Roundup 183

New Events

Egypt / Sudan

New laws and penalties proposed for those not wearing “decent clothes” in public places, lots of pushback – Link

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Stratfor: May 2020 elections in Ethiopia likely to see upsurge in violence; government may decide to scrap 2020 elections altogether, hurting its legitimacy – Link

The United Nations warned that a locust swarm in Ethiopia is becoming an ever-more serious danger. Despite efforts to contain them, locusts have devoured all the crops on some of the farms that they have attacked. As more of their eggs hatch, the UN warned that the swarms might soon reach Eritrea, Kenya and Sudan. Link

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Saudis + Yemenis in indirect peace talks: don’t get excited yet – Link

Northern Syria divided into five highly combustible zones – Link

IDPs scramble for water in northeast Syria – Link
… “The water will not last more than a month”


“Ancient Kurdish festival offers taste of enduring love, mysticism” – Link

Iraq cracks down on protests as PM gains support – Link

Iran finds an oil field with 50 billion barrels – Link
… could bolster its proven reserves by 30%

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

In Kabul, air pollution may be even deadlier than war – Link
… Kabul has become one of the most polluted cities in the world

Afghan war takes a heavy toll on school children – Link


Couple stoned for marrying outside their caste – Link
… “latest in a string of ‘honor killings’ rampant in rural parts of the country”

Op/Ed: The transformation of India [into a majoritarian nation] is nearly complete – Link

India’s sound track of hate, with a pop sheen – Link
… “mixing dance tracks with calls for religious warfare… amplifies a wave of Hindu nationalism…”

Why Delhi’s air is always so toxic this time of year – Link

Bengali / Bangladesh

Cyclone displaces 2 million – Link


China “on course to become the world’s most Christian nation” – a bit of click-bait, this. Yes, in terms of absolute numbers, this is true. But not as a percentage of the population. It was always the case that a high-population country would have the “most Christians” in absolute terms but “most Christian” implies quite a bit more than just large numbers. Link

Hong Kong
The protesters aren’t driven by hope – Link
… “We might as well go down fighting.”
Schools closed amidst escalating protests – Link
“Peace more distant than ever”
… battle grips universities – Link
“Colleges become besieged citadels” – Link
Violence will get worse: police brutality pushing protesters to extremes – Link
Reminder: “you have the backing of the People’s Liberation Army” – Link
“May be facing a prolonged stalemate” – Link
Chinese media alleges US NGOs funding protests – Link
Behind protesters, an army of volunteer pastors, doctors, artists – Link

Expert estimates China has over 1,000 Uighur internment camps – Link
… another analysis estimates 3 million interned – Link

A quarter of German firms plan to leave China – Link
… rising costs, inability to compete on a playing field that is not level

Japan / Koreas / Mongolia

North Korea facing poor harvest, food shortages – Link

Japan’s aging “Hidden Christians” fear they may be their religion’s last generation – Link

Southeast Asia

“Despite big bangs, Thai Muslim rebels are fading away” – Link
… “Recent high-profile attacks distract from the reality of a less effective, less violent and less relevant separatist insurgency… a level of blood-letting that is actually remarkably low and likely can be inflicted and suffered indefinitely…”

Notable Europe / Americas

“Unaffiliated” % rising among American Hispanics, Catholic % dropping – Link
… Protestant % remains stable

USA: Meet the immigrants who took on Amazon – Link
… how a group of Somalis became leaders in the fight to change a tech behemoth

Here’s an interesting look at the issues faced by very small Jewish congregations in rural Pennsylvania – some of these issues are faced by small congregations of other faiths in other places – Link

New Data

ChinaSource/MissioNexus infographic on the complexity of religion in China – Link

More than half of subSaharan Africans lack access to electricity – Link

New 2019 World Energy Outlook: Global oil demand to “flatten” within a decade – Link

New 2019 Law and Order report from Gallup – Link

New 2019 Freedom on the Net Report from Freedom House – Link

Longer reads

Book review of Thomas Kidd’s “What is an evangelical?” – Link
… an important conversation in the public square with implications in the mission world

Also: “Can we in find a new meaning in the word evangelical?” Link

Many non-US people I talk to say people outside the US still understand what an “evangelical” is and are not being impacted so much by the political nuance in the current climate.

Kenya: why counting people can be controversial – Link


What I’m saving my money for: AR glasses from Apple in 2022 (or 2023) – Link
… Wife: “…for the man who says 1,000 times a day, where are my glasses?”

“China’s new cybersecurity law gives the Chinese government and its prized companies full and total access to all data and IP held by foreign companies.” This article is more about trade secrets, but consider what “full and total access to all data” means – Link
… “Foreign companies typically put their private information in China on a private server in China so as to isolate that information from the Chinese government. China’s new laws make clear that foreign companies must turn over this information to the Chinese government and failing to do so can lead to prison time.”

Magnetic tool can remove diseases from human blood, set for human trials next year – Link
… “can pull leukemia and malaria out of the blood”, looks amazing

Google checking accounts in 2020? Link

Why is Saudi Arabia spying on Twitter? Not chasing critical business secrets, but user data on a specific group of Twitter accounts. Link

The troubling age of algorithmic entertainment – Link
… “Still, if there’s one thing we know about algorithms, it’s that they tend toward an odd mix of the flashy, the outrageous, and the comforting. And art that perhaps doesn’t fit, or won’t appeal to the way the algorithm works, may get pushed to the side.”

How the US military’s massive facial recognition system works – Link

The Quantum Computing threat to American security – Link
… “Google claims supremacy, but the risk remains that U.S. complacency lets China crack all its codes.”

Welcome to China: you probably can’t buy anything, though – Link
… “how the explosive growth of mobile payments is driving a wallet-free society.”
… field workers tell me that, as with anything is China, this is true in some places and false in others.
… India is actually the fastest adopter of mobile payments – Link

Digital currencies, however, just add to the surveillance mix. Here’s a piece on how China is developing a blockchain-enabled digital currency that will replace its main currency: can be surveilled, confiscated, blocked – Link

Modern genetics and “designer” children – Link


“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” â€”Albert Einstein

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