Roundup #237

By Justin Long

Issue No. 237 – 12 Feb 2021

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New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Libya’s new government is more of the same: “unlikely to transcend Libya’s institutional divisions.” Carnegie

But Egypt’s government did pledge support for it. Memo

Sudan blames Bashir loyalists for riots, ordered arrests. Bloomberg
Imposes curfew dir in 3 states to curb protests. MEMO
Clashes in Darfur could re-ignite Sudan’s old conflict. AP

Floods, fighting, famine: inside South Sudan’s triple crisis: “a proxy war for political power in Juba.” New Humanitarian

Protests ongoing in Tunisia – Link

Eastern Africa (520m)

Ethiopia fills its Nile dam, regional rivalries overflow. CSM
Sudan has started preparing for “worst-case scenarios.” MEMO

Ethiopia: no end to war in devastated Tigray. AllAfrica
… More of a blog post with links to sites following Tigray, and analysis articles.
UN: Situation in embattled Tigray region extremely alarming. ABC
… “Ethiopia may no longer control up to 40% of Tigray”
… “Malnutrition… starvation… little health care…”
Relief for Tigray stalled as government denies access. New Humanitarian
In 2 months, the starving could be “tens of thousands.” AP
Reports of sexual violence. LATimes

Somalia’s president’s term is ending, but the various powers disagree on how to hold elections. Who’s in charge? Al Jazeera, 30min video

Western Africa / Sahel (457m)

Nigeria’s Covid-19 response: crowds and chaos. CNN

Brief blurb about what can be expected from the Sahel in 2021. AfricaReport

6 years ago, Burkina Faso was a “beacon of hope.” What happened? ReliefWeb
… “The next 5 years could make or break democracy”

Western Asia (303m)

A crackdown on smugglers means no flour has reached the al-Rukban camp in Syria. Which means no bread. “If the situation continues like this, we will die here of starvation.” SyriaDirect

Lebanon: reports of domestic violence have doubled in 12 months. MEMO

South & Central Asia (2.0b)

Pakistan: 200+ people were accused of blasphemy in 2020. Surprisingly to me, most were Muslims accusing other Muslims; less than 4% of the accused were Christians.

Iran has the world’s “fastest growing evangelical movement.” A bit of public data on the rapid growth of churches in previously unreached area. Iran’s church has been growing rapidly for some time, but now becoming more and more obvious. TGC

How to bust corruption, Kyrgyzstan style: powerful former customs official who spirited $700m out of the country gets $3,000 fine. Eurasianet

Uttar Pradesh introduces the use of facial recognition technology to track known sex offenders. But there’s a lot of issues. “Every person will be surveilled” – I’m not sure if this means every single individual, or just every known sex offender. To be functional, every face would have to be matched against a database. Lots of issues, but crimes against women are significant in the state, and UP knows it needs to “do something.” Once they start using surveillance tech, it’ll be hard not to use it for other things too. Straits Times

Preserving the Saura language in India: another piece on eroding languages. Diplomat

Delhi protesters: what life is like in Indian farmers’ protest camps. CNN

In Afghanistan, a booming kidney trade preys on the poor. NYT

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Hong Kong: children (as young as six) to be taught about national security law. “Let’s learn about national security! Be a law-abiding and responsible citizen!… Schools will be asked to monitor children’s behavior and report any support for the pro-democracy movement.” BBC

“The hidden (economic) costs of China’s cancelled New Year parties.” Sixth Tone

“The long roots of cultural genocide in Xinjiang.” Bottom line: “Even if the CCP were to have an unlikely change of heart, it will be difficult to repair the damage to the Uyghur people and restore trust between them and the state… Instead, China seems committed to pressing ahead to a bleak endgame, the decimation of the Uyghur people and their culture.” FP

Southeastern Asia (700m)

The coup in Myanmar
A guide to praying for Myanmar. PDF
Impact on aid groups: lots of projects now uncertain. Diplomat
US announces sanctions on leaders. BBC
Tens of thousands of people rally to oppose the coup. Reuters
Some crackdowns on crowds, but a lot of restraint. Diplomat
“There is a deep sense of foreboding.” Economist
How Myanmar’s fragile push for democracy collapsed in a military coup. Time
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are blocked. TheVerge

Democracy is regressing generally in Southeast Asia, emboldening many. CFR


Mexico’s Protestants now make up over 10% of the population. Christianity Today

“The digital divide is giving American churches hell.” Large, successful churches are continuing to do well; struggling churches are falling further behind. Wired

UK citizens may not be able to travel abroad until all citizens are vaccinated. NYT

Covid-19 is increasing religious tolerance? “Muslim women say they feel freer to wear the niqab during the pandemic.” FastCompany


Covid case data

… 2/12: 107.9m deaths, 2.37m deaths
… 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)
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking

Other data

Consumer Trends 2021: 102-slide presentation. Link
Ark Invest’s Big Ideas 2021: PDF
Economist infographic: Global democracy has had a bad year. Economist

Longer Reads

1. Pentecostals lead the world in conversion growth, but not in US missions: just a tenth of American mission agencies affiliate with the world’s fastest-growing Christian movement. (My first job in missions was working with AIMS, an association of Charismatic missions–was always interesting how few agencies were strongly charismatic and affiliated with us, and how many were “mildly” so and doubly-affiliated with AIMS and EFMA, the Evangelical association.) CT

2. “The Coming African-American Missions Movement”: “Less than 1% of American missionaries are black… but young African American Christians are increasingly interested… 61% of black churchgoers between ages of 18-35 say they could become a missionary…” CT

3. MissioNexus has an interesting graphic, “Diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area,” which notes that “20% of people in Greater Toronto are unreached.” Allow me to nit-pick this for just a moment: people groups fall into the “unreached” category based on a measure of % Christian. The “are unreached” phrasing has the connotation of “have not yet been presented the Gospel,” which is not the same thing. (See Unreached is not Unevangelized is not Unengaged for a full discussion). But it’s a little nit-pick. What this graphic shows is a concentration of diaspora people who come from classically unreached areas–e.g. Somalis. Identifying places like Toronto (and engaging Toronto) is a meaningful part of a long-term ministry strategy to the unreached. MissioNexus

4. The African art of reciting the Koran. BBC

New Books
Working Backwards: “insights, stories and secrets from inside Amazon.” Great long review/interview here

Future & Technology

1. Nasdaq Decodes: Tech Trends 2021 report is available for download.

2. Twitter vs India: Twitter unblocks accounts that criticized India’s government; now, India threatens Twitter’s employees with jail time. Other countries run differently than America does. Buzzfeed.

3. The NYT has an… interesting… examination of the kinds of data available from cell phones. This surveillance data can be purchased under certain conditions. If you want to see how easy it is to identify and track someone, check out They stormed the Capitol. Their Apps tracked them.

4. Wired’s “There are spying eyes everywhere–now they have a brain” focuses on the development and sale of software that can aggregate, analyze, correlate, and discover patterns in the raw imagery data now being acquired. Wired

5. Digital Trends has a piece on how RFID tags and field sensors are changing the collection of data in NFL football. Where there’s a will and money, there’s no end to the granularity of surveillance. DigitalTrends

6. Facebook wanted to counter the manipulation of the newsfeed, so they ramped up Groups in 2019. But Groups became the primary vector for rabid partisanship. So now FB is clamping down on them. (I have a FB Group for subscribers of the Roundup, but all these issues are one reason why I keep the Roundup off FB and under my control. Who knows what platform changes will get introduced this year or next, as FB struggles through all these issues.) WSJ

… and, Facebook will test cutting back politics in the news feed. TheVerge

7. Facebook saw the success of Clubhouse, and decided to clone yet another rival’s feature set and create a competitive audio chat product. Let’s bring talk radio to Facebook. CNet

8. Twitter is considering introducing a “subscription-based payment model” where accessing certain users’ content would require a “tipping system,” and would enable it to not rely as heavily on targeted advertising. Many companies are exploring the possibility of a paid-for model of the Internet, and some are making it work. Link

9. Another piece on how much electricity it takes to mine bitcoins: “more electricity than Argentina.” BBC

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