheni.
“Now, we are in a situation where the USA, UK and France are bringing the EU and Russia on a course towards a European war over Energy Security,” Lehmann said.
Regional War, Global Economic Collapse, WWIII
“Behind it are, Israel, USA, UK (and France because it was promised that the USA and UK would help France to keep Germany off its back, because Germany demanded a change in the Africa policy of France.)”
In other words, we are heading for: 1) a regional war, that may well spread into Europe; 2) a global economic collapse, and a permanent backwardation of the gold market and then, 3) WWIII, according to Lehmann.
How confident is he in his analysis on those upcoming three events?
“75%, 65 conservatively,” he responded.
He is “far from the only one who assesses the situation like this,” he also emphasized.
Meanwhile, Americans think they are safe – “Ho-hum, another war.”
“Exactly,” Lehmann responded, adding, “but this one will bite.”
The hardest bite will be “when the gold market goes into permanent backwardation,” according to Lehmann.
China already said it does not want a currency war but is prepared for it.

Syria and the Limits of Comparison

Syria and the Limits of Comparison

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Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
By Robert D. Kaplan
Because so many war plans simply do not survive the reality of war itself, each war is a unique universe unto its own and thus comparisons with previous wars, while useful, may also prove illusory. One of the many wrong assumptions about the Second Gulf War before it started was that it would somehow be like the First Gulf War, in which the pessimists had been humiliated by the ease of the victory. Indeed, the Second Gulf War unfolded in vastly different ways, this time proving the pessimists right. That is why the recent media refrain comparing a military operation in Syria with the one in Kosovo in 1999 worries me.
There are profound differences.
Syria has a population ten times the size of Kosovo's in 1999. Because everything in Syria is on a much vaster scale, deciding the outcome by military means could be that much harder.
Kosovo sustained violence and harsh repression at the hands of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, which was met with a low-intensity separatist campaign by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Violence was widespread but not nearly on the scale of Syria's. Syria is in the midst of a full-fledged civil war. The toppling of Milosevic, moreover, carried much less risk of ever-expanding anarchy than does the toppling of Syrian ruler Bashar al Assad.
Kosovo was more or less contained within the southern Balkans, with relatively limited chance for a spillover -- as it turned out -- into neighboring countries and territories. Full-scale sectarian anarchy in Syria threatens to destabilize a wider region.
The Kosovo Liberation Army may have been a nasty bunch by some accounts, with criminal elements. But it was not a threat to the United States like the transnational jihadists currently operating in Syria. For President Bill Clinton to risk bringing to power the Kosovo Liberation Army was far less of a concern than President Barack Obama possibly helping to midwife to power a Sunni jihadist regime.
Kosovo did not have a complex of chemical weapons facilities scattered throughout its territory as Syria does, with all the military and logistical headaches of trying to neutralize them.
The Kosovo war campaign did not have to countenance a strong and feisty Russia, which at the time was reeling from Boris Yeltsin's incompetent, anarchic rule. Vladimir Putin, who has significant equities in al Assad's Syria, may do everything in his power to undermine a U.S. attack. Though, it must be said, Putin's options should Obama opt for a significant military campaign are limited within Syria itself. But Putin can move closer to Iran by leaving the sanctions regime, and ratchet-up Russia's anti-American diplomacy worldwide more effectively than Yeltsin ever wanted to, or was capable of.
The Kosovo war did not engage Iran as this war must. For all of the missiles that America can fire, it does not have operatives on the ground like Iran has. Neither will the United States necessarily have the patience and fortitude to prosecute a lengthy and covert ground-level operation as Iran might for years to come, and already has. A weakened or toppled al Assad is bad for Iran, surely, but it does not altogether signal that America will therefore receive a good result from this war. A wounded Iran might race even faster toward a nuclear option. It is a calculated risk.
The Kosovo war inflicted significant pain on Serbian civilians through airstrikes, but the Syrian population has already been pummeled by a brutal war for two years now, and so it is problematic whether airstrikes in this case can inflict that much more psychological pain on the parts of the population either still loyal or indifferent to the regime.
The goal in Kosovo was to limit Serbia's geographic influence and to ignite a chain of events that would lead to Milosevic's ouster. Those goals were achieved: Milosevic was forced from power in the fall of 2000, largely because of a chain of events stemming from that war. His ouster, as I wrote in The New York Times on Oct. 6, 2000, meant the de facto death of the last ruling Communist Party in Europe, even if in its final years it had adopted national-fascism as a tactic. Because the war was in significant measure a result of the efforts of a single individual, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, it demonstrated how individuals can dramatically alter history for the better.
Kosovo thus symbolized the power of human agency over impersonal forces in order to wrest a victory for human rights. This is a popular cause among liberal journalists and intellectuals, as is the desire to do something to punish the massive human rights violations of the al Assad regime. The comparison between Kosovo and Syria follows from that. But it is a flawed comparison: Elegantly toppling Milosevic incurred no negative side effects. Toppling al Assad could lead to a power center in the Levant as friendly to transnational jihadists as the one in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was in the late 1990s until 2001.
Of course, the Obama administration will try to calibrate its military effort in a way to avoid further jihadi chaos in Syria. But even with overwhelming firepower, it is not necessarily in control. Whereas ending Milosevic's rule meant an end to ethnic cleansing, it is far from certain that sectarian carnage would end with al Assad's demise; it might possibly even intensify, with Sunnis exacting revenge on a weakened and cornered Alawite community.
Obama faces a dilemma more extreme than the one Clinton faced in Kosovo. If he chooses limited military strikes to send a message against the use of chemical weapons, he risks looking weak, especially following the powerful rhetoric employed by his secretary of state, John Kerry. If he chooses regime change -- while not calling it that -- he threatens to unleash a jihadi nightmare. He may try a middle option calibrated to seriously erode al Assad's power base while sending a message to Russia and Iran to help him negotiate a stable transfer of authority in Damascus -- something that might yet open up a wider diplomatic process with Iran. But that is obviously very difficult to do.
Keep another thing in mind about Kosovo. At that time, the United States had not been in a long ground war for a quarter-century and thus the American people were not weary of war. Even so, Clinton rightly calculated that the public would not tolerate casualties on the ground in a war that did not involve a naked American interest. But the American public is now tottering from more than a decade of bloody ground war, and so Obama has even less leeway than Clinton, even as Syria presents a greater military challenge than Kosovo.
So far, Obama has handled the Middle East tolerably well. He has reduced and ended ground force commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, while avoiding quagmires elsewhere in the face of regional change and chaos. This is in keeping with the leadership of a global maritime power that has serious military commitments in Asia and elsewhere, even as its energy dependency on the Middle East is on the wane. But Obama now faces a defining event that will test his commitment to keep America out of regional quicksand while being able to wield considerable power in the region at the same time. If Obama prosecutes a significant military operation, one thing is certain: Syria will be its own war for the United States with its own narrative, for better or worse.

Read more: Syria and the Limits of Comparison | Stratfor
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The Satanic & Pedophile Practices of the English Royal Family

The Satanic & Pedophile Practices of the English Royal Family, Part 1
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August 26, 2013 in Resistance

by bubul

The elite pedophile ring in England isn’t a myth unfortunately. In the 80’s we heard of a pedophile ring in Kincora Boys Home in Belfast created by the MI6. Shortly afterwards it was the orphanages in Wales. Then those of London, Scotland & finally Jimmy Saville went down. Today everything is done to cover up the biggest scandal of all: The implication of the royal family in this pedophile ring. So we’re going to talk about Satanism, pedophile crimes & a strange affair of a ceremony going wrong in the south of France.

In 2012 a certain Chris Jones declares his two brothers, Adrian & Leander, have been assassinated because they were about to expose that elite’s pedophile ring & Miss Margaret Thatcher. Chris Jones told that when he was a kid he was forced into sexual intercourses with a High Court judge & a cop.

Jones also denounced John Allen, manager of a Welsh orphanage, where many scandals were revealed recently. Adrian Jones had been a resident in Bryn Alyn & in 1992 he threatened John Allen to give him up if he wasn’t paying him a financial compensation [1]. He was killed on April the 17th 1992 in the criminal arson of his house.

In 1995, Chris & Leander testified against Allen during a Court hearing. Soon thereafter he died of an overdose.

Allen was sentenced to 6 years in prison in 1995 for the aggressions committed between 1972 & 1983. Then during the Waterhouse investigation on the rapes in the Welsh orphanages, he again was involved in 2003 but finally escaped the 36 accusations for abuses in the homes he was in charge of.

He arrived in the orphanages business in the middle of the 60’s, after starting in the hotel trade & in 1969 he opened the Bryn Alyn Community residential schools, a chain of orphanages & homes for children. The first one functioned with 11 people not trained to take care of children.


At one point, Allen was managing about 50 orphanages in northern Wales & elsewhere like London & Brighton, & about 500 children stayed there.

The business was very fruitful since in the 80’s the State was giving 15.000£ per year for a child [2]. In the middle of the 80’s the numbers rose to 2,8 millions of pounds per year for a benefice of 80 to 90,000£, but Allen received no less than 204,800£ per year, owning a yacht on the French Riviera, where he possessed a villa sold in urgency for 200.000£.

In 1992, Allen lost his agreements & the schools were shut down in 1997, following a disastrous management & important debts.

172 people testified being victims in Allen’s orphanages. Of course some of them also denounced Allen as a pedophile (28 of them were finally heard). Leander Jones was one of the victims. He became a prostitute in London just after leaving the home. At 17YO, he went to Amsterdam. He testified during the procedure against Allen, but died of an overdose before the beginning of the trial in 1995. Would you believe that Allen disappeared between the allegations of Leander & his death, only to come back & deny everything during the trial?

Finally only denunciations for sexual aggressions were accepted & no rapes, even though many testimonies matched.

Already in 1982, Allen was heard by the police about abuses committed in the care of his homes, but nothing resulted out of it. & already at the time a victim said Allen was paying him to keep him silenced. Logically, we can ask ourselves whether those huge debts were not directly linked to these blackmails from his many victims.

The Lost in care report considered the abuses committed by Allen were repeated & extensive. It estimated that Allen pushed towards pedophile behaviors the homes staff. Children were sent in orgies, prostituted in hostels & threatened. Certain victims were raped by the managers & the educators of the homes, but also by their friends. Of course no complaints had any results & no enquiry was made when powerful pedophiles such as magistrates or cops were involved.


[1] Allen explained during the trial he had payed between 7 to 8.000£ to Leander & Adrian .

[2] The most difficult children payed more, Allen brought far more children into his homes than what they could actually sustain. Same with the urgency  placements. According to this pecuniary logic (which is the same in France where all those private associations are making their doe on the children’s backs… While advising Courts to place the children), the children usually stayed about two to three years in Allen’s homes.


“Humanitarian” Intervention in Syria Will INCREASE Civilian Deaths

“Humanitarian” Intervention in Syria Will INCREASE Civilian Deaths

August 28, 2013
Source: The Monkey Cage

From the abstract of a 2012 paper by Reed Wood, Jason Kathman, and Stephen Gent:
As a conflict actor weakens relative to its adversary, it employs increasingly violent tactics toward the civilian population as a means of reshaping the strategic landscape to its benefit. The reason for this is twofold. First, declining capabilities increase resource needs at the moment that extractive capacity is in decline. Second, declining capabilities inhibit control and policing, making less violent means of defection deterrence more difficult. As both resource extraction difficulties and internal threats increase, actors’ incentives for violence against the population increase. To the extent that biased military interventions shift the balance of power between conflict actors, we argue that they alter actor incentives to victimize civilians. Specifically, intervention should reduce the level of violence employed by the supported faction and increase the level employed by the opposed faction. We test these arguments using data on civilian casualties and armed intervention in intrastate conflicts from 1989 to 2005. Our results support our expectations, suggesting that interventions shift the power balance and affect the levels of violence employed by combatants.
In fact, they find that military interventions in favor of the rebel faction (as opposed to pro-government or neutral interventions) tend to increase government killings of civilians by about 40% (see Figure 2 below from p. 656).
Humanitarian Intervention in Syria Will INCREASE Civilian Deaths
From their conclusion:
Supporting a faction’s quest to vanquish its adversary may have the unintended consequence of inciting the adversary to more intense violence against the population. Thus, third parties with interests in stability should bear in mind the potential for the costly consequences of countering murderous groups. Potential interveners should heed these conclusions when designing intervention strategies and tailor their interventions to include components specifically designed to protect civilians from reprisals. Such strategies could include stationing forces within vulnerable population centers, temporarily relocating susceptible populations to safe havens that are more distant from the conflict zone, and supplying sufficient ground forces to be consistent with such policies. These actions could fulfill broader interests in societal stability in addition to interests in countering an organization on geopolitical grounds. Successful policies will thus not only counter murderous factions but will explicitly seek to protect civilian populations.
The full paper is here (gated).


This emergency message was released by Lyndon LaRouche this morning. Please circulate widely.  Mike Billington


August 28, 2013

1.   Any U.S. attack on Syria has the potential to trigger a larger war, which could lead to a thermonuclear war and extinction.  This threat is so serious that any other considerations in favor of U.S. military action against Syria must be rejected due to this overwhelming danger.  Claims that the Administration has “understandings” with Russia and Iran to prevent such an escalation must be dismissed as unreliable, particularly when weighed against the threat of military action leading to world war and the likelihood of the use of thermonuclear weapons.
2.  The Syrian events must be seen from the standpoint that the world system today is dominated by an imperial system with historical roots in Europe dating back to the sacking of Troy and the emergence of the Roman Empire.  The sickness of Europe which prevails to this day in the form of the modern Anglo-Dutch global monetarist system dominates the habits of the world.  The British Crown is on record promoting a policy of mass population reduction from the current level of 7 billion people down to 1-2 billion.  President Obama is a tool of this international group, represented in the United States by the Wall Street combination.  Thermonuclear war must be prevented absolutely, and a military strike against Syria, no matter how limited in scope, brings the world substantially closer to such a war.
3.  The present Anglo-Dutch global financial system is headed ultimately towards a general bankruptcy.  It is coming soon, and this is driving a desperate faction among the Anglo-Dutch to contemplate an escalation to global war.  The fact that there is serious movement in the United States and in other parts of the world towards a Glass Steagall solution to the global bankruptcy collapse is further driving Wall Street into a panic.
4.  The threatened consequences of a Syria strike add to the fact that there is no basis in international law or U.S. Constitutional law for President Obama to launch strikes against Syria.  Defeat Obama on Syria and he will go ape.  He must be removed from office for cause and the fact that he is contemplating an attack on Syria, knowing the potential consequences, is in itself sufficient cause.
5.  The U.S. military has been decimated through more than a decade of long wars.  The logic of the U.S. buildup against Russia and China is moving the world towards a Pacific thermonuclear war.  Once the fuse is lit with even a limited military strike against Syria, the situation immediately moves out of control.
6.  Prevent this Syria attack at all costs, implement Glass Steagall immediately and new prospects for global stability are immediately available.  The United States has the opportunity to partner with China.  The world is a mess and we need a factor of stability.  The Chinese know that a further collapse of Europe and the United States assures the collapse of China.  Combine Glass Steagall with a cooperative global crash effort to achieve fusion power and the conditions driving the world to a war of extinction can be eliminated altogether.
7.  In principle, this looming war can be stopped by a relatively small number of people who understand how to carry out an effective flanking operation.  The logic of the current Obama policy trajectory is that, if you let it run its course, we are in danger of thermonuclear war.  Russia has been put in a corner and any further actions can provoke an unrestrained response.  So far, Putin, although he is in a touchy situation, is acting with restraint              

Obama administration will not block state marijuana laws, if distribution is regulated

Obama administration will not block state marijuana laws, if distribution is regulated

By Brady Dennis, Friday, August 30, 1:42 AM E-mail the writer

The Obama administration on Thursday said it will not stand in the way of Colorado, Washington and other states where voters have supported legalizing marijuana either for medical or recreational use, as long as those states maintain strict rules involving distribution of the drug.
In a memo sent Thursday to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole detailed the administration’s new stance, even as he reiterated that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Irv Rosenfeld has received shipments of marijuana cigarettes from the federal government for more than 30 years. They’ve eased the impact of his rare illness and created some awkward moments at airport security.
Irv Rosenfeld has received shipments of marijuana cigarettes from the federal government for more than 30 years. They’ve eased the impact of his rare illness and created some awkward moments at airport security.
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At White House, media questions once again go to pot

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Since it legalized pot, the state has been wrestling with how to regulate the drug — and drugged driving.

Legal battle looms on marijuana use

Legal battle looms on marijuana use
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Approval of ballot measures in Colorado, Washington state put laws at odds with federal drug policy.
The memo directs federal prosecutors to focus their resources on eight specific areas of enforcement, rather than targeting individual marijuana users, which even President Obama has acknowledged is not the best use of federal manpower. Those areas include preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the sale of pot to cartels and gangs, preventing sales to other states where the drug remains illegal under state law, and stopping the growing of marijuana on public lands.
A Justice Department official said that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had called the governors of Colorado and Washington around noon Thursday to inform them of the administration’s stance.
The official said Holder also told them that federal prosecutors would be watching closely as the two states put in place a regulatory framework for marijuana in their states, and that prosecutors would be taking a “trust but verify” approach. The official said the Justice Department reserves the right to revisit the issue.
Washington state and Colorado last fall approved initiatives to decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Those laws go beyond provisions for the medical use of marijuana. The District and 18 states have passed laws making it legal to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Until Thursday, the Justice Department and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy had remained silent about those initiatives, despite repeated requests for guidance from state officials.
Obama told ABC News’s Barbara Walters in a December interview that recreational pot smoking in states that have legalized the drug is not a major concern for his administration.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”
The issue has been percolating since Obama took office, and he has repeatedly faced questions about the tension between differing federal and state laws.
When the White House created an online petition program called “We the People” in 2011, marijuana-related petitions were so prevalent that the administration issued four responses to 13 petitions, which had garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures.