Roundup 296

Pray with us

1. We continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. Most of the analysis I read suggests we should prepare ourselves for something that will last far longer than we would like. Russia seems to not be pulling back, and the US is backing Ukraine, and many nations are getting tired even of civilized Ukrainian refugees.

2. Heat waves, droughts, rising prices from the Ukraine war–throughout the Horn of Africa and much of Asia, these are combining into a perfect storm that will likely push millions into poverty, hunger, and possibly even famine and political revolution. It’s hard to read this seemingly unremitting litany of bad data points strung out in an ever worsening trend line. I don’t think the end is near, and I’m not thankful for disasters, but I am praying for the church to be a blessing in the midst of these situations.

3. I was stunned–literally almost to tears–by two items in the tech world this week. One was the list of new languages Google Translate will make possible (including some like Bhojpuri and Oromo), and the other was a new ocular device from Google that would “subtitle the world.” (Scroll to tech, the last link, and consider what this could do.)

4. I was mildly amused by an article about Indian parents suing their son for not providing a grandchild, but then an analysis by friends who work in South Asia made me look anew at how radical the prayer, “…as we forgive others…” could really be. Read the article in Long Reads and pray with us for the communities of believers who would love to see God bring major transformation to the region.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = Middle East (570m)

Experts warn of bleak long-term outlook for drought hit Iraq. National News
… water scarcity, increased drought, dust storms, heat waves, loss of forest cover …
Between searing drought & Ukraine war, Iraq watchful over wheat. Al-Monitor
… “the drought is unbelievable… even well water can’t be used, it’s salt water”
Yazidis displaced anew by north Iraq violence. Al-Monitor

East Africa (520m)

Somaliland: herders say they die with their herds in droughts. SomTribune
… three consecutive failed rainy seasons, slow start to 4th, push Horn to brink of famine
“People are dying”: Ethiopians escape war only to face hunger in Somaliland. Guardian
… 2 refugee camps in Borama, where est. 2,000 families reside …
Interfaith tensions simmer in Ethiopia after attack in Gondar. AllAfrica
… some 150 people injured, unknown number dead after week of violence.
Somalia: 400k+ children at risk of dropping out of school due to drought. Link

West + Middle Africa (600m)

8 soldiers killed in Togo, raising spectre of expansion of violence. Reuters
… “so far spared the violence… but…”
Sierra Leone: where every pregnancy is a deadly gamble. WaPo
… 1 in 20 women in Sierra Leone die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth
… “every 90 seconds a pregnant woman dies”
… “practically every death preventable, but civil war + Ebola devastated health system”
… Ebola killed 7% of medical workers
Nigerian domestic airlines stop operations until further notice over rising fuel $. Reuters
Conflict in Burkina Faso aggravates ongoing food crisis. ReliefWeb

South + Central Asia (2b)

Eid under the Taliban shows a changed Afghanistan. NYT $
… “thousands piled into buses and set out to see family they had not seen in years”
The Taliban have made the burqa mandatory again. Foreign Policy
Taliban divisions deepen as Afghan women defy veil edict. AP
… “until now pragmatists and hardliners have avoided open confrontation”
Afghan refugees still adjusting to US move. AP video
… more than 76,000 have been admitted to the US, hard to find jobs, pay bills …
As the world looks away, violence on the rise again in Afghanistan. Diplomat
… marked increase in violence against women, journalists and educators

“Perpetual violence”: India’s dangerous new pattern of communal tensions. NYT $
… “nationwide provocations spreading through social media inspire local groups…”
India’s huge landfills go up in flames amid record-breaking temperatures. Straits Times
… birds fall from the sky in Gujarat as heatwave scorches India. Straits Times
India in quandry over wheat exports as heat dampens production forecasts. Straits Times
… export to address global shortage, or keep wheat home to keep domestic prices stable?
Contextualization: How fast food giants like McDonald’s found their Indian soul. BBC
Total fertility rate in India down across the board. Times of India

Video: Pakistan bridge crumbles after heatwave triggers floods. BBC
Pakistan bans sugar exports in a bid to stabilize the price. Ariana

Sri Lanka issues shoot-on-sight orders to quell Sri Lankan riots. AFP
… “any involved in looting/odamaging… a day after mobs targeted ruling politicians”
Worst violence in weeks of protest: Thousands of troops deployed, curfew set. Link
… Prime minister resigns. AP
Many flee Colombo as elders meet to seek solution to crisis. CNA

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

The Great Awakening in China. Yang Fenggang, ChinaSource
… “has lasted more than 4 decades, with millions turning to religion yearly”
Eventually, China’s borders will reopen. Will foreigners return? Sixth Tone
… “number of foreigners in China has halved, could halve again this summer”
… “foreign arrivals and departures dropped to 4.6% of 2019 level”
… “big reduction in number of foreign students”
… “international schools have lost 40% of their staff”
“I’m very anxious”: China’s lockdowns leave millions out of work. NYT $
… 280 million migrant workers, 11 million recent college graduates hit hardest …
China’s singles agree: age matters. Sixth Tone
… age discrimination issues abound …
Thorough read: Beijing’s desire for births is up against a more feminist nation. Quartz
… plan for extended mandatory maternity leave read as forcing women out of workplace
… women in 20s and 30s fear expanded maternity benefits make employers leery of hiring
China restricts citizens from ‘non-essential’ foreign travel. Sixth Tone
Shanghai imposes tightest restrictions yet. BBC
… “leave a key to your house in the door so we can come in and disinfect the space”
At mercy of zealous residential committees, the locked-down vent frustration. CNA
… “what they are allowed to do depends on the latitude of the juweihui”

N Korea reports first Covid-19 outbreak, orders lockdown in “grave emergency.” Ariana

SKor: over half of 20-somethings do not plan to have children after marriage. Korea Herald

Southeast Asia (700m)

Long queues for petrol stations as fuel crisis hits Laos. CNA
… importers with drop in currency value, low foreign exchange reserves, soaring price of oil
Laos to drop Covid-19 entry curbs for vaccinated tourists. Straits Times
Myanmar to resume issuing tourist e-visas on Sunday. Straits Times
… activists are hoping tourists stay away, fear tourist $ will end up in junta treasury. CNA
Thailand cuts long-term ‘high potential’ resident visa fee in half to 50k baht. Link
… “high-income individuals, foreign pensioners, workers, specialists”
… “encourage foreign investment… 1 million foreigners entering/staying in 5 years”


New Zealand drops most of its Covid border restrictions. NBC

Russia’s ‘special military operation’
What life is like for Ukrainian refugees living on a Cold War era gunboat. TIME
Putin, Ukraine committed, dug in for long-lasting war. NBC
… “US essentially poses as a senior patron of Ukraine, determined not to let it lose”

New Data

Tourism recovering, but not back to pre-pandemic levels. Al-Monitor
Passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi tripled over 2021, aided by flights from India. Al-Monitor
US Evangelicals choose to give to secular charities over Christian orgs. Link

Covid global case data

5/13: 520.0m cases, 6.2m deaths (trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT)

Longer Articles

Prayer Journey for the Haredim: praying for the Jews, an unreached people group. Link

The 37% rule for making decisions. Inc
… also known as the stopping algorithm: spend 37% of the time gathering information,
… then choose the next best option that comes along that’s better than anything you’ve seen

The secret science behind the power of small talk. Fast Company
… “social lubricator” that builds trust and relationships across cultures

Give us a grandchild or pay back $900,000, say Indian couple who are suing son. Link
… I asked a Beyond field leader about this, wondering whether to include it or not, and got a wonderfully insightful analysis back. In part:
1. The community think process is, I give to you, and then one day you give back to me.
2. When a kid is 18, it’s not what are you going to do with your life–you have your duty.
3. It’s not done out of love, but out of obligation. Hard to go above and beyond.
4. Even children’s names can be determined by the grandparents, not the parents.
5. You wait until you’re old enough to be in charge and make others do their duty by you. It perpetuates from one generation to another.
6. In this environment, the Lord’s prayer is a radical idea: I pray you forgive me what I owe you, and I release others from anything I think they owe me.

Book Notes

I finished Futureshock last week, and though written in the 1970s, I was pretty amazed at how well it predicted the trendline we are on, and how applicable it still was. I hadn’t read it before, but I’ve ordered the other two in the trilogy: The Third Wave and Powershift.

The books I’ve read in 2022. Also, the books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Sudan’s electric rickshaws. AFP Video
Apple to discontinue the iPod after 21 years. BBC
… arguably, a device that changed the world …
Turkey, Kazakhstan sign agreement to jointly produce drones. Al-Monitor
Killer Robots are here–and we need to regulate them. Foreign Policy
China is 3D printing a 590-foot hydroelectric dam with zero human labor. Futurism
A portable wind turbine that fits in your backpack. Fast Company

Google announces a host of new functions planned for Voice, Assistant, Maps, more. Link
… multisearch: snap a picture of a bookshelf, get info on all the books on it
… Google Assistant better able to understand conversation w/o “Hey, Google”
… fusing billions of images to provide immersive views in Google Street View
… attempting to use AI to fix your poor webcam meeting experience. Link
Google Translate now supports 133 languages spoken by 300 million worldwide
… incl Assamese, Bhojpuri, Oromo, Kurdish, Tigrinya, several more… Link
… and a mind-blowing look at the possibly near future of Translate: subtitles for the world


“If all of your prayers were answered this week, would it change the lives of others, or just yours?” ~Todd Adkins

“Conversion to Christ does not produce a bland universal citizenship: it produces distinctive discipleships, as diverse and variegated as human life itself.” ~Andrew Walls

“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete–the things that should have worked, but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.” ~Peter Drucker

“Just because a church is large doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It could just mean it’s swollen.” ~Charles Spurgeon

“We live in a culture that has cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as cabbage so long as you doubt.” ~Dallas Willard 

“We can know the right words yet never be changed. This is the difference between information and transformation.” ~A.W. Tozer

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~attributed to Picasso

“The courageous have fears that cowards never know.” ~Stanley Hauerwas

“If the frying pan is not heated up, the corns cannot pop.” ~Yoruba

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