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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Heavy Air Pollution Shuts Schools, Universities in Parts of Iran

Schools and universities have been shut in parts of Iran, including the capital, Tehran, because of high levels of pollution, state media reported Saturday. 
 
The decision was announced late Friday by Deputy Governor Mohammad Taghizadeh, after a meeting of an emergency committee for air pollution. 
 
“Due to increased air pollution, kindergartens, preschools and schools, universities, and higher education institutes of Tehran province will be closed,” Taghizadeh was quoted by official government news agency IRNA as saying. 
 
Schools in the capital will also be closed Sunday, Taghizadeh said. 
 
“Having examined the index of pollutants in Tehran … it was decided for all schools to be closed tomorrow in Tehran province, except for the counties of Firuzkuh, Damavand and Pardis,” he said. 
 
The young, elderly and people with respiratory illnesses were warned to stay indoors, and all sports activities were suspended Saturday. 
 
Tehran has suffered from dangerous levels of pollution and smog since mid-November. 
 
Schools were also closed in the northern province of Alborz and in the central province of Esfahan, IRNA reported, citing officials. 
 
Other areas where schools were shut included the northeastern city of Mashhad, the northwestern city of Orumiyeh and Qom, south of Tehran. 

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High-Ranking Taliban Official Killed In Northern Afghanistan 

A high-ranking Taliban official has been killed in clashes with security forces in Jowzjan province in Afghanistan’s north, a local official said Saturday. 
 
Qari Nuriddin and his four bodyguards were killed in the district of Mengajik, where the militant group has a strong presence, provincial government spokesman Abdul Maaruf Azar told RFE/RL. 
 
Four other militants were wounded in the clashes that erupted overnight, the spokesman said. 
 
There was no immediate comment from the Taliban. 
 
Azar also confirmed local reports that more than 25 members of the Taliban in Mengajik had recently cut ties with the militant group to return to civilian life. 
 
Azar told RFE/RL that all of them were young men from the Mengajik district. 
 
Most of them had left for Iran and Turkey in search of work, Azar said. He didn’t provide further details. 

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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 urged
Vella 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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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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People Convicted of Terror Offenses Must Serve Full Prison Terms: UK PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people convicted of terrorism offenses should not be allowed out of prison early after it was revealed the London Bridge attacker was released from jail last year before the end of his sentence.

Wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, Usman Khan went on the rampage on Friday afternoon at a conference on criminal rehabilitation beside London Bridge.
“I think that the practice of automatic, early release where you cut a sentence in half and let really serious, violent offenders out early simply isn’t working, and you’ve some very good evidence of how that isn’t working, I am afraid, with this case,” Johnson said on Saturday.

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