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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Maltese Prosecutors Charge Businessman in Reporter’s Killing 

Maltese prosecutors on Saturday charged a prominent local businessman as being an accomplice to the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a 2017 car bombing on Malta. 
 
Yorgen Fenech, a Maltese hotelier and director of the Maltese power company, was also charged in the evening courtroom hearing with being an accomplice to causing the explosion that killed the 53-year-old reporter as she drove near her home. 
 
Magistrate Audrey Demicoli asked Fenech to enter pleas. He replied that he was pleading innocent, and he was remanded in custody. MaltaThe reporter’s family has alleged that Fenech has ties to close associates of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, including his recently resigned chief of staff. 
 
It wasn’t immediately clear if Muscat might resign amid increasing calls by citizens on the island, including Caruana Galizia’s family, for him to step down. Muscat, in power since 2013, has said he will speak after the investigative case is complete. 
 
“What we now expect is the prime minister to leave office and to leave Parliament,” Corinne Vella, one of the slain reporter’s sisters, told The Malta Independent after the arraignment of Fenech. Investigations urgedVella also called for Muscat as well as his former chief of staff, Keith Schembri. to be “properly investigated” for their “possible involvement in Daphne’s assassination.” 
 
Schembri quit his government post a few days earlier. He had been taken into custody for questioning but was later released. 
 
Two of Muscat’s ministers also were questioned and have resigned. They, along with Schembri, have said they are innocent of wrongdoing. 
 
Caruana Galizia wrote shortly before her death that corruption was everywhere in political and business circles in the tiny EU nation. 
An alleged go-between in the bombing has received immunity from prosecution for alerting authorities to Fenech’s purported involvement. 
 
Three men have been in jail as the alleged bombers, but no trial date for them has been set. 

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Ugandan Pageant Fights HIV Stigma

Nearly one-third of Uganda’s new HIV infections occur among 15-to-25-year-olds, who say that although there has been progress, stigma is still a problem. To raise awareness ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, Uganda holds an annual fashion show and beauty pageant for young people infected with the virus that causes AIDS and calls them the Young Positives.The pomp, dance and fashion were on display November 22 at the pageant finale in Kampala. But the aim of this annual show is not just to display beauty and talent.
Ugandan Pageant Fights HIV Stigma video player.
Embed” />Copy Link”You’re HIV-positive — you’re a moving dead body, or you’re promiscuous,” said Nicholas Niwagaba, who is with the pageant organizer, the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV and AIDS. “We are trying to change that narrative to say that young people living with HIV or people living with HIV are  human beings. We want the community to accept them.”Education on HIV prevention is also a key part of the Young Positives pageant, which displays condoms and promotes safe sex.UNAIDS says about 6 percent of Ugandans are HIV-positive, one of the highest rates in East Africa. But there has been progress in Uganda’s fight against HIV. AIDS-related deaths dropped by nearly 60% in 2018, UNAIDS said. Mr. and Miss Y+ Beauty Pageant 2019-2020 in Kampala, Uganda, Nov. 22, 2019. (Halima Athumani/VOA)Reaching young teens and young adults is key to halting the spread of HIV, said Nelson Musoba of the Uganda AIDS Commission.”It matters how the message is packaged and who carries this message,” he said. “And the current generation — fashion, music, working with celebrities is one way to transmit the message to the young people. And we find this very attractive. You can see the attention it’s generating; you can see the participation.” Nineteen-year-old tailor Timothy Kabogoza and one of his five siblings were born HIV-positive. He said he tried to keep his status a secret, but his friends found out and started pointing fingers. Timothy Kabogoza, a tailor who won first runner-up honors in the 2019-2020 Y+ Beauty Pageant, operates a sewing machine in front of his home in Bwyogerere, a Kampala slum, Nov. 25, 2019. (Halima Athumani/VOA)”And for real, I tried to cover up that thing,” he said. “But when I come back in my room, I’ll be like, ‘My God, this guy has said something, oh, my God.’ “But participation in the Young Positives beauty pageant boosted Kabogoza’s confidence. And, at this year’s contest, he took second place.Kabogoza said he wants to pass on an upbeat message to other HIV-positive youth: Take your antiretroviral medication — something he acknowledges he has not always been consistent about — and stop the self-shaming.

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UN Tries to Cut Numbers at EU-funded Migrant Center in Libya

The U.N. refugee agency plans to cut the number of migrants staying at an overcrowded transit center in Libya’s capital, a spokesman said Saturday.Libya is a major waypoint for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East to Europe.“The situation is very difficult, and we do not have the resources” because the center in Tripoli is at about twice its capacity, with some 1,200 migrants, Charlie Yaxley, a UNHCR spokesman, told The Associated Press.The UNHCR has asked those refugees not registered with the agency to leave the European Union-funded Gathering and Departure Facility, offering an assistance package that includes cash for an initial two months.“You will not be considered for evacuation or resettlement if you stay at the GDF,” the agency warned the migrants, according to a document obtained by the AP. It added that those seeking registration with the agency could only do so “outside” the facility.The UNHCR said it would phase out food distribution for the unregistered migrants, including dozens of tuberculosis patients, from Jan. 1.Yaxley said the agency also offered to facilitate returning the migrants to their home country or to a country they previously registered as asylum-seekers.Migrants, however, decried the move, fearing they would end up at detention centers or at the mercy of human traffickers.“The migrants are reluctant and have their concerns about leaving the GDF,” one person seeking shelter at the facility said, who spoke on condition of anonymity for his safety. The surrounding areas of Tripoli have seen heavy fighting between armed factions since April.The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive to capture the capital city in April, clashing with an array of militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported but weak government there.The fighting has stalled in recent weeks, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along Tripoli’s southern reaches. They have also carried out airstrikes and drone attacks.In July, an airstrike hit a detention center for migrants outside Tripoli, killing more than 50 migrants held there. The Tripoli-based authorities blamed the LNA for the airstrikes. The LNA, however, said it was targeting a nearby military site, not the detention center.After the airstrike, hundreds of former detainees made their way into the GDF, the agency said. They were followed by another group of around 400 people from Abu Salim detention center in late October, as well as up to 200 people from urban areas, the UNCHR said.The gathering point, which was opened a year ago, has capacity for around 600 people.“We hope that the GDF will be able to return to its original function as a transit facility for the most acutely vulnerable refugees, so we are able to evacuate them to safety,” said UNHCR’s Chief of Mission for Libya Jean-Paul Cavalieri.There are some 40,000 refugees and asylum-seekers living in urban areas across Libya, some of whom are extremely vulnerable, face abuse in militia-run detention centers, and are in desperate need of support, according to the U.N. refugee agency.Separately, the Libyan coast guard said Saturday it intercepted at least 205 Europe-bound migrants off the western town of Zawiya. The African migrants, who included 158 men, 33 women and 14 children, were given humanitarian assistance and were taken to the detention center in Tajoura.Libya’s detention centers are rife with abuse and Europe’s policy of supporting the coast guard has come under growing criticism.

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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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Commonwealth, AU, OIF Call for Peace and Unity in Cameroon

Three international organizations have ended an official visit to Cameroon with a call for efforts to restore security, justice and the conditions for the resumption of normal life in English-speaking northwest and southwest regions of the country hit by the separatist crisis that has killed over 3,000 people. The Commonwealth, African Union, and International Organization of La Francophonie delegation says it is convinced dialogue remains the preferred path for peace to return, but that the government should start implementing the recommendations of the last major national dialogue it organized. Some, however, have been critical of government efforts.Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, says after exchanging views with Cameroonian President Paul Biya, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, representatives of the main political parties, religious leaders, youth representatives and a cross-section of Cameroonians,  the organizations are convinced that there is a yearning for peace to return to the restive English-speaking regions.FILE – Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat delivers a speech during the African Union (AU) summit at the Palais des Congres in Niamey, Niger, July 7, 2019.He says they noted that a majority of Cameroonians welcomed the convening of the Grand National Dialogue from September 30 to October 4,  in which Cameroon’s government  consulted with political party leaders, activists, opinion leaders, traditional rulers, lawmakers and clergy, and are anxiously waiting for the government to implement its recommendations.  Those recommendations include establishing some sort of special status for the minority English-speaking regions, to be considered by the country’s parliament.  It also backed enforcement of the constitutional language giving English and French equal status and saying they must be used in all public offices and documents.  It also backed continuing the process of decentralization by giving more powers and resources to local councils.  Mahamat participated in the tripartite mission with  International Organization of La Francophonie Secretary General Louise Mushikiwabo and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland to encourage national peace efforts.Mahamat said after their meetings in Yaounde, they observed that a large majority of Cameroonians supported the convening of the major national dialogue and believe it aided their quest for peace.  He said they were convinced that dialogue remains the only path to peace, and asked the government to implement the recommendations of the national dialogue.After the national dialogue, hundreds of prisoners were freed when Biya ordered a halt to court proceedings against them, saying he was implementing the recommendations of the dialogue.However, Albert Mvomo, an official of the opposition Cameroon United Party, says Biya’s government has not been doing enough to solve the crisis. He says the AU, OIF and Commonwealth delegation should have proposed sanctions to force Biya to solve the crisis.He says the three organizations, like any international organization, should force the government in Yaounde to solve the crisis in the English-speaking regions through economic and diplomatic sanctions. He says Cameroon’s government shows no serious sign of wanting to stop the crisis.Mvomo said the growing number of displaced people in towns and villages in the French-speaking regions showed the government has not been doing much to stop the separatist conflicts.Simon Munzo,  an Anglophone leader who took part at the national dialogue, says while some recommendations would require legislation, Cameroon should have started showing serious signs that it wants peace to return by restoring public infrastructure and villages and towns destroyed by the fighting for the population to return.  “We expect the government to maintain the momentum through the implementation of the recommendations of the dialogue,” said Munzo. “Some of them require legislation. Others do not, for example rebuilding schools and bridges and all of that. You do not need legislation for that except in terms of budgeting. Now, there are other aspects that will require modifying the constitution.”Separatists have insisted on social media that they do not recognize the outcome of the national dialogue and will be ready to negotiate with the Yaounde government only on the terms of the separation of the English-speaking and French-speaking parts of Cameroon.

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Albania’s Earthquake Search, Rescue Operation Ends

The search and rescue operation for earthquake survivors in Albania has ended, Prime Minister Edi Rama said Saturday.The small town of Thumane, experienced the highest death toll from Tuesday’s quake with 26 people killed, six of whom belonged to one family, and all but one under age 30. They were buried Friday.In the port city of Durres – 30 kilometers west of the capital, Tirana — the quake killed 24.  One person also died in Kurbin.In all, 51 people died, including seven children. Nine-hundred were injured.  More than 5,000 people are without shelter; and 1,200 buildings were destroyed in the 6.4-magnitude quake and the aftershocks that followed.  
 Relatives surround some of the coffins during the funeral of six members of the Cara family, killed during an earthquake that shook Albania, in Thumane, Albania, Nov. 29, 2019.Seismologist Rexhep Koci told VOA that while there is the likelihood for more aftershocks, but they would be weaker.Neighboring countries provide assistanceThe European Union sent crews to help with search and rescue immediately following the quake and now the Albanian government has asked for experts to help assess the damage.
 Volunteers distribute food at a makeshift camp in Durres, after an earthquake shook Albania, November 29, 2019.EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca said Friday that the European Union and its member states are standing with Albania and working nonstop to provide assistance “in this very difficult moment.”
 
“It is a week of deep sorrow and tragedy for Albania,” Soreca said in a statement. “Our heartfelt condolences go once again to the Albanian people and especially to the families, friends and communities of those who have lost their lives.”More than 200 military troops from Albania, Kosovo, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, France, Turkey, Switzerland, Romania, North Macedonia, the EU and the United States, participated in the search and rescue operation.People spontaneously came from Kosovo, operating mobile kitchens, gathering donations and opening their homes. About 500 homeless Albanians are staying in a camp set up by Kosovo’s government in the city of Prizren. On Friday alone, individuals and businesses from Kosovo delivered 100 tons of much needed necessities.Remembering victimsTirana residents turned out in the city center to honor the victims, placing candles in a makeshift memorial near the statue of Albanian national hero Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Skanderbeg.
Vigil for quake victims in Tirana, Nov 29 video player.
Embed” />Copy LinkVigil for quake victims in TiranaThe state of emergency declared Wednesday for Durres and Thumane was extended to the heavily damaged town of Lac. Prime Minister Rama said he made the decision after opposition leader Lulzim Basha suggested it. Rama appeared to put on hold the acrimony often on display between the two political rivals.“In this case, our concerns and ideas converge,” Rama said, inviting the opposition to participate in the Committee for Earthquake Relief.
 
For Rama, the tragedy hit close to home as his office confirmed that among the dead was his son Gregor’s fiance, Kristi Reci, whose entire family — both parents and her brother — died in Durres.A rescue dog is seen on a collapsed building in Durres, after an earthquake shook Albania, November 29, 2019.Physician Shkelqime Ladi said doctors are on hand to help with immediate needs.
 
“We are focusing more on the psychological aspect of the affected. Their psychological state is aggravated,” she told VOA in Lac.
 
The earthquake struck two days before Albania’s 107th independence day. There was no celebration, but a show of solidarity gave solemnity to the day.
 
Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Rama, who have been fighting bitterly over political matters, appeared together in Vlora Thursday.Independence Day coincided this year with the U.S. Thanksgiving Day, and many Albanian Americans rallied to collect donations, holding several fundraisers to help one of the poorest countries in Europe.
 
“I am so heartbroken for my people back home, for those who have lost lives and loved ones,” New York City Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, an Albanian American, told VOA.
 
Marko Kepi, of the Albanian American organization Albanian Roots, organized a fundraiser that raised close to $1 million in less than a day.
 
“This fundraiser is simply to help those who have lost their homes and to help those families who lost their loved ones, do whatever we can so they can have some sort of peace of mind, that they are not alone, they have support and they are not going to be left out in the street,” he said.Armand Mero reported from Tirana, Ilirian Agolli reported from Durres, Pellumb Sulo reported from Lac.  

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Rosa Parks Statue to be Unveiled Sunday

A new statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks will stand in downtown Montgomery.The city said the statue will be unveiled Sunday at 1 p.m. at Montgomery Plaza at the Court Street Fountain.The unveiling coincides with the anniversary of Parks’ historic Dec. 1, 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement.FILE – The statue of African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks is seen in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2014,There will also be four granite markers to honor the plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle – the landmark case that ruled segregation on Montgomery buses unconstitutional.The civil rights memorials are a partnership among the city and county, the Alabama tourism department and the Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts.

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