Roundup 2018-01-19

New events

North-West Africa

Tunisia’s government pledges improvements after protests

… but Tunisians are losing faith in the ballot box

nearly 800 arrested in economic protests

USA: Morocco among rare ‘safest countries to travel’

North Africa / Warring States

South Sudan Humanitarian Snapshot (December 2017)

… 1.9 million internally displaced, 2 million in neighboring countries


Gunmen kill Christian in Egypt’s Sinai

… IS has killed 100 Christians in Egypt since 2016.

The children of Garbage City highlight broader problems with child poverty

… 60% of the children outside the formal educational system

… often start work as garbage collectors at 7 or 8 years old

Debate on polygamy heats up in Egypt

… ‘country is undergoing a marriage crisis’

… ‘divorce rates alarmingly high’

… ‘number of unmarried men soaring’: est. 50%

Western Africa / Lake Chad

Fake medicines flourish in Africa despite killing thousands.

… Counterfeit medicine kills over 100,000 per year.


Vows to punish perpetrators of ethnic violence

Releases Boko Haram suspects after rehabilitation

… although some doubt the rehabilitation claim

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Guardian: Nairobi, Kenya air pollution “beyond imagination”

… thousands of old, dirty vehicles; traffic jams that stretch for miles

… 8-lane Mombasa Road, permanently clogged, # of vehicles doubles every 6 years

… air pollution could kill 1.5 million within a generation

Middle Africa / Lakes

Foreign Affairs: Congo’s slide into chaos: how a state fails.

Southern Africa

The world’s first major city to run out of water may have only three months left.

Without rain, Cape Town will run dry.

… The SW region of South Africa is gripped by a catastrophic water shortage. 

… “Without severe rationing the taps will be turned off on April 22, 2018.”

VOA: Zimbabwe will hold first post-Mugabe elections in a few months

Central Asia / Caucasus

Repression in Kyrgyzstan is eroding Central Asia’s only democracy

… ‘competitive election… less affirmation of democracy than its last gasp’

Attacks on press freedom show Central Asia’s authoritarian side

The region is long known as being repressive for the church; these factors correlate

… repression likely not going to end any time soon, could get worse

Tajikistan, Uzbekistan agree on visa-free travel

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Video: Thousands flee violence as government hammers Idlib

… last remaining rebel-held territory

IRIN: 5 key factors to watch in Syria in 2018

… Iran, underground rebels, reconstruction-transition link, more.

Trump admin pushing forward with plan to relocate embassy in 2019

… Unclear impact on presence of US citizens in the region

Homeless in Gaza: longread

… ‘more than 60% under the age of 25… despair takes root…’


Civilians, guns, militias, conspiracy theories, tensions rising before elections.

… it could all get very messy.

Extended the state of emergency by another 6 months

… allows Erdogan to rule by decree without parliamentary safeguards


Saudi Arabia and Iran rivalry key to Middle East in 2018

… ‘regional chaos to continue with no end in sight’

Mosul, 6 months after IS was defeated: in pictures

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

Foreign Affairs: The Taliban: too weak for victory, too strong for defeat.

… RFE: US says Kabul is closer to peace talks with the Taliban.


India announces it can strike anywhere in China with new nuclear ballistic missile

India’s population growing much faster in the north

… and the south is paying the price

Nepal / Bhutan / Tibet

Bhutan embraces jeans, TV, cellphones, dance bars

Maldives / Sri Lanka

Bengali / Bangladesh

More Rohingya flee to Bangladesh despite repatriation deal

Why Bangladesh cannot accept all the Rohingya

… “nearly a million refugees have crossed … into SE Bangladesh…”

Bangladesh adds third gender option to voter forms

… ‘hijra’: male at birth, but identify as female

… ‘hijra culture is thousands of years old’

… ‘different code words, closed society, different from Western transgender’


Birth rates rose, but short of government estimates, and…

… increased to 17.86 million; about half of increase, 2nd children

they Birth rates FELL in 2017, to 17.2 million; the increase was a one-off

‘birth rate still dangerously low’ says the government

… in fact ‘now has the lowest fertility rate in the world

… less known: fertility rate already declining when 1-child came into force

… not that women were having too many children

… rather that too many women were having children at all.

… consequences of policy will play out over next several decades

Gender distribution: men outnumber women by 32.7 million

ChinaSource: The Linfen Church demolition

… what we know and don’t know.

ChinaSource: The Chinese church in missions

… reflections on the opportunity and challenges

NYT: The price of China’s haphazard urbanization

Testing facial recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang

… warns when targets stray from home or workplace


Diplomat: Japan’s North Korean diaspora

… at its peak, over 500,000 members.


ICYMI: N/S Korea have agreed to march under a single flag at Olympics

… and will field a joint women’s ice-hockey team.

Southeast Asia

Indonesian Christians in US try to block their deportation

… say they fled religious persecution, here for 20 years, want case heard

Bangladesh and Myanmar agree 2-year timeline to repatriate the Rohingya

… Aid agencies express concern about forcible repatriation.

Notable Europe / Americas

RAND: “Religion, conflict and stability in the former Soviet Union.” PDF (264pp).

… “Volume of essays… multidisciplinary, cross domain look at religion… how it affects stability…”

MPI: Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in the United States

… nearly 1.2 million in 2016, 3% of all 44 million immigrants

Note the potential US government partial shutdown

… “no plans yet made about visa processing and passports…”

New global data

World Bank: Eruptions of popular anger: the economics of the Arab Spring and its aftermath. PDF.

… “rules out high and rising inequality as a reason”

… “eat reason is erosion in middle-class income, growing dissatisfaction…”

Brookings: Foresight Africa. PDF, 118pp, free download.

Scientists reviewed the most popular climate articles

… found only half of them to be completely accurate

… some of the most widely shared had very low credibility

2017 was the hottest year on record.

… great interactive graphic from NYT for NASA data.

How water shortages are stressing unstable countries right now.

… (I keep track of these because many unreached locations are already climate stressed)

Longer reads & Resources

Africans traveled a little more easily across Africa last year.

… easing visa restrictions might make cross-pollinating movements easier.

Allen Yeh. The future of mission is from everyone to everywhere.

… A look at Polycentric missiology.

Atlantic: The Underground Railroad to save atheists

… to protect those persecuted for non-religion

Lifehacking, Tactics, Skills, Rules

How to do proper double-opt-in introductions.

… useful for mission workers in sensitive environments.

Dormant ties: the value of reconnecting.” PDF: from 2011.

I tried Sheryl Sandberg’s Notebook Productivity Hack for 30 days

… here are the takeaways.

… I found the bits at the end to be applicable to any system, and important.

Tim Ferriss’ “Tribe of Mentors,” Cliff Notes version.

… there’s a lot of gold here.

Pioneer Mission Startups, Strategy

UPG Profiles, Travelogues, Stories

What’s the difference between children’s books in China and the US?

Traveling to Dali, Yunnan: the complete guide (plus photos)

Myst and mystique: Buddhism in Bhutan, in pictures

Pamir: exploring the “roof of the world” in remote Tajikistan


China’s clampdown on VPNs may aid government surveillance.

Do VPNs still work in China? Yes, clampdown is mostly on corporate use.

Lebanon intelligence turned targets’ Android phones into spy devices

… caught spying on thousands of people

… one of dozens of spying operations around the world uncovered

#Autodrive: Self driving cars will be commercial only for some years to come

… software still too expensive for the average driver to own

#Climate: World’s first negative emissions plant is now online

… generating power, removing CO2 from air at the same time

The Meltdown and Spectre CPU bugs explained.

… don’t panic: take your time about applying patches.

Do 3rd party social media tools negatively reach and engagement?

… Buffer’s 200+ post experiment and results. TL;DR: “No.”

Facebook can match you to others using the dust scratches on your photos

… lots of stuff in here about discovering who knows who

What happens when FB stops showing news, priorities friends/family posts?

… Jeff Jarvis: FB primary distributor of news, shouldn’t shirk its responsibility

… Joshua Benton: they people won’t bother to look for news elsewhere

Influencer marketing will get a positive boost from the changes

Why Google Photos blocked the search term “gorillas.”

… racism leads to self-censorship workarounds.

Walmart is developing a store with no cashiers.

A swarm of home-made drones bombed a Russian airbase

One person likely drove bitcoin from $150 to $1,000

… a new paper on price manipulation.


“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” ~Peter F. Drucker

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” – Mark Twain

“Many great ideas, however, come from creative, strategic introverts who prepare thoroughly and think deeply.” ~Kyle G. Hanser

“The world is full of significance. Part of our spiritual work is to learn to recognize it.” ~Marilyn McEntyre

“If I am hungry, that is a material problem; if someone else is hungry, that is a spiritual problem.” ~Dr. Paul Farmer

“The last thing many believers need  is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice.  What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles.” ~Rick Warren

“We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right.” ~George Orwell

“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.” ~Nolan Bushnell

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