Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Catholic Abuse News - Letting The Predatory Priests Off

Roger Sinclair, who was removed by the Diocese of Greensburg in Pennsylvania in 2002 for allegedly abusing a teenage boy decades earlier. Now serving a prison sentence in Oregan for abusing a developmentally disabled man in 2017.

Credit: Deschutes County District Attorney's Office / via AP
Almost 1,700 priests and clergy accused of sex abuse are unsupervised

An investigation by reporters from Associated Press has discovered that almost 1700 American Catholic priests and clergy who had been named as credibly accused of sexual abuses are working unsupervised in the community, often with children.

According to this report by Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer of Associated Press:
Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found. These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and daycare centers. They foster and care for children. And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP’s analysis found.
For example, Roger Sinclair, pictured above, was removed from Greensburg Dioceses, Pennsylvania after being accused of abusing a teenage boy. He ended up in Oregon where he continued his sexual predation. In 2017 he was arrested for abusing a developmentally disabled man and is now serving a prison sentence for the offence.

According to AP:
As early as 1981, church officials knew of allegations that Roger Sinclair had acted inappropriately with adolescent boys. Two mothers at St. Mary’s Parish in Kittanning, Penn., wrote a letter to the then-bishop saying that Sinclair had molested their sons, both about 14 at the time.

Sinclair played a game where he would shake hands and then try to shove his hand at their genitals, the mothers said in their letter, parts of which were made public last year as part of the landmark report in Pennsylvania. They said he also tried to put his hands down one of the boy’s pants.

Other accusations emerged about Sinclair showing dirty movies to boys in the rectory, exposing himself and possibly molesting a teen he had taken on a trip to Florida a few years earlier. After a group of mothers called the police for advice, the police chief told them he had heard the rumors but took no action, according to documents reviewed by the Pennsylvania grand jury.

The church sent Sinclair for treatment, returned him to ministry and provided him with a letter that listed him as a priest in good standing so he could be a chaplain in the Archdiocese of Military Services, according to the grand jury. That assignment took him to at least four different states, including Kansas, where in the early ‘90s he was a chaplain at the Topeka State Hospital, a now-closed state mental hospital that had a wing for teenagers.

He was fired from that assignment in 1991 after trying multiple times to check out male teenage patients to go see a movie. Administrators said he had managed “to gain access to a locked unit deceitfully.”

Sinclair was removed from ministry in 2002 while the diocese investigated claims from a victim who said the priest sexually abused him in the rectory and on field trips beginning at Sinclair’s first assignment as a priest. He resigned a few years later, before the church concluded proceedings to defrock him.

When he started serving on the board of directors of an Oregon senior center and working as a volunteer there, he was required to pass a background check because the center received federal dollars for the Meals on Wheels program. But no flags were raised because he was never charged in Pennsylvania.

According to accounts from both former center staffers and law enforcement officials, Sinclair’s downfall began when the center’s then-director looked outside and saw him with his hand down the young man’s pants. He immediately barred Sinclair from the center, but left it up to the man’s family to decide whether to press charges. Three months later, after learning why Sinclair had been absent, an employee went to the police out of fear the former priest would target someone else.

Now-Sgt. Steven Binstock, the lead investigator in Oregon, said Sinclair immediately confessed to committing multiple sexual acts with the developmentally disabled man. He also confessed to sexual contact with minors in Pennsylvania 30 years earlier.

“He was very vague, but he did tell us that it was some of the same type of behaviors, the same type of incidents, that had occurred with the victim that happened here,” Binstock told the AP.

The Pennsylvania diocese had never warned Oregon authorities about Sinclair because it stopped tracking him after he left the church. The diocese, which did not tell the public Sinclair had been accused of abuse until it released its list in August 2018, declined to comment on his case.
Another shocking example is that of the former priest, Hadmels DeFrias, who was defrocked and convicted of molesting two boys in New Jersey. He is now teaching English to children in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

The AP investigation found that of the 5,100 clergy names as having been plausibly accused of sexual abuses by diocese and religious orders, of which almost 2000 are still living, 1,700 remain largely unsupervised and 76 were untraceable. More than 160 are working or volunteering in churches, many in Catholic dioceses overseas and some in other religious denominations. About 190 are working in education, medicine, social work and in counselling.

In addition to Sinclair and DeFrias, the investigators found other examples of abusers who still had unsupervised access to children. Like Sinclair, the Church never disclosed the details to the law-enforcement and child protection agencies, so no criminal prosecutions were ever brought. In so doing, the Church created the conditions under which there was no criminal history to be discovered by state licensing boards and background checks, enabling the abusers to seek employment, become foster parents and live in communities unaware of their history as sexual predators.

Despite the 'Dallas Charter', introduced when the first big sexual abuse scandal hit the Catholic Church in the USA, which calls for openness and transparency, many diocese refused to name priest who had plausible complaints against them and have since adopted policies which seem more designed to protect the abusers and allow them to continue their predation, than to protect potential future victims.

Before the landmark, 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, which revealed that over 300 predatory priests had sexually abuse over 1000 children in the state of Pennsylvania alone, there had only been 1,500 named predatory priests in the entire USA. Now, in a little over a year, hundreds of Catholic Dioceses have named thousands more, but often with little detail of the nature of their crimes and nothing on which to base a prosecution. Many of the lists don't even reveal the priest's current status within the Church or even details of the last city in which they worked.

The AP investigation has revealed that:
At least two worked as juvenile detention officers, in Washington and Arizona, and several others migrated to government roles like victims’ advocate or public health planner. Others landed jobs at places like Disney World, community centers or family shelters for domestic abuse. And one former priest started a nonprofit that sends people to volunteer in orphanages and other places in developing nations.

The AP determined that a handful adopted or fostered children, sponsored teens and young adults coming to the U.S. for educational opportunities, or worked with organizations that are part of the foster care system, though that number could be much higher since no public database tracks adoptive or foster parents.

Until February, former priest Steven Gerard Stencil worked at a Phoenix company that places severely disabled children in foster homes and trains foster parents to care for them. Colleagues knew he was a former priest, but were unaware of past allegations against him, according to Lauree Copenhaver, the firm’s executive director.

Stencil, now 67, was suspended from ministry in 2001 after a trip to Mexico that violated a diocese policy forbidding clerics from being with minors overnight. Around that time, a 17-year-old boy also complained that Stencil, then pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Casa Grande, Ariz., had grabbed his crotch in 1999 in a swimming pool. The diocese determined it was accidental touching, but turned the allegations over to police. No criminal charges were filed.

Since 2003, Stencil’s name has appeared on the Tucson diocese’s list of clerics credibly accused of sexually abusing children, and his request to be voluntarily defrocked was granted in 2011.

Copenhaver said Stencil passed a fingerprint test showing he did not have a criminal history when he was first hired part time by Human Services Consultants LLC 12 years ago.

“We did not have any knowledge of his indiscretions, and had we known his history we would not have hired him,” she said, emphasizing that he did not have direct access to children in his job.

Stencil was fired from the company for unrelated reasons earlier this year. He later said in a post on his Facebook page that he was working as a driver for a private Phoenix bus company that specializes in educational tours for school groups and scout troops.

“I have always been upfront with my employers about my past as a priest,” Stencil wrote in an email to the AP when asked for comment. He said he unsuccessfully asked years ago for his name to be removed from the diocese’s list, adding, “Since then, I have decided to simply live my life as best I can.”
More than 160 of the priests were found by AP to have remained working for, or volunteering in, a church, with three-quarters of those serving in some capacity in the Roman Catholic Church. Others became ministers and priests in different denominations, or even as priests in Catholic churches not affiliated with the Vatican, sometimes even when allegations had been published against them.

More than 30 priests accused of sexual abuse in the U.S. moved overseas, where they worked as Roman Catholic priests in good standing in countries including Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, Ireland and Colombia. AP found that in all, roughly 110 clergy members moved or were suspected of moving out of the U.S. after allegations were made.

At least five priests were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church because of their refusal to stop participating in other religious activity.

Of particularly disturbing note was the case of James A. Funke and Jerome Robben:
More than three decades ago, James A. Funke and a fellow teacher at a St. Louis Catholic high school, Jerome Robben, went to prison for sexually abusing male students together. Funke, released in 1995, was eventually bounced from the priesthood. But years later, the two men joined together again, promoting Robben as the leader of a church of his own making. Since 2004, Missouri records show that Robben has listed his St. Louis home as the base for a religious organization operating under at least three different names. Beginning in 2014, those papers have identified Funke as the order’s secretary and one of its three directors. Mary Kruger, whose son committed suicide when he was 21 after being abused by the men in high school, said she raised fresh concerns about Robben in 2007 when she heard he was presenting himself as a cleric. At the time, he was being considered for promotion to bishop in a conservative Christian order based in Ontario, Canada. Kruger said members of the order told her that Robben had dismissed questions about his abuse conviction, claiming he had merely rented an apartment to Funke and that police blamed him for not knowing what went on inside. Robben eventually was defrocked from the Christian order, and apparently then started his own. Until last year, when its paperwork expired, the group was registered with Missouri officials as the Syrian Orthodox Exarchate. However, a Facebook post from 2017 identified Robben _ photographed wearing a crown and gold vestments — as the leader of a Russian Byzantine order raising money to build a monastery in Nevada.
And so the long litany of failures on the part of the Catholic Church and their horrendous consequences for the contuing victims of their former preists' abuses continues.

Of the 2000 still alive, only 310 were charged with the crimes they committed while priests. A further 64, including Sinclair, have since committed other crimes, and 42 of them involved serious sexual assaults and/or violence, of which about a dozen were committed on minors. Of the 2000, only 85 appear on sex offenders' registers because of successful lobbying by the Church and plea bargaining to reduce the seriousness of the charge to an offence which is not required to be registered, in return for a guilty plea.
Decades after Louis Ladenburger was temporarily removed from the priesthood to be treated for "inappropriate professional behavior and relationships," he was hired as a counselor at a school for troubled boys in Idaho.

Ladenburger was arrested in 2007 and accused of sexual battery; in a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He served about five months in prison.

According to Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff's reports, students said Ladenburger told them he was a sex addict. During counseling sessions, they said, the former Franciscan priest rubbed their upper thighs and stomachs, held their hands and gave them shoulder and neck massages. If students expressed confusion about their sexual identities, the sheriff’s reports say he fondled them and performed oral sex on them.

Ladenburger was fired from the school. In an interview with sheriff's officials at the time, he "admitted being a touchy person," kissing many students and having his "needs met by the physical contact" with the boys.

By then, he’d been gone from the church for more than a decade — in 1996, the Vatican had granted his request to be released from his vows. No officials from his religious order or from the dioceses in six different states where he had served had warned the school or provided details of the allegations against him when he was a priest.

In a lawsuit involving a sexual abuse allegation against another member of the Franciscan order, the complaint cited Ladenburger as an example of the harm done when church officials don’t report accusations of abuse to law enforcement, saying he likely never would have been hired at the school if the Franciscans had reported him when they first became aware.

"For all intents and purposes, they set loose a ticking time bomb that exploded in 2007," the lawsuit said.
To finish off, just two more of the many similar cases reported by Associated Press:
The Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology was not aware of the allegations against former priest William Finger when he was licensed as a counselor in 2012. The Brooklyn diocese publicly named Finger only in 2017, even though he had been laicized since 2002 because of abuse allegations.

According to a complaint filed in January with the board, a woman who asked not to be named contacted Finger’s employer last year to say he had abused her for a decade, beginning when he was a priest and she was 12 years old. She said he kissed her, fondled her and digitally penetrated her and also alleged he had sexually abused her sister and a female cousin.

The employer fired Finger, now 83, and reported the allegations to the state’s licensing board.

In many states, allegations dating from before someone was licensed or that never made it to court would have been dismissed. But Alabama’s board issued an emergency suspension because it is allowed to consider issues of “moral character” from any point in a licensed individual’s life.

The decision whether to permanently suspend Finger’s license is pending. He did not return multiple messages from the AP but denied the allegations in a statement to the licensing board. He also remains licensed as a counselor and hypnotherapist in Florida.

The AP also found that 91 of the clergy members had been licensed to work in schools as teachers, principals, aides and school counselors, only 19 of whom had their licenses suspended or revoked. Twenty-eight still are actively licensed or hold lifetime certifications.

That’s almost surely an undercount, since some private, religious or online schools don’t require teachers to be licensed and states like New Jersey and Massachusetts don’t have public databases of teacher licenses.

School administrators in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, knew for years that sixth-grade teacher Joseph Michael DeShan had been forced from the priesthood for impregnating a teen parishioner. But nearly two decades later, he remained in a classroom.

DeShan, now 60, left the Bridgeport, Connecticut, diocese in 1989 after admitting having sex with the girl beginning when she was 14. Two years later, she got pregnant and gave birth. The diocese did not report DeShan to the police, and he was never prosecuted.

By 2002, he was working as a teacher in Cinnaminson when church disclosures about his past raised alarms. After a brief investigation, administrators allowed DeShan to return to the classroom, where he remained until last year, when a new generation of parents renewed cries for his removal.

The school board tried to fire him, citing both his conduct as a priest and recent remarks to a student about her “pretty green eyes.” In April, a state arbitrator ruled against the district, saying it had been “long aware” of DeShan’s conduct as a priest.

The state confirmed DeShan, who did not return calls for comment, still holds a valid teaching license, but that the licensing board is seeking to revoke it. Parents say he is not in a classroom this fall, but his profile remains posted on the school website and the idea he could be allowed back is troubling, said Cornell Jones, whose daughter was in DeShan’s class last year.

“When I found out about this guy being her teacher I was just, ‘No way — there’s no way possible,’” Jones said. “I get a traffic violation and they make me pay. You violate a child and they just put you in a different zip code. How fair is that?”

It's clear from this report that the instinct of the leadership of the Catholic Church is still to protect the abusers and keep their crimes under wraps, regardless of the fact that many of them will go on to predate on more victims and looking for ways to gain access to children and vulnerable adults.

Where is the determination to root out this malignancy within the Church, to protect future victims and to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, that the Pope piously announces and cried his crocodile tears over? The Catholic Church, at least in the USA, is still insitutionally and instinctively acting like a huge paedophile ring accountable only to itself and believing itself to be above the law.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Evolution News - How a Medicinal Plant Evolved to Hide from Humans

Fritillaria delavayi in populations with high harvest pressure.
Photo credit: Yang Niu
Research news - Plant evolves to become less visible to humans - University of Exeter

Researchers from Exeter University and the Chinese Academy of Science Kunming Institute of Botany, have discovered that a plant, Fritillaria delavayi, used in Chinese medicine, has evolved to become harder to find and harvest.

They have shown how this example of cryptic camouflage is more prevalent in areas more heavily harvested than in areas where it is less likely to be picked.

The plant has leaves that naturally vary from grey through brown to green and only flowers when at least five years old, after which it produces a single flower each year. The bulbs are used in Chinese medicine and are harvested in the wild. Their price has escalated in recent years, increasing the selection pressure on them from human collectors.

Covidiot News - The Orthodox Patriarch, Prayer and Covid-19

Mourners kissed the glass cover on Patriarch Irinej's coffin, despite the risk of Covid-19.
Serbia: Thousands mourn Patriarch Irinej amid Covid concerns - BBC News

Mourners at the funeral of Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox church, today, mostly wore face-masks and observed sensible social distancing - apart that is from the priests who conducted the service. They declined to wear face-masks, despite the fact that Patriarch Irinej died of Covid-19, probably contracted when he conducted the service at the funeral of the Orthodox Church's most senior cleric in Montenegro, 82-year-old Metropolitan Bishop Amfilohije Radovic, who also died of Covid-19 earlier this month.

In line with tradition, many mourners kissed the glass covering over the dead patriarch's face, placed there to prevent them kissing his face and hands. Some even drank from the same communion spoon, believing their prayers and piety would keep them safe!

Patriarch Irinej, aged 90, was a conservative and was politically highly influential. He tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago, a few days after kissing the face and hands of the dead Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, at his funeral at the end of October. Those attending the funeral of Radovic had agreed to ignore the dangers from the coronavirus and abide by the tradition of walking up to the open coffin and kissing the hands and forehead of the dead priest.

Initially, Irinej's office issued a statement which said "His Holiness is hospitalised in a Covid-19 hospital in Belgrade. [He remains] without symptoms and is in excellent health." On 14th November his condition was described as "stable and under control during hospitalization". On 19th November the Serbian Orthodox Church officially refuted press reports of his death, despite press claims of 'reliable sources', but announced he was dead on 20th.

Coronavirus daily new cases, Serbia

Metropolitan Amfilohije was a notable coronavirus sceptic who foreswore wearing face-masks and recommended pilgrimages instead, describing them as "God's Vaccine". In addition to Patriarch Irinej, several other attendees at Amfilohije funeral were also reported to have contracted the virus and Amfilohije's successor was said to be suffering from "mild pneumonia".

Although ostensibly favouring inter-religious dialogue, Patriarch Irinej was a Serbian nationalist and advocate of 'Greater Serbia' who described the independence of Kosovo as a 'sin' and referred to Republika Srpska as a Serbian state - repeating the Serbian territorial claim to it that had precipitated the Serbia/Bosnia war following the breakup of former Yugoslavia. Republika Srpska is an ethnically Serbian-dominated autonomous part of the Federation of Bosnia and Hertzegovinia, which emerged as a compromise from the war.

During that conflict, a Serbian Nationalist and Greek Orthodox Volunteer militia occupied the town of Srebrenica and murdered 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in what a war-crimes trial later established was an act of genocide. The Serbian and Greek Orthodox churches had strongly supported the Serbians in the war against the mainly Moslem Bosniaks.
Having initially downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, Serbia's Orthodox leaders are now appealing for people to take it seriously. Patriarch Irinej and Metropolitan Amfilohije are just two of a large and growing number of religious clerics who have told their followers that prayer and pious deeds will save them, or even that the virus only infects the ungodly, only to have themselves then died of Covid-19.

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Saturday, 21 November 2020

Covidiot News - More Lying Christian Pastors Against Covid-19 Vaccines

Pastor Rodney Howard-Brown of The River church, Tampa, Florida and Revival Ministries International. Lying for money and to keep his death-cult paying for his quackery while endangering their health and welfare.
Lying Pastor: A COVID Vaccine Will Alter Your DNA and “Remove the God Factor” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

As I remarked in my previous post, there is something weird about fundamentalist Christians who seem to want to help their malevolent designer's special creation, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, kill people or at least make them sick.

This one, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, of The River church in Tampa, Florida, and Florida-based Revival Ministries International, who, along with his good friend, Pastor Jonathan Shuttlesworth, has been doing his best to ensure as many people as possible get Covid-19, is now lying in a desperate attempt to fool people into not having the vaccine medical science has developed to combat it.

Covidiot News - The Catholic Bishop And The Great Vaccine Lie

Bishop Joseph Brennan, Bishop of Fresno. Fooling the faithfooled.
Bishop tells Catholics not to jump on 'vaccine bandwagon’ - Los Angeles Times

There is something really weird about fundamentalist Christians. They seem to want people to catch the coronavirus!

And it's not just the American mega-church pastors more worried about their falling income than the welfare of their 'flock', who have campaigned against social distancing and wearing facemasks, often with blatant lies and criminal irresponsibility, encouraging and organising the super-spreader events that church services have become.

These same frauds are also now campaigning now against the vaccines that medical science is on the verge of bringing into mass production to protect us from the virus and bring life back to normal - even making it safe to go into a crowded church to stuff more money into the mega-rich pastor's bank account, safe in the knowledge that you're not going to take something away that could kill your friends and relatives.

This mysterious campaigning on the side of a lethal virus is almost like they know they should be siding with the malevolence they believe designed and perfected the SARS-C0V-2 virus. So, Bishop Joseph Brennan's deliberate attempt to trick his followers into thinking they should refuse any vaccine and instead take their chances with a lethal virus is understandable, even if morally reprehensible. He worships the malevolent god whom he believes sent the plague to make people sick and kill millions, and probably thinks its a blasphemy to try to counter its attempted genocide.

His lie is of course, that the vaccine is made from the bodies of aborted foetuses, playing on the superstition that the Catholic Church inculcates its members with that an aborted foetus and even the zygote resulting from in vitro fertilisation are full human beings and thus the sacred special creations of God. Brennan singled out the Pfizer vaccine now going into full production, claiming the cells of aborted foetuses were used in its production.

They are not. Not a single stage in the vaccine's production uses them, according to Pfizer spokeswoman, Jerica Pitt. Bishop Brenan has yet to correct this misinformation and to apologise to Catholics for dangerously and wilfully misleading them.

As with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the vaccines currently leading the race, such as the Oxford vaccine, are made from small sections of SARS-CoV-2 messenger RNA (mRNA); the section that carries the instructions for making the 'spike' proteins coating the surface of the virus which it uses to gain entry into the cells of the respiratory system and other organs. This is inserted into the genome of a harmless virus so that, when injected into a muscle, the harmless virus delivers its package of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA into the muscle cells whose internal mechanisms then begin to make the viral 'spike' protein.

The protein on its own is harmless but the body recognises it as foreign and makes antibodies against it. In effect, the vaccine tricks your immune system into thinking you have Covid-19. Now, when the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus enters your body, these antibodies attach to its 'spike' proteins and prevent them working, so the virus can't enter your cells and destroy them, nor can it reproduce to create a viral load for you to spread to other people.

This use of an 'mRNA vaccine' is a major technological breakthrough for medical science and opens up the possibility of quickly making new vaccines to combat other similar viruses as well as the resistant mutations that will inevitably evolve in the future, making us able to respond quickly and effectively against the parasite's latest move in the evolutionary arms race. Maybe it's this stunning victory of human medical science against the malevolent entity that fundamentalists believe creates these nasty little parasites and wages this arms race against us that so worries these people.

If we have eradicated its smallpox virus and are on the verge of eradicating its poliomyelitis virus, what of its special creations will we be attacking next, and how will that affect their market in the magical 'cures' for sickness they now hawk? Minimising the threat from SARS-CoV-2 is the final straw for frauds who require a frightened, superstitious people to prey on.

Their hated 'enemy', science, is winning and needs to be stopped!

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Friday, 20 November 2020

Malevolent Designer News - A Little More Malevolence

TB researcher Faramarz Valafar and his team have discovered what causes the TB bacterium to become resistant to antibiotics, which will help advance therapeutics and vaccine targets.
Solving a Mystery: How the TB Bacterium Develops Rapid Resistance to Antibiotics | NewsCenter | SDSU

The TB bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is one of the malevolent designer's little triumphs (if you've been taken in by the intelligent [sic] design hoax).

Once a major killer in cities where crowded conditions made transmission easy for it, medical science had seemed on the point of eliminating it with antibiotics and vaccinations. However, it has now made a strong come-back due to developing antibiotic resistance and is now endemic in many third world and developing countries with some 10 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths a year in 2018.

Exactly how it did this so quickly for an organism that is slow-growing and which reproduces relatively slowly was something of a mystery to medical science because a slow generation time is not conducive to rapid evolution and yet antibiotic resistance can arise within weeks or months in an individual patient undergoing treatment.

Intelligent [sic] design advocates, of course, have what they think is a better explanation - it was redesigned by their putative designer as another escalation in its arms race against human medical science in its determination to make us sick and die in an especially nasty way.

However, scientists at San Diego State University think they have discovered that this was due to evolution after all, not to the intervention of a magician, malevolent or otherwise.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Covidiot News - Wearing a Face Mask Does NOT Impair Breathing

Wearing a mask while exercising may feel uncomfortable, but research shows doing so does not impair lung function.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Exercised Over Nothing: Masks Don’t Impair Lung Function During Physical Activity

More evidence, if any were needed, that, contrary to the lies of President-reject-supporting evangelical Christians, wearing a face-mask does not impair airflow or exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, even during physical activity.

This is the conclusion from a meta-analysis of all known scientific literature that "examined the effects of various face masks and respiratory loading devices on physiological and perceptual responses to physical activity" by an American and Canadian team led by Susan Hopkins of the University College of San Diego, USA. The single exception was someone with severe cardiopulmonary disease for whom a minor change in resistance to breathing or a slight change in blood gasses could precipitate dyspnoea. However, these people are also at high risk from Covid-19 - an important factor when deciding whether to wear a face-mask or not.

The results of this analysis were published two days ago in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

President-Reject Donald Trump - Portrait of a Disordered Narcissist

President-reject Donald Trump, the best narcissist.
"No-one does narcissism better than me!"
Is This How Narcissists Think? | Psychology Today

An article by Mariette Jansen Ph.D., in Psychology Today neatly explains President-reject Donald Trump's bizarre behaviour. It is characteristic of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Although, like his all too obvious learning difficulties, this has never formally been diagnosed. Nevertheless, he has all five classic symptoms of NPD which can be easily observed.

These are:

Monday, 16 November 2020

Evolution News - Closing Creationism's Abiogenesis God-Shaped Gap

Early Earth (Artist's impression)

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab
Cysteine synthesis was a key step in the origin of life | UCL News - UCL – University College London

Abiogenesis is the creation industry's favourite fall-back gap for when they find the evidence for evolution irrefutable and overwhelming. Science is then challenged to reproduce a fully functional complex cell in a laboratory, starting out with a few raw chemicals.

What they've been conditioned to believe is that any current gap in our scientific knowledge will, unlike all the previous gaps, never be closed, so it must be done by a god, notwithstanding the absurd false dichotomy in that argument.

So, these instances of their abiogenesis god-shaped gap shrinking considerably under scientific scrutiny is bound to produce hand-waving denialism in even the hardiest of creationists. It is, of course just another small step by science toward a comprehensive understanding of how self-replicating, entropy-managing, free-living collections of chemicals in a bag, started evolving into today's amazing biodiversity.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Has The Malevolent Designer Blundered?

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Illustration by CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM
Common SARS-CoV-2 mutation may make coronavirus more susceptible to a vaccine | UNC-Chapel Hill

According to Intelligent [sic] Design Creationists, nothing in biology happens without the deliberate involvement of their putative intelligent [sic} designer. Nothing mutates by chance and no mutation increase in the gene pool unless this putative designer wills it.

So, let's play around with that notion in the context of the SARS-CovV-2 virus currently responsible for the coronavirus pandemic causing devastation, death and chaos throughout the world, and in the context of the sort of arms races that often ensue with a parasite-host relationship.

Covidiots - Why Conservatives Don't Care About the Welfare of Others

Here’s Why Conservatives, Liberals Differ on COVID-19 | Lehigh University

In a thought-provoking paper by Luke Nowlan and Daniel M. Zane of Lehigh University Business School, the different reaction to the coronavirus pandemic seen in conservatives and liberals (particularly in the USA), and especially the measures governments are taking to mitigate the effects of it, they showed how these can be explained by differences in the level of superstitious belief in agency.

As has been noted before in this blog, conservatives and fundamentalist religious creationists in particular tend to suffer from the teleological thinking mode they inherit from their infancy, so tend to see agency in everything. Nothing can happen in their world that doesn't have a sentient mind making it happen. No object can do anything unless it wants to or something else makes it. The same mode of thinking also makes them susceptible to conspiracy theories, of which the Theory of Evolution is believe to be one.

Liberal thinkers however are much more likely to accept that some things happen randomly and without purpose or intent simply because the world is not deterministic, so random things can and do happen.

Friday, 13 November 2020

False Prophets For President-Reject Trump

For an omnipotent, omniscient deity, the American fundamentalist Christian god seems to be sending an awful lot of false messages to his Talibangelist prophets these days.

The money these false prophets make from their dupes followers, anyone would think they never read their Bible:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Matthew 7:15-16


So who exactly are these ravening wolves? You've guessed it, they are the President-reject Trump-supporting super-rich telvangelist who live off the credulity of their dupes followers, and no-doubt, like Trump pay no tax on their ill-gotten gains, despite being barely-concealed propagandists for Trump and the Republican Party.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Catholic Abuse News - "A Sorry History of Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church"

Cardinal Vincent Nichol
"[Church's] moral purpose betrayed over decades" but not resigning.
Inquiry finds Catholic Church prioritised reputation over the welfare of children | IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The report published a couple of days ago by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse into the conduct of the Catholic Church in Britain, makes grim reading for anyone interested in child welfare.

It should have made grim reading for the head of the Catholic Church in Britain, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, since it called into question his leadership of the Church and his moral authority, but he has so far refused to even consider his position, claiming that he formally offered his resignation to Pope Francis when he reached the traditional retirement age for senior clergy, but Pope Francis formally declined it.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Covidiots - The Superspreader Christians of Charlotte, North Carolina

The United House of Prayer for All People church in Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Cases rise after attending events at United House of Prayer | Raleigh News & Observer

A large outbreak of Covid-19, in which at least nine people have died, 11 people have needed hospital treatment and 208 people and close contacts have tested positive for the SARC-CoV-2 virus, has been linked to a superspreader event held in the United House of Prayer for All People church in Mecklenburg, Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the latest update from Mecklenburg County:

Catholic Abuse News - Vatican Report Blames Pope John-Paul II For the Cardinal McCarrick Debacle.

Former Cardinal McCarrick.
Sexual predator and paedophile who pulled the wool over the eyes of three popes.
Vatican says Pope John Paul II ignored sex abuse allegations to promote ex-Cardinal McCarrick - CBS News

Pope John-Paul II knew about Cardinal (then Archbishop) McCarrick's sexual predation on children and young seminarians, but turned a blind eye to it when he promoted him to Cardinal.

That is the conclusion of a Vatican investigation into the omnishables that lead to Theodore McCarrick firstly being promoted to Archbishop, then to Cardinal and ending up as the most senior Catholic cleric in America, to then be summarily sacked and defrocked when Pope Francis finally learned the truth about him, to become the most senior Catholic cleric to be so treated. The report into the scandal (English Language version)(PDF) is published today.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

American History - Jefferson's DOI Edited to Remove Condemnation of Slavery!

Thomas Jefferson (Official Presidential Portrait) Rembrant Peale, 1800
Jefferson’s “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence - Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents | Exhibitions - Library of Congress

With the Black Lives Matter campaign still ongoing in the USA, it's worth taking a quick look at the history of a constitution which allowed slavery for so long and which has left America with a divided society where racism is institutionalised and a white President-reject who relied on racist white supremacists for support, describing them as 'very fine people'. And a very large proportion of the population incensed at the realisation that America now has a black (female!) Vice President, as though having had a black President for 8 years wasn't bad enough!

This also relates to the increasing clamour from the evangelical Christian white supremacists insisting that America is a Christian country, founded as such by the almost saint-like figures of the (White Christian) Founding Fathers.

The truth, as always with these assertions from the extreme right in politics is very different.

The founding document of the American Republic, the Declaration of Independence (DOI), was originally drafted by that deist friend of Thomas Paine and follower of John Locke, the liberal left Humanist, Thomas Jefferson. It included the following passage:

More Trumpanzees Losing it - Kenneth Copeland in Full Hysterical Meltdown

Kenneth Copeland
Here’s Kenneth Copeland Laughing Maniacally About Biden Winning the Election | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Talibangelist Trumpanzee and multi-millionaire, Kenneth Copeland, true to form, found reality too much to cope with, and promptly went into a full meltdown of hysterical laughter when he heard that Joe Biden had won the election and his personal saviour, Donald J. Trump had been booted from office.

Copeland gained fame in Evangelical Christian circles when he famously declared that he had killed the coronavirus by blowing on it and telling it to go. He repeated this feat on at least two further occasions as the case numbers and death toll rose in the first wave in the USA The virus, apparently unaffected by his magic spells, failed to comply with Copeland's instructions, while Copeland's gods (the one supposedly in Heaven, and the one in the White House) both stood by helplessly watching as things got worse.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Hypocrisy News - The Texan Talibangelical Attorney General and Sleaze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Talibangelical sleaze-bag (allegedly)
Conservative Christian TX Attorney General’s Affair Now Part of Criminal Case | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

The Texas Repugnican Attorney General, Ken Paxton, a committed Talibangelical Christian fighting for a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the USA, is in deep do-dos.

According to the AP report, he had an extra-marital affair with a women whom he later recommended for a job with a wealthy donor who is now at the centre of a criminal investigation against him.

Evangelical Trumpanzee News - Wingnuts in Deep Denial

Pastor Curt Landry "God won't allow me to be mocked!"
A brief roundup of how delusional Trumpanzee Talibangelical Christians reacted to the news that their saviour, Donald J Trump, had been booted out of office by the American electorate. It's not a pretty sight!

Curt Landry Declares Trump Will Win Because God Will Not Allow His Prophets to Be Mocked | Right Wing Watch
First off we have Pastor Curt Landry who believes he speaks for God and declared Trump the winner last Wednesday, so God will not allow him to be humiliated. He prophesied that the swing-states, most of which went to Biden, would be won by Trump.
Son of man, do you think that I am going to allow my prophets who prophesied Trump’s second term and prophesied all this goodness coming to this nation to be mocked by a mass media manipulation? No, I shall not. For my namesake, I shall protect my word, I shall protect my people, I shall protect my prophets from this evil destruction. For I shall pull back the veil and I shall reveal that which is done in darkness. For they who shift the votes and move the boxes around, those who raised the dead and the dead vote, I will expose them says the Lord. For they may be tricky men, but they shall not trick me.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Malevolent Designer News - More Mendacity in 'Design' of SARS-CoV-2

Virus that causes COVID-19 puts a plug in cellular defenses | YaleNews

Three stories in the scientific news today show the amazingly creative intelligence of the evil genius whom creationists believe created the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The first is about how the virus overcomes the immune system this creator allegedly created to protect us from its creations - like viruses and bacteria. According to the findings of a research team from Yale, the virus reprograms the cell to make a protein, known as non-structural protein 1 (Nsp1) which acts as as plug to block the channel in the ribosomes through which the strand of messenger RNA (mRNA) needs to pass for transcription into a protein to occur. This prevents the cell from producing the immune proteins it needs to fight infections.

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