A huge portrait Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov stands beside the horse race track in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in May 2007. (EPA/Mikhail Klimentyev)

Turkmenistan’s silent election

Most people outside of Central Asia know little about the gas-rich desert nation of Turkmenistan. The former Soviet Republic has virtually no independent media and just a handful of bookstores....
In this March 28, 2016 photo, a porter walks with a massive load towards Everest Base camp near Lobuche, Nepal. The April 2014 avalanche, which killed 13 Sherpa guides and three other Nepali workers, was an immense blow to the Sherpa community. Nearly all the surviving Sherpas refused to continue working that year, demanding, among other things, better working conditions, more insurance, and free education for the children of those killed. Over the past two years the government has enacted a series of policy changes, from stationing officials at Base Camp to creating a welfare fund for the families of the Sherpa dead, in large part to convince climbers and trekkers to keep coming back to Everest. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa)

‘Sherpa’ highlights Everest’s inequalities

  Sherpa guides and porters do much of the work of getting foreign hikers up Mt. Everest. But despite doing an incredibly dangerous job in a lucrative industry, they receive just a small fraction of the...
A Pakistani mother holds a picture of her daughter showing Tasleem Solangi, killed in a rural area of Pakistan's southern province of Sindh, in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

“Honor” killings under fire

About 5,000 women are killed each year in so-called "honor" killings around the world. These are crimes in which the victims, who are almost always female, are killed by family members - usually men - for...
A coffin with the body of Uzbek President Islam Karimov is carried during his funeral ceremony in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept. 3, 2016. Karimov who crushed all opposition in the Central Asian country  as its only president in a quarter-century of independence from the Soviet Union, has died of a stroke at age 78. (AP Photo)

Uzbekistan’s dictatorship at a crossroads

The central Asian nation of Uzbekistan is known for its spectacular mosques, vast fields of cotton and immense natural gas reserves. It's also one of the world's most repressive police states, where the...
Filipino men wait with their hands over their heads as they are rounded up during a police operation as part of the continuing "War on Drugs" campaign of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines on Oct. 7, 2016.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines

The Philippines is in the midst of a spectacularly brutal war on drugs. The man behind it is the President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office June 30. In Duterte’s first seven weeks on the job, more than...
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Grading Obama’s Asia pivot

Rebalance in U.S. relations yields mix results A key pillar of President Barack Obama's foreign policy has been the attempted "pivot to Asia." The idea was that under President Bush, the U.S. expended...
Former fishing slaves who were rescued from Indonesia’s remote island village of Benjina gather at a temporary government-run shelter on the island of Tual, Indonesia, April 20, 2015.  (AP Photo/Margie Mason)

Uncovering slave labor on Thai fishing boats

Thailand is the world's third-largest exporter of seafood, shipping shrimp, tuna and other fish to supermarket chains and pet food companies in the U.S. and Europe. But a series of investigations by the...
Afghan women wearing burqa line up to vote at a polling station in Kabul on , Oct. 9. 2004.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Afghan women’s rights

Women's rights and opportunities have improved in Afghanistan over the past 15 years after the ouster of the Taliban. They're no longer required to wear the burqa and are again allowed to attend school and...
Khadija Ismayilova, center, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who has become a symbol of defiance, praised by human rights and free-speech organizations around the world, speaks to journalists right after she has been released in Baku, Azerbaijan, May 25, 2016. (AP Photo/ Aziz Karimov)

Azerbaijan’s war on independent media

Under President Ilham Aliyev, the economy of Azerbaijan has expanded spectacularly. An oil boom has fueled a 10 fold increase in the size of its economy since he took power in 2003. But under Aliyev, the...