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Lazy Saturday Mid-Morning News and Gossip Update

Wow, I slept till 8:30 this morning. It sure is nice being on vacation. I’ve done practically nothing but sleep, read, eat, and surf the ‘net since Tuesday afternoon. Today, I guess I’ll have to get moving and prepared to return to teaching on Monday. I heard a couple of interesting stories on Twitter last night. Did you hear that Amy Goodman was stopped and interrogated at the Canadian border?

Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now , a radio and television show aired by public and college broadcasters across North America, was entering Canada around 6 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday evening, set to speak at the Vancouver Public Library in an event co-ordinated by a campus radio station at Simon Fraser University.

“When I handed our passports over the border guard, they told us to pull over. We had to go over to the border facility. And they started asking me questions about what I was going to be speaking about. I was totally taken aback. They wanted to see my notes,”

Amy Goodman

Goodman was going to Canada to promote her new book. Oddly, the guards kept accusing her of giving a talk about the Vancouver Olympics. She had no clue what they meant by that, but they wouldn’t believe her. They searched all of her notes and her and her colleague’s computers and took photographs. It sounds truly Kafkaesque. Apparently Canada is really worked up about the Olympics. They didn’t care that she was going to talk about opposing wars or the economic meltdown–just whether she would criticize the Vancouver games. Goodman didn’t even know there was a Vancouver Olympics. I didn’t either. Did you?

In another strange story, Tiger Woods left his house in the middle of the night and drove right into a tree and a fire hydrant. He was barely conscious after the accident and his wife had to break open the car window with a golf club to get him out. Did they have a fight or something? Apparently there was no alcohol involved. From the LA Times story:

The initial media reports that instantly spread around the globe sounded dire: Tiger Woods had been “seriously” hurt in a car accident early Friday and was hospitalized.

It turned out the superstar golfer’s injuries, first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, weren’t as dreadful as the word “serious” implied in the police report. But as additional details emerged, it appeared Woods certainly suffered more than a fender bender.

Woods, 33, was backing out of his driveway in the Isleworth community near Orlando, Fla., at 2:25 a.m. when he struck a fire hydrant and then hit a neighbor’s tree, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

It was almost 12 hours before the police issued an accident report, and it is still unknown why Woods was out driving at that hour and much about the incident remains unclear.

The police plan to question Woods about the incident.

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt Kim Montes said two troopers had attempted to contact Woods on Friday evening, but his wife said he was sleeping and they had agreed to come back on Saturday.

According to the highway patrol, alcohol was not a factor in the incident.

Chief Daniel Saylor of the Windermere Police Department said: “From what we understand, his wife came out of the house when she heard the accident, him hitting the fire hydrant, (and) used a golf club – that’s what we were told – to break out the rear window to gain entrance into the vehicle, removed him from the vehicle and laid him down in the street.

“He was in and out of consciousness with lacerations to his upper and lower lip, with a little bit of blood in his mouth, but he was conscious enough to be able to speak a little bit. According to my officers, it was not life-threatening injuries.”

In comments to the Associated Press news agency, Chief Saylor said his officers found the 33-year-old lying in the street with his wife hovering over him.

This just broke on Google, could explain what happened: Tiger Woods’ Car Crash Came After Explosive Story Claiming Affair

Tiger Woods’ bizarre overnight car crash outside his Florida home came only two days after the National Enquirer publish an article claiming the golf champ was having an affair.

Police said they had no knowledge of a fight between Woods, 33, and his wife, Elin, before Woods left their house at 2:25 a.m. Friday — backing out of his driveway and plowing into a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree in a gated community near Orlando.

The Enquirer’s explosive story hit the stands Wednesday contending that Woods has been seeing New York night club hostess Rachel Uchitel and that the pair recently were spotted in Melbourne while Woods was playing in the Australian Masters tournament.

Take it with a grain of salt, since it’s The Enquirer and Fox, but it sounds like a reasonable explanation to me.

There were a few articles yesterday about how the story spread around the world through Twitter and other social media before it could even be reported in any detail by the MSM.

In the Age of Realtime, Twitter is Walter Cronkite

Tiger Woods and Car Accident: CNN and Twitter

This is Why the Internet (and Twitter) Wins

Tongues are still wagging about the couple who supposedly crashed the President’s state dinner the other day. The couple are still claiming they were invited, and it was revealed yesterday that they did meet President Obama.

The White House said late Friday that Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the Virginia couple auditioning for a Bravo reality show, not only got past layers of experienced, executive-branch security but also shook the president’s hand in the Blue Room of the White House during the Obamas’ first state dinner. Late Friday, the White House also released a photo of Michaele Salahi’s audience with the president, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh smiling nearby.

The security breach has caused hand-wringing inside the White House, bewilderment among Tuesday night’s guests — and late on Friday, prompted an apology from the Secret Service.

From Politico: President Obama Orders Review of Crashers

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review into how a Virginia couple managed to make their way into the White House for last week’s state dinner without an invitation, even getting so far as to meet the president in the official receiving line, according to a White House official.

Three days after a pair of Virginia socialites and reality TV wannabes crashed the administration’s first state dinner, the White House acknowledged for the first time Friday that they met Obama himself at the event – raising even more questions about whether the breach could have posed a security risk.

No kidding.

I saw this on Twitter too: Hillary’s Bombshell: Obama Administration Subtly Launches Dramatic Policy Change on Peace Process

Hillary made a short statement on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and a number of blogs are breaking it down piece by piece to divine it’s true meaning. I don’t know enough about I/P to really understand it, but thought the analysis was interesting just the same. No fighting about this in the comments, please, but if you can make sense of it please discuss politely.

Here’s another analysis of the statement from a Palestinian point of view.

Just breaking news:

Russia train crash ’caused by bomb’

The Nevsky Express derailed in remote countryside on Friday night as the train travelled between the capital Moscow and St Petersburg.

Investigators found “elements of an explosive device” at the scene, the Russia’s federal investigative committee said in a statement.

A senior intelligence official said a bomb had derailed the locomotive.

Dubai World Unit Faces Default Test Monday With Bond Payment

European Stocks Fall for Second Week as Alpha, Compass Decline


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Cannon Fodder

This is a very difficult post to write.  I was hoping that the recent incident that resulted in taking Cannonfire off of our blogroll would go undetected.  But some of our readers, including Joseph Cannon himself, have quickly called attention to the deletion so some of us frontpagers feel we owe our readers an explanation.

First of all, I’d just like to say that as difficult as it is to do this, it is even harder to do it without pointing fingers at anyone.  We don’t want to assign blame or point fingers.  We don’t want to make enemies and we certainly do not wish to further alienate some of our friends who are protesting the frontpage by their absence.  The majority of the frontpagers met online and decided that in spite of the hurt feelings on both sides, we would like to forgive and forget and put the whole incident behind us.  The door is always open to all of our colleagues.  We feel like family who just had a bit of a falling out.

Here’s what happened:  A couple of weeks ago, Joseph Cannon posted on the Israel/Palestinian issue.  His position appears to be very favorable to Palestinians to the point of regretting the creation of the state of Israel.  I confess that on occasion, I too wish that God had chosen a different part of the world for his holy land but usually, I’m just joking when I say it.  Nevertheless, it is difficult to talk this way about the issue without being accused of anti-Semitism.  For the record, those of us who met to discuss the issue have decided that for our purposes, the definition of anti-Semitism that makes most sense to The Confluence is the irrational hatred of Jewish people and their culture which may be expressed as discrimination and violent acts.  When discussing the viability of the state of Israel, a person may or may not be expressing an anti-Semitic opinion.  He or she may be making a political comment.  We are aware that there are some groups, even some Christian groups, that would consider such sentiments anti-Semitic.  These groups may hope to squelch conversation on the subject by claiming political opinions to be anti-Semitic in nature in a manner that is reminiscent of the Obots calling us racists last year because we saw through Obama.  It is a very effective way of silencing one’s critics.

We got ensnared in that problem.  Some of the frontpagers of The Confluence have a very broad definition of anti-Semitism and as a result, they felt that the inclusion of Cannonfire on the blogroll marked The Confluence as being sympathethic to snti-Semitic views.  Some other commenters felt that this opinion was unfair and painted us all with a guilt by association to an accusation that was not proven.  Unfortunately, I did not read Joseph Cannon’s post.  Most of the day I am behind a corporate firewall and all most blogs are off limits to me.  I have read Cannon on occasion and found some of his posts to be well reasoned and insightful and some of his posts to be a little tin-foily for my tastes.  But I really don’t have an opinion on his I/P position except to say that anyone who posts on the topic has got to have balls of steel.  Both sides have legitimate points.  Both have behaved badly.  It is an intractable problem and no one is above criticism.  But if criticizing or losing patience with one side or the other makes us anti-Semitic, then I suppose the whole world is anti-Semitic.  I believe LadyBoomerNYC, our voice of Sophia Wisdom, calmed the waters about the whole problem and said politics is one of the reasons why she became a hippy- it’s a lot less stressful.

Well, the long and the short of it is that some of our frontpagers wanted Cannonfire off of the blogroll.  Normally, I would tell them to take a hike and stop bullying the rest of us.  But seeing as Joseph has asked that other blogs not link to him in the first place, it gave us a cowardly way to put the issue to rest.  Or so we thought.  Unfortunately, that action wasn’t sufficient for some of our frontpagers.  In not so subtle ways, they asked us to denounce Cannon and agree that his posts were anti-Semitic.  This was too much for many of us because it implied that if we like Cannon for other reasons we must be guilty.  Many of us were hurt on both sides and tears were shed by those who were accused.  I don’t think I can adequately express the pain.  It feels like betrayal by people you most cared about and who you would never dream of hurting.  Nevertheless, it is what it is and some of our frontpagers have left for greener pastures.  We wish them well and hope that someday we can get back togehter.  But in the meantime, we just need to let the dust settle and tempers cool.

As to Joseph Cannon, he is free to write what he wants.  I think I speak for everyone who writes for The Confluence that we do not approve of anti-Semitism.  We support the state of Israel but we do hold both sides responsible for the turmoil and unrest in the Levant.  The end doesn’t justify the means for either party.  We would not go so far as to say that we wish the state of Israel did not exist because we believe that the state has done much good that outweighs whatever bad it has done.  But it is time to get its house in order and it is time for the Palestinians to disavow terrorism.  People who have stronger opinions have the obligation to back them up with solutions that will defuse the inevitable conflict that results from implementation.

So, that’s the whole sordid story.  I’d like to thank everyone who has written for The Confluence in the past year.  I have enjoyed all of the posts from each one of those truly talented individuals.  We have removed Cannonfire but may occasionally link to him as the occasion arises.  The persons offended by having him in the blogroll in the first place, however, should not expect an apology.  At this point, the damage is too extensive on both sides of the divide.  We either learn to tolerate each other, respecting our differences in opinion and write together or we go our separate ways.