Pope Francis, 85, had some choice words for the childless at the Vatican on Wednesday. In remarks to a general audience, the Catholic Church head called out couples who have chosen not to have children and opted to have pets instead.
“Today we see a form of selfishness,” the pope said, according to Fox News. “We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have … dogs and cats that take the place of children.”
“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them,” the pope went on. Pope Francis gave a speech about parenthood on Jan. 5 at the Vatican.Getty Images
“It is a risk, yes: Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption,” the Argentina-born leader said. “But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”
The pope made the controversial remarks while speaking about Joseph, the biblical “foster father” of Jesus. He said Joseph’s role was the prime example of one of the “highest forms of love” that someone can receive. “Today we see a form of selfishness,” the pope said. “We see that some people do not want to have a child.”
Corbis via Getty Images
He went on to suggest that there might be something wrong with people who have chosen not to have children.
“A man or woman who do not develop the sense of fatherhood or motherhood, they are lacking something, something fundamental, something important.”
The pope’s controversial comments come at a time of a steep decline in population in the West. According to UPI, the United States saw a 7% decline in its childbirth rate in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The crude birth rate in Italy dropped by 9% last year and Spain saw an 8% decline. Crude birth rate refers to the number of births that occur during the year.
While Pope Francis doesn’t have any dogs or cats at his Vatican home, his predecessor, Benedict XVI, housed felines as pets. The pope chastised couples who opt to house cats and dogs rather than children in his speech. Getty Images
Francis appears to be thinking a lot about parenthood so far in 2022. In his earlier New Year’s Day sermon, he called for an end to violence against women for the sake of motherhood.
“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity, not through an angel, not directly, but through a woman,” the pope said earlier this week.
“And since mothers bestow life, and women keep the world (together), let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” he said.
Google is already facing mounting legal challenges from regulators globally who accuse the tech giant of maintaining an illegal monopoly over its search and digital advertising businesses.
But now one of its most prominent rivals is alleging that the titan is abusing browser extensions to favor its products and stifle competitors, adding a new wrinkle to the high-stakes antitrust debate and momentum to calls for new regulation.
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg, whose company offers a competing search engine that touts its privacy protections, told myself and Gerrit De Vynck during an interview Tuesday that Google is deploying manipulative design features, known as “dark patterns,” to trick users into abandoning rival products.
According to DuckDuckGo, Google for years has used misleading notifications to lure users into disabling its rival’s browser extensions and to discourage them from switching their default search engines on its web browser, Chrome. But Weinberg said Google in August 2020 tweaked the prompts to more blatantly nudge users away from jumping ship.
The changes include requiring users to answer whether they would rather “Change back to Google search” after adding the DuckDuckGo extension and showing users a larger, highlighted button when giving them the option to “Change it back” or not.
Weinberg said the tweaks — although subtle — have had a major impact.
Since Google implemented the changes, DuckDuckGo said it has seen a significant drop — 10 percent — in how many new users it has been able to retain on its services on Chrome. DuckDuckGo said that has translated to hundreds of thousands of new users lost. (Chrome is the world’s most prevalent desktop browser by a wide margin.)
It’s the first time the company is publicly speaking out about how the practice has impacted its business, including what it says are millions in potential lost revenue since Google changed its prompts in 2020.
“For search engines like us that are trying to actively allow consumers to switch, [or] choose an alternative, they’re making it unreasonably complicated to do so and confusing consumers,” Weinberg said of Google.
Google spokeswoman Julie Tarallo McAlister said in a statement that Chrome users “can directly change their default search settings at any time,” but they often complain “when they download an extension that unexpectedly changes these settings without their knowledge.”
She added, “This issue has been well-documented for a long time and is why we have long had clear disclosure requirements for extensions and shown users a notification if any extension tries to change their search settings — as a way to confirm their intent.”
McAlister said the notification appears “regardless of the user’s chosen search provider,” and that some other browsers have “similar policies.”
The proposals are just some of the numerous bills targeting what U.S. lawmakers say are anti-competitive abuses by companies like Google. But the bills, spearheadedby Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), boast broad backing from Democrats and Republicans, making them among the most threatening for Silicon Valley giants. They’re seen as bellwethers for the larger antitrust push.
Weinberg said the drop in user retention via their extension on Chrome, which was previously unreported, is one of the most “direct” pieces of evidence they have seen about how Google’s practices have harmed their business.
“I think it really helps to make it concrete and show some very specific examples of where things are happening,” he said during a 30-minute video interview.
It’s a finding that could also serve as fodder for state and federal enforcers as they press ahead with their antitrust lawsuits against the tech behemoth.
Weinberg said the company has briefed policymakers in Washington and regulators about its concerns over Google’s search engine practices, including those leading antitrust efforts in Congress. “A lot of people have reached out to us over time, and we are responsive,” he said.
He added, “We’ve been in touch with the DOJ and we’re trying to help them, and the states for that matter, in their case to provide them with any information that would be helpful.”
But those legal bouts are poised to drag out over several years, which Weinberg said makes the need for Congress to act and pass new laws even more pressing.
“We definitely need momentum on real legislation,” he said.
Google is fighting antitrust battles overseas, too, including in the European Union, where in November it lost a major appeal to overturn a landmark antitrust case. The bloc is also advancing two major proposals, the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, that aim to curtail alleged abuses by giant tech platforms. But that’s not all DuckDuckGo has its eyes on.
“The two other countries that we’re focused on is Australia and the [United Kingdom],” Weinberg said.
Those are just two more regions where Google and other tech giants are now facing surging efforts to overhaul regulation of their sector.
Tesla faces criticism for opening showroom in China’s Xinjiang region
Activists have criticized the electric carmaker for opening a showroom in Urumqi, the capital of the Chinese region where officials have conducted a crackdown on Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority group, Maite Fernández Simonreports. Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director of the D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on Tesla CEO Elon Musk to close the showroom and “cease what amounts to economic support for genocide.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also blasted the decision, saying in a tweet linking to a story on the move that “nationless corporations are helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up genocide and slave labor in the region.”
Tesla and Musk have broad popularity and official approval in China despite recent backlash over allegations that satellites belonging to Musk’s SpaceX presented risks to China’s space station.
Biden applauded AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a two-week delay of their 5G rollout
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told the two companies in a letter that the Biden administration won’t try to further delay the rollout past Jan. 19 barring any “unforeseen aviation safety issues,” Reuters’s David Shepardsonreports. President Biden called the companies’ agreement a “significant step in the right direction.”
Transportation officials sought a delay amid warnings by the aviation industry that 5G technology could impact airline safety systems.
Verizon sees no airline safety issues with 5G technology, but the FAA “intended to disrupt an already difficult time for air travel if we move ahead with our planned activation,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told employees. “We felt that it was the right thing to do for the flying public, which includes our customers and all of us, to give the FAA a little time to work out its issues with the aviation community.”
The FTC threatened legal action and fines if companies don’t protect themselves against a software bug
Companies that don’t quickly fix the vulnerability could harm consumers and open themselves up to mammoth financial penalties, the Federal Trade Commission said.
It’s the strongest threat by the federal government for private companies to patch their systems to fix a vulnerability in popular open-source software known as log4j. The FTC raised the specter of Equifax, noting that the credit-rating agency paid $700 million to settle regulatory actions in the wake of a hack that exposed personal information of more than 100 million customers. The FTC accused Equifax of not patching a known software vulnerability, resulting in the hack.
The FTC warned that it “intends to use its full legal authority to pursue companies that fail to take reasonable steps to protect consumer data from exposure as a result of Log4j, or similar known vulnerabilities in the future.”
The regulator also signaled its plans to take a broader look at open-source software, which is prone to far-reaching bugs like log4j. Such projects “are often created and maintained by volunteers, who don’t always have adequate resources and personnel for incident response and proactive maintenance even as their projects are critical to the Internet economy,” the agency said.
Twitter is mourning the once-beloved BlackBerry, whose company stopped supporting this week. The Conservation Lands Foundation’s David Feinman:
Vulture’s Morgan A Baila:
Joe Kane has joined the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation as director of broadband and spectrum policy. Kane was previously a technology policy fellow at the R Street Institute.
TechNet announced four new hires: Dylan Hoffman will be the group’s executive director for California and the Southwest; he previously worked as the Internet Association’s director of California government affairs. Ebbie Yazdani, a former aide to Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), is joining the group as federal policy director. Nancy Gabaldon will be TechNet’s director of digital content; she previously worked at the National Guard Association of the United States. Shalaka Joshi, TechNet’s new state policy coordinator, previously worked at the New York State Insurance Fund.
Intel CEO Patrick Gelsingerspeaks at an Atlantic Council event Monday at 10 a.m.
That’s all for today — thank you so much for joining us! Make sure to tell others to subscribe to The Technology202 here. Get in touch with tips, feedback or greetings on Twitter or email.
Scientist pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets for Chinese pharma company
ZACHARY ROGERS | The National Desk 3 minutes
FILE – This April 28, 2010, file photo shows the GlaxoSmithKline offices in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
PHILADELPHIA (TND) — Lucy Xi, 44, has pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for Chinese pharmaceutical company Renopharma.
The Department of Justice says in a news release Xi was employed by GSK at a facility in Upper Merion, Pa. where the company worked on developing biopharmaceutical products that typically cost more than a billion dollars to research and develop.
Xi’s, husband, Yan Mei, established the company Renopharma with financial support from the Chinese government, the DOJ says.
Renopharma was stated to be a company focused on researching and developing anti-cancer drugs, but instead, the DOJ says, it was used as a “repository” of stolen information from GSK.
This defendant illegally stole trade secrets to benefit her husband’s company, which was financed by the Chinese government,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, who announced Xi’s guilty plea on Monday. “The lifeblood of companies like GSK is its intellectual property, and when that property is stolen and transferred to a foreign country, it threatens thousands of American jobs and jeopardizes the strategic benefits brought about through research and development. Such criminal behavior must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The DOJ says Xi sent Mei a document summarizing GSK research on monoclonal antibodies and told him in an email “you need to understand it very well. It will help you in your future business [Renopharma]”.
Mei currently resides in China and is considered to be a fugitive, the DOJ says. Xi, her sister and two other co-defendants have all pleaded guilty for their roles in this crime.
Pharmaceutical firms like GSK invest staggering amounts of time and money to develop new medications and bring them to market,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division Jacqueline Maguire. “When individuals steal valuable trade secrets concerning one of these drugs, it’s a threat both to that firm and beyond. After all, innovation like this propels the U.S. economy. The FBI is committed to enforcing laws that protect the nation’s businesses from such theft. We will not permit American research and development to be scavenged for the benefit of other companies or countries.
Another top aide to Vice President Kamala Harris is leaving the administration, taking a new job at the US Capitol as poll numbers continue to plunge for President Biden and his second-in-command.
“Yet another Kamala Harris aide has joined the exodus of staffers leaving the vice president’s office amid claims of turmoil and dysfunction,” reports the NY Post. “Vincent Evans, the veep’s deputy director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, has quit to take on a role on Capitol Hill, CNBC reported Wednesday.”
“I am deeply honored to be named the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus,” Evans said in a statement. “I started my career in Washington working for a member of the CBC, so I know firsthand the tremendous leadership and impact this caucus has in Congress and across the country.”
“Working in the first year of a White House is exciting and rewarding but it’s also grueling and exhausting,” claimed Jen Psaki after another aide left the administration.
3/3 If someone has heart arrhythmia, they can drop dead from a heart attack instantly. 50% of people with my¤carditis die within 5 yrs. Another 80% die within 10 yrs. So sad these young healthy athletes murdered, yes murdered by these evil scumbags mandating the death 'va xxines'
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