Afghan miners in a makeshift emerald mine in the Panjshir Valley in 2010. Reports suggest that Afghanistan is sitting on significant deposits of oil, gas, copper, iron, gold and coal, as well as a range of precious gems like emeralds and rubies. Currently these minerals are largely untapped and are still being mapped.
Credit Benjamin Lowy / Getty Images
Hesco barriers and concertina wire surround the living quarters of the Chinese-owned Ainak copper mine in Logar, Afghanistan, in 2011.
Credit Majid Saeedi / Getty Images
Afghan miners work a coal mine some 60 miles east of the western city of Herat, Afghanistan, in 2010.
Afghanistan faces the daunting prospect of a drastic reduction in foreign aid, which currently makes up about 90 percent of the country's revenue. Some have seen an economic life raft in geological surveys that indicate huge deposits of copper, iron, uranium and lithium in various parts of the country. But multinational mining firms have been slow to invest in Afghanistan — not least because of questions about stability after American troops draw down.
"The former superintendent of a southern West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 workers in April 2010 pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal fraud charge," The Associated Press reports. "Gary May of Bloomingrose, the highest-ranking Massey Energy official charged in connection with the blast, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Aug. 9."
When Paul McCartney was a little boy, he always looked forward to New Year's Eve — the biggest social event of the year in Liverpool.
"The family would all gather, my dad was the pianist, and ... drinks would appear and people would start singing," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And apparently never stop until we all ran out for New Year's."
In case you're keeping track of high-profile endorsements in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination:
Wednesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney picked up the support of Florida Sen. Mark Rubio. This afternoon in Houston, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn tells our Newscast Desk, former President George H.W. Bush will endorse Romney. Bush's wife Barbara and son Jeb (a former Florida governor) have already said Romney's their candidate.
A police video of George Zimmerman in the hours after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 does not show any obvious evidence of the injuries Zimmerman reportedly received during what he says was an altercation that ended with him firing his handgun in self defense.
Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 8:12 am
We probably won't know until June what the Supreme Court justices will decide regarding the health overhaul law known as Obamacare. The questions this week from the conservative majority seemed skeptical of the "individual mandate" at the center of the law, yet dubious of the law's survival without it.
(A line of questioning may not be a perfect guide to a justice's thinking, but right now it appears to be the way to bet.)
So let's say it's June and the high court has laid low the whole law. That's terrible news for President Obama and the Democrats, right?
Shirley Ree Smith sits in the living room of her daughter's upstairs duplex in Alexandria, Minn. Smith is waiting to hear if California Gov. Jerry Brown will grant her clemency. "They say things happen for a reason. I'm not sure if I'll ever figure out a reason for all of this," she says.
A senior pathologist in the Los Angeles County coroner's office has sharply questioned the forensic evidence used to convict a 51-year-old woman of shaking her 7-week-old grandson to death, identifying a host of flaws in the case.
Former MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and CEO Jon Corzine testified on Capitol Hill in December. On Wednesday, a former executive at the company refused to answer lawmakers' questions about events in the run-up to the firm's collapse.
A former executive at the center of the meltdown of brokerage firm MF Global appeared before Congress on Wednesday to answer questions from lawmakers. Members of the House Financial Services Committee were hoping assistant treasurer Edith O'Brien would explain the actions of the firm's CEO, ex-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Thursday on what's known as the Ryan budget, the spending plan from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that among other things changes the structure of Medicare and rewrites the tax code. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed the plan, but some are saying his rhetoric on the campaign trail may not match up with at least one reality of the Ryan budget.
Romney said he supported the Ryan budget the day it was unveiled.
"I applaud it," he said. "It's an excellent piece of work, and very much needed."
Samira Ibrahim, an Egyptian woman who brought the case against an army doctor accused of conducting forced "virginity checks" on female protesters last year, breaks into tears outside a military court in Cairo on March 11 after hearing that the doctor was acquitted.
Egyptian army doctor Ahmed Adel speaks during a news conference at a military court in Cairo on March 11. Charged in the case of forced virginity tests on Egyptian protesters last year, he was acquitted.
For Samira Ibrahim, and many other Egyptians, the struggle to remake their country didn't end with the ouster last year of Hosni Mubarak.
Ibrahim, a 25-year-old from southern Egypt, was arrested by the military during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square in March of last year, a month after Mubarak was overthrown.
While in custody, Ibrahim said, she and six other young women were subjected to a so-called "virginity check" — a forced penetration to check for hymen blood. Amnesty International has called the procedure a form of torture.
You may have heard of "flash mobs," where a mass of people invade a public space to make a scene. Now the idea has been turned on its head by "cash mobs," where large crowds of consumers show up at small businesses to spend money. But it's not just about propping up the local economy.
It's 5 o'clock on a Friday, and mostly quiet in the Lander's Men's Store, a mom-and-pop clothing store in Jamestown, N.Y. But shop owner Ann Powers is anticipating a mob.
Alburgh, Vt., is a town with unusual geography: It's on a peninsula that borders Quebec and is surrounded by Lake Champlain. Even though the town is small and isolated, its residents have always had somewhere to do their banking.
But in January, the People's United Bank branch on Main Street announced it was closing its doors. When Irene Clarke heard the news, she decided to do something about it.
The historic legal arguments on the Obama health care overhaul came to a close at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, with key justices suggesting the court may be prepared to strike down not just the individual mandate but the whole law.
The major arguments of the day were premised on a supposition. Suppose, asked the court, we do strike down the individual mandate — what other parts of the law, if any, should be allowed to stand?
And finally, this hour, we remember Earl Scruggs, the master of the five-string banjo, who has died at age 88. As a young man, he created his own style of fingerpicking on the banjo that would come to bear his name: Scruggs style. He got his start with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in the 1940s and then teamed up with Lester Flatt as Flatt and Scruggs. And he influenced countless players over his many decades of music, among them, fellow banjo player Tony Trischka, who joins me now.
The writer Adrienne Rich has died after a long illness. She was 82. Rich is best known for her poetry, which mirrored the times in which she wrote. Her work grew increasingly political during the 1960s and '70s, and she was a touchstone for the feminist movement. Joining me to talk to about Rich's work is the poet and critic Linda Gregerson. And Linda, I wonder what the experience is for you of reading an Adrienne Rich poem. How would you describe it?
We're learning more about yesterday's bizarre incident on-board JetBlue Flight 191 from New York to Las Vegas. That's the plane that diverted to Amarillo, Texas after the pilot left the cockpit mid-flight and went on a rant, screaming about Iraq and Israel.
Federal prosecutors today charged the pilot, Clayton Osbon, with interfering with a flight crew. And the court filing contains new details about what apparently went on during that flight.
Brazil's Larissa Franca (right) cleans the feet of teammate Juliana Silva as they celebrate a point during a women's beach volleyball match against Cuba at the Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in October 2011.
Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 4:20 pm
No matter how many times he said it Wednesday, the White House press corps just didn't seem to be buying deputy press secretary Josh Earnest's assertion that Obama administration officials weren't working on contingency plans just in case the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act.
They also weren't taking at face value Earnest's defense of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's performance on behalf of the administration Tuesday which has been widely criticized as nervous, halting and all-around less-than-inspiring.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Here's another milestone for Iraq. For the first time in more than two decades, the Arab League is meeting in Baghdad. Little in the way of major policy is expected to come out of tomorrow's summit, but as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports, after years of violence and war, it's a marvel the gathering is happening at all.
Sudanese troops stand next to a burnt-out military vehicle in the oil center of Heglig after clashes with South Sudanese forces Wednesday. Recent fighting has raised fears of a renewed war.
Credit Abd Raouf / AP
A delegation from South Sudan, headed by Pagan Amum (center), walks with Sudan's Idris Mohamed Abdul-Gadir (right) in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, on March 22. The delegation arrived for a summit between the leaders of the two countries, but the meeting was postponed due to recent tensions.
The death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., has sparked headlines around the country, along with many discussions about race, the law, and the media.
Martin was killed as he returned from a trip to a convenience store. The man who shot him, George Zimmerman, has not been arrested; he says he acted in self-defense.
The Supreme Court has dealt privacy advocates a huge setback. By a 5-3 majority, the court ruled that people who sue the government for invading their privacy can only recover out-of-pocket damages. And whistle-blower lawyers say that leaves victims who suffer emotional trouble and smeared reputations with few if any options.
Justice Samuel Alito and all four of his conservative colleagues turned back a challenge from a pilot named Stan Cooper. (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case.)
What happens when impassioned demonstrators come this close to each other?
Opponents and defenders of the new national health care law found out this week, sometimes facing off outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices inside heard three days of oral arguments on the law's constitutionality.
NPR discussed the experience with demonstrators from both sides of the debate, who traveled from other states or nearby cities to bring their voices to the steps of the high court.