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Pope marks Holy Week alone for 1st time in history

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Pope Francis

Vatican City, April 6 Pope Francis held the Palm Sunday mass alone in the St Peter’s Basilica here for the first time in history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the rites to mark the beginning of Holy Week, an important religious festival in the Catholic calendar, were not held in the Vatican Square as usual and there was no congregation present at the ceremony, reports Efe news.

Instead millions of people followed the liturgy on the internet, radio and television amid widespread isolation measures imposed around the world due to the deadly outbreak.

The Pope said during his homily: “The tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others. For life is measured by love.”

Only a small group of people were present with the pontiff for the service, respecting social distancing measures by maintaining a safe distance at all times.

The Vatican has been forced to adopt preventive measures since the emergence of the outbreak which has seen more than 1.2 million global infections and 66,500 deaths.

Italy has been one of the worst affected countries in the world with 128,948 confirmed cases and the highest number of deaths in the world at 15,887.

St Peter’s Square and Basilica in the Vatican City were closed to the public in March.

The Pope told people feeling lonely to cling to their faith in these difficult times.

“When we have our back to the wall, when we find ourselves at a dead end, with no light and no way of escape, when it seems that God himself is not responding, we should remember that we are not alone,” he said.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: �Courage, open your heart to my love. You will feel the consolation of God who sustains you’.”

The Pope will officiate at a mass on Maundy Thursday but without the traditional foot washing that he used to carry out at migrant shelters or in prisons.

Good Friday mass will be held inside the Basilica and there will be no faithful at the Easter Vigil on Saturday or at mass on Easter Sunday.

Politics

Facebook workers stage virtual walkout over no action on Trump tweet

“We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.

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George-Floyd

San Francisco, June 1 : Several Facebook employees on Monday staged a “virtual walkout” in protest at the social networking giant’s policies regarding a recent controversial post by President Donald Trump on its platform.

The employees took to Twitter, publicly announcing their solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter protests that have seized the nation since the death of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer on May 25.

“Today I am participating in a virtual walkout over Facebook”s recent decisions not to moderate posts that we believe violate our platform standards,” posted one Facebook employee.

Another employee tweeted: “As allies we must stand in the way of danger, not behind. I will be participating in today”s virtual walkout in solidarity with the black community inside and outside FB.”

Several Facebook employees have come out in the open to protest the social media giant”s stand on not taking action on a controversial post from Trump about the Minnesota protests.

“I believe Trump”s ”when the looting starts, the shooting starts” tweet (cross-posted to FB), encourages extra-judicial violence and stokes racism. Respect to @Twitter”s integrity team for making the enforcement call,” David Gillis, Director, Product Design at Facebook, said in a tweet on Sunday.

While Twitter last week put out a “public interest notice” on the tweet for violating the platform”s policies about glorifying violence, Facebook refused to take action when the tweet was cross-posted to its platform.

Defending the decision to not take action on the controversial posts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said that its “policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force”.

“We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today”s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be,” he said.

“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” Zuckerberg added.

In a series of tweets, Gillis argued that policy “needs to evolve” and take more context into account.

“While I understand why we chose to stay squarely within the four corners of our violence and incitement policy, I think it would have been right for us to make a ”spirit of the policy” exception that took more context into account,” he said.

“At any rate, when we have to vigorously debate whether to make an exception to the way we interpret and enforce a given policy (as happened on Friday), this often indicates that said policy needs to evolve. I think that is the case here,” he said.

Another Facebook employee tweeted that he was not proud of how Facebook reacted.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we”re showing up. The majority of coworkers I”ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard,” said Jason Toff, Director of Product Management at Facebook.

–IANS

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Tech

Did ”Anonymous” hacker group attack Minneapolis police website?

On its unconfirmed Facebook page on Thursday, hacker group Anonymous said it was targeting the department.

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Website-hack

San Francisco, June 1 : After hacker group Anonymous issued a threat of retribution for the death of George Floyd allegedly due to police brutality, the website of Minneapolis Police Department showed signs that it faced a cyber attack.

The website currently requires visitors to submit “captchas” to verify they are humans, not bots, the New York Post reported on Monday.

On its unconfirmed Facebook page on Thursday, hacker group Anonymous said it was targeting the department.

The politically-charged hacker group targeted the police department for its “horrific track record of violence and corruption” in an almost four-minute video.

“This travesty has gone on for far too long, and now the people have had enough,” a figure said in a mechanical voice.

“People have had enough of this corruption and violence from an organization that promises to keep them safe,” it added.

“Unfortunately, we do not trust your corrupt organization to carry out justice, so we will be exposing your many crimes to the world,” said the masked figure.

Some 5,000 US National Guard troops were deployed in major states amid the ongoing protests against the death of Floyd in police custody on May 25 in the city of Minneapolis, while also demanding an end to racism and police violence.

–IANS

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Disaster

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus rises by 75 to 33,415

The rest 35,253 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

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Italy Coronavirus

Rome, June 1 : Seventy-five more COVID-19 patients had died in the past 24 hours in Italy, bringing the country”s toll to 33,415, out of total infection cases of 233,019, according to fresh figures.

Nationwide, the number of active infections dropped by 1,616 to 42,075, said the Civil Protection Department on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of those who tested positive for the new coronavirus, 435 are in intensive care, 15 fewer compared to Saturday, and 6,387 are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 293 patients from the previous day.

The rest 35,253 people, or about 84 percent of those who tested positive, are quarantined at home with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

Recoveries rose by 1,874 compared to Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to 157,507.

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