Roundup #169

No. 169—July 26, 2019—sent to 1,490+
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New Events

North-West Africa

Tunisia’s first freely elected president died, aged 92 - Link

North Africa / Warring States

Libya’s grim civil war escalates - Link
… “One commander has been fighting for eight years - and sees no end in sight"

Egypt / Sudan

British Airways suspends flights to Cairo due to security concerns - Link
… “a blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which had been recovering…"

Will Sudan's revolution succeed? NYT Long Read - Link

Nigeria

Protests turn deadly as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria clashes with police - Link
… in Abuja. 6 killed. 54 arrested.

Action against Hunger confirmed six aid workers had been kidnapped near Damasak - Link

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Sidama: Ethnic separatists challenge Ethiopia’s unity - Link
… “5th biggest ethnic group was to vote on statehood in a referendum. Instead… central government said referendum would take place within five months… protesters burned vehicles, looted businesses, attacked government buildings…”
… At least 25 killed in Sidama clashes - Link

Bombings in Somalia may represent Gulf States proxy wars - Link
… bombing in Mogadishu mayor’s office, killing 6 - Link
… 17 killed in bombing outside hotel near airport - Link

Southern Africa

Zimbabwe drought leaves 3.5 million in food insecurity - Link

Central Asia / Caucasus

"The President of Turkmenistan is probably alive. But as with so much else in the country, it’s hard to tell.” A weekend of rumors regarding the president’s health status illustrates just how opaque Turkmenistan is - perhaps second only to North Korea. Link

A report that Kazakhstan has started intercepting all https:// traffic within its borders. Link
… ISPs in the country are being required to install a special, government-issued certificate on customer devices and web browsers, allowing authorities to decrypt and read secure web traffic.
… it seems the program is being piloted. It has not been rolled out everywhere. Conflicting reports about whether it will be.

Climate change is a security threat in Central Asia: total crop yields in the region are expected top drop by 30% by 2050, exacerbating hunger (food insecurity now at 4.3 million). Link

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

US troops back in Saudi Arabia after a 16-year absence, as tensions with Iran rise. Link

Due to heavy air and ground attacks, “Life is no bowl of cherries in Idlib’s groves.” Link

West Asia / Turkey

“The Era of people like you is over”: How Turkey purged its intellectuals (long read) - Link
… "An authoritarian state can do many things to get rid of these democratic types — put them in jail, put them on trial — but ultimately the government must attack the institutions that produce and sustain them. Newspapers can be easy to buy. NGOs are easy to shut down. Universities are much harder to dismantle. But this is what, through the great purge, Erdogan and his allies sought to do.”

Iran/Iraq

The sanctions on Iran means, among other things, that US funds can't be used to provide medical aid and medicines to those who need it. Link
... "“The fact is that the banks are so terrified by the sanctions that they don’t want to do anything with Iran..." said Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United Nations. “So it means that there is a strong risk that in a few months really there will be a shortage of medicine in Iran.”

IMB: “Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan: 3 places where God is at work.” Link
… these stories are just the tip of the iceberg.

Iran to woo Chinese tourists with visa-free entry “within weeks.” Link
… there’s a lot of Chinese Christians, but note plans to extend China's influence, below …

Iran and nukes
NYT op/ed: “Iran is rushing to build a nuclear weapon—and Trump can’t stop it.” Link
FP asks, “How close is Iran to a nuclear bomb, really?” Link
One chilling analysis: US President's comments re "killing 10 million in Afghanistan" was actually signalling a threat about conflict with Iran - Link

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

Key district falls to the Taliban - Link

Ultra-radical Islamists recruiting at Afghan universities. “They accused me of promoting Christianity because my chador slipped from my head while walking on campus.” Link

Afghanistan’s summer heat threatens people uprooted by drought and war. Link

Economic reforms are causing painful price rises in Pakistan - Link
… “rupee has lost 30% of its value, inflation at 9%…"

India

Vox: 14 minute video on the rise of cow vigilantism & ties to the rise of the BJP and Hindu nationalism. Link

The Japanese have turned Chennai, Tamil Nadu into the automotive 'Detroit of Asia' - Link

Bengali / Bangladesh

Bangladesh neutralizes religious militants but fear still persists amongst Christians - Link
… "received death threats three times via the post from a shadowy Islamic militant outfit."

China

Chaos, bloodshed as 100s of masked men assault protesters, journalists, residents. Video
... China’s ministry of foreign affairs: “We can see US officials behind such incidents… we advise the US to withdraw their black hands…” Link
... Stratfor: “Hong Kong demonstrators and officials are on a collision course.” It’s not an improbable analysis. Link
... NightWatch: a Chinese army spokesman “cited the specific article in law detailing relations between Hong Kong and the PLA allowing the military to intervene…”
... and, “China’s offer to deploy PLA troops to maintain order has put the city on edge ahead of planned protests this weekend” - Link
... Also, multiple Asian news outlets reported the 74th army group of the PLA conducted anti-riot training; the 74th is linked to the Hong Kong garrison. Link
... Probability: it will not end well for the protesters, if they persist.
... Apparently, Beijing won't let Lam quit. Link

Even if Uighurs get out of China, they aren’t free. Link
... “China’s police state goes global, leaving refugees in fear”

China plans to send government agents to monitor projects along its Belt & Road initiative, extending the Communist Party’s arm deeper into participating countries. Link

How China is slowly expanding its power in Africa, one TV set at a time. “A stroke of soft-power genius." Link

Persecution and Sinicization in China: a reading roundup from ChinaSource. Link

Notable Europe / Americas

Where have all the children gone? “Since 2011, the number of babies born in New York has declined… at this rate, the infant population will halve in 30 years…” A similar situation will likely hold true in many other cities. Link

New Data

Animated infographic: the rapidly aging Western world - Link
… best get better at reaching older people with the Gospel ...

Mission Catalyst highlighted OMF's new infographic on Buddhism - Link

Very brief piece notes continued concentration of wealth in Baby Boomers in USA - Link
... important analysis potentially for donor development

Longer reads

5 important things in an “extraordinary prayer” plan - Link

The “Forwardable Email”: How to tee up a warm introduction - Link

Music in Morocco: the ultimate sonic journey - Link
… “The story begins like all good ones do, with a 66-year-old man standing on stage, dressed as a goat."

Futuristics/Technology

“Computers that can see” - what happens when camera sensors become inputs for computers rather than just devices to take photos and video - Link

Amazon’s collaborations with local police turn its Ring doorbell cameras into unofficial community surveillance systems. This sort of tech can be used elsewhere too. Link

And another company suggests a surveillance tech that would “immediately recognize and build travel histories of every car in the congestion zone… tracks deeply personal information like customer travel patterns and travel consistency, the number of passengers in the car, and likely trip purpose…” Link

Surveillance by governments isn’t the only issue in some places. In this article, Neo-Nazi “SWATters” have compiled and are maintaining a “Doxbin” - a collection of information (names, addresses, phone numbers, known IP addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, etc) on hundreds of people that they dislike, and used it to harass targets of their ire. Consider organized crime attacking protesters in Hong Kong, and compare that to this. Government surveillance and persecution is often the lesser problem. Link

Facebook has reached 2.41 billion active users. Link
… 25% of the world’s population, and over 50% of the active Internet users in the world ...

Iranians manage to surf the web despite censorship. Link

Not just Russia any more: more countries (notably Iran) are making a stab at election meddling and disinformation using social media in the United States. Surely this is happening in other elections, too. Link