Roundup 2018-01-05

Roundup 2018-01-05

New events

North-West Africa

Algerian believers arrested, authorities step up pressure to close churches

North Africa / Warring States

Ready or not, Libya will hold elections in the spring

… Ghaddafi’s son to stand for election, among others.


Death of the Nile: sick and getting sicker (BBC)

Egypt parliament takes steps to criminalize atheism (Al-Monitor)

… argues lack of belief in God is contempt of religion, punishable by jail time

… blasphemy convictions have intensified under Sisi

… ‘persistent harassment of anyone expressing an ideology other than Islam’

Gunmen killed 11 in attacks on Coptic church, Christian-owned shop

Coptic Christians live in fear of Islamist attacks (France24)

… ‘target of unprecedented attacks since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising’

Plans for dam alternative in disputed area

… negotiations over Renaissance Dam have failed, needs to compensate for water loss

Egyptians in rural areas are fighting forced marriage

Western Africa / Lake Chad

DR Congo opposition, church defy protest ban

… security forces fire tear gas in/around churches to break up protests against President


Lagos set to overtake Johannesburg as 2nd largest African city by GDP by 2035

… but, 4 in 10 people in the workforce are unemployed or underemployed.

The Great Unravelling: the disintegration of the Nigerian state

… a deep dive into the security situation

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Crisis in the land of the economic miracle

… unrest has plagued Ethiopia for the past two years. The reasons are complicated.

Tanzania: Home Affairs minister threatens to de-register churches who rap president from pulpit

Drought tolerant corn offers Uganda’s farmers a lifeline.

Middle Africa / Lakes

Southern Africa

Central Asia / Caucasus

China’s “New Silk Road” goes straight through the Caucasus

… and, China’s ambitious new port: landlocked Kazakhstan

… in the long run, Chinese might(?) have more access to Central Asia than anyone else.

Odd: Turkmenistan’s president bans black cars, because he “prefers white”

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Why Saad Hariri had that strange sojourn in Saudi Arabia.

As Prince accelerates changes for women, Saudis adapt at varied pace.

Syria: One year later, Aleppo’s residents still mourn destroyed city

… and journalists fear arrest

Yemen: In a hospital ward, the collapse of a nation.


2018 fraught with uncertainties for economy

… serious problems and fragilities might spoil the party in 2018

Building bridges of witness in Turkey: to be Turkish is to be Muslim (CT)

US, Turkey have ended their visa spat


1/4: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claim protests are over

New economic protests in Tehran challenge Iran’s government

The Battle for Iran: change will not come easily, peacefully, or soon.

The fog of app wars in Iran: blocking certain smartphone apps sparks outrage

How did the protests start, and where are they heading? a short Guardian explainer

The protests matter, but what do they mean?

The protests have not gained traction in the capital (nor have pro-government rallies)

… As of the 6th day of protests, demonstrations in more than 40 cities and towns

… Death toll over 20, including a few policemen

… Not as large as the Green Protests in 2009, but far more dispersed into rural areas

… Protest movements are unlikely to succeed in anything unless Revolutionary Guards were to join

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

Panic and confusion as Pakistan orders foreign aid groups to shut down

Violence continues in Afghanistan: Deadly attack at Kabul cultural center

Some Afghan children find an alternative to jail, for now

… in prison only because their mothers are there, and no on else in family willing to take them

Northern India

The dark side of the comics that redefined Hinduism

… illustrated book series also reinforced many forms of intolerance

Right-wing Hindu groups target Christmas in India

Bihar gears up for human chain on Jan 21

… to create awareness against social evils like child marriage and dowry

Nepal / Bhutan / Tibet

Southern India / Maldives / Sri Lanka

Mumbai shuts down as protests erupt over caste tensions

Bengali / Bangladesh


China and the Church: 5 trends to watch in 2018 (Brent Fulton)

… 1) religious regulation (Feb 1), 2) Sinicization of Christianity, 3) denominations,

… 4) mission sending, 5) foreign Christians face a new set of realities.

China visas explained (

At least 10,000 killed in 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

Shanghai sets population at 25 million to avoid “big city disease.”

Quartz review of 2017 articles about China in Africa

Dating shows are changing traditional views on love and marriage

Surrogate motherhood becomes a family industry in poor Chinese villages

… 45 million infertile people, renewed emphasis on 2nd child = market opportunity

The uphill struggle to fight extreme poverty in China

… Pres. Xi Jinping’s huge promise to lift 43 million out of extreme poverty in 3 years


Nationalism, Japan and a changing Asia

… 8 episode podcast collection interviewing experts re nationalism, security


S Kor proposes border talks with North after Kim’s overture.

… N Kor’s positive response was, in the words of one analyst group, “unprecedented.”

… NK appears on a full diplomatic offensive to ease tension with SK, possibly break it from US

… “Kim mentioned SKor Pres. Moon respectfully, the first time he has done so”

N Kor reopens border hotline with the South

Rough times for smugglers who knitted NKor to the world.

… “I used to make a lot of money… but it’s not like that today.”

Southeast Asia

Vietnam unveils 10,000-strong cyber unit to combat “wrong views”

Bangladesh wants to begin repatriation of 100,000 Rohingya to Myanmar

… two governments signed agreement for repatriations to begin 1/23

… “many aid groups, diplomats doubt that fearful Rohingya will agree to return”

Rohingya refugees face fresh misery as Bangladesh welcome runs out

… ‘NGOs desperate to avoid the violent clashes of the 1990s’

Thailand: For many devout buddhists, religious chanting on New Years Eve

… has replaced parties, alcohol

Indonesia: Mt. Sinabung volcano experienced its biggest eruption of 2017

Notable Europe / Americas

US: as flow of foreign students wanes, US universities feel the sting

… after a decade of explosive growth (1 million in US) and $39 billion in revenue …

… schools in Midwest particularly hard hit …

… increasingly going to Canada, Australia, other English-speaking countries …

… Meanwhile: Chinese, studying in America, and struggling

USA: Where have refugees settled in the USA?

… interactive tool from last November shows top nationalities across states

Corruption isn’t a new problem in Mexico: it’s core to political system

… window into problems that can be found in other places.

USA: 6 new things researchers learned about single people in 2017

… important to keep in mind as 25-50% of most larger agencies are single

New global data

World Bank year in review: 2017 in 12 charts

More than half of the world’s population growth will be in Africa by 2050

… By 2020, +2.2 billion, of which 1.3 billion will be in Africa

… Most of this will be in Nigeria; report predicts it will be 3rd largest by 2050

Tourism for transformative and inclusive growth in Africa (UN Trade & Development)

… ‘key contributor to GDP, employment, particularly in small island and developing states’

… ‘important employer, generating 1 out of 14 jobs in Africa’

Global mobility report 2017: country by country data

… first ever study of global performance of transport sector

… 70% of Africa’s rural population unconnected to transport

… people unconnected by transport networks are more difficult logistically to reach

Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals, 2017

… data, analysis and visualization of the 17 SDGs. Downloadable PDF.

Longer reads

Check out the whole issue of Mission Frontiers in January, focused on movements

… including “The Brutal Facts” by yours truly. 

Jeff Christopherson: Rhinos, rabbits and the challenges of multiplying a church planting movement (CT)

James Martin. How can you be Christian without caring for the poor? (LAT)

Marwan Aboul-Zouf. Why were church planting in a conflict zone (Beirut). (TGC).

Emma Green. How America is transforming Islam. (Atlantic)

… being young and Muslim in the USA means navigating multiple identities …

Francis Chan. “My church saved 100 people, and that’s a failure.” (Charisma News, video, 47:54).

Lifehacking, Tactics, Skills, Rules

How airlines price flights (Youtube, 11:08). Great data.

Social Media: breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest.

… what we see online is likely not a proper representation of those actually in our networks

Pioneer Mission Startups, Strategy

The dying art of disagreement.

The importance of the 1% difference when strategies are widely used by everyone

… ‘focused on tiny things making a 1% difference, and did loads of them’

The 30 best pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2017

… some real gems in here for mission leaders, too.

UPG Profiles, Travelogues, Stories

China: Uighurs work to fend off the pull of jihad.

… and, China probes deeper into the lives of the Uighur minority.

Pakistan: Sindh’s pirs are more than just spiritual leaders

… mobilizing devotees to play roles in electing favored candidates

Italy: This village was dying… until the refugees came (National Geographic)

Kazakhstan prizes its cowboys, but few want to saddle up for the harsh life

NYT: Four days with a Rohingya family in exile (13:17 video)


Four technology trends that will transform our world in 2018

… #3 (augmented reality) and #4 (bots) would be the most visible

Four policies that most impacted China’s Internet in 2017

… ICO ban, centralized mobile payment, the Cybersecurity law, and “the visible hand”

How an AI ‘Cat and Mouse game’ generates believably fake photos

… they are pretty believable.

The great nutrient collapse: the atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse.

… and (almost) nobody is paying attention.

The uninhabitable Earth: what climate change could wreak, sooner than you think

… ‘most scientists assume we’ll lose Miami and Bangladesh within the century,

… even if we stop burning fossil fuel in the next decade’

… warming is already impacting, and will deeply impact, the unreached world.

… somewhat alarmist, but still worth a read. a lot of places missionaries work are getting hotter.

Death of the American trucker: full automation of the US highways

… this will impact other countries as well

Has the smartphone destroyed a generation?

… if you missed this September read from the Atlantic, check up on it now. Lots of good data.

… Related: the year we wanted the Internet to be smaller.

China: Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens (Wired UK)


“Talent hits a target that no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer

“God gives us zero permission to hate someone simply because we disagree with he or she theologically or politically.” ~Rondell Trevino

“In 1800 only 5% of the world’s population lived in cities. 100 years later the number had risen to about 14%. But by the year 2000 over 1/2 of the world’s population could be counted as urban, and by the middle of the 21st century this will rise to 80%.” ~Michael Goheen, via Micah Fries

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” ~C.S. Lewis

“Given the choice between action and delay, people will generally delay.” ~Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

“We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice.” ~John Berger

“A good recipe: be stubborn on the vision and strategy and flexible on the details and tactics.” ~Jeff Bezos

“Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.” ~Stephen Covey

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