Roundup #174
September 16, 2019

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New Events

North-West Africa

Tunisia holding its 2nd ever presidential elections this Sunday - Link

Algerian PM will resign, paving way to elections - Link
… but thousands march, saying no election before elite quits - Link
… government ‘tightens the screws’ on protests - Link

North Africa / Warring States

Libya: still fighting, exhausted - Link

Western Africa / Lake Chad

Burkina Faso threatened by famine driven in part by terrorism - Link
… 289k displaced. 1.2m threatened with famine. ‘Metastasizing’ out of fighting in Mali.

Satellite data shows hunger looming in Senegal, Mauritania - Link

Southern Africa

Mugabe died at 95 - Link

Central Asia / Caucasus

What drives Chinese arms sales in Central Asia - Link
… the Soviet origins of modern China’s military equipment makes it a good fit in Central Asia.

China taking Big Brother to Central Asia - Link
… “China is exporting its model of invasive, all-encompassing surveillance to Central Asia, often for free.”

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

How Jewish should the Jewish state be? Link
… ultra-Orthodox vs secularists …

Some old, some new: grievances, players, backers in southern Yemen - Link
… “the war in Yemen has grown increasingly intractable over the past several months…"

Syrian conflict in its 9th year, 13 million still displaced - Link
… "characterized by intensifying levels of violence, continues to torment civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities…"

Iran/Iraq

Iraqi population census raises concerns for the Kurds - Link
… the intersection of politics and demographics and ethnicity can be a tense thing

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

Peace talks fall apart in Afghanistan:
… talks hit a wall over deeper disagreements - Link
… Afghanis glad talks ended even if they doubt the reasons - Link
… How the plan to meet the Taliban came together, and fell apart - Link
… the talks were rocky from the start - Link

The short, medium, and long stories of the war in Afghanistan - Link
… an interesting approach to telling the story: 100, 300, 800 word versions.

India

Price of airline travel inside India likely to rise 9% or more - Link

India's rising nationalism is most seen when Islam and Hinduism conflict. This is an example: a piece about a school where Muslims and Hindus pray together stirs strife in divided India - Link

#Kashmir: Life yet to return to normal in the Valley, 40 days later - Link

Whether you agree with Internet blackouts or not, this longread on some of the reasons governments initiate blackouts is interesting. In many places the Internet is a privilege, not a right to be depended on - Link

Bengali / Bangladesh

Monsoon destroys Rohingya shelters, UN starts ‘record’ emergency response - Link
… 16,000 affected. Total of 900,000 in camps, costs WFP $16 million/month for food programs ...

China

An exploration of the roots of China’s expansive surveillance system - Link
… “Key Individuals Management"

HK state media says dealing with housing prices will help address protest issues. Funny, that's not what the protesters are talking about - Link

Hong Kong makes bid to buy London Stock Exchange - Link

Opinion: Carrie Lam’s concession is not going to stop HK protests - Link
… Government insiders reveal why it took HK leader so long to make concessions - Link

China cracks down on Sunday school in churches - “No children allowed” - Link
… this is renewed enforcement of an old law, as far as I can tell …

China’s Christians keep the faith, rattling the country’s leaders - Link
… "Growing ranks of churchgoers outnumber Communist Party leaders”

Why Chinese are traveling to Africa, and Africans to China - Link
… “Direct airline flights between Africa and China have jumped 600% in the last decade”
… “200k Chinese … in Africa in 2017 …”
… “200k Africans in Guangzhou in 2016 …”

OTOH, “Chinese farms in Uganda disappoint, with little to show after fanfare” - Link

“China’s Millennials are at war with marriage and having babies” - Link
… “the most effective contraceptive is high real estate prices”
... it's not the only reason, as this article goes on to explore

China’s top cyberspace authority released a draft internet management regulation order targeting terrorism, subversion messages: among other things, banning content that ‘damages national religious policies’ - Link

Top Internet regulator orders online AI algorithms to promote ‘mainstream values’ - Link

China top political advisor stresses religious affairs management - Link
… "Wang required strengthened primary-level Party organizations to improve the publicity of the Party's policy on religious affairs, guide the public to hold a rational perspective toward religion and promote self-conscious resistance to all kinds of illegal religious activities."

Notable Europe / Americas

Interesting little data set about Southern Baptists in America - Link

New Data

Which rare diseases are most common - Link

New list of Global Top 100 Companies - Link
… the companies that work throughout the world, with implications for BAM/tentmaking

World produces more fish from fish farms than from wild catch - Link

All the world’s religions on one map - Link
… “The best and simplest map of world religions”
… based on data from the World Religion Database, which incorporates Christianity data from World Christian Database.

Infographic: The world divided into 4 regions with equal populations - Link
… another kind of population infographic.

Extreme weather events displaced a record 7 million people in the first half of 2019 - Link

This interactive map from UNHCR allows you to explore the data - Link

40 million people are enslaved around the world, 25% are children - Link
… 60% in forced labor. 98% of enslaved females have encountered sexual violence. 15.4 million live in forced marriages.

Longer reads

Arnold, Susan. “The risk of reaching the unreached: finding the balance between safety and compassion.” Link

Harvey, Thomas. “The sinicization of religion in China: will enforcing conformity work?” Link

Kleppen, Rachel. “Netflix is making it harder to be a missionary.” Link
… When it's so easy to go abroad and yet maintain one's old life - social media feeds from home, watching Netflix, skyping with friends, etc. - it makes adjusting to the new culture hard. Some people never get over culture shock... and this is why some agencies & bases require digital detox/digital fast/other similar measures...

Wright, Bradley. “Is American Christianity on its last legs? Two new books say otherwise.” Link

Casper, Jayson. “Evangelicals who dislike Muslims likely don’t know Muslims.” Link

Mapping how religion is lived in St Louis: holy and profane - Link
… interesting look at how religion is lived outside formal churches …

Zataari - the ‘forgotten village’ that became the largest refugee camp - Link

Lifehack / Personal Development

A behavioral economist tries to fix email - Link
… comes up with an interesting new app, Filtr, that lets you set ‘urgency’ by individual sender.

Futuristics/Technology

China blocks Zoom - Link

Real-time crowd-sourced maps warn HK protesters of water cannons, riot police - Link
... I'm actually a little surprised they published this. But it's very public, so I wonder how the locals have dealt with security concerns.

A look at how the Internet tracks us - Link

Killer robots and the new era of machine-driven warfare - Link

Amazon certifies Syntiant chips to embed Alexa in other devices - Link

WeChat unveils new device that allows customers to pay with their face - Link

Facebook launches a deep fake detection challenge - Link

Huawei eyes Protonmail as a Gmail alternative amid US sanctions - Link

Japan’s autonomous buses will drive people in the 2020 Olympics - Link

Robot helps perform first long-distance heart surgery - Link

Criminals deepfake CEO’s voice to trick manager into transferring $243,000 - Link

Walmart adds “Family Play” to stream video to skip the racy/violent bits - Link
… This is exactly what Christian-serving VidAngel got in trouble for, but "Walmart is working with the distributors" so seems to be able to get away with it. Sometimes, scale has its value.

California Consumer Privacy Act - big new online privacy act will impact USA - Link
… similar to GDPR
… “in effect, it’s a national law”
… "rather than create separate systems, lawyers are in consensus that companies will just apply the CCPA nationwide”
… but mission agencies may not be affected, because only certain sized companies have to comply

The race to make the perfect lie detector - Link
… “But do we really want to know?”
… A great fictional book on the subject - Link
… Yes, it could be a good thing - but think of restricted-access nations with lie detectors at the borders.

Pew: more than half of US adults trust law enforcement to use facial recognition responsibly. But… Link