Lakota Indians withdraw from treaties

December 20, 2007, AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday.

"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," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.

They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free — provided residents renounce their US citizenship, Means said.

The treaties signed with the United States are merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists say on their website.

The treaties have been "repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to maintain our way of life," the reborn freedom movement says.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.

"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence — an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row," Means said.

One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples — despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children," Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The US "annexation" of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people," said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies — less than 44 years — in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.

"Our people want to live, not just survive or crawl and be mascots," said Young.

"We are not trying to embarrass the United States. We are here to continue the struggle for our children and grandchildren," she said, predicting that the battle would not be won in her lifetime.

Medical plants ‘face extinction’

Hundreds of medicinal plants are at risk of extinction, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease, according to experts.

 Over 50% of prescription drugs are derived from chemicals first identified in plants.

 But the Botanic Gardens Conservation International said many were at risk from over-collection and deforestation.

 Researchers warned the cures for things such as cancer and HIV may become "extinct before they are ever found".

 The group, which represents botanic gardens across 120 countries, surveyed over 600 of its members as well as leading university experts.

Yew tree  – Cancer drug paclitaxel is derived from the bark, but it takes six trees to create a single dose so growers are struggling to keep up
Hoodia  – Plant has sparked interest for its ability to suppress appetite, but vast quantities have already been "ripped from the wild" as the search for the miracle weight drug continues
Magnolia  – Has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years as it is believed to help fight cancer, dementia and heart disease. Half the world's species threatened, mostly due to deforestation
Autumn crocus  – Romans and Greeks used it as poison, but now one of the most effective treatments for gout. Under threat from horticulture trade

 They identified 400 plants that were at risk of extinction.

 These included yew trees, the bark of which forms the basis for one of the world's most widely used cancer drugs, paclitaxel.

 Hoodia, which originally comes from Namibia and is attracting interest from drug firms looking into developing weight loss drugs, is on the verge of extinction, the report said.

 And half of the world's species of magnolias are also under threat.

 The plant contains the chemical honokiol, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cancers and slow down the onset of heart disease.

 The report also said autumn crocus, which is a natural treatment for gout and has been linked to helping fight leukaemia, is at risk of over-harvest as it is popular with the horticultural trade because of its stunning petals.

 Many of the chemicals from the at-risk plants are now created in the lab.

 But the report said as well as future breakthroughs being put at risk, the situation was likely to have a consequence in the developing world.

 It said five billion people still rely on traditional plant-based medicine as their primary form of health care.

 Report author Belinda Hawkins said: "The loss of the world's medicinal plants may not always be at the forefront of the public consciousness.

 "However, it is not an overstatement to say that if the precipitous decline of these species is not halted, it could destabilise the future of global healthcare."

 And Richard Ley, of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, added: "Nature has provided us with many of our medicines.

 "Scientists are always interested in what they can provide and so it is a worry that such plants may be at risk."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/01/19 00:15:13 GMT


Giant UFO, 100s Of Red Lights Over Puerto Rico

From Scott Corrales Inexplicata – The Journal Of Hispanic Ufology

Project Argus – Puerto Rican Experimental Research Group

PUERTO RICO: Giant UFO Over Guanica 

A report from Jose A. Martinez
Last night, January 18 2008 at 10:15 p.m. on the coastal  sector of Guanica (southwestern Puerto Rico) an enormous classic "flying  saucer" object was reported, with hundreds of rows of red lights surroudning  it. Before the sighting, the witnesses alleged — and I confirm what they  said — having heard an airplane flying overhead at exactly that time,  as I was watching television at that hour. The witnesses were more numerous  in the upper area of Vivones when they observed the transit of the airplane,  followed by this round, enormous flying artifact with red lights.
The object rested for several minutes on a nearby hill,  at very low altitude, nearly treetop level, blinding witnesses with its  red lights. Among them were Roberto Garcia and wife Patricia, who tried  to photograph the object with their cell phone but didn't manage to obtain  an image. Other local residents were frightened and unable to sleep that  night after the object took off toward Lajas at high spped. The witnesses  told me that this is not the first case that they've seen in the at this  hour of the night.
The object made no sound whatsoever, the night was clear  and full of stars, and the aerostat could be seen at low altitude and in  the distance. It is impossible to mistake the Lajas Aerostat with the object  reported by the witnesses.
We will be on the lookout for more witnesses to this  interesting event.
Jose Martinez