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the Big Picture

Archive for November 2010

November 29, 2010 Permalink

Rio's drug war

A small war took place last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, between Brazilian forces and hundreds of drug traffickers holed up in the shantytown complex dubbed Complexo do Alemão. After recent efforts by officials to pacify Rio's drug and gang-related violence ahead of the upcoming the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics Games, drug gangs struck out last week - attacking police stations and staging mass robberies. After days of preparation, Brazilian security forces launched a raid in the Complexo do Alemão, where between 500 and 600 drug traffickers were holed up. At least 42 people were killed in the violence last week, with security forces taking control of many neighborhoods. A relatively low number of arrests were made, and authorities warn of further conflict as continue to flush out more suspects in Rio's maze of favelas. (40 photos total)

Alleged drug traffickers who did not want to identify themselves, pose for a photo as they stand on a street at a slum in western Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Nov. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
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November 28, 2010 Permalink

The presidency of JFK, 50 years ago

Fifty years ago this month, John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States. He held the office for just over 1,000 days before his assassination, but they were significant days, and the man and his family became iconic around the world, especially capturing the imagination of Americans at home. This year, a four-year, $10 million effort to digitize the JFK Library and Museum’s archives is nearing completion, and LIFE Magazine has just released a series unpublished photos of the president. Collected here are a sampling of these photos, most from the JFK Library, some from LIFE and other press agencies, looking back 50 years ago. (26 photos total)

President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation from the Oval Office during the Berlin Crisis on July 25th, 1961. (Cecil Stoughton, White House/ John F. Kennedy Library)
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November 24, 2010 Permalink

Tension in the Koreas

Yesterday, November 23rd, North Korea fired scores of artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing at least four (two soldiers, two civilians), wounding 18 more, destroying several houses, and setting numerous fires in one of the most serious clashes between the two countries in decades. North Korea claimed it was a response to earlier shells fired by South Korea - which the South acknowledged had been fired, but as an exercise, and not into North Korean territory. 70,000 South Korean troops were beginning an annual nationwide military drill called "Safeguarding the Nation" in the area, near the spot where a South Korean naval vessel was sunk in March, killing 46 sailors - which Seoul also blamed on North Korea. This attack coupled with recent revelations about the North's nuclear capabilities and escalating threats and counter-threats have raised tensions around the region - even as athletes from both Koreas continue to compete on a world stage, against each other and other nations, in the Asian Games in China. [Editor's Note: I will be out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Next entry will be published on 11/29] (33 photos total)

This picture taken on November 23, 2010 by a South Korean tourist shows huge plumes of smoke rising from Yeonpyeong island in the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on November 23, 2010. North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on November 23, 2010, killing four people, setting homes ablaze and triggering an exchange of fire as the South's military went on top alert. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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November 22, 2010 Permalink

Shanghai apartment fire

One week ago, on November 15th, in Shanghai, China, a fire erupted, apparently within construction materials and scaffolding surrounding an occupied 30-story apartment building under renovation. The flames quickly spread to the building itself and soon engulfed the entire structure. Workers and residents scattered down scaffolding, or climbed to the roof, attempting to escape the smoke and flames. Unfortunately, 58 people were unable to escape, losing their lives, and 70 more were injured in the blaze, which was contained within four hours. A number of individuals are now in custody, including some unlicensed welders. The Shanghai government has also taken responsibility for the fire and lax safety oversight, and China has just ordered a nationwide overhaul of fire-control measures. Yesterday was the seventh day after the fire, an important day in China's traditional mourning process. (32 photos total)

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a building in Shanghai, China on November 15, 2010. (REUTERS/Aly Song)
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November 19, 2010 Permalink

National Geographic's Photography Contest 2010

National Geographic is once again holding their annual Photo Contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 30th. For the past eight weeks, they have been gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to rate them as well. National Geographic was again kind enough to let me choose some of their entries from 2010 for display here on The Big Picture. Collected below are 47 images from the three categories of People, Places and Nature. Captions were written by the individual photographers. (47 photos total)

Kanana Camp, Botswana. Pulling over by the side of the road to watch a grazing giraffe, we spotted an amber head lurking behind a small mound. A hungry lioness. Watching, waiting, camera to my eye, she eventually chose her moment and pounced just as the giraffe sensed danger. The lioness gave chase, but failed. Hungry, she lay down, invisible, in the grass not ten feet from us and waited again. (Photo and caption by Alex Tan)
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November 17, 2010 Permalink

In Protest

Taking their desires to be heard to the streets, thousands of protesters and demonstrators around the world have recently been marching, shouting, praying, and engaging in both theater and violence to make their points. From quiet, prayerful requests for peace in Mexico to the violent takeover of an office building in London to student demonstrators in Chile and gay rights activists making a statement to the Pope in Spain, the past two weeks has been full of protest. Their reasons are many - anger with austerity measures, frustration with incumbent governments and globalization, frustration with policies in other countries - even protests against other protesters. Collected here is a view of protests and demonstrations around the world over the past two weeks. (50 photos total)

An activist from the women rights organization "Femen" shouts at an Interior Ministry officer as she takes part in a rally to support Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, by the Iranian embassy in Kiev, November 3, 2010. Ashtiani, whose sentence of execution by stoning for adultery provoked a worldwide outcry, will instead be hanged for the murder of her husband, a human rights group said. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)
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November 15, 2010 Permalink

Hajj 2010

Yesterday marked the start of the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Press Agency said that a record number of Muslims were expected to make the Hajj this year - over 3.4 million anticipated over the five days of the pilgrimage. One of the pillars of Islamic faith, the Hajj must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by any Muslim who has the ability to do so. Pilgrims perform a series of rituals including walking around the Kaaba, standing vigil on Mount Arafat and a ritual Stoning of the Devil. At the end of the Hajj, on November 16th, the three day festival of Eid al-Adha begins around the world. (34 photos total)

A Muslim pilgrim prays atop Mount Al-Noor during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca November 9, 2010. (REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
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November 12, 2010 Permalink

2010 Asian Games Opening Ceremony

Earlier today, in Guangzhou, China, the Opening Ceremony for the 16th Asian Games took place, with lavish stagecraft, costumes, fireworks and performers welcoming participants. Some 14,000 athletes from 45 countries and territories will compete in 42 sporting disciplines until November 27. Collected here are colorful scenes from Guangzhou, China. (29 photos total)

Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony for the 16th Asian Games Guangzhou 2010 at Haixinsha Square on November 12, 2010 in Guangzhou, China. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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November 12, 2010 Permalink

Veterans Day 2010

Yesterday was Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, when on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month", in 1918, the armistice was signed for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front at the end of World War I. The date is now observed by many of the allied nations from that era as Veterans Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Poppy Day - a day set aside to commemorate the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces and their families. Collected below are photos of Veterans and Remembrance Day from the United States and several Commonwealth nations. (37 photos total)

The shadow of Vietnam veteran Bud Moore of Fort Lauderdale, Florida falls on the Vietnam Memorial wall, which pays tribute to servicemen killed in the Vietnam War, on Veterans Day, November 11, 2010 in Washington, DC. Moore served in Quang Tri from 1968-1969. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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November 10, 2010 Permalink

2010 World Fencing Championships

From November 4th through the 11th, 950 athletes from 110 countries are meeting in Paris, France for the 2010 World Fencing Championships. The annual event welcomes contestants to the historic Grand Palais in Paris this year, to participate in foil, épée, and sabre events. Collected here are several images from the first half of the 2010 competition. (33 photos total)

Maureen Nisima (left) of France and Tatiana Logournova of Russia compete during their semi-final of the epee competition at the 2010 the World Fencing Championships at the Grand Palais in Paris, France on November 8, 2010. (REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen)
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November 8, 2010 Permalink

Mount Merapi's eruptions

Since its initial eruptions on October 25th, Indonesia's Mount Merapi continues to spew hot gases and ash as far as 5,000 meters into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on surrounding villages and farms, and disrupting air travel - and more than 140 people have been killed by the eruptions over the past two weeks. Hundreds of thousands of residents have been displaced, many of them living in temporary shelters until the Indonesian government reduces the existing 20 km "safe zone", and allows them and their livestock to return. Collected here are recent images from the area near the unpredictable Mount Merapi as it still rumbles and erupts. (39 photos total)

A farmer stands in a rice field as volcanic material from Mount Merapi erupts, in Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
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November 5, 2010 Permalink

Great Migrations

Move as millions, survive as one. That is the subtitle to the new seven-part television series from National Geographic called "Great Migrations". Animals great and small are on the move around the world, chasing resources in dangerous journeys that might take mere hours or span generations. To capture the images and video for the series, they spent two and a half years in the field, traveling 420,000 miles across 20 countries and all seven continents. The fine folks at National Geographic have been kind enough to share with us some images from "Great Migrations: Official Companion Book" below. Great Migrations premieres in the U.S. on Sunday, November 7 on the National Geographic Channel. (29 photos total)

Going to sea on the Antarctic Peninsula, Gentoo penguins line up and quickly dive in together. (© National Geographic/Paul Nicklen)
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November 3, 2010 Permalink

Haiti, ten months later

It has now been nearly ten months since the devastating January earthquake struck Haiti, reducing Port-au-Prince to rubble and claiming over 300,000 lives. In the time since, Haiti's government, the United Nations, and many other aid agencies have struggled just to keep the population healthy and fed as it tries get back on its feet. Recent weeks have seen an outbreak of cholera, which has killed more than 300 people. The cholera strain is not native to Haiti, and reportedly matches strains found in South Asia, placing suspicion on U.N. personnel from that area who were stationed nearby. Some 1.3 million people are still crammed into thousands of makeshift camps dotted around the capital, leaving them vulnerable to both disease outbreaks and the elements - of particular concern as Tropical Storm Tomas now approaches, and may grow to Hurricane strength by landfall on Friday. (42 photos total)

A rooster stands on the roof of an abandoned aircraft in a camp set up for Jan. 12 earthquake victims on an abandoned air strip in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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November 1, 2010 Permalink

Afghanistan, October, 2010

With the U.S. troop surge now nearing its peak in Afghanistan, more than 150,000 US and international troops are now on the ground. 64 of those troops lost their lives this month, as forces pushed hard into the southern Kandahar Province, traditionally the heartland of the Taliban. At the same time, preliminary discussions are beginning to take place between the inner circle of President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Part of the current coalition strategy is to continue applying pressure on the Taliban in the fields, and encouraging their leaders to participate in hoped-for settlement talks. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (48 photos total)

Afghan firemen hose down a burning oil tanker after an explosive device planted underneath it exploded, on the Jalalabad-Torkham highway, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, October 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
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