Roundup 252

By Justin Long

Issue No. 252 – 4 June 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)

With no churches left to close, Algeria turns to persecute individuals. ICC

The Libyan war’s lethal legacy: booby-trapped teddy bears, toilets and soda cans: demining teams will have a lot of work ahead of them. WPost

Yet another analysis on the Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute. Egypt wants Ethiopia to fill the reservoir in stages lasting up to two decades. Ethiopia wants the dam full now, providing power which 60% of its population lacks. Egypt is threatening military action if Ethiopia fills the dam and takes away its water. Ethiopia is developing international aid and investment to help build the dam, but also to shield it from Egypt. Will it be successful, or will an Egyptian strike destabilize the region and possibly bring war? Haaretz.

East Africa (520m)

Kenya on high alert for a fresh wave of locusts. Link

Horrifying story: “Our season”: Eritrean troops kill, rape, loot in Tigray. Despite claims that they are leaving, “Eritrean soldiers are more firmly entrenched than ever.” AP

A grave humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Ethiopia: “I never saw hell before, but now I have.” It’s harder to get news out of Tigray and Ethiopia generally: “most roads north and south from Mekele have been closed to journalists and humanitarian aid… soldiers from neighboring Eritrea saunter casually through villages…” National Geographic

Microcosm: Hawzen: lost limbs, rising anger as town is caught up in Tigray war. AP

Flareups and instability have made voting in the June 21 elections impossible in at least 26 constituencies across Ethiopia. VOA

A cease-fire is needed to enable humanitarian aid. 91% of Tigray’s population (5.2m people) need emergency food aid. Guardian

Western Africa (457m)

They still haven’t confirmed Boko Harm leader Shekau’s death.

EU military mission probably going to be sent to Mozambique’s insurgency. Reuters

Burkina Faso takes delivery of first vaccine shipment. AFP

Middle Africa

Peace activists try to end the 4-year-old internationally ignored secessionist movement in Cameroon. Link

Western Asia (303m)

“No water, no jobs”: ISIL survivors struggle in northern Iraq. “Battered by violence, Christians face a confluence of environmental and economic hardships in post-conflict Nineveh Plains.” Al Jazeera.
… Assyrian Christians down from 1.5m (2003) to 0.2m (2019) …

NW Syria’s farmers brace for a catastrophic harvest amidst a severe water crisis. Syria Direct

Related: Iraq faces harsh summer of water shortages as Turkey and Iran continue dam projects. The Tigris and the Euphrates account for 90% of Iraq’s water, and they are at historically low levels after scant rainfall. Both Syria and Iraq have called on Turkey to release more water from the Ataturk Dam. Link

Iraq: a collapsing order, state pillage and social protest in post-Saddam era. Link

South + Central Asia (2b)

After the Kyrgyz/Tajik cease-fire (signed May 1), people are slowly beginning to return to the area. Over 30,000 had been evacuated.

Many Central Asian migrant workers are choosing to go to Kazakhstan instead of Russia, despite lower pay. High transportation costs eat into the profit of working in Russia. The largest group of migrant workers in Kazakhstan are some 200k Uzbeks. RFE

Afghanistan: I am always looking for signs of improvement. These are not those signs. As the US begins its withdrawal, the Taliban are increasingly making themselves felt and taking control of various parts of the country. I have no doubt the Kingdom likewise continues to advance, but I imagine the cost of doing business will increase.
… “The Taliban say they’ve changed. On the ground, they’re just as brutal.” WSJ *
… “A siege, a supply run, and a descent into a decade-old battle.” NYT *
… And, another drought looms after scant winter snowfall. Link
… war enters more brutal phase as US troops begin pullout. WPost
… Taliban making ‘strategic’ military gains (maps). RFE

Covid crisis in Nepal is growing rapidly. There are many private reports of significant impact on the church, including many deaths.
… “pushing a beleaguered health system to the brink” – New Humanitarian
… “experts say migrant laborers brought it back from India” – NYT *

India: why some states handled Covid better than others. FP.
… Kerala had a great response. Uttar Pradesh did little at all.

Delhi’s factories and building sites can reopen. NYT *
… but for normality to return, 0.8m migrant workers have to return.

India’s child victims of Covid-19: “the pandemic has worsened the plight of some of India’s most vulnerable children” – Al Jazeera

The decline of Christianity in Pakistan: a look at the 2017 Population and Housing Census, which says Christians make up 1.27% of Pakistan, down from 1.59% in 1998. Link.

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

The Communist Party in China numbered almost 92 million members at the end of 2019, or 6.6% of the total population of the nation. (Christians are usually estimated at north of 100 million, somewhere around the 10% line). More stats and demographics here. SCMP.

China announced it will allow families to have up to three children, after census data revealed the country’s population growth (but not the population) fell about 0.5% over the past decade. Numerous articles followed, with some examples below. In a context of falling population growth, if the church has a slightly higher demographic birth rate, it will increase its share of the population.

  • China 3-child policy aims to rejuvenate aging population. But will the policy change persuade couples to have more babies? WSJ
  • Have three children? No way, many Chinese say: intense workplace competition, inadequate childcare, widespread job discrimination against pregnant women. NYT *
  • How Chinese fell out of love with marriage: many young people see wedlock as a financial padlock. Nikkei
  • The “leftover men”: 30 million looking for a wife, because there’s not enough women to go around. BBC
  • The men who are single and the women who don’t want kids: “my peers who have children are obsessed about getting the best nanny or enrolling their kids in the best schools. It sounds exhausting.” BBC
  • Millennial couples decry ‘unaffordable’ childcare, say no to more kids. Link
  • 90% of respondents to an online survey said “they would not consider” having three children. SCMP
  • “Now they want us to raise four aging parents plus three children… only in your dreams.” FT *
  • In 2012, women were being forced to abort babies and were being denounced as traitors. NYT *
  • Christianity Today had a conversation with a Chinese church planter about the 3-child policy and China’s history with abortion: “Why Chinese Christians don’t talk about family planning.” Obviously, ‘everything said about China and the church is true in some places and false in others,’ but this is an interesting talk nonetheless. Link

Covid in Guangdong: mass testing under way, and anyone who wants to leave the province has to show a negative test result from within 72 hours before departure. SCMP.

Taiwan prays for rain and scrambles to save water. NYT *
… some lakes, reservoirs have run dry …

The Taiwan Temptation: why Beijing might resort to force. After 70 years of relative peace, there are disturbing signals that Beijing is reconsidering its approach. Foreign Policy

Why North Korea is facing a major food shortage that could lead to the death of millions: people are selling off basic household items just to buy something to eat, prompting fears of a repeat of the deadly 1990s famine. The Telegraph

Southeast Asia (700m)

Vietnam to suspend incoming international flights to Hanoi over Covid. AFP.
… starts mass testing as new variant emerges. BBC

Covid third wave in Thailand infects thousands daily. Infographic

Anxiety, bribes and bullies: a journey through post-coup Myanmar. Frontier Myanmar
… rising levels of corruption and harassment …
… in Myanmar’s jungles, protesters are training to fight. CNN
… diplomacy intensifies, EU threatens more sanctions. Reuters
… Moonsoon and conflict compound post-coup food crisis. New Humanitarian

Indonesia cancelled the haj due to Covid concerns. Reuters

N America / W Europe

100s more Afghan families to be allowed to settle in the UK. BBC


Covid case data

… 6/04: 171.8m (+2.7m) cases, 3.69m deaths
… 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 
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *
5 most impacted: USA (33m), India (28m), Brazil (16m), France, Turkey

Lifting restrictions: Egypt, several USA statesUKEU quarantine rules, some European countries.

Postponing restriction easing: Thailand.

A sharp rise in cases in Africa. NYT *

The US is returning to normal, but other countries are in the midst of their worst outbreaks yet. NYT *

Why a grand plan to vaccinate the world against Covid unraveled. WSJ *
… the Covax initiative has hit “problem after problem” …

Covid crisis to push global unemployment over 200m in 2022. UN

Other new data

The 2021 Fragile 15: the Fragile States Index – Link

The world’s most neglected displacement crises in 2020. Norwegian Refugee Council

Longer Reads

How to ask questions. Link

“The power of exponential growth,” by Avinash Kaushik, concisely demonstrates why “50% more transmissible” can lead to a deadlier pandemic than “50% more deadly.” One means “the virus more efficiently kills the people it can reach” while the other means “I can reach vastly more people.” Morbid as this analysis is, it holds some thinking you can apply to movements. The most important thing in DMM is to make evangelistic and discipleship processes easily reproducible—to increase the transmission rates. Link

What I’ve reading/just finished

  • Crossing the Chasm. A classic business book I haven’t read before; it started the whole idea of early adopters etc. If you consider CPM a new “technology” (a new way of achieving results), then this book has much to offer. Amazon.
  • Change: how to make big things happen. $2.99 Kindle deal, vs. ~$20 print. The promise of the book: most of what we know is written by big name authors about how information spreads, not about how beliefs/behaviors change. Amazon

Kindle samples I’m exploring

  • The Body: a guide for occupants. I am utterly fascinated by the Kindle sample alone. Yes, there are frequent callouts to evolutionary theory, but there is also an exploration of how our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. Amazon.
  • The Theory that Would not Die. This is all about the history of Bayes’ theorem. Intriguing history, but not quite sure it’ll make it on my “buy” list. Link

Tech & Futures

Interesting new tech: Neeva is a search engine you pay for (no ads, ever, all trackers blocked), and that lets you indicate the news sources you trust. Backed by a former Googler. Its results are apparently derived from Bing and Google. Link

A trial run of the EU’s digital Covid certificate: essentially, a QR code that can be stored on a cell phone, and can be authenticated from the code itself (it doesn’t need to be looked up in a database). Link

Here’s a fascinating analysis of what happened in 1991, when the music industry moved from a survey of the top selling songs largely based on perception (call a bunch of stores and ask what’s selling “strong”), to hard data based on bar codes and cash register sales. Country & rap music in the USA suddenly became far more visible, because they were always far more popular than they were generally perceived to be. Link

Analysis suggests the maximum human lifespan is 150. Link

UN: rogue killer drone ‘hunted down’ a human target without being told to–“highly effective autonomous mode that required no human controller.” Link

The world’s largest meat supplier was hit by a ransomware attack, disrupting meat processing in Australia and America. NBC
… why the ransomware crisis suddenly feels so relentless. MIT

Taiwan: no water, no microchips—on June 1, the country will cut the water supply for the major chip making hub in Taichung. The chip shortage will be worsened. Forbes

Armed low-cost drones, made by Turkey, reshape battlefields and geopolitics: helped turn the tide against Russian-backed forces in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan. (China, too, is a leading war drone exporter.) WSJ *

* source that may be behind a paywall.

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