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 Majid Saeedi / Getty Images
Hesco barriers and concertina wire surround the living quarters of the Chinese-owned Ainak copper mine in Logar, Afghanistan, in 2011.
Credit Benjamin Lowy / 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.