Roundup #236

By Justin Long

Issue No. 236 – 5 Feb 2021

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New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Sudan: All roads to West Darfur capital blocked by sit-in by Arab tribes, demanding the state governor be dismissed and displaced people be moved. “Over 130,000 displaced have fled recent attacks in El Geneina and now live in harsh conditions in 60 overcrowded shelters.” Dabanga

Libya: UN announces candidates for new transitional government, elections scheduled for end of the year, aiming to “end a decade of chaos and conflict.” Al Jazeera

“10 years on, Tunisia still seethe with anger—but at what?” 1 out of 3 under-25s unemployed. Thousands continue to flee in boats. “We need time,” say those in charge—but the young don’t want to wait another decade. Vice

Eastern Africa (520m)

As Ethiopia fills its Nile dam, regional rivalries overflow, complicating other rising issues. CSM

Rising tensions as Ethiopia, Sudan deadlocked on border dispute. Al Jazeera

“Tigray back to normal,” but witnesses disagree. AP
Tigray region at risk of huge “humanitarian disaster.” BBC
Ambitions to be a garment manufacturing hub unravel with Tigray war. Quartz
Eritrean refugees caught in the crossfire of Ethiopia’s Tigray war. AFP
Opposition says 52,000 killed in Tigray war. France24

Somalia: Al-Shabab rebels attacked a hotel in Mogadishu. Link
… government continued to fight to rescue people inside the hotel … CNN
… former defense minister dead in attack …

Western Africa / Sahel (457m)

December 2020 security incidents in the Lake Chad basin, mapped. Link

Over 2 million internally displaced due to Sahel violence. UNHCR

Middle Africa

Central African Republic’s capital in “apocalyptic situation” as rebels close in. BBC
… 200,000 have fled. 92k reach DRC. 13k in Cameroon, Chad, RoC – NBC

Western Asia (303m)

Lebanon raises the price of bread amid economic crisis – AP
… Tripoli wracked by violent protests – Reuters

In Iraq’s dire economy, poverty is rising, and so are fears of instability. 7m Iraqis (out of 40m) receive government salaries or pensions; but government revenues (dependent on oil) plummeted 47.5% in the first 8 months of 2020. Poverty rate up to 30%. NPR

Qatar reimposing Covid restrictions. Link

Saudi Arabia bans travel from 20 countries to curb Covid expansion. Al-Monitor

In Turkey, Istanbul’s population fell for the first time in two decades as people return to the countryside during Covid. Al Jazeera

Ten years after the Arab spring, wracked by war, cholera, Covid-19, and the world’s worst famine in decades, Yemen has little hope left. Link

The BBC had a good explainer & timeline of the Yemen war. Link
An even more in-depth, yet easily readable, explainer is here – MIT CIS
And, a 1/27/2021 updated explainer from CFR – Link

South & Central Asia (2.0b)

The mystery of India’s plummeting Covid-19 cases: an interesting look at the nuances and arguments for and against certain scenarios. The good news is, the number of Covid-19 cases is way down, by every measure. Link

Gov’t study: Over 300 million Indians may have/had Covid-19. Jakarta Post
Over half of those in Delhi may have. Straits Times

Millions of defaults threaten the future of Microfinance in India: borrowers around the world have been hit hard by Covid-19, “but perhaps nowhere more so than India” where small micro loans have flourished. Japan Times

The financial burden of weddings on India’s poorest families: change may be coming. Al Jazeera

Chennai is one of the world’s “wettest cities”—yet it’s running out of water, and has to truck water in. Japan Times

Delhi protests
India has blocked mobile Internet near Delhi. Link
Gov’t stifling dissenting voices, blocking Internet, crackdown on journalists. NYT
Haryana state blocks Internet amid farmer protest clashes. Al Jazeera
India journalists being accused of sedition over reporting. Straits Times

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Over 7,000 Hong Kongers have fled to the UK; the British government expects 300k+ to arrive over the next five years. Link

Millions of leaked police files detail suffocating surveillance of China’s Uighur minority – Intercept

“Their goal is to destroy everyone”: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape. Trigger alert: this is a disturbing article detailing horrific abuse. BBC

Spring festival travel is tricky, but for many it’s still worth it. Link

China’s population growth declined by 30% in some regions. Headed toward zero population growth annually, which will result in rapid aging and economic difficulties. Many regions will face this challenge in the short-term future – Inkstone

Chinese millennials aren’t getting married, and the government is worried. CNN
… (Demographic growth is a key form of church growth. One of the functions of church is to help believers marry believers, and raise believing children.)

Also, falling population in South Korea. Link

Kim Jong Un cannot denuclearize, former NKor diplomat says. The stability of the regime is directly linked to nuclear power. An interesting long-read article featuring insight from a former diplomat who defected. CNN 

Southeastern Asia (700m)

The coup in Myanmar
Aung San Suu Kyi detained as military seizes control – BBC
… troops patrolling, night-time curfew in force, 1-year state of emergency
… US threatens new sanctions, UN and UK condemn coup
… military acted before first session of parliament could approve election
… longer game plan harder to understand: “on a perilous path”
Myanmar military temporarily blocks Facebook – TechCrunch
The statement of Myanmar’s generals: Reuters
US warns it will “take action” if the coup continues – Politico
Myanmar likely to find support in China if sanctions bite – Reuters
Anti-coup protests ring out in main city – Reuters
Medics on strike against the military amid Covid-19 crisis – Al Jazeera
Deep fears of violent crackdown – UN
Longer read: Why the military overthrow thew government – PBS
What it could mean for the Rohingya & other persecuted minorities – Vox
What the coup means for Christians – Open Doors
… “It feels like our hope has been taken away” – Open Doors

Indonesia’s religious minority students struggle against systemic bigotry. Jakarta Post


Covid case data

… 2/4: 104.8m deaths, 2.28m deaths
… 1/29: 101m cases, 2.19m deaths (2.1% CFR)
… 1/22: 97.3m cases, 2.08m deaths (2.1% CFR)
… 1/15: 92.6m cases, 1.98m deaths (2.1% CFR)
… 1/05: 88.2m cases, 1.9m deaths (2% CFR)
… 12/18: 73.9m cases, 1.6m deaths (2.1% CFR)
Trackers: Johns

CNN Travel has an excellent survey of what is required for Americans to travel to various countries around the world. While I don’t know if the same requirements exist for other passports, this will at least give you a sense of some of the travel issues. Link

Other data

479 million people projected to live in extreme poverty in 2030 – Link

Longer Reads

1. “The end of a golden age for oil producers”: and this time, I’m buying it, not because of an end to the supply (the old form of “peak oil”) but rather plummeting demand. Other forms of power have seen significant drops in the cost of producing them. Economist

… ExxonMobil saw a net loss of $22.4 billion … Link
… not just big corporations – this will impact every nation with oil revenues …

2. Stuck between the pandemic and politics, some countries ban rivals’ vaccines. Link

3. “Think evangelicalism is dying [in America]? Well, define evangelicalism.” This piece had a particularly striking analysis: 48.2% of self-identified evangelicals in America attend church on a less than weekly basis (over a third only seldom, yearly, or even “never”). That number has been growing over the last several years. Evangelicals have long been a pool for mission mobilization; trends in evangelicalism in the West have strong influences over mission activity ranging from recruiting to fundraising. [If a major donor wants to come to a conference but refuses either testing or vaccination…?] Link

Future & Technology

1. That’s one way to do it: China wants the Internet to be full of “positive energy”—so unqualified outlets are prohibited from sharing news involving politics, economics, or international relations during the Communist Party’s centennial. Sixth Tone

2. ~1 out of 7 people in our world is a Chinese Internet user (989 million). Link

3. This recording of Benedict Evans’ 2021 Tech presentation is information-dense. His presentation is the first 45 minutes or so; I haven’t watched past that, but I never fail to listen to what he has to say. Major insight packed into a very small presentation package. (This is one of the reasons why I think oil has reached its peak and electric will disrupt lots of things worldwide.) Link

4. If you want to see something incredibly fun, watch this “footage” from St. Petersburg. Despite the fun, it also shows just how much a talented person can mess with reality. Link

5. India threatens Twitter with penalties if it doesn’t block accounts connected to tweets about farmers’ protests. A reminder that social media giants operate in countries that do not care about US law. WSJ

6. Bridgefy is a social media app originating out of Mexico that works “offline”, using mesh networks to allow users to communicate without Internet connections. It was downloaded more than one million times in Myanmar after the coup. Straits Times

7. More on vaccine passports. They will almost certainly be rolled out globally. [Will mission conferences, for example, require proof of vaccination to attend? Several events already requiring proof of testing…] NYT

… and, verifying people’s vaccine records will be important – if vaccine passports are required to travel & work, then people will find a way to defeat the system – Link

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