Tuesday, November 1, 2016

[MNT sets 10th straight low; $14.4m FDI in Sep; economic recovery plan submitted; and Happy Chinggis' Birthday]

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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Jump to: Int'l Market- Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original



Int'l Market

-       Aspire: Northern Rail Corridor Confirmed as a Competitive Rail Connection between NE China and Europe

-       Aspire Mining: Quarterly Activities Report

-       Xanadu Mines: Quarterly Activities & Cashflow Report

-       Wolf Petroleum: Quarterly Activities Report

-       TerraCom: Quarterly Activities & Cashflow Report

-       TerraCom: Annual Report 2016

-       Tian Poh: Quarterly Activities Report

-       Tian Poh: Release of 106.1 Million Shares from Escrow

-       Viking Mines: Notice of Annual General Meeting, 29 November

-       Rio Gives Away Giant Iron Ore Field Once Worth Fighting For

Local Market

-       MSE Trading Report, October 28: Top 20 -0.58%, ALL -0.39%, Turnover ₮5.4 Million Shares

-       MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -1.96%, ALL -1.88%, Turnover ₮59.8 Million Shares, ₮9 Billion T-Bills

-       GoM Offering ₮5 Billion 12-Week, ₮5 Billion 39-Week T-Bills at 16.72%, 16.967% Discounts at MSE


-       MNT sets new historic lows against USD, EUR, CNY, SGD, HKD, CHF; USD/MNT up 1.86% this week, 3.8% in October to ₮2,374.21

-       BoM issues ₮73.2 billion 1-week bills at 15%, total outstanding -0.98% to ₮504.2 billion

-       BoM issues ₮20 billion 12-week bills at 17%, total outstanding +2.7% to ₮747.5 billion

-       GoM Issues ₮20 Billion 12-Week T-Bills at 16.72% Discount with ₮40 Billion Bids

-       GoM Issues ₮15 Billion 39-Week T-Bills at 16.967% Discount with ₮15 Billion Bids

-       Mongolia Sees $14.4 Million FDI in September, Negative $4.3 Billion FDI Jan.-Sep.

-       Mongolians More Optimistic Despite Tepid Economy, Poll Shows

-       METALS-London eyes flat Oct close for copper, aluminium tracks higher

-       Iron ore price leaps to six-month high

-       Chinese coking coal imports have surged over the past year

-       New model for understanding the economy

Politics & Legal

-       New Mongolian Plan on Overcoming Economic Difficulties

-       Regaining investors' confidence is "top priority" for this Government

-       Cabinet discusses senior care and state's relationship with private sector

-       MP O. Baasankhuu meets S. Zorig's widow

-       Income and assets of Mongolia's richest politicians

-       Mongolia sees slight drop in gender equality rank

-       U.S. training Mongolia Police on fighting drug trafficking and domestic violence

-       1 in 10 children in Mongolia attempted suicide says survey, campaign launched against cyberbullying


-       China-Mongolia ports promote border business

-       Japanese ramen chain eyes Mongolia, Greece in overseas expansion

-       DeFacto: Prof. Christian Strenger, Director of Corporate Governance Research Center, Leipzig University of Management


-       Mongolian parliament speaker meets Chinese NPC Tibetan delegation

-       "Mongolia and Korea Can Expand Trade and Investment" To Pursue the Signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement

Health & Education

-       In Rural Mongolia, Global Health Students Look for Dangerous Pathogens

-       The ethical health of our healthcare system

-       Enjoy Weekend Hiking with Khairkhan Club

-       Turkey Wants Mongolia To Shut Down Turkish Schools

Culture & Society

-       What's happening on Chinggis Khaan's birthday?

-       Chinggis Khan's Birthday

-       The female eagle hunter is totally fearless — and a teenager

-       Two cultures make a family and a home in Fairbanks

Nature & Environment

-       Grant Signed To Improve Disaster Resilience for Herders in Mongolia

-       Leveraging Tradition and Science in Disaster Risk Reduction in Mongolia-2 (LTS2-Mongolia)

-       Scientists discovered in Mongolia "mass grave" of the dinosaurs

-       Meet Australia's dinosaur hunter, Doug Miller


-       President receives Mongolian National Basketball Team after winning Asian championships

-       Narantungalag Jadambaa: "It is My Payback Fight to Have My Revenge"

-       ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov: "I Can Finish Him Faster Than Last Time"

-       Mongolian fighters grab double silver, double bronze at World Martial Arts Masterships

-       Mongolian trainer looks for repeat in BC Turf Sprint

Art & Entertainment

-       Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts to show more than 100 statues of Buddhist gods

-       Best calligraphy creations announced at "Script of Eternal Sky 2016"

-       Tickets sold out for Mongolian film 'Faith' at Asian World Film Festival

-       Screening Official Selection: Mother (Mongolia) – Asian World Film Festival, October 31, Los Angeles

-       Which language does Eric Nam use to attempt to ride a reindeer in the jungle?


-       Mongolia's Gobi the place for desert dreams during Naadam Festival

-       Travel classic with a twist: doing the Trans-Siberia Express the wrong way around

-       Mongolia Trip: Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

-       Traveling to Mongolia? Learn from our mistakes



Int'l Market

AKM closed +5.71% Monday to A$0.037

Aspire: Northern Rail Corridor Confirmed as a Competitive Rail Connection between NE China and Europe

      European logistics specialists TransCare GmbH have confirmed that the Northern Rail Corridor, once complete, will be potentially the quickest and lowest cost rail path for European\North East China trade.

      The Erdenet to Ovoot Railway was recently included in the New Northern Rail Economic Corridor connecting China and Russia through Mongolia as part of China's One Belt One Road Policy.

      Confirmation also that extending the Rail network to the Russian city of Kyzyl and the Elegest Coal Basin will provide competitive access to trade with China.

October 31 -- Mongolian metallurgical coal explorer and infrastructure company, Aspire Mining Limited (ASX: AKM, the Company or Aspire), has, through its rail subsidiary Northern Railways LLC ("NR") recently received a high level study from global rail logistics consultant, TransCare GmbH ("TransCare"), looking at potential comparative travel times, distances, costs and existing bottlenecks along alternative rail paths identified by China's One Belt One Road Policy.

Link to release

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Cash at end of Q A$374K. AKM closed +9.37% Friday to A$0.035, -35.19% in last 1 month

Aspire Mining: Quarterly Activities Report

Northern Railways Investment Update

      Commenced the first stage of the Bankable Feasibility Study for the Erdenet to Ovoot Rail Project.

      Received an Expression of Interest from China Development Bank to fund up to 75% of the EPC construction cost for the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

      Attended tri-lateral ministerial conference in Ulaanbaatar and presented Erdenet to Ovoot Railway as a priority funding project.

      Northern Railway shown to be an efficient path for Sino-European rail based trade.

      Northern Railways LLC and its advisers continue discussions with potential funders of the second stage feasibility study for the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

Scoping Study into the Development of the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project Commenced.

      Preliminary pit optimisation modelling using a range of coking coal prices for the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project deposit shows that a large proportion of Nuurstei's JORC Resource base may report to an economic open pit mine.

      A scoping study has commenced for the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project and the conversion of the exploration license to a mining license has commenced.

Corporate Update

      A US$2m loan for 12 months put in place to fund time critical rail pre-development expenditure through to the March 2017 Quarter.

      Seaborne metallurgical coal prices have increased by more than 200% during 2016 as production restrictions in China and firmer than expected demand has caused supply tightness in the market. Long term price expectations in general have been raised.

October 28 -- Aspire Mining Limited (ASX: AKM, Aspire, or the Company), focussed on the exploration and development of metallurgical coal assets in Mongolia and the rail infrastructure required to bring production from these assets to market, is pleased to present its Quarterly Activities Report to Shareholders for the period ending 30 September 2016.

Link to report

Link to cashflow report

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XAM closed -2.78% Monday to A$0.175

Xanadu Mines: Quarterly Activities & Cashflow Report


Exploration drilling continues testing wider porphyry targets at Kharmagtai

      Drilling underway to expand high-grade tourmaline breccia mineralisation at Altan Tolgoi;

      Exciting new porphyry targets being tested across the entire Kharmagtai district;

      New drilling results provide significant advances in our understanding of mineralisation;

      Undercover exploration initiative to unlock the potential of the basin underway;

      Preliminary flotation test work on high-grade tourmaline breccia samples produces excellent recoveries; and

      Exploration activities will ramp-up at Kharmagtai over the next quarter.

Exploration activities ramp up at Oyut Ulaan

      Trenching continues to identify widespread zones of shallow high-grade gold mineralisation which have not yet been tested with drilling;

      Nature and geology are indicative of it being part of a big gold system above multiple buried porphyry systems;

      Multiple new porphyry copper-gold targets identified in surface mapping and geochemistry displaying broad zones of visual copper mineralisation;

      First follow up drill holes return encouraging results at the Bavuu target including an intercept of 1.3m @ 8.98g/t Au from 15m depth;

      Drill holes at prospects V10 and V11 fail to intersect material grades and widths of mineralisation due to structural complexity. Shallow high-grade oxide gold still exists at these prospects to 10m depth; and

      A second batch of assays due soon from additional holes drilled within the shallow oxide zone of mineralisation.

Strong financial position and seamless transition of the succession plan

      Well-funded with A$9.8 million cash and A$0.9 million cash receivables at the quarter's end; and

      Appointment of Dr Andrew Stewart as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

October 31 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu" or "Company") is pleased to provide shareholders with an update of exploration results from a strong third quarter.

Link to report

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Cash at end of Q A$179K. WOF closed +9.52% Monday to A$0.023

Wolf Petroleum: Quarterly Activities Report

October 31 -- Wolf Petroleum Limited ('the Company') is pleased to report on its activities for the September 2016 quarter.

Operational Update

Pursuant to the agreement with China SAM Enterprise Group Co., Ltd ('SAM Group'), as announced on 14 June 2016, during the quarter the Company completed the issue of Phase 2 Shares to SAM Group to raise approximately $724,500 before costs.

Upon the issue of the Phase 2 Shares, the Company announced the appointment of Ms. Xue Dongping and Mr. Johnson Xiang Qian Huang to the Board as SAM Group nominee directors on 17 August 2016. On that date, Mr. Jack James was also appointed to the Board with Mr. Brian McMaster and Mr. Jargalsaikhan resigning.

On 19 September 2016, the Company issued a notice for a general meeting of shareholders seeking approval to issue the 243,316,000 Phase 3 Shares and 242,907,013 Options to SAM Group to raise approximately $$2,433,160 before costs and also ratify the Phase 1 and 2 Share issues. The notice also sought approval for the appointment of the Ms. Dongping, Mr. Huang and Mr. James.

Post quarter end, on 19 October 2016, the Company announced that all resolutions contained in the notice of general meeting were approved.The Phase 3 Shares and Options will be issued upon receipt of the funds from SAM Group, which are expected shortly. Ms. Ying, a further nominee of SAM Group, will be appointed to the Board on that date.


During the previous quarter, the Company announced it had entered into a loan agreement with Celtic Capital Pty Ltd for a facility of $60,000. The loan facility was fully repaid on 21 July 2016.

Link to report

Link to cashflow report


Wolf Petroleum: Notice of Annual General Meeting, 30 November

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Cash at end of Q A$832K. TER closed +5.41% Monday to A$0.039

TerraCom: Quarterly Activities & Cashflow Report

October 31 -- TerraCom Limited ("TerraCom" or the "Company") (ASX: TER) is pleased to present its quarterly activities report for the period ended 30 September 2016.



o    Strong signs of commodity price recovery in both coking and thermal coal markets. Thermal coal reached ~US$70 per tonne in September 2016 (up 40% year to date from US$50) and coking coal reached ~US$190 per tonne in September 2016 (up 150% year to date from US$76). Coking and thermal coal markets have continued to rally into October 2016.

o    Three strategic equity placements to investors covering Asia, East Europe and Australia.

o    Engagement of Fosters Stockbroking to provide corporate advisory and capital market services, including institutional research coverage on TerraCom expected to be released in early November 2016.


o    Subsequent to the end of the quarter, TerraCom through its wholly owned subsidiary Terra Energy LLC (Terra) executed a binding term sheet with a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kingho Group for a 5.5-year offtake of hard coking coal (HCC) produced from the BNU Coal Mine. The agreement is for a total of 7.5 million tonnes over the term and has pricing linked to a commercially in confidence mine gate pricing structure, reflecting the significant improvement in coking coal prices observed in the market.

o    The planned vendor financed CHPP at the BNU project has progressed to the Feasibility Study phase with final government approvals expected in Quarter 4, 2016.

o    Terra Energy LLC has further defined target commodities throughout the Uvs licenses and has begun early stage exploration to identify prospective coal, evaporate salts (potash), Uranium, and associated brines and clays (Li and Mg).


o    TerraCom through its wholly owned subsidiary Orion Mining Pty Ltd, has reached agreement to acquire the Blair Athol Coal Mine (mine) in Queensland, Australia from the Blair Athol Coal Joint Venture (BACJV)

Link to report


TerraCom: Notice of Annual General Meeting, 30 November

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TerraCom: Annual Report 2016

October 31, TerraCom Ltd. (ASX:TER) --

Link to report

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Cash at end of Q A$420K. TPO last traded A$0.165 on July 13

Tian Poh: Quarterly Activities Report

October 31, Tian Poh Resources Ltd. (ASX:TPO) --


      The holders of the USD convertible notes exercised their options to convert their notes into shares in the company and agreed to have the accrued interest settled via the issue of shares. This resulted in 37,896,438 shares being issued at an issue price of 7.5 cents per share.

      The Company progressed with pre-feasibilities studies of its Nuurst Project.

      Management notes that Australian Thermal Coal Prices (FOB Newcastle) have risen from US$54.4/ton to US$78.11/ton in September.

      Pursuant to a MOU signed on the 14th of July 2016 between Singapore Cooperation Enterprise ("SCE") and the Mongolian Energy Development Centre ("EDC") to enter into mutual cooperation by identifying suitable opportunities for the investment, development and setting up of coal-to-electricity, coal gasification and transportation/delivery of electricity and gas projects, SCE has introduced Poh Golden Ger Resources Pte Ltd to EDC as a company with interest in cooperating with EDC in exploring suitable opportunities in these areas of the Energy Sector in Mongolia. Please refer to our announcement dated 25th of October 2016 for further detail.

Link to report

Link to cashflow report

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Tian Poh: Release of 106.1 Million Shares from Escrow

October 31, Tian Poh Resources Ltd. (ASX:TPO) -- We refer to the 106,092,801 ordinary shares with an escrow period of 24 months and advise that these shares will be released from escrow on 11 November 2016.

Link to release

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VKA closed flat Monday at A$0.024

Viking Mines: Notice of Annual General Meeting, 29 November

October 31, Viking Mines Ltd. (ASX:VKA) --

Link to notice

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TRQ closed -0.64% Monday to US$3.10

Rio Gives Away Giant Iron Ore Field Once Worth Fighting For

      'It cleans another a dead asset off the portfolio:' Investec

      Simandou once called the world's 'top undeveloped' deposit

October 28 (Bloomberg) The giant Simandou iron ore mine in Guinea caused countless headaches for Rio Tinto Group, but it was always worth the fight. Not any more.

Rio turned its back on Simandou, one of the world's largest untapped iron ore deposits, by signing a non-binding agreement with partner Aluminum Corp. of China to hand over its stake. Rio may receive as much as $1.3 billion should the mine be built.

For an undeveloped piece of mountain, Simandou has a storied past including a U.S. Department of Justice corruption probe involving diamond billionaire Beny Steinmetz. The mine's fortunes also offer an example of the situation facing the wider industry -- after years of profligate spending the sector is abandoning new projects in a new era of lower iron ore prices.

"Out with a fizzle, not out with a bang," said Hunter Hillcoat, an analyst at Investec Plc in London. "It's a pretty sad indictment of the super cycle."

Rio Tinto, the world's second-biggest miner, had been exploring Simandou since the 1990s, lured by a resource that's now estimated at 2 billion metric tons of iron. The deposit came to prominence in 2007 as Rio fought off a hostile takeover bid from larger rival BHP Billiton Ltd. At the time, Rio used the resource as an example to argue the company was undervalued, calling the project the world's "top undeveloped" deposit.

Iron Ore Rush

"It was a rush for the best-quality assets you could get," said Hillcoat. "There was never going to be enough iron ore to satisfy the world's demand on the projections people had at the time."

Rio has been fighting for rights for the asset since 2008, when the government stripped the company of some of its license area. Steinmetz's BSG Resources Ltd. bought rights to the project that year. Later, Vale SA agreed to acquire 51 percent of the project from BSGR for as much as $2.5 billion in 2010.

BSGR's grip loosened when a U.S. grand jury began looking at whether bribes were paid by Frederic Cilins, who had links to the firm, to a wife of former Guinea President Lansana Conte. BSGR was ultimately stripped of the license in 2014, with a Guinean government committee saying it found evidence of corruption in the award of the project. BSGR always denied any wrongdoing.

The development of Simandou was hampered by West Africa's Ebola crisis in 2014 and the collapse in iron ore finally ended Rio's interest. Prices slumped 67 percent from a peak of more than $190 a ton in 2011 as China's slowdown sent commodities tumbling. The world was awash with supply after Rio, BHP and Vale had rapidly increased production.

'Dead Asset'

The writing has been on the wall for a while. The company took a $1.1 billion writedown on Simandou in February. New Rio Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in August "there is no obvious way to take Simandou to the next phase," and the company hasn't been able to find a way to finance it.

"It cleans another a dead asset off the portfolio," said Hillcoat, who added that the market doesn't apply any value to the asset. "In the brave new world we're in now, you just can't develop these projects."

Guinea will want the new owner, also known as Chinalco, to fare better than Rio. The country is counting on the project to double the size of its $6.5 billion economy and turn it into the third-biggest exporter of iron ore. Earlier this year, Guinea blamed project delays on the "ramblings of the technical team in London," a reference to Rio.

The parties should finalize the deal quickly to establish a new plan for Simandou's development, Minister of Mines and Geology Abdoulaye Magassouba said in an e-mailed statement.

"This is a very positive event for the project, but we still have many months of work and major challenges ahead," Magassouba said.

Before the deal was signed on Friday, Simandou was 46.6 percent owned by Rio, 41.3 percent by Chinalco, and 7.5 percent by the government.

Link to article

Link to RIO release


Rio Tinto quits Guinea iron ore project, sells to ChinalcoAustralian Financial Review, October 29

Rio Tinto set to quit Guinea iron ore project with sale to ChinalcoReuters, October 28

Rio Tinto agrees $1.3bn sale of Simandou stake to ChinalcoFinancial Times, October 29

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.58%, ALL -0.39%, Turnover 5.4 Million Shares

October 28 (MSE) --

Link to report

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MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -1.96%, ALL -1.88%, Turnover 59.8 Million Shares, 9 Billion T-Bills

October 28 (MSE) –

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GoM Offering 5 Billion 12-Week, 5 Billion 39-Week T-Bills at 16.72%, 16.967% Discounts at MSE

October 28 (MSE) Buy order of 12 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 16.720%, and 39 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 16.967% starts from 28 October 2016 until 01 November 2016 through brokerage companies.

Click here to see detailed information of 12 weeks Government bonds.

Click here to see detailed information of 39 weeks Government bonds.

Link to release

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Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, October 28 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,390), TDB (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,390), Golomt (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,390), XacBank (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,390), State Bank (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,390)

USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:

Link to rates

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BoM issues 73.2 billion 1-week bills at 15%, total outstanding -0.98% to ₮504.2 billion

October 28 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 73.2 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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BoM issues 20 billion 12-week bills at 17%, total outstanding +2.7% to 747.5 billion

October 28 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 12 week bills worth MNT 20 billion at a weighted interest rate of 17.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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GoM Issues 20 Billion 12-Week T-Bills at 16.72% Discount with 40 Billion Bids

October 28 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT. Face value of 20.0 billion /out of 40.0 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.720%.

Link to release

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GoM Issues 15 Billion 39-Week T-Bills at 16.967% Discount with 15 Billion Bids

October 28 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 15.0 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.967%.

Link to release

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Mongolia Sees $14.4 Million FDI in September, Negative $4.3 Billion FDI Jan.-Sep.

October 28 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Main indicators            

Current account totaled to $50.2 million deficit which is 85% or $277.4 million decline compared to the same period of the previous year. The change was mainly due to decrease of $290.1 million or 38% in income account deficit.

Capital and financial account had surplus of $115.2 million which is declined by $195.3 million or 63% compared to the same period of the last year. The change was mainly due to decrease of financing for currency and deposit. The notable change in direct and other investment accounts was that OT refinanced its intercompany loan through commercial loan.  

Detailed information

·         Preliminary Balance of Payments for September, 2016

·         External sector statistics

Link to release

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Mongolians More Optimistic Despite Tepid Economy, Poll Shows

By Michael Kohn

October 31 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolians have expressed increased optimism in their newly elected government and the country's democracy, despite poor economic performance and concerns over corruption, according to a survey conducted by the International Republican Institute.

* IRI interviewed 5,000 people in Ulaanbaatar and 13 rural provinces

* When asked if Mongolia is headed in the right or wrong direction, 31% said right direction -- a 12ppt increase from a comparable March poll

* When asked if the government would be more or less stable over the next four years, 41% said more stable; 21% said less stable

* When asked if their personal economic situation had gotten better or worse over the past year, 44% said worse – down from 56%

* When asked about prospects for the coming year, 40% expected their situation to improve; compared with 13% who saw deterioration

* 37% said democracy more important than prosperous economy; 30% gave the reverse answer

* NOTE: The Mongolian People's Party defeated the Democratic Party in June elections, winning 65 of 76 seats in Parliament to worsen

* 77% opposed foreign companies controlling mining operations in Mongolia; 19% in favor

* 66% in favor of parliament passing laws to prevent foreign investment in mining operations; 25% opposed

* 31% were positive about the Rio Tinto Group-managed Oyu Tolgoi copper project; 42% negative


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METALS-London eyes flat Oct close for copper, aluminium tracks higher

* Industry metals conference LME Week begins in London

* LME aluminium cash-3 mo spread nears parity, flags deliveries

* ShFE aluminium up 2.7 pct as raw material coal surges

* Coming Up: Euro zone Flash GDP Q3 at 1000 GMT (Updates prices)

MELBOURNE, Oct 31 (Reuters) - London copper hit its highest in nearly three weeks on Monday on stronger-than-expected demand from China but was still set to close flat for the month, while aluminium tracked coal prices to push towards a stronger finish for a second month in a row.

China's near-term copper outlook is looking brighter, said CBA commodity strategist Vivek Dhar in Melbourne.

"House prices for me was key. We saw house prices really rocket. If you see state grid investment it's up as well," he said, referring to recent Chinese economic data.

Still, new (housing) starts and some other leading construction indicators fell sharply in September and that suggests house prices may moderate going forward.

"If this is the start of weaker construction volumes, copper prices will likely come under pressure," he noted.

Copper demand typically lags housing prices by several months. China's new home prices rose in September at the fastest rate on record as buyers rushed to close contracts before new restrictive measures took effect in October.

But reflecting a smaller pipeline of new business, new starts fell 19.4 percent in September, the first year-on-year decline since December.

Construction accounts for around 15 percent of China's copper demand, and power just under half. China is the world's biggest consumer of the metal.

There continue to be signs that Beijing is stepping into cool its overheated housing market which may drag on copper demand further out.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange touched $4,852.50 a tonne, its highest since Oct. 11, after closing up 1.1 percent on Friday. By 0700 GMT, it was trading down 0.4 percent at $4,823.00 a tonne.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose 0.68 percent, or 260 yuan to 38,390 yuan ($5,671)

Shanghai aluminium hit the highest in more than two years, and was last up 2.2 percent at 14,100 yuan ($2,083), helped by soaring prices of raw feed material coal. This helped drag up prices for LME aluminium, which was on track for a 2.7 percent monthly gain. LME aluminium touched a 15-month top of $1,721.50 a tonne on Monday.

China's government has asked the nation's top coal miners to cap prices in their 2017 supply contracts at or below current spot market levels, sources said, a highly unusual move that reflects growing panic about runaway prices.

Coal prices have shot up in their steepest climb on record, more than doubling since June.

Reflecting pressure on aluminium supply, LME aluminium futures curves showed cash was trading almost at parity against the benchmark for the first time since June, boosting carrying costs and also the incentive to deliver metal to the exchange.

Link to article


Renewable energy, electric cars to boost copper demandReuters, October 28

OZ Minerals CEO: I'm Optimistic About Copper's FutureBloomberg TV, October 31

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Iron ore price leaps to six-month high

October 31 (The Australian) The iron ore price has jumped to a six-month high, seemingly defying gravity amid fresh analyst calls for the commodity to drop back below the $US50 level.

Iron ore rose 1.3 per cent to $US63.10 a tonne in the most recent session, according to The Steel Index, from $US62.30 the previous day.

The commodity is at its highest point since April 29, when it settled at $US65.20.

Despite taking a breather late last week, iron ore has been rallying recently, falling only once in the last 15 sessions. Analysts attribute the rise to a mix of factors including a rally in steelmaking ingredient coking coal, a fall in major producers' shipment forecasts and speculation on exchanges in China.

Despite pure-play miner Fortescue telling investors the market has come back into balance, some analysts are taking a less optimistic view, warning that oversupply will continue as more production comes on line.

Citi analysts reaffirmed their sell ratings on all the major Australian diversified and bulk resources stocks last week, given "our view of material price declines into 2017".

But given iron ore's surprising strength this year, Citi is the latest bank to upwardly revise its near-term forecast for the commodity to acknowledge its resilience.

The bank is now predicting a 2017 iron ore price of $US46 a tonne, just $US1 higher than its earlier forecast and a sharp drop from current levels.

Several other forecasts expect a drop into the low $US50s or $US40s, with the most bearish outlier at $US35 over the longer term.

In London trade, BHP Billiton shares rose 0.5 per cent, while Rio Tinto added 1.3 per cent.

Link to article


Iron Ore Surges Amid Coal's Record Rally, Lifting Miners' SharesBloomberg, October 28

Nippon Steel sees 50% profit plunge, burned by coal pricesNikkei Asian Review, October 29

Iron ore heads for best week since April, as futures stretch rallyReuters, October 28

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Chinese coking coal imports have surged over the past year

October 31 (Business Insider Australia) Coking coal prices have ripped higher in 2016, rallying over 240% from the lows seen late last year.

It's been both an amazing and exciting rally after years of constant price declines, and one that looks set to deliver Australia's a surprise trade surplus in the December quarter, something few considered possible earlier in the year.

This chart from the Commonwealth Bank goes someway to explaining why prices have been ripping higher, leading to the unbelievable percentage rise.

Monthly Chinese coking coal imports.

According to Vivek Dhar, a mining and energy commodities analyst at the CBA, imports rose by 40% year-on-year in September, taking the increase in the first nine months of the year to 20% compared to the same period in 2015.

While supply disruptions in both China and seaborne markets, along with an acceleration in steel output in the world's largest producer, have contributed to the enormous lift in prices this year, Dhar suggests that the primarily reason underpinning the rally has been a decline in Chinese coal output.

"Production has dropped by around 10% in the first three quarters of the year after policy makers reduced the annual statutory working days for coal miners from 330 days to 276 days," said Dhar in a research note released on Monday.

"The move was prompted by policy makers trying to address the overcapacity in China's coal sector."

While the Chinese government has recently relaxed limits on production levels to help alleviate price pressures, Dhar says that government-imposed limits "will likely be a structural trend and will provide sustainable support for coking coal prices."

After supply disruptions clear, he suggests that spot prices are likely to settle around the $US100 a tonne level, although he expects that "the price adjustment process could still take 3 to 6 months to play out".

"The other drivers (behind the price rally) — which includes operational issues at coal mines, weather impacts, train derailments and even Chinese stimulus — will likely all fade," he says.

"The net impact is that premium coking coal prices will likely settle at levels like $US90-100/t (FOB Australia), which is higher than lows reached earlier this year ($US74/t), but significantly lower than current spot levels ($US255/t)."

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New model for understanding the economy

October 28 (Mongolian Economy) "A Static CGE Model of the Mongolian Economy - Mining Sector Impact" forum was held at Ulaanbaatar hotel on October 26. This model is used for determining the correlation and impact between small and open economy markets such as Mongolia. Professors and scholars of the National University of Mongolia, the Institute of Finance and Economics, the Mongolian State University of Agriculture and other research institutions as well as economists and experts of the Ministry of Finance, the National Statistics Office and the Bank of Mongolia participated in the forum.

Gerege Partners LLC and the Economic Research Institute cooperated in conducting a research project on "A Static CGE (Computable General Equilibrium) model of the Mongolian economy" to develop a method to assess the changes in economic sectors.

A static CGE model estimates the period when all sectors or markets are balanced at the same time. By doing so, the correlation between markets becomes more understandable. The importance of developing such a model is in its ability to provide an opportunity for the state to consider its policy towards a certain sector by identifying the changes in other sectors.

In 2010, they analysed the impact of the changes in the mining sector and coal market on other sectors in their model. That year, only the coal market expanded by 30 percent while the other markets were relatively stable. It has increased investment by 3.2 percent and created 3.3 percent growth in the construction sector (the model calculates only actual data).

This research project was financed by the Partnership for Economic Policy international organization, which provides support for the development of economists and researchers in developing countries.

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Politics & Legal

New Mongolian Plan on Overcoming Economic Difficulties

October 31 (Lehman Law) The Mongolian economy has faced challenges in recent years, including decline of foreign investment and slow down in the economy. The current government of Mongolia has stated that restoration of the reputation of Mongolia is the top priority. The cabinet has established a new council responsible for communicating with investors in hopes of attracting more foreign investment.

The Minister of Finance has recently presented a draft of a new Program on Overcoming Economic Difficulties and Stabilization. The Program includes over 60 policy proposals designed to stabilize the Mongolian economy, assist with economic restructuring, and securing sustainable growth.

The plan aims to achieve 3% economic growth in 2017. This is be accomplished by coordinating monetary and budget polices, and attempts to increase foreign exchange. Growth of 5.1% is targeted in 2018 and 7.1% in 2019. Better infrastructure, transportation and non-extractive exports are expected to contribute to growth.

The plan lays out growth of 20,000 jobs each year between 2017-2019 and aims for 8% percent unemployment by the end of 2019. The processing industry is expected to grow by 6.3% by 2019.

The Program estimates that exports from Mongolia will amount to USD 5.4 billion in 2019, and imports will amount to USD 5.5 billion. Increased construction activity is expected to contribute.

The Program aims to increase annual FDI investment to USD 2.0-3.0 billion. Overall the Program is a positive indicator for prospective economic growth in Mongolia. Conditions for foreign investment are expected to improve. LehmanLaw Mongolia will be watching closely and are ready to assist any foreign company considering a new investment in Mongolia.

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Minister of Finance Submits Program on Overcoming Economic Difficulties and Stabilization to ParliamentMontsame, October 28

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Regaining investors' confidence is "top priority" for this Government

Ulaanbaatar, October 28 (MONTSAME) Head of the incumbent Government J.Erdenebat along with the cabinet members called a press conference on Thursday to report about the key actions taken by the Government in the first 100 days in power.

The population of Mongolia reached three million four thousand and two hundred by today, the Premier started his statement. In the past 100 days, Mongolia welcomed 28,938 newborns, said Mr J.Erdenebat.

He continued his speech about the newly launched "Paid Mothers" programme, which is offering monthly child care allowance to mothers with children aged 0-3 years. The government has also resolved to allow cash aid to single parents with three or more children. The government is pursuing "more of us means more power" principle, he went on.

Amidst the economic recession, the cabinet has revised 2016 Government Budget and the 2017 Government Budget assumptions in such a short period of time, along with the program for overcoming the economic difficulties and ensuring sustainable economic growth, to the Parliament.

In the past 100 days, tax accounts of 3,993 entities have been re-opened to enable them to compensate the social insurance and income tax payables.

The cabinet has also presented draft amendments to the law on companies' income tax, designing tax discounts for companies with annual sales income of less than MNT 1.5 billion.

The economy faces numerous challenges as the foreign investments decline and businesses slow down. To restore the lost reputation of Mongolian economy is the top priority of this government, noted the Prime Minister. Therefore, the cabinet has set up a Council in charge of receiving and responding to the complaints and proposals of investors.
In order to practicing tangible support for livelihoods of families, especially, of students, the government directed the universities not to raise the tuition fee, and has established the Educational Loan Fund, which is capable of allowing tuition fee loans to 70 thousand students studying in tertiary education institutions.

This government decided to resume the mortgage loan for housing apartments, with an annual interest rate of 8% and pre-payment that will depend on the size of the apartment.

In its first 100 days of operation, the Ministry of Health could decrease the retail price of the Harvoni medication for the patients with Hepatitis C, and launched the Whole Liver Mongolia Programme. The government is bearing all expenses of Mongolian citizens, who require the treatment of hemodialysis in the public hospitals.

Upon completing his statement, the Prime Minister answered questions from reporters.

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Cabinet discusses senior care and state's relationship with private sector

October 27 (UB Post) In Cabinet's weekly meeting, ministers discussed providing welfare payments to seniors and the state's relationship with business owners. The ministers agreed that state support for seniors despite economic difficulties, and submitted an amendment to the law on financial support for the elderly for parliamentary review.

If Parliament approves the amendment, people 65 years and older would be eligible to receive 100,000 MNT to 300,000 MNT twice a year, and 750 million MNT would be budgeted for providing seniors with telecommunications assistance to better access information and advice, and other required support.

During the meeting, a taskforce led by the Interior Minister to evaluate the state's relationship with investors and improve Mongolia's business environment presented the ministers with a report on their findings.

They reported that 5,391 Mongolians and 191 foreigners were banned from traveling abroad, and 298 Mongolians and 21 foreigners were freed from travel bans as of August 31. The taskforce pointed out that creating a consolidated database with information about people with travel bans was very important.

They also put forward a proposal to amend a number of laws to be clear on who travel bans should be applied to and when they should be placed and lifted. The taskforce also studied court rulings on criminal cases concerning investors and entrepreneurs, and found that there were 374 criminal cases connected to 403 individuals, and 93 cases were issued rulings; 139 cases were closed following the presentation of evidence of innocence, and the court is still working on the remaining cases.

The taskforce concluded that many complaints without proper investigations carried out go to criminal courts and increase the workload of the judicial system and put pressure on entrepreneurs. They said that there should be a focus on enhancing the legal and regulatory environment and putting an end to needless pressure applied to businesses.

There were 168 orders issued by the Cabinet's ministers, 25 orders from the heads of state agencies, and 44 orders from the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office concerning investment and business operations.

The taskforce evaluated all the orders along with related laws, and said that 100 orders conflicted with legislation, 86 were repealed by the Ministry of Justice and Interior Affairs, and some state authorities were instructed to revise the remaining 14 orders.

The ministers also accepted a proposal put forward by the task force to repeal over 700 licenses for unqualified companies. The taskforce reported that the ethical violations of state officials required the state to reimburse 23 businesses a total of 11.8 billion MNT.

The ministers approved an initiative to create a legal environment requiring that officials responsible for violations reimburse damages. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat instructed Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat and General Director of the National Develepment Agency B.Bayarsaikhan to include the drafting of legislative changes in the plans of the government, ministries, and agencies, and to monitor the implementation of the plans.

Cabinet approved a draft of a memorandum of understanding between Mongolia and UNESCO for cooperation from 2016 to 2021, and approved an agreement between Mongolia and Canada on investment promotion and cooperation that was signed on September 8.

The ministers discussed joining the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement and decided to discuss it with a parliamentary standing committee. They also decided to submit a draft of a plan to deal with the nation's economic challenges and amendments to the Law on Customs Tariffs and Taxes for parliamentary review.

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MP O. Baasankhuu meets S. Zorig's widow

October 28 ( B.Bulgan, widow of the late politician and democratic revolutionary S.Zorig met O.Baasankhuu and other law makers in Government House earlier today (28th of October). The MP's didn't say what was the purpose of the meeting had been.

B.Bulgan was released from prison due to health issues in September. She had been held in solitary confinement for 10 months without having been charged.

S.Zorig was murdered on October 2nd 1998; since then, the case has been widely investigated by the police, but the murder remains unsolved. Two suspects, a man and woman, have been held in prison since 2015.

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Income and assets of Mongolia's richest politicians

October 29 (UB Post) The UB Post is featuring a list of the wealthiest politicians in Mongolia based on the Independent Agency Against Corruption's recent disclosure of the 2015 income statements of new Cabinet and Parliament members.

The annual income statement requires high ranking officials to report on their income, property, vehicles, livestock, jewelry, art, historical artifact, cash, savings accounts, and loans.

We have identified the richest MPs under eight categories as followed:


MP J.Ganbaatar had the highest income in 2015 out of new law makers elected this year, with an annual income of a whopping 10.3 billion MNT. This is almost twice the amount of income earned by the former politician with the highest income, G.Batkhuu, who made 5.7 billion MNT in 2015.


MP A.Sukhbat owns two commercial properties worth 9.2 billion MNT. MP and Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol came in second in this category with four properties worth 8.75 billion MNT


MP A.Sukhbat leads this category, with jewelry worth 2.2 billion MNT under his name. In the previous Parliament, MP O.Sodbileg topped this category, with jewelry worth 750 million MNT and President Ts.Elbegdorj came in second place, with jewelry worth 635 million MNT.


Most politicians owned one or two vehicles but MP B.Narankhuu reported that he owns five vehicles; a Land Rover Range Rover, Land Cruiser Standard and three Rolls-Royce Phantoms. B.Narankhuu's vehicles are worth 1.185 billion MNT in total.


MP B.Narankhuu not only has the most number of cars but also has the most savings out of all Mongolian politicians. According to his income statement, he has 21.19 billion MNT in his savings account. Another diligent saver is MP L.Bold, who has 17.86 billion MNT in his savings account.


MP N.Oyundari will easily repay her loan of 60 million MNT if her family tips in on top of her own annual income of 19.5 million MNT. Her family members earned a total of 1.84 billion MNT in 2015, which is considerably higher than the amount earned by other MPs' families.


MP and Minister of Defense B.Bat-Erdene has had the biggest livestock herd among politicians for several years. He reported that he owns 430 horses, 60 cows, 20 race horses, 400 goats, and 3,000 sheep in his 2015 income statement. However, he might need to reconsider his choice of livestock as his herd of animals is worth less in monetary value than Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold's 60 race horses and 300 horses. B.Bat-Erdene's livestock is worth up to 618 million MNT but M.Enkhbold's horses are worth 900 million MNT.


MP M.Bilegt owns a land spanning 1,684 square meters, which is worth 4.21 billion MNT.


The following list shows the annual income, stocks and loans of new ministers.


Member of Parliament, Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs

Annual Income: 4.06 billion MNT

Stock: Tavantolgoi shareholding company, Business Development Group LLC, Zoos Goyol JSC, Silikat JSC, Future Technology LLC, Agrotech Impex Pte Ltd, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC

Loan: None


Minister of Finance

Annual Income: 1.38 billion MNT

Stock: Khurd Group LLC, its branches Khurd Khuns LLC, Khurd Auto LLC, Khurd Trans LLC, Khurd Resource LLC, Khurd Center LLC, Khurd Standard LLC, Khurd Mining LLC, Khurd Capital LLC, Khurd Energy LLC, Khurd Properties LLC, Rapid Harsh LLC, South Gobi Black Gold LLC, and Apartment K H LLC; Govi Goyo Saikhan LLC, Umniin Goyo Govi LLC, DTs-Ulaanbaatar OOO LLC, Agenlogistic Bridge LLC, United Trans Group LLC, Bellevue Properties LLC, National Mining LLC, Monkon LLC, and Tumen Nairamdal LLC

Loan: None


Member of Parliament, Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism

Annual Income: 267 million MNT

Stock: Otgontenger LLC, Solterra Partners LLC

Loan: None


Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry

Annual Income          : 172.8 million MNT

Stock: LLC

Loan: None


Minister of Roads and Transportation

Annual Income: 123 million MNT

Stock: Soyo Khairkhan LLC, Khujirt Hot Spring LLC, Govi JSC

Loan: None


Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports

Annual Income: 89.5 million MNT

Stock: None

Loan: None


Minister of Construction and Urban Development

Annual Income: 60 million MNT

Stock: None

Loan: None


Minister of Health

Annual Income: 38.4 million MNT

Stock: Ulzii Den LLC

Loan: 2.6 billion MNT from Khaan and Golomt Banks


Minister of Labor and Social Welfare

Annual Income: 28.78 million MNT

Stock: None

Loan: None


Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry

Annual Income: 27.7 million MNT

Stock: UB Palace LLC, Narantsolmon Holding LLC, Narantsolmon Trade LLC, Narantsolmon Mining LLC, Akhmadiin Khuch Khorshoo LLC, Govi Tugalga LLC, Torgon Khelkhee LLC, SMIT LLC

Loan: None


Minister of Energy

Annual Income: 24 million MNT

Stock: UCS LLC (25 percent shares)

Loan: 100 million MNT from Golomt Bank


Minister of Defense

Annual Income: 18.99 million MNT

Stock: Ajnai Corporation LLC, Tavan Tolgoi JSC, Invest Capital JSC, MEK Partners LLC, VVU JSC, MMC, Capitron Bank

Loan: None


Member of Parliament, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Annual Income: 1.802 million MNT (including family members')

Stock: Ulziit LLC, MCS Mining Group Limited LLC, Goyo LLC, Gera Investment Ltd, Thunderbolt LLC

Loan: 18,851,000 MNT from MCS Holding LLC

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Mongolia sees slight drop in gender equality rank

October 29 (UB Post) This year, Mongolia ranked 58th in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) index of nations based on the gender gap in key areas such as the economy, politics, education and health.

The WEF, a nonprofit organization based in Switzerland, analyzed data from 144 countries worldwide. This year's index highlighted that the global gender gap had widened to its largest degree since 2008.

Mongolia is one of the "five most-improved countries over the past decade on the health and survival gender gap", according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 of the WEF, published on October 26.

Last year, Mongolia was listed 56th in the index, but this year, Mongolia got an overall score of 0.705 for gender parity, experiencing a small decrease in its overall score and ranking due to a widening of gender gap among legislators, senior officials and managers. Besides the political empowerment index, Mongolia received an extremely high score on education attainment (0.99), health and survival (0.98), and economic participation and opportunity (0.77).

Among countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, Mongolia ranked sixth, faring better than more economically developed countries such as China, the Republic of Korea and Japan. The Philippines came in first in the regional ranking and in seventh in the global ranking.

According to the latest Global Gender Gap Report, Iceland was ranked number one in gender equility in the world. Iceland was followed by Finland and Norway. Germany ranked 13th, France 17th, the UK 20th, the USA 45th, China 99th, Russia 75, and Japan came in 111th.

The top 10 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report of the WEF are:

1. Iceland

2. Finland

3. Norway

4. Sweden

5. Rwanda

6. Ireland

7. The Philippines

8. Slovenia

9. New Zealand

10. Nicaragua

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U.S. training Mongolia Police on fighting drug trafficking and domestic violence

Ulaanbaatar, October 28 (MONTSAME) First Deputy Chief of the General Police Department Colonel P.Batbaatar has received delegates of the Office of National Drug Control Policy of the US Department of State and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). Present were also, the project coordinator of IDLO in Mongolia D.Oyunchimeg.

Since last February, 5 officials from the police department have received training on police actions against domestic violence in the frameworks of the IDLO project. The project continues to train 70 more police officers on prevention and combating drug trafficking and domestic violence.

For this, the Colonel has extended gratitude on behalf of the staff of the police department.

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1 in 10 children in Mongolia attempted suicide says survey, campaign launched against cyberbullying

Ulaanbaatar, October 28 (MONTSAME) The campaign is being organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sciences and Sports. According to a Social Health Institute's survey from 2010 and 2013 among the children from general education schools, one in every four students has contemplated suicide, whereas one in every 10 children attempted suicide.

In the past four years, 92 Mongolian children committed suicide on supposed causes of discrimination, depression and violence.

Children tend to hide from their family members the fact that they are being bullied or discriminated at school, and often face uncertainty about how to tackle with the problems because of lack of life experience and knowledge, and harm their health or put their life at risk, said the State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports B.Bayarsaikhan.

Among many kinds of discrimination, cyber bullying is the most "contagious" and harms the largest number of victims. Discrimination in online environment causes children to dislike attending schools and even think of committing suicide, he said.

"It is time to bring this issue on the table. The program will aim at building appropriate attitude towards others in the online environment, especially via social media", he noted.

In this context, the school children will receive lessons about cyber bullying that will teach them about respectful way of treating one another. The campaign is being carried out with support by the Ministry of Health, the Social Health Institute, the Development Center for Families, Children and Youth, the Department of Physical Culture and Sports, the UNICEF, the World Vision, Save The Children, The National Giving Day Movement and Intellectual Mongolian NGO.

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China-Mongolia ports promote border business

HOHHOT, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has seen a trade surge in the first three quarters following the development of China-Mongolia border ports, authorities said Monday.

According to the figures released by the regional commercial department, nearly 30 million tonnes of freight was exported or imported between the two countries via the 10 ports in Inner Mongolia from January to September, up 32.3 percent year on year.

Mongolian businessman Menggen Shaga is delighted as a new policy has helped halve his trips to buy commodities at Erenhot, the largest port along the China-Mongolia border, to half a day.

As the policy enacted in May combines customs clearance with quarantine and inspection, he only has to wait to have his packages checked once to clear all of the port's procedures.

"The new policy simplifies everything and saves me time," he said.

Land ports along the China-Mongolia border have developed rapidly since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, benefiting businesses on both sides of the border.

The ports on the China-Mongolia border also witnessed 2.52 million passenger trips in the first three quarters, up 14.8 percent year on year, according to the newly-released figures.

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Japanese ramen chain eyes Mongolia, Greece in overseas expansion

TOYAMA, Japan, October 29 (Nikkei Asian Review) -- A ramen restaurant chain operator in Japan is going off the beaten path to target markets including Mongolia and Greece, with unique menu tweaks such as use of lamb in Mongolia.

Tentakaku, which operates the Menya Iroha ramen restaurant chain based in Toyama Prefecture, plans to open its first outlet in Ulaanbaatar, where it will feature lamb for toppings and soups -- an unconventional choice for the Japanese noodle-in-soup bowl.

"Lamb is a favorite meat in Mongolia, and our trial ramen was received very favorably," according to a spokesperson.

Tentakaku currently operates 10 overseas outlets, including in Hong Kong and Thailand, but it is setting out on an accelerated overseas expansion plan, which includes entry into the European market. Overall, it plans to roll out 20 new restaurants each year for a goal of at least 100 outlets by the end of 2020.

The game plan is to strike franchise deals with local companies to open outlets in Greece, Mongolia and Taiwan by the end of fiscal 2016 for an accelerated expansion in the respective areas.

In Greece, the company is negotiating a franchise deal with a local sushi-roll restaurant operator to open its first European outlet in Athens.

The Japanese company aims to use a chicken baitang soup in its flagship ramen menu as it believes the thick, chicken bone-derived broth should appeal to Greek customers, who it thinks are not familiar with the traditional dark, soy sauce-based broth.

The company is in a final phase of negotiations with a local partner in Mongolia, according to the spokesperson.

By the end of December, three outlets will be opened in Taipei, where the company will tie up with a major local comprehensive food company to offer the black ramen, a popular ramen variety in Japan that originates in Toyama Prefecture, and miso ramen, seasoned with soybean paste.

A total of 40 openings are planned in the next five years in Taiwan.

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DeFacto: Prof. Christian Strenger, Director of Corporate Governance Research Center, Leipzig University of Management

October 28 (Jargal DeFacto) --

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Mongolian parliament speaker meets Chinese NPC Tibetan delegation

ULAN BATOR, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Miyegombo Enkhbold, chairman of the State Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament, on Monday met with a visiting Tibetan delegation of the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC).

The delegation is headed by Penba Tashi, Deputy to the People's Congress of Tibet Autonomous Region and Vice Chairman of the Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Enkhbold, also chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), said during the meeting that Mongolia always adheres to the consistent stand of supporting China in issues concerning Tibet.

The relations between Mongolia and China are in a favorable momentum, and bilateral cooperation has kept deepening in all fields, including politics, economy and culture, said Enkhbold.

Exchanges of legislatures are an important part of relations between the two countries, and have made positive contributions to the development of bilateral ties, he added.

During the meeting, Penba Tashi introduced to the Mongolian side major achievements made in the socioeconomic development of Tibet.

The delegation started the visit to Mongolia on Sunday. The delegation has also met with Mongolian parliament members from the Mongolia-China friendship group in the State Great Hural and representatives from the local academic and religious communities.

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"Mongolia and Korea Can Expand Trade and Investment" To Pursue the Signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement

Diplomacy Magazine, Volume XLII №7-8

During the summit with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (right) on July 17, 2016, President Park Geun-hye said, "The Korea- Mongolia summit today will hopefully serve as an important starting point for the next 25 years of our bilateral relationship." "As we have recently seen a growing number of bilateral exchanges, especially among high-level officials, more than ever before, hopefully both countries will maintain this momentum and further enhance cooperation across political affairs and regional safety," said President Park.

"Today's talks have reaffirmed that South Korea and Mongolia have a great partnership that goes beyond just the bilateral-level, which can contribute to peace across Northeast Asia as well," said President Park Geun-hye at a summit meeting with her Mongolian counterpart Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.

During the Summit Meeting on July 17, 2016, part of her state visit to Ulaanbaatar, President Park said, "The Park-Elbegdorj summit today will hopefully serve as an important starting point for the next 25 years of our bilateral relationship."

"As we have recently seen a growing number of bilateral exchanges, especially among high-level officials, more than ever before, hopefully both countries will maintain this momentum and further enhance cooperation across political affairs and regional safety," said President Park.

She stressed the need to mobilize required institutional mechanisms to further expand cooperation to jointly cope with any threat to regional security.

The summit talks allowed the two leaders to touch upon many issues of mutual interest, including the economy, the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, resources and energy, development projects and the expansion of person-to-person exchanges.

President Elbergdorj said, "Korea has emerged as the fourth largest trading partner for Mongolia and both countries have developed an economic partnership over recent years. It's crucial to pursue the signing of an economic partnership agreement (EPA) so that our two nations can expand trade and investment."

In response, President Park said, "In this sense, during my visit here both countries have now kicked off joint research into the EPA. This effort will ultimately lead to increasing trade and investment between Seoul and Ulaanbaatar."

President Park suggested a set of joint projects aimed at dealing with worsening climate change and creating new engines of economic growth. The projects cover enhancing collaboration across renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar energy, as well as building a new town in Mongolia that uses solely environmentally friendly energy.

"During the summit, I once again expressed my appreciation to President Elbegdorj for his support for South Korea's policy against Pyongyang's nuclear development, and for inter-Korean unification," said President Park during a joint press conference. She also said the two sides will work closely together to better handle North Korean provocations, believed to be the biggest threat to regional stability.

The two leaders also vowed to work together on peace and security across the Korean Peninsula, while keeping a firm stance on denuclearization in North Korea. In response, President Elbergdorj reaffirmed the Mongolian government's determination to pursue a zero-tolerance policy toward the North's nuclear weapons ambitions, as well as to support peace and security across Northeast Asia. He agreed to retain and develop cooperation with Seoul on this matter.

"From now on, we will closely cooperate with Mongolia in responding to various provocations (by the North), including its nuclear development, which is the biggest element of threat to regional stability," she added.

On July 18, President Park Geun-hye met with Chairman Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the Mongolian Parliament and Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat to talk about ways to further expand economic cooperation between Korea and Mongolia.

President Park began the talks by offering her congratulations to the two Mongolian officials' assumptions of office, and then she acknowledged that, "Our bilateral relationship has developed over recent years across a variety of fields, including the economy, commerce, person-to-person and cultural exchanges, and economic development."

"A better environment that allows Korean businesses in Mongolia to invest would help expand economic cooperation between our two countries. On top of that, I call on the Mongolian government to have more of an interest in and to give more support to materializing efforts that would enhance economic cooperation, such as increasing flights to carry more passengers and also material resources, and signing the economic partnership agreement (EPA)," said President Park.

In response, the Mongolian chairman and prime minister both voiced their hopes that it would be possible to further develop Mongolia's comprehensive partnership with Seoul.

"Our hope is to join forces with the Korean government to carry out our new joint projects. We also hope that the launch of a joint research team into the EPA will contribute to vitalizing Korea-Mongolia economic cooperation," said Enkhbold. The prime minister, meanwhile, said that, "As Mongolia's fourth largest trading partner, Seoul will hopefully further increase trade and investment with us."

On the last leg of her state visit to Mongolia, President Park attended the Korea-Mongolia Business Forum on July 18 where she laid out a set of ways to further expand the economic partnership between the two countries.

With more than 300 entrepreneurs from both countries in attendance, the President called on the business leaders and government officials to give more support, as she outlined ways to expand bilateral trade and investment, as well as to expand cooperation on infrastructure, renewable energy resources and healthcare.

"Like Genghis Khan, the Mongolian hero who occupied a substantial portion of Asia and even Europe, entrepreneurs like you can expand your nation's economic territory by tapping into new markets around the world; you are the Genghis Khans of today," said the President during her speech at the forum.

"It's necessary that we keep pursuing open trade and that we expand our volume of trade, which currently focuses mostly on only vehicles and mineral resources, to include more diverse fields," she stressed. "In consideration of the economic potential that we both have, there is great possibility that we could invest in a wider range of fields."

The President concluded by saying that, "We should strengthen cooperation on infrastructure, in particular, for electricity, transportation and urban development. If Korean companies, some of which build world-class electricity grids and electrical infrastructure, participate in infrastructure projects here in Mongolia, it would be a win-win situation for both countries."

South Korea and Mongolia have agreed to seek a free trade pact to expand bilateral economic cooperation, according to Cheong Wa Dae. The agreement was reached during the summit between Park and Elbegdorj in Ulaanbaatar. Park was in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, for a two-day official visit after attending the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) that ended on July 16.

To pursue a bilateral economic partnership agreement (EPA), the two nations agreed to initiate joint research on it as early as late this year. The EPA, similar to a free trade agreement, focuses more on industry and investment while enhancing free trade of commodities and services.

Mongolia is pushing for a "third neighbor policy" aimed at reducing its heavy economic reliance on China and Russia, with the two major powers extending their geopolitical influence over the resource rich, landlocked country.

"South Korean investors have been reluctant in reaching out to Mongolia due to uncertainty," said Kang Seog-hoon, the senior presidential secretary for economic affairs. "But now with an institutional framework, the deal will bring significant changes."

According to the senior presidential secretary, the South Korea-Mongolia EPA would mark the latter's second EPA following one with Japan, signed in February 2015 after four years of research.

"Mongolia, with a population of 3 million, may be a relatively small market in size but has risen as a promising niche market (for South Korea), riding on the Korean wave," said Kang during a press briefing.

"Now that Mongolia is seeking to lessen its dependency on its top trade partner China and No.1 energy provider Russia and to diversity its external cooperation, it is crucial that we make the most of the given situation."

The total trade volume of the two states as of the end of last year stood at US$292 million, of which 84% was South Korea's exports to Mongolia. "Despite the recent economic setbacks, Mongolia is one of the world's top 10 resource-rich countries, ranking second in copper and fourth in coal," Kang explained.

Its economic growth, which averaged 13.8% in 2011-2013, is expected to take an upturn in 2017 and to soar up to 5.7% in the following year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Other potential fields are health and medical care, as well as culture, according to the senior secretary.

"Because of its vast area of land and limited access to medical services, Mongolia has high demands on our advanced telemedicine system," he said.

The two states will also promote cooperation in the new renewable energy sector, seeking to curb Mongolia's desertification and to make use of its abundant solar and wind energy, according to the economic senior secretary.

Accompanying the president's visit this time was the largest-ever economic delegation, consisting of 109 companies, of which 85% are small and medium-sized firms.

"We consider this active participation from companies a success of past business delegations," said Kang.

Mongolia has sought to diversify its economic relations, reaching out to countries including the United States, South Korea, and Japan in a bid to change its heavy reliance on China and Russia.

According to Kang, Mongolia had been reluctant to ink another free trade pact due to the public sentiment against the latest deal with Japan. Mongolians believe the balance of interest in the deal favors Japan.

The presidents signed a total of 20 memorandums of understanding (MOUs), including 16 that cover "medical cooperation based on ICT," "cooperation on the prevention of desertification and yellow dust in Mongolia" and "energy cooperation."

The projects, estimated at about US$4.49 billion, range from electricity and railroads to urban development. Of the 20 MOUs signed, several will allow South Korean companies to participate in constructing power plants, energy transmission networks and producing renewable energy, the official said.

During the summit, the two sides also agreed to seek South Korea's participation in Mongolia's 14 projects, including some urban development schemes and infrastructure programs to build power plants and railways, and expand electricity transmission networks.

Some of the two-way MOUs are related to infrastructure projects that Mongolia has been carrying out to support its massive development of mines, such as those to build power plants and infrastructure needed to transport mineral resources and expand their sales networks.

Other MOUs aim to bolster bilateral cooperation in mutual investment, new renewable energy, telemedicine, culture, agriculture, social welfare, health insurance, electronic administration, development of mineral resources and other areas.

Both countries signed an MOU, pledging a joint effort in combating desertification by managing a 3,000-hectare plantation in the Gobi desert and creating an urban forest near Ulaanbaatar. The heads of state also discussed ways to promote stability on the Korean Peninsula based on the strong stance toward denuclearizing North Korea.

Ulaanbaatar's projects to construct power plants and energy transmission networks alone are estimated to be worth $2.7 billion.

The two countries also signed a pact under which South Korean will provide to Mongolia 170 buses, manufactured by South Korean firms, in the form of loans from the economic development cooperation fund, a state fund designed to support developing countries.

During her stay in Ulaanbaatar, President Park Sunday met South Korean residents in Mongolia to offer them encouragement and ask them to continue their efforts to strengthen relations between the two nations. Park meet an 70-South Korean residents who have contributed to enhancing the image of South Korea through an array of volunteer and economic activities.

There are some 3,000 South Korean residents in Mongolia. They run restaurants or manage tourism, trade, construction, real estate and various other businesses. Many of them have engaged in volunteer programs to provide food aid to low-income families, and support single mothers, orphans and the physically challenged in Mongolia.

They have also contributed to improving Mongolia's tertiary education by establishing three universities in the country - the International University of Ulaanbaatar, Huree University of ICT and Mongolia International University.

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Health & Education

In Rural Mongolia, Global Health Students Look for Dangerous Pathogens

October 28 (Duke Medical Alumni News) The fortified Toyota Land Cruiser slipped and bounced in the muddy hollows of the rain-drenched Mongolian steppe. The driver, a native Mongolian man named Inka who spoke little English, slowly engineered the vehicle along what just two days earlier was a dusty pair of dirt tracks.

In the back seat of the Cruiser, Duke master of science in global health students Laura Pulscher and Thomas Moore braced themselves during the ride as best they could, relaxing when Inka stopped the vehicle to ask a goat herder for directions.

Pulscher, unfazed by hours of jouncing, said slowly with a matter-of-fact smile, "We're lost."

It's a commonly uttered phrase for visitors and natives alike. A meager 10 percent of Mongolia's road network is paved. The vast majority of travel in this vast, storied land of Genghis Khan is done on dirt trails and grassy paths.

"If you had asked me before beginning the global health master's program that I'd be coming to Mongolia, I would have laughed," Moore would say later at a campsite on the edge of a livestock pasture.

But Mongolia was the opportunity presented to Moore and Pulscher to conduct their field research projects, and they both barely blinked before saying yes.

"It's one thing to learn something in a classroom setting," Pulscher said, "but another to actually apply it to your field of study in a developing nation. I don't think it ever crossed my mind that I'd end up in Mongolia."

Yet, there they were for three months.

Early in their three-month stay in Mongolia, Moore and Pulscher spent three weeks traveling north from the capital of Ulaanbaatar toward the Siberian border. With them in a second vehicle were veterinarians Myagmarsuk "Myagaa" Yondon; Igori "Khatnaa" Khatanbaatar; and Purevdorj "Zula" Munkhzul from the Mongolian Institute of Veterinary Medicine, who collected blood samples from herders' horses, goats, and sheep. Moore and Pulscher captured small rodents—Mongolian gerbils, Daurian ground squirrels, Siberian chipmunks, hamsters and field mice—in humane, live animal traps, and injected them with a mild sedative.

Pulscher collected blood and serum samples from the animals' tails and took small ear biopsies. Moore's work was far more tedious—combing the oft-matted fur of the rodents, in search of ticks.  

Their individual projects differed, but the students' goals were the same: to detect in rodents' blood and ticks the presence of dangerous pathogens—Borrelia (Lyme disease), Rickettsia (spotted fever), and anaplasma (blood disease seen mostly in livestock but can cause mild fever in humans) – and share lab results with local health officials and veterinarians who could take prophylactic measures, such as educating herders and their families about ways to protect themselves and their livestock.

In Mongolia, animals have near royalty status. It is a nation of just 3 million people and more than 50 million horses, camels, sheep, goats, and yaks, which are serious players in the economic cycle, and critical for the more than one million herder families who feed off their livestock and make a living selling animals for meat, hides or wool.

"Observing these diseases as they circulate throughout wildlife and livestock has a tremendous impact on the health and welfare of humans here," Moore said. 

Mongolian Partners

Holed up for two days in the dome tent she shared with Sola as an atypical summer downpour drenched the steppe, Pulscher was confident the rain would subside and the rodent trapping continue. Moore entered the tent and announced, "My tent has turned into a swimming pool."

By afternoon the sun reappeared and the drying-out process commenced. The quest for rodents resumed about a half-hour from camp on a tract of land where a herd of horses grazed nearby. Small, rectangular, aluminum traps were set. When the researchers returned early that evening (the summer sun sets around 10 p.m.) the sound of scratching was heard coming from within several of them.

"It's great that we still have a project," Pulscher jested as she suited up in a full-body Tyvek suit to protect her from any pathogens the rodents might harbor. "I'm glad it stopped raining."

The veterinarian Khatnaa, with heavily gloved hands, cradled a Mongolian gerbil taken from one of the traps. Pulscher—with Khatnaa's guidance—injected it with the mild sedative. It was Khatnaa, with his well-spoken English, who had baptized the students to rodent testing in the field. He taught them how to safely handle the animals, determine the correct dose of sedative, clip the tail and ear so as not to cause lasting injury, and collect the blood and tick samples.

After four gerbils were tested and gear repacked inside the Land Cruiser, Moore considered the importance that the team of Mongolian vets played in the success of his and Pulscher's respective projects.

"They are a tremendous help to us," Moore said. "They not only teach us different tricks of the trade to catch rodents here, but they act as interpreters when we meet a herder family and provide us with local knowledge of the different species of animals."

This partnership between Mongolian vets and Duke Global Health students was forged by Gregory Gray, MD, MPH, a professor of global health and infectious diseases, who established a research relationship with Mongolia nearly 10 years ago. Gray, who also holds an appointment in the Nicholas School of the Environment, is a passionate disciple of the One Health concept of health care that champions the conviction that human health is intimately tied to veterinary and environmental health.

Grey, Moore, and Pulsher were part of a roughly 10-member Duke contingent that participated in the 5th Annual International Symposium on One Health in Ulaanbaatar prior to the students' embarking on their three-week fieldwork. Pulscher and Moore were presenters at an infectious disease workshop. It is rare, they said, for master's students to have the opportunity to present at an international symposium.

"It was a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with international leaders and share our upcoming research," Moore said. 

Analyze, Synthesize, Share

The Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Ulaanbaatar is a 1980s-era Soviet-looking building that houses multiple labs with Mongolian scientists exploring various aspects of zoonotic diseases—those that can or might some day jump from animals to humans. This was home base for Moore and Pulscher for the bulk of their three-month Mongolian stay. It was here that the blood and tick samples they collected in the field were analyzed for signs of the dangerous pathogens.

The Duke students extracted DNA from the samples using magnetic beads inside small test tubes. Because DNA has a charge, it is attracted to the beads, which are then separated from the rest of the sample and the DNA extracted.

Performing field and lab work is usually an either/or proposition for students interested in global health. Rarely do master's students have the opportunity to do both.

"It's unique that we're able to collect our own specimens in the environment and bring them back and test them," Moore said. "This takes our education to the next level."

"It makes us more well-rounded individuals," Pulscher added. "A lot of people don't necessarily have both lab and field skills."

They worked in the lab with Myagaa, who accompanied them on their fieldwork. His own project involved collecting mosquitoes and testing them for West Nile virus.

Learning about his work, and watching the other Mongolian vets in the field lasso livestock and take blood samples was an unexpected, welcomed educational component, they said.

Lasting Memories

The fresh yogurt was great, the dried, fermented milk curds and mare's milk not so much, the students concluded. But that is the way one gets to know the culture of a people – through their food. The hospitality of the Mongolian herder families is a memory that won't soon fade, they said.

"It is amazing how welcoming they were to let us into their homes, feed us, let us get to know them, and let us camp on their land," Pulscher said.

On a cool summer night in one of those camps as he watched the sun slowly set over a verdant hillside, lighting the horizon in an indigo purple haze, Moore reflected on the allure of the landscape surrounding him.

"This place is beautiful," he said. "Being here has been such a privilege."

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The ethical health of our healthcare system

October 27 (UB Post) Many believe that medical ethics and responsibility are the main pillars of the medical sector, but some doctors and officials don't own up to their responsibilities and do not pursue professional ethics. This has led to the public suspecting that the healthcare system is linked to corruption. Even though everybody agrees that only doctors can help us out of illness, the problem is that instead of healing patients and providing real medical advice, some medical professionals take advantage of people suffering from illness to make more money.

Many agree that there are a lot of doctors and medical organizations putting profit first and providing people with good medical service second. Politicians talk about a number of projects that sound good but are not working.

The Mongolian People's Party talked a lot about bringing the number of Mongolians infected with the hepatitis C virus down to zero by 2020 by implementing the Eleg Buten Mongol Program. The program was claimed to be part of the MPP's government action plan during election campaigns in June, but the most important thing when it comes to political promises is action.

In fact, a number of state health care authorities have a tendency to take advantage of these kinds of projects to put money in their pockets. One woman took a screening test for hepatitis, and she was devastated to hear that the virus was in her liver. She didn't believe it.

Fortunately, the woman learned that her medical report was wrong after taking the test again, but she didn't want to know if the mistake was made on purpose or not. People say that numerous doctors engage in corruption to serve others, and it is commonly known that some pharmacies and private clinics are being operated to encourage people receiving treatment for hepatitis C to buy medications from them.

Many have said that some doctors force people to buy products from a well known pharmacy by only including their products in their prescriptions, and these doctors receive 20,000 to 40,000 MNT for each prescription from the pharmacy for doing so.

Mongolia has very high rates of hepatitis B and C in terms of its population. When people are diagnosed with hepatitis B and/or C, they go to hospitals to see doctors, but many doctors send them to their silent partners' hospitals or pharmacies to buy specific medication.

Patients are willing to spend a lot of money to buy medication suggested by a doctor, as no one wants to die from a treatable disease. These doctors know that forcing and persuading patients to do something is in violation of the Code of Medical Ethics, but they don't adhere to laws, regulations, or ethics, they want to make more money.

There are four or five companies importing medication for hepatitis C from the United States and India, and their medications cost 155 USD to 525 USD. The Ministry of Health and the General Agency for Specialized Inspection need to take control of these companies to determine if their products effectively treat people, as well as take control of evaluating all other imported pharmaceuticals.

We enjoy the developing democratic and humane society in which we are living, but our society has not been supporting the public with good healthcare. Receiving medical services can be very hard for people without good connections or a lot of money.

Doctors, who have vowed to provide everyone with the medical care they need, make excuses (heavy workloads and a patient's lack of a permanent address) to avoid treating patients who don't serve their profit-motivated interests.

Numerous people blame medical bureaucracy and the poor quality management for the problems in the industry. If you want to see a doctor at a public hospital, you do need time, because first you need to make an appointment to a see specialist at a clinic after seeing a doctor from your area hospital.

Unfortunately, your appointment will be at least two weeks after your initial visit to a general physician. When you see the specialist, he or she will send you to a private hospital to be tested, because the specialist's clinic doesn't have a laboratory or the proper equipment for diagnosing your illness.

Healthcare for low and middle-income Mongolians is not being carried out in a fast and effective way. The world of maternal healthcare presents all these same challenges for patients without connections or friends at the state's maternity hospitals and for those who can't afford care and delivery at a private hospital.

None of us like this system too much, but it has started to grow on us as "the way things are". We cannot afford to perpetuate this kind of medical system, our lives are depending on it.

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Enjoy Weekend Hiking with Khairkhan Club

October 28 ( Mongolia is a great place for hiking and trekking, and once you are here in Mongolia make sure you hike a lot, especially in winter to allow your lungs enjoy some fresh air. Nowadays, urban Mongolians are becoming avid hikers and this can be seen from the number of hiking clubs in Ulaanbaatar and hikers in the mountains and national parks at weekends whether it's summer or winter. 

One of the biggest and most active hiking clubs in UB is Khairkhan, founded in 2011 by hiking enthusiasts to promote Mongolia's nature beauty and wilderness among the Mongolians, and inform the public about benefits of hiking, trekking and mountain sports. Khairkhan club organises a weekend hiking trips every Sunday around Ulaanbaatar and nearby national parks, and averagely about 25-35 hikers join the weekend hikes. You are always welcome to join a group of friendly Mongolian hikers and enjoy hiking in weekends. Moreover, Khairkhan Club also organises special trekking and mountaineering trips and children's trips in remote areas a few times a year.

Why hiking is good for your health? For adults, regular exercise such as hiking leads to:

      Improved cardio-respiratory fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels)

      Improved muscular fitness

      Lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

      Lower risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

      Lower risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides

      Lower risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial cancer

      Increased bone density or a slower loss of density

      Reduced depression and better quality sleep

      Lower risk of early death (If you are active for 7 hours a week, your risk of dying early is 40% lower than someone active for less than 30 minutes a week.)

      Weight control; hiking burns up 370 calories an hour (70kg person)

Hiking with kids

      Kids get many of the same benefits, including:

      Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness

      Better bone health

      Less chance of becoming overweight

      Less chance of developing risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes

      Possibly reduced risk of depression and feeling less stress, more ready to learn in school

      Sleeping better at night

What's more, hiking exercises almost every part of your body: legs, knees, ankles, arms, hips and butt, abdominals, shoulders and neck.

This Sunday, Khairkhan Club are hiking in the beautiful Khandgait area for some 8-9 km in the north of Ulaanbaatar.

Venue: Hikers gather at 9:15am at the Central Post Office, and take the transportation from there to Khandgait (petrol fee is shared among the group).

Notes: Hikers are to bring their own lunch and drinks (images of usual picnic lunch are shown for your inspiration). Expected temperature for this Sunday is -10' C, therefore, please do prepare good hiking boots and warm clothes.

Contact info: Hikers interested in joining this exciting hike please refer to the event on Facebook at (English information is available asl well). Also, you can call the organisers at 976-8000-8042 or email at

Prepared exclusively for GoGo Travel by Zola (Co-founder of Premium Travel Mongolia LLC.

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Turkey Wants Mongolia To Shut Down Turkish Schools

October 28 (Turkey Times) Just ten years ago, Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc recalled a dramatic scene. One diplomat dropped his teacup upon hearing that he was posted to Mongolia with 5,000 USD, special residence, and a car — a lavish job at that time. "How can I live there?" the diplomat reportedly asked, according to Arinc. He noted that there are, however, some highly qualified Turkish teachers who defied the odds and went to teach Mongolian children with only $300 salary.

This speech by second-highest Turkish official just a decade ago is ironic, given that the incumbent Turkish ambassador in Mongolia is prodding Mongolian officials to shut down Turkish schools and companies.

Mongolia, a landlocked and impoverished country of 3 million people, is allegedly bracing to shut down schools that taught Science and English to their kids for two decades, at the request of Turkey.

The schools are part of a vast global network of a U.S.-based cleric, arch nemesis of the Turkish president, and have ranked as Mongolia's leading private educational facilities for many years. Most of the teachers were imported from Turkey's leading prestigious universities, and many graduates of these schools had a chance to study in Turkey, Europe, and the U.S., a privilege that was unthinkable during the Cold War.

Since the failed military coup attempt, Turkey has escalated its full-fledged campaign to put pressure on dozens of countries to curb activities of a movement led by Fethullah Gulen, who is living in a self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania. In democracies, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a hard time. In many poor and undemocratic countries, however, the Turkish government could successfully convince host nations to shut down schools and companies of the movement. These countries include poor ones such as Somalia and Equatorial Guinea, or Turkey's close allies like Jordan and Azerbaijan.

Since July, Turkey has accelerated its efforts to force Mongolia to shut down Turkish schools, or better, transfer them to Maarif, a Turkish government-run company that seeks to emulate the Gulen movement's international school network.

This week, Turkish lawmakers Nureddin Nebat, Abdulkadir Akgul, Resit Polat, Fehmi Kupcu, Ziya Aktunyaldız, Erkan Haberal and Bulent Yener Bektasoglu were to visit Ulan Bator that includes meetings with Mongolia's foreign and defense ministers as well as the Parliament speaker. The first and the most important item on the agenda is closing Gulen's school. Cem Sultan Aktas from the Foreign Ministry is also among the visiting Turkish delegation.

Prior to the visit of the lawmakers, Mongolia's local press started speculations that Ulan Bator would shut down the schools, seize Turkish companies and deport Turks at the request of Ankara.

On Oct. 13, Education Ministry Undersecretary Yusuf Tekin, who is known to be the architect of decrees that shut down Gulen's 3,000 prep schools and nearly 950 private schools across Turkey, visited Mongolia to push the host nation to shut down the schools. General Director Bulent Ciftci was accompanying Tekin during the visit. Last week, Serdar Cam, head of Turkey's state-run development agency, TIKA, was also in Mongolia.

Early in August, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu phoned his Mongolian counterpart to update him about the activities of the Gulen movement.

Last month, Turkey's Ambassador to Mongolia, Murat Karagoz, acknowledged that he officially notified the Mongolian authorities about the "upcoming danger" Gulenists posed to Mongolia and that he continues to warn the Mongolian people through the media. His two interviews were published by the Mongolian local media while he penned another op-ed as part of the government-led anti-Gulen campaign.

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Culture & Society

What's happening on Chinggis Khaan's birthday?

October 29 (UB Post) Mongolia annually celebrates the birthday of Chinggis Khaan on the first day of winter on the traditional Mongolian calendar as a national holiday, also known as National Pride Day. This year, the 845th birthday of the national hero – the "Man of the Millennium", and a symbol of Mongolian pride and unity – will be celebrated next Monday, October 31.

Alcoholic beverages will not be sold on Monday and most markets will be closed for the holiday.

Below are some holiday schedules to be aware of:


All road checkpoints at the Chinese border will be closed on October 31.

All border checkpoints must close on national holidays, as specified in Article 4.3 in the intergovernmental agreement between Mongolia and China on border checkpoints and procedures. Railway stations and airports will operate with their normal schedules on this day.


The Traffic Police will not enforce license plate driving restrictions on Monday to commemorate National Pride Day. Restrictions will resume enforcement on Tuesday.


A traditional wrestling tournament is being organized on Chinggis Khaan's birthday at the Wrestling Palace. The tournament will challenge 128 state and province champion wrestlers to compete to determine the ultimate wrestler in Mongolia.


Genco Tour Bureau JSC is hosting Chinggis Festival at the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex on October 30 and 31, to promote Mongolia and its traditional nomadic lifestyle, culture, and history on National Pride Day.

The event features a tour of the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex, a horseback riding tour, visits to the Mongolian Empire Museum, the "Script of the Eternal Sky" calligraphy exhibition, other independent art and illustration exhibitions, and a short film about the establishment of the complex. Students of Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture will perform the historic plays "Jamukhiin Uchil" and "Temuujin", both about the early life of Chinggis Khaan. Participants will also be able to get calligraphy done and compete in a quiz offering a 200,000 MNT prize for the winner and 100,000 MNT for the runner up.

Anyone born on October 31 or who has the name Chinggis or Temuujin will be exempt from the day's entrance and tour fees.

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Chinggis Khan's Birthday

On October 31st 2016 Mongolia will celebrate the 854th anniversary of the birth of Chinggis Khan

October 29 (Eternal Landscapes) When you think of Mongolia what comes to mind? In the list surely has to be Genghis Khan? (Chinggis Khan as he is known in Mongolia).

He is known to have been born around 1162. The year is an estimate…the day and month unknown. So why does Mongolia celebrate his birth date when so much remains unclear?

It's called National Pride Day. It's a public holiday. And as a celebration it is still in its infancy.  2012 was the first year in Mongolia's modern history that the country celebrated the event on a national level.  The celebration was held on November 14th. So why in 2016, is it falling on October 31st? Because it is held on the first day of winter in the Mongolian Lunar Calendar…so this year October 31st. And for those counting, it is celebrating the 854th annivesary of his birth. That's a whole heap of candles.

* And for those interested, yes, the LGBT Centre in Mongolia holds an annual Equality & Pride Day - as a way of  showing the visibility of the  community to the wider Mongolian public and and to illustrate what they stand for. It's typically in August.

On National Pride Day, the Mongolian government present the Chinggis Khaan Order - an award honouring the most outstanding national figures who have contributed greatly to the development of Mongolia. This year the honour will be presented to the State Merit Artist, opera singer G.Ariunbaatar. 

Will there be drinking, wildness and revelry?

Nope. No alcohol is permitted on public holidays in Mongolia (nor election days either for those interested).

So what can you do? Well. There won't be any live streaming of the event but if you're in Ulaanbaatar why not do one of the following:

Head to central Sukhbaatar Square for the raising of the national flag and the state banner.  True. It might not sound like the most exciting event but you can feel the sense of respect felt for Mongolia and the local pride in its many considerable achievements.

And then why not go to the wrestling palace where 128 state and province champion wrestlers will compete.

And for those of you who aren't clued up on your world history, go out and buy a copy of Jack Weatherford's book - Genghis Khan And The Making Of The Modern World. 

Yes, he is known for bloodthirsty terror. But, between 1206 and his death in 1227, Chinggis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory—more than any individual in history and still the largest contiguous land empire the world has known. Chinggis Khan also modernised Mongolian culture,  embraced religious freedom and created one of the first international postal systems. And as this blog post is about the man himself, I will leave you with three quotes by him - all can be found in the above book:

"Without the vision of a goal, a man cannot manage his own life, much less the lives of others."  

"A leader should demonstrate his thoughts and opinions through his actions, not through his words."  

"The vision should never stray far from the teaching of the elders. The old tunic fits better and it always more comfortable; it survives the hardships of the bush while the new or untried tunic is quickly torn."

And just in case you're reading this and in Ulaanbaatar over the weekend without much to do, get in touch. We offer a great Mongolia one day tour of the city. It's informal and relaxed and provides a way of getting in touch with the atmosphere and character of UB and its local community. This day is not about museums or shopping – it's about getting out and about and exploring and discovering. And, I'll make sure it includes a celebration for Chinggis Khan's 854th birthday anniversary!

And remember, unless I have mentioned otherwise, all images used throughout this post were taken either by EL guests or members of the EL team. This is the Mongolia you will also experience if you chose to travel with us. 

Thanks for listening as always. Jess

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The female eagle hunter is totally fearless — and a teenager

October 28 (New York Post) Kazakh teenager Aisholpan Nurgaiv has broken a glass ceiling in her mountainous homeland.

In the new documentary "The Eagle Huntress," we meet Aisholpan, who at 13 aims to become the first-ever female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her nomadic family in Mongolia's Altai Mountains, one of the most remote places on Earth. In spite of the admonitions of a group of male elders, she trains her own eagle with the support of her father — then boldly enters the Golden Eagle Festival, one of the year's biggest events.

Director Otto Bell was hooked after seeing a photo essay, featuring Aisholpan and her father's eagle, on the BBC. "Within a few weeks we were on the plane to Mongolia," he says. There, he and his producer tracked down the family, who welcomed them.

"When they have guests, it's a big deal — they're very hospitable," says Bell. "I floated my idea, and the father said, 'We're going to go out this afternoon and steal an eagle from a nest for Aisholpan. Is that the sort of thing you'd like to film?'"

It was almost too good to be true: He'd caught the story of her eagle training on its very first day.

"The Eagle Huntress" combines a soaring feel-good story with eye-popping cinematography shot in the mountains, where Aisholpan learns to hunt. The technique requires endless hours of hands-on training. And Aisholpan was a natural.

"There's a moment where she's feeding the bird a rabbit's leg, and she just unself-consciously pushes its wing over her shoulder and snuggles into it a little bit closer," says Bell.

"She got closer than a lot of the men, who would kind of flinch and hold [the birds] at arm's length. That's how, in part, she was able to beat them at their own game. Because she had such a strong bond."

The teen huntress, now 15, and her family recently traveled to Los Angeles with Bell, who took them to the ocean — a first for the family — and to Santa Monica Pier, where Bell was not surprised to see his subject kicking butt.

"Those games that are supposed to be impossible to win, the ring toss? She ended up taking home this 5-foot teddy bear," says Bell. "She just loves to win."

Aisholpan has since become a role model in her country. And given that Daisy Ridley ("The Force Awakens") narrates the film, that may soon apply worldwide.

"She's been out hunting with her dad and his friends a lot, and word has spread around the community that she's the real deal," says Bell.

"And at this year's festival," he adds, "there were three more eagle huntresses. So the legacy is coming along nicely."

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In 'The Eagle Huntress,' a 13-year-old girl shatters centuries of traditionLos Angeles Times, October 28

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley narrates another hero: Mongolian teen girl eagle hunter NY Daily News, October 30

The Eagle Huntress: a real-life heroine proves her mettleDawn, October 28

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Two cultures make a family and a home in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS, October 30 (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner) — Since Dario and Oyuka Bernabe grew up in different countries and wound up married and raising children in Fairbanks, an obvious question is, what do they eat for dinner?

"We eat lots of meat," replied the Mongolian-born Oyuka, laughing. "We have adjusted some of the Western dishes to a Mongolian way of cooking," added Dario, who was raised in Peru. "Peruvian dishes cooked with Mongolian flavor, which is basically take all the vegetables out and put more meat in. They're delicious."

How the couple met and found their way to Alaska is a story of job opportunities taking individuals far from their birthplaces and bringing people from distant cultures together.

Dario, the chief mining engineer at Fort Knox, was born and raised in a small town within the province of Lima, Peru. He earned his degree in mining engineering from the National University of Engineering in Lima, the country's capital, then headed for the hills.

"I worked in Cusco for three years, high in the Andes," he said. "My first job was at an open pit mine 4,000 meters above sea level. Machu Picchu is only three hours from there by train."

As the son of a school principal he valued education and wanted to better himself. So he started looking North.

He came to the U.S. in 1999, earned his master's degree from the Colorado School of Mines and decided to stay. After working in Tucson, Arizona, for three years, "In 2004, I moved to Utah. I started working for Rio Tinto's Kennecott Copper mine in Salt Lake City."

In 2010, Rio Tinto asked him to help launch the Oyu Tolgoi open pit mine in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. It was there he met his future wife.

Oyuka was the safety, health and environment adviser on the project. She had spent her life in the capital city of Ulannbaator and received an electrical and industrial ecology degree from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. She also had a lifelong love for dancing. At Oyu Toagoi, she volunteered to teach exercise classes in the evenings, and that's how she met Dario.

"My husband came to the fitness club. He's a very good dancer because he's Latino," she said with a laugh.

The two got to know each other, and before long were a couple.

"That year at the Christmas party he asked me, 'Can I dance with you?' Then he asked me, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' I said 'No … ,'" and sometime after that, Dario surprised her with a bucket of 111 roses before he proposed.

For Dario, the time in Mongolia was beneficial on several levels. "I got probably the best experience in my career by setting up something from scratch. I learned through mistakes obviously, but also through exposing myself to other cultures. One of the benefits of traveling across places and cultures is it makes you better. I believe in that. I continue to learn. That's very important for me and my family. An extra bonus was learning Mongolian from my wife until the locals told me that I was speaking the female version of their language, which motivated me to learn even more."

By 2013, Dario and Oyuka were married with a baby on the way and moved to Utah. They considered several possibilities and settled on Fort Knox. By this time, Dario was well along the path to U.S. citizenship. They reached Fairbanks in late winter 2014. Oyuka recalled that, "When we came, we lived three months in a hotel while looking for a house." With a newborn son, she added, "It was difficult because the hotel was noisy."

Oyuka, who stressed that immigrating to the United States is a long process involving a lot of paperwork, had to leave the country for three months to qualify for her Green Card. So she went with their baby to Lima and stayed with Dario's family.

"I didn't know any Spanish, just a few basic words," she said. "They just spoke Spanish, but one sister spoke English. My English is not really good and hers is not really good, so it was difficult."

By the time she left her Spanish was improving, but she needed to reunite with her husband.

Adjusting to Fairbanks has been different for Dario than Oyuka. Dario said, "For me it's the perfect size, perfect town. I think in mining, it's probably one of the best places I will find. Most mines are far away and require you to work on a fly in, fly out situation where you don't get to see your family for a couple of weeks. For me, Fairbanks is an excellent location for the industry I work in."

Oyuka, who considers herself a city girl, was surprised by how small Fairbanks is. "When we came to Alaska I was sad. There was just countryside. I said, 'Where are the houses? There is nobody here.'"

They both said St. Raphael Catholic Church, which the family attends, has been helpful in connecting them with the community and making them feel welcome from the beginning. Despite having a toddler, new baby, and an Alaskan husky puppy, Oyuka still finds time to volunteer at church and local events as much as she can. Both keep busy maintaining their home just outside of town.

Among other Alaska activities, Oyuka has entered the Midnight Sun Run and performed Mongolian traditional dance for the International Friendship Day celebration for the past two years while Dario started to dipnet this summer and has been cutting and splitting wood since last year.

Oyuka said she's still adapting to her adopted home, though. "I'm always missing my country, but I like America. People are very friendly, positive and open."

Having spent more time in the states, Dario feels settled, but says he considers all the places he has lived to be a part of who he is.

"I like to learn from every place," he concluded. "From everyone including from my children, I learn every day."

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Nature & Environment

Grant Signed To Improve Disaster Resilience for Herders in Mongolia

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Mongolia today signed a $3 million grant to pilot community-based approaches to disaster risk management in parts of Dornod, Gobi-Altai, Khuvsgul and Sukbaatar aimags to increase herders' resilience to dzuds, fires, and other disasters.

The grant is funded by the Japanese government-financed Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), which over the past 16 years has supported projects in Mongolia dealing with poverty alleviation, community development, livelihoods, and the environment.

Signing the agreement on behalf of the Government of Mongolia was Vice Minister of Finance Kh. Bulgantuya while ADB Country Director Yolanda Fernandez Lommen signed on behalf of ADB. First Secretary Hiroshi Fukasawa from the Embassy of Japan to Mongolia witnessed the event. The Chief of the National Emergency Management Agency, the executing agency for the project, Brigadier General Badral, also participated in the event.

"The Strengthening Community Resilience to Dzud and Forest and Steppe Fires Project is the first in Mongolia to introduce a bottom-up institutionalized approach for involving rural communities in disaster risk management – an undertaking that will help strengthen the capacity of herders and local disaster risk management administrations to manage risks of dzud and forest and steppe fires in some of the more vulnerable and poor areas of Mongolia," said Ms. Fernandez. "The broad scope of this project reflects the work of the government and ADB to target key regions, sectors and beneficiaries for poverty alleviation, livelihoods, and the environment."

An extreme climate and nomadic herding lifestyle means Mongolia faces high risk of loss of livelihood and damage to the ecosystem and environment from disasters. Dzuds and forest and steppe fires are among the most damaging natural hazards in Mongolia. Recurring dzuds and droughts over the last decade have affected much of the rural population. The 2009‒2010 dzud, for example, resulted in losses of 25% of Mongolia's total livestock, damaging the livelihoods of 97,000 herder households. According to the UN, over 41% of Mongolia's herder population was affected and 1.1 million livestock perished in the 2015-2016 dzud.

Fires also threaten herders and ecosystems, claiming the lives of poorly equipped firefighters, community members and livestock. Forest fires contribute to an estimated loss of 60,000 hectares of forest per annum. Steppe fires spread even quicker and wider, causing significant losses of pastureland, livestock, gers and other assets. Climate change may result in more intense and extreme weather events, increasing fire activity and decreasing the quality of fragile ecosystems and potentially resulting in more loss of life and assets.

The project responds to the Mongolian government's need to shift towards a more holistic approach emphasizing disaster risk reduction and community engagement, as well as emergency response.

The project is expected to directly benefit 7,000 herders and soum center residents in 2,500 households, including 250 female-headed households; and indirectly benefit the wider community in target soums, with a total population of 32,000. The goal is that these pilot projects are sustainable but can be replicated and scaled up elsewhere in the country.

Established in May 2000, JFPR provides direct grant assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in developing member countries of ADB while fostering long-term social and economic development.

ADB approvals for Mongolia amounted to $297.5 million in 2015, including 4 sovereign loans for $275 million, 2 project grants for $6 million, and 17 technical assistance grants for $16.5 million.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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Leveraging Tradition and Science in Disaster Risk Reduction in Mongolia-2 (LTS2-Mongolia)

Agreement # AID-OFDA-G-15-00101

Submitted To: USAID

Submitted By: Mercy Corps

OCTOBER 30, 2016


Mercy Corps began supporting the use of weather and pasture data in production planning through the Gobi Forage project resulting in the introduction of the Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS) in 2007. The LEWS system continues to receive international development support from the World Bank. A number of government agencies1 in Mongolia are now tasked with creating and distributing information on weather risk and weather forecasts, but with little coordination and no clearly defined goals on reaching end-users. In this context, information and knowledge products are being produced, but they are not reaching local communities, herder households, local administrators and first responders who can utilize such necessary information.

From June 2013 to September 2014, OFDA supported Mercy Corps' efforts to solve this communication breakdown through training and information delivery systems. The Leveraging Tradition and Science in Disaster Risk Reduction in Mongolia (LTS) project evaluated existing DRR and disaster management systems, connected local communities to weather information, trained local administrations on emergency management planning, and tested an SMS information platform that would enable herding communities to access, interpret and apply weather forecast information in their management practices. The LTS project theorized that there was strong demand for information and for management tools that could improve planning, mitigation and management of winter weather risks and this was validated through  effective program implementation. Working closely with local partners and key national emergency management actors, LTS introduced planning tools that are simple to implement; provided increased understanding of available weather information and how to utilize it; and identified opportunities for significant improvement in dzud outcomes through simple management tools and improved information flow. LTS demonstrated that herders are eager for more information and better tools to support dzud preparation and risk mitigation.

Expanding upon our initial work, the LTS2 project is accomplishing three goals: 1) completing construction of a national SMS platform for weather and pasture information delivered directly to herders; 2) increased aimag (province) and soum-level capacity to provide training on emergency planning, preparation and mitigation to segmented audiences within the local community; and 3) introducing local communities to sustainable mitigation activities based on the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) to address current year dzud effects on individual households and communities. Mercy Corps is implementing LTS2 project in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS), the National Agency of Meteorology and  Environment Management.

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Scientists discovered in Mongolia "mass grave" of the dinosaurs

October 31 (The Earth Chronicles of Life) Before the extinction of the dinosaurs tried to stay together, Scientists discovered in Mongolia "mass grave" dinosaur avimimus. The findings prove that during the late Cretaceous period, the dinosaur sociality increased, so they began to gather in herds. This is the conclusion reached by canadian experts from the University of Alberta.

Experts know that in the second half of the Cretaceous period "mass graves" of dinosaurs, there are deposits of bones of any one species, are much more common than in the more ancient deposits. In particular, there was found congestion of the ankylosaurs, ceratopsids, hadrosaurs, and tyrannosaurs ornithomimus. This shows that all of these dinosaurs lived in herds or at least spent a lot of time together.

However, still evidence of herd behavior was unknown to oviraptorosauria – dinosaurs close to birds. It was very surprised the scientists, because of birds social life is highly developed. The authors have managed to fill this gap when they carried out excavations in the South of Mongolia.

In the sediments of the Suite, Nemegt aged about 70 million years, scientists found bone-bearing layer is almost entirely composed of remains of a dinosaur avisima. This creature of all the dinosaurs, perhaps, most strongly resembled bird – like and feathered, he merged the bones of the skull, and the feet, also due to the fusion of bones, appeared Tarsus and tibiotarsus.

Despite the fact that the layer was partially destroyed by illegal hunters for fossils during excavations, which lasted 9 years old, scientists extract it from bones of 160 avimimus. Most of them were somehow the bones of the hind limbs. Apparently, all the bones were brought here from the original site of the death of Akimov the flow of water.

Interestingly, alimony, the scientists found, are predominantly to be an adult. According to the authors, this means that these dinosaurs could come together during the mating period, here they were overtaken by some misfortune, such as a flood or landslide.

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Meet Australia's dinosaur hunter, Doug Miller

October 28 (Catholic Leader) DOUG Miller was bitten by the dinosaur bug 12 years ago.

Now the parishioner from St Anthony's and St Luke's, Alexandra Hills-Capalaba, spends more and more time digging, sifting and preparing fossils for all of us to enjoy.

His travels take him to the heart of dinosaur country in Winton, western Queensland, and he has just returned from a second trip to Mongolia.

From western Queensland, his horizons widened even further when he was accepted to join an international fossil dig in Mongolia.

"Now, to do it overseas I couldn't believe it. I always wanted to go to Mongolia – but to go to Mongolia and dig up dinosaur fossils – wow," he said.

On his first trip in 2015, he joined an excavation party in the sandy wilderness of the Gobi Desert.

It was the first independent dig organised by the Mongolian Academy of Science in conjunction with National Geographic magazine.

Mr Miller has just returned from a second trip this year, travelling to the Mongolian "badlands" – a vast region of grass and shrubs that is almost void of trees.

"This time we found a protoceratops, a small creature called a hadrosaur and an ankylosaurus," he said.

"Our group also found 45 fossilised birds eggs."

Mr Miller has been invited for a third visit to Mongolia next year to spend three weeks in fossil preparation.

In the meantime he'll continue his public talks, and particularly encouraging youngsters to try fossil hunting.

"If I'd known about dinosaurs 40 or 50 years ago I know what I would have been. I would have been a palaeontologist," he said.

"It didn't work out that way, but I'm just an enthusiastic amateur and volunteer."

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President receives Mongolian National Basketball Team after winning Asian championships

October 28 ( President Ts.Elbegdorj met with officials from the Mongolian Basketball Association, Ch.Erdenetuya, deputy of Mongolian Student Sports Federation as well as players and coaches of National Basketball Team in his office earlier today (28th of October). The team recently won the 6th Asian Basketball Championship in Ulaanbaatar and the Asian Beach Games, which were held in Vietnam.  At the meeting, the national team presented President Elbegdorj with a number '4' white shirt and a ball with signatures of the team members.

During 2016, the Mongolian teams have taken four medals in five basketball competition in the young and adult categories. The President appreciated that his decree to support sports has been so successfully implemented and has helped develop team sports in Mongolia. He also thanked the basketball teams for managing to be independent and successful despite not having received government support for 12 years. Mongolia has also played with 45 players from the American NBA in Ulaanbaatar since 2013.

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Narantungalag Jadambaa: "It is My Payback Fight to Have My Revenge"

October 31 (MMA Insider) On Friday Night, 11 November, Mongolian hero Narantungalag Jadambaa will square off against undisputed ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat "Cobra" Gafurov for his belt at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

This will be a rematch of their electric title unification contest from a year ago and this time, Jadambaa plans to seek retribution.

"It is my payback fight to have my revenge," the 40-year-old Jadambaa says. "That is what makes this fight interesting to me, because not every fighter in the cage has such an opportunity to get back what once belonged to them."

The bout should live up to the hype. After all, their battle from last year is one of the most talked-about title fights in ONE Championship's history.

In November 2015, at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (BEIJING II), Jadambaa held the featherweight belt and fought Gafurov, then the interim champion, in his first title defense. The Mongolia native started off strongly by stifling his opponent's takedowns, assailing him with a plethora of strikes, and outpointing him in the clinch game.

However, in the second stanza, the Russian Gafurov scored a takedown, locked in an excruciatingly tight armbar and looked to have the fight wrapped up right there. Miraculously, Jadambaa escaped, but had to fight of submission attempt after attempt before somehow getting back to his feet.

"When I was under the armbar from my back in the second round, I was very worried that I was going to lose this way. I was thinking there was no way to get out," he recalls. "But managing to escape from each armbar and difficult situation made my opponent very frustrated."

"Tungaa" took advantage of his opponent's exhaustion and frustration. He stuffed a Gafurov takedown in the third stanza, dominated the clinch with an energy-draining lean-and-knee tactic, and battered him with powerful punches.

Nearly halfway through the fourth round, however, Gafurov got his second wind. "Cobra" took Jadambaa's back and put him to sleep with his signature rear-naked choke, thus winning the bout, unifying the belts, and leaving a beloved veteran and his nation of fans heartbroken.

"I was depressed because a lot of Mongolians were there to watch," he says. "Because of that atmosphere, I was psychologically affected. I was worried and lost some energy."

Despite the loss, he put on quite the show against Gafurov. Jadambaa wanted to rally his fans behind him again, and the only way he could do that was to begin his road to redemption.

Following the defeat and some much needed time off, the judo and Kyokushin karate black belt resurfaced in May when he took on former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku at ONE: ASCENT OF POWER. "Tungaa" was able to submit Boku with a rare Von Flue choke in the third round.

The former champ then had a quick turnaround when he faced Eric Kelly at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (HEFEI) two months later. Jadambaa marched up to his rival and knocked him out with a thunderous right cross in 44 seconds flat.

With such dominant performances, in addition to the fireworks he put on just a year earlier, the Mongolia native was granted a rematch with Marat Gafurov for the ONE Featherweight World Championship at the upcoming ONE: DEFENDING HONOR card.

On paper, Gafurov may have a bit of an edge. The Dagestan, Russia, hero has a flawless 14-0 record and a dangerous ground game, thanks to his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and world-class grappling.

Jadambaa may have improved on the ground since they last met in the cage, but Gafurov already owns a hard-earned victory over Jadambaa, giving him the psychological advantage. But while it is easy to assume the 31-year-old "Cobra" has youth on his side, Jadambaa feels being the older and wiser competitor at age 40 is more beneficial.

"My experience, my life, my age makes me try harder than ever before and focus on my training to accomplish my dreams. The last two fights made it even clearer that my experience and age are to my advantage, as well as confidence in myself," the Mongolian explains.

"I have been through many things in cage fighting. I never thought that my experience was an advantage, but now I am fully aware of what I am capable of. I understand it."

Jadambaa also understands what a golden opportunity he has been afforded. This is his ideal scenario for retribution because he can regain the belt from the man who snatched it from him.

"Of course, it would be a pleasure if I get my revenge against him."

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ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov: "I Can Finish Him Faster Than Last Time"

October 28 (MMA Insider) On Friday Night, 11 November, unbeaten Russian submission master and ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat "Cobra" Gafurov will defend his belt in a title rematch against former champion Narantungalag "Tungaa" Jadambaa at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Gafurov was successful when the two warriors met inside the ONE Championship cage last November, as he put the Mongolian to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round. This time, however, "Cobra" plans to shut the challenger down and defeat him even quicker.

"Everyone is waiting for this fight. I am anticipating it even more because I want to show that I can finish him faster than last time," the 31-year-old admits. "It will be hard to finish him because he is a very strong fighter who does not give up and he wants to win too."

Following the bitter loss, Jadambaa returned with a vengeance. He submitted former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku back in May at ONE: ASCENT OF POWER with a Von Flue choke in the third round, and doubled down two months later when he knocked out perennial contender Eric Kelly at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (HEFEI) in 44 seconds.

Now sporting a respectable 12-4 record with a two-fight stoppage win streak to boot, the Mongolia native, who holds black belts in judo and Kyokushin karate, wants to reclaim the strap and restore his glory.

"Jadambaa is great as a fighter and as a man. I understand that he is a great family man. I see him traveling with his big family," Gafurov acknowledges. "He is a good stand-up fighter who possesses both patience and stamina. He doesn't have many weaknesses. He's an all around good fighter."

That said, "Cobra" is an all around good fighter as well. In fact, he is one of the best featherweights in the world and has been Russia's best-kept secret for several years.

Gafurov, a relentless Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a background in pankration and combat sambo, has been unstoppable ever since making his professional MMA debut in 2010. After winning his first six fights with relative ease, the Dagestan, Russia, native submitted Vugar Bakhshiev with his favorite move, the rear-naked choke, in the first round to claim the vacant M-1 Global Featherweight Title.

Following a pair of successful title defenses, the Top Team Makhachkala product signed with ONE, and started on an impressive streak of submission victories over highly-regarded prospects with first-round rear-naked chokes. Those prospects were Rob Lisita, Ev Ting, and Martin Nguyen, the latter of which was a contest that earned him the Interim ONE Featherweight World Championship.

Upon returning home, the interim champ received a hero's welcome. That euphoria only intensified when he fought Jadambaa, then the ONE Featherweight World Champion, in a title unification match last November at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (BEIJING II).

Although Gafurov had a difficult time taking "Tunga" down in the opening stanza, he brought him to the ground in the second round and nearly tapped him with an armbar. In fact, the armbar was so tight, he nearly broke the limb.

Jadambaa, however, survived and amazingly escaped. While the Russian constantly worked his ground strikes from top position and attempted a few more submissions, he felt zapped of his energy, and the Mongolian made it back to his feet.

"I got too carried away with ground and pound, and he managed to stand up. I felt very tired and he was looking pretty fresh. I couldn't understand what was happening," Gafurov recalls. "After round two, I got quite stiff. My legs were tired. I thought that I was getting exhausted, and it was time to fight hard and finish it."

Jadambaa controlled Gafurov in the third round, as he stuffed his takedowns and absolutely battered him with powerful punches, heavy kicks, and knees in the clinch. The Mongolia resident turned the heat up even more in the fourth round, but "Cobra" got his second wind.

Gafurov was able to maneuver around Jadambaa, take his back, and lock in a rear-naked choke, tightening it until his opponent was rendered unconscious. With that victory, Gafurov unified the belts and put on the fight of the night.

"From the beginning, I understood he was not going to be easy. If he wasn't going to give up when I was trying to break his arm, surely he was not going to tap when being choked out. I knew he'd rather go to sleep than give up, so when choking him out, I was actually trying to make him go to sleep," Gafurov said.

"People call my fight with Jadambaa one of the best in ONE Championship. I agree with them," he continues. "It was a spectacular fight. There were good punches and good ground game. It was an exciting fight."

The Russian submission master followed that stellar performance up by defeating DEEP Featherweight Champion Kazunori Yokota at ONE: KINGDOM OF CHAMPIONS this past May. "Cobra" put on a grappling clinic in the first round, and though most of the second stanza featured a stand-up exchange, he secured the takedown and ended the bout with his fifth consecutive rear-naked choke victory to push his record to a spotless 14-0 and set a new ONE record for most RNC victories in a row.

While Gafurov has convincingly defeated every fighter he has encountered, it is the 40-year-old Jadambaa who has given him the most trouble inside the cage. The Russian is fully aware of that, and when they meet in a title rematch at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, he wants to dominate.

"I always work hard, and this time, I am sure I can win. I always feel that I have an advantage over another fighter," Gaforuv said. "I always try to finish quickly and not stay in the cage for too long. This time, I plan to do the same."

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Mongolian fighters grab double silver, double bronze at World Martial Arts Masterships

Ulaanbaatar, October 28 (MONTSAME) Mongolian fighter S.Batjargal won a silver medal of men's 71 kg of Muay Thai Boxing at the World Martial Arts Masterships, being held in Cheongju of South Korea.

In kickboxing, our athlete B.Khaliun and D.Tuvshintogoldor won bronze medals, whereas B.Burenzorig (75kg) claimed silver medal.

The masterships challenged some 2,600 fighters from 85 countries in 15 categories of martial art.

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Mongolian trainer looks for repeat in BC Turf Sprint

STICKNEY, Ill., October 28 (Daily Racing Form) – He parks a rented Hyundai on a wan industrial Chicago morning and walks into a barn on the Hawthorne backstretch. A couple of jockey agents and two apprentice riders cluster near the office. Everyone smiles and greets him. "Hey, Ganbat!"

"Enebish Ganbat" his name reads as a trainer on official lists of North American past performances, but his name actually is Ganbat Enebish. Either is fine, really, he says, but people call him Ganbat. He is from Mongolia, where there are no family names. The son's name is a given name attached to the father's given name. "It changes every generation," Ganbat said. "When you are calling me my father's name, Enebish, you're calling me a dead person." Then he laughs deeply.

Ganbat's father went to art school in East Germany and had a painting career. Ganbat painted, too, when he was young, but studied electrical engineering at the Moscow Institute, and was trained as a power plant engineer.

"Engineering was too boring a job for me," he says. "I like adventure. Every day, do the same thing in engineering. I like adventure, travel, hunting, animals."

The animals that now fill Ganbat's days are Thoroughbreds – 10 of them stabled this fall at Hawthorne.

Surely there's no trainer in North America with a more unusual biography. And it can seem, at times, six years and 28 wins into his North American training career, that Ganbat knows less about training than most North American horsemen.

Yet there, in the Hawthorne shedrow, stands a horse named Mongolian Saturday, a horse that gave Ganbat something only a sliver of the training population can claim – a Breeders' Cup win.

Ganbat met the wealthy Mongolian businessman Ganbaatar Dagvadorj in the late 1990s, when both owned and trained horses in Mongolia. Ganbaatar and his brother Tserenjigmed, and their entourage, garbed in brightly colored festive dress (the long caftan-like garments are called deels) stopped the show when they strolled into the Keeneland paddock with Ganbat last October. Then their horse went out and won the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

Ganbat has a simple barn name for Mongolian Saturday – Champion. But a couple months ago, the notion of a second Turf Sprint win seemed impossible. Mongolian Saturday went to Hong Kong and finished a decent fifth in December. In March, he got colic in Dubai and didn't even make the Al Quoz Sprint there. Then it was on to England, where Mongolian Saturday was ninth in the King's Stand, 11th in the July Cup. The all-international campaign seemed ill-conceived, imprudent, and, by the end of it, Mongolian Saturday looked finished.

Yet there he was Oct. 8, back in the Keeneland winner's circle after winning the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes. On Nov. 5, Mongolian Saturday will be back for another go in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

Ganbat had rented the Hyundai because his truck was in the shop for comprehensive servicing. The next morning he, his Mongolian driver, and Mongolian Saturday's groom would hook a horse trailer to the truck and begin driving 2,000 miles from Hawthorne to Santa Anita. No more flying – not now, at least – for Mongolian Saturday. Air travel can be stressful for horses, and Ganbat believes stress nearly undid his horse.

"We find this problem, and now I understand this horse has for two years had an ulcer," Ganbat said. "I think after Breeders' Cup, this became a very big problem for him. When we come into England, don't run good there. I said, 'There's something wrong with this horse.'"

An English veterinarian diagnosed a large ulcer, the largest, he told Ganbat, he had ever seen. An anti-ulcer medication program began, but Mongolian Saturday improved only marginally until he was turned out at Locust Grove Farm, where the owners keep their eight broodmares, and was treated additionally with royal jelly, a honey bee secretion. Ganbat sent Mongolian Saturday to be scoped following his Woodford win; the ulcer had shrunk 60 percent.

"He was a crazy horse the last two years, especially in paddock," Ganbat said. "Crazy jumping and freezing. The last time at Keeneland before the race, he was so calm. I think all this nervous problem was from his stomach."

When Ganbat came to the U.S. in 2010 he knew little of ulcers. The entire American training regimen was new. Mongolian horses, small, hardy creatures that are a pillar of Mongolian culture and history, generally race between 12 and 25 kilometers; their riders are children as young as 5. Field size is not a problem: One of Ganbat's best wins came when a gelding he trained and owned beat 720 rivals in a 25-kilometer race.

"It's so different training short distance here," he said. "Training is totally different from Mongolian way. We need to breeze more because of short-distance horses. In Mongolia, people don't pay so much attention to legs. I learn a lot about that. We have many, many horses in Mongolia – if one horse is broke, go to the next horse training."

Ganbat watches disapprovingly as Mongolian Saturday jogs past on the Hawthorne track. "I don't like this horse jogging," he said. "When he jogs after galloping, he jogs much better."

Mongolian Saturday, with his regular exercise rider and Ganbat's assistant trainer, Santiago Aragon, in the saddle, turns around and breaks into a slow gallop. Faster and faster he runs, the pink vest Aragon wears to aid identification whipping off the far turn and into the homestretch at nearly race pace.

Back at the barn, Aragon flexes his hands, bends his arms, sore from trying to restrain Mongolian Saturday.

"I tried to hold him," he tells Ganbat. "He's getting so strong again. He ran off with me. He's getting like he was this time last year."

The last thing a rider wants to tell a trainer is how a mount got away during a controlled exercise, but Ganbat doesn't even flinch. Aragon has worked with American racehorses longer than Ganbat. He gallops most of the 10 Ganbat has in the barn every day. Ganbat leans on him.

"I've been working for him for almost four years," Aragon said. "When I started with him, he was training for more distance than other trainers. We would gallop for a long, long way. They'd run off or not relax too much.

"I've been around horses for 30 years, first working as a groom. Ganbat started communicating; we started talking about how other trainers trained, how I did things for other people, and after that we started training the way other trainers trained. One good thing about this trainer: He always asks for help and he's good to talk to. He's not a guy who only wants to do things his way. He wanted to have people tell him his mistakes, about training, about medicine, everything. He had to learn all that. He's a good person to be around."

Ganbat, also fluent in Russian, speaks English with a hybrid accent tinged by Chicago Spanglish. He grew up in the city, but each year visited his aunt's home in the steppes, or grassland, of Mongolia, where he learned horses and riding. He has traveled extensively, been to every continent but Africa, and has 200 Mongolian horses of his own, mainly to sell for racing. When Ganbat spurned engineering in the early 1990s, a time of dramatic change in Mongolia during the end of the Soviet system, he took up horse trading, going to Russia, Kazakhstan, Chechnya to find racing stock.

Ganbat won't reveal his age. "My Buddhist lama told me never tell people that," he said.

Like most native Mongolians, Ganbat is a devout Buddhist. He prays for his horses' successes before they race.

But the backstretch has a way of absorbing difference, and Ganbat is no pariah, especially at Hawthorne, and he, too, has genuine affection for his community. The 18-year Chicago-based jockey Carlos Montalvo rode Mongolian Saturday in the Woodford, the first graded-stakes win of his career. Ganbat won't replace him in the Breeders' Cup.

"He's 38 years old," Ganbat said. "I give him a good chance now. How many chances does he have left? If he can win Grade 1 race, Montalvo can be proud."

This is the second Santa Anita trip for Ganbat and Mongolian Saturday. The first came in spring 2014, when Ganbat put his horse on a plane in Florida and sent him to the Portrero Grande.

"People say I am crazy because nobody flies from East Coast to West Coast just to run in a small stakes," Ganbat said. "Champion was weak after the plane. We ran last. Also, my training then wasn't good. I'm doing a little better now, but still need to learn many, many things. When I leaving Santa Anita, I say to an Asian man in the racing office, 'I come back.' Now I am back."

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Turf Sprint: Mongolian Saturday's Recovery From Stomach UlcersPaulick Report, October 28

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Art & Entertainment

Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts to show more than 100 statues of Buddhist gods

October 28 (MONTSAME) The Fine Arts Museum named after Zanabazar is displaying for the first time more than 100 statues of Buddhist gods including Namsrai, Gongor and Jamsran.

The spread of Buddhism in Mongolia inspired Mongolian craftsmen to create icons and statues of Buddhist gods in all types of fine arts which are preserved and worshipped from generation to generation. The exhibits belonging mainly to the 19th century are the works by craftsmen and artists whose names are unknown.

Buddhist god Namsrai is a guard of the religion (tshoijn sakhuis). He keeps people from poverty, guarantees love and all the fine things, frees people who are in troubles, in a dangerous situation, he helps people who are hungry and impoverished. He abolishes reasons for the bad and gives all good reasons to be living happily.

Buddhist god Gongor - Tsagaan Makhagal (white Makhagal) is a guard of religion (tshoijn sakhuis). He abolishes difficulties and makes people abundant in property and food. He is the protector of the world.

Dogshin ulaan sakhuis – Jamsran - when he dances, he acts as if he cuts up the enemies and extracts their hearts. He swore to defy and win over all of the sinful enemies and make people happy for a long time. He is a guard of religion (tshoijn sakhuis).

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Best calligraphy creations announced at "Script of Eternal Sky 2016"

Ulaanbaatar, October 28 (MONTSAME) An inauguration ceremony was held for international calligraphic exhibition named "Script of Eternal Sky 2016" which is dedicated to the birth anniversary of Chinggis Khaan.

President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj delivered opening remarks at the ceremony held in the Fine Art Gallery.  A work named "Oyuntulkhuur (Key to mind)" by young calligrapher E.Ankhbayar was acknowledged as the best calligraphy of the exhibition staged under auspices of the Mongolian President. The second prize was won by Unenchbaatar, a calligrapher from Chinese Inner Mongolia.

The event is displaying calligraphic works by over 40 calligraphers from 5 countries. Meantime, teachers of secondary schools are presenting their best calligraphies at the Children's Creativity Center and the Chonjin Boldog complex.

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Tickets sold out for Mongolian film 'Faith' at Asian World Film Festival

October 28 ( A Mongolian film called 'Faith' (Itgel) has just premiered at  the Asian World Film Festival (AWFF), currently being held in Los Angeles and according to the organisers has already proved a total sell-out.  Subsequently, cinema officials agreed to show the 'Faith' on two screens in the same cinema simultaneously. This is the first time this has happened during a premier  at the Asian World Film Festival. Based on a true story, 'Faith' is directed by B.Garamkhand and main role is played by Mongolian 'Hollywood' actor  Amarsaikhan.

Famous artists such as 'Oscar' winning producer Andrew Morgan and Hollywood School House founder Ferris Bebe, are major figures behind the film festival. More than 50 films from Asian 40 countries are competing for seven nominations. Two Mongolian films, namely 'The Faith' and 'Mother' are currently contending. Last year, 'Thief of the Mind', a movie with  Amarsaikhan in the main role won the Viewers' Award.

The Asian World Film Festival brings the best of a broad selection of Asian World cinema to Los Angeles in order to draw greater recognition to the region's wealth of filmmakers as well as strengthening the ties between the film industries of Asia and Hollywood.

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Screening Official Selection: Mother (Mongolia) – Asian World Film Festival, October 31, Los Angeles

Asian World Film Festival Invites you to attend a special screening of a Festival Official Selection, Mother at the ArcLight Cinemas, Culver City. Tickets are ON SALE NOW!!!

10/31/2016 — 9:00PM

Directed by Erdenetsetseg Bazarragchaa


In 1984, Khand, a single mother aged 69, lives in Uws province while her only son has gone to serve the Republic Army. An unfortunate event occurs and her son is convicted for murder. Khand travel miles, dedicates every breath and fights with everything she has for her only child.

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Which language does Eric Nam use to attempt to ride a reindeer in the jungle?

October 29 (AllKPop) On the October 28 airing of 'Laws of the Jungle' in Mongolia, a part of the cast visited the Dukha people of Mongolia to experience riding on the backs or reindeer!

The cast to try out the reindeer included Park Se YoungBTOB's Changsub, and Eric Nam, but while Park Se Young and Changsub went on ahead after mounting the large reindeer with the help of their guides, Eric Nam was left sitting atop his reindeer by himself, with no means of moving forward!

The singer then proceeded to ask the reindeer to move in several alien(?) languages, some of which included Korean and English phrases. None of them, of course, seemed to have any effect on the reindeer, until finally, a little boy from the Dukha people came and guided Eric Nam along!

Watch the clip above, and get ready for a brand new season of 'Laws of the Jungle' in Timor-Leste starting next week!

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Mongolia's Gobi the place for desert dreams during Naadam Festival

October 29 (The Australian) Thunder rumbles through the black clouds overhead unleashing raindrops so fat and heavy they feel like mini-punches striking my bare arms. Mongolia's Gobi is not what I expected. I had visions of sand dunes baking under the desert sun, camels silhouetted against a blue sky and, to complete the picture, a wind-swept bleached animal skeleton or two. Instead, the summer weather is unseasonably cool, grasslands cover the vast steppes and muddy roads threaten to bog our vehicle.

Just as in the tropics, the storm passes forcefully and quickly. The sun reappears, highlighting the rich red beauty of the poetically named Flaming Cliffs. Early last century, paleontologists found fossilised dinosaur eggs and bones scattered over the ground. In most other parts of the world, this area would be roped off, keeping prehistoric wonders out of reach. Finding a fossil bone is a long shot but as we explore the cliffs I feel like a kid on a treasure hunt. My travelling companion, Jess McKelson, director of RAW Wildlife Encounters, is the first to find a dinosaur.

According to Bulga, our guide, fossilised bones are softer and whiter than stone and stick slightly to your tongue if licked. We find a number of fragments in a short space of time but Jess and I skip the lick test. Our local driver unearths part of a dinosaur skeleton he found a few years earlier. He keeps it covered, he says, to protect it from poachers, and so he can show tourists like us. As we drive back to our camp, the eerie beauty of the landscape sends a shiver up my spine. Flaming red sandstone cliffs shine brilliantly against a dramatic sky of brewing storm clouds. Lightning flashes in the distance and sheets of grey rain race towards us. On the open steppe, the round white gers of our tourist camp rise out of the ground like giant mushrooms.

Gers (or yurts) might look like tents, and that's because they are. These nomad dwellings consist of a wooden framework and a felt and canvas exterior. Inside, handmade rugs and carpets line the floor and walls. Furniture is minimal — a table and chairs, a shrine with Buddhist images and family photos, a central stove and a few low beds against the walls. No shower or toilet. Nomads move two or three times a year in search of grazing land for their livestock, taking along their gers.

Traditionally, travellers can arrive unannounced and be welcomed into a nomad's ger for tea, a meal or even for the night. Sleeping in a ger is a must-do and a popular and comfortable option is to stay in a tourist camp where amenities include hot showers and a restaurant.

At Khongoryn Els, I find the desert I have dreamed of. Dunes as high as 300m on a spur of sand 100km long and 12km wide spear into the steppe. We climb the highest for spectacular views of the Gobi from the so-called Singing Sands. On a fine day, the dunes "sing" as wind and heat shift the sand. But rain has packed the surface and there is no singing to be heard. We ride camels from the dunes to a nomad camp, swaying comfortably to their rhythmic gait. The camels belong to a nomad family camped not far from the dunes. Each summer they bring their livestock to graze on pasture close to the Khongoryn River and offer camel rides and basic ger accommodation to tourists. Visiting such a family offers unique insights into the local way of life. We eat sour cheese and drink yak milk tea as the man of the household answers our questions. He owns goats and horses as well as camels and works as a park ranger. But it is his mother-in-law who fascinates us; the deep lines and grooves of her weathered nut-brown face are evidence of a harsh life.

Mongolia is the least densely populated country on Earth and its nomadic culture prevails. The Gobi reflects this but when I first arrive in Mongolia, it doesn't seem so. Half the country's population lives in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, and more are in town during my visit for the annual Naadam Festival. Every July, Naadam draws competitors from all over the country to contest the "manly" skills of horse riding and archery plus wrestling, the only sport women aren't allowed to enter. Centuries ago, Genghis Khan used it as a recruitment exercise for his army. Jockeys sing to their horses, archers sing to their bows, wrestlers grunt at their opponents. It's a great excuse for everyone to dress in traditional costume and for spectators to cheer on their heroes with bottles of airag, a potent brew made from fermented mare's milk.

There is always an oasis in the desert. In the Gobi, it is the ice-filled gorge of Yolyn Am, also known as the Valley of the Vultures. Finding ice in the desert seems too bizarre to be true. But the Gobi is proving to be far different to the Lawrence of Arabia sand deserts of most people's imaginations. I learn that Gobi lies further south, on the border with China. This Gobi teems with life. Small, mouse-like creatures called pikas dart from rock to rock through a carpet of wildflowers as we hike along the stream in the valley. Birds flit overhead. The rocky cliffs on either side crowd closer, blocking out the sun, leaving only a thin slice of blue sky above. In the narrowest part of the gorge, we reach a glacier about 1m in height and each summer it recedes and shrinks but in the winter the ice can reach up to 10m.

The vast grassland steppes of the Gobi are flat plains stretching towards the horizon. In winter, the land is covered in a thick layer of snow but in summer nomads bring herds of camels, horses, goats and sheep to graze on the pastures. At Khavtsgait, we hike into the hills to find an exceptional collection of rock carvings dating as far back as 8000 BC. The Bronze Age rock art depicts ibex with large curved horns, mounted bowmen, two-humped camels, and even a wolf hunting a deer with huge antlers. I trace a finger across an ibex and gaze out over the land below, imagining the scene through the eyes of the ancient artist. Jess spots a golden eagle flying low overhead. Another joins it. Then another. The three eagles circle slowly above us. They are magnificent, regal lords of the sky surveying their realm. We fall silent, awed by their presence and curiosity in us. After what seems an age, they fly away. I watch them disappear until my eyes blur with tears.

The Gobi is not what I expected but it is far more than I imagined.

Olivia Pozzan was a guest of RAW Wildlife Encounters.

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Travel classic with a twist: doing the Trans-Siberia Express the wrong way around

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the longest train journey in the world, Phoebe Smith undertakes the classic Trans-Mongolian railroad, but with a twist: switching direction to travel east to west…

October 30 (Wanderlust Magazine) The milk was definitely off. I lifted the cup to my lips twice, and each time felt the sharpness of its scent deep in the back of my nose, pungent and stale, forcing me to stop shy of tasting it. The family looked at me expectantly from every seat in the ger (yurt) – the youngest little girl giggling as I winced each time I tried to drink. Finally, I willed myself to take a sip.

To my surprise, it wasn't actually that bad.

"What is it?" I asked my guide Tseveen – having already learned that in Mongolia the best method was to try first and ask what was in it later.

"Milk vodka – Arkhi," she said, as I took another swig, this time tasting a faint gin-esque flavour underneath the dairy. "They make it with yak milk yoghurt – it's about 20 per cent alcohol."

This was Day Four of my ride on the Trans-Siberian railroad – or more correctly, on the Trans-Mongolian spur of the train line – and I found myself somewhere among the grassy steppes, a couple of hours from the capital of Ulan Bator. It's a place most people stop at near the end of their rail journey, as the majority go west to east. But I was doing things in reverse.

Instead of starting in Moscow and descending into the spartanly populated reaches of Russia's Siberia gradually, I'd opted to get the long flight out of the way at the start and head east to west, inching steadily back to Europe from Asia, gaining (rather than losing) time as I travelled. And now, I'd just tasted my first sip (of what would soon become many glasses) of locally made vodka – a virtually inescapable activity on this trip.

The previous night, I'd stayed in my own Mongolian ger, lined with sheep-wool felt, warmed by a wood-burning stove and lit by candlelight. I'd spent the evening perched at the door, watching the Milky Way stain the cloudless inky sky, while above the camp a holy ovoo (pile of sacred stones – added to by nomadic families as they trek across the steppes to ask for a safe journey) watched over the scene. It was a far cry from the modern comforts of the train carriage that had brought me here.

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Mongolia Trip: Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

Day 11 & 12 - Thursday 18th & Friday 19th August 2016

The end was near!

October 28 (Dignifiable) We headed back to Ulanbaataar to drop off one of the tour members before heading to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, which is located not too far from the city.

We stopped quickly at this place on the side of the road and the meal consisted of the same handful of ingredients! It was at this point that we swapped vans yet again and got a new driver and tour guide.

It was very strange to head back to the city; a little jarring and a complete contrast to the previous 10 days that I had experienced. In a sense, it was similar to a culture shock.

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park was rated quite positively on the internet and in guidebooks. However, it was very different to what I was expecting. I suppose it was because I had experienced 10 days of the traditional nomadic life and being in surroundings where there were minimal people around. Although the national park is quite large, there is only a certain area where you can stay. Due to this, it was very very commercialised (I even saw some teepees!) There are talks / fears that one day other areas in Mongolia will be transformed in a similar fashion. I guess that is the difficulty in striking the balance in promoting tourism and yet also preserving the untouched beauty of Mongolia.

At the tourist ger camp that I stayed at, there were a massive bunch of Chinese students who were being ... quite frankly obnoxiously loud. To avoid them, I decided to climb to the top of a super steep hill. It was so steep and as my shoes weren't the best, I effectively ended up using the trees to pull myself up the hill. I was really trying to avoid having to go on all four.

Back at the sand dunes, the Swiss couple had mentioned that the quickest path is not always the easiest. They didn't mean it in a philosophical manner but quite literally as their strategy to climb the dune was unlike anyone else. That thought popped into my head when I discovered that there was a longer path to the top of the hill which would have meant that I didn't need to struggle / pull myself up the hill. Ha.

The obnoxious Chinese tour group continued and there ended up being some random dance party where some girl was trying to teach all her friends the dance steps to Gangnam Style. Seriously. They would play the music, teach a few steps, repeat the music, dance together. Play the next few bars of music, pause, wash rinse repeat. It was actually ridiculous.

The next day we had a different sort of breakfast! For the past 10 days, we had been eating dry / stale bread + jam / nutella / fried egg if super lucky. I really am not selling the food in Mongolia, but I really don't think you should come to Mongolia for the food. Come for the untouched beauty!

On the way back to Ulanbaataar, we stopped at the enormous statute of Chinggis Khan. Ginormous! My photos don't capture the magnitude of the statue but it definitely was one of the highlights of the trip! I am a simple person, and unsurprisingly, a shiny stainless steel structure captured my fancy. It is 40m high and, according to legend, is where he found a golden whip. Although the statute is complete, the surrounding complex is still under construction. They are wanting to build 200 permanent gers arranged in the pattern as traditionally used in 13th century Mongol tribes. They are also wishing to install 10 000 horse man statutes to represent the number of soldiers in a tumen - army unit - used by the Mongols. Impressive! 

This was my ninth trip as part of #take12trips. To see previous trips please click here.

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Traveling to Mongolia? Learn from our mistakes

October 29 (Lonely Planet Forum) --

Trip info:

21 Aug 2016 - 08 Sept 2016, Ulaanbaatar, Gobi Desert, Dood Tsagaan Lake (reindeer family)

But first, the video log of the trip:

3) (worst video, don't watch)

Tip 1:

Go in the SUMMER. 

This may be a 'duh' tip but we figured late August would still be warm. In the north we had to sleep with layers of clothes on and in two sleeping bags each to avoid shivering at night. We were impressed just how cold it got.

Tip 2:

Be prepared to eat meat and drink milk. 

It's not a country for vegetarians or the lactose-intolerant. While the food was good there isn't a lot of variety. Vegetables and fruits are difficult to come by outside of the cities. If you visit rural families you are expected to drink the goat milk they offer you.

Tip 3:

Be sure to have a hefty reserve of Mongolian cash in case of emergencies. 

You can be 100s of miles from an ATM at times. Also, the departures wing of the Ulaanbaatar airport doesn't exchange Mongolian cash... no joke, I could only switch my money back to USD in the Seoul-Incheon airport at a much lower exchange rate.

Tip 4:

If you plan to leave the cities then make sure you have a book (old-fashioned paper kind), deck of cards, or something to pass the time. At times you will have a LOT of time to kill. I finished the book I brought half-way through the trip.

Tip 5:

Toilet paper

Bring EXTRA tp if you're heading out into rural areas. We brought one jumbo roll but between our two 5 day rural trips and a bout of sickness we had to ration the last few strips and cut it closer than we care to think about.

Our first trip north to the reindeer family was with Selena Travel:

The second trip to gers in the Gobi Desert was with Ger to Ger: (they are going to warrant their own separate video later)

We visited Mongolia because after living in Japan for several years we were leaving Asia and Mongolia isn't easy to get to from anywhere else.

We're now living in Colombia and if those god awful videos up above make you want to see what we're up to follow us here:



Robbie & Tam

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Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex

14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
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