Thursday 31 January 2019

Evolution in Progress - Eurasian Blackcap

Male Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla
It's nice to be able to report on a recently-observed example of behavioural change in one of Britain's more tuneful warblers - the Eurasian blackcap - brought about by human activity.

When I was young, a popular ornithology trivia question was, what is the only resident British warbler? 'Resident' meaning non-migratory and remaining in Britain all year round.
The answer, found after hours of searching though my bird books, was the Dartford warbler, a very pretty little warbler found in southern England and believed to then be the only warbler to over-winter here.

That's now changed. As I witnessed last winter with one regularly coming to feed in our garden, and again a few days ago when I saw and heard one singing in a tree in my sister-in-law's garden, an increasing number of Blackcaps are now resident in Britain throughout winter, at least in Oxfordshire. There have also been numerous reports from other parts of the UK. This has led scientists to speculate that this could be the beginning of a speciation as the two populations become reproductively isolated.

Monday 21 January 2019

Catholic Abuse News - Covington Cases

Nick Sandmann and other Trump-supporting Covington Catholic High School students taunt and abuse an Elder of the Omaha Nation
The Diocese Of Covington, Kentucky Paid $120M To Settle Priest Sex Abuse Claims | The Intellectualist.

With the controversy over privileged white students from a private Catholic school in Covington, Kentucky, USA, donning MAGA hats and taunting Native Americans with racists abuse at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, it's worth taking a look at the moral values of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Covington that is teaching them.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Christian Subversion Update - Mississippi Missionary Baptists

State Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson, introduced House Bill 427, which would violate the Establishment Clause.
Photo credit: Mississippi House of Representatives
Mississippi May Mandate Ten Commandments and Pledges to State, U.S. Flags in Schools | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

American Christian fundamentalists are continuing their campaign to subvert the US Constitution, apparently in the belief that the Establishment Clause either doesn't or shouldn't apply to them. This time a concerted effort is being made in Mississippi to make the teaching of Christian dogma compulsory in public schools, to have Mississippi taxpayers pay for it and to impose fines for complying with the Constitution and Supreme Court Rulings forbidding it.

As the Jackson Free Press reports:

Thursday 17 January 2019

Catholic Abuse News - Trust in the Clergy Hits a New Low

U.S. Catholics' Faith in Clergy Is Shaken

A recent Gallop poll has uncovered a huge decline in the perceived ethical standards of clergy in the USA, especially amongst Catholics.

In a survey conducted at the end of 2018, after the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report which found that over 300 priests had abused over 1000 children in 70 years in Pennsylvania alone, only 31% of Catholics believe the ethical standards of clergy (of all denominations) is high or very high. This compares with 49% just a year earlier. In 2008, it was more than double, at 68%.

Friday 11 January 2019

Catholic Abuse News - The Nuns' Stories Updated

Sister Lucy Kalappura
Congregation threatens to dismiss “rebel” nun – Matters India

No sooner did I report on the promising, though uncharacteristic, response of the Catholic Church in India to the news of the arrest on rape charges of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, than this update arrived in my 'to read' list. The response it seems is not quite what it first appeared to be.

The church seems now to have resorted to the time-honoured tactic of siding with the abuser, bullying the witnesses and ignoring and vilifying the victims.

Catholic Abuse News - The Nuns' Stories

Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, left, sister Alphy Pallasseril, center, and Sister Anupama Kelamangalathu, at St. Francis Mission Home, in Kuravilangad.
Credit: AP Photo/Manish Swarup
Nuns in India tell AP of enduring abuse in Catholic church

The sexual perk of choice for Catholic priests in Britain, Europe, North and South America, and Australia, is traditionally vulnerable children over whom they are able to exercise control, although nuns feature too, especially in places like Africa and Asia where many nuns come from a misogynistic, patriarchal and uneducated background.

In India, it seems, according to this AP News report, the choice for recreational sex for priests is nuns. Many Indian Catholic nuns come from a culture which reveres Catholic priests and in which a woman is expected to be servile and subservient.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Catholic Abuse News - Covering Their Backs

Cardinal O'Malley (left) and Cardinal Dolan
O’Malley Turns in Dolan for Abuse Cover-Up

The fall-out from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, and their cover-up by bishops and cardinals, continues.

As more American States launch similar investigations, cardinals like Boston's Sean O'Malley have started to distance themselves from the scandal by turning other colleagues in, according to this Spanish language report in Religión Digital.

The president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, has denounced his counterpart, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, in a letter to the Papal nuncio in Washington for the cover-up of the crimes of the convicted pedophile priest, Donald Timone.
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