Roundup 192

New Events


Cases in China decline, allegedly – China Daily
… data from outside of China gives me evidence to not discount this report

Johns Hopkins dashboard confirms slowdown in increase – Link
… 2k deaths, but 16.8k recovered. The increase in cases is notably slowing.

To tame the coronavirus, Mao-style social control blankets China – NYT
… “flooded cities and villages with battalions of neighborhood busybodies, uniformed volunteers and Communist Party representatives to carry out one of the biggest social control campaigns in history. The goal: to keep hundreds of millions of people away from everyone but their closest kin.”
… 10% of the world’s population have their movements restricted because of the virus
… 150 million people can’t leave their homes because of the virus

4th largest city in South Korea “deserted” after coronavirus church “super-spreader” – Reuters
… 90 people who “worshipped at a church” showed symptoms of infection
… More nuance: South Korean “cult” at center of local COVID outbreak – Time
… Shincheonji sect, founded 1984 as the “one true version of Christianity”

As most everyone knows, the elderly are most at risk from the coronavirus – Statista

“We are not seeing effective community transmission outside of China” ~WHO – Reuters

Coronavirus won’t bring down the Chinese government – Atlantic
… “For a cottage industry of Western experts, the fall of the Chinese Communist Party is always just one crisis away.”

North Africa / Warring States

Inside Hifter’s Libya: a Police State with an Islamist Twist – NYT
… a chilling look at what life in Libya would be like if Hifter wins. No democracy, this.

EU will try to mountain a naval/air mission to stop flow of weapons into Libya – NYT
… Libya’s factions dig in for a long conflict – Reuters
… they don’t seem to think much of the effort to stop the war …

Niger: 3 million people (>50% children) are in need of humanitarian aid – UN
… due to rising Sahel conflict.

Egypt / Sudan

Hunger threatens half of the population in South Sudan – ReliefWeb
… due to the impacts of devastating floods and low levels of food production …
… mainly Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap, N Bar el-Ghazal …

South Sudan hit by locust plague migrating from Uganda – Al Jazeera
… East Africa has been hit hard by this, and could ill afford it …

Western Africa / Lake Chad

Cameroon village attack kills 22 – New Humanitarian
… mark of rising violence in English-speaking regions … 

Attack on Burkina Faso church kills 24 – Reuters
… part of a pattern of attacks and assassinations of pastors …

Gold panning in Mali may benefit extremists – AP

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Rapid deterioration in NW Syria, 900k displaced since December – UN
… Clashes shift from Idlib to Aleppo – AL-Monitor
… This is what 800,000 fleeing Syrians looks like: great presentation – NYT
… Idlib’s long-simmering catastrophe: the battle is still not over – New Humanitarian
… Aid efforts “overwhelmed” by humanitarian catastrophe – New Humanitarian

West Asia / Turkey

Despite a murder and visa denials, Christians persevere in Turkey ($) – CT


A reporter’s diary of a trip to Iraq, on Iraqi displacement – New Humanitarian
… and a visit to a desert camp home to 50,000 …

Iran’s elections set to be dominated by hardliners – CNN
… many conservatives, few reformists/moderates (who have been banned) …
… evidence of moving away from modernizing agenda, rallying around conservatives …

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

5 months later, Ghani declared victor in Afghani elections – Stratfor
… (saw a piece where the other guy declared victory, too, so not completely settled yet.)

In “mini-Kabul” (Peshawar), refugees mark 40 years in Pakistan – Gulf Times
… short little ethnography piece …


Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalism gives rise to vigilante attacks on Christians – Link
… yet more data points in ongoing trend …

How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart – Guardian
… incisive long read on the history of the RSS, BJP and the rise of Hindu radicalism …

“There is no fish in the ocean” – Quartz
… the future has arrived for this Indian fishing village [in southern Karnataka]

Bengali / Bangladesh

Conservative Islamic views gaining ground, curtailing freedom of expression – The Conversation


Lonely hearts: >50% of China’s singles live in its four major first-tier cities – Asia Times

A distorted sex ratio is playing havoc with marriage in China – Economist
… rising bride prices, importing brides, localized unmarried male populations …

New Hong Kong chief a hardliner known for crusade against Christian churches – Guardian
… notorious for the demolition of thousands of Christian crosses on churches …

Coronavirus is devastating Chinese tourism – Atlantic
… countries close borders, airlines slash flights, hotels see drop-offs …


South Korean population may have “already peaked” – Diplomat
… some concern that it may have entered a downward “fertility trap” …

Southeast Asia

Brunei: Spoiled Subjects of the Sultan – Diplomat
… Life in one of the world’s last absolute monarchies

Thailand strongly impacted by Coronavirus-caused drop in China visitors – Diplomat

Myanmar: Spike in civilian casualties in NW after Internet shutdown – UN

The growing emergency on Myanmar’s newest battleground – New Humanitarian

New Data

The world as 100 Christians: new graph from WCE – CSGC

The 100 most spoken languages in the world – Link

Longer reads

Developing a “probabilistic” approach to managing uncertainty – HBR
… stop trying to be “right” and instead try to be “less wrong” over time

Five years ago, ISIS executed 21 Christians on a beach in Libya – CT
… Christianity Today podcast on how the Coptic Church responded to the episode …

See also my weekly “Things I Learned” newsletter.


McDs, Starbucks developing trackable, recoverable, reusable plastic coffee cups – Bloomberg

New system for power generation from humidity in the air – Nature

USA 2019 Internet Crime report = $3.5 billion in losses – FBI

Signal is building out features that will help it go mainstream – Wired

AI can automatically rewrite text in outdated Wikipedia articles – Engadget

How Saudi Arabia infiltrated Twitter – Buzzfeed
… although the leak was found, it does give one pause …

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