Roundup 231

New Events

East Africa

Desert locust re-invasion threatens millions across the Horn. Link … Ethiopia rains, Somalia cyclone = favorable breeding conditions … Link

Kenya, Somaliland agree on direct flights to Hargeisa. Link … first destination for Kenya Airways into a Somali region …

Kenyan Christians traveling for Christmas fear al-Shabaab bus attacks. LinkCT … traveling on buses near Somali border …

Tigray-war

Some concerns that Ethiopia’s conflict could yet become a regional war. Link
As war goes on in Ethiopia, ethnic harassment is on the rise. Link
Govt orders businesses to re-open, first aid convoy arrives. Link
How Ethiopian doctors fled militia attacks. Link

Northern Africa

After 30 years, USA drops Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list. Link

“Algerians are hurting”: Dinar’s dramatic fall deepens economic woes. Link

Middle East eye has an explainer on Western Sahara. Link
EuroCFR: dispute could escalate conflicts across N Africa, Sahel. Link

“To end the killings in Libya, the cost balance needs to change.” Link
… crime has been normalized, cost of unlawful killings is zero.
… domestic courts barely functional

Sat-7 announces first Christian tv programs made in Tunisia. Link

Western Africa

Boko Haram blamed for Niger attack: 28 killed, 800 houses burned. LinkReuters

337 students missing in Nigeria after gunmen attack (Boko Haram). LinkBloomberg Nigeria orders mobile users to link phones to ID numbers. LinkBloomberg … “196 million active phone lines, 41.5m Nigerians had req’d identity numbers”

Western Asia

After Nagorno-Karabakh war, trauma, tragedy and devastation. Link
… “It’s going to be hard to forgive.”

Years after Daesh, Iraqis forced out of refugee camps into uncertain future. Link
And in Mosul, life and resilience shines. Link
… Iraqis are slowly, resiliently breathing life back into their streets & shops

Syria’s conflict isn’t over yet: more fighting in Idlib. Link

Deepened & prolonged poverty affects Syrian refugees & their hosts. Link
… est. 4.4m people in host communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan
… 1m Syrian refugees and 180,000 Iraqi IDPs pushed into poverty due to Covid-19

Turkey’s coffeehouses, a hub of male social life, may not survive virus. Link
… “Every day I used to come here … this is our second home … it’s a place I love, I see my friends, and I am happy and I play games.”

South + Central Asia

The Virus Trains: How lockdown chaos spread Covid across India. Link
India gears up for world’s largest vaccination drives. Link
… over 300 million expected to get doses in first phase through July

India farm protests: mass strikes intensify. Link
… Indian farm widows join the protests against reforms. Link
… small farmers fear changes = end of guaranteed minimum prices for crops,
… leave them at the mercy of big retailers.
… “suicide by struggling farmers has been a problem in India for years”
… Protests are likely to continue; buses bringing more people in from Punjab

India now a ‘dangerous and violent space for Muslims.’ Link
… “South Asia State of Minorities Report 2020” – Link
Love & the law: Hindu-Muslim couple challenges marriage rule. Link

The possibility of a currency devaluation in Iraq. Link
… would help the government, but hurt the purchasing power of Iraqis …

Victims of War and Conflicts: Child Labor in Afghanistan. Link

Covid-19 runs unchecked in Pakistan’s overcrowded prisons. Link

Balochistan: Pakistan’s land of the disappeared. Link 
… claims of 55,000 kidnapped; 18,000 bodies found since 2000

Tajikistan: pandemic wreaks havoc on migration lifeline. Link
… food prices have jumped >25%, and few jobs in Tajikistan
… the country depends on remittances from workers in Russia
… 2019 remittances = $2.5b, or 33% of T’s GDP. Halved in 2020.
… Russia-Tajik travel extremely limited, migrants can’t get in to work

Uzbekistan has made progress in eliminating forced labor, but … Link
… it hasn’t entirely stopped it in the cotton sector …

Eastern Asia

China is building a ‘super’ dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River. Link
… close to line of control in Tibet
… “far-reaching impact on India’s north-east water security”
… river flows into Arunachal Pradesh, then to Assam, then to Bangladesh

China building massive Myanmar border wall after virus cases spike. Link

More Chinese students return to China after getting degree. Link
… 700k Chinese students went abroad to study in 2019

China raises Covid penalties for incoming flights. Link
… airlines will get 2-week suspension if 5 passengers on a flight test positive

Book review: Shandong, the Revival Province. Link
… this is a very long review of the details in the book …

Southeast Asia

In Indonesia, a blurred boundary between the living and the dead. Link
… the elaborate death rituals of the Toraja of Sulawesi (75% Christian) …

Isaan road trip: a brief travelogue in Thailand. Link

Thailand relaxes travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries. Link
… visitors from Australia, France, USA can enter without visas now
… requires pre-travel Covid-19 negative test to enter country,
… still undergoing a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine

The Internet as battleground in Thailand’s Covid-19 Tinderbox moment. Diplomat
… “8 million Thais may be out of work by the end of 2020”

As Singapore ventures back out, migrant workers are kept in. Link 
… low wage workers mostly confined to dormitories …
… through 2022, minorities from Covid-prevalent countries working in Covid-free countries will likely find themselves restricted …

Data

Covid case data

… 12/18: 73.9m cases, 1.6m deaths (2%)
… 11/20: 57.0m cases, 1.3m deaths (2.2%)
… 11/13: 53.0m cases, 1.29m deaths (2.4% CFR)
… 11/6: 49.1m cases, 1.24m deaths (2% CFR)
… 10/29: 44.8m cases, 1.17m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking

Australia-NZ travel bubble. Link
The hurdles to getting the Covid vaccine to Africa. LinkAll Africa
How the pandemic changed how [some] live and work. Link
One quarter of the world may not get the vaccine until 2022. Link

Chart: Blasphemy laws still common around the world. Link

Longer Reads

Spiritual Warfare in the African context. Link … interesting, useful survey …

In a pandemic, should missionaries leave or stay? Link … a mental model for the missiology of risk …

Covid-19 has posed new challenges to the world’s waste-pickers. Link … The “invisible recyclers”: Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s informal waste sector. Link

The Hole in Africa’s heart. Link … Analysis: swathes of the continent are home to people whose efforts at self-rule or traditional ways of life have challenged state attempts to deal with Covid-19. The “lawless third” of the continent – all of Libya, half of Algeria, much of the Sahara & Sahel, north Nigeria, the Horn, and a crescent of the African forest belt – is difficult to reach and engage. This by implication also discusses challenges to reaching these areas with Good News. “The people living in these zones deserve equitable access … regions that are under-serviced fall into three, sometimes interlinked categories …”

Why people still starve in an age of abundance. Link
… % undernourished dropping, but absolute number rising (similar to unevangelized)
… Hungry: 2014, 628.9m; 2019, 688m; if unchecked, 2030, 840m
… 10 extreme hunger hotspots (apparently Oxfam has a list; would like to find) #Futures

Huwaei tested AI software that could recognize Uighurs. Link
… could send automated “Uighur alarms” to authorities …

EU proposes sweeping new rules for online businesses. Link
… could cause fundamental changes for tech giants …

Passenger planes being converted to freighters. Link
… less travel, more e-commerce shipping …

AI co-pilots US military aircraft for the first time. Link
… “in 10 to 15 years, widespread/ubiquitous use of robots in most militaries”

Lack of stable electricity holds back high-growth African economies. Link

Newly-launched satellite can see inside of ‘some’ buildings. Link
… can see through clouds, and in day or night …

USA FDA authorizes first OTC fully at-home antigen test for Covid-19. Link
… test will cost ~$30 …

Amazon reveals it’s 4-seater robotaxi. Link
… looks like one of those little terminal-to-plane buses you’d see at an airport …
… guessing this will be used on company lots, airplanes, other controlled environments

Algorithms for Love: Japan will launch an AI dating service. Link
… one of the lowest birth rates in the world, below replacement level
… 25 of 47 prefectures already provide some kind of matchmaking service
… estimate population will fall from 127m (2015) to 88m (2065).