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Archive for August 2012

August 24, 2012 Permalink

In flight

The desire to float on the breeze is a strong one. The illusion of escaping gravity, however briefly, has driven mankind in myriad attempts at flight. The animals that achieve this are the subject of envy, study, and imitation. Flying, falling, or floating, the following images show us joyfully escaping the bounds of gravity, even if just for a moment. [Editors' note: There will be no Big Picture entries for the week of August 27, 2012. We will return with regular posts on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.]-- Lane Turner (31 photos total)

A competitor jumps into the water during a cliff diving competition near the central Bohemian village of Hrimezdice, Czech Republic on August 3, 2012. (David W Cerny/Reuters)
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August 22, 2012 Permalink

War Veterans Recover at Brooke Army Medical Center

More than 624,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have filed disability claims (both physical and mental), the Military Times reported in January and a recent ABC news report says that according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 1, 286 service members who are now amputees as a result of those two wars. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have made the term IED (Improvised Explosive Device) a household term. IED injuries result in thousands of US military war wounded suffering from amputations, burns and functional limb loss. The vets spend months (and sometimes years) in outpatient care, many at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. The BAMC comprises the Center for the Intrepid that is home to the largest inpatient medical facility in the Department of Defense. The hospital is the DOD's only burn center and Level 1 trauma center in the US. Getty Images photographer John Moore takes us inside the hospital, showing some of the wounded's steps to recovery. -- Paula Nelson (33 photos total)

U.S. Army Sgt. Ed Matayka, 34, a double amputee, walks during a session with physical therapist Melisa Howard at the Center for the Intrepid rehabilitation gym at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), Aug. 7, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. Matayka was serving as an Amy medic at Baghram, Afghanistan when an IED blew off his legs, severely injuring his spinal cord and damaging his organs. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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August 20, 2012 Permalink

Winners: National Geographic Traveler 2012 Photo Contest

On June 22, 2012 The Big Picture featured some (just 54) of the thousands of images that were entered in the 2012 National Geographic Traveler Magazine Photo Contest. It was a popular post with over 731 comments by viewers. The winners have been chosen. Their images follow. (The winners gallery is also available here as well as the complete contest and all its entrants here. You can see the editor's picks and can download wallpaper images for your desktop or your smartphone.) It's a wonderful visual treat from around the world. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: The captions are written by the photographer.) (11 photos total)

This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living - with touches of modernity. (Photo and caption by Cedric Houin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
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August 17, 2012 Permalink

Cleanup begins after massive flooding in Manila

Relentless rains submerged at least a third to one half of the sprawling Philippine capital of Manila, triggering a landslide that killed nine people and sent emergency crews scrambling to rescue tens of thousands of residents. The deluge, the worst to hit Manila since 2009 (when hundreds died in rampaging flash floods), was set off by the seasonal monsoon that overflowed major dams and rivers in the city and surrounding provinces. Residents were under waist- or neck-deep waters at one point. Clean up has begun, but remains a huge task for the area. At least 60 have died, most from drowning. -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Regie Pacheco shovels mud outside his home that was partially swept away in flash flooding in a low lying community hard hit by the flooding Aug. 12, 2012, Manila, Philippines. According to the Office of Civil Defense the floods left at least 66 people dead and affected up to 2.68 million people in Manila and surrounding provinces, with more than 440,000 fleeing to evacuation centers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
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August 15, 2012 Permalink

Independence days: Pakistan and India celebrate their 65th

The partition of India took place in 1947, ending 350 years of British rule and forming the self-governing countries of Pakistan and India. The Indian Independence Act was decided for Aug. 15, but Pakistan came into existence one day earlier on Aug. 14 so the British viceroy, Lord (Louis) Mountbatten, could attend both ceremonies in the two newly formed countries. Compiled here are images from this week's Independence Day celebrations and a slice of daily life from the two countries in the past few weeks. -- Lloyd Young (36 photos total)

Pakistani Rangers (black) and Indian Border Security Force personnel (brown) perform the flag off ceremony at India-Pakistan Wagah Border Post on Aug. 14. Pakistan celebrates Independence Day on August 14 and India on August 15. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 13, 2012 Permalink

Iran earthquakes

Twin earthquakes hit northwest Iran near the Azerbaijan border, injuring thousands and killing over 300. Simple mud brick homes in the sparsely populated region collapsed quickly in the quakes, the larger of which measured 6.4 on the Richter Scale. Iran sits on several active fault lines and experiences earthquakes regularly. With western media hindered by restrictions in Iran, many of the images presented here are by Iranian news services, including the Iranian Students' News Agency. Images are presented as transmitted to Reuters and GettyImages. -- Lane Turner (21 photos total)

Residents and rescue workers search for the survivors in the rubble of a house near Varzaqan, after twin earthquakes hit northwestern Iran on August 11, 2012. (Farshid Tighehsaz/ISNA/AFP/GettyImages)
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August 10, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: July 2012

Each month we feature a post on the Big Picture that gives us a glimpse of daily life in the United States and in many, many countries across the world. For July, we represent a little bit of living from Malaysia, Haiti, Guatemala, UAE, Nepal, Sudan, Serbia, Cuba, China, Japan, Pakistan and India (and a few more I've probably missed.) Enjoy our look at the world. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

Chinese girls take pictures with their mobile phones outside a cinema near a bird cage decoration at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, July 29, 2012. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
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August 8, 2012 Permalink

London 2012 Olympics: Winning moments

They can come from any time during competition or the second a medal is won. Here's an updated look at Olympians in winning moments as the Games head to their conclusion this Sunday in London. -- Lloyd Young (47 photos total)

Andrea Baldini celebrates his team's victory at the end of his men's foil team gold medal fencing match against Japan's Yuki Ota at the ExCel venue at the on Aug. 5 at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)
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August 6, 2012 Permalink


The pursuit of gold medals has athletes and fans focused on the Olympic games in London, but the pursuit of gold is a worldwide obsession that extends far beyond the realm of sport. Investors and speculators drove the price of gold to dizzying heights a year ago as they sought refuge from volatile markets. Seeking gain in an uncertain recession, millions of people trade old jewelry as cash-for-gold businesses flourish. Throughout the ups and downs, gold extraction continues far from the glory of sports and the frenzy of markets. Gold is dredged, mined, and panned in operations large and small, often at great risk to miners. Processing gold with cyanide and other chemicals involves dangerous environmental hazards. What results is undeniably beautiful. Gathered here are images of people extracting, processing, refining, buying, selling, celebrating… all of them going for gold. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

A small-scale miner holds his gold that was melted together at a processing plant north of Ulan Bator on April 5, 2012. Mongolia is home to some of the world's biggest unexploited mineral deposits, and has become one of the hottest destinations for billions of dollars of mining investment. (David Gray/Reuters)
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August 3, 2012 Permalink

London 2012 Olympics: One week in

The London 2012 Summer Olympics enter their second week. Eight thousand two hundred and fifty seven images flowed into our system today from Reuters, AFP, Getty and The Associated Press (and it's only mid-afternoon), yet they represent only a fraction of the visual coverage available of the summer games. Enjoy these select 56 new photographs. -- Paula Nelson (56 photos total)

Sophie van Gestel of The Netherlands digs out a ball during a beach volleyball match against Brazil, Aug. 3, 2012. (Dave Martin/Associated Press)
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August 1, 2012 Permalink

London 2012 Olympics (Update)

(NOTE: New images start at #56) The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad (and known informally as London 2012) are in full swing in London, United Kingdom. Around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (the group responsible for organizing their people's participation in the games) will compete. Thousands and thousands of images will be made in London of the athletes and the spectators; the venues and the celebrations; the pomp and the circumstance. A search of current images in a wire database reveals images coming into the system at a rate of over 1,000 an hour during the hours of competition, resulting in a major picture editing challenge. A small sampling follows. -- Paula Nelson (55 photos total)

Kyla Ross of the U.S. performs on the balance beam during the women's gymnastics team final, July 31, 2012. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)
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August 1, 2012 Permalink

India suffers major power failures

Major power failures affected millions of people across India earlier this week and reached some 2,000 miles from the borders with Myanmar to the east and Pakistan to the west. Some 670 million people, which is 10 percent of the world's population, were affected by the largest blackout in history on Tuesday. Even as power was restored today, arguments have arisen between state and federal officials over who is to blame. -- Lloyd Young (27 photos total)

An Indian barber holding a candle, has a haircut for a customer at his shop in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving 620 million people without government-supplied electricity for several hours in, by far, the world's biggest blackout. (Bikas Das/Associated Press)
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