Roundup #216

New Events

North Africa/Egypt-Sudan (266M)

Over 100,000 visit Egypt’s Red Sea since inbound tourism resumes. Daily News

Argument: Could Libya be partitioned? FP 
… Haftar has lost the initiative, “the only option left for his international backers” is to divide the country

East Africa/Horn (520M)

Ethiopia’s Oromia reeling from state violence. AllAfrica 
… security forces kill/injure a “staggering number of protesters”

Over a dozen killed in hours-long Mogadishu hotel siege. Al Jazeera 
… 16 dead, 43 wounded in al-Shabab attack on upscale beachfront hotel in capital

Somali pirates carry off first hijacking in three years. Reuters

West Africa/Nigeria-Sahel (457M)

Mali coup: 
Rebellion amid protests that President stole recent parliamentary election. NYT 
Another explainer: What has caused Mali’s political unrest? Al Jazeera 
… briefly, current crisis started in March when opposition won election but tally overturned by courts 
President, PM arrested by soldiers after mutiny. Africa Report 
The (high ranking) soldiers who brought down the government. Africa Report 
… Rebels say they are committed to handing over to caretaker govt, fresh elections 
… Mali is the 8th largest African country, mineral rich, and 2/3 under age 25.

The looming influx of foreign fighters into sub-Saharan Africa. Link 
… armed conflicts escalating across sub-Saharan Africa …

1 million flee escalating violence in Burkina Faso. UN 
… 5% of total population displaced …

West Asia/Saudi-Iran (303M)

Syria could have 2 mln cases of Covid by 8/31. Al-Monitor
… “no way near reimposing restrictions to curb the spread”

In response to the last Roundup’s side question, Patrick Johnstone noted Beirut was, in fact, not the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. It is #5 on the current list. The largest was in Halifax, Canada, in 1917. It is notable that ammonium nitrate figures in 4 of the top 11 events. It’s obviously some pretty explosive stuff. Wikipedia

South-central Asia (2.1B)

Covid-19 has delayed or stalled the process of 85k *Bangladeshi migrants traveling for work. Daily Star 
… about 85% expected to travel to Saudi Arabia 
… and, 70% of migrants returning to Bangladesh are struggling to find employment. Daily Star

Who tells the stories of India’s countryside? Diplomat 
… a survey of some websites devoted to following the life, woes, hopes of India’s rural population

India is entering a dangerous new phase. Guardian 
… rising infections in small towns and villages with limited access to health care 
… villagers flout rules as cases surge: “largely given up” on social distancing. Al Jazeera 
Millions likely infected in New Delhi, says new survey Al Jazeera

Migrants start to return to work in Delhi, even as Covid deaths soar. Al Jazeera

Indian Muslim artisan hopes Hindu idols can help his Covid-hit business. Straits Times 
… the pandemic clobbered his pottery business, so a Muslim artisan in Dharavi turns to a Hindu god…

Indian temple reports huge Covid-19 outbreak as cases surge. Reuters 
… Lord Venkateswara temple, one of the largest and most wealthy Hindu shrines 
… 743 temple employees infected by the virus … 
… many large religious centers of all faiths being impacted …

No human pyramids in Mumbai’s “Lord Krishna” festival due to Covid. Reuters 
… festival “normally attracts thousands onto the streets” 
… “no public festivities in Mumbai this year”

India will soon surpass China in # of world’s tallest religious statues. Link

Ganges River flows with history and prophecy for India. AP 
… gorgeously photographed look/longread about the Ganges 
… the Ganges is key to Hinduism

Heavy rains flooding new Delhi, suburbs – South Asia monsoon kills 1,300. Al Jazeera

Nepal bans transport, public/religious gatherings for a week in capital due to rise in Covid cases. Link

Remittances to Pakistan hit record high due to subdued hajj spending. Reuters 
… one’s loss is another’s gain …

#Central Asia:

Death and denial in Turkmenistan. Diplomat 
… inconsistent messaging about Covid-19 has “doomed the people to confusion and death” 
… “A Central Asian state rarely covered in depth by international media” 
Kazakhstan: exhortations to maintain social distance have little impact. Eurasianet

East Asia (1.6B)

China’s hidden crisis: a growing elder care gap. Sixth Tone 
… Shanghai, where 1/3 are over 60, can take months to secure even basic care for elderly relatives

Changes to China’s hukou system: Economist 
… the rich find it easy to move to big cities; the poor are pushed to small ones 
… controlling where people can move and live can also have barrier implications for Gospel spread

“Repression of religious institutions in China under Xi Jinping” RFI 
… “new era of religious oppression rapidly approaching the worst level since PRC founding…”

China’s influence reaches into American universities. WSJ 
… some classes will now carry a warning label: “may cover material politically sensitive in China” 
… “weighing measures to shield students and faculty from prosecution by Chinese authorities” 
… ministry to international students even in open countries is being observed, and is not without risk

Hong Kong purges sensitive content from school textbooks. CNA 
Four in 10 American firms could leave HK over national security law. Inkstone

“The death bell will ring for southern Mongolian identity.” Bitter Winter 
… CCP launching 3-year plan to progressively replace Mongolian with Chinese in schools in Inner Mongolia

China using access to Covid-19 vaccines for diplomacy. WSJ 
… promising “early access to countries of strategic interest”

Crowds smaller for Yogurt festival in Tibet, due to Covid. RFA 
… religious events everywhere being impacted by Covid

NKor: Kim Jong-un admits big economic plans failed. NYT 
… holds rare congress to chart new economic course … 
Kim Jong-un delegates some authority incl foreign policy to sister. Straits Times 
… not sure what to conclude from this …

Korea Protestant churches under siege in new Covid-19 storm. Korea Herald 
… “lax government controls allowed churches to become transmission hotbeds” 
… Sarang Jeil Church is worst (600 cases) but many smaller-scale breakouts also 
… “churches often play unique role as social hubs in their neighborhoods…” 
… “Police raid church” to get list of congregants. Korea Herald 
Worship services banned in Seoul, Ihceon, Gyeonggi provinces. Bloomberg

Southeast Asia (700M)

How Indonesia failed to control coronavirus. Reuters 
… unorthodox treatments, the world’s lowest testing, minimal contact tracing, lockdowns resisted … 
… fastest infection spread in East Asia … 25% positivity rate in testing in Jakarta … 
Government still evaluating when to reopen Bali to foreign tourists. Straits Times

Thailand: 
… Virus forces rethink in Bangkok, world’s most visited city. JT 
… Expected 40 million tourists in 2020; will likely only see 8 million 
… Cases rise, plans for “travel bubble” shelved. JT 
… Covid-success turns economic failure: bankruptcies rise, unemployement swells. Asia Times

Protests in Thailand, where speaking out can be perilous. NYT 
… Some are even defying the taboo against criticizing the monarchy

Europe/North America (1,125M)

“Long-haulers are redefining Covid-19”: understanding the lingering illness some experience. Atlantic 
… if mission personnel contact Covid-19, some may face this too …

USA: Christian leaders debate how to do church amid pandemic. USA Today

France facing another wave of Covid-19. NYT 
… until a solution (eg a vaccine) is found, there will be recurring waves 
… while there are recurring waves, travel barriers/bubbles will be frequently seen

#TravelBubbles will be the rule as countries try to stop spreading infection: 
Croatia to go on UK’s “red list” after infection rate triples. Telegraph 
Hong Kong bans Air India after infections arrive. The Hindu 
India proposes air bubble pact with Bangladesh. Daily Star 
Malaysia’s Penang halts medical tourists after arrivals from indonesia. CNA

It snowed chocolate in a Swiss town. Link 
… feeling a calling to Olten, Switzerland? …

New Data

Covid-19


… 8/21: 22.4m cases, 788k deaths 
… (out 8/14) 
… 8/7: 17.3m (+1.8) cases, 674k deaths 
… 7/24: 15.5m (+1.7) cases, 633k deaths 
… 7/17: 13.8m (+1.6) cases, 590k deaths 
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking.com

Violence targeting humanitarian aid workers. ACLED 
… these places will be risks to church/mission workers, too …

New Longreads

“Giving up on God”: the global decline of religion Foreign Affairs 
… “the majority of the countries we studied”: 49 of them
… as demonstrated by a poll on “the importance of God”
… “biggest transformative issue is fertility”
… adherents, church attendance, and other religious demography not discussed

“Catering to the digital nomad”: Several countries with fragile tourist economies offer visas that allow foreign nationals to live and work for a period of at least 6 momnths: why work from home, when you can work from Barbados, Bermuda…? NYT

Witch hunts are still a global problem in the 21st century. DW 
… August 10th declared a World Day against Witch Hunts …

Futuristics & Technology

I am making Feedly the center of my newsgathering world. The pro version has recently released the ability to bring in both Twitter feeds and newsletters. It’s incredibly useful. Feedly

Yet another data point on “Chinese surveillance tech spreads around the world.” Statista

“In event of moon disaster”: an example of deepfake technology – Link 
… manufactured scenes have been with us for a long time
… earliest example I know of was Forrest Gump.
… deepfake technology is intended to deceive, hard on a casual viewing to detect …
… this is a demonstration of how advanced the tech has gotten …

Another form of deepfake: a college student makes a fake blog using the GPT-3 AI model, and one of his posts reaches the number one spot on Hacker News. Technology Review

China blocking all encrypted HTTP traffic using TLS 1.3/ESNI. ZDNet 
… ESNI (Encrypted Server Name Indication) had successfully hidden which sites were being visited 
… allowing older TLS technologies that included the site name being visited in cleartext 
… government can infer what is being accessed from the site being visited

Five things we know about flying right now. NYT
… #1: the middle seat saga continues, Delta looks best to me …

Why we think our phones are secretly listening to us. Medium

“This plane flies itself. We went for a ride.” Wired