Roundup 251

By Justin Long

Issue No. 251 – 28 May 2021

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Beyond’s summer DMM Nuggets will feature a sequence of 3 sessions on the foundations of discipleship. The first will be held Thursday, June 17th, and is titled “Being a disciple of Jesus.” If you know someone interested in movements and discipleship, who wants to get in “on the ground floor,” this is an excellent starting point. Get more details here.

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Darfur is bleeding again: Sudan’s new government confronts old problems. Link
… “the spiraling cycle of violence… is not a redux of the earlier crisis…”
… “a byproduct of the political transition currently under way in Khartoum…”

East Africa (520m)

UN: famine looms in war-ravaged Tigray region – NYT *

African, Sudanese NGOs raise alarm bell over Ethiopian dam dispute – Dabanga

Somali leaders walk ‘back from the bring,’ resume talks on critical elections – UN
… Somali PM commits to ‘free, fair polls’ after months long impasse. Al Jazeera

BBC Video: Mozambique dealing with Islamist insurgency. CBS News

Western Africa (457m)

Mali: 2nd coup in 12 months as Col. Goita seizes power. BBC

Nigeria: Senate receives constitutional amendment proposal to create sharia courts in southwest.

Islamic State in West Africa has reportedly absorbed Boko Haram CFR
… evolving story: still no confirmation of Shekau’s death …
How did Abubakar Shekau die? Link

A hunger crisis is looming for 31 million people in West Africa. Global Citizen

Up to 400k could be displaced by new Goma eruption in DR Congo. UN

Western Asia (303m)

As you might have predicted, Assad wins a fourth 7-year term in Syria by a landslide. AP

Israel: the truce is holding, still. Several pieces on the people in the middle:
Life under occupation: the misery at the heart of the conflict. NYT
As cease-fire holds in Gaza, a painful reckoning with the war’s physical toll. CSM
Governments want to help Gaza rebuild, but without funding Hamas. WSJ

Syrian refugees in Jordan risk losing critical food support due to severe funding gap. Link

South + Central Asia (2b)

A wave of Afghan surrenders to the Taliban pick up speed. NYT
… dozens of beseiged outposts, bases, 4 district centers gave up to insurgents this month
… “accelerating rural collapse as American troops leave”

Cyclone Yaas batters India’s east coast, leaving 10s of 1000s homeless. CNN

Good news: 2 week sustained decline, new cases down 40%, deaths down 2%. NYT
… case loads still high, over 200,000 …
India’s coronavirus infections ebb but states struggle for vaccines. Reuters
With new Covid-19 cases declining, is it time for Delhi to emerge from lockdown? SCMP
… ‘situation vastly improved’ as capital drops from 28k cases/day to 1500/day.
Maharashtra Covid: positivity down, lockdown-like restrictions make impact. Indian Express
Kerala charts its own course: a network of health workers & ‘war rooms’ to succeed – NYT
But the cost continues to be felt:
Photos & Words: ‘An out of body experience’: Inside India’s Covid crisis. NYT
… 3% of population fully inoculated … conditions slowly improving in New Delhi, Mumbai …
… virus spreading unchecked through the rest of the country …
Photos: Death in the Himalayas: poverty, fear propel India’s Covid crisis. Al Jazeera
Covid-19 crisis leaves nation in grief. WSJ
‘Entire families’ wiped out by Covid’s carnage in rural India. Bloomberg
‘Corona Devi’: two idols set up in Tamil Nadu, priests pray to them for mercy. Al Jazeera
Just how big could India’s true Covid toll be? NYT

Fears that Nepal’s Covid crisis could be even worse than India’s. SCMP
… hospitals refusing admission to Covid patients due to shortages of resources

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Chinese hackers distribute a file reputedly from the UN Human Rights Council detailing human rights violations to Uighurs; in fact, it is a malicious Word file that contains malware to trick high-profile Uighurs into opening a backdoor on their computers. MIT

China’s orphan population has declined from 570k to 190k. China Daily

Southeast Asia (700m)

SE Asian countries battle Covid resurgence amid lack of vaccines. Guardian
… Thailand 4x since April 1, Malaysia at ~7k cases/day

Malaysia now has more Covid cases per million than India. CNBC
… bit of a click-bait headline, but here’s the bottom line: of course India’s total number of cases far exceeds anyone other than the USA (which is is inevitable given
its population size and massive pandemic), but Malaysia’s Covid-19 outbreak is growing exponentially. Only 5% of the population has been vaccinated. Malaysia is announcing
a two-week lockdown, which was fairly inevitable in the context of exponential growth.

Myanmar’s health system is teetering on the edge of collapse. New Humanitarian

N America / W Europe

US Protestant churches saw 4,500 closures and 3,000 openings in 2019. Lifeway

Population change across metro America: not just Covid affected – Brookings


Covid case data

… 5/28: 169.1m (4.1m) cases, 3.51m deaths
… 5/20: 165.0m (+4.4m) cases, 3.42m deaths
… 5/14: 160.6m (+5.2m) cases, 3.35m deaths
… 5/7: 155.4m (+5.5) cases, 3.24m deaths
… 4/30: 149.9m (+5.1) cases, 3.15m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

India isn’t the only one. Covid cases are rising at record levels in these places too. CNBC

UN urges more vaccines for Africa, with only 2% now – AP

Norwegian Refugee Council report: the world’s 10 most neglected displacement crises in 2020. Report

Other new data

Long slide looms for world population, with sweeping ramifications. NYT

UNICEF: Water under fire report: the role of water in conflicts around the world – PDF

Average annual global temperature likely to rise 1.5 deg above pre-industrial levels in next five years – UN

USA’s DNI published Global Trends 2040: a more contested world – Report
… 7th edition, published every four years since 1997 …

Longer Reads

How noisy is your company? book review of “Noise,” the latest from Daniel Kahneman & company. Link

What I’ve reading/just finished

  • The Coaching Habit – is a very useful, very succinct summation of many other books (Advantage, Motivational Interviewing, more) that will give you 7 basic questions to ask to help coach others through projects, issues, and into growth. Added to my #100 shelf. Amazon
  • Contagious – why things catch on. Jonah Berger. Explores not just ‘viral fads’ but things that grow widely over time. Social currency, triggers, emotions, public, practical value and stories are the keys. Amazon
  • The Advantage – an older book by Patrick Lencioni, which I just finished. Has some very good prescriptive material for organizational health. His comments about trust & conflict brought back to mind Conflicted from last week.
  • Positioning – Al Ries – an old classic which had been on my list. Unfortunately, while it’s extremely “common sense,” most of the examples are quite dated, and I haven’t made it all the way through it yet. Amazon

Kindle samples I’m exploring

  • Economics of Good and Evil – Tomas Sedlacek – came recommended by a reader. Amazon
  • Flat Army – about decentralized organizations, I think. The Kindle Sample didn’t grab me at all. Won’t pursue.
  • Futureproof – 9 rules for humans in the age of automation. Intriguing because the author (an NYT tech writer) explores about how to maximize the creative & unique talents of humans. Amazon
  • Grand Transitions – Vaclav Smil – looks at four major transitions in society (population, agriculture, energy, economics). The guy is a dense writer. Amazon
  • Motivational Interviewing – if you want to know how to handle difficult conversations better, this is (probably) the book for you. Cited in Conflicted, which is how I found it. It’s not cheap (~$50). I pulled about a 100 things out of the sample alone, so it was worth the time. I’ll probably buy the book eventually. Amazon

Tech & Futures

Super secure quantum internet: The race is on to build an unhackable online world. New Scientist

Israel’s operation against Hamas was the world’s first AI war – Jerusalem Post
… while I’m not sure that this was the world’s first, this does give insight into some of the ways AI is even now affecting conflicts. Consider the impact when this is married to autonomous drones …

Ethereum (cryptocurrency) is “closing in on a fix to cut energy use by over 99%.” The power required to “mine” cryptocurrencies is one of their biggest problems. Bloomberg

Meanwhile, Iran has banned cryptocurrency mining, increasingly blaming it for daily power outages in Tehran and several large cities. CNBC

Snap debuts true AR glasses for developers and content creators to play with. The tech has a long way to go. Then again, I remember the TED talk where I first saw the screens that became the touchscreen on the iPhone. ArsTechnica

Amazon buying MGM for $8.45b. (Amazon vs Netflix?) WSJ

Facebook announces it will limit the reach of personal accounts that consistently spread misinformation. Link

India orders social media platforms to remove content referring to ‘Indian variant.’ Guardian

WhatsApp sues India’s government to stop new Internet rules that would make people’s messages traceable. NYT

Meanwhile, Indian police visit Twitter’s office in New Delhi after a politician’s tweet was labeled as misleading. WSJ
… Twitter calls on Indian government to respect free speech. NYT
… Silicon Valley is in a high-stakes standoff with India. CNN
Two-thirds of organizations surveyed said they would take action to boost defenses against ransomware. ZDNet

* source that may be behind a paywall.

Essay: Measuring

“Les chiffres sont les signes de Dieu”—Statistics are signs from God—is attributed to Prior Roger Schultz of Taize. It’s interesting that this is in the plural: a single number, existing on its own, does not tell us the whole story. Considering multiple ways of measuring a fact can give us more insight into what the signpost is telling us—if we take the time to do so.

The number itself is obviously the first and foremost piece of information. Three questions immediately arise: is the number truthful—is it accurate—is it precise?

Read the whole thing online.

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