By Justin D. Long, ed.
Perspective, Insight, Context, Analysis
Tunisia’s government pledges improvements after protests
… but Tunisians are losing faith in the ballot box
… nearly 800 arrested in economic protests
USA: Morocco among rare ‘safest countries to travel’
North Africa / Warring States
South Sudan Humanitarian Snapshot (December 2017)
… 1.9 million internally displaced, 2 million in neighboring countries
Gunmen kill Christian in Egypt’s Sinai
… IS has killed 100 Christians in Egypt since 2016.
The children of Garbage City highlight broader problems with child poverty
… 60% of the children outside the formal educational system
… often start work as garbage collectors at 7 or 8 years old
Debate on polygamy heats up in Egypt
… ‘country is undergoing a marriage crisis… divorce rates alarmingly high’
… ‘number of unmarried women soaring’: est. 50% of marriageable age
Western Africa / Lake Chad
Fake medicines flourish in Africa despite killing thousands.
… Counterfeit medicine kills over 100,000 per year.
Controversy over girl’s conversion from Islam to Christianity
… DSS arrest pastor for converting Muslim girl to Christianity
Vows to punish perpetrators of ethnic violence
Releases Boko Haram suspects after rehabilitation
… although some doubt the rehabilitation claim
Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa
Guardian: Nairobi, Kenya air pollution “beyond imagination”
… thousands of old, dirty vehicles; traffic jams that stretch for miles
… 8-lane Mombasa Road, permanently clogged, # of vehicles doubles every 6 years
… air pollution could kill 1.5 million within a generation
Middle Africa / Lakes
Foreign Affairs: Congo’s slide into chaos: how a state fails.
The world’s first major city to run out of water may have only three months left.
… Without rain, Cape Town will run dry.
… The SW region of South Africa is gripped by a catastrophic water shortage.
… “Without severe rationing the taps will be turned off on April 22, 2018.”
VOA: Zimbabwe will hold first post-Mugabe elections in a few months
Central Asia / Caucasus
Repression in Kyrgyzstan is eroding Central Asia’s only democracy
… ‘competitive election… less affirmation of democracy than its last gasp’
Attacks on press freedom show Central Asia’s authoritarian side
The region is long known as being repressive for the church; these factors correlate
… repression likely not going to end any time soon, could get worse
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan agree on visa-free travel
Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf
Video: Thousands flee violence as government hammers Idlib
… last remaining rebel-held territory
IRIN: 5 key factors to watch in Syria in 2018
… Iran, underground rebels, reconstruction-transition link, more.
Trump admin pushing forward with plan to relocate embassy in 2019
… Unclear impact on presence of US citizens in the region
Homeless in Gaza: longread
… ‘more than 60% under the age of 25… despair takes root…’
Civilians, guns, militias, conspiracy theories, tensions rising before elections.
… it could all get very messy.
Extended the state of emergency by another 6 months
… allows Erdogan to rule by decree without parliamentary safeguards
Saudi Arabia and Iran rivalry key to Middle East in 2018
… ‘regional chaos to continue with no end in sight’
Mosul, 6 months after IS was defeated: in pictures
Christian house church leaders arrested in Karaj, Iran
Christian convert from Iran converting Muslims in Sweden
… have heard this type of story from many European nations
Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto
Foreign Affairs: The Taliban: too weak for victory, too strong for defeat.
… RFE: US says Kabul is closer to peace talks with the Taliban.
‘We are many and God is with us’: Christmas spirit shines in Pakistan
… ‘a ramshackle maze of alleys in the capital known as the 100 Quarters’
… ‘informal urban “Christian colonies” … Christians of modest means live and work’
India announces it can strike anywhere in China with new nuclear ballistic missile
India’s population growing much faster in the north
… and the south is paying the price
Nepal / Bhutan / Tibet
Bhutan embraces jeans, TV, cellphones, dance bars
Bengali / Bangladesh
More Rohingya flee to Bangladesh despite repatriation deal
… Why Bangladesh cannot accept all the Rohingya
… “nearly a million refugees have crossed … into SE Bangladesh…”
Bangladesh adds third gender option to voter forms
… ‘hijra’: male at birth, but identify as female
… ‘hijra culture is thousands of years old’
… ‘different code words, closed society, different from Western transgender’
Not just a minority: the Christian community’s contribution to Bangladesh
… a brief survey of some of the altruistic contributions
Birth rates rose, but short of government estimates, and…
… increased to 17.86 million; about half of increase, 2nd children
they Birth rates FELL in 2017, to 17.2 million; the increase was a one-off
… ‘birth rate still dangerously low’ says the government
… in fact ‘now has the lowest fertility rate in the world’
… less known: fertility rate already declining when 1-child came into force
… not that women were having too many children
… rather that too many women were having children at all.
… consequences of policy will play out over next several decades
… From 2013, 8 charts that explain Chinese demographics; trend continuing today
Gender distribution: men outnumber women by 32.7 million
ChinaSource: The Linfen Church demolition
… what we know and don’t know.
ChinaSource: The Chinese church in missions
… reflections on the opportunity and challenges
NYT: The price of China’s haphazard urbanization
Testing facial recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang
… warns when targets stray from home or workplace
Diplomat: Japan’s North Korean diaspora
… at its peak, over 500,000 members.
CT: “Why I’ve spent half my life helping North Korea”
ICYMI: N/S Korea have agreed to march under a single flag at Olympics
… and will field a joint women’s ice-hockey team.
Indonesian Christians in US try to block their deportation
… say they fled religious persecution, here for 20 years, want case heard
Bangladesh and Myanmar agree 2-year timeline to repatriate the Rohingya
… Aid agencies express concern about forcible repatriation.
Notable Europe / Americas
RAND: “Religion, conflict and stability in the former Soviet Union.” PDF (264pp).
… “Volume of essays… multidisciplinary, cross domain look at religion… how it affects stability…”
MPI: Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in the United States
… nearly 1.2 million in 2016, 3% of all 44 million immigrants
Note the potential US government partial shutdown
… “no plans yet made about visa processing and passports…”
New global data
World Bank: Eruptions of popular anger: the economics of the Arab Spring and its aftermath.
… Downloadable PDF: “rules out high and rising inequality as a reason”
… “reason is erosion in middle-class income, growing dissatisfaction…”
Brookings: Foresight Africa. PDF, 118pp, free download.
Scientists reviewed the most popular climate articles
… found only half of them to be completely accurate
… some of the most widely shared had very low credibility
2017 was the hottest year on record.
… great interactive graphic from NYT for NASA data.
How water shortages are stressing unstable countries right now.
… (I keep track of these because many unreached locations are already climate stressed)
Longer reads & Resources
Africans traveled a little more easily across Africa last year.
… easing visa restrictions might make cross-pollinating movements easier.
Allen Yeh. The future of mission is from everyone to everywhere.
… A look at Polycentric missiology.
Atlantic: The Underground Railroad to save atheists
… to protect those persecuted for non-religion
Lifehacking, Tactics, Skills, Rules
How to do proper double-opt-in introductions.
… useful for mission workers in sensitive environments.
“Dormant ties: the value of reconnecting.” PDF: from 2011.
“I tried Sheryl Sandberg’s Notebook Productivity Hack for 30 days”
… here are the takeaways.
… I found the bits at the end to be applicable to any system, and important.
Tim Ferriss’ “Tribe of Mentors,” Cliff Notes version.
… there’s a lot of gold here.
UPG Profiles, Travelogues, Stories
What’s the difference between children’s books in China and the US?
Traveling to Dali, Yunnan: the complete guide (plus photos)
Myst and mystique: Buddhism in Bhutan, in pictures
Pamir: exploring the “roof of the world” in remote Tajikistan
China’s clampdown on VPNs may aid government surveillance.
… Do VPNs still work in China? Yes, clampdown is mostly on corporate use.
Lebanon intelligence turned targets’ Android phones into spy devices
… caught spying on thousands of people
… one of dozens of spying operations around the world uncovered
#Autodrive: Self driving cars will be commercial only for some years to come
… software still too expensive for the average driver to own
#Climate: World’s first negative emissions plant is now online
… generating power, removing CO2 from air at the same time
The Meltdown and Spectre CPU bugs explained.
… don’t panic: take your time about applying patches.
Do 3rd party social media tools negatively reach and engagement?
… Buffer’s 200+ post experiment and results. TL;DR: “No.”
Facebook can match you to others using the dust scratches on your photos
… lots of stuff in here about discovering who knows who
What happens when FB stops showing news, priorities friends/family posts?
… Jeff Jarvis: FB primary distributor of news, shouldn’t shirk its responsibility
… Joshua Benton: they people won’t bother to look for news elsewhere
… Influencer marketing will get a positive boost from the changes
Why Google Photos blocked the search term “gorillas.”
… racism leads to self-censorship workarounds.
Walmart is developing a store with no cashiers.
A swarm of home-made drones bombed a Russian airbase
One person likely drove bitcoin from $150 to $1,000
… a new paper on price manipulation.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” ~Peter F. Drucker
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” – Mark Twain
“Many great ideas, however, come from creative, strategic introverts who prepare thoroughly and think deeply.” ~Kyle G. Hanser
“The world is full of significance. Part of our spiritual work is to learn to recognize it.” ~Marilyn McEntyre
“If I am hungry, that is a material problem; if someone else is hungry, that is a spiritual problem.” ~Dr. Paul Farmer
“The last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles.” ~Rick Warren
“We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right.” ~George Orwell
“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.” ~Nolan Bushnell