Roundup 245

By Justin Long

Issue No. 245 – 16 April 2021

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New Observations (aka ‘The Blog’)

The wolves among movements. Link

Some nuances of ProtonMail’s security. Link

New Events

East Africa

Djibouti-China marriage ‘slowly unravelling’ as investment project disappoints? France24

A turbulent run-up to elections in Somalia. ACLED
President extends his term by 2 years with contentious law. NYT
… fears that this will kick off additional political violence …

‘Large, likely long-lasting crisis’ looms over Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado. UNICEF

Eritrean troops continue to commit atrocities in Tigray. NYT
… despite a promise to leave, troops remain in the north, aiding the Ethiopian govt.
2 million displaced in Ethiopia. CSM
Military crackdown in Tigray prompts accusatons of ethnic cleansing. PBS
Top Ethiopia health official alleges ‘sexual slavery’ in Tigray. Al Jazeera

22 Christians released in Eritera: 13 still imprisoned. MNN

Northern Africa

Tribal clashes in Sudan’s Darfur displace 1,800 into Chad. Daily Sabah
… concerns over violent down spiral: Darfur’s last war killed 300k, displaced 2.5 million …

Middle Africa

Congo: ‘Islamic State seeks revival in Christian countries.’ WSJ
… related, last week: In bid to boost profile, ISIS turns to Africa’s militants. NYT

Western Africa

Nigeria: The “sentry in the north” – AFP
… a profile of the AFP journalism team working in northern Nigeria …
… region is home to 100 million, has endured a decade of fighting …

Western Asia

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard faces scrutiny and criticism over mistakes and failures. Maybe. Link

Iraq: Drought and abundance in the Mesopotamian marshes. NYT
… home to the Ma’dan, also known as the ‘Marsh Arabs’ …

Covid cases rising rapidly in Iran. Link

For African migrants in Yemen, no way forward and no way back. Link
… every year, tens of thousands of Africans move to Yemen to get jobs in the Gulf …
… Ethiopians hed home after Yemen migrant life becomes untenable. Reuters

South & Central Asia

All US forces to withdraw from Afghanistan before 9/11/2021. Link
Afghan president in ‘desperate situation’, power undermined. NYT
… would imagine the probability for increased Taliban power is high …

Bhutan vaccinated almost all its adults in a week. Link

What’s behind the surge in violent Islamism in Bangladesh? Diplomat

Bangladesh Covid shutdown triggers exodus from Dhaka. Al Jazeera
… government ordered all offices, shops to close for eight days …
… all international flights halted, domestic transport curtailed …
… thousands scramble to get out & return to home villages …
… in similar situation last year in India, DMMs found opportunities to help …
Bangladesh facing vaccine shortage as India halts exports. DW

India Covid-19 surge
‘A tsunami of cases’: desperation as Covid batters India. Guardian
Record 200,000 new Covid-19 cases on 4/15. Forbes
… Maharashtra accounts for 25% of all cases, enters partial lockdown
… Mumbai imposes strict virus restrictions. AP
2 to a hospital bed as hospital crisis spirals. Channel News Asia
India bans Remdesivir exports, reserving it for local use. Reuters
Second exodus: low-paid workers fleeing cities, as a year ago. NYT
… as bad or worse as last year’s exodus …
Why? ‘Complacency and missteps deepen a Covid-19 crisis.’ NYT
And: Rallies, religious gatherings aggravate India’s surge. Reuters
The Kumbh Mela, world’s largest religious gathering, is still on. Link
… April 2021, Haridwar, at least a million pilgrims a day …
Kumbh Mela as Covid ‘super-spreader’. Reuters
… Video: over 16 million in 2010; this year, only 600k so far? still, spread likely …

India’s poor hit hard by pandemic-induced downturn. Nikkei
… number in poverty doubles, middle class shrinks by a third
India’s schools have closed, introducing setbacks for kids. Link

Maldives to offer holidaymakers vaccines on arrival to revive tourism. CNBC

Video on Pakistan’s water crisis: climate change, water wars & water thieves. Al Jazeera

Economic maladministration in Turkmenistan is becoming harder to hide. Eurasia
… basic staples are experiencing trouble …

The price of flights from Tajikistan to Russia (for jobs) is high. Link
… ‘thousands of families in Tajikistan face severe food shortages after Russia closed borders due to Covid’
… apparently, the family of Tajikistan’s president has a monopoly on ticket sales. Link

East Asia

Lots of China ‘saber rattling’ pieces:
US sends unofficial delegation to Taiwan, angers China. DW
China warns of military action over Taiwan. SCMP
Lots of Chinese jets flying in to Taiwan airspace. BBC
China: the equal of USA, ‘days of not challenging are behind.’ WSJ
Beijing-controlled maritime militia around disputed reefs. CNN
USA national security team lists China at top of lists of threats. NPR

Hong Kong: more measures to ensure ‘preferred election outcomes.’ Link

The plight of China’s 31m ‘left-behind’ children. Economist
… UNICEF: at least 1 in 3 children experience prolonged absence of at least 1 parent

Under pressure over Xinjiang, China is aiming at overseas Uighurs. Reuters

ChinaSource Quarterly: women and the Missio Dei in China. Link

Is North Korea facing a famine?
N Korea leader warns of famine. HRWNPR
… but may be effort to take advantage of Covid-19 to tighten power grip …
… nation facing ‘worst ever situation.’ CBS
Russian envoy says ‘there is no famine.’ Al Jazeera
… experts say Kim is facing perhaps the toughest moment, though …
… ‘building large disinfection complexes’ to allow cross-border trade …
… move would allow NKor to bring in international aid stuck on China border …

South-eastern Asia

‘Heading toward a full-blown conflict,’ UN human rights chief warns. Link
… ‘clearly echoes that of Syria in 2011, as it descends into conflict’
The looming catastrophe in Myanmar. Foreign Affairs
… ‘risks becoming another Syria: unrestrained destruction & irreconcilable division’
Failed state: Myanmar collapses into chaos. Nikkei
Russia selling arms to Myanmar to offset China’s influence. Nikkei
Student protesters traumatised after beatings in prison. SCMP
Dozens killed in military crackdown in Bago. BBC
As Myanmar unravels, people flee cities for rural backwaters. WPost
Fear and rumor in villages forced offline. Frontier

Thailand is experiencing a surge: over 1,500 cases have been reported. While this is a small number of cases compared to some other countries, it is the largest for Thailand since the pandemic began, and enough for the government to begin shutting down schools and bars. This is another data point in the idea of ‘risk pools’: people are jumpy enough about the rapid acceleration of cases (‘exponential growth’) that events like this will quickly lead to shutdowns, lockdowns, border closures, etc. Link

Americas and Europe

Brazil’s Encantado building a Christ statue taller than Rio’s. Link

Crossing cultures: “From beans and rice to BBQ: Muslim Americans’ Ramadan cuisine reflects their diversity.” Almost 30% of American Muslims are Asians, and 20% are Black. Link

Covid is killing more civilians daily in Sarajevo than the Bosnian war did. Link

Russia’s hidden Covid toll is an open secret. Link

5% of the people living in the EU are non-EU citizens. Link



… 4/16: 138.48m cases, 2.97m deaths
… 4/9: 134.1m cases, 2.90m deaths
… 4/2: 129.2m cases, 2.82m deaths
… 3/25: 124.9m cases, 2.74m deaths
… 3/19: 121.5m cases, 2.68m deaths

Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking


Engines of growth: what is a retention rate? Link
… retention alone will not lead to exponential growth; new acquisition is required …
… same could be said of churches: not enough to keep people in church …

One more data point in the continued pooling of Covid-19 risk: Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 vaccine coverage is a long way off. Diplomat

… Another: low-income countries have received just 0.2% of all Covid-19 shots given. Link

New Global Trends 2040 from US National Intelligence Council. PDF

In pictures: begins around the world amid Covid restrictions. BBC
How fasting hours differ around the world. I’d hate to be in Iceland. Link

Why people forget that less is more: when solving problems, people prefer adding things to getting rid of them. Economist


Notable: Reuters puts its website behind a paywall. NYT
… This is really not surprising. In the long run, every news site has to figure out how to pay its journalists. But, it will likely impact newsletters (like the Roundup) that share links. In the past I’ve used a lot of Reuters articles because they covered the event and they were free to access. I usually recommend people get two or three subscriptions to good, credible news sources that range over a variety of obvious and natural biases.

The rise of a Hindu vigilante in the age of WhatsApp and Modi. Wired
… the world’s largest experiment in social-media fueled terror …

The militarization of China’s Internet trolls. Link

As locusts swarmed East Africa, this tech helped squash them. Link

Shenzen is the drone capital of the world. SCMP

Chip shortages
have now spread to China’s home appliance industry. SCMP
… makes about 2/3 of the world’s A/C, TVs, microwaves, fridges, etc …
Sixty-week delay on Internet router orders. Bloomberg

Drought in Taiwan puts chip makers against farmers: the island is going to great lengths to keep water flowing to its all-important semiconductor industry, including shutting off irrigation to legions of rice growers. NYT

Self-driving robots delivering pizzas in Houston, USA. Link

Nvidia releases new ‘Grace’ processor, specifically designed for AI. Link

Europe seeking to limit use of surveillance in society: new regulations to ban using facial recognition for surveillance, algorithms that manipulate human behavior. BBC

Shedding light on fairness in AI with a new data set: Facebook AI built a publicly available, diverse, fully-permissioned data set of videos to help AI researchers evaluate the fairness of computer vision and audio models. Link

Thanks to the 35!

The Roundup is perhaps the most visible thing I do in mission research. If you give, you’ll support this weekly publication as well as the rest of the work I do documenting movements and engagement gaps, which helps missionaries and mission agencies know where to send workers.  (Thanks to the 35 so far in 2021, and the 67 fans in 2020!) Click here to donate.

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