Roundup 286

SPARKS TO WATCH

1. We pray for peace in Ukraine, although right now there is no peace. Casualties reportedly number in the millions hundreds. Thousands of refugees are now arriving in Poland and other bordering countries. If it was difficult to imagine actually coming to this point, it is equally difficult to imagine where events will take us. Ukraine is roughly the size of Texas, with twice its population, and would be difficult to occupy. Russia’s end game is unclear. Pray for the church to be a blessing to Ukrainians in the midst of these trials.

Editor’s Note: the original publication of Roundup 286 said ‘millions’ of casualties in error (I edited several sentences and ‘millions’ got mistakenly left in). The correct number is currently several hundred, including both Ukrainians and Russians, and is an estimate. I regret the error!

2. War and conflict continue to lead to the movement of peoples. Afghanis, Iranians, Syrians, and now Ukrainians are all struggling to reach places of safety. Many report incredible mental, emotional trauma and spiritual openness amongst these refugees. Pray for the church to be a blessing.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

Raqqa: Poverty, fear drive exodus from Syria’s one-time IS capital. AP
Israel opens to all tourists, regardless of vaccination status. NYT $
… you will need both a pre-departure and on-arrival PCR test.
Libya’s parliament says it will vote on new government next week. Link
… however, the incumbent administration says it will not hand over power.
A look inside the Smara refugee camp in Algeria, in photos. Link
… the day to day lives of Sahrawi refugees.
Sudan: ‘battle of the blockades’, protesters plot to choke off military rule. MEE
… “planning to barricade strategic roads… to choke off resources to the government”
… Exports plunge after protesters block main trade artery. Bloomberg $

East Africa (520m) 

Dam crisis returns: Ethiopia turns on the turbines at giant Nile hydropower plant. Reuters
… Sudan slams Ethiopia move at controversial Nile dam. AFP
… Egypt calls for urgent negotiations with Ethiopia, Sudan. Middle East Monitor
Ethiopia says its open to talks with Tigray rebels. WPost $
UNCHR fact finding mission says political violence on the rise in S Sudan. Link

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Analysis: Why France failed in Mali. War on the Rocks
… How will the French pullout from Mali affect security in the Sahel? MEE
… Timeline: Nine years of French troops in Mali. Al Jazeera
… Longer look at Wagner in Africa, but it costs $. I haven’t read it. Africa Report $
Disturbing: Russian mercenaries arrest aid workers on suspicion of arms ownership. Link
… Three staff of French NGO arrested by Wagner mercenaries 
… “the reasons given for the action were searching for arms delivered by a truck”
… nothing found, but three of the staff arrested, telephones seized
Airbnb, Fiverr: Gig work is changing life in Nigeria. Rest of World

South + Central Asia (2b)

‘Ordinary Iranians’ (plumbers, carpenters, hairdressers, etc) emigrating from Iran. Link
… ‘women and young people are leaving, and don’t plan to return’

Indian school’s ban on hijabs ignites battle over religious rights. WSJ $
‘Shoot them’: Indian state police accused of murdering Muslims, Dalits. Guardian
“We are digging our own graves”: translators being left behind in streaming boom. Link
… “rising demand for translation services has become a double edged sword”
… “punishing for established professionals as new entrants drive down rates”

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Serving China’s missionary church. Brent Fulton
… “despite travel restrictions, persistent tightening,… China’s missionaries venture forth” 
How China under Xi Jinping is turning away from the world. NYT $
… “the number of passports issued in the first half of 2021 was 2% the same period 2019”
Rust-belt Heilongjiang unveils plan to halt exodus of residents, boost births. SCMP
… population has plummeted 16% from a decade ago
Report: “Hiring 3 million foreign nannies could boost births by 200,000.” SCMP
… “reduce costs for a family by 60%”
… “money saved could motivate Chinese parents to give birth to 200k more…”

About 400 Afghan evacuees look to find a home in South Korea. WSJ

Mongolia has fully reopened air borders to international travel from 2/14. Link

Southeast Asia (700m)

Myanmar: from hopeful spring to scorching summer. Diplomat
… “intensifying conflict between junta and opponents shows few signs of resolution in ’22”
Vietnam eyes full reopening to international tourists in March. CNN
“The outsider’s insider”: a look at Melayu identity in Thailand. Bangkok Post
Thailand to ease rules for fully vaccinated tourists. @ThaiNewsReports
… from 3/1, apply for Pass that requires PCR test on day 1, and one night in SHA+ hotel.
Indonesian migrants brave treacherous seas for Malaysian dream. Al Jazeera
… “there just aren’t the same number of job opportunities in Indonesia as in Malaysia.”

Americas+Europe+Pacific

Russia’s ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarize’ (but not occupy) Ukraine.
Russia attacks Ukraine; peace in Europe ‘shattered.’ AP
11 ways to pray during the crisis in Ukraine. SEND Intl (h/t Mission Catalyst)
Live updates: NYTWPostBBC
Infographics, maps of invasion: NYTBBCVisualCap
2/25 am, Russian units enter Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. SCMP
… pressing into “outskirts” of Ukraine. AP
… the city was not far from the Belarus border, and US govt warns it could fall soon
Ukrainians ready for resistance: “the whole country will be fighting back.” Guardian
Biden vows ‘severe sanctions’ on Russia by US, allies. Reuters
Opinion: What we can expect after Putin’s conquest of Ukraine. WPost $
… forces stationed in western Ukraine along Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania
… geopolitical pressure and threats to the Baltic states
… absorption of Belarus and Ukraine into Russia
Amid war and rumors of war, Ukraine pastors preach and prepare. CT
Poland readies for possible refugee influx from Ukraine. DW

US houses of worship face clergy shortage as many resign during pandemic. WSJ

Covid global case data

… 2/26: 431.3m (+11.7m/wk) cases, 5.92m deaths
… 2/18: 419.6m (+13.7m/wk) cases, 5.86m deaths
… 2/11: 405.9m (+21.1m/wk) cases, 5.78m deaths
… 2/03: 384.8m (+26.0m/wk) cases, 5.69m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

People in the US may feel like Covid ‘is over’, and in many ways for them it is. But in other regions, Covid continues to be felt. Each region is different.
Asia’s cautious approach to Omicron. East Asia Forum
… countries in the Asia-Pacific region have maintained or strengthened their restrictions.

Longer Articles

Borders and Conflicts in North and West Africa. Examines the role of border regions in shaping patterns of violence since the end of the 1990s in North and West Africa. OECD, PDF, $28. Link

“hacker-laws,” great GitHub collection of laws, theories, principles and patterns. Link
… Dunbar’s number, Fitt’s law, Gall’s law, Hutber’s law, many many more. Just a fun read.

Book Notes

I am starting “Making Numbers Count” by Chris Heath & Karla Starr. It’s about translating numbers into descriptive forms that make them easier for people to assimilate.

Short book review of “The Horde,” about the Mongol empire. Foreign Affairs
The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Building corporate culture in a remote work world. Some of the struggles companies are facing are challenges mission agencies have faced for years. Some of the lessons companies are learning may be useful to agencies. The Wired piece below notes “those who don’t know their coworkers, who don’t interact with people beyond their team, and don’t have strong ties are far less likely to stay on the job.” My idle observation is that this could apply to field worker tenure. Then we read, “The single greatest indicator of retention and engagement is whether you have a best friend at work.”
… “for millions of knowledge workers, the office is never coming all the way back.” Atlantic
… It’s tough to build a corporate culture in a remote-work world. Wired

An AI aims to be the first Christian celebrity of the Metaverse. CT

Nearly a quarter of Americans get news from podcasts. Pew
… I’m not one of them, and I’m not starting a podcast any time soon.

The Babelfish & the “No Language Left Behind” AI Model: Meta wants you to understand anyone, from anywhere, no matter which language they speak. Link

An in-depth look at the Chinese companies behind the KJV Bible app. Rest of World

Quotable

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.” Seth Godin

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  Samuel Johnson

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