Obama offers little new By Ali Abunimah

21 May, 2009 Bitter Lemons International Edition 19 Volume 7

Seldom has an encounter between American and Israeli leaders been as hyped as this week’s meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. As expected, Obama committed himself to diplomacy with Iran and pledged an enormous effort to achieve a two-state solution. Netanyahu continued to incite confrontation with Iran and refused to commit himself to a Palestinian state.

On the surface it may seem there are real differences and that the forces arrayed on each side–including the formidable Israel lobby–are gearing up for an epic battle to determine the fate of US-Israeli relations.

But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.

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Internet Threatened By Censorship, Secret Surveillance, And Cybersecurity Laws By Stephen Lendman

22 May, 2009 – CounterCurrents

At a time of corporate dominated media, a free and open Internet is democracy’s last chance to preserve our First Amendment rights without which all others are threatened. Activists call it Net Neutrality. Media scholar Robert McChesney says without it ‘the Internet would start to look like cable TV (with a) handful of massive companies (controlling) content’ enough to have veto power over what’s allowed and what it costs. Progressive web sites and writers would be marginalized or suppressed, and content systematically filtered or banned.

Media reform activists have drawn a line in the sand. Net Neutrality must be defended at all costs. Preserving a viable, independent, free and open Internet (and the media overall) is essential to a functioning democracy, but the forces aligned against it are formidable, daunting, relentless, and reprehensible. Some past challenges suggest future ones ahead.

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An Analysis of El Salvador’s Political and Economic Realities: Can Funes Succeed?

22 May, 2009 – Council on Hemispheric Affairs

  • The country must overcome partisan differences and deal with a crippled economy
  • Moderate views and a concession-minded president may be the wrong prescription for the troubled nation
  • Will El Salvador finally break its bad luck?

El Salvador’s President-elect Mauricio Funes is scheduled to take office on June 1, and will be confronted with some of the same grievances that have been perpetually plaguing the embattled Central American country. His situation, however, is unique, as he will be the first left-leaning president in El Salvador’s tumultuous post-war history. Even though he represents the leftist party Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), Funes sees himself as a moderate idealist in his political views and has high aims for his moderate administration. However, the opposition party, Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) will heavily scrutinize the expected policy changes and is unlikely to meekly succumb to them. His success in actually implementing his policies will depend on the resolve of the opposition (possibly forming a center-right coalition to block the pro-FMLN legislation in the upper house), and his response to the political pressures being registered by radical elements in his own party. During his campaign, Funes vowed to respect ‘all Salvadoran democratic institutions.’ Yet campaign promises can be broken as easily as they are made, and it is not assured that these democratic changes will indeed be allowed to occur if ARENA is unwilling to compromise.

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