Apple to Reevaluate Policy on Mapping ‘Disputed Borders’ After Crimea Outcry 

Apple says it will reevaluate how it identifies “disputed borders” after receiving criticism for displaying Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as part of Russia on maps and weather apps for Russian users. 
 
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters on Friday that the U.S. technology giant was “taking a deeper look at how we handle disputed borders.” 
 
Muller said Apple made the change for Russian users because of a new law that went into effect inside Russia and that it had not made any changes to its maps outside the country. Review of law
 
“We review international law as well as relevant U.S. and other domestic laws before making a determination in labeling on our maps and make changes if required by law,” she told Reuters. 
 
Muller added that Apple “may make changes in the future as a result” of its reevaluation of the policy, without being specific. 
 
Russian and Ukrainian embassies in the United States did not immediately return requests for comment. 
 
When using the apps from the United States, Ukraine, and in parts of Europe, no international borders are shown around the peninsula. 
 
After the reports surfaced of the appearance of Crimea as part of Russia, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington told RFE/RL that it had sent a letter to Apple explaining the situation in Crimea and demanding that it correct the peninsula’s designation. 
 
It also said on Twitter that “let’s all remind Apple that #CrimeaIsUkraine and it is under Russian occupation — not its sovereignty.” 
 
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko tweeted, “Apple, please, please, stick to high-tech and entertainment. Global politics is not your strong side.” Applause from Russia
 
Vasily Piskarev, who chairs the Russian State Duma’s Committee on Security and Corruption Control, welcomed Apple’s move, saying, “They have brought [their services] in line with Russian law.” 
 
“The error with displaying Crimean cities on the weather app has been eliminated,” Piskarev told reporters. 
 
Competitor Google Maps has designated Crimea differently over the years depending on the user’s location, listing it as Russian for Russian users and Ukrainian for most others. 
 
“We make every effort to objectively depict the disputed regions, and where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders,” a Google spokesperson told Tech Crunch magazine. Troops entered in 2014
 
Russia took control of Crimea in March 2014 after sending in troops, seizing key facilities and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries. 
 
Moscow also backs separatists in a war against government forces that has killed more than 13,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014. 
 
The international community does not recognize Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, and the United States and European Union have slapped sanctions on Russia over its actions against Ukraine. 
 Reuters and the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service contributed to this report. 

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Ugandan Pageant Fights HIV Stigma

Nearly a third of Uganda’s new HIV infections occur among 15-to-25-year-olds, who say that despite progress, stigma is still a problem. To raise awareness ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, Uganda holds an annual fashion and a beauty pageant for young people infected with HIV and calls them the Young Positives. Halima Athumani reports from Kampala.

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Climate Activists Invade East German Coal Mines in Protest

Climate activists protested at open-pit coal mines in eastern Germany, pouring onto the premises to urge the government to immediately halt the use of coal to produce electricity.The news agency dpa reported that police estimated more than 2,000 people took part Saturday at sites near Cottbus and Leipzig and that some of the demonstrators scuffled with police. Three officers were reported slightly injured at the Janschwaelde mine near Cottbus. The mine operators, Leag und Mibrag, filed police reports asking for an investigation and possible charges.Burning coal releases carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for global warming. The German government plans to end the use of coal by 2038 and spend 40 billion euros ($44 billion) on assistance for the affected mining regions.

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Facebook Places Label on User’s Post Under Singapore ‘Fake News’ Law

Facebook said Saturday it had issued a correction notice on a user’s post at the request of the Singapore government, but called for a measured approach to the implementation of a new “fake news” law in the city-state.“Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information,” said the notice, which is visible only to Singapore users.The correction label was embedded at the bottom of the original post without any alterations to the text.Singapore requests noticeThe Singapore government said Friday it had instructed Facebook “to publish a correction notice” on a Nov. 23 post that contained accusations about the arrest of a supposed whistleblower and election rigging.Singapore, which is expected to call a general elections within months, said the allegations were “false” and “scurrilous” and initially ordered user Alex Tan, who runs the States Times Review blog, to issue the correction notice on the post.Tan, who does not live in Singapore and says he is an Australian citizen, refused, and authorities said he is now under investigation. Reuters could not immediately reach Tan for comment.“As required by Singapore law, Facebook applied a label to these posts, which were determined by the Singapore government to contain false information,” a spokesman for Facebook said in an emailed statement. “As it is early days of the law coming into effect, we hope the Singapore government’s assurances that it will not impact free expression will lead to a measured and transparent approach to implementation.”Some Singapore users however said that they could not see the correction notice. Facebook could not immediately explain why the notice was unavailable to some users.Blocked contentFacebook often blocks content that governments allege violate local laws, with nearly 18,000 cases globally in the year to June, according to the company’s “transparency report.”Two years in the making and implemented only last month, Singapore’s law is the first to demand that Facebook publish corrections when directed to do so by the government.The Asia Internet Coalition, an association of internet and technology companies, called the law the “most far-reaching legislation of its kind to date,” while rights groups have said it could undermine internet freedoms, not just in Singapore, but elsewhere in Southeast Asia.In the only other case under the law, which covers statements that are communicated in the country even if they originate elsewhere, opposition political figure Brad Bowyer swiftly complied with a correction request.The penalties range from prison terms of as much as 10 years or fines up to S$1 million ($733,192).

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Twitter CEO Pledges to Live in Africa for Several Months in 2020

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey has wrapped up of a trip to Africa by pledging to reside on the continent next year for up to six months. Dorsey tweeted this week: “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020.”The CEO of the social media giant did not say what he planned to do on the African continent.Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, did not offer more details on Dorsey’s plans. On Dorsey’s recent trip, he visited entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. Dorsey, 43, co-founded Twitter with several other entrepreneurs in 2006. He ran the company until he was ousted in 2008 but was brought back seven years later to again lead the platform.Dorsey also co-founded the payment processing app Square and is also CEO of that operation. The tech exec holds millions of stock shares in both companies, and Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.3 billion.Twitter, along with other social media companies, has faced criticism of its handling of misinformation and has come under scrutiny ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election. Dorsey announced in October that Twitter would ban political advertisements on the platform. 

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More Deaths Feared From Cholera in Cameroon

Cameroonian health and emergency personnel are working to stem a cholera outbreak that has killed at least a dozen people and sickened at least 100 others in the Bakassi Peninsula that shares a maritime boundary with Nigeria.It is feared the outbreak will claim more lives in the coastal area, which lacks health infrastructure.Emergency medical workers, together with some civilians, are working to improve hygiene and sanitation by clearing dirt and debris from water beneath houses on the shores in the area. Among them is 31-year-old Cameroonian fisherman Lucas Emimo, who says he lost his younger sister to cholera. Emimo says he has joined the humanitarian workers because he fears many more people may die from the infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, leading to dehydration and even death if untreated.Dirty water flows underneath houses in Idabato, Cameroon, Nov. 28, 2019. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)”We lack toilets, potable water,” Emimo said. “There is no hospital. People defecate beside the sea, under the houses, everywhere and so it makes the place not good to stay.”Dr. Ebongo Zakius Nandji, the area’s top health official, says humanitarian workers were deployed when news broke that people were dying and some were being rushed to hospitals. He says there is no doubt cholera is to blame.”Upon the reception of a distress signal from our team in the Bakassi health district, we came down to [the city of] Idabato, myself and my entire emergency response team,” Nandji said. “The situation on the ground really sends a pointer to the fact that we are in an outbreak of cholera.”Nandji said six people had been reported dead and hundreds of suspected cholera sufferers were still in villages around Idabato. Civilians said they had buried six others before the medical team’s arrival. The actual death toll could be higher, because many live in remote locations, complicating efforts to get accurate health data.Nandji urged people to be vigilant and report any cholera symptoms.Hospitals underusedBut the government says only 20 percent of the population visits hospitals. Most of them prefer traditional African medicine. Some complain that the only government hospital in Idabato is understaffed and lacks medication.Roland Ewane, a top Cameroonian official in Idabato, says Nigerians living in the region prefer to return to their country for health care. However, making the journey reduces chances of survival for cholera patients.A humanitarian worker disinfects homes in Idabato, Cameroon, Nov. 28, 2019. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)”We have a population of about 40,000,” Ewane said. “They are mostly Nigerians. We have been carrying out sensitization campaigns [educating the population] on the necessity of using or the importance of using government services. One of them is the hospital. They do not come to the hospital. It is a big cry [to use hospitals].”The Bakassi Peninsula is by the sea, but potable water is hard to find. Few have toilets and the local hospital struggles to handle epidemics.Nigeria ceded full control of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in 2013, in keeping with a 2002 International Court of Justice ruling. Some 300,000 Nigerians live on the peninsula — approximately 90 percent of its population. The territory is rich in hydrocarbons and fisheries, but lacks basic social services.Most health workers trained by Nigeria to serve in the area returned to their country when Cameroon did not continue paying their salaries. Some also fled attacks by separatists fighting for the independence of Cameroon’s English-speaking regions from the French-speaking majority. Cameroon has faced difficulties replacing departed medical staff.
 

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UN: More than 300 Children Die Daily of AIDS-Related Causes

World AIDS Day, the annual event to raise awareness of the global epidemic, turns 31 this year. However, as longevity, treatment, and access to care improve worldwide, the United Nations Children’s Fund is sounding the alarm, reporting that more than 300 children die every day of AIDS-related causes, and is urging young people to get earlier testing and treatment. In Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell met with some of the now-grown children who lived, to talk about the struggles they overcame

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Hundreds Take to Streets Urging More Action on Climate Change

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Sydney, Australia Friday to kick off a fresh round of global demonstrations urging more action to curb climate change. 
       
The protesters gathered outside the New South Wales Liberal Party headquarters to demand the government reject any new coal, oil or gas projects, as protesters in several other Asia-Pacific cities echoed the call to action from 16-year-old Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.The protests in Australia are taking place as the country’s southeast has been devastated by hundreds of damaging bushfires in recent weeks.Groups of young Americans have planned a “Black Friday Strike”, from Los Angeles to New York, to boycott the celebration of consumer discount shopping and to call for changes to business-as-usual to confront the climate crisis.As protests against climate change are widening around the world on Friday analysts warn that the United Nations climate conference taking place over the coming two weeks in Madrid, Spain, will likely fall short of their expectations.

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In Order to End AIDS, You Have to End Stigma

When AIDS was first identified more than 40 years ago, it was a death sentence. Since then, it has become a chronic, but treatable, disease. World Aids Day on December 1 is a yearly observance to help make people realize AIDS is still with us and, despite advances, the epidemic isn’t over.Every year communities around the world observe World AIDS Day with messages about awareness, getting tested and prevention….experts say the simplest method is to always use a condom during sex.When health ministers first designated December first as World AIDS Day, they realized that, unlike other diseases, the HIV virus that causes AIDS could spread globally. Paul Kawata has been an AIDS activist since the very beginning.”I was there in the early days, I was there when we both had to fight back, and act out, and also bury so many people that we loved,” he said.Dr. Anthony Fauci has also been in that fight since the beginning. He’s worked to develop treatments for HIV. Treatment has become so effective that if an infected person takes one pill a day, it’s impossible to pass the virus to anyone else. There’s also Truvada, a drug that prevents uninfected people from getting the disease. Fauci says ending AIDS could be simple.”If you did those two things: treatment as prevention, for those who are infected, pre-exposure prophylaxis for those who are at risk, if you implemented that to its fullest, theoretically, you could end the epidemic just like that,” said Fauci.The number of new HIV infections has fallen dramatically with these drugs. AIDS-related deaths are down by more than 55% since 2004, but only about 60 percent of those with HIV disease take medication.     “We have to understand that HIV sits at the intersection of so much discrimination and stigma,” said Kawata.Kawata works works for NMAC, an organization that advocates for health equity and racial justice to combat AIDS. He says The virus spreads wherever people face discrimination.  “First of all, it impacts predominately people of color,” said Kawata. “Number two, it impacts predominantly gay men. Number three, it impacts predominately poor people.”The majority of people with HIV in the U.S. are poor. Outside the U.S., The majority of people with HIV live in low- and middle-income countries. Teenagers everywhere are at risk. They have little access to to testing, healthcare and counseling. And that’s why Fauci says we need something else besides medication.”We’re not going to eliminate HIV without a vaccine,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health.Fauci says the work on vaccines is promising, but right now, what’s best is getting people tested so those who are positive can go on therapy, providing Truvada to people at risk of being infected, and treating HIV as a disease, not as a political, moral or social issue.

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TikTok Apologizes for Removing Video on Muslims in China

Social media app TikTok apologized to a user Thursday for removing a video that criticized China’s treatment of Muslims, blaming a “human moderation error” and saying the images had been restored within less than an hour.The controversy over the video, viewed 1.6 million times, comes as TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, faces an inquiry by a U.S. national security panel over its handling of personal data, while U.S. lawmakers fear it may be censoring politically sensitive content.In the video she posted last week, the user, who identifies herself as Feroza Aziz, gave a tutorial on eyelash curling, while talking about how Muslims were being treated and saying she wanted to spread awareness of the situation.But on Twitter this week she said she had been blocked from posting on TikTok for a month, and Wednesday posted that her viral video had been taken down, only to be restored later.TikTok logo on a mobile phoneTikTok statementThe video was offline for 50 minutes, TikTok said on its website.“We would like to apologize to the user for the error on our part,” said Eric Han, the app’s U.S. head of safety. “Due to a human moderation error, the viral video from Nov. 23 was removed. It’s important to clarify that nothing in our community guidelines precludes content such as this video, and it should not have been removed.”The TikTok user did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for additional comment.China’s foreign ministry said it had no specifics of the case, when queried by Reuters about the incident Wednesday.But it added that it required Chinese firms to operate in a way that respected international norms and local laws and regulations, and hoped that relevant countries also provided a fair and non-discriminatory environment.TikTok is not available in China, but ByteDance has a domestic version called Douyin.UighursThe user did not mention Uighurs in the video, but said later on Twitter she had been referring to the minority ethnic group.United Nations experts and rights groups estimate more than a million Uighurs and members of other ethnic groups have been detained in camps in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, which has triggered international condemnation.China says the camps are vocational training centers to impart new skills and help root out and prevent extremism.ByteDance has stepped up efforts to shield TikTok, popular with U.S. teenagers and those in their 20s, from much of its Chinese operations, Reuters reported Thursday.In a timeline on its blog post, TikTok said it had blocked another account set up by Aziz that had posted an image of Osama Bin Laden, which violated its content policies regarding “terrorist imagery.”On Monday, it enforced a device ban on accounts associated with violations. This affected the new account from which Aziz had posted the eyelash curling video and sent from the same device, it said.It said it had decided to override the device ban and was directly contacting her to do so.Aziz confirmed on Twitter that TikTok had restored her account but said other past videos had been deleted.“Do I believe they took it away because of a unrelated satirical video that was deleted on a previous deleted account of mine? Right after I finished posting a three-part video about the Uyghurs? No,” she posted on Twitter.

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