UN presses Vatican for confidential records on child sex abuse

The Vatican is to face tough questioning by a United Nations committee over the Catholic church’s record in tackling child sexual abuse by its clergy around the world.

A detailed “list of issues” has been released by the Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) before the appearance of officials from the Holy See. The session is expected early next year.

The decision to ask senior Roman Catholic clerics to hand over confidential internal documents to such a high-profile inquiry marks a fresh initiative in the global debate over clerical abuse. It will present the new pontiff, Pope Francis, with a direct challenge to provide records of financial compensation given to victims of sexual abuse and disclose whether secret deals were made to preserve the church’s reputation…

The information sought includes cases where priests were transferred to other parishes, “where instructions were given not to report such offences, and at which level of the clergy”, and “where children were silenced in order to minimise the risk of public disclosure”. The CRC has also asked for “the investigations and legal proceedings conducted under penal canon law against perpetrators of sexual crimes” and “the number of child victims who have been given assistance for recovery, including psychological support and social reintegration and have received financial compensation”…

The CRC has been pressing the Vatican for greater disclosure over the issue of clerical abuse for years. Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests said last month: “The fact that a UN committee has called the Vatican to account for its record on children’s rights, including the right to be free from sexual violence and exploitation, is giving survivors all over the world hope.”

Overdue. Once again, survivors have their hopes up that a new Pope with a supposedly-refreshed staff will open the vaults of evidence against abusers in the clergy. Most important, the chance to acquire direct evidence which provides for rehabilitation of the abused.

Crusaders struggled with worms and hygiene

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Medieval feces discovered at an ancient castle in Cyprus has revealed that the Crusaders suffered from a bad case of the worms, and had poor hygiene habits.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered that occupants of a 12th century Crusaders’ castle in western Cyprus were rife with parasites, reaffirming previous research which suggested high mortality rates among Crusaders from malnutrition and infectious diseases.

Tests on latrine samples in the Saranda Kolones castle, a crusader fortress which was built after King Richard I of England captured Cyprus during the Third Crusade in 1191 AD, showed two species of parasite eggs, the roundworm and the whipworm, prevalent in the soil of what was once a cesspit.

Both types of parasites can live in the human gut, and their eggs are released through bowel movement.

The parasites are transmitted orally and evidence of their presence reflects the poor hygiene conditions that prevailed in medieval castles, according to researchers Evilena Anastasiou and Piers D. Mitchell…

Modern research has shown that intestinal parasites absorb nutrients from the diet before they can be absorbed by the host, leaving those with poor diets vulnerable to malnutrition.

The ancient toilets were half-circle holes cut into what appeared to be a rock seat, connected by a sewer below.

Poor hygiene seems to have taken its toll among crusaders. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of crusaders in long expeditions died from malnutrition and infectious diseases, on a par with those who died from wounds in battle.

The mutual twins of ignorance and stupidity followed early imperial wars as well as the modern variety. The only thing we seem to have gotten better at is safe bowel movements. Troop movements still rely ultimately on politicians.

Ford creates a sheet metal version of 3D printing

Stamping sheet metal is an efficient form of manufacturing, capable of cranking hundreds or thousands of items an hour. The annoying thing is that making new stamping dies is a long, costly process. This is bad enough when it comes to retooling a factory, but creating prototypes for new products can leave designers waiting weeks. The Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan has taken a page from the 3D printing handbook and is developing a new way of forming sheet metal that allows designers to create prototypes in hours instead of weeks.

In design work, making a special die can take months from first design to finished product. The Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology (F3T) gets around this bottleneck by eliminating dies. Instead, the patented process uses a sort of embossing similar to a 3D printer. Like a printer, F3T takes a CAD file and uses it to form a product. The difference is that where a printer adds layers of materials, the F3T gradually presses the sheet metal into shape.

It does this by clamping a piece of sheet metal in place, after which a pair of computer-controlled styluses press from opposite sides and move about line by line to form the metal into the desired shape. A computer controls the path of the styluses, which also form the metal to specified dimensional tolerances and surface finish.

According to Ford, F3T introduces a high degree of flexibility into what is otherwise a time consuming process with the ability to produce a sheet metal prototype in three days. For some jobs, it can be a matter of hours.

Ford sees a great deal of potential in F3T. The company claims that it can not only make design work faster and cheaper, it can also make custom orders much easier, so bespoke car bodies would be much more common.

And then there’s aerospace, military, transportation and appliance industries. No doubt.

Will the NRA and gun nuts pick up the increased cost of insuring schools where security is based on guns?

Some U.S. states that passed laws allowing school personnel to carry weapons say insurers are threatening to raise rates or cancel the districts’ coverage.

Laws passed this year by legislatures in Kansas, South Dakota and Tennessee permitting teachers or administrators to carry firearms in school went into effect last week, The New York Times reported Sunday.

However, EMC Insurance Cos., which insures 90 percent of the school districts in Kansas, has sent a letter to its agents stating schools that allow personnel to carry concealed weapons would be declined coverage.

In Indiana, one county’s plan to deputize teachers to carry handguns in their classrooms fell apart after the district’s insurer refused to provide workers’ compensation coverage. The Oregon School Boards Association recently told districts their annual liability premium would rise $2,500 for each staff member who carried a gun in school.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reported more than 30 state legislatures introduced school-carry bills this year in the aftermath of the shootings of 20 students and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Insurance coverage for gun-toting teachers is not an issue in Texas, where strong tort protections are in place. A cooperative that insures about half of the state’s 1,035 school districts says rates were not increased for schools where school staff was allowed to carry weapons.

Sooner or later, even Texas will have to be concerned about joining civilized society, though. First off, lawyers are bound to figure out ways and means to get school shootings into federal courts. Especially when a few wingnuts kill the students they’re supposed to be protecting.

The rest of the Confederate wannabes will just tax-and-spend to feed their gullibility. At higher rates than any Washington bureaucrat ever suggested.