Roundup 219

New Events

North Africa/Egypt-Sudan (266M)

Sudan ends 30 years of Islamic law by separating religion, state. Bloomberg
… agreed to do it, but it doesn’t look like it’s done, yet …

East Africa/Horn (520M)

Violence continues: truck bomb kills 3, wounds 3. NYT
Dozens dead in central Somalia as villagers battle al-Shabab. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia: Covid-19 reveals risky life on the buses for Ethiopia’s child conductors. AllAfrica
… “Tarekegn, who left his village in southern Ethiopia when all schools shut in March, is one of countless migrant boys working as minibus assistants in cities across Ethiopia.”
… “When there is no work, I starve”

West Africa/Nigeria-Sahel (457M)

Burkina Faso: over 0.5m children under 5 ‘acutely’ malnourished. Link

groans as food prices rises. AllAfrica
but Buhari said food crisis averted. AllAfrica

West Asia/Saudi-Iran (303M)

Lebanon: “How a massive bomb came together in Beirut’s port.” NYT
… 15 tons of fireworks, jugs of kerosene and acid, thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate, and a system of corruption and bribes that let the perfect bomb set for years … “The disaster-in-waiting was the result of years of neglect and bureaucratic buck-passing by a dysfunctional government that subjugated public safety to the more pressing business of bribery and graft.”

Damascus struggles to import food as Syrians go hungry. SyriaDirect
… 9.3 million are currently food insecure, 2.2m more at risk

Israel/USA: Shofar lessons are a necessity in the age of Covid. RNS
… Synagogues are shuttered. Jewish law requires Jews to hear the shofar in person, blown on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. So many Jews are scrambling to figure out how to blow their (mostly decorative) shofars.

South-central Asia (2.1B)

Deadly rumor has Turkmen citizens with Covid symptoms avoiding hospitals. RFE
… “they will give me an injection now and kill me”
… stories are rumors, unclear if they are true or not.
… “The Turkmen people are sure the government is lying to them about many things, including about the absence of the coronavirus, and now they are also worried the authorities may kill them if they are unfortunate enough to actually be infected with the disease.”

Woman loses three husbands to war. RFE
… remember the question the Sadducees asked Jesus about the woman with 7 husbands, all brothers? Not entirely theoretical.
Afghan govt-Taliban peace talks begin this week. NYT
Near record violence risks derailing peace talks. UN


Coronavirus crisis shatters India’s big dreams. NYT
Maharashtra (#2 Top40) nears 1 million cases, rivals Russia, economy stifled. CNA
Rich prosper during the pandemic while poor stand precariously at the edge. Diplomat
Pandemic pushes biggest jobs programme to brink in rural India. CNA
First nationwide serological survey suggests India has 6.8m cases in May. Straits Times
India’s death rate: nuances, complexities, gaps, shouldn’t be relied on. CNN

Half detained in UP under national security law are suspects in cases of cow killings. CNA

A year after rendering millions of people stateless, India has yet to hear a single appeal. FP
… Remember the big deal about the national registry published last year? See:
India to create a registry to “weed out those living illegally in the country” – Link
India pushes to grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from neighbors – Link

Pakistan’s sprawling Karachi “broken” by monsoon floods. Al Jazeera
… “record rains inundated Pakistan’s largest city, paralysing city authorities as people were left to fend for themselves”

Another Christian sentenced to death under blasphemy charges. JPost

East Asia (1.6B)

new language policy sparked rare backlash in Inner Mongolia. CNN
“national security” crackdown creates speech crimes in Hong Kong. RFA
“purification of classrooms”: new law erases history, silences teachers, rewrites books. LATimes
doubles down against foreign teachers spreading Christianity. SCMP
freezes US journalists’ credentials, hinting at expulsions. NYT
… “their fate depends on what the United States does to Chinese media employees.”
Three camps in Xinjiang’s Uchturpan believed to hold 10% of Uighur population. RFA
China and India agree to de-escalate. NBC
From Asia to Africa, China promotes its vaccines to win friends. NYT
“Sit, eat, wait for death”: life in the Shenzhen sticks. Sixth Tone
… life of migrant workers in Sanhe
China offers state-sponsored pre-marital counseling to slow divorce rate. HKFP
… 4.15m divorces last year, up from 1.3m from 2003 …

Smugglers still ply trade on NKor-China border despite shoot-on-sight orders. RFA
… “economic hardship driving North Koreans to break strict quarantine rules”…

Southeast Asia (700M)

Indonesia: when learning is really remote. NYT
… students climb trees and travel miles for a cell signal.

Indonesia’s Islamic council advises Muslims to pray at home as infections rise. Straits Times

Laos set to cede majority control of its electric grid to a Chinese company in order to stave off a potential debt default, while critics accuse Beijing of “debt trap diplomacy” to gain strategic advantage. Link

relaxes entry ban on expats, professional visits from 23 countries. Straits Times
… incl US, UK & European, Iran, Bgd, Pak, Phil, others.
considers fully reopening border with Singapore. CNA
… but also reports +182 cases, highest jump in 3 months. CNA
… government allows restaurants to stay open to 2am for tourists. Straits Times

Malaysia says it won’t extradite Uighurs to China. Reuters
… “and will allow safe passage to a third country should they feel their safety is at risk”

Myanmar Covid cases rising:
… increases Covid-19 lockdown measures, airlines suspend services. CNA
… schools closed, stay-at-home orders, domestic airlines suspend …
… Thailand tightens border with Myanmar. CNA

Three years after Rohingya exodus:
Myanmar soldiers confess to mass murder of Rohingya Muslims. CNN
Myanmar erases names of Rohingya villages from maps. Daily Star

Europe/North America (1,125M)

France resurgence: 10k daily new cases. Link

Fire destroys most of Europe’s largest refugee camp, on Greek island of Lesbos. NYT

America’s “Zoom Towns”: people moving to better places and remote-working. Housing market is up 8% for most of USA. Mostly higher-wage workers who can transition to work-from-home. Will impact attendance of individual churches. NPR

USA: Low-wage workers hurt most by the pandemic. Link
Also: Job losses have now hit 40% of low-income homes. Link
… American workers “in the business of feeding, pampering, and caring for other Americans” were most hurt by social distancing restrictions. 20% of American workers are in food preparation/serving and transportation work. Job losses here will also impact church and mission finances. If a church’s demographic is toward more low-wage workers, the church likewise will be impacted.

A majority of young adults in the US live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression. Pew

New Data


… 9/11: 28.1m cases, 909k deaths
… 9/4: 26.0m cases, 862k deaths
… 8/28: 24.2m cases, 826k deaths
… 8/21: 22.4m cases, 788k deaths
Trackers: Johns

Infograph: ~1.3 billion people “live in the dark” (no electricity). Link
… some correlation, but not 1:1, to % evangelized/% Christian

Daily Chart: Personal freedom still limited in most of the Islamic world. Economist

Calculating the odds of catching Covid on a plane flight. Link

Anecdotally, Catholic missionary numbers declining due to Covid-19. Link


The other way Covid could kill: hunger. NYT
…Worldwide, the population facing life-threatening levels of food insecurity is expected to double
…This is an area where many churches and ministries are helping, and more could…

Covid-19 futures: a framework for exploring medium and long-term impacts. Four scenarios, 10 pages, pre-print. Lancet

Where will Africa’s students study abroad in post-Covid-19 times? Link
… a quarter of a million African students go abroad for education
… China is now the primary destination country for students …

Attention is your scarcest resources. Link

“The largest contemporary Muslim pilgrimage isn’t the hajj–it’s the Shiite pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq.” Link

Futuristics & Technology

Pfizer may win the Covid vaccine race, but distribution could be another matters. ABC
Just transporting the vaccine at scale could be an issue. National Post

Forget TikTok. China’s powerhouse app is WeChat, and its power is sweeping. NYT
… vital connection for diaspora, global conduit for propaganda, surveillance and intimidation. The US has proposed banning it.

Anduril’s new drone offers to inject more AI into warfare. Wired
… a swarm… controlled by a single person on the ground… can perform recon…

“No, Amazon won’t delivery you a burrito by drone any time soon” is a great article exploring the reality: a lot of technologies get hyped years before they become a reality. Link

… for more on that subject, consider the Gartner’s “Hype Cycle” for emerging technologies – Link

Not quite hyped yet: Apple’s AR glasses, new glimmers of hardware on the horizon. Wired

Weirdest thing I’ve seen: RoboRoach, which allows you to “briefly” control a roach via a cybernetic backpack. Comes with its own surgery kit to attach to a roach (insect sold separately). Link

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