Roundup #230

December 11, 2020

#New Events

##East Africa

Kenya: "I grew up a fervent evangelism for Islam. Now I'm living out the book of Acts." CT


Fleeing Ethiopians tell of Ethnic massacres in Tigray war. NYT … 10s of 1000s sought safety in Sudan, give accounts of devastating, complex conflict …

Concerns mount over shortages, child welfare in ongoing Tigray crisis. UN

Stories of separation & violence as more Ethiopians reach Sudan. Tigray-war … number of refugees arriving increased from 400/day to 800/day

In pictures: Ethiopian refugees in Sudan face an uncertain future. Al Jazeera

Facing war, virus and locusts, Ethiopia's once golden economy loses its luster. WSJ

What Ethiopia's unrest means for China. Diplomat

Tailor of Tigray mends Ethiopian refugees' clothes and hearts. Yahoo News … "to make life a little easier for fellow refugees who 'came here with nothing'" …

##Northern Africa

Morocco will recognize Israel, US will recognize Morocco sovereignty over W Sahara. WPost … big win for Morocco …

In the Tindouf refugee camps, resignation and frustration do battle. Link … this report from 2018 goes into detail about the Western Sahara issue …

Sudan at critical juncture in path towards democratic transition. UN … and, Going undercover in the schools that chain boys. BBC

##Western Africa

Mali: Conflict, Covid trigger upsurge in child trafficking. VOA

Nigeria: Celebrating the goddess Yemoja with dance, water and prayers. Al Jazeera

Wealthy Nigerians buying citizenship overseas. Al Jazeera … As a % of emigration, very few migrants are actually coming to the United States (despite media headlines). But many are attempting to leave their country of residence and locate in another, somewhat better location. (Iranians migrate to Turkey, Ethiopians/Somalis to Saudi via Yemen, etc). Engaging with the nuances and complexities of these diaspora populations is challenging but can be fruitful.

Senegal, Travelog: how to pretend you're in Dakar today. NYT

##Eastern Asia

China, Covid-19: how everyday life has changed in Wuhan (8-min Video). BBC

How China's Communist Party trains foreign politicians. Economist … "Across the world it is seeking to sway tomorrow's leaders" …

S Korea to criminalize sending leaflets into N Korea, bowing to regime. WPost

##Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan lifts Covid-19 foreigner entry ban at airports. RFE

##South Asia

The mountain shrub fueling Afghanistan's meth boom. Al Jazeera … "a potential game changer for drug traffickers, making meth cheaper, easier to produce, more profitable"

Afghan government, Taliban agree Islamic law to guide peace talks. CNA Afghanistan, Iran open first rail link.
… from Iran's Khaf to Afghanistan's Herat …

"Eat and don't die": daily-wage labor as a window into Afghan society. Link

Police in Uttar Pradesh arrest 10 men under new anti-conversion law. CNA

Not without India: the "world's pharmacy" gears up for vaccine race. Reuters … India is the world's biggest vaccine maker …

Why India's farmers are in revolt in the middle of a pandemic. WPost … "thousands of farmers have cut off major entrances into Delhi in massive protests" … "govt says sweeping changes will spur investment, farmers consider them an existential threat"

Explainer: the multi-billion dollar food program at the heart of protests. Reuters … it's all about the sale of wheat and rice …

In an Iranian ICU, doctors grapple with Covid-19 and US sanctions. CNN … lots of politics, but also insight into the situation in Iran …

##Western Asia

Syrian war deaths slow, but reach 387,000. AFP … includes 117,000 civilians (which includes 22,000 children).

The ghosts of the Assad regime continue to haunt Syrian refugees in the Netherlands. NRC

Istanbul is locking down–unless you're a tourist. NYT … the strict weekend curfew doesn't apply to foreign visitors …

##N America / W Europe

Western Europe is losing its immigrants. FP … Eastern Europeans are returning home in droves … an analysis of E Europe economies …

USA: Suspected Chinese spy targeted local California politicians. Axios … I include as a reminder that agents of foreign governments aren't only focused on national governments. I don't link to this to engender undue fear or conspiracy-mongering, but it's worth remembering that we need to be careful in sharing details even with very interested parties or donors. As the old Klingon proverb goes: "If you don't want a thing heard, don't say it."

US: projections for reaching herd immunity (combo vaccine, infection) by summer 2021. Link … middle-of-the-road assumptions, seems fairly realistic based on what I read and what others have said …

USA: the evangelical brand is not as tarnished as most people think. Ryan Burge … America % evangelical has stayed constant, even risen slightly, 2010-2018 … rising numbers of Catholics self-identifying as evangelical …


UNHCR: 80 million displaced in 2020. UN

US adds Nigeria to top of religious persecution list. CT … removes Sudan, Uzbekistan from lists of "Countries of Particular Concern"

Useful: the six largest language families in the world. Wycliffe

Global arms sales top $360 billion, US and China dominate. Independent

Over 1 billion people live in poverty hotspots. Brookings

90% of people in poorer countries will not have a Covid-19 vaccine available to them next year. Independent … a reminder of the nuances and complexities of a limited supply of vaccine.

##New Prayer Guides

Pray for China: a daily, illustrated prayer guide. AFC

Prayer guide for the Banjar of Indonesia. Link


Polygamy is rare around the world, mostly confined to a few regions. Pew … interesting analysis: only about 2% of the world lives in polygamous households, primarily in West+Central Africa, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan. This reminds me of a piece I recently saw from one ministry that told the story of an eager new believer–a well known, wealthy man who had multiple wives and dozens of children. As the gospel spreads in unreached areas, this is one of the local complexities that has to be worked through.

New ChinaSource Quarterly: Chinese American Christianity in History & Today. ChinaSource … lots of great-looking articles in here that I've saved to my library …

The struggle of social-distancing in a crowded refugee camp. Independent


Companies back a new way to make the Internet more private. ArsTechnica … a new DNS technique separates address lookups from the people making them. This could be great for people who live under repressive regimes, and generally for preventing tracking for advertising purposes, but in reading this I wonder how it will impact services like OpenDNS and other blockers.

AI predictions: top 5 AI trends for 2021. PWC … 25% of surveyed companies report widespread AI adoption …

Iran says 'Smart satellite-controlled machine gun' killed scientist. Al Jazeera

How high-tech spyware ends up in the hands of Mexico's cartels. Guardian


The world's biggest drone debuts: used to launch satellites into orbit. The Hill

Thailand uses drones, ultraviolet cameras to surveil border with Myanmar. Straits Times … after dozens of new Covid-19 cases were found linked to a town in neighboring Myanmar …

A drone with a flamethrower attachment. Link

US: police drones are starting to think for themselves. NYT … "When the Chula Vista police receive a 911 call, they can dispatch a flying drone with the press of a button…. rather than spending tens of millions of dollars on large helicopters and pilots, even small police forces could operate tiny autonomous drones for a relative pittance…" Flying drones with AI are aiding investigations while presenting new civil rights questions …

##Digital, biometric IDs

India: Covid-19 spurs national plans to give citizens digital identities. Economist … Millions of migrant workers forced back to villages by India's lockdown feared destitution. India's biometric ID system came to the rescue. $1.5b was transferred digitally and at speed into the bank accounts of 30m people with little waste, fraud, or distribution cost. 1bln accounts in India are linked to Aadhaar identity numbers…

Activists sound alarm over African biometric ID projects. Al Jazeera … lack of a regulatory framework to protect the privacy of citizens …

Big data turbocharged repression in China's Xinjiang. Straits Times

Sci-fi surveillance: Europe's secretive push into biometric technology. Guardian

China's new surveillance currency. Diplomat … China hands out "red envelopes" of digital cash… but when people use it, they gain data about citizens' habits.