Roundup #254

By Justin Long

Issue No. 254 – 17 June 2021

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Beyond’s summer DMM Nuggets will feature a sequence of 3 sessions on the foundations of discipleship. The first one was last night, and was very well attended. We talked about the character of a disciple–one who loves and obeys Jesus. The second in the series, “What a disciple does,” will be held Thursday, July 8th, from 7pm-8:30pm CST. If you know someone interested in movements and discipleship, who wants to get in “on the ground floor,” this is still an excellent starting point. Get more details here.

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Algeria cancels France24’s operating license. Al Jazeera
… will make it more difficult to get news out of Algeria …
… lots of journalists, opposition figures being arrested …

Sudan: State of emergency, curfew in South Kordofan after clashes. Radio Dabanga

From global cause to forgotten crisis: a reporter’s diary from Darfur. NewHum
… “in 2003 & 2004, aid groups visited frequently. Now there are none” …

The Biden administration is looking at reopening the US Embassy in Tripoli, which has been close since 2014. NBC

East Africa (520m)

Most of Ethiopia will vote in June, but Harar and Somali regions will wait until September due to “irregularities and problems with the printing of ballot papers.” Reuters

Ethiopia’s envoy to the UN says Eritrean troops to leave Tigray “soon.” Reuters
… “a matter of sorting out some technical and procedural issues” …

Famine in Ethiopia hits 350,000. NYT *
… “a starvation calamity bigger than anywhere else in the world” …

Violence continues in Mozambique. UN

Western Africa (457m)

Once Africa’s promise, Nigeria is heaving under crime, few jobs. Al Jazeera
… yet to recover from oil crash of 2014 …
… over 90m live in poverty, more than in India …
… 1 in 3 Nigerians are unemployed …
Young, qualified and barely scraping by—inside Nigeria’s economic crisis. The Guardian
Twitter ban leaves businesses in a lurch. CNN
… “[selling items] on social media is where I eat,” Egemonu told Reuters…
… 39.6m Nigerians used Twitter, 20% for business advertisement …
… Suspension is “costing Nigerians billions of naira on a daily basis” …
“Death of Boko Haram leader doesn’t end NE Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis.” NewHum
… it appears most analysts are accepting this event as confirmed …

Western Asia (303m)

Saudi Arabia: the hajj to go ahead with 60,000 vaccinated residents. DW
… no foreign pilgrims will be able to attend this year’s hajj …

Lebanon: how it’s financial meltdown happened since 2019. Reuters
… Lebanon’s currency drops to new low, losing 90% of its 2019 worth. Reuters
… workers stage general strike over escalating crises. AP
… Lebanon is literally running out of gas. WPost

South + Central Asia (2b)

Iran’s presidential election: what to now. CFR
… generally, that the conservative candidate appears to be the front-runner …
… it’s not exactly a “fair” election, but then the president holds limited powers anyway …

India gingerly eases Covid rules as new cases dip to 2-month low. Reuters
Inquiry: labs faked Covid tests to meet the daily testing quota during the Kumbh Mela. BBC
… at the time, officials said ever visitor was screened for Covid …
… turns out, not so much, instead those who returned home infected a large number …
In a crisis, India’s Modi could always change the narrative. Then came Covid. NYT

Pakistan decides to take drastic measures: blocking people’s cellphone service in two provinces and suspending the salaries of some government employees who have not been vaccinated. NYT

“Elite Afghani forces suffer horrific casualties as Taliban advance.” NYT
… dozens of districts have fallen to the Taliban since Western withdrawals have begun
Five health workers carrying out polio vaccinations were killed Tuesday. UN

Turkey has made a clear commitment to take a lead role in securing Kabul’s airport. Link
… makes me wonder what future role Turkey will take in Afghanistan as a whole …

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia are disrupting global shipping and the chip supply chain. WSJ

China’s pig pop. back to pre-African swine fever level, and soybean imports are up. SCMP

Fewer babies, altered expectations, desire for connection forcing Chinese filial piety to adapt to new times. SCMP

Migration drives Han population growth in Xinjiang: Uighurs up 16%, Han up 25%. SCMP

Taiwan Covid outbreak appears to stabilize as new cases fall. SCMP

N Korea’s Kim Jong Un warns of ‘tense’ food situation, extends Covid-19 restrictions. AP

Potentially useful: the Diplomat is hosting a webinar on “China’s Social Credit System: Fact vs. Fiction.” Look at a brief description on this registration form.

Southeast Asia (700m)

Thailand struggles to contain a new Covid wave. France24
… “impossible conditions… if we remain closed one more month, we won’t survive…”
PM sets goal of mid-October to reopen to vaccinated visitors. USA Today
… “must be allowed entry without quarantine or other inconvenient restrictions” …

“Escalating catastrophe” in Myanmar. UN
Myanmar’s Coming Revolution: what will emerge from collapse? Foreign Affairs
… A long read article that starts, “Myanmar is at a point of no return.”
Churches become refuges for fleeing civilians in Myanmar. UCA News

N America / W Europe

USA travel rebound: 2 million go through US airports. AP

The American mosque increasingly resembles the American church: talk of ‘mosque planting’ and ‘unmosqued youth.’ CT

Social and religious dynamics of Muslims in Europe: 7 trends, 4 responses (h/t Shane Bennett). Evangelical Focus

EU members agree to lift travel restrictions on US tourists. SFGate


Covid case data

… 6/18: 177.5m (+2.6m) cases, 3.84m deaths
… 6/11: 174.9m (+3.1m) cases, 3.77m deaths
… 6/04: 171.8m (+2.7m) cases, 3.69m deaths
… 5/28: 169.1m (+4.1m) cases, 3.51m deaths
… 5/20: 165.0m (+4.4m) cases, 3.42m deaths
… 5/14: 160.6m (+5.2m) cases, 3.35m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *

The Covax effort to vaccinate the world is faltering. SciAm
… “even if it achieved its goal perfectly, it would only vaccinate 20% of the countries”
… Covid-19 will be around for a long time to come …

Effectiveness matters: 350 doctors and medical workers caught Covid-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac, and dozens have been hospitalized. Reuters

The delta variant is 60% more contagious than the alpha variant. WPost
… and, a “delta plus” variant has been detected as well …

Other new data

Global Peace Index 2020: peacefulness has deteriorated over the past year. Link
… it’s an obvious correlation: many of the least peaceful countries are also among the least reached …

War, violence, persecution, human rights violations, other factors = 3 million flee their homes in 2020. AP

1 in every 100 deaths in 2019 was a suicide. I expect that rate increased in 2020. Isn’t this an area where the church could possibly help bring life? Isn’t this an area where we could almost directly affect the death rate worldwide? Of course, it wouldn’t be easy. UN

Longer Reads

How the world ran out of everything: global shortages during the Coronavirus reveal failings of just-in-time manufacturing. NYT

What I’ve reading/just finished

The Talent Code. One of the most interesting and useful books I’ve recently read. With lots of stories, it discusses the role of myelin in the development of skill, and breaks talent development into the necessary roles of (1) repeated practice that attends to mistakes early, (2) inspiration (“ignition”) to be willing to put in the practice, and (3) master coaching to help you catch errors so you’re not optimizing the wrong actions. Talent isn’t born, it’s grown; and practicing harder isn’t the same as practicing in the right way. Amazon

Blessed: a history of the American Prosperity Gospel. So far a helpful, objectively told history of how this developed. Amazon

Grabbed cheap copies of two other books

  • The personality brokers: the strange history of Myers-Briggs and the birth of personality testing. (KLT, you might like this one.) Amazon
  • Fifty inventions that shaped the modern economy. Fun, interesting stories, and for some reason Amazon gave me a $5 credit, so… Amazon

Kindle samples I’m exploring

  • Friends: Understanding the power of our most important relationships. By Robin Dunbar, of Dunbar’s Number fame. Dunbar’s name, plus this quote, caught my eye: “The number and quality of our friendships may have a bigger influence on our happiness, health and mortality than anything else in our life.” Is it possible that small fellowships groups, but helping friendships form, contribute in and of themselves to longer, healthier life? Dunbar seems to suggest that’s possible. Amazon
  • Pinpoint: how GPS is changing technology, culture and our minds. Initial stories intrigued me in the bookstore. I’ve read before about how GPS and a hyper-local focus (where I am right now) means I don’t look at bigger maps, and so miss out on the shape of geography around me and even how it’s changing. Plus, of course, we lose out on serendipity of exploration. Amazon

Tech & Futures

“Miraculous” mosquito hack cuts dengue in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by 77%. BBC
… they infected mosquitos with a bacteria that reduced the ability to spread dengue …
… bacteria doesn’t harm the mosquito, just blocks dengue …

Amazon brings its cashierless tech to a full-size grocery store for the first time. Link

Watch a drone swarm fly autonomously through a forest without crashing. Wired

12 countries in the EU now using digital Covid certificate. Forbes

Silicon Valley thought India was its future. Now everything has changed. Slate

Canon put AI cameras in its Chinese offices that only let smiling workers inside. Verge

New HTTP spec proposes setting cookie consent in the browser, eliminating cookie banners. ArsTechnica

Apple’s Mail client will block email tracking (including open rates on newsletters like this one). Verge

China is kicking bitcoin miners out; many could end up in Texas. CNBC
… How Texas’s wind boom has spawned a Bitcoin mining rush.  MIT
… Meanwhile, their telling us to conserve electricity by turning aircon down. ABC
… and struggled to provide heat during the freeze of the winter. Wikipedia

How Christian ministries can leverage 15 cutting-edge tech in the next 5 years. FaithTech
… I haven’t had a chance to read all of these, but they were recommended to me and look interesting …

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