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Apple’s Compromises in China: 5 Takeaways

Apple has created an internal bureaucracy that rejects or removes apps the company believes could run afoul of Chinese rules. Apple trains its app reviewers and uses special software to inspect apps for any mention of topics Apple has deemed off limits in China, including Tiananmen Square, the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, and independence for Tibet and Taiwan.

Apple said it removes apps in China to comply with local laws.

In 2018, China’s internet regulators ordered Apple to reject an app from Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire who had broadcast claims of corruption inside the Communist Party. Top Apple executives then decided to add Mr. Guo to Apple’s “China sensitivities list,” which meant software would scan apps for mention of him and app reviewers would be trained to reject his apps, according to court documents.

When an app by Mr. Guo later slipped by Apple’s defenses and was published to the App Store, Chinese officials contacted Apple wanting answers. Apple’s app review chief then sent colleagues an email at 2:32 a.m. that said, “This app and any Guo Wengui app cannot be on the China store.” Apple investigated the incident and later fired the app reviewer who had approved the app.

Apple said that it had fired the app reviewer for poor performance and that it had removed Mr. Guo’s app in China because it had determined it was illegal there.

Since 2017, roughly 55,000 active apps have disappeared from Apple’s App Store in China, with most remaining available in other countries, according to a Times analysis.

More than 35,000 of those apps were games, which in China must get approval from regulators. The remaining 20,000 cut across a wide range of categories, including foreign news outlets, gay dating services and encrypted messaging apps. Apple also blocked tools for organizing pro-democracy protests and skirting internet restrictions, as well as apps about the Dalai Lama.

Apple disputed The Times’s figures, saying that some developers removed their own apps from China.

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Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China

On Chinese iPhones, Apple forbids apps about the Dalai Lama while hosting those from the Chinese paramilitary group accused of detaining and abusing Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group in China.

The company has also helped China spread its view of the world. Chinese iPhones censor the emoji of the Taiwanese flag, and their maps suggest Taiwan is part of China. For a time, simply typing the word “Taiwan” could make an iPhone crash, according to Patrick Wardle, a former hacker at the National Security Agency.

Sometimes, Mr. Shoemaker said, he was awakened in the middle of the night with demands from the Chinese government to remove an app. If the app appeared to mention the banned topics, he would remove it, but he would send more complicated cases to senior executives, including Mr. Cue and Mr. Schiller.

Apple resisted an order from the Chinese government in 2012 to remove The Times’s apps. But five years later, it ultimately did. Mr. Cook approved the decision, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Apple recently began disclosing how often governments demand that it remove apps. In the two years ending June 2020, the most recent data available, Apple said it approved 91 percent of the Chinese government’s app-takedown requests, removing 1,217 apps.

In every other country combined over that period, Apple approved 40 percent of requests, removing 253 apps. Apple said that most of the apps it removed for the Chinese government were related to gambling or pornography or were operating without a government license, such as loan services and livestreaming apps.

Yet a Times analysis of Chinese app data suggests those disclosures represent a fraction of the apps that Apple has blocked in China. Since 2017, roughly 55,000 active apps have disappeared from Apple’s App Store in China, according to a Times analysis of data compiled by Sensor Tower, an app data firm. Most of those apps have remained available in other countries.

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Celebrities Are Endorsing Covid Vaccines. Does It Help?

Pelé, Dolly Parton and the Dalai Lama have little in common apart from this: Over a few days in March, they became the latest celebrity case studies for the health benefits of Covid-19 vaccines.

“I just want to say to all of you cowards out there: Don’t be such a chicken squat,” Ms. Parton, 75, said in a video that she posted on Twitter after receiving her vaccine in Tennessee. “Get out there and get your shot.”

This is hardly the first time public figures have thrown their popularity behind an effort to change the behavior of ordinary people. In medicine, celebrity endorsements tend to echo or reinforce messages that health authorities are trying to publicize, whether it’s getting a vaccine, or other medical treatment. In 18th-century Russia, Catherine the Great was inoculated against smallpox as part of her campaign to promote the nationwide rollout of the procedure. Almost 200 years later, backstage at “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Elvis Presley received the polio vaccine in an effort to help reach at-risk teenagers.

But do the star-studded endorsements really work? Not necessarily. Epidemiologists say there are plenty of caveats and potential pitfalls — and little scientific evidence to prove that the endorsements actually boost vaccine uptake.

History of Vaccines website, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

and among the weirdest — online rituals of the Covid era.

To help track the phenomenon, New York Magazine over the winter kept a running list of newly vaccinated celebrities that includes Christie Brinkley (“piece of cake”), Whoopi Goldberg (“I didn’t feel it”) and Mandy Patinkin (“One of the few benefits of being old”). Journalists in India have done the same for Bollywood film stars.

getting their shots while shirtless have generated a bunch of memes. An epidemiologist in Oregon, Dr. Esther Choo, joked on Twitter that the French health minister, Olivier Véran, was carrying out a public-relations campaign that she called “Operation Smolder.”

stubbornly persistent in the United States and beyond. The rapid-fire testimonials by Pelé, Ms. Parton and the Dalai Lama in March, for example, collectively reached more than 30 million followers and prompted hundreds of thousands of engagements across Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In April, the singer Ciara hosted a star-studded NBC special meant to promote vaccinations, with appearances by former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jennifer Hudson, Matthew McConaughey and others.

“These kind of endorsements might be especially important if trust in government/official sources is quite low,” Tracy Epton, a psychologist at the University of Manchester in Britain who has studied public health interventions during the coronavirus pandemic, said in an email.

That was the case in the 1950s, when Elvis Presley agreed to receive the polio vaccine to help the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis reach a demographic — teenagers — that was “difficult to educate and inspire through traditional means,” said Stephen E. Mawdsley, a lecturer in modern American history at the University of Bristol in Britain.

“I think Elvis helped to make getting vaccinated seem ‘cool’ and not just the responsible thing to do,” Dr. Mawdsley said.

had a colonoscopy live on the “Today” show in 2000, for example, the number of colorectal screenings in the United States soared for about nine months.

experiment that when 46 celebrities agreed to tweet or retweet pro-immunization messages, their posts were more popular than similar ones from noncelebrities. That was especially true when the celebrities delivered the message in their own voices, rather than citing someone else, researchers found.

“Their voice matters,” said Vivi Alatas, an economist in Indonesia and a co-author of that study. “It’s not just their ability to reach followers.”

For the most part, though, the science linking celebrity endorsements to behavioral change is tenuous.

One reason is that people generally consider those within their own personal networks, not celebrities, the best sources of advice about changing their own behavior, Dr. Najera said.

He cited a 2018 study that found few gun owners in the United States rated celebrities as effective communicators about safe gun storage. The owners were far more likely to trust law enforcement officers, active-duty military personnel, hunting or outdoor groups, and family members.

among the first in the country to receive a Covid shot in January. “Don’t be afraid of vaccines,” he told his Instagram followers, who numbered nearly 50 million at the time, almost a fifth of the country’s population.

That night, he was spotted partying without a mask, and accused of breaking the public’s trust.

“Please you can do better than this,” Sinna Sherina Munaf, an Indonesian musician, told Mr. Ahmad and her nearly 11 million followers on Twitter. “Your followers are counting on you.”

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Your Monday Briefing

In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to Mosul, which was seized by the Islamic State seven years ago and declared the capital of its caliphate. The pope directly addressed the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.

“The real identity of this city is that of harmonious coexistence between people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Francis said in a public square surrounded by the ruins of four Christian churches. Posters that read “Mosul Welcomes You” covered walls pockmarked with bullet holes.

The pope spoke of “our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.” “This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence,” he continued, “and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”

The visit, which began on Friday, is Francis’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope has sought to protect an ancient but battered Christian community and build relations with the Muslim world. On Saturday, he met with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shiite cleric. We captured key moments of the trip in these images.

a stadium in the northern city of Erbil. The 84-year-old pope and his entourage have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but Iraq’s vaccination campaign began only last week.


the broadest reopening of Israel’s economy since the first coronavirus lockdown began a year ago.

Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants still have restrictions on occupancy and social distancing, and indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.

latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.

Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that isolated her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff?

The two-hour interview will be broadcast by CBS in the U.S. on Sunday evening and on ITV in Britain on Monday. Here’s what you need to know about Meghan, Harry and Oprah. We will have live coverage of the interview, so check back on our home page.

six places dependent on tourism, like Apollo Bay, have adapted.

Microsoft hack: The company said businesses and government agencies in the U.S. that use a Microsoft email service had been compromised in an aggressive hacking campaign probably sponsored by the Chinese government. The number of victims is estimated to be in the tens of thousands and could rise.

Philippines rights: Karapatan, a left-leaning human rights organization, accused the country’s security forces of killing nine activists in coordinated raids on their homes and offices in four provinces.

“Nomadland” director: Days after Chloé Zhao won a Golden Globe for the acclaimed film, she faced a backlash in China over her past remarks about the country, where she was born. References to the film’s scheduled April 23 release in China were removed from prominent movie websites.

Tehran detention: House arrest orders have been lifted forNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran since 2016, but she faces new charges and her return to London remains uncertain.

receiving his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. The 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader used the moment to encourage people to take the vaccine, saying it would prevent “some serious problem.”

What we’re reading: This National Geographic article about people who play music with instruments made of ice. Scroll down for the video, so you can hear ice music’s crisp sound.

breakfast bars with oats and coconut are perfect for a breakfast on the run or an afternoon nibble.

Listen: These podcasts are for people who know that they should be thinking more about their personal finances but aren’t even sure what the right questions are.

Do: Role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, encourage players to create a story collaboratively as they play. Here’s how to play the games online.

Start off your week on the right foot with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

the renewed love affair of New Yorkers with Central Park. Here’s an excerpt.

Central Park has long provided a refuge from the anxieties and stresses of daily life, perhaps never more so than during the coronavirus siege and four long years of increasingly toxic politics. New Yorkers who visited the park every day, as well as those who had long taken it for granted, felt a renewed love for this amazing rectangle of green in the heart of the big city.

briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the first of a two-part series on President Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Z as in ___(five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times has a new team that is going to expand our live coverage, including Andrea Kannapell, who has been the editor of the Global Briefings, including this one, since their inception.

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Dalai Lama Receives Covid Vaccine

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, received his first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Saturday in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

He used the moment to also encourage people to take the vaccine, saying it would prevent “some serious problem.”

“This injection is very, very helpful,” the 85-year-old, a leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said in video message after the inoculation, indicating that he hoped his example would inspire more people to “have courage” to get themselves vaccinated for the “greater benefit.”

The Dalai Lama received the shot at a hospital in Dharamsala, which has served as the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile for more than 50 years after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

since the Dalai Lama’s exodus in 1959, on the condition that they not protest against the Chinese government on Indian soil. China considers the Tibetan leader to be a dangerous separatist, a claim that he denies.

Videos showed the spiritual leader being driven to the hospital and his followers, who were masked, lining up on both sides of the road, with hands folded and heads down as he waved.

Dr. G.D. Gupta, an official at the hospital where the shot was administered, said that the spiritual leader “volunteered to come to hospital” and that 10 others who live in his residence also received the Covishield vaccine, which was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

As of Saturday, India has more than 11.1 million confirmed cases and the third-highest virus death toll in the world, after the United States and Brazil, at 157,656 deaths, according to a New York Times database. India began its nationwide vaccination campaign in mid-January with health care and frontline workers.

The country recently expanded eligibility to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk, but the ambitious drive to vaccinate its vast population has been slow.

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