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Archive for August 2010

August 30, 2010 Permalink

Ramadan 2010

Muslim men and women across the world are currently observing Ramadan, a month long celebration of self-purification and restraint. During Ramadan, the Muslim community fast, abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sex between sunrise and sunset. Muslims break their fast after sunset with an evening meal called Iftar, where a date is the first thing eaten followed by a traditional meal. During this time, Muslims are also encouraged to read the entire Quran, to give freely to those in need, and strengthen their ties to God through prayer. The goal of the fast is to teach humility, patience and sacrifice, and to ask forgiveness, practice self-restraint, and pray for guidance in the future. This year, Ramadan will continue until Thursday, September 9th. [Editor's note: This year, I invite you to submit your own Ramadan 2010 photos] (45 photos total)

With the Dome of the Rock Mosque seen in the background, a Palestinian Muslim worshiper prays during the third Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
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August 27, 2010 Permalink

Remembering Katrina, five years ago

Sunday, August 29, 2010 will mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in Louisiana. Five years ago, Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, centered on New Orleans, as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). More than fifty levees were breached by its storm surge, causing massive flooding. Over 1,800 Gulf Coast residents lost their lives then, and damages totaled more than $80 billion - the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Many intangible things were damaged then as well, communities were erased as their neighborhoods washed away, much of historic New Orleans was badly damaged, and frustration and anger remain towards an inadequate immediate response by the U.S. government. Collected here are images from five years ago, as well as some from the past few weeks, in New Orleans and the surrounding area. (49 photos total)

In this Aug. 31, 2005 picture, Rhonda Braden walks through the destruction in her childhood neighborhood in Long Beach, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
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August 20, 2010 Permalink

Russia in color, a century ago

With images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time - when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948. (34 photos total)

An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey), circa 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC)
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August 18, 2010 Permalink

Now that the oil well is capped...

Between April 20 and July 15, 2010, a generally accepted estimate of nearly 5 million barrels (200 million gallons) of crude oil emerged from the wellhead drilled into the seafloor by BP from the now-destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Now that the flow of oil has been stopped, the impact of all the spilled oil and natural gas is still being measured. The current moratorium on deep water remains in place as reports from varying scientific groups are at odds about the extent of the remaining oil, and some fishing restrictions have already been lifted. As BP finalizes its work in killing the well, here is a collection of photos from around the Gulf of Mexico over the past couple of months, as all of those affected enter the next phase of this event. (42 photos total)

Waves partially obscure the Development Driller II at left, and the Development Driller III, which are drilling the relief wells, at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast on Thursday, July 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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August 16, 2010 Permalink

Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics

On Saturday, Singapore welcomed young athletes from around the world in a ceremony opening the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. This is the first ever Summer Youth Olympics, an event designed to be celebrated in the same tradition of the Olympic Games - the major difference being that the competitors are all between 14 and 18 years of age. This year, 3,500 athletes from more than 200 countries are competing in 184 events in 26 sports. Collected here are some photographs of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, which will run until its closing ceremony on August 26th. (37 photos total)

Darren Choy of Singapore carries the Youth Olympic torch on his way to ignite the Youth Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Youth Olympics at The Float at Marina Bay on August 14, 2010 in Singapore. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
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August 13, 2010 Permalink

Landslides strike Zhouqu County, China

At midnight on Sunday, August 8th, a temporary lake caused by a recent landslide broke loose above the town of Zhouqu, in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, China. The outflow slid down the valley as a wall of mud, wiping out houses and muli-story buildings, and killing at least 1,144 residents - with over 600 still reported as missing. More than 10,000 soldiers and rescuers arrived soon to comb through the mountains of mud that buried several parts of Zhouqu County. Engineers also worked to blast the debris that had passed through the town to partially block the Bailong River, causing further flooding. Collected here are images of the landslide-affected area of northwestern China, part of a series of disasters in Asia caused by recent heavy rains. (41 photos total)

The landslide-hit town of Zhouqu in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, China on August 9, 2010. Chinese rescuers armed with little more than shovels and hoes hunted for survivors of a huge mudslide, as relatives of the missing trekked into the disaster zone to look for their loved ones. (REUTERS/Aly Song)
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August 11, 2010 Permalink

Continuing Pakistani floods

The United Nations has now estimated that Pakistan will need billions of dollars to recover from its worst floods in 80 years - further straining a country already dependent on foreign aid to prop up its economy and back its war against Islamist militants. Over 60,000 troops are involved in flood relief operations trying to assist nearly 14 million people who are now affected by the flooding. The U.N. has just launched an appeal for $459 million in immediate aid, as Pakistanis have become more frustrated with their government's response and President Asif Ali Zardari's trip to Europe. [This entry is part II of a double-issue today, part I about Russia here] Collected here are recent photographs of Pakistanis as they continue to cope with their flooded country. [See previous entry]. (36 photos total)

A man marooned by flood waters, alongside his livestock, waves towards an Army helicopter for relief handouts in the Rajanpur district of Pakistan's Punjab province on August 9, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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August 11, 2010 Permalink

Continuing Russian wildfires

Though many have been contained, wildfires continue to rage throughout many parts of Russia. In a new twist to the situation, officials have confirmed that some forests that were contaminated with radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster have now burned, but it was unclear what danger the smoke from such wildfires could pose. Monitoring stations have not registered any increase in radioactivity as yet. Recent windy conditions have temporarily cleared the smoke from Moscow's skies, but it could possibly return soon. The area of burning forests in Russia is now 927 sq km (358 sq mi), down from from 1,740 sq km (676 sq m) only 24 hours ago. The economic costs of the fires are now estimated at up to 15 billion dollars. [This entry is part I of a double-issue today, part II about Pakistan is here]. Collected here are recent photographs from the Russian wildfires. [See previous entry]. (36 photos total)

Light shines through forest fire smoke near a Russian Orthodox church 30km from Moscow in Zelenaya Sloboda late on August 3, 2010. (ARTYOM KOROTAYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 9, 2010 Permalink

In silhouette

A photography technique that frequently catches my eye is the use of silhouette - placing a subject directly between a primary light source and the camera. The effect can be painterly or haunting or evocative. It can break a subject down to basic ideas conveyed only by line and shape, where an individual might appear iconic. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs from around the world, where we can only see the outlines of the subject, our minds (and the captions) are left to fill in any details in the darkness. (37 photos total)

A child plays with water in a fountain at a park in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, July 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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August 6, 2010 Permalink

Severe flooding in Pakistan

It is only the start of the monsoon season, but already Pakistan is experiencing some of the worst flooding it has seen in over 80 years. Entire villages have been washed away, an early estimate of over 1,600 deaths so far and over 2 million displaced or otherwise affected. Not only is the immediate water damage causing havoc, the floods have inundated crop-producing areas, dealing a crippling blow to the agricultural-based economy and threatening a food crisis. The Pakistani government now struggles to rescue and provide aid to millions - while still fighting with militant Islamist forces in many of the hardest-hit regions. With even more heavy rains predicted in the coming days, here are a handful of recent photographs of Pakistanis as they cope with this latest disaster. (41 photos total)

A boy hangs on to the front of a cargo truck while passing through a flooded road in Risalpur, located in Nowshera District in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province July 30, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
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August 4, 2010 Permalink

Same-sex marriage

This afternoon, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker will publish his decision on whether to uphold or overturn the California voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act) that would insert language into the state constitution saying that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." [Update: Proposition 8 was just overturned.] Walker's ruling is one of a number of recent decisions made by voters and governments around the world affecting the ability of same-sex couples to marry legally. Around the U.S., several states are challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage act, both Washington DC and Mexico City legalized same-sex weddings last March, and on July 15th, Argentina became the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex marriage. Collected here are a handful of recent photos of couples in several countries, all in the process of getting married. (26 photos total)

Argentine actor Ernesto Larrese (right) and his partner, actor manager Alejandro Vannelli, kiss each other after getting married in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 30, 2010. Larrese and Vanelli were the first gay couple to be married at the Argentine capital after President Cristina Fernandez signed a new law on July 21 making Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 2, 2010 Permalink

Russian wildfires

Last month, Russia endured the hottest July ever recorded since records began 130 years ago. The intense heat and drought affecting central Russia has been drying out trees and peat marshes, which have been catching fire recently, burning forests, fields and houses across a massive region. Some 500 new fires have been reported in the last 24 hours alone, and a mobilization of hundreds of thousands of emergency workers is underway to combat them. President Dmitry Medvedev has now declared a state of emergency in seven regions. To date, over 1,500 homes have been destroyed and 40 lives have been lost. as wildfires continue across over 300,000 acres. (38 photos total)

A soldier walks past birches, which are charred, damaged by fire on the outskirts of the Russian city of Voronezh on July 30, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)
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