Roundup 246

By Justin Long

Issue No. 246 – 23 April 2021

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New Observations (aka ‘The Blog’)

Covid-19 is impacting missions and missionaries. Link

The rising risk of martyrdom, 2021. Link

More observations, here.

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Algerian Islamists eye first election win since civil war. Reuters

ISIS executes Christian businessman kidnapped in Egypt’s Sinai. CT
… another data point in the rise of martyrdom worldwide.

UN and partners welcome progress in Libya. UN

Sudan: in Darfur’s rebel-held mountains, war is far from over. NewH
… in spite of a peace deal, the most powerful insurgents continue to recruit

Pesident of Chad is killed as soldiers clash with rebels. NYT
… Analysis: why his death is a seismic event. NewH
… The military has illegally taken over at the moment. Bloomberg

East Africa (520m)

Ethiopia: no end to conflict in Tigray, warns UNICEF. UN
… UN Security Council needs to act on Tigray region. HRW

Eritrea: religious freedom hopes dashed as 35 more Christians arrested. Release Intl
… army raided a prayer meeting held by 23 women in Asmara
… another 12 arrested in Assab

Somalia’s rival factions spread across Mogadishu, jockey for power. Guardian

Somaliland: trial of believers underway. Middle East Concern

Western Africa (457m)

Student kidnappings threaten collapse of Nigerian education system. Brookings

Western Asia (303m)

UAE floats movement restrictions on unvaccinated people. CNBC

In Saudi Arabia, tech, not oil, is the hot new thing. Link
… young Saudis find cachet in the startup scene …
Also, the spectacular surge of the Saudi female labor force. Brookings
… increased from 20% in 2018 to 33% in year-end 2020.

Yemen: Marib’s descent into war shouldn’t be a surprise. NewH

In northern Turkey, another Andrew Brunson-style case is brewing. CT

International flights resume to Saudi Arabia, but 20 countries still banned. Link 

South + Central Asia (2b)

I don’t see a ceiling to the number of infections per day in the immediate future.
India: new records continue to be set: over 314k/day. Axios
… this is over 1 million infections per week …
‘The system has collapsed’: India’s descent into Covid hell. Guardian
… many falsely believed the country had defeated Covid …
India is in the midst of an undeclared national lockdown. Quartz, $
… local rules, voluntary suspension of activity, but no official enforcement
… “all of the pain, none of the gain” …
Health system cracking under the strain. NYT
… acute oxygen shortage, accidents killing tens of people …
… over 10 million attended Kumbh Mela since January …
… system is ‘close to collapse.’ CNN
… ‘no place for you’: Indian hospitals buckle amid virus surge. Diplomat
Modi scorned over rallies, religious gatherings amid surge. Reuters

UAE bans travel from India. The Hindu
Singapore bans travel from India. SCMP

Pakistan also mulling a lockdown as Covid-19 wave continues. Link

Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal is a blow for China. Bloomberg
… “most of China’s interests… are predicated on political stability”
Withdrawal is a victory for Pakistan, but at what cost? NYT
Afghanistan sees resurgence of warlords mobilizing old militias. RFE
China may send peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan after US leaves. SCMP

Pakistan once again temporarily blocks the Internet during protests. Link

Pakistan: Crystal meth use surges among students. DW
… drug treatment complicated as families try to keep addiction issues secret …
Pakistan is seeing a cotton crisis destroying jobs. Bloomberg
… Pest outbreaks, bad weather slash output to 30 year low
… more than 60% of ginners have completely shut their factories
… nation importing cotton to feed its textile industry

Pakistan’s tottering economy: debt-to-GDP ratio has shut up 107%. TribuneIndia

Kyrgyzstan votes for strongman rule. Economist
…  Pres. Japarov wins mandate to give himself unchecked powers.

Transforming Tajikistan: between Soviet past and Tajik future. Al Jazeera
… cultural flux: some residents mourn lost memories, while others embrace change …
World Bank supports project to bring electricity to rural Tajik villages. Link

Central Asia journalists examine ‘silent killer’ of smog. Eurasianet

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

China’s births may fall under 10m p.a. in next five years. Reuters
Analysis: What if China’s birth rate keeps falling? Sixth Tone
‘Forced marriage’ and the Spring Festival. ChinaSource
… Christian film maker explores the pressures on young people …

China’s vaccine nationalism softens – CNN
… foreigners with certain vaccines will be approved …

Longread: China’s fishing fleet, the world’s largest, drives global ambitions. WSJ
… brings in millions of tons of seafood each year
… helps China stake a bigger presence at sea through worldwide network of ports
… are overfishing and depleting fish stocks in other countries’ territory

On Youtube, North Korean refugees chase fame, profit and understanding. LATimes

Long read: The incredible rise of North Korea’s hacking army. New Yorker

Southeast Asia (700m)

Global call to prayer for Myanmar. IMB
Myanmar: Christian crisis looms. Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
… ‘great danger for long-persecuted minorities’
… who comprise most of Burma’s 9% Christian minority
… Christians killed in situations of witness within wars = rising martyrs. Link
Millions face hunger as Myanmar crisis worsens. Reuters
… up to 3.4 million will struggle to afford food in next 3 to 6 months …
Nearly 250,000 displaced due to crisis. Link
US announces new sanctions on Myanmar. NYT

Laos and Cambodia both announce lockdowns. UCA
Covid overwhelms Manila hospitals. Link

As in China, migrant workers are leaving behind a generation of children. SCMP

Indonesia could reopen Bali to foreigners by end of July. Bloomberg
… contemplating travel bubbles with Singapore, China, Korea, India

N America / W Europe

 Why are so many Christians in Colombia converting to Judaism? WPost


Covid case data

… 4/23: 144.8m (+6.32) cases, 3.07m deaths.
… 4/16: 138.48m (+4.38) cases, 2.97m deaths
… 4/9: 134.1m (+4.9) cases, 2.90m deaths
… 4/2: 129.2m (+4.3) cases, 2.82m deaths
… 3/25: 124.9m (+3.4) cases, 2.74m deaths
… 3/19: 121.5m cases, 2.68m deaths
Trackers: Johns

 Latin America has extremely low levels of vaccination. Link
… Covid risk pools will continue for the near future. Link

Other new data

US Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2021 Report released. Link

Media partly, completely restricted in 132 countries. Report

Longer Reads

New books being read

All Life is Problem Solving – Karl Popper. The Kindle sample hooked me.
Rules of Contagion – bought this back in 2020, just getting to it.
… My take so far, 33% in: if you’re familiar with Dunbar’s Number, small worlds, weak ties, Erdos Numbers, etc., this is a good refresher that ties things together. If you’re not, it’s a good layperson-oriented introduction to important concepts. It’s mostly aimed at how contagions are stopped, but has good material for movements.

Recently downloaded samples
Radical Focus – regarding OKRs, there can be only one (‘single threaded leadership’)
How to do nothing: resisting the attention economy
The book of why – the new science of cause and effect
2030 (another forecast book, but very well reviewed)
Think Again – the power of knowing what you don’t know (‘unknown unknowns bite’)


USA: Inside the rise of police department real-time crime centers. Technology Review, $

It appears Google’s new FLoC system, to replace third-party cookies, has some significant privacy issues of its own. All the major browsers except Chrome said no thanks.  Link

Ransomware: the Internet’s biggest security crisis is getting worse. ZDNet

Facebook is testing a ‘prayer posts’ feature in groups. 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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