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Archive for July 2012

July 30, 2012 Permalink

Battle for Aleppo intensifies Syrian conflict

With 200,000 fleeing Aleppo, fighting in Syria intensified in the 16-month long struggle opposing the rule of Bashar al-Assad. While fighting still grips Homs after a brutal siege, the conflict has moved north to finally include commercial hub Aleppo - largely spared until now - a city of over two million. Both the Syrian army and the rebel Free Syrian Army claim advances in the battle for Aleppo, which began in earnest over the weekend. More pockets of conflict rage in other locations within Syria as well. Gathered here are images made available in the last week from Syria, where independent news coverage has been limited and difficult. Some of the images are from third parties and transmitted without confirmation via international wire services as they were received. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burns during clashes between rebels and Syrian troops in Selehattin, near Aleppo, on July 23, 2012. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/GettyImages)
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July 28, 2012 Permalink

Olympics 2012: Opening ceremonies

Once again in grand style the Olympics were opened with flash and flair. The show was designed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle with 15,000 volunteers helping take the audience through British history. The event culminated with the parade of athletes and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron for the London Games that run through Aug. 12. -- Lloyd Young (36 photos total)

The Olympic caulmdron is lit during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27 at the Olympic stadium in London (Cameron Spencer/AFP/GettyImages)
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July 27, 2012 Permalink

Apologies

There will be no Big Picture post today, due to an illness. We'll see you again on Monday.

July 25, 2012 Permalink

Ramadan 2012 begins

All over the world Muslims have begun their holiest month of the year by fasting from dawn until dusk each day, broken each evening by large, communal meals. The start of Ramadan is earlier each year because it is calculated based on the sighting of the new moon, which begins the Muslim lunar month. Muslims use the time to reevaluate their lives through the scope of Islamic doctrine. -- Lloyd Young (41 photos total)

A Palestinian reads from the Koran during the dawn prayer on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin on July 20. Muslims from Morocco to Afghanistan are steeling themselves for the toughest Ramadan in more than three decades with no food or drink, not even a sip of water, for 14 hours a day during the hottest time of the year. (Mohammed Ballas/Associated Press)
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July 23, 2012 Permalink

Aurora Colorado theater shooting

Shock, misery, and anger rose after a madman went on a rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. on Friday night. The meticulously-planned killing spree was carried out with cold efficiency as at least 70 people were shot, 12 of them fatally, in the suburban multiplex with a variety of guns. Several more remain in hospital in critical condition. Details of the gunman's weaponry, body armor, and booby-trapped apartment continue to shock and dismay as more information becomes public. The theater had been showing a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises". Several of the pictures below depict intense personal grief. Also included here are images of the crime scene, the investigation, and memorial services. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)

Storm clouds gather above a memorial for the victims in the shooting across the street from the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo. on July 22, 2012. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)
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July 20, 2012 Permalink

Downpour and drought

An unexpected downpour briefly drenched parts of the US this week, while most of the central and southern United States continued to experience drought conditions - expected to be the most expansive drought in a half century. In the South, 14 states are now baking in blast-furnace conditions - from Arizona, which is battling the largest wildfire in its history, to Florida, where fires have burned some 200,000 acres so far. More than 70 percent of the nine-state Midwest was in some stage of drought this week. More extreme heat and scant rains were expected in the area, suggesting the poorest crop conditions since the historic 1988 drought. The visual documentation of the breadth and depth of the current drought conditions has just begun. This is a small sampling of images, expect much more storytelling to come in the weeks ahead. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

People walk through heavy rain at Times Square in New York, July 18, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
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July 18, 2012 Permalink

Olympics 2012: Athletes in training

In just over a week, the years, months, days, and minutes athletes have spent training will be put on display. The 10,000 competitors who will be vying for medals in 26 different sports have begun arriving in London. Here’s a look at many of those athletes competing for a spot in the upcoming Games, which run from July 27 to Aug. 12. -- Lloyd Young (35 photos total)

Kohei Hasegawa (right) takes part in the training session for the Japan Men's wrestling team at the National Training Center on May 24 in Tokyo, Japan for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
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July 16, 2012 Permalink

Tour de France 2012: Part two

The 2012 Tour de France enters the final week with some tough climbs in the Pyrenees and a decisive individual time-trial remaining before the peloton races laps on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday. Barring surprises, leader Bradley Wiggins looks set to become the first British winner of the Tour in the 99 editions of the race to date. His main rival, Christopher Froome, isn't even trying to beat him, as they're on the same team. Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia has aggressively tried to hold his title, but Wiggins' mastery in the time trial and team strength in the mountains has left him minutes behind. An appalling and dangerous act of sabotage struck the peloton atop the Mur de Peguere as persons unknown threw upholstery tacks on the tarmac, causing Evans and around 30 other riders to flat there or on the steep descent. The Tour de France finishes in Paris after 2,173 miles on July 22. -- Lane Turner (31 photos total)

Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, speeds down Croix de Fer pass during the 11th stage of the Tour de France on July 12, 2012. (Christophe Ena/Associated Press)
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July 13, 2012 Permalink

Amarnath: Journey to the shrine of a Hindu god

Each year, Hindu devotees make a pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, near Baltal, Kashmir, India. The Amarnath Cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial, with references found in many ancient texts. According a Hindu legend, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. The cave itself is covered with snow most times of the year except for a short period in summer when it is open for pilgrims. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft). Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, which houses an ice stalagmite, worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year's two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, causing strain on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India. -- Paula Nelson (46 photos total)

Indian Hindu pilgrims rest at the beginning of the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Chandanwari, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Srinagar, India. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 meters (12,756 feet) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, June 27, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
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July 11, 2012 Permalink

San Fermin 2012: Running of the Bulls

Once again the festival in Pamplona, Spain, which dates to the16th century and is known worldwide for the controversial bullfights and harrowing Running of the Bulls over the city's cobbled streets is underway. More than a dozen people have been reported injured or gored in the five runs held so far. The nine-day San Fermin festival kicked off in the packed city square with people dousing one another with wine and water. It concludes on July 14th at midnight with singing by candlelight. -- Lloyd Young (41 photos total)

A fighting cow leaps over bull runners in the Plaza de Toros following the first Running of the Bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona on July 7. After the bull run, runners remain in the bullring and small fighting cows are released. (Joseba Etxaburu/Reuters)
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July 9, 2012 Permalink

Tour de France 2012: Part one

Equal parts travelogue, party, and sport, the Tour de France enthralls us every year with spectacular scenery and fierce competition. The 99th Tour this year covers 3,497 kilometers over 20 stages and a prologue, and can loosely be divided into three parts: the mostly-flat "sprinters'" stages in the first week, the high passes of the Alps in the second week, and the sharp ascents of the Pyrenees in the third week. Throughout, millions of fans with no need for tickets crowd the roads for the largest free sporting event and rolling party in the world, which unfolds in the world's largest stadium: the entire country of France, with bits of Belgium and Switzerland tossed in for good measure. The race itself is shaping up as a showdown between defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia and Bradley Wiggins of Britain. Disrupting matters was a devastating high-speed crash that took down almost half the peloton on stage six, already infamous as the Metz Massacre. The list of grisly injuries astonishes: broken tibia, punctured kidney, ruptured spleen, punctured lung, broken collar bone, fractured wrist, broken ribs, and more. Already almost 20 of the original 198 riders have abandoned with serious injuries from multiple crashes. Gathered here are images of the first week of the Tour, from the favorites to the domestiques, the gorgeous scenery, and the passionate fans. Thanks to photographer Veeral Patel for making his images available. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

A fan cheers on the peloton riding in the sixth stage of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race starting in Epernay and finishing in Metz in northeastern France on July 6, 2012. (Joel Saget/AFP/GettyImages)
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July 6, 2012 Permalink

Daily life: June 2012

In the post that follows for the month of June, I've collected images from many places. Single images from Guatemala, Lisbon, California, Israel, Australia, Nepal and Pakistan. Small "picture groupings" from Greece (a country in the news for the challenges it faces economically), from Pakistan (attending classes at a madrasah and outside a brick factory), from China (fun in the sand and eclectic street scenes), from Spain (the Corpus Christi procession and an intimate moment on the street), from Thailand (life in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border and lessons in an Islamic school). Visual slices of life around the world. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

A Chinese couple bury their children in the sand on a manmade beach in a Beijing park, June 16, 2012. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
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July 2, 2012 Permalink

Wildfires in western US

The western United States continues to battle a ferocious wildfire season that has seen record-breaking fires in several states. The worst of the blazes is the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado, blamed for two deaths, for forcing 35,000 residents to evacuate, and for the destruction of at lest 346 homes. The area around Colorado Springs has been declared a federal disaster area after the most destructive fire in state history. Wildfires have also destroyed property and forced evacuations in California, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico. [Editors' note: There will be no Big Picture on the Wednesday, July 4 holiday.] -- Lane Turner (38 photos total)

The Waldo Canyon fire burns an entire neighborhood near the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colo. on June 26, 2012. Colorado endured nearly a week of 100-plus-degree days and low humidity, sapping moisture from timber and grass, creating a devastating formula for volatile wildfires across the state and punishing conditions for firefighters. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Associated Press)
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