December 26th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Lakota Indians Declare Sovereignty From U.S.

Lakota Indians Declare Sovereignty From U.S.

The Lakota Sioux Indians have withdrawn from all treaties with the United States and declared their independence. A delegation from the tribe delivered the news to the State Department last week. Longtime Indian rights activist Russell Means said: “We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us.” Lakota country comprises portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The Lakota said the decision was necessary in the face of what they described as colonial apartheid conditions. The life expectancy for Lakota men is less than 44 years; 97 percent of the Lakota people live below the poverty line. The Lakota also said the United States never honored many treaties signed dating back to the mid 19th century.

FBI Builds Database of People’s Physical Characteristics

The Washington Post reports the FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world’s largest computer database of peoples" physical characteristics including digital images of faces, fingerprints, palm patterns, iris patterns and other biometric information. The project will give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of workers who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law. The plan is drawing criticism from those who worry that people’s bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union said: “It’s going to be an essential component of tracking. It’s enabling the Always On Surveillance Society.”

Palestinians Urge Israel to Stop Settlement Expansion

Palestinian leaders are urging Israel to halt plans to build 740 new homes next year on occupied land near Jerusalem. Palestinian Prime Minister Salim Fayyad said Israel’s plans to expand the settlements is “sabotaging negotiation efforts.”

Salim Fayyad: “Pursuing peace on the one hand and pursuing policy based on continued settlement expansion are two parallel paths that will never meet. They can not meet by definition. There’s basic, fundamental contradiction here—settlement expansion has to stop if peace process is to have any credibility. This is what has been agreed, what was agreed in Annapolis, we expect for that to be complete cessation of these activities.”

Meanwhile In the West Bank, Palestinian demonstrators scuffled with Israeli soldiers on Friday during a demonstration against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank. Protest organizer Sami Talhami was one of several activists dressed like Santa.

Sami Talhami: “From Bethlehem, from where Jesus was born, from where the apartheid wall is being built around our villages and cities we say yes there is hope. There is hope for peace and there is a chance for peace. It needs the world to move, it needs the world to realize that there is injustice happening here and for the world to say we will work for peace in the holy land.”

Israeli Rules It Was OK To Use Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

In other news from the region, an Israeli military prosecutor has concluded that Israel’s use of cluster bombs during the 2006 Lebanon war was justified and did not violate any standards of international law. Lebanese officials accused the Israeli army of covering up war crimes. The United Nations and human rights groups say Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bomblets during the 34-day war.
More than 30 people have been killed by cluster bomb and land mine explosions in Lebanon since the 2006 summer war.

Chris Keeley

Radiohead's New Year's Eve webcast

Radiohead's New Year's Eve webcast


If you like Radiohead and are planning on staying in on New Years Eve, the band will be broadcasting a special webcast performance. The performance will be able to be seen at or simulcast on the Current TV channel on your traditional television set.
Link. The CD release of "In Rainbows" hits stores on January 1 in the US and Canada, and Dec 31 in the rest of the world.
Chris Keeley

Footnote to the Christmas 1967 LBJ Mission

Footnote to the Christmas 1967 LBJ Mission

Distinguished correspondents,

 The December 24th issue of /The Washington Post/ featured on page one
of the Style section a long article entitled "When LBJ Took a Flying
Leap at Peace", discussing Johnson's Christmas 1967 trip to Rome to
discuss the Viet Nam conflict with Pope Paul VI.

 One of the paragraphs in the story starts "After a brief visit with
Italian President Giuseppe Saragat, ..."

 And therein lies a story.

 The then US Ambassador to Rome was Freddie Reinhardt.  [G. Frederick
Reinhardt (1911-1971) was one of the most distinguished FSO's I have
ever known, and one of the two best ambassadors under whom I have had
the pleasure to serve.  Freddie was a Californian, and was graduated
from the University of California.  But his secondary schooling was at
Le Rosey, the prestigious international boarding school in Rolle,
Switzerland, from which were also graduated figures such as CIA Director
Dick Helms, the Shah of Iran, etc., etc.]  Freddie was an early
ambassador to Viet Nam, and then, in the late 1950's, when we met, US
Ambassador to Cairo.  Although I was very junior in that embassy, and he
at the top of the heap, we became friends as our respective daughters
played together.  In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy became
president, among his other dazzlingly intelligent ambassadorial
appointments was that of Freddie to Rome.  Freddie was a polyglot, and
one of his many languages -- along with French, German, and Russian (he
was one of the early Sovietologists in the Department, along with Chip
Bohlen and George Kennan) -- was Italian.  Freddie was the first career
US ambassador to Rome in decades, if not centuries, and may well have
been the last.  President Kennedy made special financial arrangements so
that Freddie could afford the post.

 In 1967, Freddie met Air Force One at the airport, and drove with
President Johnson into Rome, where their first stop was the Presidency.
Freddie explained to President Johnson during the drive that he had
taken the liberty, en route to the Vatican,  of arranging a short
meeting with Italian president Giuseppe Saragat, since not to have done
so would have been an enormous diplomatic slight to the president of a
close NATO ally.  Johnson replied to Freddie, in his famous Texan drawl,
"Son, if I had wanted to see the president of Italy, I would have told
you so".

 Upon his return to Washington, Johnson had Amb. Reinhardt summarily
fired from his post.

 This should go down somewhere in the "Annals of Diplomacy".

Collegial warm regards,