Roundup #238

February 25, 2021

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Algerians mark protest movement anniversary with more rallies: thousands in Algiers mark 2 years since the beginning of a mass movement. Al Jazeera

Is persecution of Christians in Egypt declining? Egypt’s Grand Mufti says Muslims can work on the construction of churches. It’s a data point in a longer, possibly more tolerant trend. CT

“At the mercy of foreign powers”: Libya ousted Qaddafi, but the ensuing civil war has drawn in Russia, Turkey and others. A Washington Post long-form examination of “hundreds of aircraft that funneled fighters and firepower to an already war-torn Libya over the past year.” I don’t expect the fighting in Libya to end any time soon. WPost

Eastern Africa (520m)

In Somalia, Mogadishu police open fire on protesters in a standoff with the President over the election process. VOA

South Sudan: a “staggering level of violence threatens to spiral out of control… more than 75% of the country engulfed in murderous street-level violence …" VOA

Unrest spreading in Ethiopia
In Tigray: “most of Eritrea’s huge army is … in daily combat… acting as an occupying force.” Link
… Witnesses recall massacre in holy city of Axum: “bodies with gunshot wounds lay in the streets for days… forbidden to bury the dead by Eritrean soldiers… the killing continues…” AP
… “You should have finished off the survivors": Ethiopian army implicated in brutal war crime video. Telegraph
… despite some progress, humanitarian progress remains drastically inadequate compared to the sheer magnitude of needs across the Tigray region. OCHA
… over 7,000 who fled to Sudan have sought asylum there. AP
… “anger, fear run deep after months of ethnic violence in western Ethiopia” New Humanitarian

Western Africa / Sahel (457m)

Nigeria: Armed insurgents used explosives to destroy the only functional electrical transmission line along the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, plunging Maiduguri into darkness since January 25. Vanguard

… and, rocket-propelled grenade attacks against Maiduguri killed 10 in “the worst attack of its kind in a year.” BBC

… “Rising insecurity in northwest Nigeria: terrorism thinly disguised as banditry.” Brookings

France’s forever war in the Sahel: with violence rife, there are few good options. Economist

… more attacks kill 18 in Burkina Faso, Mali. Reuters

Niger’s first democratic transition of power, but not without violence. Reuters
… and the opposition leader alleges election fraud, declares victory. Al Jazeera

Middle Africa

3 million children are displaced, threatened in Congo. “There was a 16 percent increase in the recruitment of children as militia fighters…” VOA

Western Asia (303m)

Travelers into Dubai no longer need to present their passports for identification; the process has been replaced by facial recognition scanners. Passengers can complete passport control procedures within 9 seconds, but must pre-register to use the service. UAE

Trying to stop a rise in Covid-19 cases, Kuwait indefinitely suspends the entry of foreigners into the country. SimpleFlying.com

Old habits imperil Iraq as doctors warn of second Covid-19 wave. AP

Iraq’s ancient Christian community, decimated by violence, fear. AFP
… “more than 1 million Christians have been uprooted by consecutive conflicts”

Having won Syria’s war, al-Assad is mired in economic woes. NYT
… “the currency collapse has gutted salaries, while prices for basic goods are skyrocketing, and there are chronic fuel and bread shortages.”

Palestinian Christians have been promised an “outsized voice” in the new legislature. CT

“Looming battle for Yemen’s Marib city risks humanitarian disaster.” Marib is the government’s only stronghold in northern Yemen, and the capital of a major oil-producing area. BBC

… yet another piece on the famine in Yemen; the UN says $3.85 billion is needed. 4 million people didn’t receive food aid last year due to shortfalls in funding. AP

South & Central Asia (2.0b)

India & Pakistan announced the first cease-fire in nearly 20 years, along the frontier in Kashmir. (WPost)

New study suggests overuse of groundwater in India could cause winter harvests in some regions of the country to fall by up to two-thirds by 2025. CNN

A government curriculum with a national student exam says Indian cows have special powers; but after widespread ridicule, the government abruptly postponed the first exam. NYT

Protesting Indian farmers vow to amass more supporters outside Delhi: more than 100,000 farmers gathered in Punjab on Sunday. Reuters

Afghanistan: “a wave of orchestrated assassinations targeting civilians… many of the victims were women who reclaimed their rightful place in Afghan society… part of the Taliban’s new strategy to silence civil society…" CNN Opinion

“Amid poverty and discrimination, Afghan women beg for survival.” Their husbands, many government soldiers or Taliban fighters, were killed or injured. RFE

Kazakhstan is obliterating Xinjiang activism, and no longer a safe haven for asylum seekers from China. Eurasianet

Statistics show Central Asia underreporting Covid deaths; Uzbekistan is the world leader in misleading mortality statistics. Eurasianet

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Mekong’s falling water level riles China’s downstream neighbors: Jinghong Dam cuts flow bound for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. “60 million people along the lower Mekong depend on the river for their livelihood.” Nikkei

US sanctions on Xinjiang cotton having an impact on Chinese companies and thousands of other companies worldwide. WPost

In the Altai mountains, on horseback among the Eagle Hunters and Herders of the Mongolian Altai. NYT

Top Chinese official outlines plan to ensure “patriots” run Hong Kong. AFP

More than half of North Korea is hungry, and a UN food program my soon drop out due to Covid-19 related restrictions. NKNews

A disturbing BBC report about multiple generations of South Korean POWs working in North Korean coal mines. BBC


Hong Kong: children (as young as six) to be taught about national security law. “Let’s learn about national security! Be a law-abiding and responsible citizen!… Schools will be asked to monitor children’s behavior and report any support for the pro-democracy movement.” BBC

“The hidden (economic) costs of China’s cancelled New Year parties.” Sixth Tone

“The long roots of cultural genocide in Xinjiang.” Bottom line: “Even if the CCP were to have an unlikely change of heart, it will be difficult to repair the damage to the Uyghur people and restore trust between them and the state… Instead, China seems committed to pressing ahead to a bleak endgame, the decimation of the Uyghur people and their culture.” FP

Southeastern Asia (700m)

The coup in Myanmar

Short-term scenarios: 1 protesters win, 2 continued strikes, 3 mediated settlement, 4 cruel crackdown
… “killing protesters can happen anytime… we have to keep doing what we should do”
… “no one is safe, whether you take to the streets or sit at home”
“Why the coup will fail, and what the Tatmadaw can do about it.” Frontier
… “the military didn’t count on the public response to the coup”
“Huge crowds turn out for 22222 uprising, defying military warning” Frontier
“Huge crowds undeterred by worst day of violence” Reuters
“Three weeks after seizing power, the junta has failed to stop daily protests” Reuters
“Myanmar grinds to a halt as hundreds of thousands strike” WPost “Anti-coup protesters defy junta warning, strike grips Myanmar” Reuters
… “despite fears of violence after authorities warned that confrontation could be deadly”
A digital firewall in Myanmar, built with guns and wcrecutters NYT
… Internet access cut in Myanmar for nine consecutive nights. @netblocks
… Internet shut downs are damaging businesses. Coda
Indonesia is trying to mediate a solution. Reuters A guide to praying for Myanmar. PDF

America/Europe

In the USA, most “nones” are still “somes”. 40% of nones don’t attend church, but still profess a belief in God. Ryan Burge in CT.

Evangelicals now make up 2% of Spain’s population, after having multiplied 8x in the last 20 years. Link

Data

Covid case data

… 2/19: … 2/12: 107.9m cases, 2.37m deaths
… 2/4: 104.8m cases, 2.28m deaths
… 1/29: 101m cases, 2.19m deaths (2.1% CFR)
… 1/22: 97.3m cases, 2.08m deaths (2.1% CFR)
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT, CovidTracking

Atlantic Magazine projects a return to normality beginning this summer, and definitely by 2022. Atlantic

China deploys Covid-19 vaccine to build influence, with US on sidelines: Beijing is assembling a chain of airplanes, warehouses and trucks to deliver refrigerated doses to the developing world. WSJ

Longer Reads

30 days of Prayer for the Muslim World prayer guide (April 13-May 12). 30Days

Future & Technology

  1. “Amazing map lets you listen to any radio station on the planet.” Not all the stations were responsive, but fascinating technology. radio.garden

  2. Boston Dynamics robot dog is armed (with a paintball gun, in the name of art). Wired
    … yeah, it’s all fun and games, until …

  3. Interesting question: China censors the Internet. So why doesn’t Russia? NYT

  4. India is planning new social media controls after its face-off with Twitter. Reuters

  5. The UK’s GCHQ intelligence agency intends to use artificial intelligence to tackle child abuse, misinformation, and human trafficking. BBC

  6. FarmWise has an autonomous crop duster robot. TechCrunch

  7. Amazon India plans to deploy a fleet of 10,000 electric vehicles, beginning with 100 electric three-wheelers (similar to rickshaws) in 7 cities. Amazon Blog

  8. “I helped build ByteDance’s [China] censorship machine.” Protocol

  9. AI can now turn you into a fully digital, realistic talking clone. PetaPixel

  10. AI reads children’s emotions as they learn in Hong Kong. CNN