Trillions and trillions. Of dollars!

A front-page NYT story blows the lid off Afghanistan’s heretofore unknown mineral riches - trillions of dollars in gold, copper, iron, cobalt and, interestingly, lithium. Half of the world’s known reserves of the stuff that powers your Macbook and your silly hippie Prius are controlled by the expropriation-happy socialist wackadoodles in Bolivia; Afghan lithium deposits would probably be seen as less prone to being thieved by the government, and element 3 might even supplant heroin as Afghanistan’s biggest export earner.

On the other hand, Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounshell is justifiably suspicious of the story’s timing. (FP has a followup here.)

As a side note, lithium (like all the alkali metals) is great fun to chuck into water. They get more and more fun as you go down the periodic table, too; lithium fizzes, sodium goes “pop”, potassium bursts into flame, rubidium explodes, and cesium… well, click here and see for yourself. (Sadly, nobody’s ever made enough francium to try this, but it’d definitely be the most awesome thing ever.)