Roundup #170

New on the Blog

On suffering - Link

New Events

North-West Africa

Algerian protestors want a democratic government free of the military; amazingly, the military is letting them protest. Details

Egypt / Sudan

Families, lawyers say prisoners are being tortured into confession as authoritarianism sets hold again in EgyptLongread

A third of Egypt's population lives in poverty, causing significant instability. Data

Languages are going extinct; Siwi Berber is an example. Assimilation and languages of governance and business may reduce us to a few hundred languages effectively spoken worldwide. More

More protests and worries set off in Sudan after four teenage school children are shot and killed at a protest rally. Details

Sudan extends cease-fire with southern rebels - Link

Sudan's fragile transition: many things could disturb the power-sharing deal - Briefly

Nigeria

Boko Haram: 10 years, 10s of thousands killed: "Nigerians crave peace." Link

But there is no peace. The latest bombing: more than 60 killed in northeast - Link

The Nigerian military clashed with a Shi'ite Islamic movement over the 2015 imprisonment of a cleric - More

Ethnography from Nigeria: "I married my husband after he died." BBC Video (h/t Mission Catalyst)

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Government approves rule allowing women to have passports, those over 21 to travel alone. This is not only a social change; it could change the demographic of Saudis abroad. More

Unseen in most press, Syria's civil war continues to grind. Around Idlib, the battle is between Turkey & various jihadists vs Syria and Russia. 3 million people live in the Turkish-controlled zone. Portions of this is under control of IS groups; Christians endure murder and persecution. More, briefly.

In northeast Syria, Kurds are in control of the area around the Euphrates, somewhat under US protection. There are Kurdish-Arab power struggles. More

Lebanon is "sick and tired" of Syrian refugees: it is intentionally making life harder for them. More

And, thousands of Syrian refugees are being deported from TurkeyMore

Iran / Iraq

After seizing a British tanker, Iran says a "European fleet" to protect ships from such seizures would be "provocative." (The fleet is being debated, but if another serious attack were made, such a fleet would rapidly coalesce). Link

Iran performed a ballistic missile test, which traveled 621 miles: enough to hit either Saudi Arabia or Israel. Link

And, Iran announced plans to restart activities at the Arak nuclear reactor, enriching uranium far in excess of the 2015 agreement. Link

Mission Network News judges rising US-Iran tensions have led to a crackdown on religious minorities in Iran- Link

After defeat of ISIS, Iraq's Assyrians and Yazidis are adjusting to an uneasy peace - Link

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

The Afghan Presidential campaign begins "amid rising violence and peace talks" - Link
... "why take the risk? Running elections and going to polls can be life-and-death decisions"

As an example: attackers stormed the Afghan VP Candidate's office, 2 killed - Link

peace deal between the US and the Taliban is likely imminent. The US wants to reduce its force commitment to Afghanistan, and the Taliban wants a victory. The most likely scenario: the US will trade a staggered draw down of US forces for a Taliban commitment to not host terrorist groups and to engage in talks with the Afghani government on power-sharing. ​Link

Direct talks between the Taliban & the government could begin in less than a month - Link

Ethnography: Fear and defiance among Pakistan's Hazaras - in pictures - Link

India / Bangladesh / South Asia

Yet another analysis charting rising attacks on Christians in India since the Modi government came to power - Link

Ethnography: the Tibetan Muslims of Kashmir: "a mostly forgotten population of refugees, living in Kashmir valley for 60 years" - Link

Bangladesh charges 90 over 2016 attacks on Christian minorities, but Christians fear masterminds left off the hook - Link

Between Myanmar and Bangladesh, the security challenges of the intractable Rohingyacrisis: Islamist civil society organizations are stepping into the camps, providing education, medical assistance, food; hardline militant groups have established over 1,000 madrassas in the camps - Link

China / East Asia

"Christian fever has taken hold in the working class communities around Shenzen, China… increasingly popular among rural migrant workers…" This is a public data point on a long-known trend. - Longread

The Hong Kong protests continue, without an easy end in sight. The worst end is the PLA steps in. Any other result between here and there is growing progressively less likely. One way or another, the protests will eventually have to stop.

… Beijing tells Hong Kong to punish radical anti-government protesters - Link
… Call for a citywide strike for 5 August, affects business - Link
… Hong Kong braces for potential Saturday ‘anti-triad' protest - Link
… Voices accuse Taiwan, US of 'fanning the flames' of protests - Link
… China's PLA strongly 'suggests' it could step in to restore order. Link
… 190k police officers in drill to ‘prep for 70th anniversary' - in Guangdong, near HK - Link

Yet another recounting of China ramping up religious persecution - Link

Uighurs: "All the Muslims have been released from camps, and returned to society." World: "Right…" Link

A story: "My Uyghur family is quietly living in fear. This is how we became lost." Link

Koreas

N Korea fires more missiles, but has told US they aren't intended to disrupt talks, only to intimidate S Korea - Link

The N Korean economy has "shrunk the most" since 1990s famine: "The country's sanctions-hit economy shrank in 2018 by its largest margin since the country's devastating famine in the 1990s, the South's central bank said at the weekend." - Data

Southeast Asia

As West retreats over human rights violations, China surges in Myanmar: it's the largest investor, and Chinese tourists are likewise increasing in the area - Link

Ethnography: Indonesian Haul festival recalls pre-Islamic culture - Link

Indonesia President says Islam in Indonesia is 'tolerant,' but rights groups warn of rising fundamentalism. This story is a public data point to a well known trend in increasing persecution. Link

Notable Europe / Americas

Russia arrests over 1,000 in Moscow election protest. Link

New Data

MissioNexus releases new 2019 Attrition Data Report. Link

USA: majority of Millennials report having 'no friends', 'no close friends' or 'no best friends.' Clear implications for disciple-making. Link

Longer reads

Some new "missions explainer videos" (H/T Mission Catalyst)

Futuristics/Technology

Another analysis of the disintermediation of friendships, family and church out of meeting potential mates: More couples meet online than meet through friends, family, church, etc. - Link

How Facebook is using machine learning to map the world's population: I would like to understand the underlying tech and data a lot better than I do - Link

Another look at Beijing's capacity to monitor millions of sites in Xinjiang - Link
… One chilling quote: "The system is capable of instantly identifying people's faces from different angles and under poor lighting, even when they are in constant motion, such as riding an escalator or driving a car. Its computer banks are fast enough to scan China's entire population in just one second, or two seconds to remember and recognize everyone on the planet, with an accuracy rate of up to 99.8%."

We all know China's surveillance system operates outside Xinjiang. This article is an example: "wanted man caught by facial recognition cameras" trying to board a train in southern China - Link

Iranians manage to surf the web despite the tide of censorship: "a cat-and-mouse game that has become second nature" - Link

USA: 80% online daily, 28% online "almost constantly", 10% "never." A generational divide, too: 48% of 18-to-29 year olds are "almost constantly" online. Link

Another view on China's Social Credit System: ‘far from cutting edge' - Link