The Lakota Sioux Indians have withdrawn from all treaties with the United States and declared their independence.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.