Tour de France: L’Alpe d’Huez

The most famous climb of the Tour de France was run today. This stage could be decisive: going in, the top four riders are only seconds apart.

Here’s the story of the day: Tour de France Stage 17: Sastre the Seventh Leader After Commanding Performance.

Do you want these people teaching you morals?

One of the commenters on a thread in Pharyngula said

By the way, the RCC [Roman Catholic Church] protected the priests who were raping children and spirited bishops like Cardinal Law who conspired to protect the priests out of the country so they could not be prosecuted.

Another responded with delivered this blast about the history of the Roman Catholic Church:

Actually, it’s worse even than that. The Vatican has had an official policy of concealment since 1962. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, none other than Pope Benedict XVI himself, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was responsible for its coordination and the Vatican policy of non-cooperation with law-enforcement. Since the State of the Vatican City is sovereign under international law, the Papal Nuncio is regarded as an ambassador and his official office/residence in a country is subject to the diplomatic doctrine of extraterritoriality. In several countries, the Roman Catholic Church has concealed documentary evidence of child rape by storing documents in the Papal Nuncio’s residence, out of reach of any search warrant.

I guess reputation is everything.

Another points out:

The Catholic Church protected pedophile priests from the consequences of their actions, shuffling them from parish to parish. When he was Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Ratzi the Nazi was instrumental in deceiving the laity by protecting child-molesting priests through his role as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This Guardian article details how Ratzinger asserted the Church’s right to keep sex abuse hearings secret and out of the hands of secular authorities.

The molestation of children by priests was enabled and protected by the entire church hierarchy, going all the way to the Pope himself.

To a Catholic, raping children is okay, but molesting a cracker, that warrants the death penalty!

Did any of the Catholics attaxcking PZ protest the culture of silence in the church that enabled the molestation? Did any of them leave the church? If not, then the clear implication is that the widespread rape of children by priests did not dissuade Catholics from their allegiance to the church that allowed the rapes to happen.

The Guardian article:

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had ‘obstructed justice’ after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church’s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.

It asserted the church’s right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II’s successor last week.

Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a ‘clear obstruction of justice’.

The letter, ‘concerning very grave sins’, was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church’s position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric ‘with a minor below the age of 18 years’. Ratzinger’s letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been ‘perpetrated with a minor by a cleric’.

The letter states that the church’s jurisdiction ‘begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age’ and lasts for 10 years.

It orders that ‘preliminary investigations’ into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger’s office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the ‘functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests’.

‘Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,’ Ratzinger’s letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.

Daniel Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: ‘It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It’s an obstruction of justice.’

Father John Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, gave an oral deposition under oath on 8 April last year in which he admitted to Shea that the letter extended the church’s jurisdiction and control over sexual assault crimes.

The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church’s opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.

‘In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,’ Bertone said.

Shea criticised the order that abuse allegations should be investigated only in secret tribunals. ‘They are imposing procedures and secrecy on these cases. If law enforcement agencies find out about the case, they can deal with it. But you can’t investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10 the priest will get away with it,’ Shea added.

A spokeswoman in the Vatican press office declined to comment when told about the contents of the letter. ‘This is not a public document, so we would not talk about it,’ she said.

Don’t touch that sand-castle! Take the tykes swimming instead

E. coli bacteria are generally taken as an indicator of recent fecal contamination.

Although for the most part E. coli is not pathogenic, its presence in recreational water, especially at elevated levels, has been taken to indicate fecal contamination and the likelihood that pathogens such as Salmonella, Streptococci, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Enterovirus, etc. could be present. Numerous epidemiological studies have shown the higher the level of indicator bacteria such as E. coli, in recreational water, the greater the level of fecal contamination, the greater the chance that pathogens may be present, and the greater the heath risk to swimmers.

Many places allow swimming if the measured levels of E. coli bacteria are less than 400 or perhaps 200 per 100 ml of water. Ontario does not allow swimming unless the E. coli are less than 100 per 100 ml of water.

Ontario has the world’s most strict recreational water quality guidelines for posting beaches due to elevated levels of E. coli; beach postings occur when the geometric mean of the five sampling results exceeds 100 E. coli per 100 mL of lake water (but see Report on Council – page 12). Health Canada‘s recreational water quality standard is is a geometric mean of five sampling results exceeding 200 E. coli per 100 mL of lake water; this guideline has been adopted by all other provinces. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s guideline for postings is 236 E. coli per 100 mL of lake-water. And the European Union classifies fresh water beaches as having poor quality water if levels of E. coli exceed 900 E. coli per 100 mL. Imagine how many fewer beach closures we would have if Ontario adopted the US or EU guideline!

Beaches are pretty clean where they are dry. The lakes clear up in a few days after being contaminated by run-off from rainwater and storm sewers.

Studies at various beaches throughout the Great Lakes indicate that E. coli in the lake water originates from a variety of sources, with the primary sources being birds (especially geese and gulls at the beach), humans (faulty septic systems and sewage treatment plants along the shoreline), urban runoff (storm sewers and road discharges to the lake), and agriculture (manure spills and runoff from fields reaching the shoreline via rivers).

But the area of damp sand between the lake and the dry area—that’s dangerous!

…scientists have discovered recently that greatly elevated levels of E. coli may also exist in the shallow groundwater below the beach adjacent to the shoreline, the area where children build their sand castles! The sand protects the E. coli from the harmful effects of UV radiation in sunlight, provides sand grains on which the E. coli can attach themselves, and is a stable source of nutrients. Levels of E. coli in such areas can exceed 150,000 E. coli per 100 mL, or many, many times higher than a bad day in the lake water! And levels of E. coli in the sand adjacent to the shoreline remain consistently high regardless of the E. coli levels in the adjacent lake water. These extremely high levels of E. coli are restricted to within several metres of the shoreline, and correspond to the area, known as the swash zone, where waves run up the beach during a storm. Once past this area of wave runup, E. coli levels in the groundwater below the beach rapidly fall to 0 or less than 100 E. coli per 100 mL. The E. coli in the swash zone sand survives much longer than in lake water — months vs. days — and in fact even frozen beaches sampled in February still may exhibit high levels of E. coli in the groundwater!

E. coli from the lake are washed onto the sand and soak in along with the water. They are protected from sun and wind and they survive much longer than the free-floating ones. The damp area, right where lovers walk and children play, is the most contaminated part of the lake. And it’s making itself at home there:

It appears that the beach itself may in fact be the primary source of E. coli found in the ankle to knee depth lake water at the beaches of the Great lakes. The sand along the shoreline is susceptible to erosion from waves and currents. The E. coli that enter the groundwater at the swash zone during wave run up and are able to adapt and replicate there are released into the lake-water and transported along the shoreline. Thus, beach sand acts as both a reservoir that accumulates and stores E. coli and a source of E. coli when released into the lake water.

We haven’t started looking for actual pathogens yet. But I’m enjoying a quiet chuckle at someone I know who won’t take her kids swimming because “the lake is dirty.” But she lets them play in the sand.

Schroedinger’s LOLcat

Schroedinger’s LOLcat says…

more funny cat pictures

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