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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UN: Ebola Responders Killed in Eastern Congo Attacks

Rebels have attacked and killed Ebola response workers in eastern Congo, the World Health Organization chief said Thursday, an alarming development that could cause the waning outbreak to again pick up momentum in what has been called a war zone.“We are heartbroken that our worst fears have been realized,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.Three health workers were killed when Mai-Mai fighters attacked a base of the United Nations health agency overnight in Biakato, local official Salambongo Selemani told The Associated Press. One resident also was killed and Congolese forces killed one attacker and captured two others, Selemani said.Warnings had been posted earlier demanding that the health workers leave or face “the worst,” the official said.Earlier threatsThis is not the first time that health workers trying to contain the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history have been targeted. Some have called this outbreak more complicated than any other. Several rebel groups are active in the region, and local officials say some believe Ebola is nothing but a political ploy.“Imagine, a doctor leaves home in the U.S. or elsewhere to come sleep in a tent to help save us from this scourge of Ebola and yet poorly educated young people want to attack him. … It is very deplorable,” said Fiston Kamango, a youth leader in Biakato.The latest attacks come after days of deadly unrest in the city of Beni, where residents outraged by repeated rebel attacks stormed the local U.N. peacekeeping base, demanding more protection. WHO evacuated 49 of its staffers there, leaving 71 in place.Ebola response work was put on lockdown in Beni, dismaying health experts who say every attack hurts crucial efforts to contain the deadly virus.The number of cases had been dropping in the yearlong outbreak which has killed more than 2,100 people. Several days this month, zero cases were reported. Previously, cases have surged after attacks on health workers and facilities.Progress reversedIn one example of how any pause can sharply affect Ebola containment efforts, WHO has said no one in Beni could be vaccinated against the virus Monday. The health agency previously could trace more than 90% of contacts of infected people in the city but now that figure is just 17%, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday.Residents accuse Congolese and U.N. forces of not doing enough to protect civilians from the rebels who fight for control of the region’s vast mineral wealth. The Allied Democratic Forces armed group alone is blamed for the murders of more than 1,500 people in and around Beni in the past four years.The latest rebel attack outside Beni killed 19 people, the U.N. said Wednesday.After an emergency meeting Monday, President Felix Tshisekedi decided to allow joint operations between Congolese and U.N. forces in Beni following the protests that also burned the town hall.Far from the capital, Kinshasa, some traumatized residents in the densely populated border region near Uganda and Rwanda are wary of outsiders, further complicating the Ebola containment work in a part of Congo that had never recorded the virus before.Health workers continue to battle misinformation and reluctance to seek treatment for the virus that is largely spread via close contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, including the dead.

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Study: For HIV-Infected Babies, Treatment Best Started at Birth

Babies born with HIV benefit the most if treatment is started within hours or days of birth rather than waiting for them to be a little older, a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine found.A Harvard-led study of 40 infected infants in Botswana found those treated within hours of birth developed a much smaller viral reservoir, the pool of virus that remains within the body during and after treatment and is responsible for later relapses. While babies who were given the medications starting at four months after birth did not fare as well.The first group of babies also had more robust immune systems even than babies born without the virus.The study was based on a case in the U.S. know as the “Mississippi Baby.” That case involved a baby who was treated within 30 hours of birth in July 2010. Her family stopped treatment when she was a toddler and she stunned the medical community by remaining in remission for 27 months before she relapsed and restarted treatment.The findings of the Mississippi Baby case and the study in Botswana are particularly important to poorer nations where at-risk babies are not tested for HIV immediately after birth, as they are in the U.S., Europe and South Africa.The availability of anti-HIV drugs can prevent infected moms from passing the virus on to their children but despite that, a study found that some 300-500 infants are thought to be infected every day in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Polluted Streams May Yield Minerals Critical for High Tech

The rusty orange streambed is a giveaway.Paul Ziemkiewicz pulls off a winding country road at a stream about 45 kilometers east of Morgantown, West Virginia. The water is about as acidic as vinegar, he says. It’s “100% fatal” to aquatic life.”I doubt that even deer want to drink the water,” he added. “it’s useless.”This pollution, known as acid mine drainage, contaminates roughly 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) of West Virginia waterways. It’s a legacy of more than a century of coal mining in the region.Ziemkiewicz grew up in Appalachia, outside Pittsburgh, where, he said, “acid mine drainage was just way of life. Streams tended to be orange.”For the last 30 years, he has been working to clean up Appalachia’s acidified waterways. Ziemkiewicz directs the West Virginia University Water Research Institute.Now, he’s found an unexpected silver lining in these polluted streams.Or, perhaps more accurately, a neodymium lining.Something in the waterZiemkiewicz discovered minerals called rare earth metals are dissolved in the acidic water. These elements make some key modern tech work.Neodymium, for example, is used in powerful magnets in wind turbines and electric vehicles. It makes the tiny magnets in cell phone speakers possible.”If you were using a conventional iron magnet in your cell phone, your cell phone would be like a brick,” Ziemkiewicz said. With rare earths, he added, “you can miniaturize things.”They also have critical military uses, from night vision gear to high-performance aircraft.US Utilities Find Water Pollution at Coal Ash Sites

        Major utilities have found evidence of groundwater contamination at coal-burning power plants across the U.S. 

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is built with scandium alloys, for example. “It makes aluminum much stronger,” Ziemkiewicz noted, “so you can make the wings thinner the body lighter.”But the United States has no domestic supplier of purified rare earth elements. About four-fifths come from China.That’s raised concerns that economic and national security could be threatened if China were to tighten supplies, as the country did in 2011. Beijing has signaled it could restrict exports in response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods. So far, though, the rare earths have kept flowing.Not so rareOnly one mine in the United States produces rare earths. It’s actually not because they’re rare, however, despite the name. It’s because they typically are found in very low concentrations, mixed in with other minerals. Mining and purifying them is environmentally destructive, energy intensive and generally not profitable enough for most companies to invest in producing them.They dissolve in acid, though, which is why Ziemkiewicz found them in acid mine drainage.”It’s basically letting nature do for free what you would have to do with a great deal of time effort and money,” he said.Ziemkiewicz is one of a handful of researchers looking into some of the coal industry’s more unpleasant by-products as potential sources, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.For example, when coal burns, rare earths are left behind in the ash.”It’s already concentrated,” said University of Kentucky geologist Jim Hower. “The mining has been done. You’ve just got to get in there and recover it.”The waste left over from processing coal between mining and burning might also prove a valuable source. The region’s long history of mining means there’s plenty of it.”We’ve had over 100 years of waste generated that’s sitting on the surface,” said University of Kentucky mining engineer Rick Honaker. That could provide “many years of supply” of rare earths.However, the United States still lacks a facility to refine the minerals into pure metals. Even the rare earths mined in the United States are shipped to China to process.Treasure from trashThe Department of Energy sees boosting domestic supplies as a first step. Ziemkiewicz received a $5 million DOE grant to scale up his lab’s rare earth extraction system at a new acid mine drainage treatment plant to be built about 100 kilometers southeast of Morgantown.He estimates that acid mine drainage across northern Appalachia could produce more than 2,000 tons of these critical minerals, out of the roughly 10,000 tons the United States uses each year.And the money provides an incentive to clean up more waterways.”You can’t sell the water, but you can certainly sell the rare earth product,” he said. “And if you can use that to pay for lime, pay for the people who operate the plants and improve your infrastructure and treat more streams, then this is how you have to go.” 

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Two Better Than One: Upcoming Mobile Devices Have Dual Screens

Mobile device makers are constantly reinventing their products to keep consumers coming back, and paying, for more. The race to outdo each other has resulted in new form factors like foldable and dual screens. Not to be left out, Microsoft recently unveiled its take on the trend. VOA’s Tina Trinh examines whether the new look prizes form over function?
  

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Zimbabwe’s Pregnant Forced to Use Midwives, Deliver in Unsafe Conditions

As Zimbabwe’s healthcare system collapses amid medical worker strikes, some women are being forced to rely on midwives and give birth in unsanitary conditions, which experts say puts the mother and child at risk infections.Zimbabwe’s clinics have often been forced to suspend operations since medical workers went on strike to push for better wages in September.Pregnant women have been turning to midwives to deliver their babies, explains Esther Zinyoro-Gwenya, who is a midwife in one of Harare’s poorest townships, Mbare.“I ask each expecting mother to bring a razor blade, a pin for the baby’s navel and cotton.  Nothing untoward has happened.  It’s an easy task after the baby is delivered, I ask the mother to go into my bedroom to rest while I take care of the next one,” she said.The 74-year-old Zinyoro-Gwenya said she has already delivered about 250 babies in November.While she said all mothers and babies survived, the lack of sanitation means a higher risk of infection.  It is also a symptom of the ailing state of health care in the country, said Dr. Tawanda Zvakada from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association. “It’s a sad situation that we find ourselves in whereby women are now giving birth in place that is not sterile, that does not meet the minimum World Health Organization’s requirements for a facility that suits for delivery of babies.  It is just a reflection of our health systems which is on the verge of a collapse; people seeking alternative health methods.  We call upon the responsible authorities to act on the situation with the urgency that it deserves,” said Dr. Zvakada.Zimbabwe’s doctors and nurses want the government to provide modern equipment to clinics and hospitals, which have deteriorated along with the country’s economy. The World Bank expects Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product to shrink by 7.5% in 2019.George Guvamatanga, secretary for Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, said Harare is aware of the healthcare problems and that the government is working to address the issues.“We are very much on top of the situation within the health and education sectors.  We are working closely with the Ministry of Health to make sure that sustainable and adequate resources as required by the doctors are provided,” he said.Meanwhile, expectant mothers in Zimbabwe are doing the best they can. 

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UN: HIV/AIDS Infections and Deaths Down, but Challenges Remain

New United Nations data shows that global HIV/AIDS infection rates and deaths are down and treatment is up, but new infections remain a serious challenge in certain high-risk groups.In a report launched Tuesday ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, UNAIDS reports that of the nearly 38 million people globally living with HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — more than 24 million patients are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ARVs). That is a significant increase from nine years ago, when about 7 million people were accessing the life-saving treatment.UNAIDS says about 8 million people do not know they are infected with HIV.AIDS-related deaths worldwide are also down by more than half since 2004. Some 770,000 people died of the disease last year.”The gains continue to be made against the epidemic, but those gains are getting smaller year after year,” said Ninan Varughese, director of the UNAIDS New York office.He said improvements in eastern and southern Africa are driving global progress rates, but many other areas of the world have faced setbacks, such as Central Asia and Eastern Europe.  High-risk groups
 
More than half of new infections are among high-risk groups and their sexual partners.”If you look outside sub-Saharan Africa it is 75%,” Varughese said. “For example, more than 95% of new infections in Central Asia and Eastern Europe are among key populations.”He said the risk of being infected with HIV is 22 times higher among homosexual men and intravenous drug users, 21 times higher for sex workers, and 12 times higher for transgender persons.Women and girlsAnother demographic group that is seeing a negative trend is adolescent sub-Saharan African women and girls, with 6,000 new infections each week among those between the ages of 15 and 24.”In sub-Saharan Africa, 4 in 5 new infections among adolescents age 15 to 19 are among girls,” Varughese added.More money is needed to fund the global response. UNAIDS estimates a need of $26.2 billion for 2020.While 19 countries are on track to reach the 2030 target of ending the AIDS epidemic, most of the world is not.
 

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