Roundup #182
November 8, 2019

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Don’t Miss

“Kingdom Movements: are you ‘out of your mind’ or ‘overjoyed’?” Dave Coles & Stan Parks in latest edition of Mission Frontiers, Link

I’m doing a survey of field workers: how much did certain factors weigh on your decision to go to the field long-term? Click here to fill out this short survey form. Your answers will be completely anonymous. I’ve received over 210 responses already. Link

New Events

North-West Africa

WEA on the closing of churches in Algeria - Link

North Africa / Warring States

Libya: “Violence, atrocities, impunity” reign throughout the nation - Link

Egypt / Sudan

Egypt renews state of emergency for 10th 3-month extension - Link
… accusations of using the state as a pretext to arrest political activists …

Sudan: Cholera prevention efforts underway to protect millions in Khartoum state - Link

Western Africa / Lake Chad

“How to stop Cameroon from collapsing into full-fled civil war” - Link
… "a country that was once seen as an exporter of security is now being wrenched apart”
… "The conflict has killed thousands and forced 500k+ from their homes.”
… at least 3,000, most likely far more, killed.
… “the outside world has barely noticed…”
… more detail at Link
UNICEF: 1.9 million Cameroonians face humanitarian emergency - Link
… 65% of population outside aid access …

Mali: 53 soldiers, 1 civilian killed in "deadliest jihadist attack on military in recent memory" - Link

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

More on the Ethiopia-Egypt Nile River dam quarrel - Link
... targeting January for talks about it.

Central Asia / Caucasus

Uzbekistan is slowly opening to the outside world: pursuing economic reforms and signing trade and investment deals with Russia, China and some Western countries - Link

Kyrgyzstan’s farming puzzle: agriculture accounts for 15% of the economy, but lack of coordination means many farmers are barely able to survive - Link

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Families of 130,000 Syrians don’t know if their loved ones are even alive - Link
… “The 8-year Syrian war has realigned the regional order but the systematic regime of fear persists”

Agreement to end infighting between the Yemeni government and separatist allies in the south was signed - Link
… “an important step toward a peaceful settlement” …
… will resolve tensions in some regions and allow Saudi Arabia to increase its presence in the country.
… but the underlying stresses could break back out into the open again.

Iran/Iraq

Street protests continue to “embroil Iraq in a crisis” - Link
… “became increasingly anti-Iran in Karbala and Baghdad, spread to Diyala Province…”
“Iraqis rise against a reviled occupier: Iran” - Link
… more than 200,000 Iraqis marched in Baghdad, protest Iran’s involvement
Iraqi security forces are again shooting protesters - Link

Iran is:
1, injecting uranium gas into centrifuges - Link
… will allow Iran to quickly increase its supply of enriched uranium
2, bringing new IR-6 centrifuges online - Link
… could enrich uranium 10x faster than traditional centrifuges
These are risky steps that may draw a hardened European position.
Iran says actions as “reversible” should it receive eased financial & energy sanctions.
If Iran continues down this path, harsher sanctions will be inevitable.
If it continues far enough, military action may be undertaken.

“Restoration of iconic [Catholic] church marks turning point for Iraqi Christians” - Link
… “This is our country, and this is a witness that we can give for Christ”
… “120k Christians who fled Nineveh Plains after Daesh invasion of 2014, 45k+ returned”
Related: Aid to the Church in Need repairs churches, church buildings - Link
… Reconstruction of 2,086 homes, 37% of total family homes damaged or destroyed in [certain provinces]

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

"Five things to know about Pakistan's protests" - Link
... Pakistan's massive march calls out military overreach - Link
... Most analysis I've seen: protests are highly unlikely to unseat the government

"Extreme fear and self-censorship" in Pakistan if journalists write against the state - Link

Dangerously poor air quality closes schools in Lahore - Link

India

India’s "biggest challenge: the future of farming - Link
… “does it have too many people working in agriculture?… condemns most people to marginal farming…"

In India, gods “flex their muscles” over scarce land - Link
… “thousands of cases over religious properties await resolution in lower courts, with more fights expected…”
… “considered sacred property—owned by the god whose image is enshrined within… cannot be bought or sold…”
… “100s of 1000s of temples dot the country… own swathes of land…”
… “acute housing shortage, struggles around agricultural and industrial land…”

Delhi “gasps under ‘eye-burning’ smog amid worst pollution crisis” - Link
Gods in temples given masks to save them from pollution - Link
… current pollution levels are the equivalent of smoking 33 cigarettes a day - Link
… Hindu festival in India marred by a river of toxic foam and a blanket of killer smog - Link
Part of a global trend kill 7 million prematurely each year - Link
… “90% of the world lives in places where pollution levels exceed established standards"
Photos: Delhi’s toxic sky - Link

China

New e-book: 7 trends impacting foreign Christians in China - Link

Interesting trend: “These days courts prefer to send some convicts home.” Link
… it doesn’t seem to be widespread in China, but minor offenders are now more and more receiving “correction in the community” sentences. This might in the long run be reinforced through surveillance and the social credit system.

Xi expresses “high degree of confidence” in Lam (defying rumors that she might be replaced) - Link

HK administration official says anti-mask law has "reduced number of protesters significantly." Violence has risen, however. Link

The Diplomat on Sinicizing religion in China: a conversation with Xi Lian, professor of world Christianity at Duke Divinity School - Link

New evidence that China stages prayers and streets in Xinjiang for the benefit of visiting delegations - “An inspection tour was being arranged that would bring dignitaries from around the world to Urumqi, and they wanted visitors to see people praying. ‘We will give you 20 renminbi for each time you pray. You will need to pray five times tomorrow.’” Link

More social control: China fears young people are addicted to video games, and now imposing a curfew - gamers under 18 banned from playing online from 10pm to 8am; on weekdays, minors can only play for 90 minutes. Link

Professors beware, your students are watching you - Link
... “student information officers” keeping tabs on professors’ ideological views
... Not new but being deployed in increasing numbers -

Quartz has a series called “Because China.” Two recent episodes focus on Chinese censorship. Link

China says it will roll out national security steps for Hong Kong, but short on details - Link
… may be sooner said than done: “proposal is not clear and may be hard to enforce" - Link
… Beijing still counting on HK to enact national security law ‘or face unbearable cost’ - Link

Japan / Koreas / Mongolia

Uganda: North Korea’s African ally - including North Koreans in Uganda - Link

2013 Japanese law obliging owners to look after aging pets leads to retirement homes for elderly pets. Not satire. Link

Southeast Asia

15 killed in southern Thailand in the worst violence in years - Link
... marked escalation by “younger, angrier fighters” - Link

The fear of ghosts runs deep in Thailand - Link

Fighting nationalism and religious violence in Myanmar, one rose at a time - Link

The quake-hit Philippines is afraid an even bigger quake is coming - Link

Notable Europe / Americas

Haiti’s ashes: decades of misrule have once again brought Haiti to the brink of collapse - Link

New Data

For the first time since it began tracking, the US resettled zero (0) refugees in a month (October): Link

A flood of oil is coming: four countries stand to add a million barrels a day to the market in 2020, and a million more in 2021. Will affect everything from efforts to fight climate change to the price of transportation. Economic impact compared to the advent of the shale oil boom in TX, ND a decade ago. - Link

The impact of air pollution on life expectancy, 2019 (xref India) - Link

Visual animation: the dramatic rise in urbanization from 1950 to now - Link

Longer reads

“All the easy places are taken: the risk of reaching the unreached” - Link

Economist on why are so many protests happening all at once? It's not a conspiracy - Link

November-December issue of Mission Frontiers on “What happens when everything is missions?” Link
… also, the downloadable e-book “When everything is missions” - Link

World Vision tinkers with child sponsorship model that brought in millions - here’s a review of how they are “flipping the script” and allowing children to choose their donors - I have seen some incredibly powerful videos on this from WV. Is this empowering children? Is it a stronger marketing technique? I admit to being a little cynical about the motives of the donors. Still, “making the point that children living in poverty are not a problem to fix but rather a relationship to be developed” is a good aim. - Link

Stratfor: “An era of unparalleled espionage risk is upon us” - China, Russia increasingly aggressive in industrial espionage systems, hacking into corporate systems - “pushing to boldly and brazenly obtain Western companies’ secrets” - Link

“Missionaries and bribes”, 225-page e-book, free, h/t Brigada - Link

"40 favorite interview questions from some of the sharpest folks we know” - Link
… are some of these useful when interviewing missionary candidates? …

Christians defending their cultural heritage in Muslim-majority countries, where it’s being destroyed - when Christian history is being erased - Link

Futuristics/Technology

Deepfake videos, doctored photographs already being used against political figures - Link
... How long until they are used against Christians as well?

Deep tech trends 2019, 119-slide deck - Link

Canada makes a cloaking device - Link

Kyrgyzstan embraces Chinese face-recognition tech - Link
… China provided the equipment for free. What did China get?

China’s Shenzhen using big data to become a smart “socialist modern city” - Link

China’s massive open online courses (MOOC) attract 270 million people - Link

China allegedly exporting drones with lethal autonomy to the Middle East - Link
… “advertised as capable of full autonomy, including the ability to conduct lethal targeted strikes” ...

OpenAI releases text-generating AI (once said too dangerous to share); play around with it for very long and limitations appear - Link

US charges former Twitter employee with spying for Saudi Arabia, accessing information about people who made posts critical of the Saudi royal family - Link
… “Saudi agents infiltrated Twitter to mine user data” - Link
... Why spy on Twitter? For Saudi Arabia, it has become a kind of "town square" where "citizens meet to swap information and debate the issues." Link

This new robot strolls around your yard and cleans up dog droppings. Wife wants to know what happens when the dog chases the robot and bites its tires off. Link

Deep read on Quantum computing: “sycamore processor takes 200 seconds to sample one instance of a quantum circuit a million times… which would take a state of the art classical supercomputer approximately 10,000 years…” Link

“Everything is amazing, but nothing is ours.” Useful read on the perils of services and access vs ownership. I still use Spotify, Netflix, etc. but there is a fragility to this. This looks at worlds of scarcity (made out of things) vs. worlds of abundance (made out of dependencies).  Link

Quotable

"The resurrection sets me in a world that is not self-contained, but open, and draughty, with the winds of eternity blowing through it." ~Paul Scherer

"An easy-going, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing." ~Hudson Taylor

"The oak tree grows in the grave of an acorn." ~Unknown

"I don’t care how good you are or how bad you are, there’s no one so good they don’t need to be saved and no one so bad they can’t be saved." ~Adrian Rogers