Roundup 163

New events


Yet more unrest and continued strife in Africa:

Algeria: cancels presidential election, setting up new empasse – NYT

Libya: In a city of ever-shifting front-lines, Libyans confront the worst fighting in years – WPost

C A Republic: the doctor who stayed behind to save babies in his long-suffering homeland – NYT

The Sudan crisis finally turned violent:

The military called for snap elections amid protests – BBC
… “Sudan’s military leaders… scrapping all existing agreements with the main opposition coalition and will hold elections within nine months…”
… “Protestors rejected the plan…”

Then: “Protestors slaughtered, more than 100 killed” – Economist
… “All that remains of the carnival of democracy that had sprouted there are burnt tents and rubbish.”
… “Some of the most gruesome… people whipped, raped, killed…”
… “Junta’s resort to violence may have increased the risk of civil war…”

“The military crackdown lays bare the dark heart of Bashir’s regime” – Guardian
… Bashir may be gone but the systems remain.
… “Even though it was not unexpected, it is still horrifying. To assume that the Sudanese revolution would manage to topple not only Omar al-Bashir but also uproot the deeply entrenched network of military and security interests behind him was always optimistic. But the success of the protests so far, and the extent and consistency of the protesters’ efforts, offered a glimmer of hope that while civilians were negotiating with the transitional military government to end military rule, their leverage in the streets was strong.”

More violence in Nigeria is pushing thousands into Niger: This is not Boko Haram related especially. It’s a marked rise in inter-tribal violence –

Another terrible drought in Somalia: 2 million could die of starvation “by summers end” if relief not brought quickly – AP
… “Of a Somali population of 15 million people, more than 3 million are struggling just to meet minimum food requirements
… and the shortages are about 40 percent worse now than this past winter.”

Central Asia

Central Asia has always been a highly restrictive area:

Tajikistan rubber-stamps laws on emergency powers, spying – Eurasianet
… Internet grinds to a halt after president’s criticism: all Google services blocked – Eurasianet

Turkmenistan: In Ramadan, Muslims fear “extremism” accusations – Forum18

West Asia/Gulf

Iraq: I noted this review of “The US Army in the Iraq War” – Foreign Affairs
… new book based on 30k pages of newly declassified documents
… tells the story of the US involvement in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

Mike’s Iraq Story: Christian told to “leave or die” – BBC
… incredible 5 minute video of the horrors and travails he experienced – “He had been labelled a spy, thrown in jail and tortured. So when Mike Espirion was released from Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison after 10 years, he might have thought better times lay ahead. He was wrong.”

Continued heartache from Syria:

The major campaign to retake Idlib continues – Economist
… over 250,000 displaced

Assad urged refugees to return home – WPost
… but many are being welcomed with arrest and interrogation

Also, some of the 12k ISIS-linked foreign women and children, held by local Kurdish authorities in scattered detention camps across northern Syria, are being released/repatriated. Many will likely have difficult lives wherever they end up. NYT

South Asia

Afghanistan: The Other War – Diplomat
… the war on crime is just as pressing and just as endless.

In totally unsurprising turn of events, India’s new govt signals Hindu, India-first goals – AP
… “handing powerful home affairs portfolio to the president of Hindu nationalist party…”
… “in a key position to redraw political map according to the BJP’s Hindu-first agenda…”
… Is India becoming a “Hindu State”? Washington Post

Also, drought in India – Espresso
… “Over two-fifths of the country’s land area is facing drought, affecting some 500m people. Ten cities in north India were among the world’s 15 hottest places…”

Mobs terrorizing Muslims in Sri Lanka in response to Islamic terrorism – Economist

Forced marriages, conversions spike in Pakistan – RNS
… “Around 1,000 cases of Hindu and Christian girls being forced to convert were estimated in the province of southern Sindh alone in 2018, according to the annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.”

Violence on the rise in Balochistan, Chinese being targeted – Foreign Policy

Violence grips Sindh after doctor accused of blasphemy – Deccan Chronicle

East Asia

Watching the articles about the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen in China, I was struck by the image of a government trying to make blue skies by painting the underside of the clouds. If you have enough resources, it’s possible. The outside world, via satellite, sees the clouds – but the people in the country have a different view. For the most part, that’s what’s happening now in China. People inside the country have a limited view of things like Xinjiang and Tiananmen. Many know they are happening but choose to see the blue skies. The outside world is more and more aggrieved about these things. It is unlikely that any of this will lead to any sort of change in government. If anything, it’s interesting to see China’s censorship, surveillance, “disappearing” infrastructure in its “simmer” and “full on boil” modes: it takes a lot of resources to scrub the Chinese internet clean of anything to do with Tiananmen, but when it’s important China will move to “full on boil” and do it.

Diplomat – Beijing after Tiananment, Part 1

QZ – How China dodges censors to remember Tiananmen’s “tank man”

QZ – Tiananmen Square photos China never wanted you to see

Economist – China’s erasure of the Tiananmen story has been “depressingly effective” – “June 4 immunized China against turmoil”
… but unfortunately, the article was taken down

Yahoo News – Silence, tensions mark 30th anniversary in China

@NathanRuser – this thread shares articles, books, essays, more re June 4

NYT – excepts from the June 4 coverage of Tiananmen by NYT’s archives

Economist – many Chinese know little about the bloodshed in Beijing 30 years ago

WSJ – The crackdown that defined modern China

Some other pieces:

Nina Shea & Bob Fu op/ed: “Inside China’s war on Christians” – WSJ ($)

What it’s like to live with a foot in China, another in the US – NPR
… “The tensions are especially felt by those living with a foot in each country
… NPR special series… reveals the stories of people affected…”

Cash is quickly disappearing from China’s economy – Fortune
… I’m not going full-tilt “mark of the beast” on the subject at this point, but obviously has implications for surveillance, control

And here’s an interesting piece that explores the demographics of urban vs rural China, and how they impact the church – China Christian Daily

New extradition law in Hong Kong could lead to activists being extradited to China – SCMP

Southeast Asia

A fascinating piece from Myanmar, on the Wa – The art of not being governed – Diplomat
… keen to shed their image as Myanmar’s drug lords or China’s proxies

Child marriage: as the world makes gains, Nepal struggles to keep up – NYT
… child marriage rising in some parts of Nepal.
… Globally, around 765m were married as children
… 40% of Nepalese women married by the time they turned 18.

Cambodia is being rapidly remade thanks to investments from China – American Scholar

Longer reads

Darren Carlson – “When Muslims dream of Jesus” – The Gospel Coalition

USA: “Only half of kids raised Southern Baptist stay Southern Baptist.” CT
… but it’s a relatively slow decline: 16.3 million in 2006, now less than 15 million in 2019 – so a million over 10 years.

Explainer to Share: What is Eid and how do Muslims celebrate it? Religion News

3 mindfulness rituals that will make you happy – Link
… very minimal Buddhist-y overtones, 4 happiness myths, three practical steps. Good article, I think.

Op/Ed: Troy Anderson, “A dangerous time to be a Christian” – New American

The legendary tale behind China’s Dragon Boat Festival – 3 minute video – Link


US demands social media details from visa applicants – BBC

Youtube to remove thousands of videos pushing extreme views – NYT
… they should, yes, but self-censorship can eventually be taken too far. A trend to watch. “Content alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion” could eventually be used against people of faith, too.

What exactly is the story on China and rare earths – a bit of an overblown threat – China File

Source code for Iranian hacking tool to brute force MS Exchange servers with lists of known userids/passwords leaked on Telegram – ZDNet

Deepfake videos will likely get a jump in technological ability during the 2020 election, when there’s a lot of motivation to make them and improve the tech – Brookings

West Africa’s Canary Gang shows how cybercriminals supersize email scams – Cyberscoop

Fascinating bit about branch bank closures and “cash deserts” – QZ


“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” — George Carlin

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