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US evangelist Pat Robertson says the reason Haiti is so poor, and suffered the recent devastating earthquake, is that 200 years ago its people made a deal with the devil.

This is the kind of nonsense that makes me embarrassed to be a Christian. But Robertson’s comments lead Francis Clooney SJ, to ask some interesting questions about God and justice and good and evil:

Does the world make sense from a Christian perspective, or not? God allows: the question — that of theodicy — is the age-old one: if God is all-good and all-powerful, why the hurricane? the earthquake? …

Mr. Robertson is clearly trying to come up with reasons for why such things take place — to preserve his conviction that the world is in God’s hands, that nothing happens except by divine decree …

Better to ask, I suggest, “Where is God when such events take place?

If there was any kind of deal with the devil, it was made by the Duvaliers.

The people of Haiti have suffered enough without being told it is all their fault.

Pat Robertson makes one good point – the difference in wealth between the half of the island that is the Dominican Republic, and the half that is Haiti.

This is not because Haiti made a deal with the devil. Nor is there any significant difference in the natural resources available to each.

The difference has been in government accountability and free elections. There is a huge correlation between free elections and GDP.

The US is taking the lead in relief and rescue efforts in Haiti. Well of course. The UN is about as useful as a tinker at a Tupperware party.

Incidentally, Australia’s promised support of $10 million is second only to that of the US.

It is Saturday evening in South Australia.

I got back from Western Australia this afternoon. I went over to Geraldton last week for the funeral of my brother-in-law Bruce.

A great bloke – honest, caring, intelligent. I will miss him.

I wrote a few posts while I was away, but did not have internet access.

I will upload them tomorrow, along with anything else that seems worth commenting on in the last few days’ news.

Too tired tonight. Need beer, chocolate, sleep …

Or threatens to.

Google has long removed sensitive search results from its Chinese search engine at Google.cn, but said Tuesday it plans to end the censorship and may ultimately shut down the company’s China offices.

However, China is highly unlikely to allow Google to run an uncensored version of the search engine, according to observers.

Google has in fact said plainly it will not operate in China under present censorship rules. This follows attempts by hackers to access gmail accounts belonging to known human rights activists.

If Google refuses to filter results and supply information as requested by the Chinese government, China is likely to block access to Google within its borders.

This will cost Google money, enough to hurt, even if not a major percentage of its $22 billion in annual revenues.

Let’s hope Google sticks to its motto ‘Don’t be evil’.

And don’t co-operate with evil either, no matter how much money is involved.

Lots of news about the 6th ROBO ONE GATE Biped Robot Competition.

A few videos there, but this one is my favourite:

Definitely more impressive than Roxxy the sex robot, and probably cheaper:

Roxxy the Sex Robot, and Partner

Like Rupert Wyndham at Climaterealists, I have had some clashes with senior clergy over social issues including climate change.

However, I don’t think I have ever written to an archbishop in tones quite like this:

And, dare it be said,  for those such as yourself, in the vanguard of so called “faith communities”, who arrogate to themselves the role of moral leadership, this gives rise to serious questions,  does  it  not? Indeed,  in many ways,  “Climategate”  is  less about   the “science” – which anyway  is garbage – than it is about the integrity of the scientific process, an issue of immensely greater ethical significance for all who value truth as well as democratic accountability.  AGW science has been exposed as a fraud, by far the gravest in the entire history of science. The AGW hypothesis itself is no better than a glib and distorted misrepresentation of a 100 year old speculation relating to the so-called Greenhouse Effect allied to invented evidence concocted within the guts of a computer by  individuals with a predetermined agenda coupled with huge personal  vested  interests – financial  and otherwise …

That, of course,  leaves you in a quandary,  does it not? Either you repudiate this ethical obscenity and, in a spirit of Christian repentance,  exercise moral authority or you continue to promote it and abrogate moral auhority.  Although religious leaders often seem to find the concept seductive, what you cannot do is both to wolf your bun and hang on to your penny.  Your predecessor thought he could. He was wrong.

Ouch! But quite right.

It is one thing to have gangs of scientists saying ‘We’re scientists. The world is ending. Give us billions of dollars and we’ll fix it.’

It is another thing entirely to have religious leaders telling people they are stupid or immoral if they disagree.

Posting will be light over the next week or so.

My brother-in-law Bruce died yesterday. Kathy has already flown over to Perth, and I will follow in a couple of days time.

Bruce was 56. He had been a licensed clinical psychologist, and a licensed plumber. Plumbing paid better, and you meet a nicer class of people.

Bruce and I disagreed about almost everything. He was gay, and an atheist.

He thought Obama was an inspiring leader. I wouldn’t trust Obama to run a cake stall.

He thought Michael Moore was an honest reporter, a man of the people.  I think Michael Moore is a disgusting dishonest elitist swine.

He liked Baz Lurhmann’s Australia. Enough said.

But Bruce was an honest, generous, intelligent man, who cared deeply about what happened in the world, and about the people around him.

I loved him, and I will miss him deeply.

I don’t know where I heard that phrase. I think was in a blokey discussion of the arts – Australia versus the US.

Wherever it was, the consensus amongst the blokes was that our poofters were indeed better than their poofters. There was even a touch of pride in some of the accomplishments, say, of Sir Robert Helpmann and Peter Allen.

So in that same spirit, I would like to wish Mr Byron Adu, Australia’s regional winner, all the very best of luck as he represents us in the Worldwide Mr Gay competition in Oslo in a few weeks’ time.

This is a hopeful sign:

Nearly seven in 10 Afghans support the presence of U.S. forces in their country, and 61 percent favor the military buildup of 37,000 U.S. and NATO reinforcements now deploying, according to a poll released Monday.

Perhaps even better news is that support for the allied action against the Taliban is growing:

 After steep declines in recent years, nearly seven in 10 Afghans also think their nation is headed in the right direction. That’s up 30 percent since January 2009 …

Overall, 42 percent of Afghans blame the Taliban for the violence — up 27 percent from a year ago. Seventeen percent blame the U.S. and NATO, or the Afghan government or Afghan security forces — down 36 percent from a year ago.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Weather is not climate. Unless it’s warm, then it is.

But the National Snow and Ice Data Center (University of Colorado) reports that Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 (via Watts Up With That).

And compare a photo image of current Northern Hemisphere snow and ice cover with an image of the same area a year ago.

When will the world listen to science that works, as opposed to what does not work?

That is the question posed by astrophysicist and long range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn:

Any pretense at decency or moral values by the Sea Shepherd mob is a sham.

Paul Syret at the Courier Mail writes:

THAR she blows. And no, it’s not a humpback whale surfacing and venting, but Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson once again blowing off great clouds of sanctimonious steam as only true zealots of any persuasion can do.

Personally, I’ve never met a whale, but I’m sure they’re very nice.

The problem is the Japanese and other whaling nations also seem to think they’re very nice, particularly with a dash of soy sauce and some wasabi on the side.

And the whales need saving apparently, or before you know it, the only chance we’ll get to see Free Willy in the flesh is in an upmarket Tokyo sushi bar.

Enter stage right the swashbuckling Captain Paul, a big, bearded bear of a Canadian who likes to sail under the Jolly Roger – the skull and crossbones flag of the maritime pirate.

Indeed, the Sea Shepherd conservation society has admitted to sinking various whaling boats over the years in operations from Iceland to Antarctica.

When you have right on your side, you can do as you damn well please in terms of innovative direct action tactics it appears.
 …

How would we as a nation feel if Japanese protesters took to using innovative direct action tactics to disrupt the kangaroo meat industry?

We might have plague proportions of the things in some areas, and they can taste pretty good after a quick barbecue sear and then a stint in a slow oven with a red wine, garlic and rosemary jus and a side of julienne potatoes, but poor little Skippy.

So how would we react if the Tokyo Marsupial Shepherds decided to embark on a campaign of harassment, vandalism and intimidation on our shores (and remember here that Sea Shepherd claims these waters are Australia’s responsibility)?

… they are just sea-going terrorists and blowhards with politically correct bumper stickers.

And then there is this video showing the Ady Gil shooting arrows at the Japanese:

Gavin Atkins has more.

It is certainly hot in South Australia – over 40 degrees on Kangaroo Island. Adelaide is even hotter – about 43 degrees.

One or two very hot spells in a season are not unusual, however. The hottest day I have ever lived through was 46 degrees in the early 80s, also in Adelaide.

Has the last decade been the hottest on record in Australia, as Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology says? I noted a couple of days ago that even it were, this is no reason to assume that human activity is responsible.

In fact, there is no correlation between human production of CO2 and changes in climate, but very strong correlation between solar activity and global temperature change.

I also noted that there have been no new temperature records, hot or cold, in the last decade.

Warwick Hughes has shown that in the case of Darwin and Alice Springs, the temperature data do not supprt the BOM’s claim.

There is also considerable doubt that the BOM has adequately taken into account the Urban Heat Island Effect.

These graphs, also from Warwick Hughes, demonstrate the IPCC orthodox warming of about 0.6 degrees in large Australian cities over the 20th century, but no warming at all in rural centres:

Australian Capital City Temperatures 1882 -1982

Australian Regional Temperatures 1882 -1982

Then there is the fact that data has been carefully ‘corrected’, almost always so that older temperatures are lowered, and more recent temperatures increased.

This graph from Watts Up With That shows adjusted data versus raw data for Darwin over the period 1880 to 2000:

Darwin Raw vs Adjusted Temperatures 1880 to 2000

Then there is the fact the even the warming alarmists at East Anglia CRU found the Australian temperature records so poor they are almost incomprehensible. A couple of quotes from the Climategate emails:

I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar coordinates. I know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that’s the case? Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight… So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!

OH F%*# THIS. It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found.

Getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data. so many new stations have been introduced, so many false references.. so many changes that aren’t documented. Every time a cloud forms I’m presented with a bewildering selection of similar-sounding sites, some with references, some with WMO codes, and some with both. And if I look up the station metadata with one of the local references, chances are the WMO code will be wrong (another station will have it) and the lat/lon will be wrong too.

So how much confidence can we have in the BOM’s claim that this has been the hottest decade since records began?

Very little.

Well, that’s what it amounts to.

Dr Patrick Nugawela took his Lamborghini to be serviced. The mechanic took the car for a test drive. An extended test drive, at speeds of up to 160kmph in a 90 kmph zone.

The police caught the mechanic, and impounded the car for 28 days. They are required to do this under West Australian ‘hoon’ laws. Cars driven recklessly must be impounded.

Except that the WA government seems not to have taken into account that cars being driven recklessly are also likely to have been stolen. And that impounding a stolen vehicle will further inconvenience the owner, already a victim of theft. And that then requiring the owner of the stolen vehicle to pay a $900 fee to get the car released may be just a little unfair.

WA Police Minister’s initial response of ‘tough luck’ was not well received. He has agreed to bring forward a review of the relevant legislation:

Yesterday Mr Johnson was adamant the law would not be reviewed for another year, even though he admitted that in the case of the doctor, the law was not fair. But in a statement late yesterday the minister said he had decided to bring forward the review after examining the legislation. He said he had decided there was room for a minor amendment which may allow for the substitution of an offender’s vehicle in place of an innocent person’s vehicle.

I dont know it is possible this legislation could have been enacted without such an obviously necessary provision. And at this stage there is still no indication Dr Nugawela’s car will be returned in returned in reasonable time.

What on Earth is the Press Association thinking with this headline:

Malaysian church attacked in feud ?

This is the fourth church to have been bombed in the last week.

Malaysian police say the attacks were probably carried out by mischievous pranksters.

Really?

This is not a feud. A feud involves bitter and drawn out hostilities on both sides.

There is certanly hostility here, but on one side only.

This is not a feud, it is terrorist persecution of a religious minority.

Miss Newfoundland and Labrador, Sara Green, has been targetted by anti seal hunt groups after wearing a borrowed seal-skin coat in a Christmas parade.

A photo showing Miss Green waving at crowds during the parade was photo-shopped to make it look as if she was covered in blood, surrounded by seal carcasses, and waving a hackapik.

But Miss Green is not bowing to pressure:

“It was gruesome. It was unnecessary … when I saw the photo, of course my jaw dropped,” she said in an interview. “I couldn’t believe it, but it gave me a bigger motivation to stand up for the seal hunt.”

Sara has a firearms licence and plans to join her grandfather and uncle on their annual seal hunt this spring.

She said the hunt is needed to control voracious seal populations that feast on fragile cod and herring stocks. 

It’s been a part of our heritage for hundreds of years and there’s no reason to be bashing it.”

Of course wearing cow skin is really like, totallyyyy different from wearing seal skin. Not.

So all you greenies can get back in your genuine leather Birkenstocks and Doc Martins and go home.

Sara sounds like a sensible girl. I wish her well.

According to the Australian BOM the last decade has been Australia’s hottest since record keeping began.

Even if this were true, this in itself is no reason to jump to the conclusion it is all our fault and the world is going to hell in a handbasket. No matter what the ever amusing Minister for Rabbits Peter Garrett has to say.

In fact, as I noted a couple of posts ago, there is no evidence this is the case at all.

But the BOM’s clams are doubtful for a number of reasons.

I’ll say more about this tomorrow, but for today I just note that not one Australian temperature record, high or low, has been set in the last ten years:

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Canberra  42.2 C  (108.0 F) on the 1st February, 1968

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Canberra  -10.0 C  (14.0 F) on the 11th July, 1971

NEW SOUTH WALES

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Wilcannia  50.0 C  (122.0 F) on the 11th January, 1939

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Charlotte Pass  -23.0 C  (-9.4 F) on the 29th June, 1994

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Finke  48.3 C  (118.9 F) on the 2nd January, 1960

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Alice Springs  -7.5 C  (18.5 F) on the 12th July, 1976

QUEENSLAND

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Birdsville  49.5 C  (121.1 F) on the 24th December, 1972

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Stanthorpe  -11.0 C  (12.2 F) on the 4th July, 1895

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Oodnadatta  50.7 C  (123.3 F) on the 2nd January, 1960

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Yongala  -8.2 C  (17.2 F) on the 20th July, 1976

TASMANIA

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Hobart  40.8 C  (105.4 F) on the 4th January, 1976

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Shannon  -13.0 C  (8.6 F) on the 30th June, 1983

VICTORIA

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Mildura  47.2 C  (117.0 F) on the 10th January, 1939

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Mt Hotham  -12.8 C  (9.0 F) on the 13th August, 1947

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Highest Recorded Temperature:

 Mardie  50.5 C  (122.9 F) on the 19th February, 1998

Lowest Recorded Temperature:

 Booylgoo Springs  -6.7 C  (19.9 F) on the 12th July, 1969

Figures from an amateur site on world temperature extremes. Some readings not yet verified.

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