Saturday, May 31, 2008

20080527 Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia 002

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30 headlines

Mongolia has now called for Saturday to be a day of mourning for the 45 people killed by a recent snowstorm in the eastern provinces, including 14 children. Tallies of the missing vary from 8 to 100, and thousands of livestock also perished. More than 300 rescue workers are battling poor weather conditions to search for the missing.

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

May 29 headlines

A group of Mongolians has decided to get in on the mining action by forming their own corporation. They figure that there's no sense in foreign companies doing the mining, when they can have an IPO in Hong Kong or Toronto to raise the money to set up their own mining concern.

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.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Post-Christian America?

As we didn't have a missions service scheduled anywhere this weekend, we attended Heartland Christian Fellowship. (Actually, we have very few services scheduled for the coming months.) At any rate, it's nice to be able to attend our "home church" now and then. We attended my dad's Sunday school class, which is studying the book A Life that Matters by Ron Hutchcraft. The chapter they were discussing today had to do with the lostness of those around us. It included some shocking statistics regarding how little knowledge Americans have of the Bible, Christ, the church and Christian philosophy. If the statistics are accurate, they are fairly damning of the church, pointing out that despite 200 years of cultural dominance, Christians have failed to be salt and light in American society. I actually question the validity of the statistics somewhat. While I certainly concede that America is a post-Christian culture, the remnants of its Christian heritage are everywhere evident. Even soap operas often have a church as an oft-visited site and a priest as a secondary character; sometimes the plotlines are overtly spiritual. While some--okay, many--Americans do not avail themselves of the opportunities they have to become Biblically literate, etc., there is no lack of resources for them to alleviate that situation. If there is not, then the church is failing miserably. To the extent that the church's leaders are hypocritical CEOs of corporations and the rank-and-file membership are passive consumers of the pablum of pop Christianity, we as the church should be horribly ashamed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

tsagaanuur farm, Mongolia

tsagaanuur farm, Mongolia, originally uploaded by Atuffs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


North Mongolia Still Facing Fire Threats. Mongolia has had 105 wildfires in the past couple of months, with five still burning out of control in the northern part of the country. One of these just crossed into Mongolia last week from Russia. A couple of the fires have even reached suburbs of the capital.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Denver-UB Connection and Environmental Refugees

Denver, Colorado, has taken another step to solidify her position as a sister city to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. On May 10, Denver opened Ulaanbaatar Park with Mongolian Minister Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Odonjil Banzragch in attendance. Denver and UB have been sister cities for seven years, and Denver is the base for several businesses and NGOs doing business in Mongolia.

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."

stocks and social services

The Mongolian Stock Exchange, a government-owned corporation, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange have signed a vaguely-worded agreement, moving them towards eventually allowing trading on both exchanges. This seems like a good move for Mongolia, making it easier for outside investors to get a piece of the action and expanding Mongolia's financial interaction with countries other than Russia or China.

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.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Arburd Sands, Mongolia

Arburd Sands, Mongolia, originally uploaded by JET_BKK.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Something else to worry about!

It seems that there's been an outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease in Mongolia, including in the city where we are going to be living. There have been almost 200 cases of the disease and, though no one has died, they have suspended the elementary schools in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Start 'em early!

Mongolia, originally uploaded by jonathan_m.

What a cute little archer!

Mongolia's Next Top Model

One of the things I have often praised Mongolian culture for is its ties to tradition. In my short visit there, at least, I didn't notice the mad rush for American pop culture that I saw in the Philippines. That may all be changing. America's Next Top Model is one of the most popular TV shows in Mongolia, and now they are making their own version of the show. This report explains how a group of professional Mongolian models will vie to be Supermodel 2008 in a reality TV show being billed as a fashion "festival." One unusual twist is that the judges are being kept secret in the competition so that there are fewer opportunities for bribery. Do you think corruption might be endemic to Mongolian culture?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Flags of Convenience

The Washington Post just published a commentary on the news that Mongolia is building a navy, despite being entirely landlocked. What is actually happening is that a company in Singapore is putting Mongolian flags on ships (with Mongolia's permission, of course), and using them for all kinds of suspicious purposes. The man in charge of this process has a shady history, and the nation of North Korea seems to be using this fleet as well. I'm sure this is lucrative for the Mongolian government, but it may put their potential for receiving US aid at risk.