Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Mongolia "experiences a spectrum of disasters ranging from heavy snowfalls in winter, strong winds and dust storms, drought, earthquakes, and animal and human epidemic infectious diseases. The three largest cities in Mongolia are located in magnitude 7 to 8 seismic active areas."
Earthquakes are one of the most devastating forms of natural disasters, and in Mongolia, 80 percent of the total land area and 70 percent of urban areas are located in earthquake-prone regions. Ulaanbaatar accommodates more than half of its total population and produces around 60 percent of local products. However, the city is located in a very active seismic zone and, coupled with older infrastructure, building standards are doubtful to withstand earthquakes of above magnitude 5 on the Richter scale.
Mongolia ranks 114 out of 177 on the human development index. Surveys show that 36.1% live below the national poverty line, and 18.9% live on less than one dollar a day.
Avian flu occurred in 41 subprovinces, killing 679 wild birds.
Prices for basic food items such as wheat and rice rose more than 100% in the first few months of this year.
Mongolia spent about 7% of GDP on social assistance programs.
In the past 3-5 years, (1) 57 storm winds have caused nearly a million dollars in damage and killing 300,000 head of livestock, (2) 28 people have died in floods, (3) 358 forest fires have killed 3 people, and (4) at least 15 earthquakes were recorded.
The survey, conducted by the Water Authority and the State Professional Control Agency, revealed that over 1,200 rivers have dried up in Mongolia. Four years ago, more than 5,100 rivers were counted while today there were fewer than 3,900.Apparently, part of the blame lies with water-intensive industries such as leather tanning and gold mining. In a country that only receives 7-9 inches of precipitation annually and that is hundreds of miles from the ocean, water needs to be more carefully managed.
Government officials also said 2,600 lakes are now dry, out of a total of 3,700, while 23,000 of the country’s 93,700 springs are dry. Further, of the more than 400 mineral waters, 110 have disappeared.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
about 205,821 tons of cereals, 142,124 tons of potatoes and 80,627 tons of vegetables were harvested this year.
Also, Mongolian farmers brought in 1008.8 thousand tons of hay, 25.9 thousand tons of hand-made fodder and 950.2 tons of silage crops.
Compared with the same period in 2007, the harvest of cereals, potatoes, hay and silage crops increased 85.3 thousand tons or 74.4 percent, 18.5 thousand tons or 16.2 percent, 116.0 thousand tons or 13.0 percent, and 796.1 tons or 6.2 times more, respectively.
Hopefully, this will help to make Mongolia more self-sufficient in the coming year and less subject to food price inflation.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Speaking of killing dogs… in the bitter Mongolian winter, all stray dogs are killed. There are many reasons for killing off the street dogs. One reason is safety. A pack of hungry dogs sometimes will go after small children to eat. Another reason is for population control. I can’t imagine how many more stray dogs there would be if the majority weren’t killed off every winter.
How are the stray dogs killed off? Many people in the West would think that many of these are inhumane, but I’ll tell you anyway. Sometimes the poison is put in the trash dumpsters, so that the dogs will eat the poison. Sometimes dogs are clubbed to death. But the most extreme way I’ve heard to kill a dog: Let jailed prisoners out for the day. Give them guns. Let the prisoners walk around town shooting all of the stray dogs. You may think I’m joking, but I’m not.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Mongolia has 62,000 tons of proven uranium reserves, or 1 percent of the world's total, according to the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. The country has untapped areas that may contain as much as 1.39 million tons, which would make it the world's largest source of the ore, the group says.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. However, the law limits proselytizing..
There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the period covered by this report. Some religious groups faced bureaucratic harassment from local governments or were denied the right to register.
There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, sometimes involving pressure on persons who had converted to Christianity.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.
Section I. Religious Demography
The country has an area of 604,247 square miles and a population of 2.9 million. Buddhism and the country's cultural traditions are closely linked. When government controls on religion and on traditional practices ended in 1990, there was an increase in Buddhist activity. Local scholars claim that more than 90 percent of all citizens ascribe to some form of Buddhism, although practice varies widely. Lamaist Buddhism of the Tibetan variety is the traditional and dominant religion.
Ethnic Kazakhs, most of whom are Muslim, are the largest ethnic minority, constituting approximately 6 percent of the population nationwide and 80 percent in the western province of Bayan-Olgiy. Muslims operate approximately 40 mosques in Bayan-Olgiy and 4 Islamic centers in Ulaanbaatar, serving nearly 3,000 students combined. The mosques and Islamic centers receive financial assistance from religious organizations in Kazakhstan, Turkey, and the Gulf States.
There is a small but growing number of Christians. Church officials estimate that more than 4 percent of the population practice Christianity, of which an estimated 90 percent are Protestant and 9 percent are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Roman Catholics and members of the Russian Orthodox Church together account for the remaining 1 percent. Some citizens practice shamanism, often in tandem with another religion, but there are no reliable statistics on their number.
Throughout the country, there were 432 registered places of worship, 217 proselytizing, and some religious groups seeking registration face burdensome bureaucratic requirements and significant delays (see Restrictions). The Constitution explicitly recognizes the separation of church and state.
Although there is no state religion, many government officials are Buddhists who believe that Buddhism is the "natural religion" of the country. The Government contributed to the restoration of several Buddhist sites that are important religious, historical, and cultural centers. The Government did not otherwise subsidize Buddhist or any other religious groups.
A religious group must register with the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs (MJHA) to legally function as an organization. Because registrations are only valid for 12 months, religious institutions must reregister annually. This practice allows the Government to vet applications to ensure that religious organizations are qualified, as well as to supervise and limit the number of places of worship and clergy. The Government, particularly at the local level, has sometimes used the registration process as a mechanism to limit the number of places for religious worship. However, the central government reportedly fined at least one local government for failing to register Christian churches.
Groups must provide the following documentation to the MJHA when registering: a letter to the MJHA requesting registration, a letter from the city council or other local authority granting approval to conduct religious services, a brief description of the organization, its charter, documentation of its founding, a list of leaders, brief biographic information on the person wishing to conduct religious services, and the expected number of worshippers. While the MJHA possesses the ultimate authority to approve an organization's application, this is largely pro forma. In practice local legislative bodies adjudicate the applications, and separate local registration is often necessary, particularly when groups seek to operate in the countryside. The Ulaanbaatar City Council and other local legislative bodies require similar documentation prior to granting approval to conduct religious services.
Religious visas are not granted.
Religious instruction is not permitted in public schools. Buddhist schools may receive public funding for teaching the standard curriculum to students; however, expenses for religious and special subjects must be covered by other sources.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Both the preliminary registration and annual renewal process are burdensome for religious groups. The length of time needed, and documentation required, to complete the process serve as a disincentive for some organizations from applying. Christian groups reported that local officials stated there were "too many" churches or that there should at least be parity in the registration of new Buddhist temples and new Christian churches.
Authorities in Tuv Province, near Ulaanbaatar, continued to deny registration to Christian churches. There were no churches registered in the province, and several churches were again denied registration during the reporting period. Tuv authorities further complicated the registration process by requiring registration at the village, county, and province level. In previous years registration took place only at the provincial A Ministry of Education directive bans combining foreign language or other training with religious teaching or instruction. While monitoring compliance, particularly in the capital area, remained strict, there were no reported violations of the ban during the reporting period. Religious groups that violate the law may have requests for extensions of their registration revoked; if individuals violate the law, the Government may recommend that their employer terminate their employment. No such cases were reported during the reporting period.
While the law does not prohibit proselytizing, it limits such activity by forbidding the spread of religious views to nonbelievers by "force, pressure, material incentives, deception, or means which harm health or morals or are psychologically damaging." During the reporting period, there were no instances of prosecutions or loose interpretations of this law to restrict peaceful religious activities.
During an immigration crackdown in October 2007, a number of foreigners were taken to police stations for long periods of questioning because they were not carrying their passports when the police stopped them. Expatriates from Asian countries received particular scrutiny, and many believed that the Government used the immigration crackdown as a pretext to "crack down" on Christianity.
In August 2007 the Khamba Lama, the head of the largest school of Buddhism in the country, visited Bayankhongor Province. During the visit, provincial officials reportedly convened a mandatory meeting of government officials with the Khamba Lama so the latter could explain the importance of Buddhism in the country and to conduct a Buddhist ceremony. Some government officials who attended, who were also Christian, subsequently complained that they had been involuntarily involved in a Buddhist ceremony. The Khamba Lama also reported difficulties in registering new temples in Ulaanbaatar due to the MJHA approval process.
There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.
Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.
Improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom
In May 2008 the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), a nonsectarian nongovernmental organization originally organized by leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, held a symposium on religious freedom. Participants included domestic experts as well as experts from the United States, Russia, and other Asian countries. The country's president, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, gave the event his full support, and representatives from IRLA stated that the response from the Government was positive.
Section III. Societal Abuses and Discrimination
There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice during the period covered by this report. Citizens were In Bayankhongor Province, tensions continued between the majority Buddhist population and foreign Christians. During the reporting period, it was alleged that Christian converts vandalized a Buddhist ovoo (sacred rock pile) and destroyed a number of personal Buddhas. Christian pastors made comparable complaints against Buddhists. Similar incidents reportedly took place in Tuv Province and the Baganuur district of Ulaanbaatar.
There were reports that individuals who converted to Christianity were pressured by disapproving family members to renounce their faith. A church leader reported that in Ulaanbaatar a 25-year-old man who had converted to Christianity and was about to start a mission was locked inside his home by family members in February 2008. The man eventually canceled his mission.
Some citizens, who believe that Buddhism is the "natural religion" of the country, criticized the alleged use of material incentives to attract potential converts to Christianity
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Most everyone has a cell phone stuck to their ear, most people sport trendy clothes and would not look out of place in a hip, American city. Cars are ubiquitous and rush hour here could rival that of LA. (However, there is hope - I have seen two Priuses since I've been here!) Because UB is the only major city in the country, some people from the country side come here to try and better their life. There are over 10,000 children living in the sewer system in UB and beggars are hard to avoid. Pick-pocketing and theft is a serious danger here so we are all taking extra measures to be safe.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Now, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, leader of the Democratic Party, has relented. He continues to allege voter fraud, claiming that the DP should have won 64 seats, instead of the 28 they were awarded. Although international observers declared the election fair, Elbegdorj says fraud was endemic. Some people voted as many as 18 times, he alleges, and, because the MPRP controls the electoral process, little was done to police the situation. Polls show that most Mongolian voters believe the election was unfair.
Of greater concern, though, were the post-election activities of the government. During the state of emergency, all private television channels were silenced, allowing the MPRP to have greater influence over public opinion. Elbegdorj even suspects that a fire set at the National Modern Art Gallery was a deliberate attempt to frame the DP. Naturally, the MPRP denies any involvement with the fire. "You can't think of a more stupid thing," says the general secretary of the party.
In order to convince the DP to return to Parliament, some concessions were made. A subcommittee will investigate the fraud allegations, and the state prosecutor's office will look into possible abuses by the police during the protests. Some police officers have already been charged with shooting protesters.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
"With the burgeoning beverage market in Mongolia we have recorded remarkable growth rates. In 2002 we sold 4 Coca-Cola products to every average Mongolian consumer. In 2008 we are selling an average of 67 beverages to every Mongolian consumer. This has caused our first plant to run out of manufacturing capacity 7 years ahead of schedule" said Mr. Jambaljamts [Chairman & CEO of MCS Group]. "We are greatly encouraged by the outstanding performance of our bottling operation as both the bottling company and The Coca-Cola Company have exceeded all projections of profitability and sales. Our investment in the new plant is just our first step to bring world class manufacturing to Mongolia."
Mongolia missed its shot at a third gold when China's Zou Shiming defeated Serdamba Purevdorj in the light flyweight category. The fight was stopped in the second round due to an injury to Purevdorj's shoulder. This was Mongolia's first Olympic silver medal in boxing.
On Sunday afternoon, the people of Ulaanbaatar took to the streets to celebrate the two medals. Public screenings of the matches drew crowds, and people gathered in homes to watch the broadcasts on any of four channels airing the fights. Following the wins, the streets were filled with people shouting, giving high-fives, and waving the Mongolian flag from car windows.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Both China and Mongolia made history by qualifying fighters for an Olympic boxing final for the first time - and in Mongolia's case it was at a Games where judoka Tuvshinbayar Naidan won the country's first ever Olympic gold.
Badar-Uugan Enkhbat at bantamweight and Serdamba Purevdorj at light-flyweight will hope to become Mongolia's first ever boxing Olympic champions.
"I'm very happy and proud that two of our boxers could get through to the finals," said Mongolian coach Bandi Damdinjav.
"It's very honourable for us and for all Mongolian people."
Serdamba will face Zou Shiming, the third of China's finalists, who as double world champion will start as favourite.
Badar-Uugan will come up against Yankiel Leon of Cuba.
Mongolians realize that no outside power can project its power at the heart of Inner Asia forever, and the reality of living between two giant neighbors is something that Mongolia will arguably have forever.
Of course, because Mongolia does not threaten the interests of Russia or China like Georgia threatened Russia (bypassing pipelines, American troops presence, NATO involvement, etc.), both countries generally think of Mongolia as a strategic backwater. So Moscow and Beijing can be more generouis with Mongolia becoming close to the US, and its role as a buffer state won’t change—at least not in the eyes of Moscow.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Mongolian Matters reports on the massive celebration in UB of Mongolia's first-ever Olympic gold medal. The rejoicing bonded even the estranged leaders of the MPRP and MDP. The president of the country walked down the steps of the government house holding hands with the prime minister and the leader of the Democratic Party. The blogger notes how large quantities of gold (mining rights) have divided the country, but how a very small amount of gold has brought them together.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Mongolia's Tuvshinbayar Naidan has defeated Ashkat Zhitkeyev to win the men's -100kilograms class judo gold, the AP reports. Naidan had defeated the Japanese 2004 gold medalist in the first round before going on to eliminate fighters from Germany, Korea and Azerbaijan. This was his first Olympic competition; he had taken 5th place at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
Until 2000, Naidan was a wrestler, and he used a Mongolian wrestling move to drop his final contender. Although Naidan was five inches shorter than his opponent from Kazakhstan, he dove low and barrelled into Zhitkeyev's legs. He was able to post three scoring blows by lifting Zhitkeyev off the ground and rolling him onto his back.
This was Mongolia's first gold medal in history. They had previously won six silver medals and twelve bronze. Mongolia is now 2 medals ahead of Canada in the Beijing Olympics. :)
Investors are worried, though, in the light of recent unrest and the slow progress of mining in the nation. Next month, they will have an opportunity to address these issues at an economic forum in UB. Morrow insists that Mongolia is absolutely a good, stable place to invest.
Mongolia's GDP grew by at least 9 or 10 percent last year, as they begin to exploit the resources that Russia controlled for so long. The strong economy, proximity to China, and an ambitious promotion of tourism has put Mongolia on the business map, and international corporations are being drawn to UB. The fact that the nation is a late bloomer economically means that they have avoided some of the chaos currently plaguing the world market, such as the mortgage-backed securities that have played havoc with the U.S. economy.
Still, Mongolia has some obstacles to address. First, there needs to be a clear sign from the government that they are ready to sign off on some new mining projects, something they've only done once in their 20-year independence. Second, the nation needs to convince investors that the July 1 unrest was an isolated incident and that the new government is ready to move forward. So far the Democratic Party has been able to stall the installation of the new Parliament, but Morrow and other investors are hopeful that this can be accomplished by next month.
Morrow will be among those presenting at the economic forum, addressing these issues as well as environmental, legislative, and international trade concerns. Morrow is confident, though, that UB is a showplace that will convice investors by itself. "You can see the great vibrancy, the excitement of what’s happening here," he says. Probably nothing earth-shattering will come out of this forum, but it will hopefully open international eyes to the great potential for investment in Mongolia.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In second place is Dorjsuren Monkhbayar, a Mongolian who became a German citizen six years ago. The defending champion is currently in fifth place.
UPDATE: China's Chen Ying came from behind to take the gold, when Otryad's pistol locked up on her 11th shot. Chen won by 1.2 points. Otryad still managed to claim the silver, with Monkhbayar picking up the bronze. Otryad's silver is Mongolia's first medal this year.
Montsame reports the contents of Prime Minister S. Bayar's telegram to Otryad: "I offer heartfelt congratulations on behalf of the Mongolian people and the government of Mongolia to you for winning a silver medal. Mongolian people are happy to win the silver medal after 28 years and for the first time ever by a woman. I wish high success for Mongolian sports teams and athletes, and hope that the Mongolian athletes will show more success at the world sports arena. Let the glory of Mongolia be developed around the world".
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
At any rate, I was thrilled that my talented brother-in-law James was willing to come over this morning and help me with the repair. Well, okay, he did the repair while I watched. The parts were less than $20, and James had the job done in less than 2 hours, including the trip to the parts store. Since none of my mechanically-inclined family members are going to Mongolia with us, maybe it's good that we've decided to go without a vehicle for a few years.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
This is Mongolia's first ever state of emergency. In addition to the curfew enacted from 10 pm to 8 am for four days, the central parts of the city have been cordoned off. Alcohol sales have also been banned, and only state-owned TV stations are being permitted to broadcast. The city has largely calmed. Some roads are still barricaded, but business have opened and public transport is running.
The US embassy has expressed deep concern and has urged both parties to work together to remain a bastion of democracy in Central Asia. The justice department has reported that opposition forces are planning large demonstrations after the curfew is lifted and insists that those protests will also be suppressed. The parliament is to meet in an emergency session today to discuss the crisis.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Rioters were looting art galleries and stealing televisions from government offices. Others were vandalizing and torching cars in the neighborhood, but activity died down when the president announced the curfew. As many as 30 police officers and 25 civilians have been hospitalized.
President Enkhbayar did meet with the prime minister and the opposition leaders urging restraint. Following this meeting, Prime Minister S. Bayar leveled blame for the incidents pointedly at the leader of the Democratic Party.
The protests originally centered around two districts of the capital won by the MPRP but contested by the Civic Movement Party. Later, though, the DP joined the demonstrations, questioning the entire outcome of the election. The latest results suggest that the MPRP has garnered 46 of the seats in the State Great Khural, the DP 26, an independent and a minor party each 1, with 2 seats still undetermined. No official results have been announced, and election commission officials have declared that claims being made by the MPRP are premature.
The leader of the DP, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, also announced that he would not accept the projected outcome: "We do not need these results. No one needs these kinds of results, and they will be corrected in accordance with the law." Allegations center around suggestions that the MPRP controlled polling stations by appointing party members as directors. The DP plans to present details of election fraud, which may further delay the announcement of official results.
President Enkhbayar has called for investigation into the allegations of voter fraud but has denounced the use of illegal actions in expressing protest. The President and the Prime Minister plan to meet with the leaders of the dissenting groups.
Monday, June 30, 2008
About 74% of the nation’s 1.5 million registered voters participated in the polling, down slightly from the 81% who voted in the election of 2004, which left a hung State Great Khural, with neither of the two major parties able to establish a firm government. Now, the discovery of extensive mineral wealth and concerns over unbridled inflation (15.1% last year) have combined to make this a high-stakes election. Per capita income in the country stands at just $1,500 a year.
Both the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and the Mongolian Democratic Party support investment agreements to allow the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in the Gobi Desert to proceed. Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto, the developers of the project, suggest that this mine could boost Mongolia’s GDP by 34% and could be followed by uranium and coal extraction projects.
More than 350 candidates from 12 parties and one coalition ran in the election. Smaller parties argue that allowing the developers to proceed under current contracts would rob Mongolia of its wealth and do irreparable harm to the environment. The law currently gives the government a 50% share in any project where state funds are used and a 34% share in others. A recent proposal would give Mongolia a 51% share in any major project. The MPRP would centralize those holdings in the Mongolian government, and give each citizen a “Gift of the Motherland,” a cash dividend of $1,300 once mining starts. The DP, on the other hand, advocates a Mongolian holding corporation, in which all Mongolians are stakeholders, as well as giving a “Treasure Share” of $860 to each Mongolian. Both parties are also pushing greater economic independence for Mongolia through increased agricultural initiatives and further exploration for oil and natural gas. Currently, Mongolia imports 90% of its oil and natural gas from Russia, a fact Russia has recently used for economic blackmail.
Although the minor parties are unlikely to grab a large percentage of the vote, they may be in a significant position for negotiating if the parliament is again largely split. The MPRP claims that they have secured a majority of the votes in the countryside (40 to 50 of the 76 seats up for grabs), but other reports suggest a dead heat, which might result in a deadlock that could stall key mining deals.
Votes in the capital (typically a DP stronghold) remain uncounted, and there is confusion in some areas due to a new voting system. The old system had each constituency vote for one member of parliament. Now, there are fewer constituencies, but each one votes for several seats in the Great Khural. Voters have been confused, with some circling too many names on the ballot, invalidating their vote. Counting has also been slowed because pollworkers can no longer just stack up ballots as they did before when only one name was circled per ballot. The election committee is suggesting that results may not be available today.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Indianapolis - Dr. Jo Anne Lyon wrote a new chapter in the history of The Wesleyan Church on Monday, June 9, 2008, when she was elected by the Indianapolis, Indiana denomination as its first-ever woman General Superintendent at the Church’s June 7-11, 2008, General Conference in Orlando, Florida. “What a wonderful statement you have made as The Wesleyan Church,” said outgoing General Superintendent Dr. Earle L. Wilson to the nearly 2,000 delegates and guests at the conference.
An ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church, Dr. Lyon is founder of World Hope International and has led the organization to develop successful relief and development projects in more than 30 countries with an annual budget of over $12 million for 2007.
A licensed professional counselor, General Superintendent Lyon had thirty years prior experience in administering urban and rural human service programs before founding World Hope. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, a Master’s in Counseling from The University of Missouri-Kansas City, and further graduate work at St. Louis University in Historical Theology. She has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Dr. Lyon will join Dr. Thomas E. Armiger and Dr. Jerry G. Pence on the Board of General Superintendents. Dr. Armiger and Dr. Pence, both incumbents, were elected to new terms earlier Monday, June 9.
The Wesleyan Church is an evangelical, Protestant denomination, which has its roots in John Wesley’s Methodism. The denomination has nearly 400,000 constituents in 5,000 churches and missions in 86 countries around the world.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Mongolia seems to be growing closer and closer to China, and a desire for increasing closeness was expressed by China's Vice President Xi Jinping, who is visiting Mongolia this week. China has been Mongolia's top trading partner and top investor for nearly a decade, and this year has seen a 68% increase in bilateral trade over last year. About 90% of Mongolia's rice, clothing and vegetable imports come from China, and more than 6% of the Mongolian labor force are employees of the 700 Chinese businesses operating in the country. China's geographic proximity makes it easier for them to make the infrastructure investments that put them first in line to tap Mongolia's mineral wealth.
Some Mongolians have expressed displeasure over the rising food costs in their country. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, the government borrowed money to import flour, which they distributed to bread makers at discount prices. However, the bread makers refuse to pay cash for the flour, refuse to store the flour and refuse to accept the set price for bread established by the government. It seems like the government did not do their homework on this one. It's tough switching to a free market economy!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake has hit western Mongolia, causing widespread panic. Many people fled their apartments to stay in one-story dwellings or gers. This apparently followed widespread fears last week that an earthquake was about to hit UB. Unfortunately, seismology has not advance to the point where such quakes can be predicted.
On a brighter note, the hand-foot-mouth disease epidemic appears to be slowing. The rate of new infections has dropped to ten new cases per day, a drop from one hundred cases per day. Still, schools remain closed and public activities for children are prohibited. More than 2,000 have contracted the virus, including more than 1,000 in UB. Nearly 200 children are still in the hospital, while 800 more are under a doctor's care.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
Landy G4 Challenge on for Mongolia
Death toll reaches 52 in heavy snowstorm in Mongolia
"RIGHT POLICY-RIGHT CHOICE"
Mongolia: First religious liberty meeting draws government, international religious freedom leaders
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Have a bachelor's degree in English, history, geography or math? Are you open, tolerant, and a team player? There might be a job for you at Hobby School, a bi-lingual primary and secondary school in Mongolia. The salary is $700/mo. after taxes, but the school provides your accommodations, as well as paid vacations and a travel allowance at the end of the school year.
Getting high on Mongolian run by -- MONGOLIA'S snow-capped mountains and ancient horse trails are spectacular to look at - so why would you want to run up them? But that's what a group of ultra marathon fanatics are about to do, writes Sam Riley
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The city of Ulaanbaatar has set aside 12 hectares for the construction of 4,000 new apartments by a South Korean firm.
The death toll in the spring snowstorm has risen to 29, and at least 100 Mongolians are missing.
Mongolia is considering eliminating gold from the 68% windfall tax. Since enactment of the tax, mining activity has not decreased, but the amount of gold being reported and paid to the national bank has slipped.
There are now more than 1700 cases of hand-foot-mouth disease in Mongolia.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Russian Rosatom and Mongolia to discuss joint uranium prospecting and production
Anzo-Borrego State Park in California now a "sister park" to Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in Mongolia
Mongolia to host Asian bodybuilding contest
Mongolia passes higher taxes on strategic mineral deposits but reclassifies some deposits as non-strategic
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
On another note, UB is experiencing unprecedented growth due to the fact that nomadic life is becoming untenable. Mongolia has seen a temperature rise of nearly two degrees Celsius in the past sixty years, causing sand storms, droughts and dzuds, winter storms characterized by temperatures as low as -40, heavy snow and strong winds. This situation is devastating to livestock herds (25% of livestock died between 1999 and 2003), and many nomadic herdsmen are being forced to relocate to the capital to earn a livelihood. They are part of a new demographic, the "environmental refugees."
Mongolia's social services have recently been ranked among the top four in Asia. Asia Development Bank says that Mongolia excels in providing its citizens with welfare, employment, social security, health insurance, micro-credit, child protection, education and health support programs. I was surprised to see that they exceeded the Philippines in this respect, but that may reflect the somewhat easier task of providing for three million citizens as compared the the ninety million of the Philippines.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I don't have the article at hand right now, but last night, I read that the dust clouds from Mongolia have now invaded Alaska. I understand that this is not all that uncommon, but that this is the fourth-dustiest/windiest spring on record in Mongolia. This morning I read that strong dust storms are still ahead, i.e. 30 to 40 miles per hour storms. Officials fear that new steppe and forest fires will be added to the 75 that have already caught this year. Granted, some of these fires are originating in Russia and then spreading across Russia's southern border.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Happily, there are some who have carried on a great work in Mongolia, even in places where the roads don't go. I was encouraged by this story of a northern Colorado woman, who has put aside her own struggle with cancer to travel to western Mongolia to help others earn a livelihood. At age 63 and battling breast cancer, she is still traveling around the world to help Mongolian women learn marketable skills and to help them sell their handiwork online.
On a completely unrelated note, this blog contains an interesting post related to Mongolia's support of the whaling industry, despite the fact that they are a completely land-locked country. One really does have to question their motives for involving themselves in an issue that seems so unrelated to their land.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
We had a nice faith promise come in from Olathe Wesleyan Church today, so we have about 87% of our needed faith promise support committed. Unfortunately, I don't know where much of the rest of it is coming from, so we're still really trusting God for it.
I've been a little worried about our right front tire for a while. It has worn really unevenly, and it always squealed going around corners. It was a Goodyear Integrity 50,000 mile tire that I bought last August. It only had 20,000 miles on it but was already down to maybe 2/32 of an inch tread depth. I hadn't kept up on rotating the tires, so NTB wasn't going to honor the warranty. I found a slightly better tire for just a few dollars more at Firestone, so I ran over there and let them put one on. I walked around downtown OP while they made the change. I stopped by Traditions Furniture, which is located in the historic Strang Car Barn. I've often thought about stopping in there but never had done it before. They have a nice display on OP history there. Now, I just need to get up the guts to ask them to let me place a geocache somewhere on the property.
Then I headed over to mail a couple of DVDs that I sold on Amazon.com.
Well, I know this is thrilling, but I'm going to stop and give a little more attention to the Royals' game. They're up 2-0 in the 1st.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
At the same time, Mongolia has nearly reached the stage of strategic partnership with Russia. The Mongolian prime minister is about to visit Moscow to further this relationship. Part of their discussion will focus on cooperation in uranium production and the building of nuclear power plants. While nuclear energy might be a good solution to the pollution crisis in UB, I think it is good that Mongolia is also talking to Japan and France about uranium processing. It would seem so easy for them to slip back into being a Russian satellite nation.
In the meantime, Mongolia is still debating their policy on mineral extraction. Foreign investors, such as Rio Tinto, are getting nervous because the Mongolian government is debating taking 51% of the profits from large mining operations rather than the 34% to which they originally had agreed. This may represent a real roadblock to future foreign investment. Bold Luvsanvandan, chairman of the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia, says, "The main danger is if we worsen the investment climate, the only investors we are left (with) will be neighboring countries China and Russia." It may be economically dangerous for Mongolia to trade only (or primarily) with Russia and China, but the geographic and political realities are making it hard to do otherwise.
Further complicating matters is the lack of infrastructure that makes it difficult to exploit Mongolia's resources. For example, the Ulaan Ovoo mine possibly has a 35-40 year supply of coal but is 120 kilometers from the Trans-Mongolian Railway. Numerous scenarios have been developed for resolving this issue, but all are extremely expensive. Mongolia is also interested in a "coal-to-liquids" technology, but pipelines would necessarily have to run into or through one of their two neighbors.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Mongolia now has 40 million head of livestock. That's about 13 times the human population. About 20 million of that is goats, whose specialization is turning grasslands into desert--not a promising future, there.
There is still a great deal of difficulty in extracting mineral wealth, primarily because of the great dependence on foreign investment to build the necessary infrastructure. Foreign investors are wary, however; as the government has tried to renegotiate contracts mid-operation.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Unfortunately, the lack of medical facilities is compounded by some of the health risk factors in the environment. Mongolia has recently pledged to clean up 200,000 tons of cyanide, mercury and other industrial wastes that have been used in mining processes.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
You know the population of Mongolia is small when the Prime Minister attends the football championship for 11-year-olds and awards the medals.
In a recent meeting with the Indian ambassador, the mayor of UB was urged to name a street in the city for Mahatma Gandhi. Does that seem like a strange request to anyone else?
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
This article is primarily about the other kind of blood--oil--and Mongolia's need to build an oil reserve. What I found interesting, though, was the statement that the togrog is falling in value even more steadily than the dollar. It's hard to imagine a currency doing worse than ours. Maybe that will alleviate some of the effects on inflation for us, although it doesn't do much for the rest of the country.
Mongolia is receiving somewhat of a cash infusion, though, from the burgeoning tourism industry. Prince Alwaleed of Saudia Arabia recently visited Mongolia and met with some of the leaders, so this probably speaks well of Mongolia's chances to see some luxury hotels in its future. This has been a growing need, due to the massive mining operations currently underway and more just over the horizon. A new airline flight has also just been initiated to try to lure some of the 40,000 annual visitors to Lake Baikal to Lake Khovsgol in Mongolia.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Given Mongolia's feelings about Inner Mongolia and their strong connection to Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, I was surprised to see that Mongolia is supporting China's treatment of the Tibetan riots. Mongolia's foreign minister says that "Mongolia always believes that Tibet and Taiwan were inalienable parts of Chinese territory."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
On a happiernote, a new deposit has been discovered in southern Mongolia, which contains 4,000,000 tons of copper and 398 tons of gold. Not a bad addition to the 32,000,000 tons of copper and 1,000 tons of gold found just to the north last year. You would think finds like that would brighten the economic outlook.
Unfortunately, the Mongolian government seems likely to spoil the deal by grabbing huge portions of the profit. This may be a boon for the economy in the short-run, but how many foreign investors are going to keep pumping money into Mongolia when they see that it's reverting to a command economy?
Maybe the government needs the tax money to pay their back debts to New York City. It turns out that diplomatic immunity doesn't apply to property tax evasion.
And, in technology news, Buddhist lamas have dramatically sped up the process of copying their Scriptures by discovering scanners and the internet.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
We are raising our support based on February 2007 prices. Real estate has doubled since then, and vehicles are way up. I hope we don't arrive on the scene only to discover we can't even live at poverty level in a developing country.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Ok, I'll admit that I added the lace noose, but it's purely to help you see it as I saw it.
Anyway, I drove to Bolivar and back today to pick up Tiffany & Elijah and bring them back home. Tomorrow, we're all headed off on a long weekend to Spring Lake Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake, Michigan. That is, we're leaving, weather permitting. It's looking like it might be a little yukky tomorrow.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
After reading email and finishing the PowerPoint presentation, I did half an hour on Dance Dance Dance. I was in the expert level for the entire time, so I managed to work up a bit of a sweat.
When Tiffany came down, I opened up the blinds to discover that we were in the midst of a heavy snowfall. We began to wonder if our service was actually going to happen. KCI was closed, and a number of other churches were also announcing cancellations, but there was nothing from BreakPointe, so we pressed on with plans.
I had a bowl of gravel--er, GrapeNuts--and a boiled egg for breakfast, and then got myself and Elijah dressed and ready for church. The service did go on as planned, but the attendance was severely hurt by the bad weather. The people at BreakPointe really welcomed us, maybe to a fault. We were having a hard time getting our display set up and getting PowerPoint stuff arranged, because so many people were greeting us. For some reason, the video guy in the sanctuary wasn't able to import my presentation into Media Shout, but it ran okay directly through PowerPoint. Then, I went upstairs to load the lyrics for a Tagalog song Tiffany was teaching onto the kids' computer. They have their USB hub wedged into a completely inaccessible place, so inserting a jump drive was quite a challenge. We finally got everything set up though.
I went down to the worship service, while Tiff stayed with the kids. She taught them a bunch of games that kids in the Philippines play. Here are some of the kids playing jump rope with rubber bands.
I did my ten-minute spiel with the adults, and then Pastor Tom came up and asked me a few more questions. He asked me how much we needed to raise, and my mind momentarily went blank. I said $68,000; even though we actually need more than $76,000 a year. I got that question right in the second service; I wonder if people who were in both services got a little confused. After talking to the adults, I headed up to the kids' department and spent about half an hour up there.