Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Pope Francis announces opening of Secret Archives on 'Hitler's Pope'

It's deplorable to describe Pacelli as 'Hitler's Pope'. It's a remnant of Soviet disinformation.  His Holiness did more to save Jews from the Nazis than anyone else

Pope Francis has announced that he will open up the Vatican’s secret archives on the papacy of Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of failing to speak up about the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews.

Historians have for decades been calling on the Holy See to let scholars study the archives, in order to determine whether Pius XII failed to use his moral authority to oppose the Holocaust.

The argument that Pius should have been far more vocal in condemning the Nazis’ annihilation of six million Jews was put forward most forcefully in the 1999 book Hitler’s Pope, by John Cornwell, a British writer and academic.

Pope Francis announced his decision during a meeting with staff from the Secret Archives, part of the Vatican’s vast repository of documents and records, declaring that “the Church is not afraid of history”.

He said the archive would be opened on March 2 next year to mark the 81st anniversary of the election of Pius XII in 1939.

Francis acknowledged that there had been “moments of grave difficulty and tormented decisions” for the wartime pontiff, saying he had been treated by posterity with “some prejudice and exaggeration”.

Without referring directly to Pius’s actions towards the Jews of Europe, Francis said his predecessor had engaged in “hidden but active diplomacy” in order to pursue “humanitarian initiatives”.

He thanked archive historians for having worked, since 2006, to catalogue and organise the huge body of documentation relating to Pius’s papacy, from 1939 to his death in 1958.

Mr Cornwell, the author of Hitler’s Pope, said he could not wait for the archives to be revealed.

“It should be really interesting. It might show that he did fantastic things to help the Jews. Or it might shed light on whether he had anything to do with the Nazi rat-run, when some Catholics helped Nazis escape to South America at the end of the war,” he told The Telegraph.

He said he called his book Hitler’s Pope largely because of what the future Pope Pius did before the war, when as Vatican secretary of state he drew up an accord in 1933, the Reichskonkordat, that protected the Catholic Church’s rights in Germany but in exchange helped give moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime.

He said Pius was, like many Catholics at the time, anti-Semitic, but conceded that he had little scope for limiting the scale of the Holocaust.

“He didn’t have much room for manoeuvre. He was very much a prisoner inside the Vatican, which was dependent for its light, gas and water on Mussolini’s Italy and then on the German regime. Although I still think he didn’t do enough when the Jews were being rounded up in Rome.”

Hitler even plotted at one time to kidnap the Pope, Mr Cornwell said.

The Vatican insists that by using discreet means, Pius instructed Catholic clergy to give help to the Jews, quietly saving tens of thousands of lives.

“The archives will hopefully shed light on the actual possibilities that were open to Pope Pius in condemning the genocide and to what extent he could have made a difference, and at what cost,” said Austen Ivereigh, a British expert on the Vatican and the author of The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a radical pope.

While some historians have accused Pius of complicity in the persecution of the Jews because of his decision not to speak out, others insist he did all that he could in the circumstances.

They argue that to have criticised Hitler and the Nazi regime more strongly would have imperiled Catholics across occupied Europe.  “Had he spoken out, it could have been an excuse for Hitler to turn on the Catholic Church. These were very, very difficult moral choices,” said Mr Ivereigh.

The planned opening of the archives was welcomed by Jewish groups around the world. “We greatly appreciate Pope Francis’s decision,” said Noemi Di Segni, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. It would enable historians “to reconstruct with greater clarity the Church’s position regarding the Shoah.”

“It’s shame that we’ll have to wait until 2020, but better late than never,” said Ruth Dureghello, the head of the Jewish community in Rome.

More than 1,000 Italian Jews were rounded up in Rome and deported to concentration camps in October 1943.

The Pope’s decision was also welcomed by Israel. "We are pleased by the decision and hope it will enable free access to all relevant archives," foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on Twitter.

It normally takes the Vatican 70 years from the end of a pontificate to open up its archives relating to the period, but there has been intense pressure to make an exception for those of Pius XII.

“Part of the problem is that simply cataloguing the stuff takes a lot of time, especially given that there aren’t many staff in the Secret Archives,” said Mr Ivereigh. “It’s a huge archive because it was a very long papacy.”


It’s grotesquely unfair for transgender women to compete in women’s sports, and outrageous for trans people to bully and vilify LGBT heroine Martina Navratilova for stating the obvious

 Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player to ever lift a racquet. She’s dominated her sport in such a spectacular manner that it’s made her one of the richest, most successful sports stars in America. In 2017 alone, she earned $27 million from prize money and endorsements.

One of the major contributors to her triumphant career has been her extraordinary physique: Serena’s a tall, powerful woman. She’s 5ft 9in, weighs 155lbs and can bench press 225lbs.

When she was just ten years old, she beat US men’s champion Andy Roddick 6-1 when they were both junior players in Florida. But if they had played each other again when he was Men’s World No1, Roddick wouldn’t just have won, he’d have annihilated her.

To be honest, Serena Williams would be lucky to pick up even a couple of points

And it would likely be exactly the same outcome if she played any of the 1000 best male tennis players in the world.

(John McEnroe said 18 months ago that he thought Serena would rank 700th in men’s tennis, but other experts said he was being very generous)

This has got nothing to do with her incredible talent, and everything to do with her physiology. Male tennis players are just bigger, stronger, faster than her. And Serena is one of the biggest, strongest, fastest female tennis players in history.

So it’s not ‘sexist’ to say the top 1000 men would beat Serena – it’s a cold, hard, statistical fact.

Now imagine a scenario where a 25-year-old male player ranked say, No200 in the world, and earning around $100,000 a year, suddenly decides he wants to identify as female – either for genuine transgender reasons or for duplicitous, fraudulent, cynically commercial reasons – and now wishes to compete against women.

That player, if he underwent hormonal treatment to reduce his testosterone levels to the required levels, could spend the next 3/4 years playing as a woman on the women’s tour. He, now she, would instantly be the best female tennis player that’s ever lived.

She would destroy Serena Williams, and every other woman player.  She would win every major tournament, break every women’s tennis record, and win tens, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.

And she would kill women’s tennis forever.

Oh, and if she then wished to, she could retire, and announce she was now identifying as male again.

That is the potentially ruinous scenario tennis legend Martina Navratilova recently articulated in a newspaper op-ed that promptly made her the most hated LGBTQ woman in America.

‘A man can decide to be female,’ she wrote in the Sunday Times of London, ‘take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he do desires. It’s insane and it’s cheating.’

Yes, it is. And to those who scoff at the notion sportspeople might go to that kind of length to cheat, I scoff back: some sportspeople, as the likes of Lance Armstrong sadly reminded us, will go to ANY lengths to cheat if there is big money to be made.

Within hours of the column appearing, Navratilova was dropped as an ambassador for Athlete Ally, a US-based organisation that campaigns for LGBTQ sportspeople. They said her comments ‘perpetuate dangerous myths’. She was viciously vilified on social media, and accused of being ‘transphobic’.

Yet Navratilova, who herself faced huge amounts of abuse when she courageously came out as gay in 1981, has been one of the loudest and most loyal ‘allies’ to the LGBTQ community for decades. She even hired Renee Richards, the first transgender tennis star, as her coach.

That though counted for nothing. For daring to challenge the undeniable inequality created by transgender women participating in women’s sport, she had to be brutally attacked and punished.

Yesterday, Navratilova posted a new response to the growing furore, apologising for using the word ‘cheating’ but reiterating her concerns. ‘I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a fully, healthy life,’ she said. ‘All I am trying to do is make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport.’

She has been widely supported by other athletes including former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies who said transgender women should not be permitted to compete in female competitions.

‘There is a fundamental difference between the binary sex you are born with and the gender you may identify as,’ Davies said. ‘To protect women’s sport, those with a male sex advantage should not be able to compete in women’s sport. Every single woman athlete I’ve spoken to, and I have spoken to many, all of my friends in international sports, understand and feel the same way as me. It’s not a transphobic thing. We have no issue with people who are transgender.’

Davies was also promptly accused of being a ‘transphobe’ and ‘sharing hate speech’ by transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon who recently became UCI Masters Track World Champion despite having a vastly superior size advantage (she is 6ft and 200lbs) over female rivals.

It’s the go-to weapon to silence anyone these days – just call them a ‘phobe’ even when they respectfully suggest something is self-evidently unfair.

I’ve watched all this with astonishment. First, at the fact we are even having this debate when Martina Navratilova is so obviously right. Second, that anyone like her who dares to say this is being subjected to the most appalling bullying in a bid to silence an opinion the notoriously aggressive transgender lobby doesn’t want to hear.

(I was on the receiving end of transgender activists’ social media vitriol after conducting a perfectly sympathetic interview with leading trans spokesman Janet Mock a few years ago - and it was deeply unpleasant. I’m sure I will be again for this column.)

Amid all the debate-suppressing fury though, the facts speak for themselves. As more and more transgender women compete in women’s sport, so their performances grow more and more dominant.

In Connecticut, two transgender girl sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood just demolished all-comers in the sprinting races in the state’s outdoor championships, running way faster times than the nearest biological female runner.

One of their competitors, Selina Soule, said: ‘We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralising.’

She was keen to stress that she too is not remotely bigoted towards transgender people. ‘I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair.’

In Brazil, Tiffany Abreu became the first transgender player in the top-flight women’s volleyball league in 2017, after a lengthy career as a male competitor.

Her record performances since have enraged some female players. Ana Henkel, a four-time Olympian for Brazil in volleyball and beach volleyball, wrote an open letter to the IOC saying: ‘This rushed decision to include biological men, born and built with testosterone, with their height, their strength and aerobic capacity of men, is beyond the sphere of tolerance. It represses, embarrasses, humiliates and excludes women.’

Of course is does.

The irony of this debate is that the transgender community has rightly fought for years to win equality and fairness. Yet now they are fighting equally ferociously for the right to have an unfair and unequal advantage over women in sport who were born biological females.

I, too, have no issue with transgender people and want them to have the same rights as everyone else. But it’s not ‘transphobic’ to believe that transgender women have an unfair edge in women’s sport that is purely down to their biological male bodies.

It’s just common sense.


Landmark report blows popular anti-vaxxer myth out of the water

Anti-vaxxers have clung to this conspiracy for decades and it has haunted the medical community. A new report exposes it for what it is

A major new study has revealed no link between autism and a childhood vaccine used by millions - but researchers fear myths spread by anti-vaxxers over decades means the “conspiracy” will be impossible to defeat.

A supposed link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has caused angst for years and has fuelled claims by anti-vaxxers the vaccine - which is widely used in Australia and throughout the world - was unsafe.

This has led to a slower uptake in the vaccine than doctors would like and has contributed to the explosion of the anti-vaxxer movement.

A major Danish study published today shows the MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, trigger autism in susceptible children and isn’t linked with clustering of autism cases following vaccination.

MMR vaccine requires two doses and protects against the three diseases. Its use has led to a dramatic fall in rates of measles in Western countries.

The nationwide study, by researchers from Copenhagen’s Statens Serum Institute, looked at all Danish children born between 1999 and 2010; more than half a million in total.

US and Australian experts has been quick to embrace the findings - and they all worry that even this study won’t be enough to finally smash the myth that MMR can cause autism.

“In an ideal world, vaccine safety research would be conducted only to evaluate scientifically grounded hypotheses, not in response to the conspiracy du jour. In reality, hypotheses propagated by vaccine sceptics can affect public confidence in vaccines.,” wrote Dr Saad Omer and Dr Inci Yildirim of the Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.

That had obvious challenges, and led to questions about how much time and energy should now be spent on trying to convince people the vaccine was safe.

“Continuing to evaluate the MMR-autism hypothesis might come at the expense of not pursuing some of the more promising leads. Even in the face of substantial and increasing evidence against an MMR–autism association, the discussion around the potential link has contributed to vaccine hesitancy.

“Therefore, generating evidence on MMR vaccine safety may be useful but is certainly not sufficient. It has been said that we now live in a ‘fact-resistant’ world where data have limited persuasive value.”

Professor Katie Flanagan, an infectious diseases and clinical professor at the University of Tasmania, said all studies since a controversial Lancet article by a discredited UK doctor, Andrew Wakefield, had failed to find a link between autism and MMR.

Mr Wakefield, the former British doctor and researcher, birthed the modern anti-vaccination movement with widely discredited research, which was withdrawn by The Lancet medical journal and renounced by its co-authors, The Independent reported.

His medical licence was revoked in 2010.

“The (Wakefield) paper was subsequently withdrawn but the damage had been done. An increase in vaccine hesitancy and refusal since then has been associated with repeated outbreaks of measles in industrialised countries in recent years, including Australia, with cases doubling in Europe in the last year.”

Dr Flanagan said the latest study was the “largest study yet” to try and finally banish the supposed link.

“Perhaps it is time to finally lay to rest the false information that MMR causes autism and get on with the important goal of eradicating this deadly disease once and for all,” he said.

Dr Hannah Kirk, of Monash University, welcomed the news, but noted it was more time and money spent on refuting conspiracy theories.

“Although it is fantastic to see another high-quality study refute the myth of an autism and MMR vaccine link, it is disappointing that substantial research efforts, time and funds have to continue to be directed toward disproving something that we already know to be incorrect; rather than investigating more accurate causes of autism.”

But some experts believed not everyone would be convinced.

“Sadly, there will still be those who cling to conspiracy theories or coincidental evidence that confirms their fears or suspicions. The scientific method is not always applied perfectly and not all findings tell the whole story but it is the best tool we have for testing our guesses about how things work,” said Dr James F. Donnelly, a lecturer at Southern Cross University.

“Helping parents and the general public become informed consumers of research findings as they advocate for children is a key role for academics and clinicians across all healthcare disciplines.”


Senator slams Australian government as 'gutless and weak' for not granting Milo Yiannopoulos an Australian visa over protest fears

Senator Pauline Hanson has slammed the Scott Morrison government for not immediately approving a visa for right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos.

The One Nation leader said she has contacted Minister for Immigration David Coleman through letters, texts and phone calls - urging the government to grant Yiannopoulos a visiting visa ahead of his second Australian tour. 

'You may not agree with everything that they say as long as they don't go out there and advocate violence,' Ms Hanson told on Sky News Australia on Tuesday. 'If you actually want to stop someone. Stop the protesters with their violence.'

The conservative provocateur and anti-feminist had initially planned a speaking tour to Australia with far-right commentator Ann Coulter in December but was cancelled 'due to unforeseen circumstances'.

Outraged ticket-holders who demanded a refund, were instead offered to attend the 'Deplorables' speaking tour with Yiannopoulos, convicted criminal Tommy Robinson and self-described 'western chauvinist' Gavin McInnes.

The Deplorables tour was rescheduled to February 2019 but has been cancelled for the second time because the visa applications were still being considered by government authorities.

Ms Hanson claims Mr Coleman had told her he would have an answer regarding Yiannopoulos' visa by Monday when she contacted him on Friday. 'I rang him on the Monday. Still haven't heard anything,' she said. 'They're trying to keep me at bay and they still wouldn't make an answer.'

'I think that is weak. I think it's gutless. He has no reason for keeping Milo not coming into the country or Tommy Robinson.'

Robinson was jailed for endangering the trial of a group of sex attackers last year, then freed when his conviction was quashed on appeal. 

Mr McInnes' visa was refused, with the denial being appealed.

Yiannopoulos' is known for his commentaries mocking left-wing political correctness and feminists.

His Sydney speaking tour in 2017 attracted about 100 protestors who chanted 'f*** off Nazi', which led to seven arrests.

His Melbourne leg of the tour was even more violent, with police forced to use sticks to keep the demonstrators at bay.

Ms Hanson has blamed protesters for being the ones who instigate violence.

A statement from the Immigration Department to Yiannopoulos warned it is likely to deny him entry because there was a 'risk' he would 'incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community'.

The letter outlined the protests at his Sydney and Melbourne events as one reason for his likely ban, the Herald Sun reported.

'You were issued a bill of $50,00 by Victoria Police for the cost of your policing event,' the letter read. 

'They're the ones that should be stopped but they're reluctant to do it because the police are told not to do anything about them,' she said.

'I blame state governments and I blame local authorities.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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