Roundup 249

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Chad rebels prepared in Libya– ‘fighting under Hiftar, alongside the Wagner Group’… ‘amassing weapons, money and battlefield experience’–and pulled off ‘their own stunning feat’: an invasion that resulted in the death of Chad’s strongman ruler. NYT

Highlights a concern noted in last week’s Roundup: the risk of dispersal of mercenaries from Libya throughout the region.

New Sudan Situation Report: 7.1m food-insecure, 1.1m refugees, 2.5m internally displaced.

Yet, a little good news: Christians in Sudan can ‘still not believe the changes’ – Dabanga

Last week, Tunisian doctors were warning of a health system collapse. Tunisia began a week of strict Covid lockdown (Al Jazeera). Now, authorities are planning to reopen the economy next week despite virus restrictions, due to public pushback.
… hospitals full, oxygen supplies low, doctors are exhausted …

East Africa (520m)

Ethiopia
‘Cries of the victims of mass rape go unheard’ – Guardian Opinion
Behind the humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war in Ethiopia – NPR
… War crimes are suspected in northern Ethiopia’s conflict zone – NPR
… Ethiopia ‘at a crossroads’ amid spiraling ethnic conflict – AP
Ethiopian Orthodox leader denounces Tigray ‘carnage’ – AFP
… in a video ferried out by a friend; claimed earlier attempts to speak ‘censored’
Ethiopia’s crackdown on Tigrayans snares thousands – Reuters
… ‘across Ethiopia, Tigrayans are being fired and jailed since fighting erupted’
Eritrean troops disguised as Ethiopian military blocking critical aid in Tigray – CNN
A crackdown on journalists. NYT

Spying and stability: Djibouti thrives in ‘return to cold war’ – FT *
… economic growth is up 7% thanks to ports, free trade zones, railway
… five naval bases doesn’t hurt either

Western Africa (457m)

How climate change drives conflict in Mali. FP

Western Asia (303m)

Clashes between Israel and Palestinians continued. Palestinians and Israelis pounded each other with rockets and airstrikes. Israel is massing troops on the Gaza border. Heavy fighting, with over 700 injured, on 5/10. The UN Middle East envoy issued a stark warning of ‘full scale war’. 

Saudi Arabia said it would reopen its borders May 17, and the hajj would go ahead despite the pandemic.
… Photos: A socially-distanced Ramadan at Mecca’s Grand Mosque. Twitter

Sweeping Covid lockdown in Turkey sets off economic anxiety. WPost
… ‘hardly anyone these days can afford to be locked down’

… Turkey’s second major wave has begun to recede. NYT

South + Central Asia (2b)

India Covid-19 surge
About a million new cases roughly every 3 days. Multiplied by 1,400 millions in the population, and it’s about 4,200 days or 11 years to infect the whole population. Even at a million per day, it would take 3 years. So it’s unlikely to get that far–but at what short-term point would India start to see catastrophic economic, political, even military impact? It would take 84 days to get to 2% of the population, which some studies suggest is where these peaks tend to stop.

Covid desperation is… advancing rapidly into rural areas. NYT *
… ‘unleashing deep fear in places with little medical safety net’
The Kumbh Mela suspected to be a superspreader. WPost
… also, rural election campaigns. NYT *
Junior doctors ‘in the thick of Covid… grow up very fast…’ BBC
Bodies of 71 suspected Covid victims retrieved from Ganges. The Hindu
… lots of horrible stories like this emerging
Diplomats are leaving India after some embassies hit with virus. SCMP
Calls for a national lockdown. Reuters *
Lots of pieces about Indians upset with Modi government:
… ‘This government has failed us’: Anger rises – NPR
India and its vaccine maker stumble over their pandemic promises. NYT *
Example economic impact: has devastated contributions to the Bible Society of India. Link
… ‘no voluntary contributions, no Scripture sales, no Bible Sundays…’

Afghanistan: Bomb attack kills scores of mostly-Hazara school girls. NYT *
… ‘why do we deserve to die?’ evidence Afgh. on the verge of unraveling …
… part of this is Taliban attacks. Part of this is persecution of the Hazaras.

China is building entire villages deep in a sacred valley in Bhutan. FP

Kyrgyzstan: a diary from Batken at a time of violence. Link

India’s Covid-19 surge terrifies Pakistan: ‘also experiencing an uptick’  – FP

As India halts vaccine exports, Nepal faces its own Covid crisis – BBC
… in Kathmandu valley, almost all ICU beds, ventilators are full …
… 80,000 in home isolation … daily positivity rate of 50% …

In photos and stories: High up in Tajikistan’s Pamir mountains, life brings gruelling challenges. Link

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Related to recent news about China’s birth rate, lots of analysis pieces:

… “Strong birth rate policy intervention needed to avoid looming crisis, analysts say.” (It may be harder to get families to have babies than to prevent them from doing so. Then again, China has demonstrated it’s willing to undertake some draconian measures.) SCMP

… ‘most effective contraceptive is a TV show’ about the issues of two middle-class families facing difficult choices about the education of their children in the light of competition for skills — actually discourages people from having children. SCMP

… or maybe ‘most effective contraceptive is high income-to-debt ratio’: young people baulk at high cost of having kids – SCMP

… and Radii China had “6 stunning statistics.” Link

What’s bigger than a megacity? China’s planned 100 million people city clusters. MIT *

Southeast Asia (700m)

Indonesia risks India-style Covid-19 surge as millions skirt Eid travel ban. SCMP

Cambodia: 10s of 1000s going hungry under strict lockdown. Guardian
… 150k still live in designated red zones in cities across the country …

Vaccination drives stutter as new Covid-19 waves hit Vietnam, Thailand. The latter in particular has seen its total cases 10x since the start of this year. Yet life without tourists is difficult for Thailand, and it already plans to waive its mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors to Bangkok and other top tourist destinations, starting in October.

The battle for Myanmar is far from over. 100 days later, over 780 are dead and over 3,800 are still detained (UN). The coup is uniting the country’s normally divided ethnicities (but whether that will last is an open question). Urban dissidents are being trained by guerrillas from the countryside armies. Here’s the 100 days in pictures. In the short-term, fighting will likely continue. In the next several months, there are only three possible scenarios: the army gives up, the current status quo continues, or the protesters give up. Right now, my bet is on the continuation of the status quo, dismal as that may seem.

N America / W Europe

China isn’t the only one with a birth crash: USA is another: ‘levels not seen since 1979.’ WSJ
… Another Nomad/13er/GenX generation is in the offing.

Data

Covid case data

… 5/14: 160.6m (+5.2m) cases, 3.35m deaths
… 5/7: 155.4m (+5.5) cases, 3.24m deaths
… 4/30: 149.9m (+5.1) cases, 3.15m deaths
… 4/23: 144.8m (+6.32) cases, 3.07m deaths.
… 4/16: 138.48m (+4.38) cases, 2.97m deaths
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT, CovidTracking.com

Vaccine deserts: poorer countries with no Covid-19 jabs at all. Link
Fake Covid-19 certificates hit airlines, which have to police them. Link
Blood expert: some vaccines cause clots by triggering autoimmune response. WSJ

Other new data

2020 International Report on Religious Freedom. Link

Longer Reads

Great little Twitter infographic: the hierarchy of helpfulness. Link
… makes you think about how to really be helpful to others …
… needs one additional level, 0: problem-blindness – “that’s just the way it is”

The latest issue of Mission Catalyst notes the “God’s Heart for the Foreigner” video curriculum from Global Frontier Missions, including more than 80 Scripture passages and half a dozen discussion questions–”plenty of material to equip you to facilitate a group study on the topic.”

Tech & Futures

A cyberattack shut down a pipeline that provides nearly half of the eastern USA’s needs. US gas prices increased to nearly $3/gal, and some gas stations started to run dry. The pipeline paid a nearly $5 million ransom. It has resumed operations. The US government has taken steps to improve cybersecurity. It illustrates the potential impact of ransomware attacks on a just-in-time economy and will probably play out in increased risks in the next several years.

Chip shortages: with their manufacturing lines stalled due to chip shortages, several car companies are stripping advanced features out of cars so they can keep moving. Link

… The US wants to get better at making chips, but it’s not easy. Link

Ford’s ever smarter robots are speeding up the assembly line, and showing how AI can creep into industrial processes. In the short-to-medium term future, the most likely scenario for AI is ‘intelligence boosts’ for humans in specific tasks, and the automation of anything that can be automated. Link

Watch the British Royal Marines test jet suits – amazing stuff. Link