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Archive for April 2012

April 30, 2012 Permalink

Young women in Chechnya

Photojournalist Diana Markosian spent the last year and half covering Russia's volatile North Caucasus region. This year she started a personal project entitled "Goodbye My Chechnya" documenting the lives of young Chechen women as they come of age in the aftermath of war.  She writes, "For young women in Chechnya the most innocent acts could mean breaking the law.  A Chechen girl caught smoking is cause for arrest; while rumors of a couple engaging in pre-martial relations can result in her killing.  The few girls who dare to rebel become targets in the eyes of Chechen authorities.  After nearly two decades of vicious war and 70 years of Soviet rule, during which religious participation was banned, modern-day Chechnya is going through Islamic revival. The Chechen government is building mosques in every village, prayer rooms in public schools, and enforcing a stricter Islamic dress code for both men and women. This photo essay chronicles the lives of young Muslim girls who witnessed the horrors of two wars and are now coming of age in a republic that is rapidly redefining itself as a Muslim state."  Markosian, who is based in Grozny, reports that "It has been quite challenging working as a female photojournalist in Chechnya. The region is undergoing significant change as Islam flourishes. The Chechen government is trying to adopt Islamic law and strengthen Chechen traditions. The attitude towards women becomes more conservative and tradition-based. Females are considered submissive and are expected to act demurely in the presence of men.  This naturally makes it difficult to operate as many officials in male-dominated Chechnya don't take women seriously. It's something I try not to take personally and instead find ways to work around. There's also a certain level of fear you have when working and living in a region as unpredictable as the North Caucasus. Something I am still trying to get used to:  my phone conversations are listened to. I am often followed on my shoots by federal security forces; my images have been deleted and I've been detained now more than a dozen times."  Gathered here are images from the last several months of Markosian's reportage on the state of young women in Chechnya, a Russian republic of 1.3 million. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

A Chechen teen, who considers herself emo, puts on pink lip gloss. Chechens who dress in emo style are identified by wearing pink and black clothing, Keds, and having punk-style haircuts. They are targets for local authorities. (Copyright Diana Markosian)
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April 27, 2012 Permalink

Sierra Leone: 10 years after Civil War

After 10 years of civil war, Sierra Leone is at peace. Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and once a powerful warlord, was convicted April 26 by an international tribunal of 11 counts of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during it's civil war in the 1990s. Taylor was guilty of involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, slavery and the use of child soldiers. Prosecutors alleged that Taylor, from his base in neighboring Liberia, directed and armed the rebels and because of that, bears direct responsibility for the results of that war. The eleven-year conflict (from 1991-2002) left more than 50,000 dead and was marked by unprovoked and unjustified violence - especially the amputation of limbs. Sierra Leone is peaceful, a decade later, but is among the world's poorest countries, with a much longer recovery in store. Reuters' Photographer Finbarr O'Reilly gives us a glimpse of life in the West African nation today. -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

People walk through the town of Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone's 11-year conflict from 1991-2002 left over 50,000 dead and became a byword for gratuitous violence, especially the amputation of limbs. A decade later, the West African nation is peaceful, but among the world's poorest. It is due to hold elections in November. April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)
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April 25, 2012 Permalink

Violence rages in Sudan-South Sudan conflict

Fighting continues along the border of Sudan and South Sudan this week. President Salva Kiir of South Sudan said the latest attacks amounted to a declaration of war after more bombs were dropped on his country. The conflict stems from South Sudan temporarily taking control of the oil-rich border town Heglig, which Sudan claims as its own. Tension between the two countries over control of oil resources and where the border lies has been ongoing since South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July of last year as a result of a 2005 peace treaty that ended decades of war. -- Lloyd Young(24 photos total)

A Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier looks at warplanes as he lies on the ground to take cover beside a road during an air strike by the Sudanese air force in Rubkona near Bentiu on April 23. Sudanese warplanes carried out air strikes on South Sudan on Monday, killing three people near the southern oil town of Bentiu, residents and military officials said, three days after South Sudan pulled out of a disputed oil field. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
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April 23, 2012 Permalink

Coachella 2012

Music fans gathered to hear a wide variety of musical styles at this year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival, held over the past two weekends in Indio, Calif. More than 100 acts were on the bill to perform on both weekends. One of the highlights of this year’s festival was an appearance of the late rapper Tupac Shakur via a hologram projection during a performance by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. -- Lloyd Young (25 photos total)

Singer Jarvis Cocker of Pulp performs onstage during day 1 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 13 in Indio, Calif. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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April 20, 2012 Permalink

Daily life: April 2012

The universality of our lives is never so evident as when we feature a collection of "slice of life" photographs from around the world on The Big Picture. If you don't immediately read the caption under the image, you might imagine the sunlit walk in the park or the child joyfully swinging in a number of places. Common experience is what brings us together as people. So, from St. Petersburg, Russia to Salem, Oregon, tour the world in images of everyday existence.-- Paula Nelson (38 photos total)

Pakistani boys, who make a living by collecting materials and selling them to a recycling factory, shower in a pool of water created by a broken water pipe on a roadside, after their daily work on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, April 17, 2012. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)
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April 18, 2012 Permalink

Mustang: Nepal's former Kingdom of Lo

Photographer Taylor Weidman was given special permission by the government of Nepal to travel in the restricted area of Mustang. He writes, "Mustang, or the former Kingdom of Lo, is hidden in the rain shadow of the Himalaya in one of the most remote corners of Nepal. Hemmed in by the world's highest mountain range to the south and an occupied and shuttered Tibet to the north, this tiny Tibetan kingdom has remained virtually unchanged since the 15th century. Today, Mustang is arguably the best-preserved example of traditional Tibetan life in the world. But it is poised for change. A new highway will connect the region to Kathmandu and China for the first time, ushering in a new age of modernity and altering Mustang's desert-mountain villages forever." Collected here is a selection of Weidman's work from his book "Mustang: Lives and Landscapes of the Lost Tibetan Kingdom," proceeds from which support Weidman's Vanishing Cultures Project. -- Lane Turner (22 photos total)

The village of Tangge stands on the edge of a Kali Gandaki tributary. Buildings are packed tightly together to help protect the residents from the strong winds that pick up each afternoon. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project)
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April 16, 2012 Permalink

Earth Day 2012

April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet's environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution. -- Lane Turner and Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)

A ladybug in flight spreads its wings as it flutters from grass blade to grass blade at Rooks Park in Walla Walla, Wash. on April 2, 2012. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)
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April 13, 2012 Permalink

Afghanistan: March 2012

In early April, in an attempt to accelerate the transition of military responsibility to the Afghan government, the US agreed to hand control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role. This deal cleared the way for the two countries to move ahead with an agreement that would establish the shape of American support to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline. Domestic support for the war (in the US) has dropped sharply. We look back at March in the troubled country. -- Paula Nelson (37 photos total)

Young Afghan women use an umbrella to shield themselves from the sun in Kabul, April 5, 2012. The position of women in Afghanistan has improved dramatically since the fall of the Taliban, with the number of girls in education soaring. But as the Americans and the Afghan government have pursued peace efforts with the Taliban, women are increasingly concerned that gains in their rights may be compromised in a bid to end the costly and deadly war. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 11, 2012 Permalink

North Korea marks 100th anniversary of founder's birth

North Korea will mark the 100th anniversary of its founding father's birth on April 15. Kim Il-Sung ruled the communist country from its inception in 1948 until his death in 1994. The country is also making international news with the planned launch of a satellite, which concerns many other countries because of the nuclear capabilities of the rocket being used. Officials escorted a group of international media from the capital to the see the rocket in Tongchang-Ri earlier this week. Compiled here are group of recent images from inside the country. -- Lloyd Young (30 photos total)

North Koreans pay their respects in front of two portraits, one of founding leader Kim Il-Sung (left) and the other of his son Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang on April 9. North Korea is counting down to the 100th anniversary of its founder's birth on April 15 with top level meetings and a controversial rocket launch scheduled in coming days to bolster his grandson's credentials. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 9, 2012 Permalink

Easter and Holy Week

Christians commemorated the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday, a holiday that marks the end of Holy Week and the end of Lent. Observances around the world bring a diversity of traditions as varied as the countries celebrating. Eastern Orthodox Christians will observe Easter on April 15. Gathered here are images of Christians during Holy Week and Easter, including reenactments of the Crucifixion, pilgrimages, baptisms, sunrise services, and more. -- Lane Turner (37 photos total)

A girl wears an angel costume during Blood of Christ celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua on March 30, 2012. (Esteban Felix/Associated Press)
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April 6, 2012 Permalink

Titanic at 100 years

The sinking of the RMS Titanic caused the deaths of 1,517 of its 2,229 passengers and crew (official numbers vary slightly) in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The 712 survivors were taken aboard the RMS Carpathia. Few disasters have had such resonance and far-reaching effects on the fabric of society as the sinking of the Titanic. It affected attitudes toward social injustice, altered the way the North Atlantic passenger trade was conducted, changed the regulations for numbers of lifeboats carried aboard passenger vessels and created an International Ice Patrol (where commercial ships crossing the North Atlantic still, today, radio in their positions and ice sightings). The 1985 discovery of the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor marked a turning point for public awareness of the ocean and for the development of new areas of science and technology. April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. It has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, films, exhibits and memorials. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The British passenger liner RMS Titanic leaves from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage, April 10, 1912. Titanic called at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading westward toward New York. Four days into the crossing, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m., 375 miles south of Newfoundland. Just before 2:20 am Titanic broke up and sank bow-first with over a thousand people still on board. Those in the water died within minutes from hypothermia caused by immersion in the freezing ocean.(Frank O. Braynard Collection)
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April 4, 2012 Permalink

Daily life: March 2012

Nearly 2,000 images moved across the wires last month under the category “daily life.” Many of those slice-of-life images came from the 1,400 newspapers in the United States that make up the Associated Press, as well as AP staff photographers, but also from Getty Images, Reuters, and AFP. Some of the images are surprising, some dramatic, and others just an interesting view of something quite ordinary. They may not be photographs that fit into any particular news category or event, but we'd hate not to share them with you, so we're adding an occasional feature on The Big Picture blog: daily life captured around the globe. Here is the first installment. -- Lloyd Young (31 photos total)

Nepalese children play pingpong outside a closed store in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Katmandu, Nepal on March 16. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)
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April 2, 2012 Permalink

Earth Hour 2012

A symbolic gesture to raise awareness about energy consumption, Earth Hour has grown since its beginning in 2007 in Sydney to now include observances in 147 countries and over 5000 cities. For one hour, lights are switched off at 8:30 local time on the last Saturday in March. Increasing public environmental awareness in China, which has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest polluter, has led 124 cities there to mark Earth Hour. Beginning with the second photograph, click the pictures to see them fade from lights on to the lights switched off during Earth Hour 2012. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Children light candles during a ceremony to mark Earth Hour in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 31, 2012. Earth Hour took place worldwide at 8.30 p.m. local times and as an annual global call to turn off lights for 60 minutes in a bid to highlight energy consumption. (Anjum Naveed/Associated Press)
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