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the Big Picture

Archive for March 2011

March 30, 2011 Permalink

Faces of the displaced

For more than a month, refugees have been fleeing the violence and uncertainty of Libya into Tunisia. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has reported nearly 180,000 people have fled -- a rate of 2,000 a day. Most end up at border transit camps, desperately trying to find a way home. Here are the faces of a few of them. -- Lloyd Young (39 photos total)

A Sudanese migrant fleeing the unrest in Libya holds her child as she walks at the Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir on March 2. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)(credit)
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March 28, 2011 Permalink

Earth Hour 2011

People, governments, companies, and organizations observed Earth Hour 2011 as 134 countries switched off lights worldwide Saturday, March 26, at 8:30 p.m. The movement to raise awareness about energy consumption took on added relevance with a Japanese nuclear power station crippled after the earthquake and resulting tsunami there. Gathered here are a series of before-and-after photographs from this year - which (starting with the second one below) will fade between "on" and "off" when clicked. [See also: last year] This effect requires javascript to be enabled. -- Lane Turner (15 photos total)

An Indian family hold candles during an Earth Hour campaign in Mumbai on March 26, 2011. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 25, 2011 Permalink

Dog Sledding season - coming to a close

The well-known Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, held in Alaska, welcomed its first native Alaskan champion since 1976. Begun in 1973, the grueling race - through blizzards, whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures, gale-force winds - covers 1,150 miles in nine to fifteen days from Willow to Nome, Alaska. There are many other sled dog races in locations around the world, including races in Norway, British Columbia, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic, Minsk, and through the Alps of France and Switzerland. The following images are a collection from those races. -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)

A dog rests during the 1000 km (621 miles) long Finnmarkslopet, the world's northernmost sled dog race, in Finnmark county, northern Norway, March 14, 2011. (Tore Meek/Scanpix/Reuters)
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March 23, 2011 Permalink

Holi: Festival of Colors

Every year, Hindus greet the turn of winter into spring with a splash of color -- in some areas, a geyser of color. They call their celebration the festival of Holi, and Hindus across India and throughout the world share prayer, camaraderie, special food, and a general sense of mischief as they douse each other in dyes and colored water. The large festival has roots to many Hindu legends associated with the triumph of good over evil. One of the best-known stories tells the tale of the demoness Holika, who tried to kill Prahlad, the son of the demon king Hiranyakashyap, for refusing to worship his father. Instead, Holika is consumed in flames, which is replayed each year with bonfires and effigies, before the celebrants break out the hues and cries of the festival. - Lloyd Young (43 photos total)

Indians call it "playing colors" a jubilant scrum of horseplay and body painting. In Mumbai, colored powder is the weapon of choice for a pair of girls March 20. (Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press)
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March 21, 2011 Permalink

Libya: UN air strikes aid rebels

After weeks of debate, the United Nations finally approved a no-fly zone in Libya, helping rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy at perhaps the last possible moment. Rebels had been driven back by the Libyan army to their last stronghold, the eastern city of Benghazi, and appeared ready to be overrun there as well. Two nights of bombardment by coalition forces have sent the army into retreat, and a missile struck Khadafy's compound in Tripoli, but the final outcome of the conflict is far from clear. Collected here are images from the last few days of fighting. For an earlier Big Picture post on the conflict, see the links below. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
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March 18, 2011 Permalink

Japan: One week later

A week after a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami leveled large swaths of northeastern Japan, effects of the disaster are still rippling across the country and the world. Misery of the victims continues unabated, as shelter, food, water, and fuel have become dear. A nuclear facility crisis has both troops and workers scrambling to keep the situation from getting worse, while foreign governments are urging their citizens to evacuate. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Momoko Onodera prays at an evacuation center as she talks about her husband who died in the tsunami on March 18 in Kesennuma, Japan. A potential humanitarian crisis looms as nearly half a million people who have been displaced by the disaster continue to suffer a shortage of food and fuel as freezing weather conditions set in. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
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March 17, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Hopes fade for finding more survivors

As officials desperately tried to prevent disaster at a damaged nuclear facility, hopes faded for finding survivors amid the rubble as snow and cold blanketed the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan. Residents were allowed back into damaged areas for the first time since the disaster to inspect what might be left of their homes. And flights out of Japan were full as foreign nationals and others left the country. The Big Picture continues special daily coverage of the disaster through tomorrow, with later updates anticipated as events merit. -- Lane Turner (27 photos total)

Sixty-six-year-old Yoshikatsu Hiratsuka cries in front of his collapsed house with his son still missing, possibly buried in the rubble, at Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture on March 17. The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast is approaching 15,000, police said. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 16, 2011 Permalink

For Discovery, a farewell spin

Space shuttle Discovery's next mission will be to awe and inspire those who visit it at the Smithsonian Institution. NASA's workhorse shuttle was retired after completing its trip last week to the International Space Station -- that’s 39 missions covering 5,750 orbits, 150 million miles, and almost a year in space since it first lifted off in 1984. It's name was inspired by the exploring ships of the past, including one that plied the Hudson Bay in the early 1600s seeking a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Discovery carried some of NASA's most-distinguished astronauts, including Eileen Collins, the first female commander, Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian to fly on a shuttle, and Senator John Glenn, who returned to space at 76. In its last mission, Discovery dropped Robonaut 2, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, at the space station. -- Lloyd Young (45 photos total)

Space shuttle Discovery rolls to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its final mission, Jan. 31. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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March 16, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Continuing crisis

As if conditions for survivors and emergency workers weren't bad enough after the massive earthquake and tsunami, snow fell today in chilly Northern Japan. The dire situation prompted the first-ever televised address to the nation from Emperor Akihito, who made no such speech even after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. As aid and personnel poured into Japan, the nuclear crisis prompted neighboring countries to step up inspections of Japanese foods, and prompted governments worldwide to study their own nuclear energy policies. Meanwhile the grim work of recovery continued. -- Lane Turner (28 photos total)

Vehicle headlamps illuminate the disaster area of Yamada town in Iwate prefecture on March 16. The official toll of the dead and missing following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has topped 11,000, with 3,676 confirmed dead. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 15, 2011 Permalink

Japan: New fears as the tragedy deepens

Continued aftershocks and new earthquakes bring new fears to the survivors of the tragedy. Residents prepare for radiation leaks as the Prime Minister asks everyone to remain indoors - in their homes, their offices and shelters. Ninety one countries have offered help to Japan. Search and rescue and recovery continue in the devastated landscape. The death toll rises, but some hope is realized in the reunions of family and friends. -- Paula Nelson (52 photos total)

Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan. (Wally Santana/Associated Press)
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March 14, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Vast devastation

The vast devastation wrought by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, may only be matched by the destroyed lives left in their wake. Few survivors have been found, but families continue to search for their sons, daughters, wives, husbands and friends. Threats of a nuclear reactor meltdown and resulting disaster loom. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The rubble caused by an earthquake and tsunami fill the landscape in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (Associated Press/Kyodo News)
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March 12, 2011 Permalink

Japan: earthquake aftermath

Japan raced to avert a nuclear meltdown today by flooding a nuclear reactor with seawater after Friday's massive earthquake left more than 600 people dead and thousands more missing. Towns in the country's northeast coast were literally wiped away by an ensuing tsunami, leaving countless people seeking shelter in the aftermath of the quake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and was the country's strongest recorded quake. -- Lloyd Young 44 photos total)

A resident is rescued from debris in Natori, Miyagi, northern Japan March 12 after one of the country's strongest earthquakes ever recorded hit its eastern coast March 11. (Asahi Shimbun, Noboru Tomura/Associated Press)
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March 11, 2011 Permalink

Massive earthquake hits Japan

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the east coast of Japan early today. The quake -- one of the largest in recorded history -- triggered a 23-foot tsunami that battered Japan's coast, killing hundreds and sweeping away cars, homes, buildings, and boats. Editors note: we'll post more as the story develops -- Lloyd Young (47 photos total)

Houses swallowed by tsunami waves burn in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
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March 9, 2011 Permalink

Carnival 2011

The spectacle of gaudy colors, outlandish floats, airborne beads, and extravagant costumes was not limited to the French Quarter of New Orleans Tuesday. Weeks of pre-Lent celebrations culminated into explosions of exhilarating events for "Fat Tuesday" and Carnival around the globe. Historians say the Mardi Gras tradition dates back to Roman times, when the newly converted Christians retained vestiges of their pagan festival "Lupercalia" as a period of celebration before the penance of Lent. That spirit ricochets today from the revelers of Carnival in Brazil to the flour-tossing sprites of Greece to the ebullient trombones of Bourbon Street. -- Lloyd Young (43 photos total)

A Grande Rio samba school dancer performs while parading through the Sambadrome during carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8. (Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press)
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March 7, 2011 Permalink

Bodies in motion: Dancing around the world

The dictionary defines it as "to move one's feet or body, or both, rhythmically in a pattern of steps, especially to the accompaniment of music.'' People around the world, however, have their own definitions of dance, as exemplified by these images taken since the first of the year. And such expressions can celebrate a culture, win a competition, make a living, entertain a crowd, and play a role in propelling social change. Get those bodies and feet moving. -- Lloyd Young (40 photos total)

A Haitian child finds her own space as a religious crusade is held in the background at the national stadium on Jan. 9 in Port-au-Prince. The ceremony, sponsored by American evangelist Franklin Graham, came a few days before the country noted the one-year anniversary of the magnitude-7.0 quake that killed more than 220,000 people and left millions homeless. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press)
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March 4, 2011 Permalink

Ivory Coast: Fears of a civil war intensify

The three-month long conflict in Ivory Coast has entered a particularly bloody stage. Nearly 400 people have been killed in the west African country, including 32 on March 3 alone, almost all of them men who had voted for opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, according to UN figures. International groups and most nations recognized Ouattara as the legitimate leader of the country after elections late last year. But Laurent Gbagbo refuses to turn over the government and loyal forces have brutally attacked Ouattara supporters. Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes trying to avoid the clashes between the two sides. International observers fear the nation is on the verge of a civil war. -- Lloyd Young (28 photos total)

Protesters set up a fiery roadblock in the Abobo area of Abidjan March 3. Ivorian security forces and tanks, backing incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, opened fire on a rally of hundreds of unarmed women in Abobo. Seven protesters were killed. The massacre was the latest of clashes that have erupted in the west African country since a disputed election on Nov. 28 that Alassane Ouattara won, according to international election groups, regional African organizations, and most nations. About 300 people had been killed in the violence, and there are fears of a return to civil war. (Luc Gnago/Reuters)
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March 2, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, February 2011

The buildup of forces in Afghanistan is complete, with the number of US troops there the highest yet. The surge is part of President Obama’s campaign to take the battle to the Taliban strongholds in the south and east, while accelerating training of Afghan security forces. In February, suicide attacks by militants increased, and villagers and Afghan officials accused NATO of killing a large number of civilians in airstrikes. The images in this month's post show Afghans and NATO-led soldiers working and living through moments of sheer terror and numbing poverty. Through the strife, we see glimpses of the enduring human spirit. --Leanne Burden Seidel (39 photos total)

An Afghan army recruit marches during a graduation parade after an oath ceremony at Ghazi military training center in Kabul Feb. 3. Strengthening the abilities of Afghan forces to secure their country has been a top goal of US policy. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
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