Roundup 124

Don’t Miss

Next (First) Quarterly Update webinar: Today! July 27th.
… first webinar will be 1-3pm, second will be 6-8pm.
… Registration is $25. Even if you can’t participate, you’ll still get the recording, the slide deck, and any Q&A.
… Register.

New events

Chad: Boko Haram kills 18 in western Chad – Link
… waves of violence spreading from Nigeria across region
… over 9 years, BH violence = 30k dead, 2.7m displaced.

Egypt: activists fear social media law is anti-social – Link
… allows monitoring social media to fight spread of fake news and rumors
… ‘any website, personal blog, social media account with 5k or more followers may not … [lots of stuff] … or insult religions’

Egypt begins rice imports to deal with water shortages – Link
… rice is a staple of the Egyptian diet, but due to water shortages, hard to find on market

Mali: Extremism threatens July 29 elections – Link
… ‘destabilizing central [and northern] Mali’

Nigeria: Reminder: grazing violence > Boko Haram – Link
… over 1,300 killed in first half of 2018… ‘major threat to stability’

Senegal: getting addicted to Chinese loans, French hold loosens – Link
… ‘being cautioned by IMF about mounting debt…’
… ‘African countries believed to have become significantly indebted to China…’

Eritrea: 35 Christians released from shipping container prisons – Link
… as peace accord takes hold… but 1,200+ believed to still be imprisoned…

Iraq: Raqqa was the capital of ISIS. Can it ever be home again? Link
… photos, video, looks at short stories of people
IS makes comeback in Iraq with switch to guerrilla tactics – Link
… down but not out, lots of kidnappings and killings makes areas unstable
Turkmens see chance to expand influence in Kirkuk – Link
… in Turkmen v Kurds, possibility of political/violent confrontation

Syria: Army advances in southwest against IS militants – Link
… recapturing Yarmouk basin would bring all SW back to Assad
ISIL insurgents launch a spate of attacks in southern Syria, kill 200+ – Link
… the worst ISIL attack in years, and will undoubtedly reap a strong counterattack
Scaled up assistance, ‘sustained access to 140k made homeless’ needed – Link
… during first 6 months of 2018, continued fighting and new displacements…
Russia zeroes in on returning Christians to Syrian homes – Link
… US opposed to keeping Assad in power. Mass return of refugees demos regime stability.
… Russian Orthodox, Catholics already started restoring churches, monasteries
… Russia promoting defense of Orthodox Christians to Russian domestic scene

Turkey: Tough security bill replacement for state of emergency – Link
… ‘end temporary state of emergency in favor of a permanent one’
WSJ: The pastor caught in Turkey’s chaos – Link
… released from prison but still under house arrest – Link

Yemen: Civilians flee conditions ‘not fit for humans’ in port city – Link
… a lull in the fighting, but people fear ceasefire collapse

Afghanistan: faces worst drought in decades, 1.4m need help – Link
… 20 provinces affected (west, north), many considering emigrating out
US, Taliban meet to discuss Afghan peace talks – Link
… laying the groundwork, in a fresh bid to end 17-year-war

Iran’s summer of discontent: a warning for Washington – Link
… ‘facing its most intense combination of domestic and international challenges’
Long read analysis on Iran water shortage crisis – PDF

India: Outrage grows over attacks on Muslim cattle herders – Link
… ‘dozens killed in such attacks…’
… ‘vigilantes… mostly Hindu hardliners… tied to PM Modi’s ruling party…’

Nepal: Have China, India joined hands to keep Christianity out of Nepal? Link
… ‘Both China & Indi have become suspicious of what they see as the West-aided spread of Christianity’
… convergence of Tibet plus row over religious conversion as a fundamental right

Pakistan: Shadow of military ‘engineering’ hangs over election – Link
… only the 2nd civilian-to-civilian handover of power
… Nightwatch: PTI = break the traditional power of Sharif & Bhutto families, w/backing of Pakistan Army + Islamic fundamentalists 
… Dozens killed in election bombings – Link
… Hardline Islamists push religion to center of election with violent rhetoric – Link
… Op/Ed: ‘Stop the weaponization of religion in Pakistan’ – Link

China: Tibetan students banned from religious activities over holidays – Link
… students req to sign agreement to ‘not take part in any form of religious activity’
… ‘increasingly harsh restrictions on Himalaya’s traditional Buddhist culture’
… secular education + restrictions ‘threatens to cut transmission of religious knowledge’
The emotional downside to studying in the UK for Chinese students – Link
China’s cosmological Communism: a challenge to liberal democracies – Link
… ‘China’s presence and influence… has reached a global scale…’ #Longread #PDF
Chinese churches told to get ready for Sinicization – Link
… to submit 5-year plans for making religion compatible with a socialist society
US Congress holds live, open hearings on human rights violations in Xinjiang – Link
Three largest airlines bow to China demands on Taiwan – Link

N Korea: Economy contracted at sharpest rate in 20 years in 2017 – Link
… international sanctions and worst drought in 16 years hit growth

Indonesia: new anti-terrorism law passed after suicide attacks on churches – Link
… expands power to act against potential terrorists and ideology-spreaders
… pre-emptive arrests for being members of a group declared a terrorist org
… expands role of armed forces in domestic security
… dozens of suspected terrorists arrested in the weeks after bombings

Canada: New immigrants injecting vigor into the country’s religious life – Link
… ‘Catholic Churches now packed… but services most likely in Tagalog’
… ‘burgeoning charismatic churches among the ethnic Chinese…’
… ‘nor is this a mainly Christian phenomenon… Hindus, Muslims become more pious…’

Majority of Americans feel good about country’s increasing diversity – Link

The English debate what to teach children about God – Link

New Data

June was Earth’s 3rd warmest month in 138 years – Link
… Oman set new world record for highest minimum temp during 24 hours
… In India, summer heat may soon be literally unbearable – Link
… 110-deg heat waves in Pakistan in May killed 65 in Karachi – Link
… Much of the unreached world deeply impacted by heat waves

AIDS epidemic could effectively end if current steps taken globally – Link
… 1st universal flu vaccine could be ready in 2 years

2018 Global Slavery Index – 40.3 million slaves worldwide – Link

Global defense spending at a record $1.74 trillion and rising – Link

Brookings paper: Islamist Parties in North Africa – PDF
… A comparative analysis of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt

Noteworthy

Pew: In Western Europe, familiarity with Muslims = difference in view on Sharia – Link
… Q. do Muslims want to impose shariah law on everyone?
… those who know Muslims personally say ‘no’
… those who don’t, but know something about Islam, say ‘yes’

Hypergrowth and the law of startup physics: an interview with Khalid Halim – Link
… analysis of how companies, militaries “scale and break”
… most efficient groups: 3, 8, then 3×8 (24), then 48 (=need for HR)
… “how companies and people grow at different rates, what this means for scaling”
… “biological non-exponential humans do something exponential: they tell stories”
… (1) startups will outpace most of its executives if it starts to grow (also, movements)
… (2) outpacing doesn’t apply to founder (can hire people w/more experience under them)
… this is a really fascinating long read with implications for agencies & movements
… and I haven’t had the chance yet to listen to the podcast!

How many people do you need to change the world? Link
… answer, according to new research: 25%

The Ideological Turing Test: How to be less wrong – Link
… the first step is admitting it.

What you gain when you learn to speak last – Link
… 1:38 video from Simon Senik, important concept.

What Netflix taught me about life – Video – Link
… 4:38 video: “the defining characteristic of our generation = keeping your options open”
… on the power of commitment to a place, cause, community …
… on the importance of closing doors and forgoing options

3 things you can learn about decision-making from Jeff Bezos – Link
… (1) distinguish between high/low impact decisions
… (2) avoid using proxies as a default
… (3) release ideas at 70% and then iterate

Pompeo, Religion and Regime Change in Iran – Link
… Incoming US SecState is a staunch Christian who desires to see regime change in Iran.

USA: The Middle Child is going Extinct – Link
… an interesting look at shifting demographics and cultural implications

Futuristics/Technology

‘Artificial Intelligence shows why atheism is unpopular’ – Link
… The Modeling Religion Project uses AI to examine the impact of immigrants & their religious affiliation

Africa’s attack on Internet freedom – Link
… ‘autocrats across the continent are muzzling their citizens online’

A short guide to digital Switzerlands – Link
… ‘when companies act as countries’: global user bases larger than most countries
… if a large company chose to squelch religious conversations, what would the impact be?

A global guide to state-sponsored trolling – Link
… all over the world, governments are fashioning digital hate mobs to squelch dissent
… Me: what can be turned on dissenters can be turned on believers.

Amazon’s new Part Finder feature helps with home repairs – Link
… really cool, but also demonstrates what camera + AI can do.
… think about: People Finder in crowd at mission conference
… think about: Person Finder in crowd at Beijing airport

The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it – Link
… the author has a political bias, but he’s not wrong about the implications
… I love digital transactions, but there are surveillance+control implications

The AI revolution will be led by toasters, not droids – Link
… algorithms that try to generalize get worse at the various tasks they confront

Tommy Hilfiger rewards people for wearing its connected clothes – Link
… Bluetooth tag connects to iOSapp, aims to build community of ‘micro-ambassadors’
… rewarded for wearing clothes, visiting certain ‘hot spots,’ playing Pokemon-style games

Samsung developed an unbreakable flexible phone screen – Link

Security keys neutralized employee phishing at Google – Link

Quotable

“Just because a church is large doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It could just mean it’s swollen.” ~Charles Spurgeon​

“We live in a culture that has cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as cabbage so long as you doubt.” ~Dallas Willard​