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Archive for March 2010

March 31, 2010 Permalink

Afghanistan, March, 2010

In Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, American forces are pushing forward, aiming to break the Taliban's hold on the city and southern Afghanistan. The number of foreign troops under US and NATO command is set to rise to 150,000 by August, with most of the new deployment heading to the south. Meanwhile, across other parts of the country dominated by insurgents, some U.S. efforts are now aimed at rebuilding and securing mobile phone towers. Taliban forces have destroyed or crippled some 200 of Afghanistan's 6,000 towers since 2008, isolating communities they seek to control. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (42 photos total)

Near the Kart-e-Sakhi shrine in Kabul, an Afghan girl passes by as a helicopter flies over during the celebration of Nowruz, the start of spring and the traditional New Year celebrated in Afghanistan, Iran and other countries of central Asia, on Sunday, March 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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March 29, 2010 Permalink

Earth Hour 2010

Beginning in Sydney, Australia three years ago, Earth Hour has grown into a global observance. States, large organizations and individual people observed Earth Hour 2010 on Saturday March 27th, as homes, office towers and landmarks turned off their lights for an hour starting at 8.30 pm local time to raise awareness about climate change and the threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions. Collected here are a series of before-and-after photographs from this year - which (starting with the second one below) will fade between "on" and "off" when clicked. [See also: last year] This effect requires javascript to be enabled. (26 photos total)

These two photos show Malaysia's landmark Petronas Twin Towers before, left, and after being turned off its lights to mark Earth Hour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
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March 26, 2010 Permalink

Robots, part III

Robots continue to grow in their importance amongst law enforcement, military use, medical research and care, space exploration and entertainment, among other tasks. Robots recently in the news include Russia's decades-old Lunokhod rovers - recently photographed from Lunar orbit, the naming of "Curiosity", NASA's next Mars rover, and a robotic dental patient, designed for realistic training. Collected here are a handful of relatively recent photographs of robots around the world - and the solar system. [Previously, 1, 2]. (33 photos total)

A robotic hand which has been designed to aid army bomb disposal personnel is demonstrated by Rich Walker of Shadow Robot Company at the Centre for Defence Enterprise in Oxford, in central England, on February 11, 2010. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 24, 2010 Permalink

Haiti, 70 days later

In Haiti, the survivors of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck about two and a half months ago continue to struggle, with a few signs of hope as international assistance is beginning to make measurable progress, some international debt is being forgiven, and some businesses and institutions start to come back to life. In a country still mourning the loss of a now-estimated 230,000 citizens (on par with the 2004 Indian Ocean quake), over one million people remain housed in makeshift tent cities, uncertain about their future or security. According to a recent draft summary of the Haitian government's damage and needs assessment, the country will need $11.5 billion to rebuild. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs from Haiti, a country still in need. (40 photos total)

A boy watches heavy equipment clear rubble from a destroyed church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on February 27, 2010. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
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March 22, 2010 Permalink

World Water Day

Today, March 22nd, is recognized by the United Nations Water Group as "World Water Day", this year's theme being "Clean Water for a Healthy World". Although we live on a water-covered planet, only 1% of the world's water is available for human use, the rest locked away in oceans, ice, and the atmosphere. The National Geographic Society feels so strongly about the issues around fresh water that they are distributing an interactive version of their April, 2010 magazine for download - free until April 2nd - and will be exhibiting images from the series at the Annenberg Space for photography. National Geographic was also kind enough to share 15 of their images below, in a collection with other photos from news agencies and NASA - all of water, here at home - Earth. (43 photos total)

The Maya believed natural wells, such as the Xkeken cenote in Mexico's Yucatan, led to the underworld. (John Stanmeyer, VII, © National Geographic)
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March 19, 2010 Permalink

Record setters

Earlier this week, the world's shortest man, He Pingping, age 21, died after developing chest pains while filming a television show in Italy. Pingping suffered from primordial dwarfism, a condition which kept him from ever growing taller than 73 cm (2 feet 5 inches) tall. Pingping was recognized by the Guinness World Records organization, who also held a "World Records Day" last November, encouraging people all over the world to set their own records. Collected here are a group of superlatives, recent photos of world records and record attempts around the world. (31 photos total)

He Pingping of China smiles as Sultan Kosen of Turkey rests his hands on He's shoulders during a promotional event in Istanbul, Turkey on January 14, 2010. He, with a height of 73 cm (2 feet 5 inch), and Kosen, with a height of 246.5 cm (8 feet 1 inch), have been listed in the Guinness World Records as the world's shortest man and tallest man respectively. (REUTERS/Osman Orsal)
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March 17, 2010 Permalink

2010 Winter Paralympics

Over 500 athletes from 44 countries around the world have once again descended on Vancouver Canada, for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games, (officially known as the X Paralympic Winter Games). After a separate torch relay and opening ceremony, competitors faced off in five different sports: Sledge hockey, Wheelchair curling, Alpine skiing, Biathlon, and Cross-country skiing - the last three broken into classes of sitting, standing and visually impaired. Currently Russia is leading the medals race, with Canada and Ukraine tied for second place. The Winter Paralympics continue until the Closing Ceremony on Sunday March 21st. Collected here are some scenes from this year's games. (40 photos total)

Torchbearer Daniel Wesley carries the Paralympic flame during the Torch Relay at the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games at BC Place on March 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
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March 15, 2010 Permalink

Shanghai prepares for Expo 2010

Construction workers and organizers in Shanghai, China are busily completing tasks ahead of the planned opening of the 2010 World Expo on May 1st - planned to be the largest World Expo in history. The theme of the Expo is "Better City, Better Life", and is scheduled to run until October 31, 2010. In recent months, large construction and renovation projects have dominated much of Shanghai, in preparation for becoming the World's stage on May 1st. Up to 800,000 visitors are expected each day - a total of 70 million visitors in all visiting exhibitions from nearly 200 participants around the world. Collected here are several recent photos from Shanghai as construction nears completion for the Expo 2010. (31 photos total)

In this photo taken Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010, a man labors in front of the Seed Cathedral, formed by thousands of slender acrylic rods - the centerpiece of the UK Pavilion, at the Shanghai World Expo site in Shanghai, China. The expo starts May 1 and runs for six months. It is expected to draw 70 million visitors. (AP Photo)
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March 12, 2010 Permalink

On the Spot with Kim Jong-il

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea's state-run (and only) news agency, sporadically releases photos of reclusive 69-year-old leader Kim Jong-il as he makes "on-the-spot" guidance visits. Kim Jong-il, continuing a practice begun by his father, Kim Il-sung, makes these visits to factories and facilities throughout the country, purportedly to offer his personal guidance. Followed by army officers, security personnel and plant managers - most carrying pencils and notepads to record the guidance of "Dear Leader" - he examines, listens, gives a talk, poses, then moves on, entourage in tow. When viewing the photos below, keep in mind that the KCNA is a state-run operation, most of the photos are undated, no photographers are credited, and independent verification of circumstances is nearly impossible. Collected here are a few recent photos released by the KCNA of Kim Jong-il giving "on-the-spot" field guidance. (31 photos total)

In this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits the September General Iron Enterprise in North Phyongan Province, North Korea. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)
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March 10, 2010 Permalink

Scenes from Kenya

Kenya remains one of Africa's most developed countries, but has been dealt several setbacks in the past few years. Political and tribal conflicts, unstable neighbors (Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia), and a crushing drought last year have left much of Kenya on hold, trying to regain recent momentum. The tourist trade has begun to pick up, nearly returning to the record levels - $810 million dollars earned in 2009. Several government plans are in motion to retain and rebuild the economy, including a massive translocation project to move zebras and wildebeest into lion territory - hopefully alleviating lion attacks on livestock in the drought-affected area. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs from Kenya. (40 photos total)

In this photo taken on Wednesday Nov. 4, 2009 Salad Dahir stands in Dadaab, eastern Kenya. Salad Dahir claims he was recruited into mercenary forces trained by the Kenyan army. Thousands of people, including children, are being secretly recruited and trained inside Kenya to battle Islamic insurgents in neighboring Somalia, according to deserters, local officials, families of recruits and diplomats. Most recruits are Somalis living in crowded refugee camps and Kenyan nationals who are ethnic Somalis living nearby. Kenyan Defense Ministry spokesman Bogita Ongeri denied a secret militia is being formed or that the military was involved in any recruitment or training. (AP Photo/Riccardo Gangale)
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March 8, 2010 Permalink

Chile, nine days later

Nine days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake killed hundreds of people in south-central Chile, relief efforts were beginning to reach those in need, rescue missions became recovery missions, and rebuilding is already under way. In the days since the February 27th quake, nearly 150 aftershocks have been recorded, including thirteen above magnitude 6.0. The government has been criticized by Chileans, who say the response was slow and inefficient. One recent government action was to grant a short amnesty to looters before sending troops out in search of stolen goods. Nearly $2 million worth of looted items were returned, often dumped on roadsides, by Sunday. Collected here are photographs from the past week in quake-affected Chile. (41 photos total)

A man walks in front of a half-sunk fishing boat and container next to Talcahuano's shore line in Chile, Saturday, March 6, 2010. (AP Photo/ Natacha Pisarenko)
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March 5, 2010 Permalink

NYC and Las Vegas from above, at night

Photographer Jason Hawkes, a frequent contributor to the Big Picture blog, returns today, sharing with us some of his latest images of American cities seen from above at night - New York City and Las Vegas, both cities that undergo significant transformations after the sun goes down. From Hawkes: "The images of New York were shot on Nikons latest camera, the D3S, using three gyro stabilizing mounts and flown using twin star helicopters. (Eurocopter AS355). We flew from heights of just over 500 ft up to 2,500-ft with no doors on, it was very very cold. The images of Las Vegas were shot for a separate project, using a range of helicopters from a Robinson 44 to Eurocopter AS355". Be sure to see Hawkes' earlier entries here (1, 2, 3), and check out his newly-released book "London at Night". A book of his New York at night photos is due for publication in the Autumn. Captions provided by the photographer. (20 photos total)

One Worldwide Plaza, Eighth Avenue. (© Jason Hawkes)
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March 3, 2010 Permalink

Holi 2010

Last Monday (March 1st), people in India and other countries with large Hindu populations celebrated Holi, the Festival of Colors. A welcoming of Spring, Holi is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil. Hindu devotees and others enthusiastically drop their inhibitions, and chase each other in temples and through the streets, playfully splashing colorful paint, powder and water on each other. People also attend bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, a Hindu figure and devout follower of Lord Vishnu who prevailed over his father and the demoness Holika with the power of his devotion. Collected here are a handful of images from this year's Festival of Colors. (37 photos total)

Children, their faces smeared with colored powder, participate in Holi festivities in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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March 2, 2010 Permalink

Chile, three days later

Three days after one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded struck the South American nation of Chile, the massive extent of the damage is becoming clearer, and the number of known victims has climbed to 723 deaths so far, many thousands still missing, and nearly 2 million displaced. World governments made immediate pledges of aid after Chilean President Michelle Bachelet requested mobile bridges, field hospitals, satellite phones, electrical generators, disaster assessment teams, water purification systems, field kitchens and restaurants, UN officials said. Collected here are recent photos from areas in Chile damaged by Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. (37 photos total)

A boat lies marooned on a street in Talcahuano, Chile, Monday, March 1, 2010. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday triggering a tsunami that hit coastal communities. (AP Photo/ Natacha Pisarenko)
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March 1, 2010 Permalink

Vancouver 2010, part 2 of 2

Seventeen days after it began, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are now complete. A total of 258 medals were awarded, with the United States, Germany, and Canada collecting the most medals. The second half of the games went much smoother than the glitchy first week, with many memorable performances by athletes from all over the world. Last night, a crowd of 60,000 filled BC Place in Vancouver for the Closing Ceremony, which took place shortly after the final event - a Gold Medal win by host nation Canada's ice hockey team over the U.S. The Olympic flame will next pass to London, England in 2012 for the Summer Games, and to Sochi, Russia in 2014 for the next Winter games. Collected here are photos from the second half of this year's events in Vancouver (see Part 1 for the first half). (45 photos total)

Ryan St. Onge of the US practices ahead of the men's Freestyle Skiing aerials final at Cypress Mountain, north of Vancouver on February 25, 2010 during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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