Roundup

November 6, 2020

#New Events

##East Africa Ethiopia is headed into a potential civil war. Tigray province, in north, on border with Eritrea. Mostly Orthodox Christians. “Ethiopia mobilises for war in northern region.”  Reuters “major escalation of bitter feud with PM’s rivals in Tigray” Foreign Policy … military action ordered in reprisal for alleged attack on federal army camp … … “for months, observers sensed a showdown brewing with Tigray’s rulers” “State of emergency declared.” Hiiraan Ethiopia shuts down phone, Internet service in Tigray.  AllAfrica Air strikes, bombardments. NYT Explainer: Why Ethiopia is suddenly on brink of civil war.  AP Plus, intercommunal violence in Oromia.  UN

##Northern Africa Algeria: Requiem for a Revolution.  Link … “aborted democratic dream offers lessons for the rest of the Arab world” Libya’s warring parties reach agreement on cease fire.  UN … “agreed [to] practical steps toward implementing a cease fire agreement”

##Western Africa Ivory Coast: 3,000 flee abroad amid electoral violence.  UN Fear dominates the lives of Nigerians.  Conversation … “near universal absence of even the most minimal form of … governance…” Also: Has Nigeria missed the manufacturing bandwagon?  FT … “In order to go into any form of production in Nigeria, you have to create a mini-state: your own security, water, electricity, roads…”

##Eastern Asia In Tibet, China preaches the material over the spiritual.  CNA China wants to build a Tibet with more wealth, less Buddhism.  Bloomberg … “Due to some outdated conventions and bad habits, particularly the negative influence of religion, people put more attention on the afterlife, and their desire to pursue better living in this life is relatively weaker… we’ll need to not only feed the stomach, but also fix the mind.” ~Tibet Governor Qi Zhala China launches 5-year plan: become self-sufficient global tech superpower.  Fortune … but it might be an uphill battle … China’s Southeast Asian Vaccine Diplomacy.  Diplomat … China will “not turn vaccines into any kind of weapon or diplomatic tool” … “but hard to see Beijing not using vaccines to foster goodwill, advance its interests…”

##South Asia Deadlocked Afghan peace negotiations at point of collapse.  RFE … “the historic negotiations aimed at ending the bloody 19-year war are in danger of collapse”… On Afghan highways, even the police fear the Taliban’s toll collectors.  NYT … As US retreats, Taliban increasingly taken over highways … At checkpoints, Taliban stop people, comb through their phones for data.  RFE … “They found some photos of Afghan Army soldiers, and then they beat me”… Afghanistan after attack on university: “We live in constant fear”.  Guardian Bombs and blackboards: schooling girls in rural regions.  RFE India Allahabad Court: conversion for sake of marriage is unacceptable.  TOI

##South-eastern Asia Thailand’s religious pilgrimages by airplane flight.  CNN … sightseeing “flights to nowhere” overflying Buddhist sacred sites … celebrity fortune teller/religion history expert lead in chanting mantras

##Western Asia Azerbaijani forces “within 5 km of Shushi”.  Eurasianet … “who controls Shushi controls Karabakh” … Local Iraqis want Syriac Christians to return to Mosul.  Reuters Growth in population stressing economics of Iraq.  MEI … Iraq population projected to grow 25% by 2030, reaching 50.2 million … … 5 million people will enter the labor market … … “simply no way the public sector can absorb those numbers” … Syria is the deadliest place for aid workers.  Syria Direct … “and there is little hope for change” … Photos: foreign Muslims return to Mecca for pilgrimage.  BBC

###Saudi-Migrants Saudi removes key restrictions on migrant laborers.  AP … some improvements, not total abolishing of kafala system … … but the “devil is in the details” …

###Turkey Quake A dozen buildings destroyed, 1,000 wounded, 100+ dead. Rescuers race to find survivors after mag-6.6 quake in Izmir.  Hurriyet Searching for survivors under rubble.  BBC Drone footage shows major destruction after earthquake in Turkey. Twitter

##North America US evangelical churches pursuing multicultural, international worship music.  CT US visas granted to students from China down 99% since April.  TechCrunch

#Data

##Covid-19 Global Stats … 11/6: 49.1m cases, 1.24m deaths (2% CFR) … 10/29: 44.8m cases, 1.17m deaths … 10/23: 41m cases, 1.1m deaths … 10/16: 40m cases, 1m deaths … 10/9: 36.5m cases, 1.0m+ deaths Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT, CovidTracking.com

Infographic: less than half the world lives in a democracy.  VisualCapital … saw a Tweet from a USSR-born guy: a blessing to live in a country where the result of an election isn’t known ahead of time … Air travel: intl passenger demand still down.  Link … plunged 88.8% in Sep 2020, compared to Sep 2019 … Hotspots in 4 countries on brink of famine.  Al Jazeera … parts of Yemen, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Sudan all at risk … … 16 other countries at high risk of acute hunger …

Covid confirmed fatality rate (deaths/infections)  USA = (235k/9.6m) = 2% India = 1.5% – Link One Iranian dies of Covid every 4 minutes.  IranWire … “Tehran has borne the worst of these fatalities” … New restrictions in Iran as Covid deaths soar.  Al-Monitor … daily deaths reach into the 400s …

Covid-bubble Beijing bans UK, Belgium due to Covid waves.  Link

#Reading Most of the world’s food comes from only 15 crops..  Link … Kew’s State of the World’s Plants & Fungi 2020 report …

#Technology/Futurism Memories startup enables pre-recoded videos to be sent posthumously.  Wired … might something like this become part of a missionary’s preparation? … WhatsApp launches new disappearing messages option.  Verge … new option to wipe chat messages after 7 days … … unclear from the article whether this is on the receiver or sender side … 2020 State of AI report is out.  Link China: State of Surveillance.  ChinaFile … “addressing the difficult problem of how to control people”… … the strategy involved in some of this is chilling. … … Xiqiao: “Portrait Perception Network” particularly so. But: Hangzhou 1st city in China to push back against surveillance.  Radii Walmart scraps plan to have robots scan shelves.  WSJ … online orders up, employees walking aisles to fill orders, scanning shelves at same time, more efficient …