Roundup 243

Don’t miss

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New Events

East Africa

Mozambique violence, 2017-now
The rainy season lull in fighting is over, and attacks have resumed – Link
… IS claims deadly attack on northern town of Palma – Reuters
… deep dive: why IS is so difficult to defeat in Mozambique – BBC
Cabo Delgado displacement could reach 1 million.  UN

Tigray-war: possible paths toward peace, but a long road to reconciliation, healing
”They told us not to resist”: sexual violence pervades Ethiopia’s war – NYT
Excellent 6 minute animated video explores the roots of the conflict – VOA
Ethiopia ‘will be digging up mass graves for a decade’ – FT
… “inside Tigray’s dirty war”

Kenya suspends domestic flights for new Covid-19 lockdown – Reuters
Kenya says “no room for further negotiations”, Dadaab & Kakuma must close – Guardian

Sudan: Peace deal provision confirms religious freedom w/Nuba Mountains rebels. CT
… “It sounds very good, but we want to see implementation, not just words on paper”

Northern Africa

All aboard Bus 70: traveling a local Libyan road from war to hope and renewal – Link
… “Libyans pray that a new government will bring the stability they crave” …

Western Africa

Civil unrest in Niger: over 300 dead this year
Attempted coup: Heavy gunfire heard near presidency in the capital – Link
Arrests were made – CNN

Western Asia

Syria’s decade of ‘death, destruction, displacement, disease, dread, despair’ – UN
… ‘“estimate over 13.4 million people across Syria require humanitarian aid”
… The deadly Al-Hol camp, home to 40,000 people
… 75% of 4 million across the northwest depend on aid to meet their basic needs
… 1.8m in northeast, outside government’s control, require aid

Saudi Arabia planning $3.2 trillion ‘economic overhaul’ – France24
… partly continued diversification, partly reviving businesses savaged by Covid …
… pushing job creation … joblessness at 14.9%, slightly down from all-time high of 15.4%

“Worse than a jungle”: the cartel controlling Iraq’s borders – AFP
… most Iraqi entry points informally controlled by powerful state-sponsored network close to Iran …

China signs $400 billion with Iran, could deepen influence – NYT
… heavy Chinese investments over 25 years in exchange for oil …
… could ease Iranian isolation, represent more China access to Iran …

South & Central Asia

Afghanistan:
Three women working to vaccinate children shot dead – Link
… lots of attacks on women recently and vaccination workers in the past …
US withdrawal + new peace proposal puts Taliban at a crossroads – WPost
… for months, the Taliban has managed to “talk peace but wage war”

Pakistan: extreme weather, more people drive nation to a wheat crisis – Link
… unusually heavy rain, hail, wind destroying some fields
… nation 1 million tons below the government’s target
… flour prices skyrocket as a booming population pushes up demand

India locking down some towns as coronavirus cases hit 5-month high – Reuters
… new infections in western Maharashtra/Mumbai …
… expands Covid-19 vaccination drive as virus surge worsens – AFP
… last week: Massive second wave of infections emerging in India.  WPost

India’s news upstarts challenged Modi; new rules could tame them – NYT
… new rules would force online outlets to take down articles if significant complaints …
… online trolls with ties to government could take advantage to censor news …

Using shame, lending apps in India squeeze billions out of the desperate – NYT
… offers expensive loans to people devastated by the pandemic …
… if they can’t repay, family and friends hear about it …
… “If I am labeled a fraud, … my self-respect is gone, my honor is gone… what is left?”
… Hyderabad has mapped out 14m transactions, $3 billion over 6 months …

Gujarat considering expanding anti-conversion law – Persecution.org
… “new bill would consider promises of a better lifestyle and divine blessings as illegal allurement towards religious conversion”…

India’s abrupt lockdown forced millions to walk, bike, hitchhike home. Link
… “many of their lives will never be the same”
… Worst economic annual contraction on record.
… Number of people living on <$2/day increased by 78 million.

East Asia

China warns firms like H&M not to engage in politics over Xinjiang. Reuters

Several writers, analysts, etc., noting Taiwan tensions have risen significantly.

China’s Social Credit System: how far along is it? Diplomat
… “remains a disjointed mix… but evolving rapidly…”

Hong Kong tells some governments to stop accepting BNO passport. Reuters
… “most countries are going to ignore this… bordering on belligerent…”

South-eastern Asia

Makassar, Indonesia: suicide bomb attack on a Catholic Palm Sunday service killed 20 – CT

Myanmar coup: strong signals of the increasing possibility of far worse violence
‘Significant action’ needed by Security Council to prevent ‘bloodbath’ – UN
… more than 520 people have been killed since the coup began …
”Dozens are gunned down in Day of Shame for Myanmar” – NYT
USA suspends all trade engagement with Myanmar until elected govt returns. Reuters
… Britain, US imposed sanctions on Myanmar military-controlled businesses. Reuters
Economic pressure is unlikely to force Myanmar’s junta to retreat.  Economist ($)
The cost of the coup: Myanmar edges toward state collapse – Crisis Group
… “The crisis is set to deepen, with greater bloodshed, economic damage, refugee flight”
Inside Myanmar’s army: ‘they see protesters as criminals’ – NYT
Myanmar army launches air strikes on Karen village – Reuters
Truce over as Myanmar Karen insurgents brace for battle – Reuters
… “warned major conflict with the military could erupt, called for international intervention”
”Myanmar’s armed ethnic factions will not stand by if more are killed” – Reuters
Karen, Kachin rebels attack; other ethnic groups wait, or collaborate – AsiaTimes
”A soldiers wife is caught between the protesters and the military” – WPost
”Beaten, cuffed, hauled away: when Myanmar’s military comes knocking” – NYT
Wireless internet ordered shut down until further notice – Reuters

North America / Europe / etc.

USA: church membership <50% of the population for the first time in nearly a century. Link
… but 2 in 3 Americans believe in Jesus’ resurrection. Link

Fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine: the end to another cease fire – Link

Data

Covid-19
… 4/2: 129.2m cases, 2.82m deaths
… 3/25: 124.9m cases, 2.74m deaths
… 3/19: 121.5m cases, 2.68m deaths
… 3/12: 118.7m cases, 2.63m deaths
… 3/5: 115.7m cases, 2.57m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking

Other new reports
HRW World Report 2021 – covering events of 2020 – PDF

Reading

How being more productive starts with doing nothing – WSJ
… your brain uses free periods for important cleanup work …
… even brief timeouts reinforce long-term learning and productivity …

US military must plan for encounters with private military companies – Brookings
… interesting piece looking at the implications of the use (Russia, etc) of PMCs

“This is how to make emotionally intelligent friendships: 6 secrets.” Link
… an interesting longish-read on the importance of friendships, diving into Dunbar’s number, the importance of deep connections (even to your personal life expectancy), some ways to be a better friend …

Mission Catalyst has curated a list of prayer resources for 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.

Technology/Futurism

Signal usage skyrocketing in wake of WhatsApp privacy policy changes – FastCompany
… has passed 100 million installs …

Can AI replace human therapists? WSJ

New York, USA launches digital vaccine pass – Forbes
… I am certain we will see more of this in major cities, border points, etc.

Facebook introduces more options that allow you to control who can comment on your posts, and whose posts you see in your timeline. Good for users (well, I think it’s good for me, anyway), but may impact ministries that reach out or advertise on Facebook. Link

China used surveillance firms to help write ethnic-tracking specifications. Reuters

Quotable

“Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends.” ~C. S. Lewis