Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bullies start playing nice?...

Ghengis Khan fascinates me. Awhile back I picked up a book called "Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" on a whim, and I've been hooked ever since. I learned a lot from that book about advances made by the Mongols and things that are still in place today that started with Ghengis Khan, like meritocracy in the military and diplomatic immunity. 

My point is people can surprise you. Yeah, the khans were known for their ferocity and violence, but they had their good points too.

The World blog on MSNBC's website featured a story on the "reindeer people" of Mongolia. The Tsaatan only number in the hundreds these days, but these herders rely their reindeer for all their basic needs except meat. They were on the edge of extinction after a bacterial infection began to render their animals sterile, but with the help of a then-college junior, the Tsaatan have not only bounced back but taken a leap forward into (some) technology and eco-tourism.

While the world no longer lives under the threat of hordes of Tatars, we do still have our fair share of scary people/nation-states. But even two members of the Axis of Evil have recently taken baby steps in a good direction. 

After a very bloody election which revealed a growing schism in the population, Iran has approved its first woman cabinet minister since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Appointed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi will be the health minister, according to Bloomberg. She has a degree in obstetrics and gynecology and is currently an associate professor and member of the Medical Ethics Board Committee at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences. 

North Korea has started committing random acts of kindness (well, as best it can). The Voice of America reported on the release of four South Korean fishermen who accidentally wandered into North Korean waters last month. This past Friday the rogue state agreed to resume reunions of separated families after a two-year ban and has started talking with the South about joint tourism efforts.

(Image courtesy of

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