Roundup 261

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Algeria’s health system on the verge of imploding from Covid. Link

Tunisia’s crisis:
Democrats, despots and the fight for power. BBC
… “supporters simply fed up with parliament”
… “opponents, independent observers denounce as coup”
President holds forth on freedoms after seizing power. NYT
… “why would I, at 67, start a career as a dictator?”
A coup or not? activists grapple with power grab. Guardian
“You just think about eating.” NYT
… why Tunisians backed a presidential power grab

Egypt to renovate shrines in major boost to religious tourism. Al-Monitor
… will draw the spiritually hungry … 

East Africa (520m)

Fighting displaces 200k in Amhara region. Reuters
As civil war rages, bodies float downriver into Sudan. NYT
USAID chief: only 10% of needed aid reaching Tigray. AFP
More than 100k children in Tigray could die of hunger. Reuters
Ethiopia suspends MSF, Norwegian Refugee Council. Bloomberg

Longer: “Somali, Oromo, and the turbulent politics around Dire Dawa.” The Africa Report

Mozambique pastors minister to survivors of violent insurgency. CT
… “They cannot burn Jesus out of me” 

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Lagos is Africa’s most populous city. It’s already battling floods during the rainy season, with more than 2 million displaced in 2020. Lying low on Nigeria’s Atlantic coast, it may be uninhabitable by the end of the century. CNN

The “most lucrative industry in Nigeria” is kidnapping-for-ransom in the northwest: bandits have extorted over $4.9 million from ordinary Nigerians this year. Vox

In SE Nigeria, a growing trend toward separatism – CFR
and reports of excessive force by security services – Amnesty Intl

Western Asia (303m)

Iraq: despite government promises, lives in Sinjar remain on hold – six years after over 400k Yazidi were displaced, captured or killed, despite signed deals to bring stability and reconstruction, virtually nothing has been done and the area’s resources remain contested by various armed groups. Link

Civilians in southern Syria “under siege” – UN
… intense fighting around the southern city of Daraa

Afghani refugee crisis brewing on Turkey’s border:
… “500 to 2,000 Afghanis est. entering Turkey daily” – Link
… Afghans met with rising anti-refugee hostility in Turkey – Guardian
… building 40-mi (64km) wall to keep refugees out – @SCMP

Forest fires in Turkey (worst in a decade) = more political headaches for Erdogan – NYT 

South + Central Asia (2b)

The war for Afghanistan:
Attacks on Herat, Lashkar Gat, Kandar continue – BBC
Taliban seizes control of Nimruz – WPost
Taliban forcibly displacing individuals – HRW
Defending prisons holding thousands of militants – WPost
Concerns about forced marriage, sex slavery rise – FP
Hazara in Bamiyan fear repeat of Taliban atrocities – RFE
Mountain Taliban revenge killings against critics – HRW
A Taliban victory is not inevitable – Foreign Affairs
… but it would req “armed overwatch” from US, at ~$3bln cost
Fog of uncertainty: “stuck between corrupt government and a brutal Taliban” Al Jazeera

Bangladesh: “As violence soars in refugee camps, Rohingya women speak up.” Link
… “militant groups, criminal gangs compete for control”

India, field worker: “They had great plans at the start of 2020. Now it’s really mostly a matter of staying alive.”

India’s brutal Delta-driven wave ended when cases suddenly plunged – WPost
… yet the pandemic didn’t end. In some places, it’s inching back
… less than 10% of India fully vaccinated. R0 above 1 in several states.
… current epicenter is in Kerala, but northeast also worrying
Nuance: Kerala as “epicenter” may be an artifact of its testing regime. Link
… it is catching a lot more of its infections than other states.
Bangladesh struggles to contain its worst wave of infections yet. NYT
Nepal extends Covid lockdown until August. Link

Covid child brides“: a sharp increase in child marriages as impoverished families marry off their daughters to survive. SCMP

The 250,000 Sheedi of Pakistan: long-forgotten Africans uprooted and still finding their place in society. Africa Report

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Wuhan orders mass testing to contain outbreak. Link

China stops issuing/renewing passports to try to minimize travel & spread of Covid. Link
Op/Ed: “What if China never reopens?” The Wire
… for last 16 months, borders almost entirely closed …
… reportedly planning to start reopening in 2nd half of 2022 …
… “this timeline is not credible” …

“Have babies or go to jail”: China’s Family Planning Association asked for slogans to “advertise a new time of marriage and family planning culture as well as cultivate a birth-friendly social atmosphere.” They didn’t exactly get what they wanted. Link

“Less than Eden: China’s rural returnees face an uncertain future” looks at the “reality and diversity of life on the ground in the countryside.” Reading this, I was reminded of the old Chinese proverb – “everything you say about China is true in some places and false in others.” This article catches at that reality – China is a vast and complex place. Link

I found this piece, “Exploring the Hui: From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom,” to be interesting less for the blog post (which was too brief–looking forward to the series) and more for the training course it refers to. Also, as a reminder that not all Muslim peoples are alike–yes, there are “fundamentalist Islamic” types, but there are also cultural/ secularized/non-fundamentalist Muslims too. ChinaSource

Three times this year, Kim Jong-un has hinted at ‘hardships’ in North Korea; sealed borders, severe weather, and Covid-19 have created a ‘gravely serious’ humanitarian situation. SCMP

Southeast Asia (700m)

215k Cambodian workers flee Thai Covid-surge – Link
… “Exodus overwhelms border facilities”
Thailand: more than 20k daily cases, new record for them – Al Jazeera
… govt hints strict curbs could be extended to August amid surge

Essay: “Myanmar is at the point of no return.” Foreign Affairs
State of emergency extended with coup leader as PM. BBC

In Indonesia, red tape gets in the way of Covid-19 vaccinations: people who don’t have an electronic identity card (e-KTP), or whose identity card has been issued in a different place, are finding it difficult to get vaccinated. Indonesia has vaccinated 7% so far, and aims to vaccinate 70% by December. Link

Delta spreads to Indonesia’s remote, vulnerable islands – WSJ

N America / W Europe / Pacific

USA: Myanmar refugees open new church in Omaha, NE. Link

US plans to require all arriving foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated. Link

Analysis re China’s American education craze: “The past year has shaken the foundations of China’s church-like devotion to American higher education, but a full reversal seems unlikely.” Important for all the ministry options devoted to international students. Link

New Data

Covid global case data:

… 8/06: 200.5m (+4.4m) cases, 4.26m (2%) deaths
… 7/30: 196.1m (+3.5m) cases, 4.18m deaths
… 7/23: 192.6m (+4.1m) cases, 4.13m deaths
… 7/16: 188.5m (+2.8m) cases, 4.06m deaths
… 7/09: 185.7m (+3.0m) cases, 4.01m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *

Analysis: Delta is vastly more contagious
… “The world will eventually become either vaccinated or infected”
… The unreached live in places largely w/o vaccines, and often w/o medical care.
… Those working among UPGs will confront an environment of ministry options, risks and choices very different from those debates in more-Christianized, wealthier, more-vaccinated areas. 

The pandemic has exacerbated existing political discontent – Economist
Here’s what week now about “delta-plus”, new variant – WPost
… <1k cases, handful of countries, “unlikely” more transmissible
Where will you need a Covid passport to travel? Economist
… Immunity passports aren’t new. Travel will be easier for the vaccinated than those not. 

Other new data

New study: populations growing faster in areas in flood-prone areas. Link
… 250-290m people directly affected by floods, +56-86m 2000-2015

ACLED Mid-Year Update: 10 conflicts to worry about – PDF

Fortune’s 2021 Global 500 is out – Link
… Revenues shrank 4.8% due to Covid-19
… All the major airlines fell off the global 500, and energy/cars lost position
… Yet total revenues of the 500 equate to over 1/3 of global GDP

New Longreads

“The person, not the method”: 11 essential ingredients of leaders who saw movements start. “At the end of the day, it is the man or woman of God and not the method that God blesses… If someone says to me, give me the method or give me the curriculum, I know that they have not understood that this [the catalyzing of a movement] is accomplished through persons rather than methods.” Mission Frontiers

The Olympics: a pattern for the church–are they a wonderful foretaste of Revelation? “An event which is all about… fame and renown has more in common with Babel than with Revelation.” Eddie Arthur.

Good piece on what a “Person of Peace” is, especially the bit about small towns – Link


Noise, by Daniel Kahneman, is turning out to be a long but intensely useful read. Chapters 18 to 20 are about decision hygiene, and how to generate better decisions by preventing noise (random error) in decisions.

Want to think outside the box, and ever been troubled by what happens to the unevangelized after they die? Here’s a well written review of “Postmortem Opportunity: a Biblical and theological assessment of salvation after death.” Will people have a chance at salvation after they die? This book addresses that question, argues one particular idea, and looks interesting from the review (I came to agree with the reviewer’s final analysis, but I might pick the book up.) Link

Three Kindle samples I’m grabbing:
Seven things I wish Christians knew about the Bible.
Work: a deep history, from the Stone Age to the age of robots.
Storm in a teacup: the physics of everyday life

Tech & Futures

Google + some scientists demo new phase of matter: a “time crystal.” Seriously.

If I’m reading right, you can “rent” Windows 365–a “cloud PC” you can run in a browser (on a Mac?) for $20/mo (and up)–could I use this to run AtlasGIS on my Mac? Link

The US Pentagon is experimenting with using AI to “see days in advance.” Link
… apparently Philip K. Dick entertains, but doesn’t teach …

Open-source intelligence challenges state monopolies on information – Economist
… “The people’s panopticon… open-source intel comes of age”

Apple introducing tech to scan photos uploaded to iCloud for child abuse. Wired
… most people applaud the motive & even the approach, but there are issues …
… some see it as an “innovative solution” and others as “capitulation to govt surveillance”

Beyond 2025

US wants to see half of all electric vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric. Link 

Toward 2050 and Beyond

“Where climate change is making parts of the world is too hot and humid for humans.” The upper maximum of “wet-bulb temperature” (which takes into account both temperature and humidity) is 35 deg. C. Climate models project the first occurrences of 35 degrees by the middle of the century; but some weather stations have already reported reaching those temperatures (for a few hours), and extreme humid heat is already rising. Many of the places affected by these kinds of temperatures are in classical unreached areas. Link


“The whole thing adds up to a little over $1 trillion–or, to put it another way, just over one Facebook…” ~Kevin Dugan

“If there’s one thing that this current event proves, it’s all my pre-existing beliefs.” ~Eric Fish

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