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I doubt it. That was my first reaction anyway.

Much like this amusing summary from The Guardian, which asks why the tree looks green and healthy if it had never seen the sunlight. Good question.

Then I saw this video on the BBC website. It’s pretty gruesome in places. And sorry about the ads.

The surgeon looks convincing enough. I don’t think the Guardian’s scepticism about the reliability of non-English witnesses is fair. They really could have found a bit of fir tree in Artyom Sidorkin’s lung. But I think I am convinced by the Russian botanist, who says it is simply impossible for it to have grown there.

Impossible is a big word. But my last reaction is the same as my first. I doubt it.

Increasing survival rates by over 20% after three years in men with advanced prostate cancer which is no longer responding to hormonal treatments is a good result. Not dramatic or miraculous, but good.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australian men. As many men die from prostate cancer as women from breast cancer – about one every three hours – but prostate cancer receives only ten percent as much research and publicity funding.

Consequently community understanding of prostate cancer screening and testing procedures and their importance is much lower than for breast or cervical cancer.

One of the hopes is that results from this early research into using the body’s own immune system to fight prostate cancer may be transferable to other forms of cancer, and at earlier stages.

Good. The Rohingya are a minority Islamic people who live in the North of Burma, neighbouring Bangladesh. The Burmese military regime has treated them appallingly. $3.2 miliion in basic aid will help people to survive, and the more international aid and attention given to minority peoples in Burma, the more pressure there will be on the junta to change.

I just hope that Christian people groups in Burma, like the Karen, will not be forgotten. Their situation has been just as bad if not worse, over a long period of time.

You can help.

Oh please. I have no idea of the reasons for Mel and Robyn Gibson’s planned divorce. But I’m sure it has nothing to do with blonde russian pop stars.

There’s no reason why I, or anyone else, should know the reasons for their divorce. It’s their business, and that of their children.

The daily changing accusations about Mel, who is plainly not perfect (but neither am I) seem to me a bit like New Idea’s manky gossip inventions, which are designed to make money out of other peoples’ unhappiness, while encouraging readers and viewers to take pleasure in the failures of others.

It’s going to be a hard enough time for the Gibsons anyway. Why not just leave them alone?

Because there’s money to be made in not leaving them alone, obviously. And sadly.

The body of 12 year old Brandi Allen was found by searchers yesterday afternoon. There was stil a chance, till then, that she had just gone off with a friend, or at least, that she was alive somewhere. She had been swept away by flood waters in Caboolture, North of Brisbane, on Monday.

My sister Stephanie was killed in a car accident at the same age, and that loss has stayed with me ever since.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Allen family.

That makes ten people killed in floods in Queensland in the last few months.

President Barack Obama can see “glimmers of hope” on the horizon, despite the country battling its deepest depression in decades, and his own claim that most presidents don’t have to deal with as much as him even in a whole lifetime.

Risk analysis and market expert Satyajit Das says such expressions of hope are not based on any change in productivity, markets or in available credit, and are therefore delusional.

“The banking system is now running, after all the losses and even after the recapitalisation, with a shortfall of between $1 and $2.5 trillion of capital. That translates into a reduction in the amount of credit available to the global system of somewhere between 20 to 30 per cent.”

That means 20 to 30 percent less money available to spend on projects, eg, construction, farming, mining, manufacture, which actually produce useful things, and employ people in useful actitives.

So don’t start celebrating yet.

The Republic of Turkmenistan is to build a $133 million wedding hall, to be called the Palace of Happiness, as part of $1 billion in stimulus spending, most of which will go to infrastructure and beautification projects around the capital, Ashgabat.

Another $1 billion is to be spent building an Olympic village, including a winter sports complex, despite the fact that the desert nation is not in line to host any forthcoming Olympics.

Well why not? It makes as much sense as most other stimulus plans I’ve seen.

Bob Carter has been challenging the popular media/political view of climate science for years. So have I. Bob Carter even linked to my introduction to Global Warming Theory on his website. Thanks Bob.

But no one at the ABC has been taking any notice. Now they are. Professor Carter’s evidence to the senate enquiry is ‘balanced’ in the ABC report by claims from Penny Wong, Minister for Hot Air, and a gaggle of scientists from the CSIRO. But it is Carter’s view that gets the headline – Science Behind Garnaut Report Flawed.

“The Stern Report and the Garnaut Report in Australia are both reports by distinguished economists – they have no basis in scientific expertise,” he said. “It is never a good move to appoint someone to a review committee who is not competent to judge the basis for the whole review, but that is what the British and Australian Governments did.”

The times, they are a changing. And about time.

Boy does Susan Boyle have talent. I was in tears as I watched this.

Click that link right now.

And watch right to the end. Talk about lessons learned. Wow!

That seems to be the message from some liberal commentators on the protests about Obama’s spending-spree and high-tax policies, which are occurring around the US as I write.

Nope. Not grassroots. Nope. They’ve been organised. Those tea party protests aren’t real protests at all.

It is certainly true that, in general, for things to be organised, some sort of organisation needs to take place. When things are not organised that should be organised, a level of disorganisation tends to occur. This can cause confusion and inconvenience. The mayhem at the Monarto music festival is a perfect example of not organising something that should have been organised.

Besides, Obama used to be a community organisor. So some organisation must be OK. Maybe even a little grass-rooty. As long as it’s not, you know, too well organised. Cause then it’s not. And stuff.

But in any case, not when anything at all is being organised by people who are concerned about just how well organised the current US administration is. And just how much more into debt they plan to take the US and the world. And why alternatives are not being considered, and, and ….

Showing the sheer amount of debt being incurred to get the US out of a crisis that was caused by debt in the first place.

The same sort of thing is being done in Australia – on a proportionately smaller, but still scary scale.

Because of lower margins

Why have chip prices gone up? Or when they say lower margins do they just mean that PC sales have been down in the first quarter?

I hope Intel CEO Paul Otellini is right when he says PC sales bottomed out in the first months of 09 and are now returning to normal. Not just because PCs are my business, but because spending on PCs is a good indicator of confidence in both home and business expenditure.

According to protestors at the G20, capitalism doesn’t work.

G20 Protestors - Captitalism Doesn’t Work

It certainly works better than anything else that has ever been tried.

It seems odd to me that people complain endlessly about the government, and then some of those very same people claim to want a system in which everything is run by the government, and everyone works for the government.

Of course it’s true that some people, and some parking meters, make obscene amounts of money. Sometimes markets are manipulated and the poor suffer. There will always need to be safety nets for people who cannot cope, or who are inveterately lazy.

But encouraging people to use their abilities to help themselves and those around them works. It is a way of doing things that has resulted in living conditions for most people around the globe – clean water, good food, access to education and medical care – that even royalty would have been envious of 200 years ago. And it has enabled the building of a world community in which it is possible to respond to disasters and other great needs quickly and generously.

But the protestors are right – another world is possible. A cold, dark, hungry world. Like North Korea.

Korean Peninsula by Night

Well, that’s not quite what he said. Jesus said that people had a choice about building their lives on the rock foundation of truth, or on the shifting sands of fashion and desire.

Obama said people had a similar choice about building a new economy on the rock of his wisdom, including, for example, higher taxes, discouraging business, and record debt, or continuing with the unstable sands of a market economy which has brought unprecedented wealth and opportunity around the globe. Although he didn’t put it quite that clearly.

“It’s more than most Congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime,” Mr. Obama said, speaking of the financial crisis.  Really?

“I know there’s a criticism out there that my administration has been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children’s future,” Mr. Obama said.

Yep. That’s pretty much it.

David Keohane, 29, was on his way home from a party in Coogee in Sydney when he was beaten beyond recognition in August last year. He had been in a coma in a hospital in his home town of Cork in Ireland, but awoke on St Patrick’s Day and is now talking.

Doctors had been unsure he would ever recover consciousness. His family are attributing his dramatic recovery to the intercessions of Australian Josephite nun Mary MacKillop, whose prayers for him they had constantly asked.

Catholics don’t pray to the saints (although they may sometimes loosely use that expression). Instead, they ask the saints, their friends in heaven, to pray for them in the same way as other Chrisians ask their friends on earth to pray for them. Catholics (and some other Christians) believe that if we are united in Christ, even death cannot separate us from those who have gone before, and that the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ continue to care for us.

Mary MacKillop was beatified by John Paul II in 1995. The process leading to the Church recognising her as saint began in 1925, so it has certainly not been rushed. The final stage is canonisation, which really means ‘being added to the list.’

The Pope doesn’t make anyone a saint – only God can do that. Every Christian is a saint, in the sense of being sanctified, set apart for God’s purposes. But the Church acknowledges certain people through whom the light of Christ has shone so clearly that their heroic dedication to the will of God is an inspiration to others. One of the requirements is two confirmed miracles attributed to the intervention of the person. Mary MacKillop needs a second miracle.

During his visit to Australia in 2008, Pope Benedict said: ‘She will be canonised, we’re waiting for the miracle.’ The recovery of David Keohane may be that miracle. But it will be a long process, and any medical testimony will be thoroughly tested.

Still, this might be it – Australia’s first saint.

This is the Mary MacKillop Prayer, as prayed by her own order, the Josephites:

Most loving God,
We thank you for the example of Blessed Mary MacKillop,
who in her living of the Gospel witnessed to the human dignity of each person.
She faced life’s challenges with faith and courage.
We pray through her intercession for our needs……..

May her holiness soon be acknowledged by the universal Church.
We make this prayer through Jesus the Lord.
Amen.