Roundup #255

by Justin Long

Issue No. 255 – 26 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 one was very well attended. We talked about the character of a disciple–one who loves and obeys Jesus. The second in the series, “What a disciple does,” will be held Thursday, July 8th, from 7pm-8:30pm CST. If you know someone interested in movements and discipleship, who wants to get in “on the ground floor,” this is still an excellent starting point. Get more details here.

I joined Ed Phillips for a brief interview about movements and what God is doing in the world, on the Bible Broadcasting Network, airing Saturday night. Link


Northern Africa (266m)

Libya: “despite progress toward a political solution after a decade of violence and chaos, most of the country is still controlled by armed groups, corruption is rampant, and outside powers involved have not withdrawn.” – Reuters

Libya’s gov’t hopeful mercenaries will withdraw “within days” (Prov 13:12) – Al Jazeera 

Algeria’s election: the opposition boycotted the election, only 30% turned out:
… FLN won most seats, but only half what was needed to form a govt – Al Jazeera
… Prime Minister resigns, paving way toward new government – Al Jazeera
… military believes replacing parliament, constitution best way to end crisis

East Africa (520m)

UN: Ethiopian PM Ahmed will be subjected to investigations over Tigray – Garowe
… accusations the admin “plotting to exterminate Tigrayans over political grudges”
At least 64 killed, 180 injured in airstrike on Tigray market – Guardian

WFP chief: Madagascar’s hungry ‘holding on for dear life’ – UN

West + Middle Africa (600m)

West African leaders agree to single currency plan in 2027. Link

Burkina Faso: the massacre earlier this month, in which 130 people were killed, was mostly carried out by child soldiers between the ages of 12 and 14 – Guardian

“Watching my world collapse”: the plight of Nigeria’s widows – women whose husbands have died can face stigma, suspicion, and families determined to take away what little they have left – Al Jazeera

UN: NE Nigeria conflict has killed more than 300,000 children in 12 years. Al Jazeera

Central African Republic in ‘unprecedented humanitarian crisis’ – UN

Western Asia (303m)

After 15 months, Dubai’s Terminal 1 will reopen on June 24 – Link
… flights from India, Nigeria, South Africa could resume …
… no so fast: Nigeria banned indefinitely, just 48 hours later – BBC

Yemen: Dozens killed as govt-vs-rebels battle for Marib flares. Link

“We thought we would return”: 10 years on, Syrian refugees dream of home – Guardian
… women who fled to Lebanon struggling to build a life amid unfolding economic crisis

South + Central Asia (2b)

Afghanistan, mapped: who controls what – Link
Taliban ‘committed to peace talks’ – Reuters
… “want a ‘genuine Islamic system’ with provisions for women’s rights” …
Attacked, vulnerable, Hazara & other ethnicities are raising militias – NYT
Fears of all out war – RFE/RL
New assessment: Afghan govt could collapse 7 months after US withdrawal – WSJ
China tells its nationals to leave Afgh. urgently as violence spirals – SCMP
After a scant snowfall last winter, drought looms, as well. New Humanitarian

India reports lowest daily rise in cases in 3 months. Link

While it’s great that India seems to be coming down off the peak, tens of thousands of families will be coping with their losses during this period. One example of the horrible reality is here – “The Ganges is returning the dead. It does not lie.” NYT
… “our reporters counted 2,000 bodies on May 12 and 13 alone” …

Uzbekistan worries its citizens are studying Islam in Egypt, Turkey – Link
… 1,500 young people studying at religious schools are recalled …
… students originated from Ferghana Valley, one of Uzb. most conservative areas …

BBC: “Who is Ebrahim Raisi,” the newly elected president of Iran? Link
… He’s taken a hard line with US over negotiations. Link 

A study describes Iran’s aging population as a national security threat. Link
… over 33% will be over 60 by 2050 …

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily has been shut down – Reuters

China has a long way to go to overcome its one-child policy effects. Here’s another deep dive into the expense of educating children in China. It’s not just couples being selfish–this article explores the fierce competition and how the expense of a child’s education can outstrip what people are presently earning – SCMP

S Korea to loosen social distancing rules on July 1 – Reuters

Southeast Asia (700m)

Myanmar continues its downward spiral:
… “armed rebels declared war on junta, gunfights break out in Mandalay” – CNN
… “confident in its impunity, junta ignores diplomacy” – NYT
… Over 230,000 displaced due to conflict – The Hill

There continue to be significant reports of deaths of church planters and church leaders due to Covid in Indonesia. One of the results mentioned is a renewed focus on succession planning–”who takes your place if you get sick?” This is a very practical application of the Scriptural concept in 2 Timothy 2:2–we always ought to be passing on the things we have learned to others. Many movements are facing a “triple threat” that makes this more urgent: church leaders in movements around the world can be older, but certainly skew toward the highly connected & highly involved in community, which makes them natural vectors for the virus. 

… Indonesia hits 2 million virus cases as crisis deepens – France24
… “Suddenly, she’s gone”: Mourning in the mud – Al Jazeera
… “It will get very bad”: experts warn on Indonesia Covid surge – Al Jazeera
… tightens restrictions as it confirms record new infections – Guardian
… Shaming health care workers out of fear of contracting the virus – CNA
… Nurse who died denied burial because residents afraid of infection – Jakarta Post
… Shame, fear of isolation if diagnosed, prevents people from getting tested – Link

Interesting piece on “born-again” Muslims in Indonesia (“millions of young Muslims embracing stricter interepretations of Islam) who are abandoning traditional banking in favor of the Islamic finance sector. Al Jazeera

Singapore planning to live with Covid-19 as “endemic” – Link

Thailand approves Phuket plan waiving quarantine for vaccinated tourists – SCMP
… 70% of Phuket population to be vaccinated before reopening on July 1

Malaysia’s recent infection surges leads to new lockdown, worries – NPR

N America / W Europe

Census estimates: “All recent US population growth comes from people of color.” Link


Covid case data

… 6/25: 180.1m (+2.6m) cases, 3.90m deaths
… 6/18: 177.5m (+2.6m) cases, 3.84m deaths
… 6/11: 174.9m (+3.1m) cases, 3.77m deaths
… 6/04: 171.8m (+2.7m) cases, 3.69m deaths
… 5/28: 169.1m (+4.1m) cases, 3.51m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *

Delta variant is becoming the dominant strain globally – CNBC
… 60% higher risk of household transmission than alpha – BMJ
… doubles the risk of hospitalization – MIT Technology Review
… likely to be 90% of all cases by August. NYT

Africa faces steepest Covid-19 surge yet. WHO
“Governments across Africa scrambling as a third wave hits…” Guardian
… South Africa, worst hit, has seen daily cases double in last two weeks
“Covid surge in Africa raises fear of a calamity like India’s.” NYT
… delta variant + low vaccination rate = potential for disaster
Uganda imposes new restrictions as cases surge – Al Jazeera
… vaccines, oxygen run out as third wave hits Uganda – Guardian
Risk of Covid-19 surge threatens Africa’s health facilities – WHO

Other new data

USA charitable giving in 2020 rose to $131 billion. Link


Longreads saved to Instapaper

Anglican contributions to the Church’s mission to/among Muslims. Link

New study: “The Covid-19 global recession is the deepest since the end of World War II, and the shock is likely to be long-lasting.” Link

“How to collaborate when you don’t have consensus.” Using examples from wars, etc. (1) You don’t have to accept a solution or even a definition of the problem to keep talking; (2) experiment to find a way forward; (3) see yourself as part of the problem, not outside of it. Link

Book Review: “Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere” may be useful to those of us in mission agencies who are have teams that are remotely coordinated. Mission agencies have been doing this a long time, but often on a shoe-string budget. It’s sometimes useful to me to read what others have done, especially in pandemic times, to catch up to the reality that we live with. They may have more money to throw at experiments and learning around the problem, yet still come up with an economical solution (e.g. Zoom et al). Link

Shared by a Beyond worker: Why conversations go wrong – Hidden Brain
… “how our conversational styles can cause unintended conflicts”
… also has a curated bibliography on the subject, hyperlinked to articles

Current book reading queue

The personality brokers: the strange history of Myers-Briggs and the birth of personality testing. I picked this up last week, and the people described in the first half of it–well. Suffice it to say that a lot of them needed counseling and it doesn’t look like many of them got it. But it’s still a fascinating look at how “type” thinking developed in the context of WW2 and its immediate aftermath. Amazon

Next in the queue:
Blessed: a history of the American Prosperity GospelAmazon
Fifty inventions that shaped the modern economyAmazon
Pinpoint: how GPS is changing technology, culture and our minds.  Amazon

Samples I’m thinking about

Friends: Understanding the power of our most important relationships. By Robin Dunbar, of Dunbar’s Number fame. Dunbar’s name, plus this quote, caught my eye: “The number and quality of our friendships may have a bigger influence on our happiness, health and mortality than anything else in our life.” Is it possible that small fellowships groups, but helping friendships form, contribute in and of themselves to longer, healthier life? Dunbar seems to suggest that’s possible. Amazon


Tech & Futures

China: modular 10-story building constructed in 28 hours – Link

The advertising and tracking wars are under way. The UK’s CMA is investigating iOS, Android, and Google’s FLoC and moves on cookies. Amazon is blocking Chrome from doing FLoC analysis on Amazon sites. Apple is planning to block pixel trackers from newsletters in mail clients. In all of this, we can expect to see open rates, click rates, and all web analytics go though many changes. So far I’m just watching trend lines, and trying to know you, my audience. 

Vizio can “dynamically insert commercials into live programming, enabling addressable ad campaigns that reach 11.2 million of its smart TVs.” (More and more, I’m appreciating paper books: no advertising, no tracking. On the other hand, algorithms that know what I’ve read have surfaced some really good recommendations.) Link

Amazon uses software aimed at eliminating the lowest-performing 6% of its office staff each year. Bet religious workers (pastors, missionaries?) are glad we don’t do that. Link

Money drives the distribution of a lot of technologies, so it makes sense that autonomous driving (and flight) will come first through shipping networks. Amazon has ordered 1,000 “autonomous driving systems” from a self-driving truck startup. Link

A different kind of water war: drought-stricken US communities “push back against data centers” that use as much water as a city of 30,000 (NBC). And some Texas power companies are remotely raising temperatures on residents’ smart thermostats (I’m glad I didn’t give in to Nest-gadget envy earlier this year!) (Gizmodo). It’s a big deal: the Western United States is in the midst of its worst drought in 20 years (Link).

Hackers infecting gamer PCs with malware to mine for crypto. Link
Iran seizes thousands of computers at a cryptocurrency mining farm. Link
China’s kicking out the cryptocurrency miners. Link
… China’s all in on crypto–but only a brand it can control. CNBC

A nice use of AI: Cornell’s AI-enabled Merlin Bird ID can identify birds by their songs. Link
… (I’ve been in several places where I could hear the bird, but not see it…)

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