Wednesday 29 June 2022

Malevolent Designer News - The SARS-CoV-2 Virus is a Sophisticated Design For Increasing Suffering

Illustration of a SARS-CoV-2 viral particle entering a cell. The particle pierces through a cell’s membrane, made of two layers of lipids. A PNNL-OHSU team has shown how lipids are key to the ability of the virus to replicate.

Illustration: Michael Perkins | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
COVID-19 Fattens Up Our Body’s Cells to Fuel Its Viral Takeover | PNNL

Creationist mode:

No doubt the more they learn about the SARS-CoV-2 which is causing the current COVID-19 pandemic, the more creationists will come to admire the sheer brilliance of the divine malevolence they believe created it for the sole purpose of killing millions of people and making hundreds of millions sicker, to generally increase the suffering in the world. At least that's what it achieved and is still achieving so, since it is supposedly omniscient, we have to believe it knew precisely what it would do and designed it for that purpose.

Now a group of scientists has discovered yet another example of just what a brilliantly sophisticated machine for making us sick this nasty little virus is. They have found that it

undertakes a massive takeover of the body’s fat-processing system, creating cellular storehouses of fat that empower the virus to hijack the body’s molecular machinery and cause disease.

but before creationists get too excited, the scientists from Oregon Health & Science University and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory caution that these results were obtained from cell cultures, not living humans, so must be treated with caution pending more research. Nevertheless, what they found should be enough to impress devotees of the malevolence that they believe designed this virus.

The news release from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory explains:

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Evolution News - Human Origins Just Got More Complicated.

The skull of 'Little Foot', Australopithecus prometheus, from south Africa, now believed to be a contemporary of 'Lucy', Au. Afarensis, from Ethiopia.
Fossils in the ‘Cradle of Humankind’ may be more than a million years older than previously thought - Purdue University News

As I have pointed out many times here and on the social media, as well as in my popular book, What Makes You So Special: From The Big Bang to You., far from the often repeated creationist lie that there are no transitional fossils, there are actually so many of them that they serve only to cloud, not clarify the picture. Just when you think there is a nice direct line from a species of Australopithecus up to say, Homo erectus and thence to us, up pops another Australopithecus that might be a side branch or it might be an early ancestor of Homo sapiens. In the end we are left with a confusing collection of ancient African fossils that might or might not be our direct ancestors or might or might not be the ancestors of am extinct side branch, with no real way to determine which.

The picture is confused further when the fossils from which DNA has been extracted show that early hominins had a tendency to spread over a very wide range, evolve for a while in isolation, but not enough to be incapable of interbreeding with a cousin species, then come back together again and exchange DNA by interbreeding, so we may in fact never have had a single original distinct ancestral species but we are the descendants of two or more that hybridized.

Now the picture has been clarified a little by a scientists from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and the University Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France, who have used a new dating method developed by Dr Darryl Granger of Purdue University to reassess the date of several hominin fossils found in the Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa and pushed their dates back more than a million years. This makes them older that 'Lucy' (Au. afarensis) who is believed to be close to our direct Australopithecine ancestor, if not actually our ancestor. It is hoped, that more accurate dating will leader to a more accurate placing of these fossils over time, so making lineages easier to identify.

From the Purdue University news release:

Climate Emergency News - Temperature Change Will Impact on Bumble Bees

Climate change negatively impacting bumblebees: Study - SFU News - Simon Fraser University

A stark reminder of the effects of climate change and the danger this represents to life on Earth, was published recently in the form of a study into the effects of global warming on the population of bumblebees in North America. The study was conducted by scientists from Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada, led by Hanna Jackson, in collaboration with scientists from the U.S.-based Pollinator Partnership, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California.

Their findings were published, open access, in the Royal Society's Biology Letter

bumblebees are essential pollinators on which many plants depend for their reproduction and without which many plants would not produce the next generation. They are also essential for pollinating a number of human food crops from oilseed rape to fruit, so a significant loss of bumblebees would be economically catastrophic.

The Simon Fraser University press release explains the team's methodology and main findings:

Atheism - Winning in Australia

Census 2021 results: Christianity plummets as ‘non-religious’ surges

Figures released today show that, like elsewhere in the civilised, advanced world, Australians are abandoning religion in droves. The percentage of Australians who described themselves as 'Christian' in the 2021 census fell below 50% to 44% for the first time in Australia's history.

This figure has fallen from 52% in just 5 years. In 2011 it stood at 61%. When a census was first conducted in Australia in 1911, 96% of Australians identified themselves as Christian.

These figures are revealed in the first tranche of data to be released from last years census. The percentage who ticked the 'no religion' box stood at 39%, up from 30% just 5 years ago, and almost double what it was in 2011. Those who identified as Catholic fell 3 percentage points to 20% and Anglican fell 3 percentage points to 10%. Falls in other minor Christian denominations brought the total figure for Christians as a whole down to 44% from the 52% recorded just 5 years ago.

The percentage of Australians self-identifying as 'non-religious' is highly significant because it shows the extent to which 'non-religious' has become acceptable in Australia. In the mid-1960s only 1% of Australians so self-identified. What we are seeing in Australia is what we saw in the UK, where the social stigma of having no religion, so being perceived wrongly as immoral and untrustworthy, has gone, to be replaced by a more realistic perception of intelligence, compassion and integrity, so more and more people are coming out of the closet.

Sunday 26 June 2022

Covidiot News - Another Reason Why Pregnant Women Should Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy reduced the risk of hospitalisation with COVID-19 for babies under 6 month-old by 80% for the Delta variant and by 40% for the Omicron variant.
COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy Helps Protect Infants from Needing Hospital Care for COVID-19 | Lurie Children's

Contrary to the antivaxx propaganda coming from the extreme right in the USA, a new study, sponsored by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has shown that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy reduced the risk of babies under 6 month old needing hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, by 80% during the Delta wave and 40% during the Omicron wave.

The study, led by Dr. Bria M. Coates, MD, was conducted by investigators from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. It included infants younger than 6 months of age who were admitted to 30 paediatric hospitals in 22 states from July 1, 2021, to March 8, 2022. Dr Coates and his colleagues found that most infants (90 percent) who needed intensive care due to COVID-19 infection were born to mothers who were not vaccinated during pregnancy.

The results were published a few days ago in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital press release explains the importance of these findings:

Saturday 25 June 2022

Fake News - Why People Believe False Stories and Disinformation

Why We Fall for Disinformation | Psychology Today

In a report published recently by the US Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) a team of psychologists analysed the reasons why so many people are falling for disinformation. The problem us due to the way we have evolved to deal with information and the fact that this has ill-prepared us to deal with the vast amount of information now being directed at us by modern technology.

In fact, some of the time-tested tools make us dangerously vulnerable to disinformation, especially disinformation designed to mislead and garner support for extremist groups for whom the truth would be toxic. We see this today in the form of disinformation about, for example, COVID-19, the measures to reduce its spread and the vaccines designed to protect us from it. We also see it in relation to politics, political movements and parties, international affairs, religious fundamentalism and anti-science propaganda, such as climate change and evolution, and especially conspiracy theories such as those promulgated by QAnon and former President, Donald Trump's supporters, intended to radicalise, undermine confidence in institutions, and garner support for extreme solutions to non-existent problems.

In other words, disinformation campaigns are designed to benefit those whom the report calls 'malign actors', for whom the truth would be dangerous and who know they need their target marks to believe falsehoods and mistrust the evidence.

In the abstract to their report, the psychologists, Heather Wolters, Kasey Stricklin, Neil Carey, and Megan K. McBride, say:

Friday 24 June 2022

Confidence in U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to Historic Low

Confidence in U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to Historic Low | Gallop

According to the latest Gollop Poll, the damage the disastrous president, Donald Trump, did to American democracy continues to fester.

This time it is a dramatic collapse in the level of trust in the Supreme Court that Americans have, since Trump appointed overtly partisan Republican placemen to SCOTUS while in office. A flourishing democracy needs an independent judiciary, not an overtly partisan one, but SCOTUS is now expected to deliver verdicts demanded by the right-wing political fringe and religious fundamentalists, while ignoring the wishes and opinions of mainstream Americans. Consequently, the percentage of Americans who say they have a great deal or quite a lot of trust in SCOTUS has fallen to a new low of just 25%, an 11 percentage point fall in just the last year.

Thursday 23 June 2022

Evolution News - How Humans Evolved to Get Along With Neighbours

Shared grooming among bonobos is indicative of their group dynamics, which includes tolerance and cooperation.

Photo: Martin Surbeck
Bonobos’ tolerant, peaceful group relationships paved way for human peacemaking – Harvard Gazette

Despite our long history of often religiously-inspired wars, and divisions into mutually-hostile camps, humans are actually quite good at getting along with neighbouring social groups, and peace-making is generally considered a noble activity, while war-mongering is generally despised.

In this respect we much more closely resemble the peaceable bonobos with whom we share 99% of our genes, than the equally closely related chimpanzees.

Not surprisingly, because it is an innate human trait, early Christians tried to claim credit for the idea that peace-making is a skill to be admired, with "Blessed are the peace-makers". The pity is, because they only saw things in selfish terms, they made it look like something only worth doing for a personal reward and not for the greater social good, because it leads to greater human happiness. Ironically, with peace-making featuring in their Beatitudes (Matthew 5:9), it may well be the result of evolution and an indication of our common ancestry with the bonobo.

But how did we get this way?

Evolution News - Many Human Groups Show Evidence of a Sharp Dip in the Population

Many human genomes shaped by past events that caused sharp dips in the population | Plos Genetics.

Distribution of the oldest founder events dated at different locations of the world using ancient and present-day samples. Smaller sized points with warmer color correspond to more recent founder events.
Credit: Rémi Tournebize and Priya Moorjani (CC-BY 4.0)

In a paper published today in Plos Genetics, the author report finding evidence that many human populations show evidence of founder effects with a small number of founders and a consequent genetic bottleneck with a high level of inbreeding.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Covidiot News - More Figures Show How Antivaxxer Covidiots Were Culling Their Own Supporters with COVID-19

High vaccination rates blunted Delta variant surge in some US states | For the press | eLife

Figures published yesterday in eLife, show that, during the Delta variant wave of COVID-19 in the summer of 2021, areas with a high level of vaccine take-up in the USA had a lower peak of hospitalisations and deaths, and a shorter duration of the wave, compared to areas where the take-up was low.

The summer of 2021 was of course when pro-Trump QAnon, antivaxxers and evangelical Christians were loudest in campaigning to mislead people about the severity of the pandemic and the effectiveness/harmful effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, as a direct consequence of then president Trump's incompetent response to the crisis where he was out of his depth, so sought to minimise it to justify his inaction and indecision, so setting the scene for his supporters in the far right Trumpanzee cults. Consequently, those parts of America where a large number of people, mostly Trumpanzee Republicans, were refusing to get vaccinated or take sensible precautions against catching the virus and passing it on to others.

Now figures are showing the harm that did to those who fell for the lies emanating from the White House, and so made themselves vulnerable to the potentially life-threatening condition.

As the eLife press release says:

Malevolent Designer News - What a Devilishly Good Job Creationism's Divine Malevolence Made of Malaria!

This false-colored electron micrograph shows a sporozoite of Plasmodium bergei migrating through the cytoplasm of midgut epithelia of an Anopheles stephensi mosquito.

© Ute Frevert/Margaret Shear/Wikipedia
Why vaccination against malaria quickly loses its protective effect

Scientists in Germany have worked out why immunity to malaria is not very effective and has a very short duration.

Malaria is one of the world's biggest killers. It is caused by a number of different, closely related Plasmodium parasites, normally transmitted by Anopheles mosquitos. The commonest parasite is Plasmodium falciparum and the most efficient vector is Anopheles gambiae. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC):
Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries, where young children and pregnant women are the groups most affected. According to the 2021 World Malaria Report:
  • Nearly half the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 87 countries and territories.
  • In 2020, malaria caused an estimated 241 million clinical episodes, and 627,000 deaths. An estimated 95% of deaths in 2020 were in the WHO African Region.
Now Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) who studied the human immune response after immunization with the malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum have discovered that the immune response has a very short duration. They concluded:

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Evolution News - How Plants Colonised the Land.

The diversity of flora and fauna as we know them today and the substrate on which thrive are thanks to a single species of algae that first went ashore more than 500 million years ago. This and all other drawings in the publication are by the paper’s first author, Dr. Mona Schreiber.
Image: HHU /Dr Mona Schreiber
Universität Düsseldorf: The Greening Ashore.

A team led by evolutionary biologist Prof. Dr. Sven Gould of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) has been studying the current state of research on the plant colonisation of land that occurred some 500 million years ago. The findings from this illustrated overview study published by Dr. Mona Schreiber as lead author have now appeared, open access, in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Plant Science.

It was to take several hundred million years for Earth to cool sufficiently for oceans and landmasses to form then the conditions on land were far from conducive to the life that was evolving in the oceans to begin to colonise that land. Until about 500 million years ago, seismic activity meant the atmosphere was toxic and a weaker magnetic field meant UV light was more intensive. Then things began to change, and all terrestrial plant life has developed from the first plant species, a streptophyte alga, that began to move out of the oceans onto land. This was followed by simple animal life which in turn created the opportunities for tetraploid vertebrates to exploit by coming onto the land, developing air-breathing and a tetrapodal lifestyle.

The Heinrich Heine Universität news release explains:

Evolution News - Why Cave-Dwelling Species Appear to be Degenerate

The olm, Proteus anguinus

Photo: Nacionalni park Una/Wikicommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

White, fat and blind — Economy and evolution in caves: Current Biology

One of the aspects of evolution that creationists find difficult to cope with is the fact that, in the right environmental conditions, evolution can result in a loss of complexity, whereas, to make it easier to attack, creationist dogma defines evolution as an increase in complexity (which they then claim is impossible due to misrepresentation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Shanning Information Theory). For example, many parasitic organisms, particularly intestinal worms, have lost their digestive systems and absorb nutrients directly from the pre-digested contents of their host’s gut.

Other examples can be found in species adapted for living in caves which often lose their eyes and/or pigmentation. Once it was thought that these were examples of regression as these were the remnants of competition with their fitter, surface-dwelling relatives which had taken shelter in the safety of caves. Darwin found them difficult to explain because there seemed to be no obvious way in which a loss of function could be advantageous. At one point, Darwin seemed to accept a Lamarckian explanation for the loss of eyes in that their loss was a direct consequence of their lack of use.

Saturday 18 June 2022

Malevolent Designer News - Where Creationism's Favourite Sadist Released the Black Death on Humanity

Origins of the Black Death identified | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

View of the Tian Shan mountains.
Studying ancient plague genomes, researchers traced the origins of the Black Death to Central Asia, close to Lake Issyk Kul, in what is now Kyrgyzstan.

© Lyazzat Musralina
The Black Death was one of Creationism's divine malevolence's earlier attempt to kill millions of people, and it was spectacularly successful, reducing the population of Eurasia by up to 60% between 1346 and 1353, and wiping out some villages completely - that is, of course, if you buy into the intelligent [sic] design hoax that says complex organism must have been designed because evolution doesn't happen, and even if it does, it can't account for complexity [sic].

The Black Death, which theologians at the time were in no doubt was some form of divine retribution - for whatever they said it was for. The shock of it to devout European Christian culture caused all sorts of obscure sects to arise, like the flagellants, who walked about beating themselves with whips. The obvious fact that praying to dead ancestors called saints and begging them to intercede with God and put a stop to the plague, wasn't working, coupled with a widespread belief that it was the routine debauchery and corruption within the Catholic Church that had resulted in divine retribution, eventually led to a fundamental reassessment of how people saw their relationship with God, culminating in the Protestant Reformation.

The pandemic was caused by the organism Yersinia pestis and a large team of researchers, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, the University of Tübingen, Germany, and the University of Stirling, Scotland, UK have worked out exactly where it started, something that has long been a mystery. They did this by studying the genome of ancient samples of Y. pestis

From the Max Planck-Gesellschaft news release:

Friday 17 June 2022

Superstition News - Abandonment of Religion Accelerating in USA

Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low

A new Gallop survey shows an accelerating fall in belief in God amongst American adults, and this trend hold true across all demographic grouping, whether age, race, geography of political leaning.

Belief in God is now at it's lowest (81%) since Gallop started polling on the issue. During the years 1944 to 2011 it had averaged just over 93% (range 92%-98%) but since then it has fallen by 12 percentage points, with half that fall occurring over the last year. To put that another way, the number of people admitting to not believing doubledlast year and now stands at 19% of American adults. An astonishingly high level of belief for an advanced economy, compared to that in most of Europe, but a very encouraging recent trend.

Thursday 16 June 2022

Covidiot News - How Antivaxxer Trumpanzee Covidiots Continue to Harm Their Gullible Supporters

Factors causing low COVID-19 vaccination have spilled over to lower flu vaccination rates | UCLA Health

A new study from UCLA researchers indicates a previously undocumented impact of widespread Covid-19 vaccine promotion on other public health behaviours. Adult flu vaccination rates have declined in states with low rates of Covid-19 vaccination, which the authors say may be a harbinger of declining trust in public health, suggesting that Covid-19 vaccination behaviour has spilled over to flu vaccination behaviour. The finding is published in The New England Journal of Medicine as a letter to the editor.

States with a low COVID-19 take-up are, of course, mostly red states where a majority of voters think Trump was a good president, so have been easy victims for the right-wing frauds who spread antivaxx disinformation and claim the pandemic was a conspiracy and the measure to combat it were unnecessary and an attack on their freedoms. These are also the fools who believed the right-wing political rhetoric of the pro-Trump evangelical white Christian churches who said it was all a plot to close the churches and to prevent Christians from practicing their faith.

It is alarming that controversy surrounding Covid-19 vaccination may be undermining separate public health efforts that save thousands of lives each year. Many Americans who never before declined a routine, potentially life-saving vaccine have started to do so. This supports what I have seen in my clinical practice and suggests that information and policies specific to Covid-19 vaccines may be eroding more general faith in medicine and our government’s role in public health.

Much as someone’s decision to wear or forgo a mask in public during the early pandemic was linked with their more general beliefs through the idea of ‘belief signaling’, we propose that ‘belief generalization’ may account for Covid-19 vaccine-specific opinions being generalized to other vaccines. People who feel compelled to oppose or support Covid-19 vaccines may feel that they should in turn oppose or support other vaccines.

Dr Richard Leuchter, MD, lead author
A resident physician at UCLA Health
And the David Geffen School of Medicine.
The letter to the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine points out how these fools have been victimised twice - one over the COVID-19 vaccine and again over the trustworthiness of medical science and in particular the flu vaccines which have done so much to prevent a serious flu pandemic by giving annual flu jabs to combat the latest, or most likely new flu variants.

According to the UCLA Health press release:
The authors used publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected through January 2022 to evaluate how flu vaccination rates changed during the pandemic based on state-wide rates of Covid-19 vaccination.

Flu vaccination rates for the first flu season of the pandemic (2020-2021), which pre-dated the widespread availability of Covid-19 vaccines, remained relatively stable across all states. However, in the second flu season of the pandemic (2021-2022), which was after widespread promotion of Covid-19 vaccines, flu vaccination rates dropped 4.5 percentage points (from 43.7% to 39.2%) in states with below-average rates of Covid-19 vaccination. Conversely, states with the highest uptake of Covid-19 vaccines saw increases in average flu vaccination rates of 3.8 percentage points (from 49.0% to 52.8%).

The authors say these findings taken together suggest that Covid-19 vaccination behaviors have spilled over to other public health behaviors, in this case flu vaccination. They explain that this relationship works in both directions: factors causing low Covid-19 vaccination rates (e.g., mistrust of Covid-19 vaccines, concerns about side effects, lack of trust in government) are linked to declines in flu vaccination compared to pre-pandemic times, whereas factors causing high rates of Covid-19 vaccination are spilling over to increase flu vaccination rates.

The authors propose that both of these trends may be explained by something called belief generalization.
It takes a special kind of stupid to think that, even if COVID-19 vaccinations are unnecessary and/or don't work or are part of some nefarious Satanic plot (which admittedly takes a high level of credulous gullibility in the first place) that this means flu jabs should be avoided too. But then we are still talking about people who think Trump was a good president, so for whom evidence is of no consequence and what they're taught to think from the pulpit is definitive truth.

The press release continues:

This is compelling evidence that the vaccination behaviors for flu and Covid-19 vaccines are inextricably linked.

Dr Richard Leuchter, MD
Rates of full vaccination against Covid-19 (i.e., both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine) varied from 50% (Alabama) to 81% (Rhode Island) through January 2022. Flu vaccination rates through January of the 2021-2022 flu season were also highly variable, ranging from 31% (Mississippi) to 59% (Connecticut). The study authors found that 60% of the variation in a state’s flu vaccination rate could be explained solely by that state’s average Covid-19 vaccination rate.

The authors note that these findings apply only to the general adult population. Flu vaccination rates among children fell uniformly and precipitously across both the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 flu seasons, regardless of when Covid-19 vaccines were introduced or state-wide rates of Covid-19 vaccination. The authors point out that previous studies have reported similar dramatic national declines in rates of childhood vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). Leuchter says that while belief generalization in the negative direction may partially explain why parents are opting out of routine vaccines for their children, the fact that childhood flu vaccination declined even among states with high rates of Covid-19 vaccination suggests that belief generalization from Covid-19 vaccines does not fully account for this trend. Reassuringly, flu vaccination rates among adults over 65 years of age remained relatively stable during these two flu seasons compared to the 2019-2020 season, albeit persistently underutilized in this population.

This study had some limitations. For instance, it did not directly measure individuals’ beliefs or reasons for forgoing vaccination. As an observational study, it does not prove that lack of trust of the vaccines or government caused the new decline in flu vaccination rates. In addition, the CDC reports flu vaccination rates based on self-report surveys and has not made county-level data for the 2021-2022 flu season available, so only state-wide data were used.

Despite these limitations, the researchers state that these findings should raise alarm and prompt rigorous study of the causes of decreases in non-Covid-19 vaccination rates to inform urgent action and corrective policies.

Sadly the letter in The New England Journal of Medicine is protected by copyright so can't be reproduced here. However, in their open paragraph, the authors make it clear that they place responsibility for this situation on the polarization of opinion over COVID-19:
The polarizing nature of vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) within the United States threatens public health and has contributed to variable statewide vaccine uptake that ranged from 50 to 80% as of January 2022.1 Given the divided national landscape and anecdotal evidence from our own patients, we hypothesized that low Covid-19 vaccination rates would be associated with decreases in influenza vaccination rates.
This polarization was a deliberate attempt by the Trump administration and his allies on the extreme right to politicise the pandemic, believing they would make political capital from such polarization. As things turned out, all they achieved was fooling their own supporters into risking serious illness and death from COVID-19, and now, as this article shows, from a seasonal flue epidemic.

The American Republican Pary is probably the first political party in history to promote policies that make their own supporters sick and take part in what some commentators have likened to a self-inflicted genocide of right-wing covidiot Trumpanzees, and Trumpanzee cultists are probably the first political faction who think policies which seem designed to harm them, are good things to vote for.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Religious Sexual Abuse News - #ChurchToo is Revealing an Epidemic of Routine Sexual Abuse in Christian Churches

A 'washing line' of women’s' dresses donated by sexual assault survivors from Amish and other plain-dressing religious groups beneath a description of each survivors' age and church affiliation, on Friday, April 29, 2022, in Leola, Pa. The exhibit's purpose was to show that sexual assault is a reality among children and adults in such groups. Similar exhibits held nationwide aim to shatter the myth that abuse is caused by a victim's clothing choice.

AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski
#ChurchToo revelations growing, years after movement began

Far from routine sexual abuse being the preserve of the Catholic Church, the #ChurchToo movement is revealing a culture of routine sexual abuse in America's fundamentalist Protestant churches to equal anything a Catholic diocese can produce.

About the only thing they have in common is hypocritical pastors pretending to act with God's authority and so having a hold on superstitious and gullible people, conditioned to accept that 'men of God' act from the purist of motives and would never knowing harm anyone or exploit their vulnerabilities.

In a video which has had well over 1 million hits worldwide, pastor, John B. Lowe II, of an independent church in Illinois, confessed to years of “adultery,” moments before his victim, Bobi Gephart, who was 16 when the abuse started, went on stage with her husband and took the microphone because Lowe was being 'economical' with the truth.

Lowe subsequently resigned from the New Life Christian Church & World Outreach in Warsaw, Illinois.

This has encouraged many more abuse victims to come forward in much the same way the #MeToo movement encouraged abuse survivors in other walks of life to come forward and talk about their abuse.

The Amish, of course, whom many people assume are gentle, kind and sincere followers of Jesus in all they do, if a little fanatical, are not immune to accusations of sexual abuse, as this documentary shows:

Possibly motivated by concern for the damage these abuses do to the survivors, although the damage they are doing to the Christian churches in the USA where church attendance and affiliation are now dropping at the rate they did in Europe in the late 20th century, can't have gone unnoticed, ministers like Jimmy Hinton of the Church of Christ in Somerset, Pennsylvania are becoming active advocates for abuse survivors and see the #ChurchToo movement as a good thing which will help expose the "absolute epidemic of abuse in the church, in religious spaces". He says that “Survivors have far more power than they ever think imaginable", on his Speaking Out on Sex Abuse podcast.

Hinton turned in his own father, then a minister, now serving jail time for aggravated indecent assault.

Although 'liberal' churches have had their share of abuse cases with the Episcopal Church releasing details of abuse allegations during its 2018 Conference, and an Anglican Church of Canada archbishop, Mark MacDonald, resigning in April following "acknowledged sexual misconduct", the majority of abuse cases are coming from the conservative Protestant churches - the very churches that saw no problem with Donald Trump's serial adultery, sexual assaults on women, using the services of prostitutes and criminal conspiracies.

Duggar Family, 2004. A highly sexualised, conservative Christian 'purity' culture which advocated male authority and female modesty and subservience and a "Don't tell" code of silence.
In these churches there is a 'purity culture' which advocates male authority and female modesty, where dating is discouraged in favour of traditional courtship and marriage.

It was from this background that the reality TV star of 19 Kids and Counting, Josh Duggar, came. The Duggar family were the darlings of American conservative Christians and advocates of chastity, home-schooling and traditional courtship. Josh Duggar is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for child pornography offences. As a teenager, he is alleged to have molested his younger sisters. Prosecutors said he had a 'deep-seated, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children'. Among the images on his laptop were videos of toddlers being raped.

This unhealthily sexualised culture of male authority and female subservience, coupled with a reluctance to complain or inform the law enforcement authorities, and a willingness to 'forgive' and stay silent, creates a culture where the men feel entitles to sexual relations with women and the women feel they don't have the right to refuse or a right to redress, but should just forgive and move on. And all with good biblical authority in God’s Holy Word. An ideal culture for sexually predatory men to find and exploit vulnerable women and children.

Give these men the title ‘pastor’ and put them in positions of even greater authority as God’s personal representatives, over the women and children in their congregations and the temptations to abuse are too great to be resisted, and anyway, she won’t tell, and if she does, no-one will do anything and all will be forgiven. The result of this is the current deluge of abuse allegations coming out under the #ChurchToo movement.

As good an example as you could wish for of how, far from providing a decent moral compass and a decent, kind, caring and compassionate society:

Religions provide excuses for people who need excuses!

Another Christian Megachurch Cult, Another Clutch of Sexually Predatory Pastors

Pastor Bruxy Cavey, former leader of the The Meeting House
Charged with the sexual assault of an adult woman
Canadian megachurch discloses 38 reports of sexual misconduct by 4 pastors

Religions provide excuses for people who need excuses. This holds true across all denominations and all flavours of Christianity

Only days after we had news that the leader and founder of the Mexican-based La Luz del Mundo cult had been sentenced to almost 17 years in jail by a Californian court, for the rape and sexual abuse of minors, we have news that the former leader of the Canadian Anabaptist megachurch, The Meeting House, has been charged with sexual assault against an adult woman and an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who had gone to him for counselling.

And the church's leadership have now revealed that investigations have found credible evidence of the sexual misconduct of three more pastors, two of whom have been convicted, giving a total of 38 instances of sexual misconduct.

The former leader, of the cult, Bruxy Cavey, was suspended last March when an independent investigation found that he had a year-long sexual relationship with a woman who had sought counselling. It is not clear whether the woman is the complainant in the assault charge.

According to this report in Religion News Service, Jennifer Hryniw, a member of the Board of Overseers, told a meeting on 7 June, in Oakville, Ontario, Canada:

Monday 13 June 2022

Evolution News - New Study Shows that Human Morality is Innate, Not Learned.

Are we born with a moral compass? - ResOU

To the great discomfort of Creationists and religious apologists, who claim human morality is God-given, researchers at Osaka University, Japan, in collaboration with Otsuma Women’s University, NTT Communication Science Laboratories, and the University of Tokyo, have shown that human morality is almost certainly an evolved trait because preverbal infants can make moral judgements on behalf of others.

Christian fundamentalists often tie themselves in knots trying to prove that they are the moral superior of others by claiming their faith gives them objective morals, without seeming to realise that trying to put yourself above others and exercise judgement over them without knowing them, is itself a deeply immoral act.

That well-known Christian apologist, C. S. Lewis, even went so far as to assert that because he didn't understand how he knew right from wrong, it must have been determined by God and inserted into his psychology in some unexplained way.

Paradoxically though, Christians (and Moslems) also claim the 'Ten Commandments' are the basis of their morality, yet the 'Ten Commandments' contains the invocation to do unto others that which you would they do unto you - the 'Golden Rule' common to just about all human groups. And Jesus reputedly told his followers to 'Love one another' (John 13: 34) (although it's not at all clear that this applies to all his followers or just to the small group he was addressing).

Whatever, these invocations presuppose that we have the necessary instinctive empathy to understand the needs of another person - which we do, of course, hence it is also central to Humanist thinking. And this view seems to have been well founded judging by what the research team found.

According to the Osaka University press release:

Sunday 12 June 2022

Religious Abuse News - Leader of La Luz del Mundo Cult Sentenced to 16 Years and 8 Month in Jail for Abusing Minors

Naasón Joaquín García
16 years and 8 months in jail for sex abuse of underage girls
Leader of La Luz del Mundo Megachurch Sentenced to 16 Years for Sex Crimes - The New York Times

Readers with good memories might remember the case of Naasón Joaquín García, founder and head of the Mexico-based cult megachurch, La Luz del Mundo (the Light of the World), who was charged with multiple sex abuse crimes against minors in California in June 2019, when he faced counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation of a minor, human trafficking and possession of child pornography. La Luz del Mundo claims to have about 1 million members worldwide

That case has finally reached a conclusion with Garcia suddenly changing his plea to guilty. He was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison. According to this report in the New York Times:
[Naasón Joaquín García, 53] pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one count of a lewd act upon a child who was 15 years old, California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, said in a statement last week. Mr. García will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
The case illustrates the hold the leaders of a cult can exercise over the members. Garcia is regarded as an 'Apostle of Jesus Christ' and is referred to by cult members a "The Apostle" and "The Light". His word was law within the cult. For example, one of his victims told the court how Garcia had told her he was giving her a 'blessing' as he raped her and told her to keep her lips sealed to keep in the blessing - which she did because she believed him. Others told how they were told by the women who assisted Garcia in his abuses, that to go against his desires was to go against God. They were told that an 'apostle of God' can never be judged for his actions.

In an extraordinarily defiant statement, considering the hideous crimes their leader has pleaded guilty to, La Luz del Mundo church put a statement on Twitter, which said:
We publicly manifest our support for the Apostle of Jesus Christ Naasón Joaquín García; our confidence in him remains intact with full knowledge of his integrity, his conduct and his work.
Apparently, they regard his behaviour as perfectly acceptable.

The tweet contained an image of a press release which continued in the same defiant tone and confirmed that Garcia will remain a minister in the church. It also claimed that the evidence was “suppressed, withheld, doctored and altered”, that the trial was unfair and Garci had only pleaded guilty to protect the church and his family. There were no expressions of regret or signs of any concern for the young victims of their cult and its leader, so we can expect abuses of this nature to continue, assisted by cult members and using God as their excuse:
Press Release
June 8, 2022, Los Angeles, CA.

The Office Of Public Relations Of the Light Of the World informs that, in the case Of the Apostle Naason Joaquin Garcia, the decision has been made to accept an agreement with the Attorney General's office to minimize his prison sentence in order to regain his freedom.

Since his arrest in 2019, the Apostle has been subjected to a prosecution in which evidence was suppressed, withheld, doctored and altered. After the defense finally obtained this evidence, the Court ruled that the defense would not be permitted to use the materials at trial, preventing the defense from effectively cross-examining the complaining witnesses and challenging their allegations.

Without a right to use the evidence, there is no right of defense.
Without a right to use the evidence, there can be no fair trial.

The Apostle of Jesus Christ has had no choice but to accept with much pain that the agreement presented is the best way forward to protect the church and his family. While he respects the law, and the community, he does not believe that the trial he would receive under these conditions would be fair and just. He wishes to spare the church and his family from weeks of unfounded public accusations, including threats to their physical well-being. We publicly manifest our support for the Apostle Of Jesus Christ; our confidence in him remains intact in the full knowledge Of his integrity, his conduct and his work. We will continue to practice the works of Jesus Christ, which the Apostle has taught us, always seeking to help Our neighbor. The Apostle will continue ministering to the church. This is a path that God has placed in front Of him for a reason, as he did for Apostle Paul. The Apostle will work this path with his faith in God and continue fulfilling the mission Of Jesus Christ: to be the Light Of the World.

God bless you.
And if you believe that, you'll believe anything and should probably be a member of Garcia's cult.

Again, we see religion being used for what it was probably originally designed for - the exercise of power over others and obtaining unquestioning obedience while the leaders abused their positions and the hold the cult gave them over others. Their power is absolute and their corruption is likewise.

Religions provide excuses for people who need excuses.

Saturday 11 June 2022

Democrat Voters are Healthier and Live Longer.

Trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 population of residents of counties voting for Democratic or Republican presidential candidates by urban-rural location. Widening gaps in AAMR between Republican and Democratic counties are noted across urban-rural spectrum, from large metropolitan areas, medium metropolitan areas, and rural areas

Growing 'Mortality Gap' Detected Between Democratic and Republican Counties | BWH Press Release - Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH)

According to research just published, open access, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Americans living in Republican-voting counties have a higher mortality rate than Americans living in Democrat-voting counties and this difference is widening. These are the findings of investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, led by assistant professor, Haider Warraich, MD, of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, who, according to the BWH press release:
…found what they call a “mortality gap” — a widening difference between age-adjusted death rates in counties that had voted for a Democrat or a Republican in previous presidential and governor elections. The team found that mortality rates decreased by 22 percent in Democratic counties but by only 11 percent in Republican counties. The mortality gap rose across top disease areas, including heart disease and cancer, and the mortality gap between white residents in Democratic versus Republican counties increased nearly fourfold during the study period.
The press release goes on to say:

In an ideal world, politics and health would be independent of each other and it wouldn’t matter whether one lives in an area that voted for one party or another, but that is no longer the case. From our data, we can see that the risk of premature death is higher for people living in a county that voted Republican.

Our study suggests that the mortality gap is a modern phenomenon, not an inevitability. At the start of our study, we saw little difference in mortality rates in Democratic and Republican counties. We hope that our findings will open people’s eyes and show the real effect that politics and health policy can have on people’s lives.

Assistant professor Haider Warraich, MD, lead author
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Warraich and colleagues used data from the Wide-ranging OnLine Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) database and the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Election Data and Science Laboratory. They classified counties as Democratic or Republican based on the way the county had voted in the previous presidential election and adjusted for age when calculating mortality rates.

Overall, the team found that mortality rates in Democratic counties dropped from 850 deaths per 100,000 people to 664 (22 percent), but in Republican counties, mortality rates declined from 867 to 771 (11 percent). When the team analyzed by race, they found that there was little gap between the improvements in mortality rates that Black and Hispanic Americans experienced in Democratic and Republican counties. But among white Americans, the gap between people living in Democratic versus Republican counties was substantial.

The mortality gap remained consistent when the researchers looked only at counties that had voted Republican or Democratic in every presidential election year studied and when they looked at gubernatorial elections. Democratic counties experienced greater reductions in mortality rates across most common causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory tract diseases, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease.

The authors note that the widening gap in death rates may reflect the influence of politics on health policies. One of the inflection points detected in the study corresponds to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was passed in 2010. More Democratic states than Republican states adopted Medicaid expansion under the ACA, which expanded health insurance coverage to people on a low income.

The study detects an association between political environment and mortality but does not definitively determine the direction of the association or the specific factors that may explain the link between the two. The authors did not study the effect of flipping political environments — that is, counties that switched from voting Democratic or Republican to voting for the other party — on health outcomes, which could be an area of future study. The study period ended in 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have had an even more profound impact on the mortality gap.
Trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 residents of counties voting for Democratic or Republican presidential candidates. Widening gap in AAMR is noted between Democratic and Republican counties. Statistically significant inflection points in annual percentage change (APC) of AAMR occurred for Democratic counties between periods 2001-09 (APC −2.1) and 2009-19 (APC −0.8) and Republican counties between periods 2001-08 (APC −1.4) and 2008-19 (APC −0.2)

Trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 residents of counties voting for Democratic or Republican presidential candidates by sex. Widening gap in AAMR is noted between male and female residents of Democratic and Republican counties. (Top lines) Statistically significant inflection points in annual percentage change (APC) of AAMR occurred for male residents of Democratic counties between periods 2001-10 (APC −2.2) and 2010-19 (APC −0.7) and male residents of Republican counties between periods 2001-07 (APC −1.7) and 2007-14 (APC −0.6) with no significant change noted after additional inflection point (straight line) between 2014 and 2019. (Bottom lines) Statistically significant inflection points in annual percentage change of AAMR occurred for female residents of Democratic counties between periods 2001-09 (APC −2.0) and 2009-19 (APC −0.9) and female residents of Republican counties between periods 2001-07 (APC −1.4) and 2007-19 (APC −0.3).
Trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 residents of counties voting for Democratic or Republican presidential candidates by race and ethnicity. Widening gap in AAMR is noted most prominently among white residents of Democratic and Republican counties, while the gap appears to narrow for Hispanic residents. AAMR gap for black residents of Democratic and Republican counties oscillates across the study period.

Trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 population for counties voting for Democratic or Republican governors by state Group from 2001 to 2019. Group A=New Hampshire and Vermont; Group B=Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington DC; Group C=Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia; Group D=Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi; Group E=New Jersey and Virginia.

Trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 population of residents of counties voting for Democratic or Republican presidential candidates by urban-rural location. Widening gaps in AAMR between Republican and Democratic counties are noted across urban-rural spectrum, from large metropolitan areas, medium metropolitan areas, and rural areas.

Age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100 000 population for the 10 most common causes of death in Democratic and Republican counties in 2001 and 2019. Except for cerebrovascular disease, the gap in AAMR between Republican and Democratic counties increased for every cause of death over the study period driven by heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory tract disease, unintentional injuries (which include drug overdoses), and suicide.

As these charts show, this gap holds true for all demographic grouping, whether by sex, race, geography or age and even for the 10 most common causes of death. However the biggest gap is seen in the white population. This is significant because the Republican Party is increasingly becoming identified as the party of the white right.

On every measure, Americans living in red counties fare worse that those living in blue counties and the authors point out the study period ended in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. They also point out that one of the inflections on the charts during which the health of those in Democrat counties improved more than the health of those in Republican counties coincided with President Obama's, Affordable Care Act, which was implemented disproportionately in Democrat counties and improved the health of poor people.

As these figures show, the Republicans who campaigned against 'Obama Care' were in effect campaigning against improving the health of their own supporters!

It will be interesting to see what happened during the later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic after vaccinations against the virus had become widely available, and especially during the omicron variant wave, when most Democrat voters had been vaccinated and were observing sensible precautions, and, following the disastrously incompetent lead of Donald Trump and his allies on the extreme political right, and in the white supremacist evangelical Christian churches, many covidiot Republicans failed to get vaccinated and refused to wear face-coverings or observe social distancing because they had all become seen as anti-Trump statements!

This deliberate division of American into partisan camps, for what Trump and his allies thought would be to their political advantage, resulted in hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19 being disproportionately of Republican antivaxxer covidiots in what some commentators likened to a self-inflicted genocide of fundamentalist, covidiot Trumpanzees. Probably the first time in the history of democracy that a political party has actively pursued policies that seem designed to kill their own supporters and their supporters trotted dutifully along like lambs to the slaughter led by Judas sheep, and yet only a tiny handful of Republican politicians had the decency to back out of the rabbit hole they had dived into and take the poitical risk of admitting they were wrong.

The teams finding are published, open access, in the BMJ:

Objective To assess recent trends in age adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) in the United States based on county level presidential voting patterns.

Design Cross sectional study.

Setting USA, 2001-19.

Participants 99.8% of the US population.

Main outcome measures AAMR per 100 000 population and average annual percentage change (APC).

Methods The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention WONDER database was linked to county level data on US presidential elections. County political environment was classified as either Democratic or Republican for the four years that followed a November presidential election. Additional sensitivity analyses analyzed AAMR trends for counties that voted only for one party throughout the study, and county level gubernatorial election results and state level AAMR trends. Joinpoint analysis was used to assess for an inflection point in APC trends.

Results The study period covered five presidential elections from 2000 to 2019. From 2001 to 2019, the AAMR per 100 000 population decreased by 22% in Democratic counties, from 850.3 to 664.0 (average APC −1.4%, 95% confidence interval −1.5% to −1.2%), but by only 11% in Republican counties, from 867.0 to 771.1 (average APC −0.7%, −0.9% to −0.5%). The gap in AAMR between Democratic and Republican counties therefore widened from 16.7 (95% confidence interval 16.6 to 16.8) to 107.1 (106.5 to 107.7). Statistically significant inflection points in APC occurred for Democratic counties between periods 2001-09 (APC −2.1%, −2.3% to −1.9%) and 2009-19 (APC −0.8%, −1.0% to −0.6%). For Republican counties between 2001 and 2008 the APC was −1.4% (−1.8% to −1.0%), slowing to near zero between 2008 and 2019 (APC −0.2%, −0.4% to 0.0%). Male and female residents of Democratic counties experienced both lower AAMR and twice the relative decrease in AAMR than did those in Republican counties. Black Americans experienced largely similar improvement in AAMR in both Democratic and Republican counties. However, the AAMR gap between white residents in Democratic versus Republican counties increased fourfold, from 24.7 (95% confidence interval 24.6 to 24.8) to 101.3 (101.0 to 101.6). Rural Republican counties experienced the highest AAMR and the least improvement. All trends were similar when comparing counties that did not switch political environment throughout the period and when gubernatorial election results were used. The greatest contributors to the widening AAMR gap between Republican and Democratic counties were heart disease (difference in AAMRs 27.6), cancer (17.3), and chronic lower respiratory tract diseases (8.3), followed by unintentional injuries (3.3) and suicide (3.0).

Conclusion The mortality gap in Republican voting counties compared with Democratic voting counties has grown over time, especially for white populations, and that gap began to widen after 2008.

I would suggest to my American readers in particular, that a party which is actively and knowingly pursuing policies designed to make their people sicker with a lower life expectancy, is a party which should never be trusted with the power to implement those policies at any level of government.

Thank you for sharing!

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Friday 10 June 2022

Common Origins - How Modern Chromatin Shows the Common Ancestry of All Eukaryotes

Ancyromonas sigmoides, an understudied microbe that holds enormous promise for investigations into the origin of eukaryotes

Credit: Naoji Yubuki
Chromatin originated in ancient microbes one to two billion years ago | Centre for Genomic Regulation

For some bizarre reason, creationists often claim that the science of epigenetics somehow falsifies Darwinian evolution because, so they claim, it shows how genetic changes acquired after birth can be passed on to the next generation, although how that falsifies the observable fact that allele frequency in a population changes over time is never explained when the rehearsed talking points are regurgitated on cue.

It is ironic then, that, according to research by scientists at the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), Barcelona, Spain, a vital component of the epigenetic system, the chromatin, or histones, around which DNA is wrapped and which exerts a control over which genes are expressed in the specialised cells of multicellular organisms, had its origins in remote ancestral prokaryote organism some 1-2 billion years ago and so is evidence of common ancestry.

To make matters worse for creationists, the evidence suggests that histones probably evolved as defensive structures in response to selective environmental pressures by genetic parasites such as viruses, in classical Darwinian evolution by natural selection and the inevitable arms races.

As the CRG news release explains:

Thursday 9 June 2022

Covidiot News - Why Covidiot Antivaxx Parents Are putting their Children at Risk

Unvaccinated children mount COVID-19 immune response, but vaccination may be key to strengthening immunity | Doherty Website

New research shows that, although unvaccinated children produce antibodies and killer T-cells in response to COVID-19 infection, this response may not be strong enough to protect them against future variants, especially if the antibodies fail to recognise the variant.

The normal response to viral infections is two-fold. First there are the antibodies that are produced in response to the foreign proteins. These bind to the viruses, deactivate them and cause them to clump together so they can be moped up by phagocytic white cells. However, they can only act against circulating viruses and not against viruses that have already gained access to the cells, where they will be replicating.

The second response is the more long-term one. This produces pre-programmed killer T-lymphocytes or 'memory' T-cells - white blood cells - that recognise infected cells and destroy them, together with the viruses inside them, to prevent them infecting other cells or being shed to infect other people, so limiting the infection and minimising the damage to the infected tissues. T-cells can provide protection even when the antibodies fail to recognise the virus because they are produced in response to stable fragments of viral proteins that are less likely to differ in different variants, hence they safeguard against future mutant forms.

Neither of these is 100% effective of course and people can still become infected again and can still be infectious by shedding more viruses into the environment, but they do greatly reduce the seriousness of the infection and the risk of passing it on to other people.

However, what the researchers at the Doherty Institute, Melbourne, Australia, have shown is that unvaccinated children produce far fewer killer T-cells than adults. The researchers say this limited ability of unvaccinated children to generate strong memory killer T cell responses following natural infection may leave them vulnerable to future infections. The anti-COVID vaccines, on the other hand, are specifically designed to produce a strong T-cell response in addition to antibodies, placing vaccinated children as a significant advantage.

From the Doherty Institute press release:

The Evolution of Chickens and Why God Wasn't Aware of Them

A map depicting the distribution of both the gray and Ceylon junglefowl species and three subspecies of red junglefowl: G. gallus murghi, G. gallus spadiceus, and G. gallus jabouillei. The distribution of G. gallus gallus is depicted as the remainder of mainland southeast Asia and Sumatra following the general distribution in ref. 16. The G. gallus murghi distribution follows that of SI Appendix, Fig. S1, which draws on published maps in ornithological sources and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) records (119, 120 & 121). For G. gallus spadiceus and G. gallus jabouillei, the GBIF records were augmented by specimens with genetic data reported by refs. 16 and 122.

Major new international research reveals new evidence about when, where, and how chickens were domesticated | University of Exeter

A quick search of the Bible on my Kindle reveals that there is no mention of chickens as such anywhere in the Old Testament and they don't get a mention in the Bible until Matthew 23:7, which was probably written in the second half of the first century CE.

There is a very good reason for this: despite being one of the major sources of protein in the world as the most widely consumed meat, the domestic chicken was unknown to the authors of the Old Testament, according to new research by international teams pf archaeologists led by scientists from the University of Exeter, UK and including academics from the universities of Exeter, Munich, Cardiff, Oxford, Bournemouth, Toulouse, and universities and institutes in Germany, France and Argentina.

These teams results are published in two open access papers - the Cambridge Core journal Antiquity and the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

The first paper deals with the arrival of domestic chickens in Western Eurasia, the Middle East and Northwest Africa.

Briefly, the teams have shown that the domestication of the wild junglefowl of Southeast Asia did not happen until the dry cultivation of rice and millet tempted them out of the jungle and into human habitation where they could feed on these grains, but prior to being used for food, chickens were regarded as exotica and even revered for several hundred years.

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