Roundup 185

New Events

North-West Africa

Algeria’s government and protesters on track for collision – Link

Egypt / Sudan

Sudan repeals restrictive public order law – Link
… controlled how women acted and dressed in public
… “public order rules were kept ‘vague and open-ended leaving them open to exploitation as a social control tool by the authorities…'”

Western Africa / Lake Chad

14 killed in attack on church in Burkina Faso – Link
… likely connected to Sahel violence

Continuing deterioration leaves Mali facing critical security level – Link
… “unprecedented incidents of communal violence and increasingly more deadly terror attacks”

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Ethiopia grants autonomy to Sidama, “the evangelical heartland of the nation” – Link
… 87% of the population self-identify as Protestants

China’s demand for donkey skin is hitting African countries hard – Link

Central Asia / Caucasus

Silk Road: Between China and Europe, Central Asia is bustling – Link

West Asia / Turkey

World Watch Monitor on the stabbing death of a Korean Christian in Turkey – Link


Widespread crackdown on protesters in Iran left 180+ dead – Link
… “possibly hundreds more”…

Why Iranians “are revolting again” – Link
… “trying to pay New York-level taxi fares and Parisian-level rents on Ethiopian-level salaries”

Iranians fear Internet blackouts are the new reality – Link

“Iraq’s new republic of fear: how youthful protests provoked an authoritarian turn” – Link

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

ISIS in Afghanistan “likely down to several hundred fighters” – Link
… but still considered a threat …

Taliban confirms it has restarted talks with the US – Link

“Traffickers exploit Afghans trying to get to Iran” – Link
… “four teenagers recounted the dangers of putting their lives in the hands of people smugglers”
… yearly, 400k Afghans enter the labor market, not enough work to meet demand.
… 20% of the population is between 15-24; youth unemployment is at 28%
… 55% of Afghans live in poverty, 70% of the working-age population are illiterate.

Lahore’s annual smogfest: every winter, pollution spikes in Pakistan’s second largest city – Link


“India’s ominous future: too little water or far too much” – Link
… “over the last 70 years, extreme rainfall events have increased 3x”
… “decades of greed and mismanagement are far more culpable”
… fascinating longread, with lots of photos, from the NYT

India quarterly economic growth worst level in 6 years – Link

“India’s plan to identify ‘illegal immigrants’ could get some Muslims declared ‘foreign'” – Link
… already happening, could spread more widely …

“India is entering a new dark age” – Link

“Blood and soil in Narendra Modi’s India: The PM’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast 200 million Muslims as internal enemies.” Link

Nepal / Bhutan / Tibet

Did you see the viral photograph of all the climbers heading up Everest? Here’s the story behind that photograph: a long read from GQ into some of the climbers active that day. (I haven’t read it fully in detail but it was interesting enough that I scanned into Evernote for reading later.) Link

Gadhiami: Nepal’s animal sacrifice festival goes ahead despite “ban” – Link


Government will require face scans to be collected with any new mobile phone purchase – Link

US law on Hong Kong elicits furious China threat – Link
… could complicate or scuttle trade negotiations – Link

China considers banning US diplomats from Xinjiang – Link
… other visa restrictions may not be far behind…

Protesters in Guangdong beaten up, tear gassed – Link

China’s religion chiefs to double down on bringing doctrine in line with socialist dogma – Link

Japan / Koreas / Mongolia

Shinto festival carries on centuries old tradition in Japan – Link
… the Chichibu Night Festival, 1,000 years old…

A growing number of Japanese have become recluses – Link
… government says there are more than 1 million hisikomori …

Southeast Asia

The lonely and dangerous life of the Filipino seafarer – Link

Myanmar’s ethnic armies are using Chinese-made mobile missiles – Link
… “man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, weapons that militarily and politically constitute potential game-changers”

Clean gloves, dirty practices: debt bondage in Malaysia’s rubber glove industry – Link

Notable Europe / Americas

“The crisis of American Christianity, viewed from Great Britain: the theologian N. T. Wright is unfazed by the faith’s politicization in the U.S.” Link

“Where do Americans find meaning in life”? Link
… 69% in families. 34% in careers. 23% in money. 20% in spirituality and faith.

New Data

168 million will need help and protection in crises spanning more than 50 countries in 2020. Link

270 million migrants send home $689 billion per year – Link

1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – Link
… half of women killed worldwide are killed by their partners/family

Infographic: The cost of war: how violence is disrupting the global economy – Link

Longer reads

How to write better emails – Link


PC Market shrinks for the 7th consecutive year – Link

Google warns 12,000 people they were targeted by government hackers: what to do if you’re a target – Link

Video of Nixon delivering ‘Apollo 11 disaster speech’ – Link
… illustrates realistic power of deepfakes to ‘rewrite history’ etc.
… is this so very different from what was done in Forrest Gump?

China government spreads ‘Uyghur’ analytics across China – Link

Mapped: the 1.2 billion without electricity – Link

Amazon Ring has crafted plans to for “watch lists” – Link
… facial recognition plus Ring surveillance cameras = AI-powered neighborhood “watch lists”

Also, interesting: How Amazon Ring went from ‘Shark Tank’ reject to America’s scariest surveillance company. This Vice article probes deep into why some neighborhoods trust Ring when they feel they can’t trust anyone else. “Fear sells.” Link

Mobile divides in emerging economies: long report from Pew – Link
… “Some still do not have mobile phones, and even phone owners struggle with connectivity, costs, security issues”

Singapore invokes “fake news” law against Facebook post – Link

Nigeria’s ‘fake news’ bill could jail people for lying on social media. Critics call it censorship – Link

TikTok reversed ban on teen who slammed China’s Uighur crackdown – Link

China’s efforts at “predictive policing” – Link
… “reveal how the system is able to amass vast amounts of intimate personal data through warrantless manual searches, facial recognition cameras, and other means to identify candidates for detention, flagging for investigation hundreds of thousands merely for using certain popular mobile phone apps.”

Google & Samsung fix spying flaw; other Android makers may still be vulnerable – Link
… “Camera and mic could be controlled by any app, no permission required.”
… (This flaw does not apply to iPhone; it’s an Android bug.)

How Facebook’s AI looks for bad stuff (reducing need for human content moderators, who would otherwise face an extremely dispiriting job): claims 98% of bad videos are removed without anyone needing to see them – Link

Russia is writing an armed-robot playbook – Link
… drawing on three years of operations in Syria …


“The trouble is that the Church is far too good at hoping that everyone else will be asking for forgiveness for their trespasses.” ~N.T. Wright

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