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Archive for January 2010

January 29, 2010 Permalink

Afghanistan, January, 2010

As the surge of 30,000 U.S. troops continues to pour into Afghanistan, the Obama administration is now considering the possibility of reconciling with some of the Taliban, reintegrating the soldiers into society, as a way to find an end to this long conflict. The plan is supported by Afghan president Hamid Karzai, although discussions are still in the very early stages. A recent United Nations report found that violence in Afghanistan claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Afghan civilians in the year 2009. While this is the largest annual death toll for noncombatants since the U.S. led invasion eight years ago, the report found that the majority of deaths had been caused by Taliban attacks. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (42 photos total)

An Afghan man walks on the street as the sun sets over Delaram district in Nimroz province, southern Afghanistan on January 20, 2010. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)
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January 27, 2010 Permalink

Fiery European Festivals

Today, we have two stories of fiery festivals in Europe, Up Helly Aa, a fire festival celebrated for over 130 years now in Scotland's Shetland islands, and the even older Feast of Saint Anthony the Great, in San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, where residents ride their horses and mules through purifying bonfires. (22 photos total)

At left, a member of the "Jarl Squad" in Viking costume stands near others as they gather around a burning Viking ship during the traditional "Up Helly Aa" festival, in Lerwick on the Shetland Isles, Scotland, Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010. (AP Photo / Danny Lawson, PA) -- At right, a man rides a horse through a purifying bonfire in San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010, in honor of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
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January 25, 2010 Permalink

At work, part II

Although the global economic downturn no longer appears to be heading off a cliff, signs of stability or recovery are still sporadic and tenuous. As news stories look for signs of of the direction of economic indicators, photographs fill the wires of people working from all over. Once more, I've collected some of these disparate photos over the past couple of months, composing another global portrait we humans at work around the world. [see also At Work - 02/09] (45 photos total)

A worker rotates a gas turbine during assembly at the Siemens gas turbine factory on January 8, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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January 22, 2010 Permalink

Faces of Haiti

Ten days after the massive earthquake in Haiti, some 80,000 of the estimated 200,000 dead have been buried, two million residents now find themselves homeless, and hundreds of thousands of them are now trying to flee the capital city. Rescue crews are beginning to abandon hope of finding any further survivors in the rubble - the last person to be pulled out alive was on was rescued on Wednesday, the 20th. Aid agencies are still ramping up their efforts - the Red Cross alone has deployed what it calls its greatest deployment of emergency responders in its 91-year history. Collected here are some closer looks into recent events in Haiti, seen through the faces of the survivors and the recently-arrived security, rescue and care workers [ Also see earlier entries: 1, 2, 3]. (46 photos total)

A Haitian man washes the face of his wounded family member as he is treated at the Israeli army hospital on January 18, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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January 20, 2010 Permalink


Sought after since the beginning of recorded history, gold remains a highly valued metal, reaching record highs recently, climbing over 135% in value in the past year alone. The recent rise in the price of gold comes just as annual worldwide mine production has decreased - down by nearly 8% since 2001. In human history, only 161,000 tons of gold have been mined - more than half of that extracted in just the past 50 years. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs of people searching for, mining, rediscovering, celebrating, buying and selling gold. (37 photos total)

A visitor touches the world's largest solid gold brick weighing 220kg (worth over US $7.8 million at today's price), at the Jinguashi Gold Museum in Ruifang, Taipei county, on December 2, 2009. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 18, 2010 Permalink

Haiti six days later

Haiti remains a place of profound need, anguish, desperation and danger, with a few glimmers of hope and slowly growing capabilities to receive and distribute the international aid now flowing in. Sporadic looting, sometimes violent, was met with force by security oficials and ordinary citizens, resulting in a number of further deaths and injuries. The tenuous security situation has led to at least one temporary evacuation of a medical facility, to protect the care-givers. Despite the long time since the earthquake, at least five people were pulled from the rubble alive this weekend, including a young girl trapped inside a supermarket who was fortunately surrounded by food, and survived on fruit snacks. (38 photos total)

People run toward a U.S. helicopter as it makes a water drop near a country club used as a forward operating base for the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. Relief groups and officials are focused on moving aid flowing into Haiti to survivors of the powerful earthquake that hit the country on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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January 15, 2010 Permalink

Fire and Ice

For today's entry, an exercise in contrasts: Fire and Ice. Fire can be a life-sustaining, constructive element, or, at worst, a powerfully destructive force - something we humans continue to use, play with, and struggle to control. Ice is closer to the natural state of the universe, cold, still and lifeless. Earth's orbit lies in a "Goldilocks zone" where we may seasonally experience icy environments, but never freeze completely. Collected here are several recent alternating photographs from around the world of both Fire and Ice. (40 photos total)

Members of the public enjoy a late afternoon walk on the frozen Lake of Menteith, on January 4, 2010 in Scotland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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January 14, 2010 Permalink

Haiti 48 hours later

Two days after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck beneath Port-au-Prince, Haiti, some of the massive damage is becoming more apparent. Rescue teams are arriving, aid groups are trying their best to battle huge logistical challenges, bodies are being identified, and some medical care is being given. Rescue teams from all over the world have joined the recovery effort, as the United States pledged $100 million in relief efforts. The Red Cross ventured an estimate of up to 50,000 deaths, as bodies at the local morgues overflowed into the streets. Collected here are some more scenes from this devastated region - see yesterday's entry as well. (34 photos total)

Residents watch as heavy machinery razes a destroyed building after a major earthquake hit the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, January 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
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January 13, 2010 Permalink

Earthquake in Haiti

Tuesday afternoon, January 12th, the worst earthquake in 200 years - 7.0 in magnitude - struck less than ten miles from the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds were damaged or collapsed, from shantytown homes to national landmarks. It is still very early in the recovery effort, but millions are likely displaced, and thousands are feared dead as rescue teams from all over the world are now descending on Haiti to help where they are able. As this is a developing subject, I will be adding photos to this entry over the next few days, but at the moment, here is a collection of photos from Haiti over the past 24 hours. [See also Haiti 48 hours later]. (48 photos total)

This photo provided by Carel Pedre shows people running past rubble of a damaged building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area shook Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help. (AP Photo/Carel Pedre)
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January 11, 2010 Permalink

Dakar Rally 2010

The 31st running of the Dakar Rally is being held in South America for the second year, instead of the traditional African route, due to ongoing security concerns. This year's race began and will end in Buenos Aires, covering a looping 9,000 kilometers between Argentina and Chile over 14 stages. 362 Teams began the race with 176 motorcycles and quad bikes, 134 cars, and 52 trucks. The race is just over halfway completed now, the winners expected to cross the finish line on January 16th. Collected here are several photographs from the first 8 stages of this year's rally. (37 photos total)

Spain's Gerard Farres Guell kicks up sand with his Aprilia during the 4th stage of the Dakar 2010 between Fiambala, Argentina, and Copiapo, Chile on January 5, 2010. Spain's Marc Coma won the stage, France's David Casteu took the second place and France's Cyril Despres the third. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 8, 2010 Permalink

Images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was launched in June, 2009, and is currently orbiting the Moon around its poles at a low altitude of just 50 kilometers (31 miles). The primary objective of the LRO is to prepare for future lunar exploration, scouting for safe and compelling landing sites, potential resources (like water ice) and more. The high-quality imagery used in the mapping of the lunar surface is unprecedented, and a few early images have included detailed overviews of the landing sites of several Apollo missions, some 40 years after they took place. LRO is now on a one year mission, with possible extensions up to five years. Collected here are several recent LRO images, and a few then-and-now comparisons of Apollo landing sites. (18 photos total)

Near the lunar north pole, many craters on the floor of Peary crater experience permanent shadow inside, and some have permanent illumination on the higher crater rims. Peary is a key exploration site for future astronauts due its proximity to potential resources. Image height is 9 km (5.5 mi). Image acquired July 11th, 2009. More (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)
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January 6, 2010 Permalink

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

In frigid northeastern China, in the city of Harbin is hosting its 26th annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Massive buildings built of ice from the frozen surface of the nearby Songhua River, large scale snow sculptures, ice slides, festival food and drinks can be found in several parks in the city. At night, visitors who endure the bitter cold will see the lights switched on, illuminating the sculptures from both inside and outside. This year's festival opened yesterday, January 5th, and will remain open until some time in February. Collected here are several photos from just before the festival, and of the opening night. (31 photos total)

A tourist visits an ice sculpture for the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at a park in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China on January 3, 2010, (REUTERS/Aly Song)
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January 4, 2010 Permalink

Three days in Iran

Supporters of the opposition to Iran's current ruling regime continue to gather, speak out, and protest - despite the risks of imprisonment, injury or death, and the continued official restrictions on foreign media coverage. On December 21st, 2009, thousands of Iranians attended a funeral ceremony for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran's reform movement, who had passed away at the age of 87. In the days following the funeral, mourners and protesters took to the streets defying an official ban on such memorial services. On the Muslim holy day of Ashoura, December 27th, protesters and riot police clashed in multiple locations in Tehran, leaving many injured and between 8 and 37 protesters killed, including the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Days later, on December 30th, the Iranian government organized its own protest - against the opposition - giving all civil servants the day off to attend, providing dozens of buses and free chocolate milk for demonstrators. Collected here are photos from the three days, most taken by anonymous photographers, acquired outside the country by press agencies who are restricted by the government ban. (33 photos total)

Two pro-reform Iranian women attend the funeral ceremony of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran's reform movement, as they wear green headbands, the symbolic color of Iranian opposition, in the holy city of Qom, 125 km (78 mi) south of the capital Tehran, Iran on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. Montazeri, who died Sunday at the age of 87, was a key figure in the 1979 Islamic Revolution who later accused his fellow clerical leaders of imposing dictatorship in the name of Islam. (AP Photo)
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January 1, 2010 Permalink

Welcoming 2010

People all around the world gathered in groups large and small last night to usher out the previous year, and welcome the arrival of 2010. Under a rare New Year's Eve Blue Moon, crowds watched fireworks, cheered, made resolutions, and counted down to midnight. 2010 is the year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac, signifying a year of bravery and courage. Collected here are some photographs of people across the earth as they welcomed the new year in many different ways. (38 photos total)

Fireworks explode beside the London Eye and The Houses of Parliament on the River Thames during New Year celebrations in London January 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)
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