Roundup 217

New Events

North Africa/Egypt-Sudan (266M)

Libyan rivals call for peace talks, but may be wishful thinking. NYT

East Africa/Horn (520M)

Egypt’s farmers fear Ethiopia dam will be their end. NWA Online

Kenya’s health workers, unprotected and falling ill, are walking off the job. NYT
… 100s have tested positive, some have died, health facilities overwhelmed, government officials accused of stealing funds

West Africa/Nigeria-Sahel (457M)

Nigeria: Lots of headlines generated out ICC estimate that between 50k and 70k Christians killed in Nigeria over the past decade, due to attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani. Link

A different perspective: “Allegations of Christian genocide in Nigeria is false, misleading” – “90% of the victims of the violence are Muslims” – I’m not familiar with this particular group, or how justified or political their statement is. Still, it’s probably true that there are complexities to this issue, and while many are martyred “in situations of witness” it may not always be “for their faith.” All Africa

International flights to Nigeria may be resuming on a limited basis. AllAfrica

But, Nigeria says it will bar entry to citizens of countries that block Nigerians. WHTC

West Asia/Saudi-Iran (303M)

Turkey turns another historic church into a mosque – CT

Turkey’s “hedonist” singles become new target of AKP heavyweight – Al-Monitor
… average age of marriage is 24.8/27.8, but younger people putting off into 30s
… Compare to China piece from Sixth Tone cited below, plus changes in Korea demographics

Lebanese face threat of widespread hunger after Beirut explosion. WSJ
… Kuwait to rebuild the destroyed wheat silos at Lebanese port Al Arabiya

Lebanon returns to lockdown after post-explosion surge in virus. Al-Monitor
… ban on movement from 6pm to 6am, malls closed, social gatherings banned

Wage abuse is hurting Qatar’s migrant worker population. Al Jazeera
… “says her employers have refused to support staff financially and have even confiscated passports and ATM cards…”

Iran’s quiet ban on Muslims visiting other places of worship. IranWire

Iran’s health officials: “Don’t travel. Don’t spread the virus.” IranWire
… Muharram religious holidays from August 26-29 usually involve significant travel

Iraq: A Nigerian talks about what it’s like to live in Iraq. Interesting insights into what life is like on the ground. TechCabal

Israel: coronavirus cases top 100,000. Al-Monitor

South-central Asia (2.1B)

Flash flooding in Parwan kills 100, injures 300, destroys homes. RFE
… also, waist-deep flooding brings Karachi to a halt. Al Jazeera
With delay in peace talks, creeping sense of ‘siege’ around Kabul. NYT

Rural Afghan province still struggles with Internet access. RFE
… yet another illustration of how the Internet isn’t a silver bullet for everything, incl. evangelism.

The making of a Hindu India: Al Jazeera
… “If India is today a Hindu nation, it is also a tinderbox in which the self is defined by the perpetual hatred of others.”

Central Asia

In theory, Kyrgyzstan opens to tourists from 31 countries. Eurasianet
… but tourists from Kazakhstan have been turned away at the border
Azerbaijan facing a water shortage. EurasiaNet
Kazakhstan negotiates deal to buy Russian vaccine. Diplomat
… Russia claims safe, effective, but has not completed large-scale human trials
Kyrgyz authorities allow Friday prayers, Kazakhstan lifts some restrictions. RFE

East Asia (1.6B)

Life on the Slow Train: views of a vanishing China. Sixth Tone
… an amazing, fascinating look at the “green railways” and the “life of the underclass” from a photographer who has spent decades traveling them, collecting over 200,000 digital photographs since 2006.

A similar piece: Life on the edges of China’s livestreaming boom. Sixth Tone

Single and Proud: China’s Millennials embrace a solo lifestyle. Sixth Tone
Yet another intriguing piece: “being single was once a source of shame. Now, it’s becoming a badge of freedom–and businesses are scrambling to cash in.”
Number of singles in China has now surpassed 200 million

Is China actually rewriting the Bible? ChinaSource
… Brent Fulton dives into the nuances of the story

China: “Vaccine front-runner already inoculating workers” BBC
… half of the leading 6 candidate vaccines being tested are Chinese …
… expect vaccine diplomacy … also, rumors/conspiracy theories/resistance to Chinese vaccines

Hong Kong is indeed applying its national security law to people outside Hong Kong. Latest example is American citizen Samuel Chu, on charges of “inciting secession” and “colluding with foreign powers.” This trend may chill travel to or through Hong Kong? Religion News

US sanctioning Chinese cotton grower XPCC due to its connections with Uighurs and Xinjiang – and the sanctions will have a complex effect on other companies. XPCC produces 7% of the world’s cotton. WPost

More US sanctions on Chinese firms and executives, this time on those active in contested South China Sea. I doubt many of these sanctions will go away in 2021, regardless of which administration is in charge. I theorize US-China tensions will continue for the foreseeable future. WSJ

And in a slightly darker turn of events, China fired missiles (one dubbed an “aircraft killer”) into the South China Sea, probably as a warning to the US. Al Jazeera

SKor’s total fertility rate hit a record low of 0.92 in 2019. Korea Herald
… South Korea isn’t the only nation facing this reality. Many countries – including markedly Muslim nations like Turkey, Egypt, Iran – are seeing demographic crashes.

Governments and churches around the world have been facing off over religious freedom, and the nexus of Covid-19-related worship bans is intersecting those conflicts. Different people are going to have different opinions about whether this is really a religious freedom issue or not. Korea Herald
… “How SKor’s evangelical churches found themselves at the heart of the Covid crisis” Guardian

NKor troops, police ordered to shoot on site anyone who comes within 1km of the NKor-China border, regardless of their reason for being there: “trying to prevent the transmission of coronavirus through contact with people from China.” RFA

The North Korea rumor mill is talking up possible comas again. This analysis suggests most of this is likely false. NK News

About 396k travellers are staying in SKor illegally. Straits Times
… stranded and over the 90-day tourist visa limit.
… “Immigration service making efforts to repatriate illegal aliens,
… but an increasing number of nations were unwilling to accept their citizens back”

Japan to relax re-entry restrictions on foreign residents in September. Diplomat

Southeast Asia (700M)

Bali bans foreign tourists for rest of 2020. CNA

Myanmar expands Rakhine lockdown to cover 1 million. Jakarta Post

Thailand eyes more foreign patients as hospitals urge easier access. CNA
… more of that medical tourism idea

Europe/North America (1,125M)

Somali-centered online news source Hiiraan Online carries a story, “Everybody is getting sick,” about thousands of refugees and immigrants “working for huge plants in the Panhandle [of Texas] repeatedly exposed to coronavirus after the plants were deemed essential and ordered to remain open.” The story is of course somewhat political in nature but does capture some insights about the lives, work, and numbers of immigrants and refugees in this area. Hiiraan

Russian evangelicals fined for ‘missionary activity’ during pandemic. Christianity Today
… “in the first 6 months of 2020, more than 40 punished for violating anti-missionary law”
… some fined for handing out tracts and literature
… some fined, deported for private home meetings

Virus resurgence in France. ABC
… 20% of France in “red zone”; masks imposed on Paris.

New Data


… 8/28: 24.2m cases, 826k deaths
… 8/21: 22.4m cases, 788k deaths
… (out 8/14)
… 8/7: 17.3m (+1.8) cases, 674k deaths
… 7/24: 15.5m (+1.7) cases, 633k deaths
Trackers: Johns

2020 Report: the state of food security and nutrition in the world. PDF

Infographic: the world’s most valuable unicorns. CBInsights … 488 unicorns (billion-dollar startups) worldwide, worth $1.5T. … #1 is ByteDance, owner of TikTok.

New Longreads

“Our hands are tied”: local aid workers exposed in pandemic. Hiiraan Online

10 Pacific Islands kept out Covid-19, at cost to their tourist economy. Link

The seduction of pessimism (and why optimism is, in the long run, more accurate). Link

QAnon is a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Christianity Today … also: Evangelicals are looking for answers online, and finding QAnon instead. Technology Review

“Scenario planning: formulating strategy in the face of high uncertainty” reviews the nature of scenario planning and reviews “Covid-19 and the future of work,” four scenarios from a consulting firm on the post-pandemic world of work in 2023. Link
… the original four scenarios report is here

Deloitte has developed “The world remade by Covid-19: planning scenarios for resilient leaders.” Deloitte

First documented Covid-19 reinfection reported in Hong Kong. NYT
… there have been anecdotal stories, but this is the first documented case that I’m aware of. But the good news: although the prior exposure did not prevent reinfection, the man had no symptoms the second time – it was completely asymptomatic. (This suggests he could infect others though he did not have the bad symptoms.)

Interesting piece on the impact of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on the early Protestant Reformers and the Reformation. CT

Futuristics & Technology

I experimented with Feedly receiving e-mail newsletters, but rapidly discovered it has a maximum of 25. I reverted to all newsletters coming straight into my Gmail client, because I get rather more than 25. (Also, Feedly’s layout of newsletters left something to be desired.) Still, Feedly Pro has some incredibly useful skills, including an AI article recommender based on previously saved articles, and the ability to bring a Twitter list into Feedly.

With hacks and cameras, Beijing’s electronic dragnet closes on Hong Kong. NYT
… American internet giants are struggling to respond.

“Big Tech embraces new cold war nationalism” is another example of globalized tech feeling the heat of rising nationalist barriers. Foreign Policy

Interesting ‘DiceKeys’ tech uses a special set of 25 dice and a photo scanner to generate a 192-bit key: a highly random, mathematically unguessable key that can be a master password for password managers, etc. Schneier

American Airlines may lay off 19,000 workers. CNN
… “unless it gets more help from Congress.” The downturn in air travel is impacting the economics of airlines. There is surely there is some “horse trading” going on here, but the reality is that there will be fewer flights (especially international flights) in the near-term future, and those flights may be more expensive. Air travel is probably going to get more difficult than in the near-term past.

AI-based traffic management controlling traffic lights. ZDNet

Graze Growing has invented a full autonomous commercial lawn mower, in an interesting application of autodrive technology to disrupt $100 billion lawn mowing market. Link
… Interesting to think about which jobs will be lost …

New Google Pixel Buds can translate spoken words from French, German, Italian and Spanish into English. Verge

Facebook blocks group critical of Thai monarchy amid government pressure. Straits Times
… yet another example of how local governmental norms/rules impact global organizations

Buzzfeed uses censored portions of China’s Baidu mapping platform, compared to Google Maps, to identify prisons and internment camps in Xinjiang. Buzzfeed

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