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Archive for September 2010

September 30, 2010 Permalink

Human landscapes in SW Florida

A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a story by NPR's Planet Money team about "Toxie" a toxic asset they had purchased to follow and help tell the story of the recent financial meltdown. One of the mortgages in Toxie was on a home bought for investment in Bradenton, Florida, and the team took a look at housing in the area. Many homes there are empty and have been for years. Huge developments sit partially completed among densely built up neighborhoods and swampland. A guest stated that there were "enough housing lots in Charlotte County to last for more than 100 years". Boom and bust residential development has drastically affected parts of southwest Florida for decades now, and I spent some time (with the help of Google Earth), looking around the area. With permission from the fine folks at Google, here are a few glimpses at development in southwest Florida. (26 photos total)

A section of a partially built residential project with only two houses in place, near Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)
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September 29, 2010 Permalink

Afghanistan, September, 2010

This month, Afghanistan held parliamentary elections with nearly 2,500 candidates for 249 seats. Turnout was very light under threat of violence from the Taliban, and accusations of fraud are widespread. Afghan President Karzai announced the formation of a 70-member peace council, a step towards formal discussions with the Taliban. And American and Afghan troops have now begun active combat in an offensive to drive the Taliban out of their strongholds surrounding the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. With 51 more coalition troops killed this month, the total number of deaths for coalition troops in 2010 reached 541 compared with 521 for all of 2009. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (47 photos total)

An Italian soldier of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stands guard as an Afghan boy aims a toy pistol inside Herat's prison, in western Afghanistan on September 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
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September 27, 2010 Permalink

Fall is in the air

Autumn is here (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). This year, the full moon and the autumnal equinox happened on the same day, for the first time in 19 years. Evenings now come sooner and the air cools more quickly, leaves are beginning to change, crops are being harvested, harvest festivals are being held, and animals and nomads are on the move to their winter grounds. Collected here are a handful of recent images of early autumn around the northern half of our world. (35 photos total)

A maple tree shows its fall colors on Friday, September 17th, 2010, in Woodstock, Maine. A vast network of county foresters, volunteers and others contribute their observations to state tourism officials, who in turn work up "foliage forecasts" published online and elsewhere to let leaf-peepers know where to find the best fall foliage. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
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September 24, 2010 Permalink

Scenes from China

The past several months in China have brought devastating floods, a mysterious North Korean jet crash, the Mid-Autumn festival, crackdowns on gambling and much more. A country with nearly the same land area as the United States, China is home to over a billion more people than the U.S. (1.3 billion to be more precise), and as it grows economically, it is grappling with environmental, social and political issues that affect people and places around the world. Collected here, from the past several months, are photographs from around China, the land and the people - their daily lives, challenges, work and play. (43 photos total)

Tourists climb the Singing Sand Dunes near the Crescent Moon Spring on July 20, 2010 in Jiuquan of Gansu Province China. The Crescent Moon Spring, named after its unique moon-like shape, is located at the north foot of the Singing Sand Dunes, about 50 meters (164 feet) from north to south and 5 meters (16 feet) deep on an average. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
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September 22, 2010 Permalink

Animals in the news

Today we have a recent roundup of animals making the news - from the study of newly identified species to genetic modification, to racing, hunting, play, rescue and preservation. From a minuscule frog to an albino whale, fluorescent fish to a deep-sea Chimera, collected here are a handful of recent photographs of animals and our interactions with them, as companions, caretakers, observers, hunters and stewards. (57 photos total)

A dragonfish with teeth on both jaws and tongue is pictured in this image provided by the Census for Marine Life. even has teeth on its tongue. Though terrifying in appearance, the fish are only about the size of a banana. (AP Photo/Dr. Julian Finn, Museum Victoria, Census for Marine Life)
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September 20, 2010 Permalink

Oktoberfest 2010

On Saturday, September 18th, with the tapping of the first keg by Munich Mayor Christian Ude and a cry of "O'zapft is!", Oktoberfest 2010 officially started in Munich, Germany. While this year marks the 177th Oktoberfest to be held, 2010 is the 200th anniversary of the very first Oktoberfest in 1810 (some years were missed due to war or cholera outbreaks). The Oktoberfest tradition started in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over five days on the fields in front of the city gates. This year, festivities will run until October 4, 2010. Collected here are a few images from this opening weekend. (40 photos total)

A young woman wearing a traditional Bavarian "Dirndl" smiles as she receives a mug of beer in the Hofbrauhaus tent after the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, southern Germany, on September 18, 2010. (Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 17, 2010 Permalink

Mexico's Bicentennial

This week, Mexico commemorated the 200th anniversary of the beginning of its War of Independence. In September of 1810, a Mexican priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla uttered a call to arms against the Spanish, later known as the Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores"). Soon after began a series of battles with the Spanish that would build into a war that lasted over a decade, eventually resulting in independence. This bicentennial year, tens of thousands of Mexicans thronged the streets of Mexico City to celebrate. The celebrations took place under a somewhat subdued light though, amid the violence of a brutal nationwide drug war and vocal criticism of government spending on the lavish ceremonies. Collected here are photos of this week's celebration of 200 years of Mexican independence. (42 photos total)

Members of the military wearing traditional clothing, take part in a rehearsal ahead of Mexico's bicentennial Independence parade in Mexico City on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
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September 15, 2010 Permalink

Around the Solar System

With dozens of spacecraft currently orbiting, roving or otherwise and traveling through our solar system, I thought it would be interesting to get a general snapshot in time, using images from NASA and ESA spacecraft near Mercury, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Saturn and a few in-transit to further destinations. Collected here are recent images gathered from around our solar system, at scales ranging from mere centimeters to millions of kilometers. (32 photos total)

On Sept. 8, 2010, a C3-class solar flare erupts from the Sun. Just as a sunspot was turning away from Earth on Sept. 8, the active region erupted, producing a solar flare and a fantastic prominence. The eruption also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection into space. (NASA/SDO)
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September 13, 2010 Permalink

9/11 in 2010, Remembrance and Rebuilding

Last Saturday, September 11th, people all over the United States and the world took time to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania nine years ago. Progress on the rebuilding of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is now becoming more evident as One World Trade Center topped 36 stories recently, on its way to 1,776 feet by 2012. The building, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is now growing at a rate of one floor per week, after years of political, security and financing issues plagued the $11 billion multi-building project. A push is underway in both New York and Pennsylvania to complete memorial projects before next year's 10th anniversary. Collected here are photos from this weekend's memorials and of the rebuilding progress so far. (42 photos total)

Two-year-old Luke Pavlenishzili, riding on the shoulders of his father George Pavlenishzili, offers a rose to New York firefighter Joe Huber, who was standing at the reflecting pool at ground zero during a memorial service commemorating the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Chang W. Lee)
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September 10, 2010 Permalink

Ramadan 2010 - your images

Two weeks ago, I invited you, the readers of The Big Picture, to submit your own images of Ramadan 2010. It was an experiment, I was hoping for high quality, personal images and was not disappointed. Over 250 submissions came in from around the world, and I thank every one of you for participating. On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of this year's Ramadan, I present the following collection of reader-submitted photographs - and invite you to see Ramadan through their eyes. Captions written by the photographers. (41 photos total)

An elderly husband and wife read from the Quran together near Orlando, Florida on September 5th, 2010. Along with prayers, reading from the Quran is especially emphasized during the last ten days of Ramadan. (© Sammy Abusrur)
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September 8, 2010 Permalink

Trapped in a Chilean mine

Over a month ago, on August 5, 2010, the roof of the San Jose copper and gold mine collapsed, trapping 33 miners inside, 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground near Copiapo, Chile. The fate of the miners was not immediately known - it took 17 days before a drill reached their refuge, discovering them alive and well. Rescue work began immediately, but even with several concurrent plans underway, the quickest likely rescue will still take two to three months. Until then, the 33 men will have to endure high temperatures and humidity in isolated conditions. A video link has been established, many relatives have set up camp nearby, and food, air, messages and supplies are delivered by several narrow boreholes. Fluorescent lights with timers are to be sent down to attempt to keep the men on a normal schedule by imitating day and night as they care for each other and assist in their own rescue. Once it reaches them, the diameter of the rescue borehole will be very narrow. so each miner will have to ensure they have a waistline of no more than 90 cm (35 in) to escape. (42 photos total)

Relatives wait outside a collapsed mine where about 33 miners are trapped in Copiapo, Chile, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
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September 6, 2010 Permalink

Pakistan in need

The devastating floods that have rolled through Pakistan for over a month now have left a disaster of massive scale in their wake. For a time, an area the size of England was submerged - one fifth of all the land in Pakistan. Although immediate loss of life remains relatively low (near 2,000 according to reports), damages from loss exceed $43 billion, almost one quarter of Pakistan's GDP. As the waters recede Nearly 9 million acres (3.6 million hectares) of existing crops are gone, 1.2 million livestock and 6 million poultry killed, and 17 million of Pakistan's 167 million people affected. It can be difficult to imagine individual stories of need when presented with such huge numbers, to see oneself in another's shoes when their overall predicament seems so vast and dire. Hopefully this collection of photographs from just the past week in Pakistan can help convey some of the stories behind the numbers. One way you can help is by texting "SWAT" to 50555 from your mobile phone to give $10 to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) - more ways to help linked below entry. (43 photos total)

Internally displaced Pakistani women wait for relief goods in Larkana on September 3, 2010. Relief efforts in flood-ravaged Pakistan are being stretched by the "unprecedented scale" of the disaster, while funding has almost stalled, the UN said on September 2. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 3, 2010 Permalink

Diving in

As summer begins to wind down, the temperature still remains high in some places (in the Northern hemisphere, of course). Cool waters call out to those who would leap in, momentarily letting gravity have its way with them, pulling them down as they flail, shout or twist. Collected here are a handful of photos of divers around the world, showing their professional artistry, daredevil bravado, or just simple joy as they take the plunge. (36 photos total)

Alves Jucelino of Brazil dives 25m (82 ft) from the top of Roche Dam during the World Cup Cliff Diving Race in Bardonecchia, about 100km (65 mi) northwest of Turin, northern Italy on August 11, 2010. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
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September 1, 2010 Permalink

Afghanistan, August, 2010

With four months left in the year, 2010 is already the deadliest year yet for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 321 have been killed so far (out of 485 total coalition deaths), compared with 313 deaths in all of 2009. As coalition troop size has increased, and moves have been made into Taliban strongholds, attacks are on the rise, and, according to General David Petraeus, "the footprint of the Taliban has spread". As combat operations in Iraq have now ended, the Obama administration says it will focus even more of its attention on the nearly 9-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. This month marks the 12th entry in the series - I've been putting these together for one year now, and see no reason to stop any time soon. (42 photos total)

Abdul Qahar, an interpreter with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, finds one of the few shaded spots during Operation Big Wave in Khanagawr, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2010. During the operation the men spent two days in direct sunlight with temperatures reaching more than 120 degrees. The operation was conducted to disrupt the enemy from using supply lines to bring weapons and fighters into Nawa. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Mark Fayloga)
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