If you are in a major metropolis of India right now, and you need to be across town in a hurry, our condolences to you. This taxi driver, lounging on his iconic yellow ambassador cab, feels no sense of urgency about ferrying you, or any other passenger, to any destination, near or far. Don’t mistake the driver’s inaction for insolence. At rest, he is an activist. Hundreds of thousands of workers from several trade unions went on strike Tuesday to express their anger over soaring prices and to back demands for improved rights for employees.
Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
February 28, 2012: Myanmar Nuns Won’t Be Dammed
Power, and attempts to harness it, is at the root of many of today’s world dilemmas. Fallout from nuclear reactors, cataclysmic weather events, struggle among neighbors for supremacy: all demonstrate the destruction in our addiction to power. A Catholic nun and students collect stones to build a wall around their convent at Myitsone, in Myanmar’s northern Kachin state. Myitsone sits at the confluence of two rivers that form the Irrawaddy, Myanmar's lifeblood waterway. In September, President Thein Sein suspended a hydropower project that would have flooded the convent, sacrificing a power stream to a higher consideration.
February 27, 2012: Cairo Kerfuffle
The rash of prosecutions Egypt’s military regime has launched against its least favorite non-government organizations (NGOs) has brought the word kerfuffle back into vogue. Of British origin, meaning “disturbance” or “fuss,” kerfuffle had lost currency. But locking up Egyptian activists and the Western non-government workers who support them has disturbed the highest levels of the U.S. government, which has threatened to cut off $1.3 billion in military aid. Egypt is pressing forward with trials. Kerfuffle, these caged defendants in Cairo seem to say, the word just is not strong enough for what we feel.
Photo: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
February 24, 2012: Fear of the Handy, Capable
Riot policemen, especially when massed in an armed and body-armored mob, fear no smoke-pot tossing anarchist, no chanting student strikers and no battalions of peasants waving blunt farm implements. Stress-trained riot squads do not quake even in the presence of esteemed members of the journalistic community. But let a woman in a wheelchair— among hundreds of physically disabled people who have completed a 1,000-mile protest trek to La Paz, Bolivia—push herself forward to demand government support. The ninja troopers cave, shrinking from the sudden, clear picture of their indefensible role in this confrontation.
Photo: David Mercado/Reuters
February 23, 2012: Koran Riots
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, have apologized for the burning of Korans by ISAF troops at Bagram Air Base. General Jacobson further insisted that no harm was intended. Harm, however, has resulted. Thousands of Afghans stormed Bagram on Tuesday, expressing their ire with slingshots, stones and chants of “Die, die, foreigners!” Violence has surged into a third day. At least 12 protesters have died in skirmishes, and an Afghan in military uniform shot to death two soldiers in the American-led coalition.
Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
February 22, 2012: Trial by Hunger
Belarussian opposition activist Sergei Kovalenko stands in a guarded cage, having peeled off his shirt during a court hearing in the city of Vitebsk. Rights groups have denounced Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko as “Europe’s last dictator” due to his penchant for stifling independent media and grinding down opposition. Kovalenko received a three-year suspended sentence for flying an opposition flag atop a Christmas tree in 2010. Jailed in December for allegedly violating sentencing terms, Kovalenko went on a hunger strike and declared in court Tuesday: “The authorities have failed to break my will and my desire to be free.”
February 21, 2012: Shiva Getting Married
The Lord Shiva reigns as the Supreme God among Hindu deities. He is creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer and revealer. When Lord Shiva’s wedding anniversary, Mahashivratri, rolls around, devotees the world over fast, offer Bael leaves to the Lord and perform penances to gain boons in yoga and meditation. The Hindu sage, or sadhu, pictured above is one of many holy men from Nepal and India who descend on Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath Temple for Shiva’s special day. While schoolgirls across India stage classical dance performances, the sadhu smoke marijuana, smear ashes on their bodies, mark their foreheads with tika and pray.
Photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
February 17, 2012: Bunnies Scoot to Market
China’s behavior toward its animals is a recurring fascination to western media. Stories of small creatures being hawked as key chains, of the Chinese government imposing quotas of one dog per household, and of the country’s market for folk medications made up of tiger parts all fire up indignation on our side of the cultural divide. However, the American small farmer knows the anxiety of transporting livestock to market. The pathway is strewn with obstacles, and the destination promises uncertain reward; so the concerns and hopes of this Shanghai rabbit vendor have a universal pull.
Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters
February 16, 2012: Honduran Prison Inferno
An inmate clutches his heart while standing next to another inmate and a police officer outside the prison in Comayagua, Honduras, about 45 miles north of the capital Tegucigalpa. A massive fire swept through Comayagua’s overcrowded prison on February 15. The attorney general’s office said 357 people died in the blaze that began late on Tuesday night. Many prisoners perished while trapped inside their cells. Radio reports said the dead and missing totaled 402 people—almost half the prison’s population. Most of the prisoners, according to an internal government audit, had never been charged with a crime.
February 15, 2012: Mechanical Jockeys
Robots ride camels to the finish of a six-kilometer run at the 12th International Camel Race in Al Kabd, Kuwait. According to organizers, mechanical robots replaced human jockeys in 2005 due to international pressure. Camel owners were resorting to human trafficking, buying children from Pakistan and India for their smaller frame and lighter weight to ride on the camels. Since the ban on human jockeys, owners follow the race trackside in their jeeps and apply the whip to their camels with remotes. International pressure from animal-rights groups has yet to duplicate the success of child trafficking activists.
Love is the purest of all universal languages, and its message of mutually assured cherishing is in no way diminished just because the good news is being communicated in the global idiom of commercialization. The couples above are kissing during a flash mob organized by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the southern Russian city of Stavropol. But if you keep your eyes open, no matter where you are in the world today, you’ll be surprised and delighted by spontaneous outbursts of respect, affection and adoration.
Photo: Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters
February 13, 2012: Monkey See; Monkey Chew
Julian, a 2-month-old pet monkey, bites the right ear of Kan, a transvestite performer, backstage at the Tiffany’s Show in Pattaya, 93 miles east of Bangkok. The first Tiffany’s Show was performed as a one-man revue for friends on New Year's Eve in 1974. Tiffany’s Show has since become a world famous transvestite cabaret where dozens of artists perform every night. Thailand’s kathoey transgendered persons often work in predominantly female occupations. In 2011, the country’s P.C. Air hired four transsexual flight attendants. Monkeys were not included with the jet crew.
Photo: Damir Sagolj/Reuters
February 10, 2012: Greece’s Minister of Belt Tightening
Greece’s Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos sits with Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, attending a Eurogroup meeting at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. After Euro zone finance ministers met on Thursday to discuss a second financial bailout package for Greece, Venizelos returned to Athens and set out national budget reforms that Greeks must accept in return for an economy-rescuing Euro infusion. Greece’s ruling coalition responded by splintering. Several cabinet ministers either resigned or balked at accepting austerity measures demanded by the country’s international creditors.
Photo: Yves Herman/Reuters
February 9, 2012: Old Pain in New Spain
A woman holds a flower on a giant banner displaying pictures of people gone missing during Spain’s 1936 to 1939 civil war. The flower lady is part of a demonstration supporting Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon held in front of the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid. Garzon is best known for securing the 1998 London arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The Spanish Supreme Court has convicted Garzon of illegal wiretapping in his investigation of 114,000 suspected murders during the civil war and the four-decade Franco dictatorship that followed.
Photo: Sergio Perez/Reuters
February 8, 2012: Philippine Disaster Streak
A vehicle transporting a body of an earthquake victim tries to pass through a destroyed road in La Libertad, Negros Oriental, in central Philippines, February 7, 2012. Local media reports said 29 were killed and 71 missing after a 6.7 magnitude quake hit Negros Island on Monday. The Philippines have been hard targeted by natural disasters in the past 16 months. In December, flooding and landslides from Tropical Storm Washi killed more than 1,000 people. Floods also swamped islands within the archipelago in June and February of 2011, and Typhoon Megi ripped through in October of 2010.
Txera Alonso (L) and Juan Carlos Bezarra, volunteers from the pressure groupBerri-Otxoak, walk toward the town hall of the Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo during a “Via Crucis” (Way of the Cross) protest against unemployment, social services cuts and reduction in housing benefits, February 6, 2012. The unemployment rate in Spain was last reported at 21.5 percent. A record 4.9 million people are without jobs. The industrial costal town of Barakaldo has 18 percent unemployment, and its benefits budget has been reduced by half in the past year, according to Berri-Otxoak.
Photo: Vincent West/Reuters
February 6, 2012: Hugo’s Honor Guard
Military coups come, and military coups go. But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remains alive, large and in charge 20 years after leading a failed February 1992 military takeover against then-president Carlos Andres Perez. Chavez was an army paratroop commander when he rallied troops to remove Perez’s generals by force. The insurrection killed dozens before it was squelched. After two years in prison, Chavez used the flopped coup as the springboard of his political ascendancy. Caracas has hosted flamboyant military celebrations of the failed coup’s anniversary every year since Chavez took office in 1999.
Photo: Jorge Silva/Reuters
February 3, 2012: European Deep Freeze
While most of the United States has been basking in unseasonable warmth, a lethal cold snap has interrupted Europe’s mild winter. At least 139 people have died across Eastern Europe since the Arctic chill swept in. Leave behinds from the ninth snowiest January since 1966 are covering Europe and Asia. Here, a Romany child stands in front of the family’s makeshift home, which is a discarded factory in Skopje, the capital city in the Republic of Macedonia. Climate change skeptics and global warming activists are both expected to cite this winter’s severe weather anomalies to press their cases.
Migrant workers from Tajikistan bathe in the Yauza River outside Moscow. Russia is, oddly, a developing country with a decreasing population; plus, the chaos of the 1990s punched a hole in the demographic curve. The population contains fewer young adults than expected, resulting in a small indigenous labor pool and a large influx of migrant workers—mainly from former Soviet countries in Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. The migrants generally do low-skilled and heavy work on building sites, in markets or on the streets. Official statistics put their number at under a million. Unofficial estimates count several million, mostly in and around Moscow.
Photo: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
February 1, 2012: Egypt’s Arab Fall
Even after the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak, Democracy remains a contact sport in Egypt. Scores of demonstrators were injured when they fought with supporters of newly elected lawmakers outside Egypt’s parliament in Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood, feeling the power due to gains in parliamentary elections, blocked a march of liberal protesters who were calling for the military to hand the fledgling democracy back to the people. The wounded were primarily among the liberals. Sticks and stones had broken their bones; it remains to be seen if their resolve will bring freedom and equality ever after.
Photo: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
January 31, 2012: Picture Progress
Underserved kids in the Colombian city of Medellín have the same problems poor kids do everywhere. Compromised nutritional intake, ramshackle educational resources, unattractive employment options, and pressure to align with the seductive evil of powerful and malignant drug cartels. Heroes Without Borders is an art initiative that placed 23 photographs on different facades in a neighborhood of northeast Medellín to discourage recruitment of children by illegal groups. Medellín is a major city, important for universities, academies, commerce, industry, science, and health services. In contrast, Medellín’s northeast shantytowns have one of Colombia’s highest rates of urban violence. Picture it better.
Photo: Albeiro Lopera/Reuters
January 30, 2012: ‘We Are All Mahatma Gandhi’
Children dressed as Mahatma Gandhi arrive on a bus to take part in a peace march in Kolkata, January 29, 2012. Four hundred and eighty-five children from the Training Resource and Care for Kids (TRACKS), a charity for single mothers and children living without support at railway stations, took part in an attempt Sunday to create a Guinness World Record for being the largest gathering of people dressed as Mahatma Gandhi. The father of nonviolent resistance, Gandhi was assassinated 64 years ago today. January 30 is observed as Martyr’s Day in India.
Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
January 27, 2012: ‘Home Alone? I Wish’
Millions of Americans know exactly what it looks like to be living in the midst of the country’s highest poverty rates ever. Lilly Earp, 8, hugs her 5-week-old sister, Emily, in their apartment at Hope Gardens Family Center, a shelter for homeless women and children, run by Union Rescue Mission on 77 acres of countryside away from Skid Row, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California. One in 45 children, totaling 1.6 million, is homeless, the highest number in United States' history, according to a 2011 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. California is ranked the fifth highest state in the nation for its percentage of homeless children.
Anyone who saw Mel Gibson wade through a swamp of dismembered and impaled Englishmen knows that the Scottish people have a vigorous appetite for liberty. Since 1707, however, Scotland has been uneasily married to England in a United Kingdom. Many Scots believe Scottish interests are secondary priorities in U.K. governance. James Wallace, pictured in a kilt above, stands outside the entrance of Edinburgh castle on Burns night, when Scots toast their national poet. Wallace, all brave heart and bare knees, supports Scotland's nationalist leader Alex Salmond’s plans for an independence referendum—in defiance of British government proposals.
Photo: David Moir/Reuters
January 25, 2012: The Price Is Not Right
In the United States, when global corporations manipulate markets and capitalize on circumstances to raise fuel prices and stress their coffers with record profits, the American consumer traditionally tops off the tank, climbs into the SUV and peels out with a disgruntled display of unnecessary horsepower. That frustrated acceptance may be changing Stateside, and quiet acquiescence is never the style internationally. Above, Nepalese students chant anti-government slogans during a torch rally to protest Nepal Oil Corporation's decision to hike prices on major petroleum products, including petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG in Kathmandu, January 24, 2012.
Photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
January 24, 2012: Seeing Syria
Gulf State observers withdrew from Syria today after President Bashar al-Assad’s government rebuffed an Arab League peace plan as a “conspiracy.” The plan called for the President to move aside for a unity government to calm a 10-month revolt. Thousands of Syrians have been killed. Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, announced that, as far as he cared, the Arab League could “head to New York or the Moon.” Observers still on the ground include the boy above who stands in front of a damaged Syrian army vehicle in a street in Homs on Monday.
Photo: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
January 23, 2012: The Tiniest Breath of Hope
Miniaturization is a marketing trend that results in ever-smaller scale for mechanical, optical and electronics products. Smaller consumer items are deemed desirable over bulky stuff because tiny is easier to carry and store. Melinda Star Guido is a human expression of the miniaturization trend. Born August 30, 2011, at 24 weeks and weighing 9.5 ounces at birth, Melinda is one of the smallest surviving babies ever recorded by the Global Birth Registry. The little miracle of technology was discharged from USC Medical Center this past Friday, and spent her first weekend at home.
Photo: Christina House/Reuters
January 20, 2012: Requiem for an Istanbul Newsman
Protesters gather in front of the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper office to mark the fifth anniversary of the killing of its editor, Hrant Dink, in Istanbul. A man was sentenced to life in prison in Turkey on Tuesday for the 2007 killing. The verdict drew criticism for failing to explore alleged complicity of state officials. Dink was shot in broad daylight in a busy Istanbul street as he left his office. Dink had angered Turkish nationalists with articles on Armenian identity and a Turkish “genocide” of Christian Armenians in 1915, which the Turkish state strenuously denies. The placards in Turkish and Armenian read, “We are all Hrant. We are all Armenians.”
Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters
January 19, 2012: Swimming With the Seals
“S.O.S. Rescate Fauna Marina” is a Uruguayan NGO that puts volunteers and schoolchildren to work rescuing and rehabilitating imperiled marine animals. Many of the water beasts are mere babies. Lost to their mothers, these infant sea creatures have no chance of survival without human intervention. The NGO’s head, Richard Tesore, takes a bath with a 15-day-old male seal (Arctocephalus australis) prior to feeding it near the seaside resort of Piriapolis, 50 miles east of Montevideo. World travelers can visit the rehabilitation center while swinging through Uruguay; homebound adventurers have web access to the center.
Photo: Andres Stapff/Reuters
January 18, 2012: Flash Dance Jerusalem
A vocal and theatrical minority of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews has rung in the New Year by pushing a gender-separation agenda. The group decries a “spiritual holocaust” that it associates with allowing women free reign to mix with males. The segregationists believe they have God’s wrath and wisdom on their side, but they have failed to take one immutable force into account: Israel’s women. Here, a flash mob of indomitable females breaks out in a choreographed protest in Jerusalem that defies the notion of women being kept apart from a free and democratic society. Dance wins.
Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters
January 17, 2012: ¡Viva los Zapatos!
The history of human struggle shines with examples of people who sacrificed their lives to uphold an ideal, to protect other humans or to advance a cause. A few of these shining examples exist within the 46,000 people who have died in drug-related violence since Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón launched an army-led crackdown on his country’s drug cartels five years ago. Mostly, however, advancing causes, protecting humans and upholding ideals are tasks for the living. The woman above arranges shoes belonging to drug war victims at a square in Monterrey. Keeping count is action one.
Two years after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake turned a dire situation deadly in Haiti, news stories are stacked with disheartening observations charting the slow progress in rebuilding the stricken island nation. Misappropriation of rescue funds, a fleeting global empathy span and electoral turmoil are all cited as barriers to reconstruction. However, about two-thirds of displaced Haitians have reportedly moved on from refugee camps, and an estimated half of the 10 million cubic meters of rubble has been cleared. Haitians attending a Port-au-Prince church service to commemorate the disaster’s second anniversary have a future to pray for.
The global economic downturn has altered shopping behaviors around the world. With discretionary budgets cut to the bone, consumers have stripped down their purchase strategies, and one European retailer has responded in kind. Spanish fashion brand Desigual offered the first 100 winter-sale customers at its Lyon, France, outlet two free pieces of clothing—provided the shoppers arrived at the store dressed only in their underwear.
Photo: Robert Pratta/Reuters
January 11, 2012: Piano Without a Home
The United States doesn’t flinch when each new census report discloses that a record number of Americans are living in poverty. We refuse to be intimidated by statistics finding that most of the country’s unemployed no longer receive benefits. Our collective pride stands firm as expanding segments of the population wander in the woods. Michael Berenzweig, too, retains his dignity, playing a broken piano in a homeless encampment near Lakewood, New Jersey. The camp has existed in the forest for several years. Inhabitants are facing pressure from the township of Lakewood to dismantle and leave.
Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
January 10, 2012: Occupy Lagos’s Loneliest Outpost
In some places—such as Lagos, Nigeria—gasoline is life’s most precious fluid, more valuable than human blood. This seated activist waves a flag on an empty, relatively safe stretch of Lagos highway, protesting the axing of fuel subsidies in Africa’s top oil-producing nation. Prices at the pump doubled; thousands of Nigerians banded in the streets to exhibit their displeasure; police responded with bullets and beatings. Two gasoline partisans were killed on Monday and dozens wounded. Sometimes, in talking back to power, distance from the masses is the better part of valor.
Photo: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters
January 9, 2012: Tucson’s Year of Magical Thinking
Bells tolled, girls in white dresses danced, and clergymen offered prayers in Tucson on Sunday, one year after a shooting spree at a local grocery store left six people dead and 13 wounded. Among the wounded: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, who survived being shot in the head, smiles after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at a University of Arizona memorial service marking the shooting’s anniversary. “She believed it was important to help others, to try to make a difference and to put others first,” said 10-year-old Serenity Hammrich of her friend, Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in the attack.
Photo: Laura Segall/Reuters
January 6, 2012: Holiday Without Borders
One irrefutable slogan from the 1960s peace movement was, “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” This maxim, 40 years later, remains as true as the day it was coined, particularly pertaining to the little children who should be secure on the playgrounds that have become urban kill zones in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. Saja, an Iraqi child injured by violence in her home country, swings in a public park in Amman, Jordan, as part of her treatment provided by the French aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières. Join them here.
Photo: Ali Jarekji/Reuters
January 5, 2012: The Beats Go On
Maybe it wasn’t so back in the day of Bach and Beethoven, but music has come to be marketed as the eternal language of youth, and Warsaw, Poland’s DJ Wika Szmyt is a rocking advertisement for the age-defying properties of communicating via turntable. The 73-year-old stays spry in body and mind by spinning disco, rumba and samba rhythms three nights a week to fellow retirees who, like herself, refuse to act their age. Other nights, DJ Wika plays for a younger, more demanding music club audience that at times needs to grow up.
Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters
January 4, 2011: Slow Justice for Stephen Lawrence
Doreen Lawrence walks outside the Old Bailey—London’s central criminal court—after two men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of the racist murder of her son, teenager Stephen Lawrence. Lawrence was stabbed to death near a south London bus stop 18 years ago. The presiding judge conceded that “the evidence does not prove [Dobson and Norris] had the knife,” but sentenced Dobson to a minimum 15 years and two months and Norris to a minimum 14 years and three months for their participation in a murder “committed for no other reason than racial hatred.”
Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters
January 3, 2012: Something Is Rotting in Norway
A dog named Molly trots atop a portion of 20 tons of dead herring on the beach of Kvennes in northern Norway. Locals speculate that the doomed creatures were washed to shore by a storm or chased from the water by a predator—whether that predator is real or mythical has not been specified. Also unclear? How to clean up 20 tons of dead fish before they decay, and is there an apocalyptic link between the land-fallen herring and hundreds of blackbirds that dropped dead from the skies over Arkansas a few days earlier?
Photo: Jan Petter Jorgensen/Scanpix/Reuters
January 2, 2012: Egypt’s New Year Promises
Egypt had a rough but revitalizing 2011. A united and persistent populace took to the streets in Cairo and across the country, battling military units, riot police and camel-riding vigilante militias to hound dictator Hosni Mubarak from office. When Mubarak bailed, military leaders puffed up to fill the tyrannical void, and protests erupted anew. The resistance was just as brutal, the persistence undiminished. Throughout 2011, death tolls jumped by tens and twenties. This man holds a poster of victims killed in Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square, reminders of 2012’s debt to 2011.
Photo: Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
December 16, 2011: The P.C. Way to Say ‘Stewardess’
Transsexual flight attendants Phuntakarn Sringern, 24, Nathatai Sukkaset, 26, Chayathisa Nakmai, 24, and Dissanai Chitpraphachin, 24, pose for photographs aboard a P.C. Air jet at Bangkok, Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. P.C. Air recruited its first four transsexual flight attendants earlier this year. The airline had planned to hire only male and female attendants, but received more than 100 job applications from transvestites and transsexuals. The airline said the qualifications for the transgender flight attendants were the same as required of female flight attendants, which include femininity and attractiveness.
Photo: Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
December 15, 2011: Wassup, Indonesian Rockers?
Music is the unifying language of youth, and no one knows that better than “the man.” In America, the three chords of rebellion have long been co-opted to sell everything from cars and life-insurance policies to GOP presidential candidates. We’ve lost the sense of rock as being the soundtrack that powers a revolution. In Indonesia, however, the dream of transformative moshing lives on, at least in the minds of the cops. This group of youths stands in a pond after having their heads shaved by police as punishment for attending a rock music show.
December 14, 2011: The Other Jerry’s Kids
The number of homeless children scuffling for survival on American streets rose 38 percent between 2007 and 2010. During that time, Jerry Sandusky, a Penn State football coach, was the public face of the Second Mile, a charity he founded to care for foster children. Sandusky is seen above, with his wife Dottie, arriving at a hearing on 50 charges of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span. America’s street kids may have one less predator to worry about, but they are far from home free. Here are five ways to help.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
December 13, 2011: No Place Like Home for Manuel Noriega
Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega may have believed that his 20-year history as a contract worker for the CIA, including a few years when George H. W. Bush was the Agency’s director, granted him the exemptions of United States friendship. That illusion was dispelled by his capture in the December 1989 invasion of Panama by U.S. forces, executing a directive of President George H. W. Bush. Noriega returned to Panama on December 11, arriving with a 20-year U.S. prison history, and the prospects of 20 more years of incarceration back home.
Photo: Henry Romero/Reuters
December 12, 2011: Secret Cinema Plays Kabul
The British film society Secret Cinema has brought the magic of movies and role-playing to a dimly lit basement in war-worn Kabul. A man finishes up preparations before Secret Cinema’s first movie event outside Britain, a film screening in the high-security capital of Afghanistan. A few hours of lighthearted mystery, costumes and audience participation might look like whimsical folly in a landscape of foreign occupation, suicide bombings and draconian repression—unless you view the power of storytelling to enrich and expand an audience’s worldview as a self-evident truth.
Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
December 9, 2011: False Putin
In common with the United States, the electoral process in Russia is a bit of a circus, replete with clowns, masks and crude theater. Here, an activist wearing a Vladimir Putin mask approaches a police cordon during a protest in St. Petersburg. Amid reports of widespread ballot-box stuffing and manipulations of the vote count, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of stirring up protesters and said foreign countries spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence Russian elections. Special interest money buying off a sovereign government? Again, just like in America!
Photo: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters
December 8, 2011: In the Shadow of Lucifer
People in Mixco, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, cower in the shadow of a 56-foot replica of Satan during a Quema del Diablo (burning of the devil) ceremony. The devil symbolizes evil and negativity to locals. Torching the effigy is believed to relieve the countryside of the dark lord’s inimical influence. However, environmental groups condemn the ceremony as a source of air pollution, and religious groups regard it as a form of devil worship. Which puts the believers of Mixco between the devil and a deeply judgmental set of moralists.
Photo: Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters
December 7, 2011: Witnesses to Infamy
Seventy years have passed since the “unprovoked and dastardly” Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” Since that time, survivors of the attack have seen seven decades come and go, living in the hopes and responsibilities of an America that came out of World War II as one of the most powerful and well-intentioned nations in the history of the world. This anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day is a time to pause, and commit. Don’t let the vision that these brave old men sacrificed for slip away.
Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters
December 6, 2011: Women’s Work
There was a time, mere decades ago, when women banded together to dispute the notion that cooking, sewing, cleaning and having babies were the primary endeavors suitable to them. Women insisted they were just as qualified as men for roles in business, government, medicine, science, the arts or any other vocation or career that attracts them. In India, these women of Sangli, about 236 miles south of Mumbai, having worked all day like men as agricultural laborers, wait in a tractor-trailer to be returned to all the traditional, never-ending responsibilities of home and hearth.
Photo: Vivek Prakash/Reuters
December 5, 2011: Blind Swans of Sao Paulo
In 1995, ballerina and physiotherapist Fernanda Bianchini seized on the inspired notion of teaching classical ballet to blind children—for free. Her initial classes gave rise to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Association of Ballet and Arts for the Blind. The program has been expanded beyond visually impaired dancers to include the deaf and mute and children with other handicaps. Deaf student Vitoria Torres and Julia Carruci, a classmate who cannot walk, rehearse Don Quixote and tiptoe toward achieving the school’s main goal: to put students on a path to self-esteem, elegance and grace.
Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters
December 2, 2011: Ladies Who Power Lunch
Myanmar’s lurching transition from military regime to quasi-civilian nation was rewarded with a visit from Hillary Clinton, the country’s first stopover by an American Secretary of State in more than 50 years. The cadre of former military officers who rule the former Burma recently released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from 15 years of arrest imposed after her National League for Democracy won national elections in 1990. The long internal exile has failed to dampen Aung San Suu Kyi’s appetite for change, a topic surely on the menu as she dined privately with Secretary Clinton.
Photo: Saul Loeb/Reuters
December 1, 2011: Yemen Keeps ’Em Separated
The loyalties of the people of Yemen are assailed from all directions by internal factions broken down by ethnic and religious factors, many with their own militias, by bellicose tribal leaders who are the law in their ancestral lands and are lawless everywhere else, and by a contested rebellion against President Ali Abdullalh Saleh, who may honor his commitment to step down and avoid a six-way civil war. But all Yemenis can unite for one thing: a rally to celebrate South Yemen’s independence from British colonial rule. That unity is celebrated with men and women strictly separated.
Photo: Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters
November 30, 2011: One Thumb, One Vote
Democracy has taken a few beatings along the way to Egypt’s parliamentary elections. The path to this ink-stained thumb outside a Cairo polling station is strewn with routine tear gas attacks, uncounted truncheon blows, rampant summary arrests and dozens of fatal casualties. The Egyptian military’s grip on power is still tighter than many within the multitudes who banded together to topple longtime President Hosni Mubarak find comfortable. But, as recent running battles in Tahrir Square attest, the populace shows no sign of settling for anything less than what they fought and were willing to die for.
Photo: Amr Abdallah Dalsh
November 29, 2011: Kicking Dope
China, despite harsh prohibitive drug laws, a vast police apparatus and an incarceration rate that rivals the USA’s, is in the middle of an AIDS crisis that appears to be linked to an enduring spike in the use of injection narcotics. Drug addicts can be sentenced to up to seven years of enforced treatment, without trial. The compulsory recovery program includes kicking a punching dummy to unleash pent-up anger, one resource that is certainly not in short supply at this drug rehabilitation center in Kunming, the capital of southern China’s Yunnan Province.
Photo: Jason Lee/Reuters
November 28, 2011: Cop Help Cop
German riot police are so thoroughly trained that even in the middle of an empty rural field, with nary a Molotov cocktail in sight, their expertise astounds. This squad of elite officers demonstrates its synchronized “fall and crawl” maneuver while tracking anti-nuclear protesters. The ragtag band of “world savers” inexplicably managed to cross this so-called small river near Lemgrabe en route to protest a train carrying 11 containers of spent German nuclear fuel to a waste storage facility. To the protesters’ credit, Germany plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022.
Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
November 23, 2011: Blind Faith in Amman
When people speak of the blind leading the blind, the connotation is often negative, which only shows the shortsightedness of people who disparage the blind leading the blind. The visually impaired teacher pictured above instructs visually impaired children on the use of a Braille typewriter at the Royal Academy for the Blind in Amman, Jordan. Of the academy’s 109 employees, 33 have limited or no eyesight. You can travel all the way to Jordan to see the positive results of blind faith, or stay home and look into the American Foundation for the Blind.
Photo: Ali Jarekji/Reuters
November 22, 2011: Fatherless Son
Iraq’s transition from invaded kingdom of chaos to interim democracy of chaos did not occur without casualties. For instance, thousands of Iraqis were killed in what is referred to as “the sectarian slaughter of 2006-2007.” Sunni Arab leaders and the Shi’ite Mehdi Army each hold the other accountable for the orgy of violence. None of the finger-pointing and blame-gaming is any consolation to the young boy pictured above. Visiting the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, the child is being pulled away from a suspected militant who is accused of killing his father during “the slaughter.”
Photo: Saad Shalash/Reuters
November 21, 2011: Mumbai Rat Catcher
Waseem Sheikh, 12, holds a stick and searches for rats outside a residential complex in Mumbai, India. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) employs 44 night rat killers to slay rodents in the city. The killers are paid 5 Indian rupees ($0.10) per rat they kill. The rat killers are expected to kill at least 30 rodents per night and hand over the carcasses to civic officials in the morning. If killers fall short, they stand to lose a day's pay. Mumbai is the only city in the world that employs full-time night rat killers.
Photo: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
November 18, 2011: They Shoot Poets, Don’t They?
America’s literary cognoscenti would be hard-pressed to name a living U.S. poet whose contributions to the national conversation can trigger a hot retort from anyone outside the poetic community. But in Russia, living poets enjoy a higher stature. Spoken word events sell out massive stadiums, and the opinions of insightful wordsmiths influence public opinion. That may be why Zalva Genaeva, the wife of Chechen poet Ruslan Akhtakhanov, and her two daughters stand grieving. Askhatkhanov was found dead two days ago outside a Moscow apartment building in what police are investigating as a contract killing.
Photo: Diana Markosian/Reuters
November 17, 2011: The Loya Jirga Rockets the Vote
Kabul is several suicide bombings and assorted assassinations away from being one of the world’s—or even Afghanistan’s—more peaceful cities. The Afghan capital’s history of explosive counterargument has made security a booming municipal industry, especially vital when the four-day Loya Jirga is in session. The Loya Jirga, a council of about 2,000 tribal elders and political leaders, has convened to deliberate the country’s pressing issues. High on the agenda: ties with the interim government’s main ally, the United States. As of Thursday morning, opposition voices had fired two rockets at the assembly, injuring one man.
Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
November 16, 2011: Closed Door Policy
Guatemala will remember 2011 as the year of the earthquakes, the flooding and, now, the hospital worker strike. Union members at Guatemala City’s Roosevelt Hospital barricaded the facility’s main entrance and admitted only emergency patients. The partial shutdown, workers said, was to protest the Ministry of Health’s failure to provide adequate medicine and hospital supplies. If health ministers are sitting on resources, they may want to get up and deliver: Former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo is set for extradition to the U.S. to face charges of pilfering $1.5 million donated by Taiwan for schoolbooks.
Photo: Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters
November 15, 2011: Colombian Pageantry
Rival beauty pageant promoters in the port city of Cartagena, Colombia, know that beauty is only skin deep, and that socio-economic factors are profound, often-unbridgeable cultural differentiators. The city hosts two beauty pageants at the same time. The National Beauty Pageant is a contest for women from all over the country. Simultaneously, the Independence Beauty Pageant awards its tiara to a woman from the poor and middle-class neighborhoods of Cartagena. The pair of beauty queens above waits in a hotel room before the crowning of Miss Independence Queen, an honor that money cannot buy.
Photo: Joaquin Sarmiento/Reuters
November 14, 2011: Lima’s TB Sheets
Tuberculosis is an often-fatal lung disease that college-aged people in the developed world commonly suffer through in a course on 19th-century Russian literature. In Lima, Peru, tuberculosis is more than a metaphor for impotent rage. Peru has the third-highest incidence of TB among American countries, after Haiti and Bolivia. Treatment for the disease has improved exponentially since the 1800s, when it caused 25 percent of Europe’s deaths, but saving a life from TB can cost $2,500. Price is a problem. The disease is concentrated in the impoverished, the overcrowded and the malnourished.
Photo: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters
November 11, 2011: For Big Misteaks
College-aged adults everywhere take out their frustrations in public displays of defiance against authority. For instance, university scholars in the American state of Pennsylvania recently rioted to protest measures imposed upon a man who enabled a probable child rapist to proceed unimpeded. In Bogota, Colombia, students took to the streets with giant pencil erasers, striving to rub out obstacles to a full and meaningful education. Priorities and values—they're what separate the First World nations from all those laggard states.
Photo: Fredy Builes/Reuters
November 10, 2011: Opposition Opposed in Cairo
Syria’s Arab Spring has been among the bloodiest on record. President Bashar al Assad’s regime has killed more than 3,500 Syrians in its ongoing throttling of long-simmering dissent. The Assad government signed a peace plan sponsored by the Arab League on November 2, agreeing to end violence, release detainees, allow free movement and withdraw troops. More than 60 Syrians have been killed since the peace plan was implemented. To complicate the duplicity, Syria’s opposition delegation was attacked and accused of colluding with the Assad assassins when it arrived at Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday.
Photo: Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters
November 9, 2011: The Falcon Truth About Yemen
Yemen’s Arab Spring dawned at the beginning of February, and moved directly to fall. The nation ranks among the world’s most lawless and is a terrorist haven. North Yemen and South Yemen engaged in a brief, gruesome civil war in 1994. More than 100 factions are jockeying for position in Yemen. Tribal clans operate without fear of the nation’s army, navy or air force. Even the falcons of Taiz raise their wings to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemeni security forces received $150 million in weapons and training from U.S. taxpayers in 2010.
Photo: Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters
November 8, 2011: Life, Liberty, Liberia
Liberian Presidential challenger Winston Tubman (R) of the Congress for Democratic Change glowers after riot police fired tear gas and bullets into his party headquarters, killing at least one person, in the capital, Monrovia, on November 7, 2011. Liberian police later stormed Tubman’s headquarters and were repelled by U.N. peacekeepers. Trailing in the polls, Tubman called for a boycott of Liberia’s presidential elections, held today. Low voter turnout cast a bitter tinge of illegitimacy over incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s victory. Sirleaf is a Nobel laureate and Africa’s first and only democratically elected female president.
Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
November 7, 2011: Stoning Satan
More than 2.5 million Muslims from around the world have converged in the desert of Mena, Saudi Arabia, near the holy city of Mecca, for the Haji pilgrimage. Haji is a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. For the five-day ceremony of Eid al-Adha, the peak of the Haji rite, believers slaughter sheep and cattle in a Festival of Sacrifice. The pilgrims above are standing in line to cast stones at pillars symbolizing Satan.
Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters
November 4, 2011: Tupelo Thailand Style
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 collapsed the levee system along the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers and swept away much of Tupelo, Mississippi. The cataclysmic deluge was immortalized by bluesman John Lee Hooker in the song “Tupelo”: It rained and it rained, it rained both night and day/The people got worried, they began to cry,/”Lord have mercy, where can we go now?” Today, in Bangkok, people who found shelter under a bridge watch news of rising flood levels across Thailand. Click the action link below to give them some dry place to go.
Harvest festivals, planting festivals, laying out in a bikini bottom on the sands of the Côte d'Azur, all can be traced back to the sun worshippers of antiquity, when that giant ball of fire in the sky was assumed to be the physical embodiment of a very warm and intermittently cuddly god. India’s Chhat Puja festival is one of the longest-running solar deity parties on planet number three. Hindu devotees fast for days, thank the sun god Surya Shashti for the all-sustaining life force, and make strategic asks for prosperity, longevity, health and, if any grace is left over, world peace.
Photo: Ajay Verma/Reuters
November 2, 2011: Sweeping Changes in Libya
Libya’s new bosses yesterday booted out a lingering old boss from the Gaddafi regime. Mustafa Abdel-Jalil—who reigned for five years as head of economic development under Colonel Gaddafi—had been functioning as interim president of rebel Libya’s Transitional National Council. Mr. Jalil has stepped, or been pushed, aside for electronics engineer Abdel Rahim el-Keeb’s appointment as free Libya’s first prime minister. In other, perhaps more concrete, sweeping change, residents of Sirte grabbed their brooms and whisked away bullet cartridges littering the grounds of Freedom Square.
Photo: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters
November 1, 2011: Every Donkey Has Its Day
Wall Street traders have been found guilty of greed, corruption and lavish lifestyle choices in the court of Occupy opinion, but drop one of Big Business’s wily financiers into India’s annual donkey market, and see if he rides off unscathed. The five-day donkey fair at Vautha, about 31 miles south of Ahmedabad, is believed to be Asia’s largest. Nomads herd in more than 21,000 donkeys for trade, free of government regulatory bodies or insider trading restrictions. All it takes is one false transaction, and a slick day trader is dragging his broke ass home.
Photo Amit Dave/Reuters
October 31, 2011: Manila’s Haunted Housing Solution
The population of Manila is booming, sprawling, and not afraid of a little ghostly company. One Manila man sits for a haircut inside the Manila North Cemetery. The 133-acre collection of plots and memorials is one of the biggest and oldest burial grounds in the Philippines, housing hundreds of thousands of the country’s Catholic dead, and also a living community of more than 2,000 people. Manila North’s breathing residents have set up makeshift personal spaces inside mausoleums and atop the apartment-style tombs. The site attracts the world’s bravest trick-or-treaters.
Photo: John Javellana/Reuters
October 28, 2011: ‘Ilan Grapel, You Never Call!’
American-Israeli Ilan Grapel, one of the more unlikely candidates for spycraft in the history of espionage, is captured hugging his mother at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International airport. Grapel was released Thursday after four months in Egyptian custody. The third-year law student at Atlanta’s Emory University was snatched by Egyptian security forces during the Tahrir Square demonstrations and charged with provoking conflicts between Muslims and Christians. His freedom comes in exchange for 25 Egyptians jailed in Israel. The swap is seen as a proffer of goodwill from Israel and the United States toward Egypt’s new rulers, whoever they turn out to be.
October 27, 2011: A Sacred Cow of Kathmandu
Nepal’s Festival of Lights, which Kathmandu residents call Tihar, is a late-autumn, five-day fling that incorporates the Hindu festival Deepavali, with an added animal-rights component. Celebrants light candles inside and outside their homes and demonstrate their reverence for the Gods, for humans and for animals. Specific days are earmarked for spiritual appreciation and earthly pampering of crows, dogs, cows, and oxen. The dog is believed to be the envoy of Yamaraja, the lord of death, and the cow is associated with prosperity and wealth. It’s a good week to be either.
Anyone tired of the debate over global warming’s reality and impact has certainly welcomed the diversion provided by Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century. During more than three months of torrents and overflows, Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has assured potential tourists that the temple-dotted Bangkok metropolis would remain high and relatively dry. On Tuesday a protection wall on the outskirts of the city washed away, and the Thai government called for a five-day “holiday” to provide Bangkok’s 15 million residents a chance to escape uncontainable waters closing in on their city.
Photo: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters
October 25, 2011: Basque Truce
Americans vacationing in the Spanish beach city of San Sebastian, comatose on the native Basque cuisine, often returned home without realizing they had been holidaying in an active civil war zone. In 1959, under Franco’s fascist regime, the armed ETA separatist group formed to fight for Basque independence. The organization claimed its first kill in San Sebastian in 1968 and, despite numerous declared truces, waged a 40-year campaign of bombings, kidnappings and sneak attacks that has been blamed for 858 deaths. The ETA announced an end to hostilities on October 20—too late for the victims memorialized in the poster above.
Photo: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters
October 24, 2011: Tunisia’s Portable Democracy
Government employees in Tunisia assembled thousands of cardboard polling booths and held the first democratic elections of the Arab Spring over the weekend. While free Libya transmits images of barbarity and declarations of Sharia law, and the refreshed Egyptian regime keeps thousands jailed awaiting military trials, Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution stepped boldly toward moderate normalcy. A voter turnout reported at between 70 to 80 percent—male, female, young, old, religious, secular—cast ballots to create a constituent assembly charged with writing a new constitution and forming an interim government. Parliamentary and presidential elections are expected next year.
Photo: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters
October 21, 2011: Reading, Writing, Rifles
The Mexican Drug War impacts all aspects of Mexican society, as any internal conflict that claims 40,000 fatalities in five years will. The death statistics, which some observers believe are both underreported and incalculable, sum up a toll of intense personal anguish. Those numbers don’t include the factor by which trust in public institutions has dropped. For instance, math can’t quantify the suspicion in the eyes of these Acapulco schoolgirls as they pass a policeman on their way to class. Is the cop a protector, or on the payroll of the predators?
Photo: Tomas Bravo/Reuters
October 20, 2011: Give Peace a Chance, Libya-Style
The argument of whether or not Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is the rightful leader of Libya has been permanently laid to rest. A senior official with Libya’s National Transitional Council announced Thursday that Gaddafi, who ruled the oil-rich North African country for more than four decades, had been killed in fighting for his hometown of Sirte. The claims of Gaddafi’s death were backed up with photos and video of the fallen dictator’s corpse tossed into the bed of a pickup truck. The colonel is dead. Now the hard part begins.
Photo: Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters
October 19, 2011: Hamas to Go
On the surface, Hamas came out ahead of the Israeli security forces in the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners—hundreds linked to terrorist killings—for a lone Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Chief among the 1,000-plus convicts liberated by the Hamas-brokered deal: Yahya Al-Senwar, seen above. A top security strategist for Hamas, Al-Senwar had been considered one of Israel’s most dangerous prisoners. “The decision in the matter of the release of Gilad Shalit was among the most difficult that I have ever made,” said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The state of Israel does not abandon its soldiers or citizens.”
Photo: Mohammed Salem
October 18, 2011: Global Warming Soaks Central America
More than a week of torrential rains have turned Central America into a deadly Slip ’N Slide—killing at least 90 people. Monday’s unrelenting downpours claimed five in Guatemala (including four people swept away by runoff) and drowned four in Costa Rica. Honduras has lost at least 13 people, 25 more perished in El Salvador, and another eight or more in Nicaragua. Many thousands of Central American families have been evacuated. The United Nations considers Central America one of the world’s regions hardest hit by climate change. Don’t wait for things to cool off: Direct Relief International is there now.
Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters
October 17, 2011: Going Down to the River Jordan
The River Jordan is celebrated in song and scripture as a fount of salvation and redemption. The Jordan’s spiritual significance rivals India’s Ganges: The Ganges is integral to the teachings of Buddha, and the Jordan is believed to be the baptismal site of Jesus Christ Himself. To this day, evangelicals make the pilgrimage to Israel from as far away as Brazil and beyond for ceremonial dunking. Unfortunately, like the Ganges, much of the Jordan is dangerously polluted with human waste. Friends of the Earth Middle East—a joint endeavor of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian activists—is determined to eliminate all dumping of sewage and to restore the River Jordan’s timeless flow.
Photo: Amir Cohen/Reuters
October 14, 2011: Hedging Toward Prison
Billionaire hedge fund founder and stock market cheat Raj Rajaratnam is unaccustomed to encountering a problem that won’t dissolve under a sprinkling of cash, but the 54-year-old head of Galleon Management has 11 years of hard negotiations ahead of him. The Sri Lanka native was convicted in May of 14 conspiracy and securities-fraud counts. On top of his 11-year sentence, Rajaratnam has been ordered to cough up $63.4 million of his profits from insider trading of Goldman Sachs, Google and Hilton stocks. Will someone at Occupy Wall Street save this man a spot?
Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
October 13, 2011: Myanmar Shuffles Toward Modernity
Myanmar has an image problem. The former Burma has earned a reputation for civil-rights atavism, in part, by confining its most internationally celebrated citizen, 1991 Nobel Peace laureate Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, to intermittent house arrest since 1989. Aung San Suu Kyi’s crimes have been summed up as a “nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights.” Aung San Suu Kyi has been semi-free to move about the country since July 2011. Perhaps she will organize a release party for this man and the other 300 political prisoners freed by Myanmar today. Maybe not: The reclusive state still has 2,000 dissidents behind bars.
Photo: Soe Zeya Tun
October 12, 2011: Prime Ministerial Peril
Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $190 million for abuse of office. Her crime was to have negotiated natural gas prices with Russia in 2009. Yulia Tymoshenko won the hearts of Ukraine’s populace during 2004’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution, a movement that overturned the rigged presidential election of Viktor Yanukovych. However, having been elected legitimately in 2010, Yanukovych is now recognized as Ukraine’s president, and Yulia Tymoshenko—the Orange Revolution’s braided goddess—stands convicted by what international observers are calling a show trial.
Photo: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
October 11, 2011: Coptic Coffins in Cairo
Egypt’s Coptic Christians, according to Yousef Sidhom, editor of Egypt’s largest Coptic newspaper, “suffer discrimination in all aspects of life.” During the demonstrations that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Muslims and Christians stood sentry over one another as they prayed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. That solidarity has snapped. At least 24 people have been killed and scores injured in clashes between Copts and Egyptian soldiers. The mourners above carry coffins during a mass funeral for victims killed at Abassaiya Cathedral in Cairo during a protest against attacks on a church in southern Egypt.
Photo: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
October 10, 2011: The Angels of Ciudad Juarez
The Mexican drug war is spiking. Again. In September, gunmen interrupted the Veracruz morning commute by dumping 35 corpses into a busy intersection, and the bodies of a man and woman were hung from a pedestrian overpass in Nuevo Laredo as a warning to “Internet snitches.” A rudimentary street-corner murder loses its media impact—but for the Psalm 100 church. A flock of 11 young people dressed as angels descended upon a Ciudad Juarez curbside Saturday as the blood of two drug-war victims was being washed away. The sign reads: “Hitmen, believe and repent.”
Photo: Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
October 7, 2011: A Mission in the Sun
The school year is a month or two old by now, but it’s never too late to give a Skid Row kid a fresh chance. The Fred Jordan Mission in downtown Los Angeles, California, has been conducting annual clothing giveaways for 23 years, and it’s developed a certain expertise. Thursday’s “Back-to-School” extravaganza outfitted 5,000 homeless and underprivileged children with new athletic shoes, clothes, backpacks and haircuts. Two-year-old Julieta Gonzalez basks in the sun of a very special day; she’ll have enough to eat, and new shoes on her feet.
Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
October 6, 2011: Daredevils of 10 Downing Street
Every British schoolchild knows who lives at 10 Downing Street—Harry Potter! Actually, Harry grabbed his wand and blew out the chimney years ago, leaving the residence available for the Prime Minister of England. Number 10’s current occupant, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Movement, must have been alarmed yesterday to look outside at tea and witness a hooligan troupe performing flips, chanting spoken word and practicing boxing on his iconic front stoop. The kids represent an initiative called “somewhere_to,” a nationwide push to find young people the space they need to do the things they love.
Photo: Carl Court/Reuters
October 5, 2011: Blessed Be the Beasts
Some people—literal-minded absolutists—claim that the notion of animals developing actual personalities is a myth based on an illusion. Pet owners in Sao Paulo, Brazil, can’t be bothered with arguing all that, not when the very souls of their companions are at stake. The city’s animal lovers wait each year for the day of Sao Francisco de Assis, an Italian holy man highly regarded for ministering to the birds of his neighborhood, and to a wolf. When Francisco’s day dawns, Sao Paulo’s pets are herded into the local cathedral named after the saint. The beasts receive a priestly benediction. Literal-minded absolutists howl in disbelief.
Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters
October 4, 2011: Unlucky Duckies
The Hindu festival of Navratri, known in Nepal as the Dashain festival, celebrates the triumph of good over evil, although that order may be reversed if you are a duck. The birds in the bag have been purchased at a Kathmandu livestock market to be sacrificed during the festival. Thousands of animals are slaughtered every year in Nepal’s Hindu temples as offerings to the goddess Durga, but the country’s Maoist government is crimping on the bloodletting. The 2011 budget for funding sacrifices has been reduced from €15,000 to €8,000. Unfortunately for the fowl, ducks are cheap.
Photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
October 3, 2011: Kabul Rockers
Music was banned for years under Taliban rule in Afghanistan; a groom might be beaten and sentenced to months in jail for the crime of singing at his own wedding. Despite announcements that it had been driven from power, the Taliban is still a very explosive factor in Afghan life; so a festival of song and dance in Kabul is understandably organized on the down low. Sound Central, a one-day “stealth festival” in Kabul, was publicized largely by word of mouth, with the date kept deliberately vague. And girls, evidently, were only marginally included.
Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
September 30, 2011: Protectors of the Corn
Mexico takes its corn seriously. In fact, September 29 was celebrated across the country as National Corn Day. But with every party, it seems, must come a pooper. Greenpeace and other organizations peppered Corn Day with demonstrations against growing transgenic corn—that is, genetically modified produce. Corn is the primary food staple of Mexico and Central America, and the activist in the photo above—crusted in flour and corn grains as he sits in a garbage bin—is reminding the corn-loving populace of a pair of truisms: You are what you eat; and genetically modified garbage in, genetically modified garbage out.
Photo: Carlos Jasso/Reuters
September 29, 2011: Is Amazon Innovator or Exploiter?
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is understandably proud of his company’s $199 tablet computer, launched as the first feasible competition against Apple Inc.’s iPad. Amazon, of course, is a company that at its very inception turned the marketing paradigm upside down. The power of innovation is an ongoing branding theme with Amazon; so Bezos is unlikely to fire off a press release to promote Ezra Klein’s Bloomberg View column equating some of Amazon’s workers with the Depression-era characters of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Morning Call newspaper looks hard at an Amazon warehouse, and finds no progress to speak of.
Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
September 27, 2011: A Chip off the Future
Los Angeles is a place where people name their houses. Meet Chip, a concept home designed and assembled by a joint task force from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology. Chip is currently drawing crowds in Washington, D.C.’s West Potomac Park as an entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a competition that pits collegiate teams against one another in conceptualizing and building fully operative solar-powered houses that are cheap, low-energy and cute. It takes an entire site to list Chip’s interior attractions; and cuteness is in the eye of the sustainable living beholder.
Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
September 26, 2011: Tears of Life
Cancer is a very frightening disease, perhaps scariest for people who don’t have it. One common lament among patients fighting cancer is that their loved ones and other acquaintances treat them “differently.” Fear seems to destroy intimacy and normalcy. The Perola Byington Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, will have none of that. The hospital’s “Festival of Life” fashion show puts cancer patients on the catwalk to show the world that the struggle for life is something that we are all in together.
Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters
September 23, 2011: Ground Zero at Park51
Plans to expand a Muslim prayer center a few blocks away from the site of New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers inspired vehement protests and one of the best Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes in the show’s eight-season run. The so-called Ground Zero Mosque quietly opened in Lower Manhattan this week with “NYChildren,” an exhibit of work by photographer Danny Goldfield. Rana Sodhi, whose brother was killed in a hate crime following the 9/11 attacks, views the artwork.
Photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
September 22, 2011: Hikers' Homecoming
In July 2009, three friends from the University of California Berkeley took a hike into remote and hostile territory, and then the hike took them. Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Bauer’s fiancée, Sarah Shourd, were captured by Iranian forces near the unmarked border with Iraq, on suspicion of spying. Shourd was released in September 2010 after 410 days in solitary confinement. After more than two years in Tehran’s Evin prison, Fattal and Bauer were convicted of espionage and freed through a deal mediated by Oman, an Arabian sultanate with ties to Tehran and Washington. The photo above shows Fattal and Bauer reuniting with their families in Oman’s capital, Muscat.
Photo: Sultan Al Hasani/Reuters
September 21, 2011: The Fog of Mosquito War
Dengue fever has broken out in Lahore, Pakistan. Mosquitoes, as is so often the case, are being blamed. The virus-based disease begins with a sudden high fever, up to 105 degrees, that is often accompanied by two waves of rash that resemble measles and cause extreme skin sensitivity. Infected people are so very uncomfortable that healthy residents in Pakistan prefer the certainty of inhaling poison gases to the chance of coming down with Dengue. People with the condition generally recover, after a week or so, but there is no specific treatment for the disease—hence, another mosquito holocaust.
Photo: Mohsin Raza/Reuters
September 20, 2011: Pakistan Peek-a-Boo
Kids the world over cannot resist peering through the break in a curtain. You’ve seen their little heads popping out from the backstage drapes at grade-school talent shows, or agog at construction-site peepholes, or around doorjambs on the night before Christmas, eyes bugging with curiosity, faces full of eager anticipation of catching a preview of a wondrous world. These children in Karachi, Pakistan, crowd at a slit in a cloth barrier that was raised to cordon off the site of a suicide bomb attack. The childhood years—you can never get them back, but they’re with you forever.
Photo: Athar Hussain/Reuters
September 19, 2011: Latvia Votes for Harmony
Latvia and Russia’s history includes a 55-year military occupation that started in 1939 with a secret protocol between Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin’s USSR. The final Soviet troops were withdrawn in August 1994. So the fact that Latvia’s general electorate is flocking to polls to support the Harmony Center Party—the traditional refuge of Latvia’s large Russian-speaking minority—indicates something seriously amiss for the country’s primary ruling parties. That something is a widespread perception that a select group of rich businessmen is controlling the country for corrupt and selfish purposes.
Photo: Ints Kalnins/Reuters
September 16, 2011: China Takes the Lead in Lead
To say that China is in an industrial boom time is like saying that dumping toxic byproducts from lead-based manufacturing into concentrated population centers might result in human harm. Shanghai Johnson Controls International Battery Co. is a lead-acid battery maker in China. Zhao Jianyi is a 3-year-old girl from Shanghai’s Kangqiao district. Doctors registered 185 micrograms of lead per liter of Zhao’s blood. If that blood were gasoline, it would have been illegal in the United States since December 31, 1995, and if Zhao was the only lead-infused child in Kangqiao, the Johnson Controls factory might not be halting production for week while the government investigates possible lead pollution.
Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters
September 15, 2011: Unmoved and Intractable Travellers
Since the 1960s, Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies have been legally residing at Dale Farm, a former scrapyard in the rural Essex County of east England. Over the decades, more and more Irish and Romany families have pulled in and parked their caravans, setting up homesteads on a protected greenbelt. After a half-decade of court squabbling, nearly 90 families have been targeted for eviction from the unauthorized plots. Remember Brad Pitt’s inspired performance as a Traveller brawler in the Guy Ritchie film Snatch (2000)? This story will have a couple of twists before it ends.
Photo: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
September 14, 2011: Today’s Lesson
Kids around the world all have their own reasons for not wanting to go to school. Maybe the ladies in the lunchroom are too forward in their nutritional recommendations, or an algebra teacher is overly insistent that X possesses only one correct value. Or maybe the route between home and class is a murderers’ alley. On Tuesday, gunmen opened fire on a school bus in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The bus driver and at least three children, around 9 years old, were killed; 15 kids were wounded. The numbers are staggering, as are yearly statistics for students slain in Chicago.
Photo: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters
September 13, 2011: Still No Winners in Libya
A woman reflects in a car window as she flees the besieged Libyan city of Bani Walid. The country’s presumptive new rulers had presumed that only 100 to 150 dispirited fighters would be on hand at Bani Walid to put up token resistance against the National Transitional Council’s forces, who are flush from having “toppled” Muammar Gaddafi last month. Surprisingly, the NTC troops—whose discipline is seen to be slipping—have met “ferocious” street-by-street resistance from an estimated 1,000 Gaddafi loyalists. In related news, Libya’s freedom fighters may be guilty of “indiscriminate [civilian] attacks, mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests [in other words, war crimes],” says Amnesty International.
Photo: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters
September 12, 2011: Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall
Over the past 10 years, fear of terrorists sneaking across the deserts of the American Southwest has spurred the U.S. Border Patrol and National Guard to increase security appearances along the Arizona frontier. Mexico is one of the U.S.’s biggest trade partners, it has racked up 40,000 murders in a drug war fueled largely by U.S. appetites, U.S. laws and U.S. weapons, and huge parcels of American territory were once portions of the sovereign nation of Mexico. So let’s quote America’s poet, Robert Frost, once more: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out.”
Photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters
September 9, 2011: What America Does Best
Just for today, let’s put aside the facts that Manhattan’s original World Trade Center was erected in five and a half years, and that the replacement Freedom Towers won’t be completed until—best case scenario—2016. The singleness of purpose uniting so many disparate Americans in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks wore off long ago at the government and policy levels. But we are not our government or its policies. Our ability as individuals to share one another’s burdens and strengths is not limited by political alliances. Let this anniversary be a reminder that the loyal fraternity of America is a non-partisan alliance.
Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters
September 8, 2011: Free Bird, Thai Style
American musical group Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “Free Bird” is one of the most influential pop anthems of the electronic age. A featured single off the Southern rockers’ 1973 debut, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, the tune became a live-show staple. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, concertgoers demanded “Free Bird” as an encore, whether or not the band performing was Lynyrd Skynyrd. Three members of the group died in a 1977 plane crash. If heaven exists, three musicians up there are applauding Thai villagers 94 miles north of Bangkok who release a bird from a cage for good luck. Cause I’m free as a bird now/And this bird you cannot change.
Photo: Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
September 7, 2011: Texas Tinderbox
Texan Eric Kemper looks at a letter written by his sister-in-law, who was killed in Iraq, that was stored in a fireproof cabinet. Wildfires sweeping across drought-stricken Texas have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and forced thousands of evacuations in the past several days, officials said. The worst of the fires, the Bastrop County Complex fire, located about 30 miles southeast of Austin, in the central part of the state, has destroyed up to 600 homes, the most of any single fire in Texas history. Climate change might account for the tinder-dry conditions fueling the blazes, except that in the governor’s office of Texas, climate change is only a theory, and a doubtful one at that.
Photo: Mike Stone/Reuters
September 6, 2011: Point Break Liberia
Surfing is the universal language of bro’ love, if you ignore the territorial squabbles between locals and outsiders and the cutthroat tactics of individual wave riders battling for position on favorable swells. But the surfers of Liberia have a special incentive for in-the-water peace: Their country is still scarred from two brutal civil wars between 1989 and 2003. The West African nation’s beaches are one draw for a fledgling tourist industry, and the third annual Surf Liberia Contest at Robertsport celebrates reconciliation through faultless point breaks and world-class tubes.
Photo: Simon Akam/Reuters
September 2, 2011: China’s Leftover Children
For all its vaunted real-estate boom and economic expansion, China is still a vast expanse of financial hardship. The rural landscape is home to an estimated 58 million “leftover children,” kids whose parents have moved from their hometowns to earn a living. The Yangguang primary school in Feidong county, Anhui province, houses 303 leftover students, ages 3 to 14, with a staff of 10 teachers. The civilian-run boarding school, founded in 2006, is China’s first of its kind. The country needs only 191,419 more schools like it, and problem solved.
Photo: Jianan Yu/Reuters
September 1, 2011: Irene’s Eye View
If Hurricane Irene had wanted to maintain its dominance of the national news cycle, it shouldn’t have spared New York City. In bypassing the center of the media universe, the storm lost much of its celebrity, if none of its destructive fury. Paterson, New Jersey, monumentalized in the epic William Carlos Williams poem Paterson, is only one iconic American region that is either under water or digging out from felled debris. Crops were destroyed, livelihoods were turned inside out, and 46 people died in 13 states. The Red Cross is there to help, and you can help them.
Photo: Brendan McDermind/Reuters
August 31, 2011: The Bangladesh Express
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is speeding to a close, and devout Muslims are heading to open spaces to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a holiday to mark the end of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity,” and fitr means “charity.” The festive, charitable Bangladeshi passengers above have claimed the only available seats on a train running from the capital Dhaka to the Jamalpur region. The prayers of Eid al-Fitr are preferably offered to open skies, and riding on top of a train does seem like a perfect opportunity for prayer.
August 30, 2011: Filettino's Wealth of Independence
Mayor Luca Sellari of Filettino, a small town in central Italy, poses with a fresh batch of locally minted currency. The town of around 550 people, about 65 miles east of Rome, has printed its own money in defiance of an Italian government proposal to merge the municipal management of towns with fewer than 1,000 residents. Rather than be lumped in with nearby Trevi (a perfectly presentable Umbrian hill town), Sellari is trying to set up Filettino as an independent sovereign “principality.” The People’s Republic of Berkeley tried a similar tactic in the 1960s, with mixed results.
Photo: Alessia Pierdomenic/Reuters
August 29, 2011: Gay Not Gray in Berlin
Marginalization comes in many forms: sexual orientation, age, looks, relative wealth and education levels are all used to subject other people to subtle scorn and keep them at a distance. The “Gay Not Gray” fashion show staged during Berlin’s AIDS Gala 2011 featured mature gay men performing flank to flank with younger peers. Organizers said the event illustrated that being gay and old can be fun and does not necessarily lead to isolation. But, if photos don’t lie, being gay and old can lead to some serious backstage butterflies.
Photo: Thomas Peter
August 26, 2011: The Vacation Before the Storm
Hurricane Irene is currently flirting with the Bahamas, but her heart seems to be set on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Coastal areas from Miami to Maine are in line to receive blasts of the storm's 110 mph fury over the weekend. Charlotte residents Mark and Denise Flanders refuse to let the gathering clouds dim their end-of-summer getaway. Mark and Denise have rented a vacation house in Southeastern North Carolina, paid up through Sunday, and they will not pull daughter Verity off the sands of Ocean Isle Beach until Irene’s winds and rains make retreat absolutely necessary.
Photo: Randall Hill/Reuters
August 25, 2011: The Boys of Jihad
Afghan president Hamid Karzai ordered the release of 20 boys from a Kabul prison Wednesday. The children, who range in age from 8 to 17 years old, had been jailed as would-be suicide bombers. According to Karzai, Taliban insurgents had strapped vests rigged with explosives to the boys and ordered them to sidle up to foreigners and detonate the charges. The bombers were told, said Karzai’s statement, that the blasts would kill the foreigners, but not harm the boys. The would-be bombers attended a release ceremony and posed for foreign journalists—snatched from harm’s way, but still pawns in a very dirty war.
August 24, 2011: Running Out of Time
Burning tires are never indicators of social and economic progress. The black smoke rising behind this running boy is a message sent by villagers living near Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. The villagers are being removed from their homes, but the government’s promise of patches of land for resettlement has been withdrawn. The families—in the thousands—are being evicted to make way for a Chinese development project.
Photo: Pring Samrang/Reuters
August 23, 2011: Hot and Lawless in Sinai
Israel feels Cairo has lost control of the isolated desert peninsula.