An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Credit Musadeq Sadeq / AP
A journalist walks by an exhibit of minerals on the way to a news conference by the Afghan minister of mines, in Kabul in 2010.
For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.
But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.
Ira Leifer, next to an RV he has outfitted with methane sensors and other equipment to sniff the air.
Credit Courtesy of Ira Leifer and Paige Farrell, et. al. / Published in Atmospheric Environment
This map shows methane measurements Ira Leifer took as he drove in his RV around the Los Angeles basin. Notice the pronounced spike in levels of methane around the La Brea Tar Pits in the center of the image. Geological faults here allow "natural" methane to escape. The redder the color, the more methane was detected.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Ira Leifer, at his garage-turned-lab in Santa Barbara, has been studying the levels of methane in the atmosphere.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Leifer stands atop his roving chemistry lab. He and his team took 6,600 methane readings on the cross-country drive from Florida to California.
If you're driving down the road someday and you come across a camper with a 50-foot periscope sticking up into the sky, you just might have crossed paths with Ira Leifer. His quirky vehicle is on a serious mission. It's sniffing the air for methane, a gas that contributes to global warming.
Leifer is an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But you'll more often find him off campus, in a garage, next to a string of auto body shops near the airport.
You can legally drink and drive in the United States, but there's a limit. In every state, drivers can't get behind the wheel if their blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, but the National Transportation Safety Board wants the states to lower the legal limit to .05 or even lower. Now, that would bring the United States into agreement with much of the rest of the world.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. There are three simultaneous controversies rattling the Obama administration this week: the IRS, the phone records of the AP reporters, and Benghazi. NPR's White House correspondent Ari Shapiro joins us. Ari, thanks for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Pair of unrelated stories this week, both involving the news media, served to remind a lot of Americans of how little information that we may assume to be private, really is private. One story involves the U.S. Justice Department's efforts to find out who reporters are talking to; the other, reporters secretly monitoring their sources' activities.
We're joined now by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, from New York. David, thanks for being with us.
In the seven years since her last album, Audra McDonald has kept busy. She spent several years in Hollywood, filming the television series Private Practice. She's gotten divorced and remarried, absorbed the shock of losing her father in a plane crash and watched her daughter, Zoe, grow up from a kindergartener to a middle-schooler.
France is officially the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. Saturday, President Francois Hollande signed a bill that Parliament had passed in April, which gives same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt.
Two Metro-North Railroad trains have collided on a stretch of track near Fairfield, Conn., causing a "major derailment" and "preliminary reports of injuries," according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
[Update at 8:55 p.m. ET: The Associated Press quotes Connecticut officials as saying about 50 people have been hurt, four of them seriously.]
The British Foreign Office is happy to assist its citizens, but officials want to make clear that there are some requests they won't fulfill.
Such as supplying Olympic tickets or doing a background check on that Swedish woman you met online.
Those are just a few of the "often good natured" but distracting requests that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) says it received over the past year, according to a press release issued Thursday.
It's Cinderella plus Jackie Robinson times two. When Venus and Serena Williams burst onto the lily-white world of tennis, they changed the game and made history: They were sisters. From a poor neighborhood. Who brought unprecedented power to the game. And both reached No. 1.
Their journey is the subject of a new documentary called Venus and Serena, showing in select theaters around the country.
When the American Psychiatric Association releases its new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-- DSM-5 -- this weekend, lots of journalists and commentators will refer to it as "psychiatry's bible."
That's a term that makes the manual's authors and other mental experts cringe.
America's Cup, the oldest and most prestigious sailing competition, has hit some choppy water.
The death last week of British sailor and gold medal Olympian Andrew "Bart" Simpson when the boat he was crewing capsized and broke up during a practice run off San Francisco, has prompted tough questions about safety.