Roundup #181
November 1, 2019

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New Events

More than 100,000 Algerians marched in protest to demand an end to military involvement in politics - Link

NYT's "Don't Sleep" columnist visits Tunis in Tunisia, a place that feels "uninhibited". It's an interesting "ground level" look at a city in an unevangelized region of the world. Link

Libya: Frontline clashes ebb & flow as war hits impasse - Link
... "days of silence broken by bursts of artillery fire... the state of war is becoming normalized... which makes more wars likely..."

Egypt expands its crackdown, targeting foreigners, journalists, children - Link

Conflict in the Sahel
… Boko Haram violence continues in Niger - Link
… Catholic relief agencies: The security situation has “deteriorated significantly” - Link

Nigeria closed its borders to neighboring countries to tackle rice smuggling, but it's affecting affecting trade across the region (because significant international trade comes in through Nigeria's ports) - Link

Over 70 killed in a wave of violence in Ethiopia, as political protests spiraled into clashes fueled by ethnicity and religion. Attacks on churches and a mosque were reported. Link

In Somalia, 273,000 have been displaced by flooding in October alone, the vast majority in the Baladweeyne area due to the flooding of the Shabelle river. In 2019, over 575,000 have been displaced due to drought, floods and conflict. Link

Uzbekistan will fine people for holding too lavish parties - Link
… trying to ease barely affordable peer pressure for celebrating life events

Kyrgyzstan's police have embraced China's facial recognition tech - Link

Lebanon's PM resigns after protests turn violent - Link
… uprising unites people across faiths - Link

Turkey/Syria conflict:
… Syrian, Turkish forces clash, threatening the cease-fire - Link
… possibly disastrous rainy season looming over IDP camps - Link
… Opinion: what the death of al-Baghdadi means for ISIS in Syria - Link

Iran freed 7 political prisoners including one long-term Christian convert - Link
… "34-year-old Ebrahim Firoozi, convicted of forming a Christian group to 'disturb national security' is free”

Iraq protests spread, looks like it will topple the government:

… “Tens of thousands of Iraqis thronged central Baghdad on Friday demanding the root-and-branch downfall of the political elite in the biggest day of mass anti-government demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein.” Link
… “Victory or death”: Iraqi youth take to the streets - Link
… “His mother wept for hours”: the stories behind deadly mass protests - Link
… PM agrees to resign, president says, after weeks of protests - Link
… Masked gunmen attack protesters in Karbala, 18 killed, 100s wounded - Link

Iran's leaders see threats to their influence in Iraq, Lebanon protests - Link

Protests hit Pakistan this week: thousands take to the streets, seeking the downfall of teh government, which I judge is unlikely - Link

Afghanistan election results delayed until mid-November - Link

Also, a compelling longread: Women and children are the emerging face of drug addiction in Afghanistan - Link

India formally separates Jammu and Kashmir into 2 territories: time to update the province lists (JP could face quite a bit of work!) - Link

And, the Naga peace process hits Kashmir road block - Link
… “hope of ending India’s oldest armed insurgency is fading fast"

Fascinating analysis: Tibet's rivers will determine Asia's future. Tibet is the source of 10 major Asian rivers flowing into the most densely populated countries in the world. China's been building lots of dams and its Five Year Plans confirm its desire to push forward hydropower projects in Tibet, affecting these river flows. Link

Sri Lanka is recovering its tourist trade after the April terrorist attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels - Link

"Fake news on Facebook fuels communal violence in Bangladesh" highlights how the country is one of the fastest growing internet populations in Asia. Half of Bangladeshis use the Internet in some form; 50 million (1/3rd of Bangladesh) are on Facebook. Viral messages spread on the platform can stir up mobs; but it's also a valid way of interacting with Bengalis. Link

Hong Kong: I doubt anything will change next week.
Protesters take to the streets again - Link
The protests have forced the city into recession - Link
… Beijing likely betting economic pain will cause support for protests to wane
Carrie Lam: “This is anti-government violence. We will tackle the violence head-on” - Link
… "For the government to resort to measures that will appease the violent rioters, I don’t think that is a solution.”
“No regrets”: Hong Kong’s protesters test China’s limits - Link
… "Hard-line demonstrators and the embattled authorities are locked in an impasse.”

China threatens families of Radio Free Asia reporters who cover the Uighur issue - Link

For embattled Uighurs, a bank transfer abroad can become a terrorism ordeal - Link

Last week's issue felt a little gloomy to me. So here's something fun: Japan is apparently opening a life-sized Godzilla theme park. Link

A [petulant?] North Korea fires two missiles into the sea amid stalled talks - Link
… "an apparent resumption of weapons tests aimed at ramping up pressure on Washington over a stalemate in nuclear negotiations”

In North Korea, even charity is challenging - Link
… 11 million N Koreans (40% of population) lack nutritious food
… 20% of N Korean children are stunted from malnutrition
… yet N Korea refusing to accept food aid offered by the South

Diwali celebrations in Malaysia, in beautiful photos: contextualization of a festival - Link

Thailand creates “fake news monitoring hub” more likely used to target critics - Link

Laos hydropower project kicks off, but downstream areas are dried up and alarming - Link

Many people have told me about the UK having a very low church participation rate, and they're not wrong. But the Church of England apparently isn't going to give up. It's planting new churches in urban areas in a bid to renew itself. The program is controversial, because it has begun to spend the church’s huge investment fund (not just the returns on investments) to plant new "evangelical" churches often in the heart of cities - Link

“The overstated collapse of American Christianity” - Link
… three reasons the narrative of rapid secularization is incomplete ...
… this trend is important to track, but I do not believe the sky is falling, and this is a good counter-arguments piece to the latest Pew report.

Chile: One examination of why thousands are protesting - Link

Haiti: UN warns of potential humanitarian crisis - Link

New Data

US set to spend $8.8 billion on Halloween - Link
… time to update those articles about mission spending vs dog costumes

Rising seas will erase more cities by 2050, new research shows - Link
… obviously not everyone agrees with climate change data, but this trend is worth monitoring. Several of these are world A cities, including places like Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Mumbai among others.

Implications of “a world without retirement” - Link

Longer reads

NYT on Iraq and mental health: how does the human soul survive atrocity? Link
… "After the horror of ISIS captivity, tens of thousands of Iraqis — many of them children — are caught up in a mental-health crisis unlike any in the world.” Read, lament, pray.

Why some churches are trading pews for dinner tables - Link
… “Dinner Churches”: "Every week they invite the neighborhood to a four-course meal. While dining together, a team leads the group through Christian liturgical elements, including worship music, live visual art, and a short message. In the midst of the homey ambiance of the meal, people learn about God and grow closer to each other."

The Economist on the link between polygamy and war:  plural marriage, bred of inequality, begets violence - Link

Futuristics/Technology

“The drone wars are already here” - Link
… "The skies of Syria, Yemen, and Libya swarm with armed and dangerous unmanned aerial vehicles. And the technology is spreading farther and farther afield."

New crosswalk signals, more AI-powered surveillance in Shanghai - Link

Facebook suspends Russian accounts meddling in African elections - Link

Google makes a big change to the way to serves search results, will make a significant impact on surfacing niche pages in response to specific questions - Link

“Maybe it’s not Youtube’s algorithm that radicalizes people” - Link
... An examination of the role of online communities that gather around exposed content, and serve as amplifiers. “We believe that the novel and disturbing fact of people consuming white nationalist video media was not caused by the supply of this media ‘radicalizing’ an otherwise moderate audience... Rather, the audience already existed, but they were constrained” by limited supply.

Most US political tweets come from a minority of posters. Link
… if your timeline feels overrun, try muting a few posters and see if the noise isn’t significantly reduced.

In Afghanistan’s war and peace, WhatsApp delivers the message: proliferated into the highest echelons of the Afghani government, while also used by the Taliban. Link

The cost of cybercrime worldwide - Link

Russia is testing its ability to wall itself off from the global Internet. The ability to function without connection to the outside requires its own DNS, which means traffic aimed at one website can be re-directed to another, and websites can be blocked at will. I expect other countries (e.g. China, India, etc.) will go this way too, and the ability to “silo” the Internet either in whole or in part will lead to complications to using Internet tools both for communications and proclamation - Link

Game changing tuberculosis vaccine “a step closer” - Link

Facial recognition in China is easing traffic congestion - Link
… there are some positives to the technology.

Quotable

"Simple solutions to complex problems tend to generate new problems." ~Benedict Evans

"Humility is about letting other people take a shot, even if we think we have the right answer." ~Simon Senek

"Followers of Jesus, do not confuse Jesus with His followers. The most effective way to steer clear of cynicism in this current Christian climate is to stay Jesus-focused instead of Jesus-follower focused. No one is worthy of your undying loyalty but the one who overcame death." ~Beth Moore