Roundup 161

New events

North Africa

Algeria: Presidential elections heading to dead end, political deadlock. Middle East Monitor

Egypt: cracking down on foreign channels and broadcast media. Al-Monitor

Libya’s coming forever war: why backing one militia against another is not a solution. War on the Rocks
… a friend in the field wrote, “It is rare that I see a fair, well-balanced, well-researched and well-written news piece that captures what is happening here somewhat accurately. So I thought that I would pass this along.”
… also, “Tunisia on edge as Libya’s Hifter advances.” Al-Monitor

West Africa

Benin: Protestors demanding the resignation of President after days of demonstrations. Al Jazeera

Burkina Faso #Martyrs:

Gunmen kill 6 in Catholic church in Dablo, in the north. BBCReuters

Gunmen attack Protestant church in Silgadji, Soum province. BBCWorldWatch

“Sowing division, Islamists target Christians in Burkina Faso.” RNS

Cameroon: 4.3 million need aid in worsening violence and conflict. AP
… an increase of 30% over 2018.

Guinea-Bissau: “Our God is stronger.” Guardian
… can biodiverse Bijagos fend off evangelical threat? obviously, written from a particular perspective. But interesting: shows the influence of evangelicals (especially Brazilians) in the area.

Mali: Displacement figures triple because of violence and military operations. ReliefWeb

Niger: Boko Haram violence and struggling to make ends meet in Diffa region – Al Jazeera
… “Lake Chad communities are struggling to survive after increased Boko Haram attacks”

East Africa/Horn

… Fears over state plans to return 150k people to areas they fled because of ethnic violence. Guardian
… Ethnic conflict now plagues Ethiopia: Economist Chart

Sudan: “Darfuris have emerged as some of the loudest and most impassioned supporters of Sudan’s continuing revolution” – NYT

Central Asia

Tajikistan: In remote Tajik mountains, Pamiris keep unique culture alive – video. RFE/RL

West Asia/Gulf

Syria: Inside the secret torture prisons. NYT
… How Bashar al-Assad crushed dissent. Not a pleasant read.

Turkey: Long expected battle for Idlib may have begun. Al-Monitor

Yemen: Fighting resumes between rebels and government forces. NYT

South Asia

Why Afghanistan’s government is losing the war with the Taliban. Economist
… “both groups take money from drivers. Both are violent. But when the Taliban stop him at a checkpoint, they write him a receipt. Government soldiers rob him over and over.”

Taliban target aid groups, in ominous turn for Afghanistan. NYT
… “vowed that the assault on aid groups would not be their last”

Iran: Rise in tensions between America and Iran. NYT
… aircraft carrier group moved into the region.
… “concerns focused on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and its links to some of Iraq’s Shiite Arab militias, and… information to suggest plans to mobilize proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces.”
… Pres. Trump “does not want a military clash with Iran.” NYT
… US tells non-emergency government employees to leave Iraq. Al Jazeera

Iranian Pastor and family “watched, controlled, wiretapped” while awaiting prison sentence appeals – Barnabas Fund

4 reasons for the staggering rise of the church in Iran. DesiringGod
… (1) disillusionment with Islam, (2) persecution, (3) the diaspora and use of media, (4) Bible distribution

57 million people live below the absolute poverty line in Iran. Iran Wire
… “between 23 and 40% of Iran’s population”


“The battle for India’s soul.” Foreign Affairs
… “the election will determine what comes after secularism”
… “On the first day of voting, BJP party president Amit Shah pledged that his party, if reelected, would ‘remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha [sic], Hindus and Sikhs.’” Notice what’s missing?

The powerful group shaping the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. NPR

“India’s Muslims fear for their future under Narendra Modi.” BBC

“Under Modi, Hindu hardliners turn Indian theatre into a battleground.” Reuters
… “if police hadn’t stepped in, hardline Hindu activists had made it clear they would have physically forced it off the stage
… It wasn’t that people didn’t like our play, expressed their dismay and left. No. We were being hunted across the city…”

“India Hindu extremists cut off Christians from water, land” – Pakistan Christian Post
… unconfirmed report, but fits the oft-seen pattern: “if they do not convert to Hinduism”

Pakistan: Asia Bibi’s cell now holds another Christian woman on death row for blasphemy – CT
… Asia Bibi’s case was not a “one-off” but rather the most visible of a widespread problem in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka:
… 5/15 Anti-Muslim riots break out. BBC
… “hardline Buddhist groups likely to blame” Reuters
… 5/16 “country peaceful enough that curfew can be lifted” Al Jazeera

East Asia

The new normal for Christianity in China: adapting to a tighter political environment. Lausanne

China wants the house church to vanish. International Christian Concern
… “Last month, according to credible sources, Beijing initiated a new campaign against house churches called ‘Return to Zero.’”

North Korea: worst drought in decades adds to food crisis. NYT

Southeast Asia

A look “inside the silent nation of Brunei” in the aftermath of global outrage over the suggestion of harsh punishments for adultery and homosexuality – BBC

Vietnam: culls 1.2 million pigs, swine flu spreading. Straits Times

New Data

35: countries in the world that get over half their electricity from hydropower. Brookings

336 years: the average lifespan of a civilization. BBC

Longer reads

The Age Gap in religion around the world: Pew, June 13, 2018
… It’s worth noting this report, especially page 2, explores theories of high/low religious participation correlated with poverty, inequality, aging, turmoil, education, GDP, etc. ‘Religious commitment is lower in places where life is easier. And in places where life is steadily becoming easier, the theory goes, younger adults generally are less religious.”

“Why Christianity quit growing in Korea” is an interesting exploration of the “wealth kills Christianity” model expressed in the Pew research – TGC
… anecdotally, I’ve heard many people who were concerned about the rapidly rising economy in China and its related materialism, and now they are seeing a rise in commitment to Christianity correlating with the current (re-)rise in persecution/control.

Tianjin! A brief profile, from China Source

For many Muslims, Ramadan is a built-in digital detox program. RNS

How to do what you love – this oldie (2006) but goodie from Paul Graham explores what we actually mean when we say this. There are lots of things we’d rather do at any given moment than work on a hard problem. The rule about doing what you love “assumes a certain length of time.” Paul Graham

Death by Powerpoint: the slide that killed seven people. Link
… Amazon banned Powerpoint, and uses longform memos instead. Forbes


New Google Travel site replacing Trips app. 9to5Google
… Brings together Flights and Hotel search. I have used Google search to find flights. I’ve found some better deals through Hopper and Travelocity, personally.

Google’s new AI can help you speak another language in your own voice. TheNextWeb
… “dubbed Translatotron: direct speech-to-speech translations, without using any text…”

The web’s all seeing eye: searching a trillion facts. Forbes

Drone bullet to seek and destroy drones. ExtremeTech

In China, you can hire people to argue and send hate mail for you. Radiichina
… US$15 to blow up someone’s phone with 999 “hate calls”

Huawei says it is willing to sign ‘no-spy’ pacts with governments. Reuters

Tech companies are deleting evidence of war crimes: Algorithms that take down “terrorist” videos could hamstring efforts to bring human-rights abusers to justice. Illustrates some of the complexities of dealing with social media. Atlantic

Privacy vs Facial recognition: millions of people uploaded photos to the Ever app, then the company used them to develop facial recognition tools – NBC News

Manufacturing Islamophobia on WhatsApp in India: “Real or fake, we can make any message go viral,” BJP President Amit Shah claimed in September 2018 while addressing social media volunteers in Kota, Rajasthan – Diplomat

China bans Wikipedia. BBC

Read More

“Bhojpuri Breakthrough: the movement that keeps multiplying.” Victor John, with Dave Coles. What You Do Shows Who You Are: The 6 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus.” New book from Mike Falkenstein covers topics like “Identified with Christ,” “Supreme Love for Jesus”, “Obedient to the Bible” and more. Comes with discussion questions. It’s available on Kindle for free, and for purchase in print. I downloaded it into my Kindle for weekend reading.

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