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Archive for December 2011

December 30, 2011 Permalink

Scenes from Iraq

As 2011 ends, Iraqis confront their challenges with neither the presence of US troops, nor the shadow of Saddam Hussein, who was executed five years ago today. He had ruled since 1979, although he'd been a power player in the government since 1968. The American occupation ended officially on December 15, eight years after the 2003 invasion. Sectarian strife still plagues Iraq, and although the violence lessened from near-civil war levels in 2006, the pullout of American forces has seen a return of hostilities. While the number of American casualties of the occupation stands at 4,487, figures for Iraqi casualties have no such certainty. Some estimates put the figure as high as 100,000. Now conflicts new and old wait to be dealt with by a country free to decide its own fate for the first time in generations. Sectarian struggle, problems with water and electricity delivery, and war-ravaged infrastructure are just a few of the issues facing Iraqis today. Gathered here are recent images of Iraq as it looks ahead to 2012. The last four images are portraits by Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton, who asked ordinary Iraqis for their thoughts on their future after the pullout of American forces. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

A man smokes a water pipe at a cafe on Mutanabi Street in Baghdad on December 9, 2011. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)
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December 28, 2011 Permalink

Japan's nuclear exclusion zone

What does a sudden evacuation look like? After everyone is gone, what happens to the places they've abandoned? National Geographic Magazine sent Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder to the nuclear exclusion zone around Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant to find out. Evacuated shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear radiation crisis, the area has been largely untouched, with food rotting on store shelves and children's backpacks waiting in classrooms. The area may face the same fate as the town of Pripyat, Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. This isn't the first time Guttenfelder has gotten a rare glimpse of a place few see, as The Big Picture featured his photographs of North Korea in an earlier post. Collected here are Guttenfelder's haunting images just released of a place abandoned, and of people dealing with the loss. -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)

In this April 7, 2011 photo, local police wearing white suits to protect them from radiation, search for bodies along a river inside Odaka, Japan. Weeks after authorities had searched for victims and started recovery in other tsunami-hit regions, cleanup crews hadn't yet been dispatched around the crippled reactors because of high radiation levels. (AP Photographer David Guttenfelder on assignment for National Geographic Magazine)
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December 23, 2011 Permalink

The Year in Pictures: Part III

In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)

A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)
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December 21, 2011 Permalink

The year in Pictures: Part II

The second collection of images from 2011 once again brought us nature at its full force with floods, drought, wild fires, tornadoes and spectacular images of volcanic eruptions. The death of Osama bin Laden, the attack on an island in Norway by a lone gunman, continued fighting in Libya, and protests around the globe were a few of the news events dominating the headlines. -- Lloyd Young Please see part 1 from Monday and watch for part 3 Friday. (45 photos total)

A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations for 3,500 people as it sent a cloud of ash that reached Argentina. The National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas 10 kilometers (six miles) high, hours after warning of strong seismic activity in the area. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) )
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December 19, 2011 Permalink

The Year in Pictures: Part I

Any "best of" list must surely be subjective. This one is no different. Choosing the best photographs of the year is an enormously difficult task, with many terrific photographs slipping through the cracks. But with major news events as a guide, and with single images I fell in love with throughout the year forcing their way into the edit, I look at my favorite pictures from the first four months of the year. Two main stories dominated headlines in the first part of the year: the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the rising of the Arab Spring. The protests in the Middle East would spread to Greece, Spain, and eventually inspire the Occupy movement in Western nations. Other stories included a historic wave of tornados in the U.S., a Royal wedding in London, and the creation of the world's newest nation in South Sudan. Images from the rest of the year will follow in posts later this week. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

A wave caused by a tsunami flows into the city of Miyako from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck Japan March 11, 2011. (Mainichi Shimbun /Reuters)
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December 16, 2011 Permalink

50 best photos from The Natural World

We share our world with many other species and live in an ever-changing environment. Fortunately, photographers around the world have captured the moments and beauty that allow us to see amazing views of this awe-inspiring planet. This is a collection of favorite photos from The Natural World gallery in 2011, a showcase of images of animals and environment that runs on Boston.com throughout the year. Next week's posts will take a look at the year in photos, so stay tuned. -Leanne Burden Seidel (50 photos total)

Seahorses are displayed at an endangered species exhibition at London Zoo. ( Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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December 14, 2011 Permalink

Homelessness around the world

Boston conducted its 32nd census of the city’s homeless population earlier this week. A report to the United Nations in 2005 stated there were an estimated 100 million homeless people in the world, and an additional 1.6 billion living without adequate housing. Here are some images of homelessness across the globe, collected from wire images this year. -- Lloyd Young (31 photos total)

John Filliger who has been homeless for the past five years, lies wrapped in bedding on Washington Street in the heart of the Downtown Crossing area of Boston Dec. 12. Filliger, who was offered a bed in a shelter for the evening, stayed on the street for the night and was counted in the annual homeless census. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
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December 12, 2011 Permalink

Lunar eclipse of December 10, 2011

The longest lunar eclipse in over ten years animated the night sky on December 10. The red hue resulted from the sun's light passing through the earth's atmosphere. Viewers in Asia had the best view of the total eclipse, while those watching in Europe saw part of it at moonrise, and North Americans caught part of it as the moon set. It was not visible in South America or Antarctica. The next total eclipse will occur in 2014. -- Lane Turner (27 photos total)

The moon casts a reddish hue over Lake Pend Oreille during a lunar eclipse as it begins to set behind the Selkirk Mountain Range near Sandpoint, Idaho on December 10, 2011. (Matt Mills McKnight/Reuters)
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December 9, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, November 2011

As the War in Afghanistan passes the 10-year mark, the effect of the American withdrawal is already being felt among civilian aid workers, raising anxieties that Afghanistan will be abandoned and that gains will be quickly reversed. Even President Hamid Karzai asked nations at a conference in Germany recently to continue aid to his country for another decade. The United States, which provides two-thirds of all development assistance in Afghanistan, slashed its $4 billion aid budget to $2 billion in the 2011 fiscal year. The budget for 2012 may be cut further. In this post we continue our monthly visit to the country of Afghanistan, its residents and our troops. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

An Afghan woman, holding her baby, walks through a busy street in Kabul, Dec. 5, 2011. A major international conference on December 5 sought ways forward for Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO combat troops in 2014. The boycott of two crucial players,Pakistan and the Taliban, dampened hopes of success. The one-day gathering brought around 100 national delegations and aid organizations to the former German capital Bonn. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)
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December 7, 2011 Permalink

Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary

Some 100 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor will gather in Hawaii today 70 years after the day which drew the US into World War II. The Japanese air and naval strike on the American military base claimed nearly 2,400 lives, destroyed over 160 aircraft and beached, damaged or destroyed over 20 ships. President Franklin D. called it " a date which will live in infamy" when he addressed the Congress the next day asking to declare war with Japan. -- Lloyd Young (35 photos total)

Ernest "Dave" Davenport, 90, of Virginia Beach, Va., is a Pearl Harbor survivor. He was an aviation machinists mate on a PBY 5 Catalina, a sea plane. (Bill Tiernan/Associated Press/The Virginian-Pilot)
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December 5, 2011 Permalink

Russia election

Vladimir Putin was not running for office, but parliamentary elections held yesterday in Russia were widely seen as a test of his popularity amid his likely return to the presidency. Election observers and opposition parties pointed to rampant irregularities in the vote, which saw support for his United Russia party plummet. Results in the heavily disputed poll show United Russia still in control, albeit with a much slimmer mandate. Gathered here are images of protests, rallies, and the vote as Russians took to the ballot all over the country with charges of fraud and malfeasance clouding the vote. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)

Elizaveta Semenova is helped by her daughter to fill in a ballot at her home in the village of Oster, Russia on December 4, 2011. Russians cast their ballots with muted enthusiasm in national parliamentary elections, a vote that polls indicate could water down the strength of the party led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, despite the government's relentless marginalization of opposition groups. (Sergei Grits/AP)
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December 2, 2011 Permalink

World AIDS Day - 2011

World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV (as of 2007), making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Yet today, there is serious talk about the "end" of this global epidemic. There are now 6.6 million people on life-saving AIDS medicine, but still too many are being infected. New research proves that early antiretroviral treatment will slash the rate of new HIV cases by up to 60 percent. This is described as the tipping point that so many have tirelessly tried to reach. -- Paula Nelson (30 photos total)

Indian school children form a red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, in Ahmadabad, India, Dec. 1, 2011. World AIDS Day is marked across the world on Dec. 1. (Ajit Solanki/Associated Press)
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