Roundup 190

New Events

I have been traveling, so this issue is condensed to the major new events. Also, I’m transitioning the Roundup to using Amazon’s Simple Email Service (just like Brigada did!). If you have a technical problem with the Roundup, please hit REPLY and tell me.


Coronavirus has, at the time I write, infected at least 28,000 people (maybe many more—there is some doubt about China’s transparency), and killed ~560 (~1,385+ have recovered). 

Nearly all of that is in China, and nearly all (97% of deaths, 67% of patients) were in Hubei.

Particularly grim: “China sacrifices a province to save the country” – Link

Aerial drone footage of Wuhan shows a ‘quiet, desolate’ picture – NYT
… practically no one is moving.

Something I find morbid but generally good in a long-term sense: Over 80% of the deaths were elderly aged 60+; 75% had an additional underlying disease. The virus isn’t killing the younger/healthier. 560 deaths/28000 infected makes for a global mortality rate of 2%. The mortality rate is higher in Hubei (about 3%). The mortality rate may be lower if the actual number of infected is higher. This particular virus has surpassed SARS for infections, and SARS killed ~400. 

Most everyone knows this is “floor” not “ceiling.” The number of people killed is undoubtedly higher than the confirmed deaths, but I doubt it’s much higher given the amount of global observation going on. (I give little credence to any conspiracy theory, as those who know me can attest.) I would not be shocked if this virus surpassed 1,000 dead (may already have done so), but I think global pandemic systems are good enough to stop it before it gets significantly higher. If total deaths were to significantly exceed 1k (especially if they broached 10k) it would be very bad, because that would indicate the systems could not stop it, and then upper limits are very much in doubt. 

Some examples of fallout:
… 24 places not to resume work before 2/10, = 80% of China’s GDP, 90% of exports – CNBC
… Australian universities to lose $2 billion in fees Chinese students deferring studies – Link
… China oil demand has plunged 20% because of the virus lockdown, OPEC considering cuts – Bloomberg
… Global tourism down – previous forecasts of tourism booms had counted on Chinese tourists – AP
… Thailand, for example, expects to lose $9.7bln in tourist income
… all of Macau’s casinos were closed – Quartz

That said, infections will almost certainly climb from here. People will react, and already are. I think we’ll see some pretty significant economic fallout – nations are closing borders, airlines are suspending flights (here’s a list) – but SARS only took about 20 months to contain, and Zika took just 6 months. 

This link has a real-time monitor: link.

Interesting analysis: six ways coronavirus will change our world – Link

“What changed between SARS and Coronavirus?” – Link

Churches across China are ‘adapting’ as church services are stopped but churches offer online worship and information. Link

Read additional curated links about the Coronavirus in China in the latest edition of ZGBriefs.


Algeria’s long-lasting political crisis just keeps going, and going, and… Link

Tunisia: North Africa’s overlooked migration hub. Link

So much for the cease-fire and the arms embargo in Libya. The fight continues. Link

Turkey transfers thousands of extremists from Syria to Libya, allegedly. AP

Tens of thousands displaced (thousands into Chad) by new clashes in West Darfur State, Sudan. Link

“The Devil in Djibouti”: Migrants rough road to Arabia: about 10,000 Africans move through Djibouti every month, heading for the Arabian Peninsula. About 160,000, almost all Ethiopians, yearly, who put themselves into the hands of human smugglers to get into Saudi Arabia to find a low-paying job in the unregistered economy. Yeesh, this article is full of horrors. Asia Times

Children affected by violence in the Sahel. Link

Somalia declares emergency over locust storms – Link

Malawi in turmoil as judgment day looms – Link
… “worst political crisis since the return to democracy in 1994” …


Financial meltdowns in Lebanon, Syria. Link

Yemen: ‘escalation in fighting must stop.’ Link

US sanctions on Iran are sending ‘tens of thousands’ into Turkey. Link

The impact of the Islamic State still lingers on the ground in Afghanistan – Diplomat

Where is the Afghan peace deal now? Top diplomats make comments that suggests a ceasefire is not close. Diplomat

Village of Widows: the Afghan drug trade’s lethal legacy (a short video) – RFE/RL

Trapped in Iran: a longread, an interesting story of a journalist’s detainment in Tehran. 1843

ICYMI, the 6.8 mag 2020 Elazig earthquake in Turkey killed 41, injured 1600+, resulted in significant damage – Summary


Vladimir Putin, “Supreme Leader of Russia”? – The Times

New Data

Global Risks Report 2020 – Link

Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions report. Link

China surpasses Russia as world’s no. 2 arms dealer. Link

Generational replacement is what shifts public opinion. Link

Casualties of landmines per year, seeing a bit of a decline. Link

The global cancer burden is increasing – Link
… 1st or 2nd cause of premature death in 90 countries worldwide

Mapped: the world’s top 10 cities in 2035 – Link

GSS data from 1991-2018 shows some fascinating trends – Link
… % of USA “don’t believe, never have” from 2% -> 5.8% (4X)
… % who “used to believe, don’t now” from 3.9 -> 9.7% (~3X)
… % who “didn’t used to, but believe now” from 5.2 -> 11% (2X)
… “believe now, always have” from 88.9% to 73.6%
… “believe now” = 73.6 + 11 = 84%
… quality of belief is not in question in this chart. The main point of this is not “how good a Christian” they are; it’s that self-professed belief in God has not seen a significant decline, and in fact some who did not use to believe have changed their minds. It’s not a one-way road “out” of the church.

Amnesty International: Human Rights in Asia-Pacific, review of 2019 – PDF

Longer reads

Why hypotheses beat goals – (1) we don’t want failure, we want learning. (2) hypothesis generation leads to testing and learning. Link

If Clayton Christensen and the idea of disruption has impacted you, check out this curated list of “The Essential Clayton Christensen articles” – Link

On why predictions about the Internet are usually wrong: it’s easy to forget how unforeseeable the “unforeseeable” really is – Link

“Church leader: The gig economy matters, and this is why” – Link
… I’m not sure what I think about this. What about you?


A UK Muslim hackathon, where techies build community and tools to access Islamic learning – Link

How China half-builds a 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital in 4 days. Link

The race to build lifelike digital avatars powered by AI is heating up. Link

Ben Evan’s new 2020 tech trends presentation ’standing on the shoulder of giants.’ Link

Kenya’s new biometric IDs may exclude millions of minorities. Link

iHeartMedia: DJs vs AI-empowered executives. Link

The future of online data: AI-swiping and concierge bots. Link
… intriguing piece. And, no, I’m not the developer mentioned. 
… the role of AI-assisted “swiping and conversing” on dating apps
… important considering 39% of heterosexual couples meet online. Link

Tool unveiled to help spot doctored images – Link

I used to hear stories about how people used to sit on their porches at night, and low crime resulted. I have realized: porch-sitting is being/has been automated. Another piece about Ring surveillance – Link

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