Roundup 232

New Events


Over 2 million displaced by conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Reuters
… about half fled after their houses were burnt …

North Africa: 10 years after the Arab Spring, uncertainty dominates. Newsweek

Just seen book: “Understanding Libya since Gaddafi”, Ulf Laessing. Amazon

Weekend attack in Mali kills 100, displaces 1,000. UN

Western Asia

Iraq plunging into economic crisis. NYT
… hobbled by neglect+corruption, devalues currency, imported electricity cut off for nonpayment

In a northern town brutalized by IS, Iraq tests its power. AP
… Sinjar, home to the Yazidi: “almost everyone harbors unresolved trauma”

Oman: over 270k expatriate workers left due to Covid-19. MEMO
… would be interesting to see a survey of #s of workers in all countries who left

Saudi Arabia to reopen borders with Qatar, easing rift. NYT
… UAE will also restore Qatar trade, travel links. BBC

Turkey: battered economy puts Erdogan to the test. NYT
… “feeling ire at home as many Turks struggle to buy food”

90% of Syria families in Lebanon live in extreme poverty. MEMO

Syria’s bread lines are so long children skip school to wait in them. Post
… “One day I stood for seven hours.”

South Asia

Troubled Afghan peace talks enter a new phase. NYT
… negotiations toward a cease fire continue, but fundamental issues are in the way

Targeted, unclaimed killings are terrorizing Afghanis. NYT
… is it the Taliban? or factions using the chaos to settle scores?

Afghanistan: In a place mired with war, the virus is an afterthought. NYT

India: who gets to breathe clean air in Delhi? NYT
… air pollution killed more Indians last year than any other risk factor
… “the rich can have the best quality air purifiers… the poor can’t”

Pakistan has fenced itself off from Afghanistan. Economist
… the boundary will likely affect families more than fighters

Pakistan: welcoming a new year at an ancient festival. NYT
… a small ethnography of the Kalash & the Chawmos festival.

Fear of the virus forced Pakistani Christians to curtail Christmas celebrations. Post

Mob attack on Lahore church on Christmas morning. MNN

Central Asia

Kazakhstan’s new rules for election observers. Eurasianet
… “a violator casts several ballots, but …
… the observer has to ask him if they can publish the video evidence documenting this.”

Tajikistan: the plight of migrant workers in 2020. Diplomat
… “one of the most remittance-dependent countries”
… basically, long read article recapping impact of Covid on migrants & country

Turkmen: families risk losing subsidized food for not paying utility bills. RFE
… “people can barely afford to buy bread, let alone pay for gas, electricity”

Weathering a tourism downturn in Kyrgyzstan. UN

Kyrgyzstan’s silent hill: how smog is killing a city. Eurasianet
… affects unreached as well as workers engaging them

Eastern Asia

Hong Kong rounds up 53 pro-democracy activists. BBC
… 1,000 police took part in morning raids in 72 areas
… “biggest crackdown since China imposed a draconian security law”
… those arrested had held an unofficial ‘primary’ to pick opposition candidates for 2020 elections

HKers who tried to flee to Taiwan jailed for up to 3 years. CNN
… “nearly every remaining pro-democracy politician, activist arrested.” FP
… “Arrests sound the death knell of dissent in Hong Kong”

Hong Kong has a new 3-week quarantine rule for travelers. NYT
… “three weeks in a hotel… if you can find one.”
… govt says necessary to defend against extremely contagious new variant

“We found the factories inside China’s internment camps.” BuzzFeed
… satellite images show factories built just steps away from cell blocks …

117 witnesses detail N Korea’s persecution of Christians. CT

1st time on record, SKorea’s births < deaths. NYT
… also, experts warn “Covid-19 would have a negative inpact on marriage, births”

Southeast Asia

Indonesia’s new religious affairs minister pledges to safeguard religious minorities. Diplomat

Why Indonesia is vaccinating working population first, not elderly. Reuters

Thailand: “facing a long drought in tourists.” Bangkok Post
… a month-by-month survey of 2020 & the impact of Covid on pivotal tourist industry
… 2021 international arrivals likely down to 7m from 39.8m in 2019

Western Europe + N America

Without tourism, Tuscan village slides back in time. NYT
Croatia: 10s of 1000s homeless after 6.4 earthquake. NYT
In Photos: For French Catholics, the virus is another test of their faith. Post


Covid case data

… 1/5: 88.2m cases, 1.9m deaths (2% CFR)
… 12/18: 73.9m cases, 1.6m deaths (2.1% CFR)
… 11/20: 57.0m cases, 1.3m deaths (2.2%)
… 11/13: 53.0m cases, 1.29m deaths (2.4%)
… 11/6: 49.1m cases, 1.24m deaths (2%)
… 10/29: 44.8m cases, 1.17m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking

Analyses, trends

Zeynep T: The mutated virus is a ticking time bomb. Atlantic
… a) more lethality or b) more transmissability with same lethality: (b) = more deaths

As the virus resurges in Africa, doctors fear worst is yet to come. NYT
… “possible, very likely the rate of exposure is much more than reported”

McKinsey projections on when the pandemic is likely to end. Link

Increasing situations

Beijing stepping up Covid-19 curbs as cases rise. Reuters
… seals off two megacities south of Beijing, in Hebei. Al Jazeera
Japan’s PM declares state of emergency as cases surge to highest levels yet. CNN
Thai govt asks people to stay home if at all possible to contain surge. Al Jazeera
Lebanon begins new 25-day lockdown. AP

Covid travel bubbles

Canada requires int’l arrivals to have a negative test before boarding. NYT
Saudi reopens borders, international flights. Al Jazeera
… had temporarily closed after UK discovered more contagious variant

Other data

10.4m children in Africa, Yemen suffer acute malnutrition in 2021. ReliefWeb


New website – at least, I haven’t encountered it before – Link

Longer Reads

10 conflicts to watch in 2021 – Intl Crisis Group
… Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sahel, Yemen …

USA: “The unaffiliated are not unreachable: understanding, reaching the nones.” Stetzer
… (also, a clear argument that the unaffiliated are not the unreached)

Can the church save marriage? CT
… interesting long-read on trends in marriage both in USA and elsewhere in the world

Christianity isn’t “becoming” global–it always has been. CT

Photos: Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in the time of Covid. MiddleEastEye

Futures & Tech

Wired has a look at what 2030 could look like. Wired

Russian cyberhack probably penetrated 250 US govt+corporate networks. NYT

And, 3-part series on China using big data to spy on Americans. FP

Inside the NSA’s secret tool for mapping your social network. Wired

Japanese company has facial recognition that can recognize in spite of Covid-19 masks. BBC

A touch free holy water dispenser in Poland. Link

USA: 2020 was a pivotal, contradictory year for facial recognition. TechReview
… despite scandals over problems with recognizing some racial faces,
… growth in adoption isn’t slowing

Physical security keys prevented leaks from the 2020 election campaigns. CNBC
… short article about tech that could help keep email accounts safe …

Will you have to carry a vaccine passport on your phone? TechReview
… unclear how systems will work or how useful they will be
… but probably govts will want to implement some kind of system

WhatsApp revamps privacy policy. ArsTechnica
… brief review of data that will now be shared with FB “family of companies”

How future armies could use tems of drones, robots to swarm buildings. DigitalTrends

New book & interview on China’s surveillance state. NPR
… “We have been harmonized: life in China’s surveillance state”