Mongolia, the land of Genghis Khan and nomadic herders, is in the midst of a remarkable transition. Rich in coal, gold and copper, this country of fewer than 3 million people in Central Asia is riding a mineral boom that is expected to more than double its GDP within a decade. The rapid changes simultaneously excite and unnerve many Mongolians, who hope mining can help pull many out of poverty, but worry it will ravage the environment and further erode the nation's distinctive, nomadic identity.
As talks opened in Baghdad today, "diplomats from six world powers offered Iran new proposals Wednesday to ease international concerns about its nuclear program, but appeared to reject Tehran's appeals to ease economic sanctions to help move along talks," The Associated Press reports.
Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped in the hunt for Osama bin Laden by trying to collect DNA from the al-Qaida leader and his family members, has been convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison, according to reports from Pakistan.
"This is definitely the big event" on Egypt's way toward its own form of democracy.
That's how NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson summed up the news earlier on Morning Edition as she reported from Cairo about the opening day of the first free presidential elections in a nation that just a little more than a year ago was in the throes of a revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak's regime.
A U.S. soldier watches members of the Afghan Public Protection Force arrive at the transition ceremony on the outskirts of the Afghan capital Kabul on March 15. The APPF replaces all private security contractors in the country.
Nearly two years ago, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that gun-toting private security companies in his country be brought under state control. But the Afghan force to replace the foreign-funded contractors is off to a rocky start.
According to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the new force will increase security costs for USAID projects and could even shut some of them down, at a loss of about $899 million. USAID in Kabul disagrees, and the dispute has gone public.