RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
 
ARCHIVES
CATEGORIES
the Big Picture

Category: usa

October 9, 2014 Permalink

We've moved!

Six years and 966 entries after this blog launched, it's time for some updates. We've got a new design. The pictures are bigger and you can enjoy them on your phones and tablets.

Check us out at our new home on BostonGlobe.com But, don't worry! All our old entries will remain archived here on Boston.com. If you have any feedback on the changes, please let us know.

— The Big Picture team:

Bill Greene, Director of Photography
Thea Breite, Senior Multimedia Editor
Leanne Burden Seidel, Picture Editor
Lloyd Young, Photo Editor
Joel Abrams, Product Manager


June 9, 2014 Permalink

2014 World Cup: Goalposts around the world

All you need is a ball and something to kick it in. Around the world, goalposts are made from metal, wood, plastic, sticks, tape, or paint on a wall. Reuters photographers captured images of goalposts on every continent as the world gets ready to watch the 2014 Brazil World Cup, which opens on June 12. --Thea Breite (20 photos total)

Kathmandu, Nepal. May 31, 2014. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)
more photos
May 19, 2014 Permalink

The Ansel Adams Wilderness: A photographic tribute by Peter Essick

Esteemed National Geographic contributing photographer Peter Essick revisited the Ansel Adams Wilderness 75 years after Adams’s photographs made it famous, to pay tribute to Ansel Adams and the California sierra Nevada wilderness area named in his honor. These images come from his new book, ‘The Ansel Adams Wilderness.’ From the books’ introduction: “Like Adams, I am a native Californian familiar with the High Sierra, and some of my first successful photos were of this wilderness area (located between Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, and renamed for Adams following his death in 1984). For 25 years I have traveled throughout the world as a photographer for National Geographic magazine, but the High Sierra always has had a special place in my heart.” --Thea Breite (30 photos total)

Frost covers an aspen leaf on a cold October morning near Parker Lake. (Peter Essick)
more photos
April 28, 2014 Permalink

Tornadoes kill at least 18

Tornadoes ripped through the south-central United States Monday morning. Arkansas was the hardest hit, with at least 16 people dead. The storm system produced the first fatalities of this year's U.S. tornado season. According to weather.com, severe storms and tornadoes will continue into midweek. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

A row of lightly damages houses, top, face destroyed homes in a Vilonia, Ark., neighborhood Monday, April 28, 2014 after a tornado struck the town late Sunday, killing at least 16 people. (Danny Johnston/AP)
more photos
April 21, 2014 Permalink

The Boston Marathon, 2014

An American runner, Meb Keflezighi, won The Boston Marathon for the first time since 1983. A year after the bombs exploded near the finish line killing three people and injuring hundreds of others, runners reclaimed the race. A record crowd of one million people, twice the usual number, watched and cheered the runners on. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya defended her title in the women’s race. --Thea Breite (29 photos total)

The scene at the Hopkinton start of the 118th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 21, 2014. (Bill Greene//The Boston Globe)
more photos
April 11, 2014 Permalink

Scenes from the 2014 Masters Golf Tournament

The 78th Masters Tournament started on April 10 among the colorful flora of the Augusta National Golf Club. The well-kept grounds of the course make a great backdrop for photographing the sport, and the good weather helps with interesting shadows and warm sunlight. --Leanne Burden Seidel (31 photos total)

Stewart Cink of the United States hits his second shot on the second hole during the first round of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10 in Augusta, Georgia. (Harry How/Getty Images)
more photos
March 3, 2014 Permalink

Washington D.C. area has yet another snow day

Snow began falling in the nation's capital early Monday, and officials warned people to stay off treacherous, icy roads a scene that has become familiar to residents in the Midwest, East and even Deep South this year. Schools were canceled, bus service was halted in places and federal government workers in the DC area were told to stay home Monday. --Thea Breite (13 photos total)

National Park Service employee Eric Tolliver shovels snow and ice at the Lincoln Memorial as snow falls in Washington, Monday, March 3, 2014. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
more photos
February 10, 2014 Permalink

The 2014 Westminster Dog Show

The 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show began on Monday, Feb. 10, taking place at both Pier 92 and 94 and at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The annual dog show, which features dogs from around the world, opened its doors to mixed-breed dogs this year. --Thea Breite (
A dog waits on the corner of 31st street and 7th avenue in New York, February 9, 2014. The 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show started Monday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
more photos
December 30, 2013 Permalink

Happy New Year, world

It’s time to have a little New Year’s fun. No depressing (yet important) photos of serious events from the year. Just a collection of fun, silly, unusual, picturesque and unique photos of people from different parts of the world either getting ready to celebrate 2014 or already doing so. --Thea Breite (15 photos total)

A reveler writes "2014" with sparklers in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, December 30, 2013. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
more photos
December 23, 2013 Permalink

December around the world

A snowstorm in the Middle East, 95 degree temperatures in Buenos Aires, flooding in Gaza, ice storms in Canada. It’s a typical December around the world. Or is it? --Thea Breite (17 photos total)

Eve Grayson, a Reindeer herder of the Cairgorm Reindeer Herd, feeds the deer on December 23, 2013 in Aviemore, Scotland. Reindeer were introduced to Scotland in 1952 by Swedish Sami Reindeer herder, Mikel Utsi. Starting with just a few reindeer, the herd has now grown in numbers over the years and is currently at about 130 by controlling the breeding. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
more photos
December 16, 2013 Permalink

2013 Year in Pictures: Part I

The first quarter of 2013 was a tough one for many people. It certainly was difficult for us here in Boston. Putting together the best photos of the year can be depressing. For the most part, the wire services move their most dramatic photos of the most significant events and many of those are violent. In this post, you will see photos from the horrific collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh, the Boston Marathon bombings and you will see a few light moments sprinkled within. It’s critical for us to document these tragic moments. Because of the images of the building collapse seen around the world, Bangladesh now has a new labor law that boosts worker rights. But after this edit, I'm going to start gathering some positive images for a future post. --Thea Breite (28 photos total) See also: Part 2

Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia on Jan. 4, 2013 The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. (Holmes Family, Tim Holmes/AP)
more photos
November 22, 2013 Permalink

50th anniversary of the JFK assassination

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. As the shocked nation grieved for the popular president, more inconceivable events followed. Within hours, a new president was sworn in and within days the shooter was caught and then killed by a local businessman on live TV. Nov. 22 is filled with events to mark this dark day in American history. -Leanne Burden Seidel ( 34 photos total)

A rose left by family members sits on top of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy's grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 22 in Arlington, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
more photos
November 18, 2013 Permalink

Tornadoes and severe weather slam the midwest

A powerful late-season wave of tornadoes, thunderstorms and damaging winds hit 12 states on Sunday. News organizations reported anywhere from dozens (The Washington Post) to over 81 (The Chicago Tribune) tornadoes that touched down in the midwest, killing at least eight people. Looking at these photographs, its hard to imagine that so many people walked away unharmed. Washington, Ill., a town of 15,000 people east of Peoria was hit hardest by an EF-4 tornado with winds of up to 190 mph. --Thea Breite ( # 22 )

A tornado moves northeast two miles west of Flatville, Ill., on Nov. 17. The tornado damaged many farm buildings and homes on its way to Gifford, Ill., where scores of houses were devastated. (Jessie Starkey/Associated Press/News-Gazette)
more photos
August 28, 2013 Permalink

Revisiting Martin Luther King's 1963 Dream speech

As people gather today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, we look at images from that event in 1963 and from tumultuous times during the civil rights movement.  King's pivotal speech addressing racism in this country was a crucial event in the history of civil rights and one that will always be remembered, not just on this milestone anniversary. -Leanne Burden Seidel ( 20 photos total)

US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. waves from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to supporters on the Mall in Washington, DC, during the "March on Washington" on Aug. 28, 1963. In 1963 King spoke in front of 250,000 people, explaining his wish for better relations between black and white Americans. His words were engraved on the steps of the monument where he spoke. (AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
May 17, 2013 Permalink

Deadly crossing

In 2012, sheriff's deputies in Brooks County found 129 bodies, around double the amount from the year before and six times the number recorded in 2010. Most of those who die succumb to the punishing heat and rough terrain that comprise the ranch lands of south Texas. Reuters photographer, Eric Thayer, traveled to Brooks County, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico to investigate the rising rates of immigrant deaths along the border there, spending time at a migrant's hostel in Mexico and with U.S. Border Patrol in Brooks County. Many migrants, after spending several weeks traveling through Mexico and past the Rio Grande, spend a few days in a "stash house," such as Casa del Migrante, in Reynosa, Mexico, and many are ignorant of the treacherous journey ahead. -- Paula Nelson ( 28 photos total)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent from the Rio Grande Valley Sector searches for a group of undocumented immigrants who crossed the Rio Grande River in Mission, Texas March 28, 2013. Brooks County has become an epicenter for illegal immigrant deaths in Texas. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)
more photos
May 10, 2013 Permalink

National Geographic Traveler Magazine: 2013 Photo Contest

The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest, now in its 25th year, has begun. There is still plenty of time to enter. The entry deadline is Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Entrants may submit their photographs in any or all of the four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The magazine's photo editors showcase their favorite entries each week in galleries. You can also vote for your favorites. "The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult," says Keith Bellows, magazine editor in chief. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly edited for readability.) As always, you can take a look at some of last year's entries and winners.. -- Paula Nelson ( 40 photos total)

OUTDOOR SCENES - Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl - Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey. Okeefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA. (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
more photos
May 3, 2013 Permalink

Daily Life: April 2013

I look forward each month to browsing the compilation of "slice of life" images from around the world. They offer us a visual break, if you will, from the tragedies, disasters, wars and violence seemingly so pervasive in our world. Through these images, we can immerse ourselves in the simplicity of everyday life. Daily Life: April 2013 takes us to North and South Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, Indonesia, China, Russia; and around the United States to California, Texas, Maine, Florida, Kansas, Washington state, and more. Enjoy.--- Paula Nelson ( 49 photos total)

A village boy holds a traditional handmade umbrella as he keeps watch over cattle grazing in the field on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, India, April 20, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
more photos
April 15, 2013 Permalink

Terror at the Boston Marathon

With thousands of runners still on the course at the Boston Marathon, two explosions rocked Boylston Street just yards from the finish line. The blasts ripped through crowded spectator viewing stands. The death toll as we publish stands at three and is expected to rise, with over 140 others injured and transported to local hospitals. No arrests have been made. Please follow Boston.com for further updates. (WARNING: Some images are graphic.) (20 photos total)

The scene at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon when one of the two bombs exploded. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
more photos
April 12, 2013 Permalink

Guns

Guns. That single word evokes a strong reaction, no matter what side of the debate you fall on. Certainly, the massacre of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a national tipping point, but one that seems only to have brought back into the public consciousness, a long-simmering debate. A debate for which there is no resolution at the moment. Congress is still proposing and voting, states are taking independent action. Individuals rally and protest and fight, expressing their beliefs. This post is a collection of images - supporters of gun control, those against; victims and families of victims, gun enthusiasts. -- Paula Nelson( 53 photos total)

A 9 mm bullet in a box on the counter at Duke's Sport Shop in New Castle, Pa., April 5, 2013. Gun enthusiasts fearful of new weapon controls and alarmed by rumors of government hoarding are buying bullets practically by the bushel, making it hard for stores nationwide to keep shelves stocked. (Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)
more photos
March 1, 2013 Permalink

National Archives: Searching for the Seventies

“Searching for the Seventies” takes a new look at the 1970s using remarkable color photographs taken for a Federal photography project called Project DOCUMERICA (1971-1977). Created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOCUMERICA was born out of the decade’s environmental awakening, producing striking photographs of many of that era’s environmental problems and achievements. Drawing its inspiration from the depression era Farm Security Administration photography project, project photographers created a portrait of America in the early-and-mid-1970s. They documented small Midwestern towns, barrios in the Southwest, and coal mining communities in Appalachia. Their assignments were as varied as African American life in Chicago, urban renewal in Kansas City, commuters in Washington, DC, and migrant farm workers in Colorado. The exhibit, featuring 90 images from the project opens March 8, 2013 at the National Archives in Washington D.C. It runs through September 8, 2013. What follows is a small sampling of the collection digitized by the National Archives. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: Captions were provided.)( 30 photos total)

Children play in the yard of Ruston home, while a Tacoma smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue. Ruston, Washington, August 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)
more photos
February 22, 2013 Permalink

Afghanistan: February 2013

US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan began in earnest in 2011 with President Obama's announcement in June. 10,000 troops were removed by the end of summer 2011, 23,000 additional troops by the end of summer 2012, and troops continue to come home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move to protect their own country. The mission changes from "combat" to "support." By 2014, that transition will be complete with the Afghans responsible for their own security, but US troops will remain in country. How many is unclear. In this post, we share images from February in country (and a few from January 31st.) -- Paula Nelson ( 36 photos total)

Afghan ethnic Hazara people hold a hunger strike, in protest against a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, which killed scores of Shiites, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 19, 2013. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press)
more photos
February 15, 2013 Permalink

2013 World Press Photo Contest Winners

For over 55 years, the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism. The contest is judged by leading experts in visual journalism who represent various aspects of the profession and the composition of the jury is changed from year to year. The prize-winning images are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 45 countries over the course of a year and over two million people go to a hundred different venues to see the images. The winners themselves uphold the foundation's simple mission statement: We exist to inspire understanding of the world through quality photojournalism. A sampling of the winning images follows. You can browse more amazing content on World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: There will be no post on Monday in observance of the holiday.) ( 18 photos total)

World Press Photo of the Year 2012 - Paul Hansen/Sweeden/Dagens Nyheter - Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories. Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year-old brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.
more photos
February 1, 2013 Permalink

Sun City Seniors

In the United States in 1960, the average life expectancy (average for all races and sexes) was 69.7 years. In 2010, that number had increased to 78.7 years. How prescient it was for entrepreneur Del Webb, in 1959, to build Sun City, Arizona - the first active retirement community for the over-55? Webb predicted that retirees would flock to a community where they were given more than just a house with a rocking chair in which to sit and wait to die. Today's residents keep their minds and bodies active by socializing at over 120 clubs with activities such as square dancing, ceramics, roller-skating, computers, cheerleading, racquetball and yoga. There are 38,500 residents in the community with an average age 72.4 years. -- Paula Nelson ( 27 photos total)

A sign marks the boundary of Sun City, Arizona, Jan. 6, 2013. Sun City was built in 1959 by entrepreneur Del Webb as America's first active retirement community for the over-55's. Today's residents keep their minds and bodies active by socializing at over 120 clubs with activities such as square dancing, ceramics, roller skating, computers, cheerleading, racquetball and yoga. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
more photos
January 7, 2013 Permalink

2012 National Geographic Photography Contest Winners

The winners have been named in the 2012 National Geographic Photography contest. As a leader in capturing the world through brilliant imagery, National Geographic sets the standard for photographic excellence. This year's competition brought 22,000 entries from over 150 countries, professionals and amateurs participating. Photographs were submitted in three categories: people, places and nature; and entries judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There was a Grand Prize winner, a winner in each category and a collection of Viewer's Choice Winners as well. Enjoy. -- Paula Nelson ( 14 photos total)

Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place/Nature: THE EXPLOSION! - The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioral shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favorably on me that day! (Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)
more photos
November 9, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: October 2012

Collecting and editing images that document simple elements of daily life around the world is actually one of my favorite things in preparing a Big Picture post. The images have an element of universality, yet are often very unique. It's one of the many wonderful things about strong photography. We become armchair travelers, experiencing simple things in far flung locations through the imagery that is sent out from agencies around the world. In this post we visit places like China, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, Nepal, India, Lisbon, Scotland, Indonesia and Signal Mountain, Tennessee. -- Paula Nelson ( 56 photos total)

A full moon rises behind a statue of a bull overlooking the former stockyard district, Oct. 29, 2012, Kansas City, Mo. (Charlie RiedelAssociated Press)
more photos
November 2, 2012 Permalink

Hurricane Sandy: Recovery

Hurricane Sandy battered the mid-Atlantic region with powerful gusts and storm surges that cause epic flooding in the coastal communities of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving more than eight million people – including large parts of Manhattan – in the rain-soaked dark. The mammoth storm packed maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Those powerful winds, driving rain and storm surge are blamed for 98 deaths in the United States (although numbers still vary), including two small boys who were swept out of their mother’s arms. The toll of the storm is staggering, including a rampaging fire that reduced more than 100 houses to ash in Breezy Point, Queens. New Jersey took the brunt, officials estimating that the state suffered many billions of dollars in property damage. Residents began the long, slow process of recovery. – Paula Nelson ( 46 photos total)

An American flag is raised among the wreckage homes devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York, Oct. 31, 2012. The U.S. Northeast began an arduous journey back to normal after historic storm Sandy crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 64 people with a massive storm surge that caused epic flooding. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
more photos
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)
more photos
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)
more photos
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)
more photos
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)
more photos
July 23, 2012 Permalink

Aurora Colorado theater shooting

Shock, misery, and anger rose after a madman went on a rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. on Friday night. The meticulously-planned killing spree was carried out with cold efficiency as at least 70 people were shot, 12 of them fatally, in the suburban multiplex with a variety of guns. Several more remain in hospital in critical condition. Details of the gunman's weaponry, body armor, and booby-trapped apartment continue to shock and dismay as more information becomes public. The theater had been showing a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises". Several of the pictures below depict intense personal grief. Also included here are images of the crime scene, the investigation, and memorial services. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)

Storm clouds gather above a memorial for the victims in the shooting across the street from the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo. on July 22, 2012. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)
more photos
July 20, 2012 Permalink

Downpour and drought

An unexpected downpour briefly drenched parts of the US this week, while most of the central and southern United States continued to experience drought conditions - expected to be the most expansive drought in a half century. In the South, 14 states are now baking in blast-furnace conditions - from Arizona, which is battling the largest wildfire in its history, to Florida, where fires have burned some 200,000 acres so far. More than 70 percent of the nine-state Midwest was in some stage of drought this week. More extreme heat and scant rains were expected in the area, suggesting the poorest crop conditions since the historic 1988 drought. The visual documentation of the breadth and depth of the current drought conditions has just begun. This is a small sampling of images, expect much more storytelling to come in the weeks ahead. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

People walk through heavy rain at Times Square in New York, July 18, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
more photos
July 6, 2012 Permalink

Daily life: June 2012

In the post that follows for the month of June, I've collected images from many places. Single images from Guatemala, Lisbon, California, Israel, Australia, Nepal and Pakistan. Small "picture groupings" from Greece (a country in the news for the challenges it faces economically), from Pakistan (attending classes at a madrasah and outside a brick factory), from China (fun in the sand and eclectic street scenes), from Spain (the Corpus Christi procession and an intimate moment on the street), from Thailand (life in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border and lessons in an Islamic school). Visual slices of life around the world. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

A Chinese couple bury their children in the sand on a manmade beach in a Beijing park, June 16, 2012. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
more photos
June 22, 2012 Permalink

National Geographic Traveler Magazine: 2012 Photo Contest

The 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is in full swing. The entry deadline has been extended until July 11. The four categories include: Travel Portraits; Outdoor Scenes; Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. Last year's contest drew nearly 13,000 images from all over the world. The pictures are as diverse as their authors, capturing an assortment of people, places and wildlife - everything that makes traveling so memorable, evoking a sense of delight and discovery. The following post includes a small sampling of the entrant's work, taken from the editor's picks in each of the categories. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly corrected for readability.) And for fun, take a look back at the winners from 2011 at National Geographic Traveler. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

SPONTANEOUS MOMENTS - Marrakech Traveler: It was mid-morning and he must have wanted to ride into the light. I was shooting for the ABC TV show Born to Explore when I snapped this photo. (John Barnhardt/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
more photos
June 8, 2012 Permalink

Afghanistan: May 2012

US and NATO forces continue to train the Afghan troops in advance of the handover of the country's security in 2014. The US-led war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of around 3,000 US and allied troops, seen thousands of Afghans killed and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. We check in on our soldiers for May (and a little bit of June 2012.) -- Paula Nelson (45 photos total)

A female US marine and members of USN Hospital Corpsman from the 1st battalion 7th Marines Regiment walk at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson also known as Sabit Khadam in Sangin, Helmand Province, June 7, 2012. The US-led war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of around 3,000 U.S. and allied troops, seen thousands of Afghans killed and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. (Adek Berryakek Berry/AFP/GettyImages)
more photos
May 25, 2012 Permalink

Finding community in America's Appalachian region

Getty Images photographer, Mario Tama, spent time in and around Owsley County, Kentucky documenting the life and times of some of it's 5,000 residents. The 2010 U.S. Census listed Owsley County as having the lowest median household income in the country outside of Puerto Rico, with 41.5% of residents living below the poverty line. Familial and community bonds run deep, with a populace that shares a collective historical and cultural legacy uncommon in most parts of the country. The community struggles with a lack of jobs due to the decline in coal, tobacco and lumber industries. It's just a glimpse into their lives, but one we wanted to share. -- Paula Nelson (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.) (46 photos total)

Craig and Cora Adams, married nine years, outside their trailer in Owsley County, April 20, 2012, in Booneville, Kentucky. Daniel Boone once camped in the Appalachian mountain hamlet of Owsley County which remains mostly populated by descendants of settlers to this day. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
more photos
May 18, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: May 2012

Thousands of images are supplied by multiple wire services to newspapers across the country each day. Many of those images depict ordinary scenes of life in different countries around the world. There are three picture editors that contribute to the Big Picture blog, each of them seeing the world in a little bit of a different way. Their backgrounds, their experiences, their interests - all very disparate. Each of them given the same resources (the visual wire) to edit from, each choosing very different ways to tell a story. The following photographs are my choices of those images for the month of May (and a few from late April) illustrating daily life around the world. -- Paula Nelson (53 photos total)

Adam Ortiz, a fourth-grader at Fairview Elementary, stops traffic while classmates and parents cross Washington at North 11th Street in Klamath Falls, Ore. as part of Walk to School Days, something the school has participated in every Friday in May for three years, May 11. 2012. (Andrew Mariman/The Herald and News)
more photos
April 13, 2012 Permalink

Afghanistan: March 2012

In early April, in an attempt to accelerate the transition of military responsibility to the Afghan government, the US agreed to hand control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role. This deal cleared the way for the two countries to move ahead with an agreement that would establish the shape of American support to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline. Domestic support for the war (in the US) has dropped sharply. We look back at March in the troubled country. -- Paula Nelson (37 photos total)

Young Afghan women use an umbrella to shield themselves from the sun in Kabul, April 5, 2012. The position of women in Afghanistan has improved dramatically since the fall of the Taliban, with the number of girls in education soaring. But as the Americans and the Afghan government have pursued peace efforts with the Taliban, women are increasingly concerned that gains in their rights may be compromised in a bid to end the costly and deadly war. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
April 6, 2012 Permalink

Titanic at 100 years

The sinking of the RMS Titanic caused the deaths of 1,517 of its 2,229 passengers and crew (official numbers vary slightly) in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The 712 survivors were taken aboard the RMS Carpathia. Few disasters have had such resonance and far-reaching effects on the fabric of society as the sinking of the Titanic. It affected attitudes toward social injustice, altered the way the North Atlantic passenger trade was conducted, changed the regulations for numbers of lifeboats carried aboard passenger vessels and created an International Ice Patrol (where commercial ships crossing the North Atlantic still, today, radio in their positions and ice sightings). The 1985 discovery of the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor marked a turning point for public awareness of the ocean and for the development of new areas of science and technology. April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. It has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, films, exhibits and memorials. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The British passenger liner RMS Titanic leaves from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage, April 10, 1912. Titanic called at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading westward toward New York. Four days into the crossing, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m., 375 miles south of Newfoundland. Just before 2:20 am Titanic broke up and sank bow-first with over a thousand people still on board. Those in the water died within minutes from hypothermia caused by immersion in the freezing ocean.(Frank O. Braynard Collection)
more photos
March 21, 2012 Permalink

Signs of Spring: 2012

Seemingly strange weather patterns continue to break high and low temperature records. The same patterns spawned an early tornado season in the midwestern United States and brought late season snowstorms to the west. Record snow falls and frigid temperatures characterized a particularly difficult winter across Europe with many deaths attributed to the conditions. Signs of Spring for the Northern Hemisphere (which began officially with the Vernal Equinox - March 20 - when the hours of day are approximately equal to the hours of night) like trees blossoming and flowers blooming, the shedding of winter coats and the desire of anyone -who has spent an all too long winter season indoors - to venture outside to soak up the sun. -- Paula Nelson (45 photos total)

Cherry blossoms of the Japanese Yoshino variety bloom along the Tidal Basin, March 19, 2012, in Washington, DC, with the Jefferson Memorial to the rear. This season celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees from Japan to Washington, DC. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
March 14, 2012 Permalink

Afghanistan: February 2012

Angry protests broke out and shock rippled through Afghanistan on February 21 when accounts surfaced that NATO personnel at Bagram Air Base had burned a number of Korans and were preparing to burn more. A NATO spokesman said the books were inadvertently sent for incineration after being gathered at a detention facility for suspected insurgents. The incident brought nearly a week of strong anti-American demonstrations in which 30 people, including American troops were killed and many others wounded. Despite President Obama's letter of apology to President Hamid Karzai, the violence escalated. Two American soldiers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry building in Kabul on Feb. 25. On Feb. 27, two suicide attackers detonated a car bomb at the entrance to a NATO air base in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing as revenge for the burning of the Korans. While the violence raged, Afghan civilians faced harsher than usual winter weather and cold temperatures in which more than 40 people, mostly children, have frozen to death. -- Paula Nelson (48 photos total)

Afghan demonstrators show copies of the Koran allegedly set alight by US soldiers, during a protest against Koran desecration at the gate of Bagram airbase, Feb. 21, 2012 at Bagram, north of Kabul. The copies of the burned Korans and Islamic religious texts were obtained by Afghan workers contracted to work inside Bagram air base, and presented to demonstrators gathered outside the military installation.(Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
March 5, 2012 Permalink

Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest: 50 Finalists

The Smithsonian magazine's 9th annual photo contest finalists have been chosen. The contest attracted over 14 thousand photographers from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Fifty finalists from 67,059 images were selected by Smithsonian editors. Those editors will also choose the Grand Prize Winner and the winners in each of the five categories which include The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel and Altered Images. Photos were selected based on technical quality, clarity and composition, a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment. (Smithsonian invites everyone to select an additional "Readers' Choice" winner by voting through March for their favorite image on line.) -- Paula Nelson (25 photos total)

BEHIND THE BLUE Lilongwe, Malawi, May 2011 (Paolo Patruno/Bologna, Italy)
more photos
March 1, 2012 Permalink

Tornadoes Rip Through the Midwest and South

Weather predictions for possible tornadoes from a new storm system today threaten the Midwest and South, and have recent victims nervous about what the day might hold. The first powerful storm system tore through parts of the Midwest and South earlier this week, killing 13 people from Kansas to Kentucky, leaving pockets of devastation across several states and marking the acceleration of another deadly (and early) tornado season. Tornadoes and powerful winds tore off roofs, leveled homes and businesses, tossed mobile homes, downed power lines and injured more than 150 people. The damage was most significant in Harrisburg, a small town in southern Illinois where blocks of houses and businesses were reduced to rubble. -- Paula Nelson(25 photos total)

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in ruins, March 1, 2012, in Ridgway, Ill. A pre-dawn twister flattened entire blocks of homes as violent storms ravaged the Midwest and South. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)
more photos
December 23, 2011 Permalink

The Year in Pictures: Part III

In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)

A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
December 9, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, November 2011

As the War in Afghanistan passes the 10-year mark, the effect of the American withdrawal is already being felt among civilian aid workers, raising anxieties that Afghanistan will be abandoned and that gains will be quickly reversed. Even President Hamid Karzai asked nations at a conference in Germany recently to continue aid to his country for another decade. The United States, which provides two-thirds of all development assistance in Afghanistan, slashed its $4 billion aid budget to $2 billion in the 2011 fiscal year. The budget for 2012 may be cut further. In this post we continue our monthly visit to the country of Afghanistan, its residents and our troops. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

An Afghan woman, holding her baby, walks through a busy street in Kabul, Dec. 5, 2011. A major international conference on December 5 sought ways forward for Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO combat troops in 2014. The boycott of two crucial players,Pakistan and the Taliban, dampened hopes of success. The one-day gathering brought around 100 national delegations and aid organizations to the former German capital Bonn. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
December 7, 2011 Permalink

Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary

Some 100 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor will gather in Hawaii today 70 years after the day which drew the US into World War II. The Japanese air and naval strike on the American military base claimed nearly 2,400 lives, destroyed over 160 aircraft and beached, damaged or destroyed over 20 ships. President Franklin D. called it " a date which will live in infamy" when he addressed the Congress the next day asking to declare war with Japan. -- Lloyd Young (35 photos total)

Ernest "Dave" Davenport, 90, of Virginia Beach, Va., is a Pearl Harbor survivor. He was an aviation machinists mate on a PBY 5 Catalina, a sea plane. (Bill Tiernan/Associated Press/The Virginian-Pilot)
more photos
November 18, 2011 Permalink

National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

There's still time! The deadline for entries for this year's National Geographic Photo Contest is November 30. Photographers of all skill levels (last year more than 16,000 images submitted by photographers from 130 countries) enter photographs in three categories: Nature, People and Places. The photographs are judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There is one first place winner in each category and a grand prize winner as well. The following is a selection of 54 entries from each of the 3 categories. The caption information is provided and written by the individual photographer. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

LONE TREE YELLOWSTONE: A solitary tree surviving another harsh winter in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Photo and caption by Anita Erdmann/Nature/National Geographic Photo Contest)
more photos
November 11, 2011 Permalink

Feeding 7 billion and our fragile environment

According to projections by the United Nations, the world population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.  While more people are living longer and healthier lives, gaps are widening between the rich and the poor in some nations and tens of millions of people are vulnerable to food and water shortages.  There is, of course, the issue of the impact of that sheer number on the environment, including pollution, waste disposal, use of natural resources and food production.  This post focuses on wheat and the effect of our numbers on the environment.  Wheat is the most important cereal in the world and along with rice and corn accounts for about 73 percent of all cereal production.  It isn't surprising that 7 billion people have a lasting impact on our world's natural resources and the environment in which we live. -- Paula Nelson (36 photos total)

One of the world's breadbaskets lies in the prairies of Canada. This stalk, near Lethbridge, Alberta, helps form the foundation for the most important food product in the world: cereal grains. (Todd Korol/Reuters)
more photos
October 28, 2011 Permalink

World Population: 7 Billion

On October 31, 2011, the United Nations is expected to announce a projected world population figure of 7 billion. This global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date that we will hit the 7 billion mark - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March. In the last 50 years, humanity has more than doubled. What could the next decade mean for our numbers and the planet? In this post, we focus on births, but we'll be back with population-related content including it's affect on the environment and our food supply. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

A baby, minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Oct. 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year. The cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)
more photos
October 12, 2011 Permalink

The Occupy Wall Street movement spreads

What started in NewYork City in mid September, a call to "flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street," has continued to feed similar groups around the United States taking up the name and cause. Groups have gathered to bring attention to many issues, with a central focus on the economic hardships and inequality they say many Americans face. -- Lloyd Young (35 photos total)

Occupy Boston demonstrators block an entrance to the Federal Reserve Bank behind a police line in Boston Oct. 8. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)
more photos
September 30, 2011 Permalink

Global protests

There are many forms of protest, many ways to express an objection to particular events, situations, policies, and even people.  Protests can also take many forms - from individual statements to mass demonstrations - both peaceful and violent. In the last 30 days, there have been numerous protests across the globe in many countries.  The following post is a collection of only some of those protests, but the images convey a gamut of emotions as citizens stand up for their political, economic, religious and lifestyle rights.  -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

As protesters sleep in Zuccotti Park, N.Y. police officers receive instructions. A group of activists calling themselves Occupy Wall Street targeted the Financial District for more than a week of demonstrations in late September. The group said they sought to bring attention to corporate malfeasance, social inequality, and the yawning gap in income between America's rich and poor. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
more photos
September 23, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, September 2011

Tribal elders say the Taliban are far from defeated.  The Taliban continue to wage a brutal war, taking a toll on Afghan citizens and American forces.  The Department of Defense has identified 1,761 American service members who have died in the Afghan war and related operations as of Sept. 21, about 10 years since the start of the war. In visiting Afghanistan monthly in The Big Picture, we try to reflect our troops presence in the country as well as their interaction with the Afghan people.  -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

US soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment fire 120-mm mortar rounds toward insurgent positions at Outpost Monti in Kunar province on Sept. 17. After a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, 130,000 troops from dozens of countries continue to battle resilient Taliban, who use homemade bombs and guerrilla tactics in a bid to undermine the Afghan government and the NATO mission. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)
more photos
September 14, 2011 Permalink

2011 NFL season kicks off

Seven weeks ago, a labor dispute threatened to push the NFL season to the sidelines. Instead, the goliaths of gridiron made a glorious return this past week, from the last-second goalstand by the Super Bowl champs Green Bay Packers to Tom Brady’s second-to-no-other-Patriot’s 517 yards passing. The games also paused to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. Though the season is just one week old, fans across the globe are hoping their teams will play in the grand finale next Feb. 5, held for the first time in Indianapolis. -- Lloyd Young (34 photos total)

Miami Dolphins Brandon Marshall (19) dives over New England Patriots Devin McCourty after catching a pass during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Miami Sept. 12. Hans Deryk/Reuters)
more photos
September 12, 2011 Permalink

Ground Zero: September 11, 2001 - September 11, 2011

One of the most indelible memories in the collective psyche of Americans - and the world - comes from the images of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks on the United States, September 11, 2001. Yesterday, Americans and the world collectively remembered those who lost their lives in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania ten years after that unforgettable day. This post (edited by Leanne Burden) shows the transformation, of what became known as Ground Zero, over the last ten years. A memorial rises from the ashes of that day on September 11, 2011. -- Paula Nelson (41 photos total)

Photos by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite showing the World Trade Center complex in Manhattan, New York, collected on June 30, 2001 showing the 110-stories twin towers; on September 15, 2001 showing the remains of the 1,350-foot (411.48-meter) twin towers of the World Trade Center, and the debris and dust that have settled in Ground Zero, four days after the terrorist attacks; and June 8, 2002, showing the progress in the reclamation of Ground Zero where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. AFP/Space Imaging
more photos
September 9, 2011 Permalink

Texas drought and wildfires

Wildfires have blazed across Texas for several days, but the drought conditions that fed the flames have been building for many months. The ten-month period through July was the driest in Texas state history. Entire lakes have dried up. Since last November, almost 1,500 homes have burned in nearly 21,000 fires across the state. Two deaths so far have been attributed to the fires, which have forced the evacuations of thousands of residents. The Texas drought and wildfires come on the heels of the Arizona wildfire, the largest in that state's history. -- Lane Turner (45 photos total)

Two firefighters break from battling a wildfire off Foster School Road near Needville, Texas on September 7, 2011. (Patric Schneider/The Courier/AP)
more photos
August 29, 2011 Permalink

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene wound up by most estimates as one of the top ten most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the United States since 1980. While ultimately not as powerful as many had predicted, the storm still killed at least 27 people along its path from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard. Transportation was shut down all along the east coast, stranding residents and tourists in shelters, airports, and train stations. More than 5.8 million customers lost electricity, thousands of flights were cancelled, flooding washed out roads and destroyed homes, and evacuation orders were issued for hundreds of thousands. Gathered here are pictures from the Hurricane's path. -- Lane Turner (44 photos total)

Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
more photos
August 19, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, August 2011

Each month in the Big Picture, we post a collection of photographs from Afghanistan.  They feature American forces and those of other countries, and they show us daily life among the Afghan people.  In June, President Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, which set in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. However, the fighting has spiked in some regions of the country. On Aug. 6, the United States suffered its deadliest day in the nearly decade-long war when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.  According to the United Nations, 360 Afghan civilians were killed in June alone.  The surges of violence reflect how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its strongholds. The war continues.  -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)

Villager Juma Khan meets with the provincial district governor and fellow villagers at a shura, or consultation, on July 23 at the US Marine Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As mentors with the international coalition attempt to phase out their involvement and put Afghan institutions in the lead, the Taliban continue to gain strength in many of Helmand's northern communities, where legitimate Afghan governance is more of a plan than a reality. (David Goldman/Associated Press)
more photos
July 1, 2011 Permalink

Wildfire threatens nuclear facility

The Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico spread dangerously close to the Los Alamos National Laboratory this week, causing the evacuation of the town and the shutdown of the lab, which is the headquarters for US military research. The laboratory was created during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project and houses highly sensitive materials. As a precaution, scientists are monitoring radioactivity in the air. The fire is the largest wildfire in the state's history, covering more than 100,000 acres.(Editor's Note: We will not post on Monday, July 4th, we'll see you again on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.) -Leanne Burden Seidel (34 photos total)

A vicious wildfire burns near the Los Alamos Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. The Las Conchas fire spread through the mountains above the northern New Mexico town, driving thousands of people from their homes as officials at the government nuclear laboratory tried to dispel concerns about the safety of sensitive materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)
more photos
June 24, 2011 Permalink

Obama: US troop withdrawal to begin

President Barack Obama told war-weary Americans in a 15 minute address from the East Room of the White House that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan and that a withdrawal of American troops would be set in motion. He said Afghanistan no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States and that the "tide of war is receding." He announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 "surge" would leave by next summer. He added that the drawdown would continue "at a steady pace" until the US handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. President Sarkozy, of France, said he would also begin drawing down the 4,000-strong French contingent in Afghanistan. In keeping with 5,000 years of Afghan history, President Hamid Karzai said, “Afghans would take responsibility for the preservation of their soil, the security of their people and educating their children by the end of 2014.” In this post, we offer more glimpses of the troops and the Afghan people as they coexist, for now. - Paula Nelson (45 photos total)

U.S. President Barack Obama is seen on live television screens in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, June 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama announced he will order 10,000 troops to pull out of Afghanistan this year and another 20,000 troops by the end of next summer. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
more photos
April 1, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, March 2011

Every month in the Big Picture, we revisit Afghanistan, to see the people, to see our troops and troops from other nations, to get a sense of the country. President Hamid Karzai said recently his security forces will soon take charge of securing seven areas around Afghanistan, the first step toward his goal of having the Afghan police and soldiers protecting the entire nation by the end of 2014. Our troops are due to begin coming home this July. There is still work to be done. Many of the photos featured in this post show the celebration of the Afghan New Year. The festival to celebrate new year's starts on March 21 and is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, as well as war-torn Afghanistan and it coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. One of the most popular places to bring in the new year, Mazar-i Sharif, attracts hundreds of thousands of Afghans. -- Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Afghan children play as they eat ice lollies in Kabul on March 21, the Afghan New Year. (Dar Yasin/Associated Press)
more photos
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)
more photos
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)
more photos
February 16, 2011 Permalink

New York Fashion Week: Behind the scenes

The first New York Fashion Week in 1943 (then called Press Week) was the world's first organized fashion week. It was designed to attract attention away from French fashion during World War II, when industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see the fashion shows. As fashion has evolved, so has the New York event, now branded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and held in February and September each year. It's one of four major fashion weeks held around the world, along with London, Paris, and Milan. Each year, the 232,000 attendees at the two New York Fashion Weeks account for more than $466 million in direct visitor spending and contribute to $1.6 billion in annual tax revenue to the city's fashion industry. More than $40 million annually is spent on meals at local restaurants; nearly $30 million on taxis, Town Cars, and public transportation; and an additional $56 million at area hotels. This is a look behind the scenes, behind the fashion. -- Paula Nelson (Editor's Note: Monday, February 21, is President's Day. We'll return with Wednesday's post.) (36 photos total)

A model prepares backstage at the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion week at The Theatre at Lincoln Center, in New York City. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for IMG)
more photos
February 11, 2011 Permalink

World Press Photo: winners

On the morning of February 11, 2011, the international jury of the 54th World Press Photo Contest named a photo by South African photographer Jodi Bieber, World Press Photo of the Year 2010. The image is a portrait of Bibi Aisha, disfigured as punishment for fleeing her husband's house, taken in Kabul, Afghanistan. Over 5,691 photographers entered 108,059 images in the 2011 World Press Photo Contest and after the two-week judging period, 56 were named winners in nine categories. It is a prestigious contest and an honor to be named a winner. The following post shares 23 of those winning images. For more on the contest, including a time-lapse video of the jury room being set up, to hear the jury chairs discuss the images that were named winners, and to learn more about the competition, World Press Photo -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old woman from Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, fled back to her family home from her husband's house, complaining of violent treatment. The Taliban arrived one night, demanding Bibi be handed over to face justice. After a Taliban commander pronounced his verdict, Bibi's brother-in-law held her down and her husband sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose. Bibi was abandoned, but later rescued by aid workers and the U.S. military. After time in a women's refuge in Kabul, she was taken to America, where she received counseling and reconstructive surgery. Bibi Aisha now lives in the United States. World Press Photo of the Year 2010, Jodi Bieber, South Africa, Institute for Artist Management/Goodman Gallery for Time magazine.
more photos
February 3, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, January 2011

President Obama recently spoke about the War in Afghanistan in his State of the Union address: “Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.” With this post, we continue the monthly look at the men and women who live and fight in the country and at the Afghan people themselves as they struggle for peace in their land. At the end of the regular post I've included 14 additional images by Associated Press photographer Kevin Frayer. The images are black and white aerials - a unique view - of Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan. -- Paula Nelson (48 photos total)

Sergeant Quincey Northern, a medic with the US Army's Task Force Shadow "Dust Off,’’ Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment, gathers his equipment after finishing a medevac mission and arriving back at Camp Dwyer, in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Thursday, Jan. 27. Medevac units may make several runs a day - at times under fire - to evacuate both injured troops and Afghan civilians. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
more photos
August 30, 2009 Permalink

Senator Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009

Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy lived his entire life in the public eye, the youngest son of a wealthy U.S. businessman and ambassador, and the younger brother of both a U.S. Senator and a President. His personal and family life was riddled with difficulty and tragedy, some self-inflicted, some undeserved. First elected in 1962, he spent 47 years in the U.S. Congress, representing the state of Massachusetts, over time gaining power and respect from both sides of the aisle, earning the name "Lion of the Senate". Kennedy passed away on August 25th, 2009, at the age of 77. He was remembered this weekend by family, friends, colleagues, presidents and thousands of citizens of Massachusetts and beyond. (41 photos total)

In this April 11, 1938 photo, six-year-old Teddy Kennedy, center, and his sister Jean attend the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, London, as their father, the new American ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, paid a call on the king. (AP Photo)
more photos
July 6, 2009 Permalink

President Obama's first 167 days

U.S. President Barack Obama has now been in office for 167 days, and it's time for a look back. Why 167 days? Why not - it's just as arbitrary a number as the usual "100 days". In that time, President Obama has contended with stimulating the U.S. economy, reshaping U.S. policy abroad, and starting work on domestic issues such as health care reform. As he and his family arrive in Moscow today for an official visit, find here a look back at some of the first 167 days of the Obama administration. (38 photos total)

President Barack Obama addresses U.S. troops during his visit to Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq on April 7th, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
more photos
May 25, 2009 Permalink

Memorial Day, 2009

Today is observed as Memorial Day in the United States, a day for remembering the men and women of our armed services who died while at war. Memorial Day weekend has also become the unofficial kickoff to Summer, complete with backyard barbecues, parades and family getaways. Collected here are a handful of photographs for remembrance, acknowledging some of the men and women who have passed in conflicts from the U.S. Civil War through Iraq and Afghanistan today. (22 photos total)

Soliders from the U.S. Army Old Guard place flags at grave stones at Arlington National Cemetery May 21, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia. It took 1,300 soldiers, sailors and Marines about three hours to place a flag at each of the more than 300,000 gravestones at Arlington ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
more photos
January 19, 2009 Permalink

Inaugural preparations

Preparations for the inauguration ceremony tomorrow for the 44th President of the United States of America have been taking place for months now. Security, transportation, logistics, sanitation, everything you can think of to accomodate the predicted millions of attendees descending on Washington, D.C. President-elect Obama arrived in Washington by train, starting in Pennsylvania, passing through Wilmington and Baltimore. Here are some photographs of the various events and preparations taking place heading into tomorrow. (31 photos total)

Chris Bullock, of Landover, Md., checks to see that the letters on a three dimensional inauguration seal are fitting tightly, in preparation of Barack Obama's inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, at Hargrove Inc. in Lanham, Md. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
more photos
December 10, 2008 Permalink

Scenes from Guantánamo Bay

During a military judicial hearing on Monday in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other detainees charged with coordinating the attacks of September 11th told Judge Col. Stephen Henley that they wished to stop filing legal motions and to confess in full. However, some of the detainees hedged their statement - suggesting they might change their minds if they could not be assured of execution. By January, some of the nearly 250 men at Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility will have been locked up for seven years. Collected here are photos of the multiple detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay - all photographs either reviewed by or released by the U.S. Military. (30 photos total)

A detainee washes his hands in Camp 6 high-security detention facility on the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. By January, some of the men will have been locked up on this U.S. military base in Cuba for seven years. President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the detention center at Guantánamo and is weighing what to do with the roughly 250 foreigners who are being held. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
more photos
November 5, 2008 Permalink

The next President of the United States

In a vote of historic proportions yesterday, Senator Barack Obama became President-Elect of the United States of America with a 52% majority in the popular vote, and more than 349 electoral votes. Over two years of campaigning was resolved with a record voter turnout, as the Republican candidate John McCain conceded graciously at 11:20 pm eastern last night. With such a high level of interest and attention, there have been millions of words written and photographs taken of the candidates over the past year. Here is a collection of some of the best photos of President-Elect Barack Obama over the past several months. (35 photos total)

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, October 19, 2008. (REUTERS/Jim Young)
more photos
September 10, 2008 Permalink

Seven years since -- looking back and forward on 9/11

Tomorrow marks a somber anniversary, seven years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Nearly 3,000 people from 90 different countries were killed that day, in New York City, at the Pentagon in Virginia, and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. While the damaged Pentagon has been rebuilt, plans are still underway for a memorial in Pennsylvania, and construction has only recently gotten underway on the memorial at Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City. On that same site, the new Freedom Tower has been under construction since 2006, and will hopefully be completed by 2012, reaching 1,776 feet above Manhattan's skyline. Here is a brief look back, several views from today, and a peek into the future of these sites. (21 photos total)

Tourists look out over the construction taking place on the World Trade Center site in New York City, two days before the seventh anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Chip East)
more photos
June 30, 2008 Permalink

Records Fall at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

Two world records were set yesterday in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Michael Phelps broke his own world record in the men's 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:05.25, and Katie Hoff qualified for her second Olympics with her own world record in the women’s 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:31.12. The trials will continue through July 6th. (13 photos total)

Michael Phelps swims to victory in the men's 400-meter individual medley finals at the US Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday, June 29, 2008. Phelps set a new world record of 4:05.25 in the event. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
more photos
June 25, 2008 Permalink

USA Olympic Diving Trials

Indiana University recently hosted the 2008 USA Diving Olympic Team Trials, and the process of selecting the diving team to represent the United States is underway. (10 photos total)

Troy Dumais twist in midair as he competes in the senior 3M springboard semifinal during the 2008 USA Diving Olympic Team Trials on June 20, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
more photos
June 18, 2008 Permalink

Daily Life in Sadr City, Iraq

North of downtown Baghdad, Iraq lies Sadr City and several other neighboring districts, predominantly shiite and impoverished. A recent lull in fighting between militias, and US and Iraqi armed forces has allowed security forces and aid supplies to return to the area. The truce remains tenuous, as a car bomb detonated yesterday in a crowded market, killing more than 50 Iraqis. Here are some images of daily life in and around Sadr City, Baghdad over the past several weeks. (16 photos total)

The hands of an Iraqi woman reaches for the sides of a truck in an effort to make herself noticed as Iraqi Army 42nd Brigade, 11th Division Soldiers distribute food, water, and medical supplies, in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, on May 8, 2008, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young)
more photos
June 3, 2008 Permalink

Daily Life in Afghanistan

Snapshots of life in Afghanistan, as seen by press photographers over the past two months. (12 photos total)

An Afghan Special Forces policeman walks through a poppy field as he searches for Taliban fighters in the village of Sanjaray in Zhari district early April 26, 2008. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
more photos
June 2, 2008 Permalink

South Korean Protests over U.S. Beef

South Korea now says it will delay resumption of U.S. beef imports, after its earlier announcement last Thursday that it was ready to resume those imports. Agriculture Ministry spokesman Kim Hyun-soo says his ministry decided to delay a final step, but did not elaborate, or make any reference to the past weekend's protests. (11 photos total)

South Korean protesters struggle with riot police as they march to the presidential house during a rally against US beef imports in Seoul on June 1, 2008. (AFP PHOTO/JUNG YEON-JE)
more photos