Roundup #213

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Covid-19 Dashboard

… now: 15.5m (+1.7) cases, 633k deaths
… 7/17: 13.8m (+1.6) cases, 590k deaths
… 7/10: 12.2m (+1.5) cases, 550k deaths
… 7/3: over 10.7m (+1.0) cases, 517k deaths
… 6/26: over 9.4 m(+1.1) cases, 483k deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidtracking.com.

North Africa/Egypt-Sudan (266M)

Study finds 1 in 3 Sudanese children malnourished.
… half of all current adults suffered malnutrition in childhood.

Egypt looks to be seriously considering invading Libya, going up against Turkey.

East Africa/Horn (520M)

Kenya’s churches reopen cautiously as infections rise.

A second generation of locusts is invading east, south Ethiopia.
… 1 million people will likely need emergency food assistance …
… worst locust infestation in Ethiopia in 25 years …

West Africa/Nigeria-Sahel (457M)

“They cannot go up, and they cannot go back
… Pandemic leaves migrants stranded in the Sahara.
… “When Cherif Balde set out from Senegal to cross the Sahara and make his way to Europe, he never dreamed that 13 years later he would still be stuck in the desert.”

Nigeria may resume international flights before October.

More aid workers killed by Boko Haram in Borno State, Nigeria. Link.

Major protests in Mali: say they won’t stop until the president resigns.

West Asia/Saudi-Iran (303M)

Greece is bracing for a rise in refugees if relations with Turkey worsen.

Baghdad airport reopens.

Iran’s death toll is over 15,000; currently at 200 deaths per day.
… 12 of 31 provinces are red “high risk” zones, under restrictions.v

Inside Lebanon’s crippling economic crisis.
… produces next to nothing for export, and has relied on remittances …
… running out of cash …

“MBS expected to be Saudi king by year’s end.” Link.

Turkey’s eastern province of Van has become a “refugee graveyard.”
… first stop for refugees fleeing Iran, Afghanistan; many wait in Van for years until their asylum application is accepted.

South-central Asia (2.1B)

Emirates to resume flights to 62 destinations.

#Afghanistan
More violence: dozens killed in widespread insurgent attacks.

#Bangladesh
The unhappiest Eid for cattle farmers, traders
… 100s of 1000s of cattle remain unsold due to Covid-19
… 1000s of cattle farmers will see massive losses

#India
Antibody study says 1 in 4 in Delhi have Covid-19.
… 1% of the population is a recorded/confirmed case.
… “Glimmer of light”: fall in daily new infections in Delhi.
Covid cases in India grew from 1 to 1 million in 6 months.
“Area-specific lockdowns complicate economic recovery
… cities and states moving in and out of lockdown …
All but one district of Kashmir is in a complete lockdown
… similar declaration in Manipur
… also, West Bengal.
Will have to deliver vaccine on a scale never seen before.
“Offers escape” to Afghan Hindus, Sikhs facing attacks.
… many fear those escaping will face poverty in India …

Another piece on the decline of demand for idols and the related loss of income.

How Central Asian Covid-19 data was managed and manipulated.
… lots of “pneumonia” cases; Christians, churches, others impacted …

East Asia (1.6B)

China considers new rules, mandatory trainings for foreign teachers.
… several rules foreign teachers should not violate including
… “engaging in religious education or preaching illegally”
… only around 1/3 of 400,000 foreign teachers in China employed legally
… authorities cracking down on illegal foreign teachers …

China will require a negative Covid test for all inbound travelers.

UK suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
… says it will need to be changed …

Interesting piece on ‘dark fishing fleets’ from China fishing in North Korean waters, pushing North Korean fishermen into less safe, distant waters; many NKor fishing boats apparently lost, washing up in Japan. Link

US orders China to close Houston consulate, citing efforts to steal trade secrets. Might complicate things for Americans inside China, or wanting to go. Link.
… China responds, ordering US to shut down Chengdu consulate.

“China is pressuring for a land swap deal to settle the China-Bhutan border, in hopes of gaining an advantage over India.” Link

North Koreans “desperately need the border with China to reopen”: hunger, homelessness, business closures all rising.

Remittances: piece on the many Filipino workers who normally go abroad to work, and send home remittances that account for 10% of the Philippines GDP–100s of 1000s likely to lose their jobs this year due to Covid-19.

Southeast Asia (700M)

#Indonesia
Tourists are gone, Balinese return to farms and fishing.
… “more than half of Bali’s economy depends on tourism…”
… “last year, … 6m tourists from abroad, 10m Indonesian tourists…”
West Sumatra wants tourists to come for Idul Adha, despite pandemic.

“Indonesia set to have the world’s highest rate of child deaths from Covid-19.” The headline and the trendline are a little exaggerated, but there’s a disturbing data point: 300 children below the age of 6 died due to Covid-19 plus co-morbidities. “Late diagnosis and treatment” were driving factors in the deaths. Link.

Where you see a pandemic, Thailand sees an opportunity. Phuket is set to launch a 3 billion baht plan for medical tourism, specifically focusing on elder care and, in phase 2, on the prevention of Covid-19 and other pandemics in the future. Link.

Thailand’s emergency decree will be extended until August, but they are slowly allowing more people (especially business people, medical tourists, and some migrant laborers) to enter.

Europe/North America (1,125M)

Southern Europe opens its doors to tourists, but not many are coming. Tourism will likely be dragged down by lack of demand even when the doors are open.

Animated chart of who the average 26-year-old American lives with. Today, more likely to live with a parent than with a spouse, roommate, or cohabiting partner. Reflects the changing demographics of, and influencers on, potential candidates. Link

Convent outside Detroit lost 13 nuns in one month.” Given the mortality rates amongst the elderly, and the fact that many religious (Catholics, Orthodox, and also among Buddhists?) in this age demographic, I would expect we would see more stories like this. And if it’s impacting Catholic monastics, it will likely impact mission agencies as well, especially those whose demographics skew older. The expansion of the Kingdom is not without risk.

South Africa is closing schools, grappling with virus surge.

In poor places (this article is about Latin America), “dubious virus remedies” (read: dangerous, poisonous, ineffective) are surging. “Hospitals don’t have tests, don’t have materials, don’t have protective equipment.” There is a place for churches to spread good information and help. Link.

NEW DATA

Infographic: how a family gathering infected 41 people. Shows spread.
… this is Covid-related. But one can also think about other kinds of spread with this perspective.

Spent on video games, in the USA, in June: $1.2 billion (up 26% Y/Y)

NEW LONGREADS

Protestants around the world: a short excerpt from the World Christian Encyclopedia, by Todd Johnson. A survey of Protestants in 2020, including a map. Link.

FUTURISTICS/TECHNOLOGY

The beta api of OpenAI’s GTP-3 machine learning tool was released. It’s an interesting tool that’s amazing some people. I’m not on the waitlist to try it out (yet), but what I’ve seen is fascinating. It’s trained on a large data set so you can ask it a question like “when was the first fax sent” and it will generate a paragraph (or more) of plausible (or at least plausible-sounding) text. This could be “write text for you” as a service. Personally, I think this is less “killer AI” and more “replacement for low-level text writers.” Could it, for example, write mission stories, or people group profiles? Or ESL documents? Link.

Interesting: ByteDance considering selling majority stake in TikTok. Link.

China is launching an ambitious lander mission to Mars, as well.

People are mounting cameras on beetles.

VPNs are re-thinking hosting servers in Hong Kong.

The Last Five

#212 - 17 July
#211 - 10 July
#210 - 3 July
#209 - 26 June
#208 - 19 June
See all the back issues here.