Clerical sexual abuse survivor disappointed in church


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Marie Collins calls for 7 actions at Vatican Abuse Summit

Ahead of the Abuse Summit in Rome in February 2019 with Pope Francis and the Heads of Bishops’ Conferences, Marie Collins speaking at the We Are Church Ireland meeting (14 January 2019) called on Pope Francis to seek agreement for a policy of zero tolerance and full transparency on clerical sex abuse and universal safeguarding of children throughout the Catholic Church.

1) Agree a clear definition of what constitutes sexual abuse of a minor

2) Agree on a clear definition of the term “zero tolerance”

3) Canon Law should be updated to reflect this

4) Canon Law on the abuse of vulnerable adults needs to be separated from the abuse of minors

5) Universal safeguarding measures and a transparent accountability policy for dealing justly with reports of abuse should be agreed

6) The Pope should make a clear statement at this meeting outlining what is the accountability process being used to hold bishops accountable

7) The Pope needs at this meeting to name those bishops who have a guilty finding against them, what was the offence and what was the penalty

Translated from Dutch [historical Roman Catholic] daily De Volkskrant, 15 February 2019:

Marie Collins vs. The Vatican

Abuse victim Marie Collins left the Pope’s committee frustrated: ‘I am very disappointed’

Marie Collins was abused by a priest in her youth. The pope asked her for a committee to make proposals to prevent abuse. She has resigned from it, disillusioned with what the Catholic Church is willing to do.

By Jarl van der Ploeg

If there is one person who knows why the four-day conference about abuse in the Vatican of next Thursday is doomed to fail, then it is Marie Collins. After all, it was Marie Collins who was asked by Pope Francis five years ago to join the oh-so-important Committee for the Protection of Minors, and it was Marie Collins who three years later resigned from that same committee out of pure frustration.

‘I am very disappointed in this pope’, says Collins (70). “While he started pretty well.”

Indeed, for a long time, Jorge Bergoglio, who has gone through life as Pope Francis since 2013, was known as an unprecedentedly progressive church leader who went to battle against the money wastage of some cardinals, stood up for homeless people and boat migrants and who during his first press conference on homosexuals said: ‘Who am I to judge about that?’

It brought the Argentinean jubilant commentaries, especially because he seemed to be – and this was really a giant breakthrough – tackling the global abuse scandal; the biggest crisis of the Catholic Church since the Reformation. While Pope John Paul II called all accusations “violent attacks on the respectability” of the church and Pope Benedict XVI mainly dealt with it with silence and idleness, Francis promised a “zero tolerance policy” when he was appointed in 2013.

It had to be finally finished with all sins and crimes, all negligence and complicity, he repeated time after time. The age-old principle within the church – how can we limit reputation damage as much as possible? – seemed to be finally replaced by him by: how can we alleviate the suffering of the victims?

One of his most important achievements was an expert committee to help prevent future abuse: the Commission for the Protection of Minors. Completely contrary to the prevailing mores within the Vatican, he mainly asked lay people to sit on that committee. No priests, bishops or cardinals, but ordinary citizens without clerical collars. Eg, a child psychiatrist from France, an international lawyer from Poland, a criminologist, a theologian, a church lawyer. And Marie Collins.

Why Marie Collins? Because Collins devoted her life to combating child abuse. The germ was laid when she was 12 or 13 years old and she was admitted to a Catholic children’s hospital in Dublin for three weeks because of an infection on her arm. She was abused there several times by the hospital’s chaplain, Paul McGennis.

“You know how these men work,” says Collins in her small, gray house in an equally gray suburb of Dublin. Because of everything that happened since those three weeks, she never succeeded in building a career and earning a lot of money. In her room there are two leather chairs and a couch, and that’s about it.

Extra attention

“The chaplain took me in, gave me extra attention-I was his special girlfriend,” he said-and in the evening he came to read to me. At those moments he abused me and also made photographs of it. I remember trying to stop him, but he said, “I am a priest, so I can not do anything wrong, can I?” You must understand that I was a child of the nineteen fifties; I had been taught that a priest was almost above God, he was so important. You could never ever contradict a priest. And now suddenly there was a priest who said to me, “If you do not like this, then there is something wrong with you. Then you are not normal. “He said that to me.”

The three weeks at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children ended Collins’ youth. “Before that, I was a confident, popular child. After that, I knew for sure that I was actually a bad person. I tried to do everything I could to keep that character hidden. I did not play outside anymore, kept all my friends at a distance and alienated myself from my family. I was afraid that if someone came too close, something bad would happen and that would be my fault. ”

From her 17th year on she got panic attacks. Around the age of 20 she got her first depression and from the age of 27 she developed a violent form of agoraphobia. “I have been at home for years – in this house where we are now. Together with my husband Ray I had a son aged 6 and because I did not dare, Ray was both his father and his mother. During the day Ray worked, in the evening he bought groceries, in the morning he brought our little fellow to school and I did not do anything that time. When Ray came home in the evening, I would still be in the same chair as I was in that morning and the dirty dishes in the kitchen would be untouched.”

Collins at that time had no idea that it was the fault of chaplain McGennis; she had tucked away the entire children’s hospital abuse and never thought about it. It was not until she came to a psychotherapist again after a series of new panic attacks that she spoke about the chaplain for the first time in her life, twenty-five years after the abuse. Encouraged by the psychotherapist, who said that McGennis might still be active, she went to her church to report it. The answer from her local priest: “You probably seduced the poor man. But do not worry, your sins are forgiven.”

“That answer”, says Collins, “felt like someone threw a stone through a window, but then inside my body. Everything fell apart into small pieces. Those words broke me completely. They threw me back in time years. I did not want to go back to the psychotherapist under any circumstances and I did not talk to anyone about McGennis for ten years. Not a word.”

The psychological complaints also increased again for Collins, who had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals ten times since her abuse. It was not until McGennis, forty years after abusing Collins – forty years in which he also made a career within the Church and in the meantime continued to rape and photograph young children – was arrested and imprisoned, only then did the depressions and the panic attacks stop.

Marie Collins foundation

Collins decided to dedicate the rest of her life to combating child abuse within the church. She founded the Marie Collins Foundation for children who, like her, were victims of child pornography. She contributed to new child protection protocols within the Irish Church – one of the most stringent protocols in the Catholic world – and the so-called Murphy Report, an in-depth investigation into sexual abuse within the Irish Roman Catholic Church, praised her ‘courageous, and often lonely campaign’ against the Archdiocese of Dublin. When Pope Francis took office in 2013, he asked Collins to come to Rome to help him. She said yes because she, like everyone else, hoped that a fresh wind would finally blow through the Vatican.

“But during our first meeting in Rome I noticed that something was wrong,” says Collins. ‘We were in a back room in Vatican City where not even a glass of water was present. There was not even a piece of paper on the table.”

The Commission for the Protection of Minors in Rome had been promised that the Vatican would not save any effort to do their job, “but every time we asked for money to get something realized, the answer was: no, too expensive, no, too expensive, no, too expensive‘.

‘Eg, we could only meet three times a year because the tickets to Rome were too expensive. In Rome we often slept in places that were far from the Vatican. But we were not allowed to use the official cars – which were intended for cardinals – and we were not allowed to declare money spent on taxis. We also had to pay for our own coffee, our own lunch, our own dinner. And when we asked for a small amount of pocket money, only for members who barely had money – we did our work for free and I, eg, did not have any income at that time, – the answer was: no, too expensive.” How much money exactly does the church manage? It is unclear. According to estimates, the Vatican alone – that is, excluding dioceses elsewhere in the world – has at least 10 billion euros to spend.

No respect from the curia

It was a pure lack of respect, says Collins. Not so much from the pope – who did not interfere with the committee at that level – but from the curia. That is the pope’s court of clergymen who have lived in Rome for a lifetime and therefore have a certain view of the world, says Collins. “Those men live in a bubble. They do not look outside, they just look inside. They are career hunters who want to get up as quickly as possible and therefore only work for themselves. They do not think about the children. They do not even think of the image of their own institute.”

And suddenly there was Mrs. Marie Collins who told these men how to behave in future. “I unfortunately know what these men think, because I’ve been through it for years. They sincerely believe that you only understand something of life when you are part of the church. That is why they will never accept anything from an outsider, even if it is the greatest expert on earth. They only believe in their own way of doing things and refuse to see that it has caused an immense mess. You do not want to know how many times I have explained to these people that they’re destroying their own church, but they just did not take it from me. You and I live in the real world, so we see how absurd it is, but those men literally live in a different world.”

That is why the committee not only encountered practical bullying, such as the lack of writing paper in their meeting room, but also substantive obstacles were raised. “It was so terribly frustrating,” says Collins. “Everything we did turned out to be totally useless. They put the best experts in the world around a table and then ignore all their advice.’

For example, the committee argued for the establishment of a tribunal that could punish bishops who had failed to take action against the abuse of others – an important first step in ending the cover-up culture. The Pope was full of praise for the proposal, he accepted it, then it landed in a drawer and nothing ever happened to it.

Another example: abuse victims often send letters to the pope, for example to ask what happened to a pedophile priest, or to tell their side of the story, often on the advice of their psychiatrist. It was the policy of the curia not to answer those letters. Collins proposed to adjust that policy and in future send a standard answer – she knew how important such a small gesture can be for victims. “The pope again thought it was a good idea and accepted it,” says Collins, “but a little later the curia told us that they would not do it anyway. They said that it would be disrespect to local bishops to correspond behind their backs with lay persons.”

It was ultimately a reason for Collins to resign from the committee. She found her work useless and the opposition by the curia unacceptable. That whole committee was a sham in her eyes. This was apparent, for example, when another member, the abuse victim Peter Saunders, was suspended after he had criticized publicly and when other experts were gradually replaced by priests and nuns.

Not a bad man

Francis himself is not a bad man,” says Collins. ‘He is very modest, has no fancy airs and does not think himself better than others. He is not condescending, never gives you pats on your shoulder and does not say consoling words because he thinks you want to hear them. He especially listens. Again, he is not a bad man. But if you are at the head of the church – a group of people so disgusted with change – that attitude is too weak.’

Francis is indeed not a hierarchical pope. Not at all. He refuses to stand at the head of an omnipotent institution that determines from Rome how the church should behave in, eg, Madagascar. Francis wants local churches to flourish from the bottom up and will therefore not force them to apply a particular measure. There is something to be said for that, says Collins, but it also has adverse consequences. His power in Vatican City is thus very limited, she says. And above all, he is not the right pope to stop the abuse crisis. Francis will never tell a Polish or Italian bishop how to prosecute their priests.

P.S. According to my statistics, there have been several clicks on this blog post from Vatican City. One should hope that will contribute to meaningful pro-abuse survivor reforms.

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‘Vatican priests, 80% closet gays’


This 13 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Eighty per cent of Vatican priests are gay and living in the closet, according to an explosive new book to be published next week.

The 570-page expose, titled In the Closet of the Vatican, claims that four in five clerics in the Roman Catholic Church are homosexuals – but aren’t necessarily sexually active.

French sociologist and journalist Frédéric Martel, who spent four years conducting 1,500 interviews for the book, found that some priests maintained discreet long term relationships, while others lived double lives having casual sex with gay partners and using male prostitutes.

He found that a number of clerics spoke of an unspoken code of the ‘closet’, with one rule of thumb being that the more homophobic they were, the more likely they were gay.

The author, a former adviser to the French government, claims the late Alfonso López Trujillo – a Colombian cardinal who held senior roles in the Vatican – was an arch-defender of the church’s teaching on homosexuality and contraception while using male prostitutes, according to Catholic website the Tablet.

The book is a ‘startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican‘, according to British publisher Bloomsbury. In its marketing material, Bloomsbury claims the book ‘reveals secrets’ about celibacy, misogyny and plots against Pope Francis.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 15 February 2019:

A majority of cardinals and many bishops and other church leaders are homosexual. This is the conclusion of sociologist Frédéric Martel, who immersed himself four years in the world of the Vatican. According to an initiate to whom Martel spoke, in the Vatican it would even be about 80 percent of the clergy.

Martel, who himself is also gay, does not aim to blame people who do not want to come out of the closet. He does want to expose a system: according to him, the Catholic Church has a hidden face that is based on a double life: on the outside radically homophobic, in reality homosexual. “I do not want to out individuals, I want to out the Vatican”, Martel says to Dutch Nieuwsuur TV.

Hide nature

He emphasizes that homosexuality is not the problem. The situation is complex. “What you want most as a homosexual cleric is to hide your nature, to show everyone you’re not gay, so you’re more homophobic than others.”

And that, according to Martel, worsens other issues, such as the AIDS problem. Martel explains: “As a clergyman you want to show that you are more celibate than others, so you become extremely rigid in propagating a sexual morality, which is why you are also against condoms, because they represent sex with a partner which is not fixed.”

Martel’s voluminous book Sodoma [In the Closet of the Vatican] of 670 pages will appear Monday in the Netherlands and other countries. He did research in more than 30 countries and spoke 1500 people, inside and outside the Vatican, including 41 cardinals, 52 bishops, 45 nuncios and more than 200 priests and seminarians.

The vast majority of all clergy in the Vatican is gay, practicing or not. And according to the author, that also applies to the four predecessors of the current Pope, Francis.

Martel also says that many homosexual clergy in Rome lead a double life with secret relationships. Some have a permanent partner, others hire escort boys. A minority of these clergy lives strictly celibate. Another conclusion: because of the culture of secrecy, sexual abuse of children could remain hidden for a long time.

There is also manipulation in the Vatican. According to the researcher, spreading rumours about the alleged homosexuality of a cardinal or bishop is a crucial weapon to attack opponents. The rumours often come from other clergymen who are themselves in the closet.

Fifty shades of gay

“The world that I have discovered, with its fifty shades of gay, is beyond understanding”, writes Martel in his book. “Appearances are deceiving, perhaps no more than in this institution, and the declarations of principle about celibacy and the vows of chastity are equally deceitful, for behind them lies a completely different reality.”

Female red-crowned woodpecker in Panama


This video says about itself:

Female Red-crowned Woodpecker Eating On The Move – Feb. 15, 2019

A female Red-crowned Woodpecker is seen here repeatedly dragging her meal about and dropping it off the feeder. Female Red-crowned Woodpeckers can be told from the males as only the nape is red on the female, while on the male the red extends up to the top of the head or crown.

Watch LIVE 24/7 with highlights and viewing resources at http://allaboutbirds.org/panamafeeders

The Panama Fruit Feeder Cam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Canopy Family, and explore.org.

\The video features a clay-coloured thrush as well.

Saving lives, a crime in Trump’s USA?


This January 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

US Border Agents destroy humanitarian water supplies along Mexico border

By Anthony del Olmo in the USA:

No More Deaths volunteers prosecuted for providing humanitarian aid to migrants

16 February 2019

On January 18, a federal judge rendered a guilty verdict against four volunteers from the humanitarian organization No More Deaths (NMD) for their actions in the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona along the US-Mexico border a year and a half ago. Judge Bernardo Velasco’s ruling marks the first conviction of humanitarian aid volunteers in the US in a decade.

The volunteers—Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick—were found guilty of misdemeanors related to entering a wildlife refuge without a permit and leaving behind “personal property”. The latter was a reference to basic lifesaving necessities such as food, water and other small items left behind by the volunteers in order to ensure migrants survive the dangerous desert crossing.

The four volunteers each face a sentence of up to six months in prison, along with a possible $500 fine. Another four NMD volunteers are set to go to trial later this month on similar charges. A ninth volunteer, Scott Warren, will face trial in May on more serious charges including felony harboring and concealment for allegedly providing food, water, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented immigrants last year. If convicted and sentenced to consecutive terms, Warren could face up to 20 years in prison.

NMD has launched a campaign demanding that the Justice Department release the defendants on humanitarian grounds.

While NMD volunteers are not speaking to media while the trials are underway, WSWS reporters were able to speak to Enrique Morones, director of Border Angels, a sister organization of the group. Border Angels has been providing humanitarian aid to migrants in the US-Mexico border region of San Diego, California, since 1986.

“Border Patrol was very upset when NMD came out with a video of their agents destroying water bottles,” Morones stated.

“This [lawsuit], I think, is in direct response to two things—the hate rhetoric of the Trump administration, and the video that exposed these Border Patrol agents. We have been supporting NMD and demand that those charged should be released.”

“What they’re trying to do is intimidate us. Border Patrol has approached us before—asking what we’re doing, if we have a permit, etc.—and we tell them that we’ve been doing this for more than 20 years and that we’re going to continue doing it. We’re outraged and paying attention.”

In June 2017, an NMD humanitarian aid camp on the outskirts of Arivaca, Arizona, was raided by Border Patrol and four patients receiving care were arrested. A second Border Patrol raid was carried out in January 2018, at the NMD humanitarian aid base in Ajo, Arizona, where two individuals receiving humanitarian aid were arrested along with Scott Warren.

In a statement published earlier this month, Parker Deighan, one of the so-called #Cabeza9 defendants, detailed that the “remote terrain was being weaponized against people crossing the border, many of whom were fleeing poverty and violence. More specifically, since the mid-1990s, US border enforcement strategy has been to heavily concentrate enforcement in urban areas where people traditionally have crossed, thereby intentionally funneling migrants into remote and dangerous terrain, like Cabeza Prieta.”

The increased use of these more dangerous crossings, particularly along the Southwestern border, is the product of a deliberate strategy adopted by the Border Patrol under both Democratic and Republican administrations to use the harsh terrain as a means of killing larger numbers of migrants who perish in the scorching desert and discourage others from crossing.

Rather than accepting and processing asylum seekers in accordance with international law, the US government’s focus on militarizing the border has worked to reroute migrants, driving them further into uninhabitable terrain and territory controlled by organized crime syndicates and right-wing militias. This has only worsened with the Trump administration’s efforts to build up the border wall, while ramping up the militarization of border areas in general.

Late last month, Pentagon officials confirmed the deployment of an additional 3,750 troops to the US-Mexico border, continuing the build-up of repressive forces directed against defenseless immigrants and refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Under the fraudulent contexts of terrorist threat and an influx of drugs entering the United States, the Democrats have downplayed the mobilization of the military on US soil as a political stunt, refusing to acknowledge that the move is in violation of the Posse Comitatus law barring the military form performing domestic police functions.

Yesterday’s declaration by President Trump of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border will mean billions more in funding for the mobilization US troops to build and construction of many miles of border wall.

These measures will only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis of migrant deaths in the deserts along the border. Between 2000 and 2016, the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) discovered the remains of 6,023 people who died crossing from Mexico into the United States. One Texas sheriff reported in May 2017 to the New York Times that, “I would say for every one [body] we find, we’re probably missing five,” putting the total dead in the tens of thousands.

The declaration of a state of emergency and mobilization of active duty troops coincides with the abusive treatment of tens of thousands of immigrants held in ICE and CBP facilities across the US, with billion-dollar companies making vast profits operating modern-day concentration camps.

In this context, the prosecution of the NMD volunteers demonstrates another step in the destruction of democratic rights in the systematic criminalization of individuals and groups who attempt to provide life saving aid to the most vulnerable sections of society.

The Trump administration is seeking to make an example out of Scott Warren for charges that he harbored immigrants crossing the border. Such an attack finds historic parallels in the persecution of sympathizers for harboring of Jews during the Holocaust.

The crackdown is part of the administration’s efforts to whip up national chauvinism and prevent a unification of the working class internationally. The brave strike by maquiladora factory workers in Matamoros, Mexico, and the unity of workers across North America and all borders is the primary target of such measures.

President Trump’s proclamation of a state of national emergency on the southern US border is a frontal assault on constitutional norms and democratic rights in America. It is the first time in American history that a president has sought to usurp the constitutional prerogative of Congress to decide how public funds are to be spent: here.

How Magellanic penguins feed their youngsters


This video says about itself:

Magellanic Penguins on Isla Magdalena, Chile, December 2012

During our trip to South America, we visited the Magdalena Island in Chile. It is a reserve established in 1991, home to more than 150,000 of Magellanic penguins. These penguins make this spot on the shoreline of the Strait of Magellan their home. They return annually to this place between October and March to lay eggs and raise their youngsters.

Magellanic Penguins are often seen performing the “ecstatic display”. This can either be part of the mating ritual or can merely be indicative of territory ownership. Birds performing this display stretch their neck and point their beaks skywards whilst spreading their wings and making a braying noise. The display is often performed repetitively over periods of up to an hour or more.”

From the University of Washington in the USA:

Parents don’t pick favorites, at least if you’re a Magellanic penguin

February 14, 2019

Summary: Researchers wanted to know how Magellanic penguin parents in South America balance the dietary demands of multiple chicks. They found that when a Magellanic penguin parent returns to its nest with fish, the parent tries to feed each of its two chicks equal portions of food, regardless of the youngsters’ differences in age or size.

Parenthood can be a struggle, particularly for families with multiple children in need of care, nurturing, protection and attention. But a weary mom or dad may find solace in the reassurance that all parents with several offspring face a similar challenge — even the non-human variety.

Researchers at the University of Washington wanted to know how Magellanic penguin parents in South America balance the dietary demands of multiple chicks. As they report in a paper published Jan. 23 in the journal Animal Behaviour, when a Magellanic penguin parent returns to its nest with fish, the parent tries to feed each of its two chicks equal portions of food, regardless of the youngsters’ differences in age or size.

This finding surprised the team, since parents across the animal kingdom, including other penguin species, often allocate resources unequally to their chicks based on factors like offspring age, body condition, health and behavior, said senior author P. Dee Boersma. Boersma, a UW professor of biology and director of the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, has for more than three decades studied penguins at Punta Tombo, a coastal region in Argentina that hosts one of this species’ largest breeding colonies.

“This is an exciting finding because, among animals, it is very unusual for parents to divide food equally among their offspring,” said Boersma. “This makes Magellanic penguin parents stand out not just among penguins, but also animals in general.”

Magellanic chicks are the same size when they hatch, but eggs within a nest hatch at different times. After mating, a Magellanic female lays two eggs about four days apart. One chick typically hatches at least two days before the other. Chicks grow to different sizes based on the timing of their first feedings. By the time both chicks are at least 20 days old, one chick is on average 22 percent heavier than its sibling, the team found. Yet despite these size differences, this study shows that when Magellanic chicks are older and more mobile, parents feed both chicks equally as well as rapidly.

“These findings raise some very interesting evolutionary questions about how and why this behavior — feeding chicks equally — arose,” said Boersma.

For this study, Boersma and her team observed parents feeding their chicks at Punta Tombo from 2003 to 2007. Past research showed that parents alternate roles when chicks are small: One stays at the nest to guard chicks while the other feeds offshore and brings back a belly full of fish to regurgitate into the chicks’ mouths. For this study, the researchers observed nests where the chicks were at least 20 days old to track whether chick behaviors, such as begging or competition during feeding, influenced the amount of food they received. The team weighed 218 chicks both before and after the feeding, and observed parent and offspring behavior during mealtime. Forty chicks came from one-chick nests — presumably cases where the second egg failed to hatch or the chick died of starvation — while the other 178 came from 89 two-chick nests.

As expected, chicks without a sibling received more food during a feeding and were heavier than chicks with a sibling. Before eating, singleton chicks weighed an average of about 5.7 pounds and received about 1.2 pounds of food on average per feeding. For two-chick nests, the heavier and lighter chicks weighed an average of 5.1 pounds and 4.2 pounds, respectively. Yet both chicks received about 0.8 pounds of food on average per feeding.

Parents with two chicks managed this equal division despite the rushed choreography of mealtimes. The researchers found that feedings lasted just 21 minutes on average, during which the parent used its flippers to keep one chick to its left and one to its right — turning its head to feed one and then the other. Light and heavy chicks begged a similar number of times and each switched sides five or six times during the feeding, yet siblings did not act aggressively toward one other. The researchers observed that the parent directed more non-feeding behaviors to the lighter chick, such as opening its mouth but not regurgitating any food. Yet ultimately the lighter chick received the same amount of food as its sibling.

These findings shed light on when, where and how animals decide whether to treat their offspring equally or give preferential attention to one. For Magellanic penguins, factors affecting this behavior may be food supply, digestion and the time between feedings. In other penguin species, food supply impacts feeding behaviors. Adélie penguins, for example, have a relatively stable and abundant food supply because long daylight hours in Antarctic summers allow them to feed around the clock. Boersma and her colleague Lloyd Davis at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that Adélie parents run from their chicks, and the chick that follows its parent the longest is typically fed the most. For Magellanic penguins, food is less plentiful, and chicks typically wait three to five days between feedings. Each year, about 40 percent of chicks die at Punta Tombo due to starvation, and research by Boersma’s group indicates that a chick is most at risk of starvation when it is between 5 and 9 days old. Magellanic parents are prompted feed chicks as soon as they arrive at the nest because food that digests too long in their stomachs is less nutritious for chicks.

These factors may pressure adults to feed chicks quickly and equally, Boersma said. In addition, chicks may avoid direct competition because that could delay the feeding, she added. The age of the chicks in this study — all at least 20 days old — may also help explain their findings.

“This behavior may have evolved because, once both chicks reach this age, it may be advantageous for the parents to try to raise both of their chicks to fledging — the stage at which chicks leave the nest — rather than preferentially giving one more resources than the other,” said Boersma.

If so, then equality on the part of Magellanic penguin parents is less of an egalitarian virtue and more an investment in survival of the next generation.

London Grenfell disaster survivors march for justice


The front of the monthly London, England Silent Walk for Grenfell on Thursday evening – supported by large numbers of firefighters and students from Devon

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Grenfell must never happen again’ – 500-strong Silent Walk

OVER 500 residents of north Kensington taking part in the 20th Silent Walk for Grenfell were joined by a large delegation of firefighters from the FBU Southeast region, from Oxford, and Hereford and south Wales.

A minibus with 15 students from Paignton in Devon travelled for over six hours determined to show their support. The students, all studying youth work at South Devon College were all moved by the Grenfell inferno and the loss of so many young lives.

Student Luke Ford told News Line: ‘I’m angry that nothing has been done by the government to stop tragedies like this happening again. Whole families have died and we felt we must come here to give them our support.

‘Our area is one of the most deprived in the country with a lot of our youth clubs cut.

‘It’s like north Kensington where there are hundreds of holiday homes empty most of the year and the cost of housing is high. With so many empty properties local businesses can’t survive leading to more unemployment.’

A large number of local youth turned out for the walk. Riana Salman, who came with two friends said: ‘I lost a number of friends and am here because we must not forget those who passed away.’

Youseff, a lecturer from Birmingham University said: ‘It’s important to show the connection Grenfell has made around the country and next march will have more students from Birmingham.’ A solidarity Silent walk was also held in Milton Keynes last night.

Meanwhile, ahead of an extremely provocatively titled Channel 4 Dispatches programme, ‘Grenfell: Did the Fire Brigade Fail?’, to be aired on Monday, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘Firefighters risked their lives that night to save others, and were placed in an utterly impossible situation because of the failure of the building.

‘Before any firefighter arrived, before any 999 calls were made, the building was a potential death trap. The building was wrapped in flammable cladding which caused the fire to spread at an unprecedented, and rapid rate.

‘We have longstanding criticisms of fire and rescue policy in the UK, and have in the past made many criticisms of individual fire and rescue services, including the London Fire Brigade.

‘The FBU has made urgent recommendations for a review of the stay-put policy, but we are clear that is a national matter which government should initiate. The government has been too slow to respond, both in terms of unsafe building materials and reviewing national fire and rescue policy.’