10 Stories

Rarely Visited Country Opens Gleaming $2.3B Airport

It's Turkmenistan's latest bizarre building

(Newser) - The capital of Turkmenistan, a country largely closed to outsiders, has opened a $2.3 billion new international airport terminal in the shape of a flying falcon. The terminal, whose roof in profile resembles a bird with spread wings, adds to Ashgabat's vast array of idiosyncratic buildings, the AP... More »

How 'the Gates of Hell' Emerged in a Soviet Desert

Giant pit has become tourist spot

(Newser) - A fiery pit has been burning in the middle of a Turkmenistan desert for more than four decades, and little has been done to get rid of it. The Darvaza gas crater, nicknamed the "Gates of Hell" or the "Door to Hell," has been on fire since... More »

'Door to Hell' Still Burning, 42 Years Later

Scientists set it afire in 1971, expecting brief blaze

(Newser) - Locals call it the “Door to Hell.” Scientists expected this 230-foot-wide crater to burn out a few hours after the fire was started. That was in 1971. The flames have been blazing for more than 40 years. It all started when a Soviet team of scientists was drilling... More »

J.Lo Has Made $10M Singing for Dictators

Human Rights Foundation uncovers a slew of other instances

(Newser) - After it came out that Jennifer Lopez scored a big payday to sing happy birthday to Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov , her rep insisted that had J.Lo known of any "human rights issues," she of course would not have attended the soiree. But the Human Rights Foundation implies... More »

J-Lo Got $1.5M to Sing at Dictator's Birthday: Source

She's still, she's still Jenny from the Bloc

(Newser) - Jennifer Lopez got at least $1.5 million to sing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" Saturday night at a 56th birthday party for Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, leader of the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan—a man whose regime is described as "among the most repressive in the world" by Human... More »

Turkmenistan Prez 'Wins' Auto Race

He enters at last minute and, surprise, surprise, is the victor

(Newser) - US presidents like to throw out the first pitch at baseball games, but Turkmenistan President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov takes sport to a whole new level, coming in first in a Turkmenistan car race today. Driving a Turkish-made Volkicar. In a race he wasn't even scheduled to enter. Well, that's... More »

US to Expand Routes Into Afghanistan

Safer roads will depend on cooperation of Central Asian nations

(Newser) - More than four-fifths of the supplies for allied troops in Afghanistan travel via Pakistan along a treacherous route, prompting the US to plan new supply lines in the embattled region. The fragility of the current setup was laid bare after a Pakistani counter-militant offensive shut down the Khyber Pass yesterday,... More »

Turkmenistan Dumps Months Named After Heroes, Poets, Dictator's Mom

New leader rolls back

(Newser) - In a step away from the legacy of its late dictator, who renamed each month after heroes, poets, and himself, Turkmenistan’s president urged a return to traditional month names, the Guardian reports. April had been named after Saparmurat Niyazov’s mother, while September was a reference to Niyazov’s... More »

Heads Roll After Roach's TV Guest Spot

Turkmen president gives state-run station's newscast thumbs down

(Newser) - An ongoing overhaul of Turkmenistan state TV is apparently so interesting that even members of the animal kingdom want a front-row seat. Unfortunately for the staff of the nightly news, a cockroach recently strolled across the studio table while cameras were rolling, leading the country's president to fire dozens of... More »

Political Rift Weakens Ahmadinejad

Ayatollah overrules Iranian president on gas for villagers

(Newser) - Iran's firebrand president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a serious political humiliation  yesterday when the nation's supreme leader sided with his opponents to force him to supply a billion dollars worth of natural gas to remote villages suffering power cuts. Iran's poorest communities are enduring one of the harshest winters in years,... More »

10 Stories