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Roundup #281

By Justin D. Long

Issue No. 281 – 21 January 2022
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TL;DR:
1 The last Christian in Idlib, Syria, is a 90-year-old man who refused to leave.
2 Famine and hunger are sweeping the Horn of Africa.
3 More child soldiers, more mercenaries in the Sahel. Maranatha.
4 The dust is settling in Kazakhstan, but the trauma must still be faced.
5 More analysis of the falling birth rates in China and India.
6 Cambodia’s Internet may soon be state-controlled, like China’s.
7 Russia may invade Ukraine, which will lead to significant Western reaction.

Note: due to 11 days of international travel, Roundups over the next two weeks may be abbreviated or missing altogether.
BEYOND | OBSERVATIONS | TOP | EVENTS | DATA | READS | FUTURES | QUOTABLE
Beyond’s next Phase 1 introductory DMM training will begin in JanuaryClick here to find out more, and to get in touch for either the online or in-person versions of the course. (This is the more intensive version of what we present in Nuggets, and is required for all Beyond field worker candidates.)

Our spring online DMM Nuggets course is focused on the 7 High Value Activities of Disciple-Makers. We started last night with “Simply Focus on the Word.” The next one will look at “Extraordinary Prayer: the spiritual posture of disciple-makers,” and will be held January 27th. See the full course sequence and register for the courses here.
BEYOND | OBSERVATIONS | TOP | EVENTS | DATA | READS | FUTURES | QUOTABLE
North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)The Arab world is re-embracing its Jews: reasons vary but trend is growing. Economist $
Algeria shuts schools for 10 days as Covid infections surge. MSN
Iran: Children dying from famine, street fights, illness. MNN
Libyan government’s push to promote marriages faces backlash. Al-Monitor
… register to get married, get 40,000 dinars (=$8,700)
… potentially married for the money (divorce later), or increase underage marriage
US businesses sour on Saudi Arabia, undo effort to shift away from oil. WSJ $
Sudan: Interference in church affairs continues under military rule. CSW
Yemen war ramping up again: intensifying in Marib. Al-Monitor
… 60+ killed, 100+ injured in air strikes. WPost
 
Syria: “The last Christian in Idlib recalls his community.” Al-Monitor
… 90-year old, who insisted on staying in the city …
… about 10,000 Christians lived in Idlib governorate, numbers declined after 2012 …
… most of Idlib’s residents left in 2015 when opposition took control …
… Christians in Idlib now account for less than 1%, about 200 in all …
… [not sure how this article is counting Christians, though.]
Snowstorms bring misery for Syrians in IDP camps. Al JazeeraEast Africa (520m)Famine in the region:
… This will be South Sudan’s hungriest year ever, experts say. AP
… Analysis: Somalia may be on the verge of another famine. Al Jazeera
… Failed rainy seasons create food emergency in Eastern Africa. NASAWest + Middle Africa (600m)Sahel violence threatens to spill over into coastal states. Al Jazeera
Burkina Faso blocks Facebook for security reasons since Jan. 10. Africa News
Video shows ISWAP in NE Nigeria training child soldiers. HumAngle
… “to be the next generation of fighters” …
After the French moved out of the Sahel, the Russian mercenaries moved in. Economist $
… similar thing happened in Central African Republic: Roundup #177
… “next on Russia’s list may well be Burkina Faso”South + Central Asia (2b)Afghan women face hardship as Taliban struggles to revive economy. Al Jazeera
… “You can live without freedom, but can’t live if you have nothing to eat.”
 
India’s biggest cities see Covid cases fall sharply, raising hopes of peak. WSJ $
India “does not have a population explosion problem.” NDTV
… population will peak sooner than anticipate, and decline …
… India could grow old before it grows rich …
India’s inward turn could stymie its rise. Bloomberg
… “protectionist drift springs from belief than an economy of 1.4 billion is large enough”
… “That could be a major miscalculation…”
Hindu monk jailed after calling for ‘genocide’ of Muslims. AP
 
Kazakhstan’s unrest leaves behind a traumatized society. FP $
… overloaded hospitals struggling with those injured in unrest, plus Covid spike …
Polls: Religion doesn’t play central role among youth in Kazakhstan. EurasiaReview
Report from FEBC on current on-the-ground realities. FEBC
 
Pakistan places new restrictions amid rise in Covid cases. Al JazeeraEastern Asia (1.6b)China’s birth rate continues to fall. Economist $
… numbers fell for a fifth straight year, barely outnumber deaths. WSJ $
… “demographic window of opportunity ‘will shut soon.'” SCMP
… Infographic: shocking drop in population growth. Sixth Tone
… Chinese women unlikely to fulfill their govt desire for more babies. RFA
… Gen-Z says they are not ready for marriage. Sixth Tone
… How too many boys skew China’s economy. WSJ $ 
China builds its own movie empire: mostly for mass messaging. Axios
Beijing Olympics to be attended by invitation only. BBC
… Omicron in Beijing, so the public isn’t be allowed in.
China’s foreign firms are running out of a key resource: foreigners. Sixth Tone
… 2 years of strict border controls have kept foreign talent out of China …
… unclear how many foreigners are still inside China …
… student, tourist visas almost entirely suspended; work permits hard to obtain …
… some worry the situation could become permanent …
Taiwan war risk highest in past 25 years as US tensions rise, expert warns. SCMPSoutheast Asia (700m)Indonesia names new capital Nusantara, replacing sinking Jakarta. Guardian
… plan has been delayed due to pandemic, but could go ahead in 2024 …
Malaysian Hindus mark Thaipusam festival under Covid curbs. France24
… “I’m really sad… because the crowd of millions of people are not here…”
Cambodia’s Internet may soon be state-controlled like China’s. NYT $
… under new decree, all web traffic to be routed through government portal
Filipinos fear Omicron will ‘paralyze’ nation as government focus turns to election. SCMP
Thailand to resume quarantine-free ‘Test & Go’ for vaccinated arrivals in Feb. CNAAmericas+Europe+PacificStaffing shortages in America are a glimpse into the future. Economist $
Long-form analysis on trends in staffing companies in the USA notes that while 20s to 50s are returning to work, over-50s heading to early retirement are doing so less, and the well of immigrant workers has dried up. This is leading to a significant staffing shortage for many companies—but on the other hand, it does mean that the over-50 folks are looking to make a change away from ‘punching a clock.’ While many of these will in fact retire, some may be looking for a second-career option, and some may gravitate toward mission.
 
Many think Russia is poised to invade Ukraine: analyzing where current trend may go.
… 10 minute video explainer for those new to the crisis. Al Jazeera
… Analysis: why Russia has never accepted Ukrainian independence. Economist $
… “How to think about war in Ukraine,” Timothy Snyder.
… Efforts to halt eastward expansion of NATO may achieve the opposite. Economist $
… “aim probably to shatter Ukrainian military power, dictate terms.” Economist $
… (and Sweden fortifying against potential attack)
… Russian troops may be sent to Belarus, staging ground into Ukraine. FP $
… Biden insists US won’t accept [even] a ‘minor incursion’ by Russia into Ukraine. WPost $
… European Union threatens massive sanctions if Russia invades. Reuters
… Russia issues subtle threats to US more far-reaching than Ukraine invasion. NYT $
“We’re real soldiers now”: in the trenches with new generation fighting Russia. BuzzFeed
… over 14,000 have been killed since the war in the east started in 2014
 
Albania: the growth of Christianity in the world’s first atheist country. TGC
 
At many US churches, pandemic hits collection plates, budgets. AP
$ indicates a potential paywall. Most of these news sources permit a set amount of free articles (usually about 6) per month, and after that, subscription.
BEYOND | OBSERVATIONS | TOP | EVENTS | DATA | READS | FUTURES | QUOTABLE
Covid global case data… 1/21: 340.3m (+20.1m/wk) cases, 5.57m deaths
… 1/14: 320.2m (+22.4m/wk) cases, 5.52m deaths
… 1/6: 297.8m (+8.5m/wk) cases, 5.46m deaths
… 12/30: (Holiday break)
… 12/24: (Holiday break)
… 12/17: 272.1m (+3.6m/wk) cases, 5.33m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

The global Covid death toll is most certainly 2x or even 4x the official count. This article is a deep dive into the data and measurement methodologies. A bottom line that’s helpful to keep in mind: by the confirmed count, the wealthy countries (like the USA) are the hardest hit with Covid deaths–but in reality, poorer countries have been hit far worse. Their Covid numbers, for a variety of reasons, aren’t getting fully counted, but the deaths show up in excess mortality. This sort of fact impacts all sorts of analysis–“Why is Africa, India, China better off in terms of deaths?” They aren’t (India’s Covid deaths, for example, likely number in the millions). It also means we need to keep in mind the numbers above are those that are confirmed, and are the “floor, not the ceiling”–just the tip of the iceberg. The reality amongst the unreached, who often live in much less developed places, is a very different one from the one most professing Christians live in. Nature 

Singapore & Dubai: two very different approaches to the Covid expat. Fortune
 
To engage Covid in a population, we need to think less like doctors. NYT
When you’re working with an individual, you want to choose the very best treatment and maximize the safety of the person. When you’re dealing with populations, less-perfect solutions that reduce risk and are more likely to be used are good ideas. For example, N95 masks are great, but even cloth masks—if worn by everyone—will significantly reduce risk.
 
Related: Sensitivity? Specificity? The math behind false positives, false negatives. Slate
… if a rapid test says you have it, you do. If it says you don’t, odds aren’t bad you still do.Other Data2022 World Watch List published. Open Doors
… and CT has a long analysis piece on this data. Link
2022 Human Rights World Report published. HRW
BEYOND | OBSERVATIONS | TOP | EVENTS | DATA | READS | FUTURES | QUOTABLE
Longer ArticlesAs firefighters, nurses go abroad, Zimbabweans go without. Al Jazeera
… highlights the domestic challenges of a ‘brain drain’ leaving a country. Same trend can be seen in many places …
 
Climate change turning cities into ovens. Wired
… climate change + heat island effect = rise of 4.4 degrees Celsius, about 3x global averageBook NotesI’m reading On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the art of Observation. A journalist takes 12 walks around her city block with 12 different people (representing 12 different perspectives). I was keen on this book because it promises to bring out skills and suggestions for observing better what’s around us.

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.
BEYOND | OBSERVATIONS | TOP | EVENTS | DATA | READS | FUTURES | QUOTABLE
Tech & FuturesNow you can rent a robot worker for less than paying a human. Wired
The rise of AI fighter pilots. New Yorker
… missionary and pastoral jobs are still safe. For now. 🙂
 
How law enforcement gets around your smartphone’s encryption. Wired
… this talks a lot about what could be improved, but the bottom line is:
… if you’re likely to be in a sensitive place, turn off your phone.

Nigeria succeeded in clipping Twitter’s wings. BBC
… agreed to a “raft of conditions” to end a 7 month ban
… fears that this may encourage other nations to restrict social media
BEYOND | OBSERVATIONS | TOP | EVENTS | DATA | READS | FUTURES | QUOTABLE
Quotable”Faithfulness in little things is a great thing.” Hudson Taylor

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