Roundup 162

New events

North Africa

Egypt: “Death of the Nile”: How the river is running dry. Al-Monitor
… “Farmers aren’t the only ones affected by the dropping water levels. Such scenes of desolation play out up and down the river. In Cairo, urbanites struggle with weak water pressure and garbage-clogged canals. Along the river’s banks, abandoned boats attest to a dying fishing industry. In the tourism heartland around Luxor and Aswan, cruise ships remain docked, unable to navigate the river’s shallow waters. At the Nile’s source in distant Ethiopia, diplomats haggle over international water quotas, as the river’s life-sustaining waters give way to grief and strife.”

Envoy warns Libya “descending into a civil war which could lead to the permanent division of the country.” UN
… Of Tanks and Banks: stopping a dangerous escalation in Libya. Crisis Group.
… Hifter’s forces push toward capital city center. Fox.
… Midnight in Tripoli brings kebab stands/picnics, but the enemy is at the gates. LATimes

Why the Tunisian military ignored orders and sided with protestors. Washington Post.

West Africa

In Central Africa, Islamist militias complicate church efforts to battle Ebola. RNS.

Another church attacked in Burkina Faso, 4 dead. This makes the fourth in the past month. Reuters.

“As Violence Escalates in Burkina Faso, Family of Slain Missionary Keeps Serving” – CT

Mali: deadlock in the desert. Negotiations with jihadists have been shunned, but are now looking “less bad” than the ongoing fighting. Espresso

More violence in Northwest Nigeria has driven around 20k refugees into Niger. Reuters.

East Africa/Horn

Millions hungry as drought grips Somalia. Arab News.

Kenyan villagers + World Vision explore digital technologies to cope with water usage, payments in midst of extended drought. VOA

West Asia/Gulf

BBC thinks Iraq’s Christians are “close to extinction.” Link
… down from 1.5 million to 250,000. A big drop, but not sure I’d call it extinction levels.

After war and terror, Iraq plagued by drug crisis. France24.

Christian village in Palestinian areas attacked by armed men. Mosaic Magazine.

More misery: the war in Syria: 200 dead in Idlib, 300,000 fled. Espresso
8 years in, still fighting, ‘no longer sparks outrage.’ UN

The Kurds are creating a state of their own in the north. Economist.

South Asia

Attacks against schools in Afghanistan up 3x in last year. UN.

Iran: agents storm 100-year-old church, tear down cross. Newsweek.
… excuse: worshippers drank wine during services. IranWire.

Example of corruption in Iran: one leader alleges 90% of money earned from exports was taken out of Iran. IranWire.


The “landslide” victory of the BJP in India has many Christians very nervous.

Modi scores a remarkable election win. Economist.

How Hinduism became a political weapon in India. Atlantic.

Lessons from an election with 900 million voters. CSM.

“Modi’s win is a populist warning to the world.” Bloomberg.

Modi says “India’s Muslims are living in a world of imaginary fear”; Muslims disagree. CNN

Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims targeted in at least five incidents since election.

India is not protecting its Christians. Christianity Today

Longer read: what happened after India eliminated cash. Strategy+Business

“India’s PM Modi pursues politics of Hindu nationalism—what does that mean?” RNS
… A quick introduction to Hindutva….

Pakistan: prolonged drought threatens communities. Al Jazeera.
… in Malaysia, Pakistani teen forcibly converted to Islam and married off to 45-year-old man tells court, “I’m still a Christian” – Herald Malaysia

East Asia


From Tiananmen’s most wanted to followers of Jesus. Christianity Today.

Chinese students make farewell messages amid crackdowns over labor activism. WPost.

Nicholas Kristof. China’s Orwellian war on religion. NYT.

Uighur detainees told to ‘eat pork or face punishment.’ RFA

China deploys Confucius in bid to boost religion controls. AP
… “China has begun five-day Confucian culture immersion courses for religious leaders in the sage’s hometown as part of a campaign to extend government control over faith communities through a process of sinicization.”

“She thought she’d married a rich Chinese [Muslim] farmer. She hadn’t.” There are no women to marry in many places of China, so men are going to other countries (in this case Pakistan) to seek brides. (In some cases, deceptively.) NYT.

North Koreans trapped in vicious cycle of deprivation, bribery the only way to get anything done. UN.

Southeast Asia

Indonesia: Deadly riots break out after election result published. Guardian.

Javanese: how the mores of Indonesia’s biggest ethnic group shape its politics. Economist.

Singapore: struggling to procreate. Economist.
… 1/3 of Singaporeans are unmarried.

New Data

Intriguing infographic: median age of the population in every country. Visual Capitalist
… fascinating as much for design as data.

Chinese tourism in USA flatlines, another data marker in China and US pulling apart. Statista

Longer reads

The impossible future of Christians in the Middle East. Atlantic

The internet is becoming a “dark forest.” Medium.
… “Dark forests are full of life. They are quiet at nigh because that’s when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent.”
… an important long read about the implications for social media, the Internet, etc. But, also, the general theory applies to some DMMs.

7-Eleven as an example of contextualization – Quartz
… Coca-Cola was always an example for missions: maybe 7-Eleven should be another one?

How to get every email answered (“Or at last how to try”). NYT.
… be succinct, truthful, personal.

The ultimate guide to successful meetings. Liberationaist.
… good quick “long read” – lots of great tips in here.

Religious zeal surging in Russia’s military forces – Economist
… “Russian Orthodox Church claims credit for preserving the nation’s nuclear arsenal.”

USA: How the fight for religious freedom has fallen victim to the culture wars. NPR


Ramadan is for Facebook – AP
… Despite calls to ‘detox from social media’ during Ramadan, stats show people in the Middle East spent 58 million more hours on Facebook during Ramadan
… which makes social media outreaches during Ramadan perhaps more of an opportunity?

The Spycraft Revolution: how spies survive in an era of unceasing surveillance. Foreign Policy.
… “Changes in technology, politics, and business are all transforming espionage. Intelligence agencies must adapt—or risk irrelevance.”
… “A cover identity that would have been almost bulletproof only 20 years ago can now be unraveled in a few minutes. For a start, facial recognition software—mostly developed by Israeli companies and widely deployed in China and elsewhere—allows governments and law enforcement agencies to store and search vast numbers of faces. They can then cross-check such data with the slew of personal information that most people voluntarily and habitually upload online.”

Similar: “American intelligence officials and telecommunications executives and experts have begun to concede that the United States will be operating in a world where Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies most likely control 40 to 60 percent of the networks over which businesses, diplomats, spies and citizens do business
…” NYT

Luma’s State of Digital Media 2019 report. Link.

The podcast ecosystem of 2019, a16z report. Link.

Deepfakes are getting better, but they’re still easy to spot. Link.

All the ways Google tracks you, and how to stop it. A deep dive into the specifics. Link.

First raspberry picking robot gets to work. Guardian
… fruit picking robots will dramatically impact seasonal workers, migrant workers, etc.

China’s alarming AI surveillance of Muslims would wake us up. Post.
… another in the growing mass collection of articles on the subject

Chinese driver got ticket for scratching his face. BBC
… demonstrates the limits of the surveillance tech

Which VPNs evade the Great Firewall? Yet another review, this one from Comparitech.

Another: “Why VPNs are suddenly everywhere, and how to pick the best one.” Link

Snapchat abused data to spy on users – Vice
… its always difficult to build trust to put information on systems.

First US public schools start using facial recognition – BuzzFeed

UK Government has proposal for governments to be added as third, secret participant in secure chats; Apple, Google, WhatsApp condemn the proposal – CNBC


“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” ~C. S. Lewis

“To have the right to do a thing is not et all the same as to be right in doing it.” ~G. K. Chesterton

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