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February 27 2014

NASA's New Photo of North Korea

Any international readers interested in North Korea would probably come across at least once this famous photo of Korean peninsula from NASA demonstrating a stark difference in the light emission of two Koreas at nighttime. NASA finally updated a new satellite image and it is ‘even more dramatic than the monochrome NASA satellite image of old', writes North Korea Tech blog. The blog also introduces a video version of the image which shows North Korea in context with the rest of East Asia. 

February 26 2014

PHOTO: South Korean Labor and Civic Groups Stage Strike

Timed with the start of President Park Geun-hye's second year in office, about 40 thousand South Koreans (police estimate 15 thousand) held protests across the country. The demonstration, spearheaded by Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, calls halt to a clampdown on labor groups, the government's move towards privatization of public sector and cover-up of the presidential election manipulation scandal. Prominent citizen journalist Media Mongu tweeted a photo of the protest (embedded below). More photos can be found in the union's Facebook page [ko].

General strike, at the Seoul City Hall Plaza. It is fully packed.

The Russian Familiarity Yanukovich's Fabulous Palace

Yanukovich's presidential palace, where dreams came true. (And then crashed back to Earth.) Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Yanukovich's presidential palace, where dreams came true. (And then crashed back to Earth.) Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

When Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev last week, he left home in a hurry. The crowds of ordinary civilians and journalists who later flooded the abandoned presidential palace, on the other hand, took their time, marveling at an opulence even Yanukovich's sharpest critics found shocking. When the first visitors arrived, they encountered a skeleton crew of guards, who actually led journalists on a tour of the property, inviting them to take photographs [ru] in order to “reveal how Ukraine's President lives.”

Popular Russian photo-blogger Ilya Varlamov gained access to the grounds, photographing various sights on the 140-hectare property. There was a private zoo filled with animals both domesticated and exotic. The garage hosted a collection of expensive classic cars. Docked at the shore of a private lake, a galleon served as a restaurant. And, of course, there was a private golf course. Ukrainians piled into the mansion to see their taxpayer money at work. An open invitation [ru] went out over Twitter inviting people to come and see the palace with their own eyes. 

Yanukovich's floating 19th hole. The galleon restaurant.

Curiously, the Russian blogosphere’s response was largely muted. Russians, admittedly, are already familiar with examples of their own politicians’ wealth and bad taste, as photos of their residences regularly leak onto the Internet. Vladimir Yakunin, president of the state-run company Russian Railways, starred in such a scandal last year, when anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny published materials [ru] on Yakunin's 70-hectare property outside of Moscow.

With this history in mind, one of Varlamov’s readers joked that Yakunin must envy Yanukovich's bigger mansion:

Ни в коем случае не показывайте эти кадры Якунину.

Don't see these photos to Yakunin.

Another Russian blogger, Oleg Kozyrev, reminded reader about a remark by Vladimir Putin in 2008, when he referred to himself as a galley slave.

Теперь понятно, что Путин имел в виду, когда говорил, что он раб на галерах. Вот галера Януковича

Now it is clear what Putin had in mind when he said that he is a galley slave. Here is Yakunin’s galley.

Lenta.ru journalist Andrey Kozenko tweeted:

Generally speaking, after seeing photographs of the residence, [I have to say]: all embezzlers have horrible taste.

Long lines to gaze upon Yanukovich's riches.

Journalist Alexander Plushev observed on Twitter:

I wonder how many of our people [Muscovites] would go to Novo-Ogarevo [Putin’s residence outside of Moscow]. (Let’s just say, if the appropriate circumstances arose.)

Vladimir Varfolomeev jokingly replied:

Hold on now—are they already taking reservations for tours? Damn. Once again, I've missed everything while on vacation.

Andrey Davidov offered the following novel solution:

You could create an electronic queue management system.

February 22 2014

Malagasy React to SI Swimming Suit Issue and Model's Take on Madagascar

The 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimming Suit Issue was shot on Nosy Iranja (Iranja Island), Madagascar:

Nosy Iranja is known as the Turtle island for the Hawksbill Turtles came to shore to lay their eggs. It is also known for the spectacular sandbank that bridges the two nearby islands.

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar - Public Domain

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar – Public Domain

Russian Top model Irina Shayk and wife of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo said that she has a special relationship with Madagascar:

When I was a student I did a report on Madagascar, and ever since then it was my biggest dream to go there [..] The (Malagasy) people live and get by every day walking in the roads, living this super simple life, and they're still happy. It is an experience that keeps you humble, puts things in perspective.

Rakotonirina Miaro wonders why the world outside Madagascar seem to appreciate the island's treasures but Malgasy citizens cannot seem to notice [mg]:

Ny olon-kafa maita ny hatsaran'ny Nosin-tsik fa ny tompony jay no tsy mahafatatra fa tsar i Gasikara! Tsara daholo ny mannequin naka sary é!

Foreigners know how beautiful our island is but we, who live here, do not seem to appreciate about our own treasures. Oh yeah, and the swimming suit models were not bad looking either

February 21 2014

Photos from The Fashion Pakistan Week

Fashion blogger Amara Javed posts photos from the ongoing Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi showcasing the Summer 2014 collections by many Lahore designers.

PHOTOS: Humans of the Caribbean

Following in the footsteps of photographer Brandon Stanton's blog Humans of New York series, professional and amateur photographers alike have been creating their own versions of the project across the world. Via blogs and Facebook pages, they are collecting images and stories of people from all walks of life. Here is a glimpse into some of the pages that make up the Caribbean's contribution, featuring the work of regional photographers who want to showcase their country or city through portraits of its diverse people.

Humans of Aruba, by Vanessa Paulina, was one of the first regional projects:

“As I was approaching the ladies got intimidated by my camera and fled the scene. He greeted me nicely so I stopped and asked if I could take his picture and explained to him what the purpose was.
He was okay with it so I asked ‘Fransisco Bennet’ what he was up to and if he could tell me what according to him the secret of a good life was. “
Photo by Vanessa Paulina. Used With Permission.

 

Humans of New York inspired Corrie Scott to start Humans of Barbados in Sept 2013. According to her, these types of projects are “…a wonderful way for us all to get to know us humans around the world.”

“How long does it take you to make these hand crafted palm brooms?”
“About 10 minutes not counting the collecting of the palm leaves, shredding them, gathering the wood for handles and more.”
“How long have you been making them? For me they are an art form in their beauty and the best broom I have ever used.”
“40 years.”
“Make lots of sales?”
” Some, but only to older people as the young generation always asking me what they are for.”
Photo by Corrie Scott, Used with Permission.

 

Humans of St. Croix was started in October 2013 by Charlene Springer:

“The Almighty Creator create all of us and then he give us a way of life. He guides the human beings with prophets to teach these human beings how they should live, how you should worship. This is why I color my beard because of our holy prophet, (peace be upon him, and peace be upon all of the holy prophets), he used to color his beard so I just do that to follow him. It is not for style or beauty, just to follow him. My prophet is Mohammed born in Saudi Arabia and his teaching are spread all over the world. His teachings does not deny any teachings of the previous prophets and actually all the previous prophets teach the same thing, it is the people that keep messing with the prophet's teachings. This is why the Almighty keeps sending different prophets to remind them that this is my way don't go astray.”
Photo by Charlene Springer. Used with Permission.

 

John Manderson started the Humans of Bermuda page back in November:

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Johnny Barnes (born John James Randolf Adolphus Mills, June 23, 1923) is a Bermuda native found waving to passing traffic at the Foot of the Lane roundabout in Hamilton, Bermuda, from roughly 3:45 am to 10 am, every workday, rain or shine. A Bermuda institution mentioned in several guidebooks and profiled in a documentary film, he is known for waving and saying ‘I love you, God loves you,’ to passing commuters during the morning rush hour into Hamilton.” Photo by John Manderson, Used with permission.

 

Nathalie Tancrede also created Humans of Haiti last November. This month, she is launching the page and hopes to “bring attention to the beauty and resilience of the Haitian people.”

“My parents could not afford to send me to school. I now live in the streets with a few other guys.”
He acts tough with the others but told me privately that all he wants is to go to school and learn like the other kids
Photo by Nathalie Tancrede. Used With Permission

 

Edward Russell III started Humans of the Bahamas when he discovered the Humans of New York project, soon after he left his job at a local newspaper, where he'd been a photojournalist for five years.

I looked at this man smiling.

I looked at this man smiling.
“You want to take a picture ey?”
I nodded.
“Go ahead then.”
Took the shot.
“That will be two dollars please!”
Photo by Edward Russell III. Used With Permission.

 

Bobby Ramroop runs the page Humans of Georgetown (Guyana):

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“If you own a chiney resstrawnt, sell actual chicken for once. And if you and somebody fall out, forgive them and wish them the best. Don't send them christmas cards threatening to stick a corncob around the first 2 corners of their large intestine. If you follow that we’d have a better society.”
Photo by Bobby Ramroop. Used with Permission.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Corrie Scott, used with permission.

February 19 2014

Photographers Snap Over Online Accreditation for Trinidad Carnival

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is a spectacle, heavily marketed as “the greatest show on earth” – and nowhere is it more of a spectacle than on social media.

Facebook and Twitter have taken every aspect of the Carnival scene online. You have easy access to fete schedules and flyers to help you decide where is the best place to party on any given night. While said fete is in progress, you can scan through scores of photographs to see who's there and what they're wearing. Missed Panorama semi-finals? YouTube is sure to have videos of the best steel pan performances. From soca tunes to costumes, social media has significantly expanded the reach of the festival – there are even entire businesses dedicated to documenting the social aspects of the season – but this year, the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the body charged with coordinating the organisational, promotional and commercial aspects of all things Carnival, finds itself in the midst of managing a controversy over accreditation rights and the use of Carnival imagery on social media.

Contention of this sort is unfortunately nothing new to the NCC, but the origin of the directive concerning online copyright is unclear. The National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) has said that did not come from them (one unnamed company, according to reports, has allegedly secured the online publishing rights for the entire festival) while the NCC maintains that their attitude towards Carnival coverage is that it should be as far reaching and accessible as possible.

Two photographers who have spent much of their careers documenting Trinidad and Tobago Carnival have expressed their opinions about the whole affair. Abigail Hadeed posted a detailed status update on Facebook, the first part of which questioned where her accreditation fees were going:

As a photographer who has dedicated all of my working life to the documentation and archiving of Carnival and Traditional Mas, I have since 1985 paid for press passes. For all of these decades the people from whom I purchased the passes have never been able to adequately give me a break down of what I am paying for, or how they arrived at the cost. I have experienced everything form the hostile response ‘If you don’t like it you have a choice!’ to ‘it’s for the copyright — the designers get this money.’ Well I have spoken to many of the people I have photographed over these two decades and none have ever received a cent of the money collected.

She was “really disheartened” upon hearing reports of the selling of all the social media rights to one company, saying:

It seems that ignorance, greed and a lack of accountability is (sic) yet again the order of the day.

Hadeed went on to lament the unprofessionalism of the accreditation process as well as the lack of proper facilities for media:

Until 2 or 3 years ago [the process] provided neither a place to sit, nor a media area for photographers, far less access to toilets, parking, or a safe place to be when waiting on bands. At no time in the decades of my photographing carnival has anyone suggested to those constructing the stages that thought should be given to where the media needs to be, to adequately do their job. That said, if you attend any major event such as the Olympics, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, large concerts, etc…there are areas dedicated to media only — centers for the media to recharge batteries, upload images and so on…Here in Trinidad we behave like carnival is something new and every year treat it with a level of surprise and disorganization, so the same old arguments arise with no solutions found and this cycle continues year in and year out.

So disillusioned is Hadeed about the entire process that she decided not to pay for accreditation this Carnival:

I am now considering my further involvement in the photographing and documenting of our cultural heritage. Why should I continue to spend thousands of dollars for accreditation that is not justified and does not serve my needs as a photographer? The way things are now structured the cost of photographing carnival does not make financial sense. If we as a people do not care about being the keepers of our cultural heritage to the extent that we essentially obstruct rather than support the documentation and dissemination of our heritage, I am left wondering what will be there for future generations. It seems as though institutions outside of Trinidad have more of an appreciation for our culture than we do.

Fellow photography veteran Mark Lyndersay, who blogs here, republished a statement from the photographer who questioned the NCC accreditation process late last week and was told that whatever fee he paid would not include online rights:

For at least the last six years Zorce Publications Ltd. has successfully sought accreditation to shoot still photos for archive use on the internet. Prior to this we were not aware of the accreditation process.

On February 11th, around 2pm, we came to the NCC office to meet the usual pleasant and familiar people to apply once more for our accreditation.

Since the NCBA representative was present, a lady that we are accustomed to seeing each year for our interview, we proceeded with reading through this year's NCBA application form. The NCBA lady recalled that Zorce was on a list of companies that were to be told this year that no internet-related permissions would be allowed. She clarified that this meant no social media (e.g. Facebook), no websites or no web-streaming of any photos or video. She conveyed that she was told to let everyone on the list, which was presumably every entity that was internet accredited last year was to be told the same except one company that bought the exclusive rights this year from the NCBA. She then called the NCBA office and verified that this was in fact so.

The statement described, in further detail, why it was important for his company to be allowed online publishing rights – the fees for the remaining options of print and private archives were too expensive:

I reminded her that being a car-related publication and website, we fundamentally thought that it would be a good idea to promote T&T by inviting our web users to view our online archives and subsequently our social media albums; with the hope of attracting a different sector of tourists along with our regular readers.

She indicated that while she understood our position clearly, and she knows us from processing our permissions each year, she could only abide by the instructions she was given and suggested that anyone who wished to take the issue further could speak with the CEO of the NCBA.

The statement noted the highlights of the conversation and the pressing questions arising out of them:

• Who is the mystery person or organisation who was the exclusive right to internet related Carnival 2014 Mas content through the NCBA?
• What exactly is being paid for with respect to copyright fees with NCBA?
• Exactly who [does] the NCBA now represent/protect?
• What do the NCBA-protected gain?
• Can the NCBA assume control over an independently owned portal such as Facebook or the entire internet?
• What about tourists or simple amateur public photographers seeking to enjoy the event in their own non-commercial way?
• If a photographer or media producer has the direct permission of (a) band/bands via a signed, stamped letter from their bandleader(s) to put their content in an approved location inclusive of any specified print medium, website or social media outlet…where does the NCC stand on granting accreditation passes that indicate permission to shoot Mas?

Narend Sooknarine, the photographer, summed up his experience by saying:

Indirectly, it seems the NCC accreditation badge does not fully cover all permissions for all venues at this time since the NCBA does not represent many of the large and popular bands that form the bulk of our Carnival content.

Quite frankly for most photographers who are seeking to ‘do the correct thing’ this is proving to be unreasonable.

Mark Lyndersay, in a follow-up post, asked a perfectly legitimate question:

The first thing that’s worth considering here is why there is accreditation at all.
The only sensible answer is that there is a limited amount of space available with good access to the performances of Carnival.
If that’s the reason, then there are several aspects of that which need to be interrogated.

His analysis supported Abigail Hadeed's testimony of poor facilities and constrained access:

First, why is the physical space so limited? In fact, after all this time, the access area for most Carnival events is growing smaller and more hostile to photographers and videographers, which is somewhat strange, since it ensures that our coverage of Carnival is becoming less interesting and more constrained.

It also pushes people keen to make better pictures into defying stage rules and authority.
Given the nature of the festival, there has always been more people who want to capture images of events than there will be space to accommodate them comfortably.

Since this will always be a small group who should be in it?
It stands to reason that working media should be first on the list. These are the people who are responsible for the public record of Carnival, and their efforts ensure that there is archival testimony of the work that Carnival’s creators invest every year.

Lyndersay also acknowledged the power of social media, saying:

There is now more to effective communication of the festival’s virtues than just traditional media. There are bloggers, social media attractors and documentarians working aggressively on commenting on and recording the festival in a way that goes well beyond what we see in the coverage done by local media.

If someone is extending the public understanding of Carnival with good results and an impressive audience online, they are likely to be doing it on their own dime. Should they be punished for that by having daunting fees levied on them or rewarded for their educated engagement with the event?

He continued:

The simple truth is that these fees have ruined the coverage of Carnival. Imposing hefty fees on people producing documents recording Carnival may seem to be a good idea for the people receiving the cash (no doubt a pittance to the bandleaders who have pressed for it), but it has created a lowest common denominator ethos among those who do produce such publications and broadcasts.

There is no room for careful thought, intellectual analysis or adventurous image creation in such documents. They must ensure a return on their investment, who we now have Carnival “magazines” with cover to cover images of half-naked women and little else. These documents must make their money back, inclusive of the fees harvested in the dubious name of copyright early in the dance, and the results have been putrid for more than a decade now.

Even if the fees were removed this year, it will take decades to get back to the pinnacle of such Carnival records.

Both photographers tempered their criticism with tangible suggestions for improvement. Hadeed felt that “an open dialogue between the stakeholders and the photographers is absolutely necessary”:

Unfortunately, unless there are clearly defined standards as to what should be provided for media accreditation, along with some training for those members who police judging points, photographers will always be open to the hostility of the people working for NCBA, Pan Trinbago etc. Regardless if you have a pass or not, the video teams get preference, and the photographers are constantly pushed, shoved and beaten at will by the misplaced anger of officials who take their position as if they were the guardians of the mas!

I ask that the organizations responsible for accreditation take responsibility for their decision making by simply inviting all of the stakeholders to meet and seek responsible solutions that address the breadth and depth of the issues at hand.

Lyndersay suggested several ways to revamp the process:

Loosen the restrictions of official access to Carnival in the interests of getting more of the record into the public domain. It can only improve the festival and bring more paying visitors to T&T.

Acknowledge the importance of documentarians and new media practitioners in bringing more attention to the festival, particularly those aspects of it which are dying through a lack of attention.

Improve the actual accommodations. Better line of sight angles and preplanning of the actual visual coverage of the event would satisfy more image makers and lead to better images emerging from Carnival 2014.

Ensure that accredited image makers actually have a chance to do the work they have come to do. This isn’t a party for us. Control your stages with clear rules or let madness reign.

Remove the fees for documentary publication in print and video for local producers. What’s happened since they were imposed has been far more costly than any money that’s been earned.

Will any of these improvements happen, though? According to Lyndersay, the powers that be have been moving in the wrong direction for decades:

As everything about Carnival becomes shorter and more pointed, it begins to resemble nothing less than a gladius on which we are relentlessly impaling our creative future.

An effective copyright regime for Carnival will call for work to earn the real rewards that are due, but everyone’s too busy lining up at the trough to lap up much easier money, even if it's only a thin gruel.

February 18 2014

PHOTOS: A Dizzying View From the Top of Shanghai Tower

Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov sent a shockwave through the Internet on February 12, 2014 when they posted a video of themselves climbing the Shanghai Tower. The 2,073-foot (632-meter) Shanghai Tower when completed will be the second tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

That's Shanghai interviewed the Russian team about their climbing experience. 

Check out these incredible photos that the pair took from the top of Shanghai Tower, and some other snaps of Shanghai. All photos courtesy Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov of On the Roofs and republished with permission. 

sh-tower-rs-1

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February 17 2014

From Iran to the World: Humans of Shiraz

Who are the people of Shiraz, Iran and what are their dreams? A photographic story of Humans of Shiraz began on Facebook two years ago, inspired by the globally renowned Humans of New York. The page has more than 7,300 followers. These are profile photos with human stories from all walks of life.

Shiraz is the capital of the Fars province of Iran, and it is know as the city of poets and literature. Two world famous poets, Hafez and Saadi were born in here. The city is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens.

Real Madrid

“I'm a football player…” “What's your biggest dream as a football player?” “To play in Real Madrid.” Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

“I'm a football player…”
“What's your biggest dream as a football player?”
“To play in Real Madrid.”

To Be a Model Someday

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

“What is your field of study?”
“Electronic engineering.”
“What do you like the most?”
“I like modelling and I wanted to be a model someday…”
“What is the hardest thing of being a model for you?”
“Is that the people around me accept that and cope with with this issue in a good way.”

Heavy Metal

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

“I'm a heavy metal musician, and I play electric guitar… “

From Radiology to Selling Shoes

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

Photo by Humans of Shiraz (used with permission)

February 16 2014

[Photos]: Birds Of Bangladesh

A Cuckoo (Kokil in Bangla) sits on branch of a tree and eats fruit. Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image by Mehedi Hasan. Copyright Demotix (14/2/2014)

A Cuckoo (Kokil in Bangla) sits on branch of a tree and eats fruit. Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image by Mehedi Hasan. Copyright Demotix (14/2/2014)

For a foreigner it’s hard to identify birds in Bangladesh as local books often have the wrong names in English, and Western books don’t have the Bangla names. The Face of Bangla blog and Jacob and Sanna's blog tried to help by posting popular birds’ pictures with both Bangla and English names.

Film Documents America's “Invisible” Drone War in Pakistan

A recently released short film focuses on the physical, moral and political invisibility of the United States drone warin Pakistan.

Tactical Tech logoUnseen War” is made by “Exposing the Invisible”, an initiative of the international non-profit Tactical Technology Collective which uses information, communications and digital technologies to maximize the impact of their advocacy work through short films.

Their series explores new frontiers of investigation and shares stories of people working to expose hidden layers behind problems in their societies.

From their website:

We speak to journalists, activists and experts inside and outside of Pakistan about the consequences of the strikes in the tribal FATA region, why they are possible, and how we can make the issue more visible using data and visualization tactics.

Apparently the US is at war in Pakistan against terror and has made hundreds of attacks on targets in Northwest Pakistan since 2004 with unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). They have refuses to officially acknowledge that more than 300 CIA drone strikes carried out in Pakistan and only describes them in off-the-record briefings. The previous Pakistani government openly condemned these attacks but Wikileaks exposed that they privately approved the strikes. According to an expose in Washington Post Pakistani military officials, even those who bitterly complained about drone strikes, had secretly been choosing some of the targets.

A leaked Pakistani report tells that the number of casualties are much higher than those provided by the US administration. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism the estimated casualties in the US drone attacks in Pakistan are:

Pakistan 2004–2013 CIA Drone Strikes

Total strikes: 381
Total killed: 2,537-3,646
Civilians killed: 416-951
Children killed: 168-200
Injured: 1,128-1,557

The reasons for high number of casualties have been contributed to shoddy intel gathering standards such as facilitating strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

Jeremy Scahill, journalist and author of ‘Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield’ explains how the definitions of “imminent threat” and “enemy combatants” are being redefined by US authorities to give legitimacy for drone attacks. For example all military-age males in an area of known terrorist activity are deemed as combatants, assumed to be up to no good and can be condemned to death by drone.

In the movie “Unseen War” you can hear more from the protagonists by reading the full interviews accompanying the film. You can watch the movie on the website or download it. You can also read the stories and engage in discussions.

Screenings for this short film have already taken place in Islamabad and Karachi and those interested in attending future screenings or hosting them can seek information here.

Two other movies on the US drone warfare in Pakistan – Wounds of Waziristan by Madiha Tahir and Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill – were also released last year.

With additional input from Rezwan

February 11 2014

“Dreamlike Kyrgyzstan” As Seen by a Photographer

Kloop.kg presents [ru] a collection of photos from “dreamlike Kyrgyzstan” by Russian photographer Danil Korzhonov.

Image from kloop.kg, used with permission.

Image from kloop.kg, used with permission.

Art Arises From Snow-Covered Tokyo

The heaviest snowfall in 45 years hit Tokyo over the weekend. The unusual amount of snow triggered traffic accidents, killing 11 and injuring thousands, and travel was disrupted across the country.

However, amid the cold and white, some used the snow to create beautiful, fun and sometimes strange artwork. RocketNews24 has compiled photos that were taken and shared by Japanese Twitter users.

February 09 2014

Heavy Snowfall Brings Playtime to Tokyo

Heavy snowstorms hit Japan on Feb 8, 2014. Twenty seven centimeters of snow fell in central Tokyo, for the first time in 45 years. Moro Miya, a writer and a blogger who specializes in introducing Japanese culture to Chinese readers, collected the photos of snowmen and snow-animals that were posted by the netizens on twitter.

February 05 2014

Photos: Wedding Photo Shoots in China

For most brides and grooms-to-be in China, wedding photo shoots are an important part of wedding planning. The photo shoots, usually require multiple outfit changes and various props, can cost up to $15,000.

ChinaFile features photographer Guillaume Herbaut's wide-angle shots of soon-to-be newlyweds posing (or taking a break from posing) for their portraits. Instead of wedded bliss and joy, the photographer sees alienation and a sense of loneliness.

February 03 2014

Argentina's ‘Carnival of the Country’ Kicks Off With Drums and Dances

[All links lead to Spanish-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

Argentina's most popular Carnival festivities – nicknamed “the Carnival of the Country” – are underway in the city of Gualeguaychú in the province of Entre Rios, just 230 kilometers from the capital Buenos Aires.

In Notas de un Viaje Particular, Cheryl shared her experience: 

…al ritmo de tambores, alegría y colores se llevo acabo el ultimo fin de semana del “Carnaval del País”, el mas importante de Argentina en Gualeguaychu, Entre Ríos. Es una fiesta contagiosa, que sorprende con sus impresionantes carros alegóricos, cuerpos esculturales y sonrisas interminables, la gente no para de bailar y festejar… 

…To the rhythm of drums, joy and colors the “Carnival of the Country” has started, the most important in Argentina, celebrated in Gualeguzychú, Entre Ríos. It is a contagious party, which surprises everyone with its impressive carriages, sculptural bodies and infinite smiles, people don't stop dancing and celebrating…

Carnival was banned [en] during the dictatorship in Argentina, but in cities with a long tradition of the festive season, it never really stopped. Year after year, Gualeguaychú surprises with its Carnival festivities held in a corsódromo, a venue used for Carnival parades which replaces the use of the streets.

Thousands of tourists are streaming in to participate in this year's edition, which kicked off on January 4, 2014. Events are held on all Saturdays until the first days of March.

The blog El Vestidito Negro published photos of Carnival in 2012:

Imagen del blog El Vestidito Negro bajo licencia (CC BY-ND 3.0)

Image from blog El Vestidito Negro republished under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-ND 3.0)

Imagen del blog El Vestidito Negro bajo licencia (CC BY-ND 3.0)

Image from blog El Vestidito Negro republished under a  Creative Commons license (CC BY-ND 3.0)

Revolución Media shared a video about what this year's Carnival has to offer:

Also, Gabo por el mundo posted a selection of images and shared advice on how to get to Gualeguaychú and where to stay.  

On her photography blog, Amelia McGoldrick publishes a series of images, not only of Carnival but also of her days as a tourist in the city.

However, Carnival also triggers complaints from neighbors due to the chaos caused by the attendees. El Dia OnLine explained: 

Las calles fueron el centro de diversión y de libre albedrío de alrededor de 90 mil personas que coparon la ciudad. Literalmente no cabía un alma más y sin embargo seguían entrando más y más vehículos.

Pero cuando decimos libre albedrío no lo hacemos por el solo hecho de utilizar un término que puede sonar fuerte, sino que fue la sensación que tuvieron muchos vecinos que prefirieron casi encerrarse en sus casas o, aquellos que tenían un poco más de suerte, mudarse momentáneamente de los barrios turísticos para estar más tranquilos en otros puntos de la ciudad.

The streets were the center of the entertainment and freewill of about 90,000 people who took over the city. You could literally not fit one more soul, but still people and cars kept coming in.

But when we say freewill we don't say it for the mere fact of using a term that may sound strong, but rather because it was the feeling among many neighbors who preferred to stay locked inside their houses, or those who are a bit luckier and moved away from the touristic neighborhoods momentarily so they can enjoy peace and quiet in other parts of the city .

But the party has started and the “comparsas“conga bands are prepared with drums, dances and glamour, and tourists are set to enjoy one more year of the “Carnival of the Country”.

YouTube Video by 3KTodoNoticias

January 31 2014

Photos Uzbek Authorities Do Not Want You To See

EurasiaNet.org presents ”Twenty Photos Uzbekistan Does Not Want You to See“, a collection of black-and-white images by photojournalist Timur Karpov. The photos were removed [ru] from a group exhibition at Tashkent's House of Photography two hours before the beginning of the show on January 25, apparently because they were deemed to be “undermining” national pride. Another photographer whose images were deemed “offensive” by the organizers of the show is Svetlana Ten. Her photos can be seen here.

Karpov is one of the eight activists who were detained by Uzbek police on January 29, after an unsanctioned rally in support of protesters in Ukraine. Karpov was ordered by court to pay a fine of around 1,000 US dollars and has now been released.

PHOTOS: Humans of Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests

Protesters help the driver by pushing his car up the street. Photo by Olha Harbovska, used with permission.

Protesters help a driver by pushing his car up the street. Photo by Olha Harbovska. Used with permission.

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

The short-lived adoption of laws limiting peaceful protests in Ukraine has sparked violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters on and off since January 19, 2014. The dramatic photos of the tense confrontations, sometimes shrouded in black smoke billowing from nearby burning vehicles, have circulated and stunned worldwide. 

The photos that seldom get play in mainstream media, however, are those of the human side of the long and harsh Euromaiden protests, as they are known, seen in images published on social media and photo stream accounts by protesters and journalists on the ground. 

These photos document how protesters have assisted one another to function as normally as possible, while attempting to topple a government they find to be corrupt and failing. Aside from keeping each other safe and warm, protesters often help those passing by to make it through the crowds and below-zero Ukrainian winter weather. Volunteers also provide free medical help to both sides of the protests.

A member of volunteer medical aid briggades. Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page 'Maidaners'. Used with permission.

A member of volunteer medical aid brigades in Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.

An elderly woman pouring hot tea to protesters. Photo by Olha Harbovska, used with permission.

An elderly woman pouring hot tea for protesters. Photo by Olha Harbovska. Used with permission.

People have set up improvised kitchens and tea stations in Kyiv and other cities to keep fellow keep protesters fed and warm. Volunteers also clean snow and remove garbage from the protest sites.

A man giving out sandwiches to protesters. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska, used with permission.

A man giving out sandwiches to protesters. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska. Used with permission.

Another tea station to keep protesters warm. Photo by Clashdot user Volye101, used with permission.

Another tea station to keep protesters warm. Photo by Clashdot user Volye101. Used with permission.

A woman volunteering to clean protest grounds in Kyiv. Photo by a creator of a Facebook page 'Maidaners'. Used with permission.

A woman volunteering to clean protest grounds in Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.

A man minds several caldrons of food being prepared for protesters, making sure the meal doesn't burn. Photo by Clashdot user Volye101, used with permission.

A man minds several cauldrons of food being prepared for protesters, making sure the meal doesn't burn. Photo by Clashdot user Volye101. Used with permission.

Amazingly, and as more proof that humans are social and creative creatures under any circumstances, entertainment and music in particular have been a huge part of keeping up morale during Euromaidan rallies. Sean Lennon, the son of legendary musician John Lennon, was moved when he saw how a live rendition of his father's famed song “Imagine” had been used during Euromaidan to send a message of peaceful retaliation against the establishment in Ukraine, calling it “awesome” on his Facebook. Live music remains a regular fixture at Euromaidan rallies throughout the country, an example of which is shown below:

A man playing violin to the protester in the center of Kyiv. Photo by Olha Harbovska, used with permission.

A man playing the violin to a protester in a Kyiv underground passage. Photo by Olha Harbovska. Used with permission.

There has also been a lot of visual creativity, with protesters creating posters, painting helmets, tents, etc.

A woman painting a tent at the main protest grounds in Kyiv. Photo by a creator of Facebook page 'Maidaners'. Used with permission.

A woman painting a tent at the main protest grounds in Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.

Despite clashes with police and coordinated police crackdowns on the protests, with six civilian deaths so far and thousands injured, the protesters often talk and interact with police agents during the protests, sometimes finding a common language and common ground. Below is a photo of a Ukrainian police officer on duty during the protests, who seems happy to have reached an agreement with the protesters to keep the peace and not use force:

A smiling policeman. He just promised not to use force against protesters. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska, used with permission.

A smiling policeman. He just promised not to use force against protesters. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska. Used with permission.

A volunteer defender of protest grounds in Kyiv. Has initiated the creation of human chanin between the protesters and the police to prevent provokations and violence. Photo by the creator of Facebook page 'Maidaners'. Used with permission.

A volunteer defender of protest grounds in Kyiv who initiated the creation of human chain between the protesters and the police to prevent provocations and violence. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

Images for this post were sourced by Global Voices authors Tetyana Bohdanova and Tetyana Lokot.
Reposted bydarksideofthemoon darksideofthemoon

Everyday Ukrainian Life in 1942 Depicted Through Fifty Color Photos

Woman and child in rural Ukraine, 1942. Photo courtesy of www.vintage.es, used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.

Woman and child in rural Ukraine, 1942. Photo courtesy of www.vintage.es, used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.

As anti-government protests that started on November 21, 2013, burden Ukrainian life today, a vintage photo blog takes a look back on another harsh period of the country's history – through 52 amazing color photographs [photo] of everyday life in Ukraine in 1942.

In 1942, like many other European countries, Ukraine was under Nazi occupation. As InfoUkes reminds readers:

Hitler appointed the Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946) head of the Ostministerium (East Ministry) in charge of administering the territory of Ukraine. Before the war Rosenberg was pro-Ukrainian and anti-Muscovite (Russian). He planned to establish a Greater Ukraine state taking territory from Western Russia. However, Hitler had a different idea. He thought Ukrainians should get no preferential treatment and personally appointed Erich Koch to rule Reichskommissariat Ukraine (eastern Ukraine) with an iron fist.

Koch, as a member of the superior German Herrenvolk master race, started a reign of terror and oppression in Ukraine. Koch often said that the Ukrainian people were inferior to the Germans, that Ukrainians were half-monkeys, and that Ukrainians “must be handled with the whip like the negroes.” He once said that “no German soldiers would die for these niggers [Ukrainians].”

The photos on Vintage Everyday, however, show a different side of the story. However cruel the times, people have a tendency to do everything in their power to lead normal lives, even in a Nazi-occupied Ukraine and with World War II raging on all fronts.

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