Roundup #256

By Justin Long

Issue No. 256 – 2 July 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.


Northern Africa (266m)

Libya remains unstable nearly a decade after Gaddafi’s ousting – NPR
… Libya’s stateless ethnic minorities and an upcoming election – Al Jazeera
… Turkey stalls on withdrawing foreign forces from Libya – Al-Monitor
… Back on 6/23 – gov’t hopeful mercenaries will withdraw “within days” (Prov 13:12) – Link

Algeria names new PM to form new government – Link

East Africa (520m)

In what appeared to be a sudden change of events, the Tigray Defense Forces took over Mekelle and the Ethiopian forces retreated. This wasn’t really sudden–it had been building locally since the conflict began last November–but often these sorts of things aren’t visible through the limited sight of “outsiders” until they reach their culmination. It’s a good reminder that things bubbling under the surface–be they insurgencies or movements–often happen in this way.

… NYT: Tigray rebels in Ethiopia celebrate a victory (multipart coverage)
… AP: Ethiopia declares an immediate, unilateral cease-fire in Tigray.
… AP: Tigray ‘extremely fluid’ as cease-fire in doubt.
… Reuters: TPLF says it will pursue “enemy” forces into Eritrea, Amhara if necessary
… NYT: PM Ahmed denies troops defeated, says campaign no longer bearable.
… Death threats and sleepless nights: the emotional toll of reporting the Tigray conflict.

“With hundreds of thousands facing famine in Tigray, aid groups seek access.” They are more likely than not to gain access at this point, and as they did, more information about the state of things on the ground is likely to come out.

… Reuters: Sudan rejects Ethiopian plan to fill dam a second time
… AllAfrica: the two also in conflict over al-Fashaga, agricultural border land
… Atlantic Council: “slightest misstep could result in large-scale violence

Uganda: lethal Delta strain takes its toll – East African

30 killed in al Shabaab attack in Somalia – Reuters

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Russian mercenaries are in CA Republic; UN alleges “driving war crimes.” NYT
… “establishing themselves in major mining centers with diamond reserves”

Western Asia (303m)

Abu Dhabi will bar unvaccinated people from nearly all public places, schools. CNBC

“Bitter pill to swallow”: Saudis grapple with Yemen peace deal that “may be close to being clinched”–Oman seeking direct talks between Houthis and Saudis. Al Jazeera

Lebanon approves $556m in payments for struggling families – Al Jazeera
… Economic crisis, severe shortages make Lebanon ‘unlivable’ – AP
… World Bank says crisis among world’s three worst in 150 years – Al Jazeera

South + Central Asia (2b)

The top American commander in Afghanistan warned the country could slide into a chaotic civil war. The civilian leadership is fractured, militias are uncontrolled and unaccountable, and the Taliban continues to rapidly advance. WPost

… AP: most European troops exit Afghanistan quietly after 20 years
… RFE: Taliban fighters return to Central Asia’s borders.

Bangladesh goes into lockdown – NPR
… cases have 5x, deaths have 3x since June 1 …
… vaccine shortages after India halted its exports …
… Migrants fled Dhaka before the lockdown hit – SCMP

Iran’s electricity crisis continues to worsen, resulting in severe power shortages across the country and the end of power exports. Link

Pew has come out with a new report on “Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation.” The top-of-fold shows the paradox. Over 80% of Indians of all religious strips feel “they are free to practice their religion,” and “respecting religions is important”–but the vast majority of the religious groups feel they are very different from the other religious groups, and “don’t have much in common with one another.” Stopping religious intermarriage is a high priority, and substantial minorities of religions wouldn’t accept followers of other religions as neighbors. Most Hindus say being Hindu is important to being “truly” Indian. This is a report worth a deep examination for people interested in India. Link

India shifts 50,000 troops from Kashmir to China border in historic move – Bloomberg

Nepal’s churches have lost more than 130 pastors during the second wave of the Covid pandemic: a “vacuum in leadership” is now faced by many churches – CT

Hotter than the human body can handle: Pakistani city of Jacobabad (200,000 pop.) broils in world’s highest temperatures: 126 degrees. Few residents have air conditioning, and blackouts mean no electricity. Telegraph

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

100 years that shook the world: China is marking a century of Communist rule. Here’s a look at key episodes in its history. The Guardian

China is facing its worst power shortage in a decade – CNN
… “That’s a problem for the whole world” – weighs on global trade

China’s 1-child policy left 1 million bereaved parents childless and alone in old age, with no one to take care of them. The Conversation

HK: How life has changed under the national security law – BBC
HK police arrest former Apple Daily journalist at airport – Reuters
… 7th staffer at Apple Daily arrested in recent weeks …

Southeast Asia (700m)

Muslims in SE Thailand suspicious of government, vaccine hesitant – SCMP

Indonesia “on edge of catastrophe” as Covid lockdown looms. Al Jazeera
… +20k cases/day. Red Cross appeals for medical supplies, vaccines
… doctors say some hospitals around Jakarta have occupancy rates >90%

Myanmar junta releases thousands of jailed anti-coup protesters – AFP
… “a relief, but will do nothing to blunt resistance to military rule”
… Also, Myanmar wants to build a surveillance state.

N America / W Europe / Pacific

USA: “Millions skipped church during pandemic. Will they return?” AP
… “worries of a deepening slide in attendance… some houses of worship won’t make it…”

Delta’s spread prompts the USA to reconsider precautions in some places. NYT *
… nearly all US Covid deaths are among the unvaccinated. AP

7 Australian cities (>12m people) in lockdown over Delta spread. BBC


Covid global case data data

… 7/02: 182.7m (+2.6m) cases, 3.11m deaths
… 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
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *

Regional/continental/global trends
As Delta variant surges, outbreaks return in many parts of the world. NYT
… “in a race against the spread of the virus variants” …
… “Delta has the ability to infect the partially vaccinated” …
… in most countries, “fewer than half are fully vaccinated” …
Covid cases in Europe rise 10%, first increase in 10 weeks as Delta spreads. WPost
Covid tourism freeze could cost the global economy $4 trillion by 2021-end. Guardian
Last week study on Covid-19 global recession–deepest since WW2 – Link

Other new data

In 2019, migrant workers rise +5m to 169m, 5% of the world’s workforce – ILO


Longreads saved to Instapaper

“The genius of subtracting habits” reminds us it’s just as important to consider what we will stop doing – Medium

Becoming a person of dogged determination: really good article by C. Anderson – Mission Frontiers

Current book reading queue

I finished The personality brokers: the strange history of Myers-Briggs and the birth of personality testing. In the end, although the characters were wildly weird, it was a fascinating exploration of the historical development of this tool into a “language of self-expression and self-exploration.” Amazon

I am now reading Blessed: a history of the American Prosperity Gospel (Amazon). I read Jesus & John Wayne, which definitely took a particular activist slant. Blessed is different: it’s an objective history of the development of the prosperity gospel (not the same as pentecostalism or charismatics, though intersecting), from the Civil War period forward. It’s fascinating to see how certain ideas get started, and develop over time–from the early days of Kenyon through the early developments of “positive thinking” and “positive confessions” to today’s prosperity-focused megachurches in the USA. Unfortunately it was published in 2013, so there’s a limit on how far you get to see things develop.

Further in the queue:
Upstream: The quest to solve problems before they happen. Heath. Amazon
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

How a social media DisasterBot in Indonesia maps crises in real time. Link

New studies show mixing and matching (some) vaccines seems to work. MIT Tech Review

Zoom buys a startup to bring real-time translation to calls. Engadget

Autonomous Waymo One ridesharing vans operational in Arizona – Twitter Thread
… Alphabet’s driverless (!) ride-hail service is operational …

Just saw “New technologies to improve Amazon employee safety,” which explores a lot of the robotics being used in Amazon facilities. Link

Israel used world’s first AI-guided combat drone swarm in Gaza attacks. NewScientist

The effects of Linkrot and content drift in the Internet (esp. its impact on law). Atlantic

There’s so much concrete in the world that soon it will outweigh all living matter–including humans. BBC Future

Facebook wants Instagram to ditch photos for full-screen videos, possibly in an effort to be more like TikTok: “We are no longer a photo-sharing app.” CNBC



“There will be a fourth wave, and there will be a fifth wave, before we can vaccinate everyone–while rich countries are lifting lockdowns and even giving people booster doses. We will be stuck in this vicious cycle–more infections, more mutations, more variants–and we are scared.” ~Senjuti Saha, Dhaka-based microbiologist and public health activist.

“Every time you draw your breath you suck in mercy.” ~Thomas Watson

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” ~Mexican proverb

“Be gentle and know that you know nothing.” ~St. Teresa of Avila

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” ~Thomas Edison

“God help me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.” ~David Brainerd

“Leadership comes when your hope and your optimism are matched with a concrete vision of the future and a way to get there.” ~Seth Godin [notably, nothing about titles]

“Choosing the priority is as important as working on it.” ~James Clear

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