Alessio Romenzi
By Mikko Takkunen
May 6, 2013

Features and Essays

Updated at 7:15 a.m. EST Vice President Joe Biden in a visit to Kiev urged policymakers Tuesday to remove the "cancer of corruption" from Ukrainian society as the White House warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that time is running short for Moscow to rein in pro-Russian separatists in accordance with an agreement struck last week. "The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right, is within your grasp. And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We want to assist," Biden said. "You have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now," Biden said in a meeting with nine members of the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. He urged the legislators to enact meaningful constitutional reforms and offered Washington's assistance as the country prepares for national elections on May 25. Biden met earlier in the day with Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov to discuss economic and technical assistance amid the ongoing crisis sparked by last month's occupation and annexation of Crimea. He landed in Kiev Monday. In a briefing in Washington Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Moscow could face further sanctions if it doesn't pull back Kremlin-backed insurgents occupying government buildings throughout the country's restive east. “If there is not progress within days, we remain prepared, along with our European and G-7 partners, to impose additional costs on Russia for its destabilizing actions," he said. During a question-and-answer session on Twitter, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki appeared to up the ante when she conceded that the U.S. government would consider levying further sanctions against the Russian leadership, including measures targeting Putin personally, if efforts to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine failed. "Yes. [Important] to lay out consequences. U.S. able to sanction people, companies, and sectors. Goal not sanctions. Goal de-escalation," tweeted Psaki. "Range of officials under consideration. Plenty to sanction before we would discuss President #Putin." According to the deal reached in Switzerland on Friday between the U.S., Russia, the E.U. and Ukraine, “all illegal armed groups must be disarmed, all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners.” In the four days since, pro-Russian forces have shown few signs of acknowledging the Geneva agreement. While many of the protesters camped out at government buildings throughout eastern Ukraine are locals, analysts and the U.S. government increasingly agree they are being supported by Russian special forces. In Moscow on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the use of ultimatums by U.S. officials and accused Washington of colluding with fascist elements in Ukraine. “Before giving us ultimatums, demanding that we fulfill demands within two or three days with the threat of sanctions, we would urgently call on our American partners to fully accept responsibility for those who they brought to power,” said Lavrov, according to Russia Today. Tensions in eastern Ukraine remain high in the wake of a deadly shoot-out in Slavyansk on Sunday night between progovernment and separatist forces. Reports also surfaced that separatist groups had detained at least three foreign journalists in the city on Monday. This article was updated with comments from Vice President Joe Biden in Kiev.
Alessio Romenzi

Alessio Romenzi: Aleppo: Scenes from a City of Ruins (TIME) Italian photographer Alessio Romenzi has been chronicling the Syrian civil war for months. The following pictures of his are from a few days in mid-April spent in the battle-scarred city of Aleppo. They include a glimpse of a rebel fighter encamped in the famed Great Mosque of Aleppo, built nearly a thousand years ago by the once mighty Umayyad dynasty.

Andrea Bruce: Syrian Prisoners Talk, as Jailers Look On (NYT) Syrian officials say the civil war is driven by Islamist extremists from across the globe and poses a threat not just to President Bashar al-Assad but also to Americans. To prove it, they picked these prisoners, who arrived blindfolded, to meet journalists from The New York Times.

Upstart Internet video company Aereo will square off against the nation's largest TV broadcasters on Tuesday in one of the most closely watched Supreme Court cases involving the media business in years. The outcome of the case could have important implications for Internet streaming, cloud computing, and the future of the TV industry itself. Aereo, a two-year-old startup backed by media mogul Barry Diller, has infuriated the major broadcasters because the company pays nothing to capture free, over-the-air TV programming using thousands of dime-sized antennas that are rented to individual users. Aereo then transmits that content to its customers over the Internet for $8-$12 per month. The broadcasters, including ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, say this amounts to blatant theft. If the Supreme Court rules that Aereo’s service is legal, the decision could throw a wrench into the highly lucrative broadcast business model, in which cable and satellite companies pay billions to the TV companies for the right to broadcast popular programming. Such retransmission fees are projected to reach $4 billion this year and $7.6 billion by 2019, according to research firm SNL Kagan. The broadcasters say that an Aereo victory could prompt them to yank their programming from free TV and move it to pay channels like Showtime. The National Football League and Major League Baseball, which are supporting the TV companies, have threatened to take high-profile broadcasts like the Super Bowl and World Series to cable. Aereo says such a move would "disenfranchise" millions of Americans who still rely on antennas for local news and other programming. Last year, two federal courts agreed with Aereo’s argument that it is transmitting thousands of legally protected "private performances" that individuals have captured using their own leased antennas housed in Aereo's antenna farms. Those verdicts relied on principles established by the landmark 2008 Cablevision decision, which allowed remote DVR technology. But in February, a federal judge in Utah sided with the broadcasters, intensifying the legal uncertainty surrounding Aereo. "Based on the Cablevision remote DVR verdict, a one-to-one relationship between the consumer’s copy or the antenna driving the stream to the consumer is what the law requires," Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia told TIME in a recent interview. "We looked at that verdict and set out to comply with the law to the fullest extent possible, and we created a great technology that is solving a real consumer problem and bringing choice to the marketplace." The TV broadcasters say that Aereo is simply ripping them off. "Nothing about Aereo’s convoluted scheme of miniature antennas and gratuitous copies exempts its commercial retransmission service from the same rules that govern all others," the companies wrote in their brief. "Aereo’s unauthorized retransmission of broadcast television to the public is obvious and unambiguous copyright infringement." Several prominent legal experts agree, including U.S. Second Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who called Aereo "a sham" and a "Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, over-engineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law." Judge Chin made those comments in a dissent to the Second Circuit verdict that found Aereo's service to be legal, and is now being challenged by the broadcasters in the Supreme Court. In March, the Obama administration filed a friend of the court brief claiming that Aereo is "liable for infringement." Last week, Diller, the billionaire media mogul who has poured millions of dollars into Aereo, blasted the White House for signaling "that the preservation of legacy business models takes precedence over lawful technological innovation." Meanwhile, several well-known public interest and technology advocacy groups have backed Aereo, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association, and Engine Advocacy. Dozens of prominent law professors and legal scholars are also supporting Aereo. "Aereo simply provides an antenna for viewers to privately transmit free over-the-air broadcast television signals," says Jodie Griffin, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge. "It does nothing more than make it easier for viewers to access already free broadcast service." Technology advocates warn that a ruling against Aereo could imperil cloud computing services offered by companies like Google, Amazon and Dropbox, because Aereo relies on the same legal principles as the entire cloud-computing industry, a point that Kanojia made in the TIME interview. "The Aereo case puts the cloud at risk because when broadcasters have complained about Aereo, their complaints also describe cloud computing," according to Matt Schruers, vice president for law & policy at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which is supporting Aereo. When they appear before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the TV broadcasters will marshal significant legal firepower to make the case that Aereo is illegal. The companies will be represented by Paul D. Clement, the former Solicitor General under George W. Bush who is widely regarded as one of the most skilled and experienced Supreme Court lawyers of his generation. Oral argument begins at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
Lars Tunbjörk for The New York Times

Lars Tunbjörk: The Largest Falcon Hospital in the World (NYT magazine) Abu Dhabi

Newsha Tavakolian: Through Story, a Look into Iran (LightBox) Portraits of declining Iranian middle-class.

Oded Balilty: Jews in Red Army (AP Big Story) Few know story of Jews in Red Army

Natalie Naccache: No Madam (CNN Photo blog) Lebanon’s ‘uncomfortable’ maid culture

Tomas Munita: The Egyptian Revolution’s Transformation of Cairo, Block by Block (NYT)

Tara Todras-Whitehill: A Growing Egypt (NYT)

Brendan Bannon: Outside Nairobi, the Only Track for 3,300 Miles (NYT Lens)

One after-effect of the Great Recession is on display now at car dealerships—where there are more and more used cars for sale, at increasingly lower prices. The used car market has gone a bit haywire over the last half-dozen years. During the height of the Great Recession, new auto sales of all shapes, sizes, and variations tanked. As a result of relatively few new cars being purchased, there were fewer used cars on the market during the years that followed—years when the economy was still struggling, when demand for cheap vehicles was understandably high, and when used car prices soared because there weren't enough pre-owned vehicles for sale to keep up with demand. Signs of a softening in used car prices began appearing around 2012, and now and in the years to come, consumers can expect better pricing and a more robust selection of most models. In particular, a trend that's stretched for several years in the lease market will soon result in a "used-car flood" at auto dealerships, as Automotive News put it. Leasing, which slumped during the peak recession years, has rebounded considerably lately. In 2009, according to Edmunds.com, consumers scooped up only 1.5 million or so new cars via three-year lease, down from nearly 2 million the year before. Fast-forward three years after that low for leasing, and in 2012 there were only about 1.5 million off-lease used cars hitting the market—an exceptionally small number compared to the high of 3.4 million in 2002, per the Manheim Used Car Market report. (MORE: With Auto Sales Slumping Car Dealerships Will Wheel and Deal) Because the pace of used-car leases has picked up each year after 2009, so too have the ranks of used cars going up for sale three years later, when the lease terms are up. This year, roughly 2.1 million off-lease vehicles will be back on the market, up from 1.7 million in 2013. Next year, the number of off-lease used cars for sale should swell to 2.5 million, and in 2016 and for the foreseeable future, Manheim predicts that there will be more than 3 million off-lease vehicles returning to the market annually. Add in the fact that cars have increasingly longer life spans, and we're seeing an across-the-board rise in supply of used cars—and the increasing supply is projected to translate to lower prices. Earlier this year, Edmunds.com forecast that used-car prices would slide 2% in 2014, and perhaps further down the road as a result of leasing trends. "Many car shoppers might not realize how much the new- and used-car markets feed off each other," explained Edmunds.com Sr. Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed. "The boom in new car leases, for example, is leading to a higher number of lease returns, which adds to the growing inventory of used cars, forcing their prices down." The news isn't all good for consumers, however. A decrease in used-car prices also means that drivers will get less for used vehicles they're trading in or selling. That shiny new car you purchase is likely to lose its value more quickly than it would have in the recent past. Individual car buyers also tend to simultaneously be sellers of their older cars, and from the looks of things, it'll be a buyer's market for quite some time.
David Guttenfelder / AP

David Guttenfelder: A New Look at North Korea (LightBox)

Guillaume Herbaut: China: Wedding Studios (Institute)

Sim Chi Yin: Chinese River’s Fate May Reshape a Region (NYT) Plans to harness Chinese river’s power threaten a region

Michele Palazzi: Mongolia In Flux (NPR)

Kuni Takahashi: Rapid Growth Creates Cities Within Cities in India (NYT)

Abir Abdullah: Death Trap: Tragedy in Bangladesh (Photo Booth)

Gazi Nafis Ahmed: Bangladesh Garment Factories (Guardian)

Maria Turchenkova: The Hidden War in the Caucasus (LightBox) While Chechnya emerges from a decade of conflict, Maria Turchenkova photographs the hidden guerrilla war in the republic of Dagestan – the largest, most heterogeneous and, today, the most violent republic in the North Caucasus region.

James Hill: Caught Cold When Sochi Freezes Over (NYT Lens) James Hill’s Photos of Sochi, Russia, Site of the Winter Olympics

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit: Remnants of glory in former Olympic cities (CNN Photo blog)

Laura Lean: Camouflage in Afghanistan (BBC)

Philippe Schneider: Paga Hill, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (Foto8)

If you think things look bad for General Motors now, they looked even worse back in the summer of 2005. Its finances were shaky, its models were unloved and the big carmaker’s future was very much in doubt. So it had a lot riding on the reviews of its newest line of small cars that was supposed to help it shift away from the slowing SUV sales it had relied on for years. Which is why the review of the Chevy Cobalt in the New York Times on June 19, 2005 was such good news for the company. The Times called the Cobalt “a good car, if not a great one,” a “creditable competitor” to comparable Toyota and Honda models, and one of several new GM models that were “vastly improved and generally likeable.” Sadly, no one in top management read the article, according to current GM officials who are currently scrambling to manage the PR fallout of the belated recall of Cobalts earlier this year. Or at least, say the current officials, no top managers read the sidebar story that ran next to the main review and reported on a troubling phenomenon: intermittent stalling of the Chevy Cobalt and loss of electrical power due to a problem with the ignition system. GM now claims top managers only learned of the Cobalt’s ignition system problems this year, and only mid- and low-level officials have been punished. But the coverage of the ignition issue in the Times and elsewhere in June 2005 raises uncomfortable questions for GM, and for at least one former official from the time who is seeking public office. The Times review was highlighted in documents released by the House oversight committee earlier this month, and was referenced in documents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over Easter weekend. It reported that Chevy was telling dealers that drivers could accidentally cut power to the car's engine and should be told to lighten the load on their keyrings. It cited one example of the cutoff occurring when the reviewer's wife was driving the car, and it quoted a reviewer in a small Pennsylvania paper who said the problem happened four times in a week of testing the car. A week after the Times review, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote about the problem. And the House oversight committee also published a statement that had been released in June 2005 by a GM spokesman, Alan Adler, acknowledging the ignition problem and saying that dealers and “service advisers” had been told to tell customers to remove items from their keyrings that might be contributing to the shutoff problem. Apparently only good news made it up the chain to top managers in 2005, however. In comments to the media and GM employees on Oct. 17, 2005, then-CEO Rick Wagoner praised the market success of the Cobalt and other new models, saying “these products have been well-received by the enthusiasts and general press.” Wagoner was forced out as part of GM’s restructuring during the government bailout of the company in 2009 and has largely stayed out of the spotlight since then. Not all top officials from that time may find it so easy to stay out of the GM recall story as it unfolds, however. Debbie Dingell was GM’s Executive Director of External Affairs and Constituent Relations in 2005, overseeing the company’s marketing strategies, community relations and its relationships with labor, suppliers, dealers, business organizations and constituency groups. She too retired from GM in 2009. But after her husband John Dingell, the long-serving Congressman from Michigan’s 15th district, announced his retirement in February this year, she announced she would run for his seat. Debbie Dingell declined to answer questions about the 2005 coverage of the ignition shutoff problem. However, she said through a spokeswoman that she knew nothing about the troubles besetting the Cobalts and other small cars when she worked for GM. “Her responsibilities were not related to the engineering and design segment of the business and she was not part of the management group related to or responsible for recall decisions,” says Liz Boyd, Dingell’s spokeswoman. Boyd says Dingell was not aware of the articles in the Times or the Plain Dealer and was not aware of the instructions sent to dealers and service managers regarding the ignition cut-off problem. GM has named a former federal prosecutor to investigate what the company knew about the problem as it unfolded. Company spokesman Greg Martin said of the 2005 Times story, "It was printed in the paper and we'll have further information as it becomes available."
John Moore / Getty Images

John Moore: Border Patrol (NBC News) Border patrol faces new challenge with surge in rural Texas border crossings

Samantha Appleton: Hidden from View (Photo Booth) Migrant labor in the agricultural heartland of Florida

Tim Hussin: Resurrecting a Texas ghost town (CNN Photo blog) In the desert surrounding a mercury mining ghost town, an ambitious band of misfits have built homes and cultivated a modern wild west. It’s a group brothers Noah and Tim Hussin felt drawn to during their two-year bicycle journey across America.

Gerd Ludwig: Sleeping Cars (Institute) There are more than seven million registered vehicles in Los Angeles County, California/USA. Images of traffic jams are omnipresent. But where do all those cars go to rest? These photographs examine where LA cars are spending their nights.

Jehad Nga: The End of Horse Racing (LightBox) In its heyday, horse racing had it all. It was the speed and danger sport before NASCAR came along; movie stars and gangsters rubbed glamorous elbows; and a couple sawbucks on a winning long-shot could put you on Easy Street. Jehad Nga’s photographs show that, as with all nostalgia, the reality could never match the legend.

Mark Peckmezian: Half-Wild Cats (Photo Booth) On the growing trend of crossbreeding domestic cats with their more feral cousins in an effort to create a feline that looks exotic but is tame enough to cohabit with humans. Photographs from A1 Savannahs cattery in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Nolan Conway: The People You Meet at McDonald’s (NYT magazine)

Maria Scheinfeld: Resorts Reborn in Decay (NYT Lens) Photos of Dilapidated Resorts in the Catskills

Cédric Gerbehaye / Agence VU

Cédric Gerbehaye: Winter in Sète (Photo Booth) This year, Cédric Gerbehaye spent December and January photographing in Sète, France, the sixth photographer to do so as part of an artist-in-residency program. Accustomed to working in conflict zones, such as Palestine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan, this experience presented Gerbehaye with the opportunity to photograph in a different way.

Andrea Gjestvang: Utøya massacre survivors (Guardian) Photographer Andrea Gjestvang’s poignant portraits of survivors of the Utøya massacre in Norway

Stefano de Luigi: On the Gondola (Photo Booth) Venice

Irina Werning: Back to the Future 2 (burn magazine)

Rodrigo Cruz: Mexico’s Porous Southern Border (NYT)

David Alan Harvey: Livin’ La Vida Rio (NYT Lens) Harvey’s personal photo project from Rio de Janeiro

Meridith Kohut: A Spotlight on Crime in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (NYT)

Elie Gardner and Oscar Durand : A Historic Community Dismantled In Peru (NPR)

Articles

Bernat Armangue / AP

2013 Overseas Press Club Winners Announced (LightBox) Since 1948, the Overseas Press Club of America has recognized photographers and photojournalists for exceptional photographic reportage. On April 24, the OPC announced the four winners of the organization’s annual prizes.

Fabio Bucciarelli Wins Robert Capa Gold Medal Award (PDN)

Sebastião Salgado: to the ends of the earth (FT) Sebastião Salgado says his latest show is a ‘love letter to the planet’

A Tribute to David Goldblatt, ICP’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Honoree (PDN)

The Dude Abides on the Other Side of the Lens (NYT Lens) Jeff Bridges honored by International Center of Photography

Trailer : “God’s Ivory” (Reportage by Getty Images) “The ivory trade of today is all about power and elitism,” says Reportage photographer Brent Stirton. Together with filmmaker Andrew Hida, Mr. Stirton and National Geographic contributing writer Bryan Christy examine the institutions that continue to sustain the world ivory trade. Full 14-minute video can be seen in the latest issue of Reportage’s online magazine here

Behind the Walls With Argentina’s 1 Percent (NYT Lens) The Sub Cooperative’s photos of wealthy Argentines

Mexico Points the Camera at Itself (NYT Lens) A new book pulls back Mexico’s masks

Capturing a Vanishing New York (NYT Lens) Photography by Sid Kaplan, a master printer, emerges from obscurity

Joy, Compassion and Fulfillment: Kitra Cahana’s Spiritual Transformation (LightBox) 2013 Infinity Award for Young Photographer honoree

Australia's platinum-blond rapstress Iggy Azalea swaggered onto the scene in 2011 with an aggressive ode to cunnilingus (whose title can't be repeated here), but it's been the T.I. mentee's accent, not her sexual confidence, that's ruffled the most feathers in the lead-up to her debut LP, The New Classic, out today. Azalea, 23, raps in a geographically ambitious drawl she's picked from her idols and stints in various American cities; often it's a deal-breaker. You can find it endearing or fake. You can admire her studied dedication to artists she loves, or you can dismiss it as white privilege in action. Azalea defends her style as a technical necessity, but a New York Times story about her fashion career suggests a different philosophy at play: “I know how to play the game and get what I want,” Azalea told the paper. “Do you think what I wore to the Chloé show would really be something that I would wear? No. I picked the outfit out myself, because I know it’s appropriate and I know how to pander." As she warned on her trunk-rattling rags-to-riches tale "Work," you can hate it or love it. Or try to love it, at least. Azalea gets brownie points for the gutsy name, but simply calling your record a classic does not a classic make — rather, her debut is a paint-by-numbers exercise in what a modern rap album should be: a song name-dropping brands here, a chilled-out track asking for alone-time and admonishing hanger-ons there. Beyoncé may have hand-picked Azalea to go on tour, but when Azalea demands listeners "bow down to a goddess," there's rather little incentive to obey. In the past year, Azalea found her footing after a few false starts with a solid string of singles that combined the intrigue of her origin story with hefty beats from producers like The Invisible Men, who handle the most of the tracks here. After discovering Tupac as a teen in small-town Australia, Azalea (born Amethyst Kelly) dropped out of high school, saved up money working dead-end jobs and told her family she was going on a vacation — then never came back. The autobiographical "Work" is by the far the best thing she's done, and it's no coincidence that The New Classic's strongest material — the T.I.-assisted "Change Your Life," the guns-blazing opener "Walk the Line" — also address her unusual American dream with similar conviction and rapid-fire (if at times obnoxiously forced) delivery. But the story wears out its welcome not long after, suggesting she's perhaps already run out of things to say on her supposed classic: The platitudes of "Impossible Is Nothing" await whoever didn't finish putting in their 10,000 hours on Macklemore's own you-can-do-it-too anthem. Azalea has said before that she resisted making a pop record because she was dedicated to rap. In its final form, The New Classic suffers for trying to have it both ways. Her most successful single is "Fancy," which features a redeeming hook by alt-pop siren Charli XCX and probably owes a good chunk of its success to the Alicia Silverstone-approved Clueless homage. The most likely candidates for future singles aren't the ones where Azalea attempts a new personal best in words-per-minute, but where she aims for melody ("New Bitch") or outsources that job to someone else (especially Rita Ora on the "Dark Horse" sequel "Black Widow"). Often, the songs don't feel like her own. That may say less about her personal tastes, though, and more about what it actually takes to be a successful female rapper in 2014: Since Azalea dropped her first mixtape in 2011, fans have watched Azealia Banks flounder and Angel Haze bust her way out of release-date purgatory only to bomb. Nicki Minaj's bipolar sophomore album and success with "Super Bass" and "Starships" reveal industry incentive to both spit a mean 16 and impress Taylor Swift, and Iggy Azalea has more or less said the same herself. "I do believe the reason people group me and Angel Haze and Azealia Banks all in the same category," she said last year, "is that none of us have had a hit yet, and once one of us has a hit, we won't be in that same category, and I want to be the first." You have to hand it to her: the girl's got ambition. Too bad the The New Classic doesn't live up to her own hype.
Alfred Eisenstaedt / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

Behind the Picture: Goebbels Glares at Eisenstaedt, Geneva, 1933 (LIFE) The unsettling image of the Third Reich’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, glaring at photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt during a League of Nations conference in 1933 remains, 80 years later, one of the signature — and certainly one of the most unflattering — portraits ever made of any high-ranking Nazi figure.

Front Row Seat: Eric Draper on George W. Bush (LightBox) President George W. Bush’s official White House photographer Eric Draper has a new book, Front Row Seat, A Photographic Portrait of the Presidency of George W. Bush, published by the University of Texas.

Birmingham’s civil rights crusade, 50 years later (CNN Photo blog) On May 3, 1963, escalating racial tensions came to a violent head when black activists clashed with city authorities in Birmingham, Alabama. Bruce Davidson of Magnum Photos was among the photographers on the scene.

John Karales’s Photo of the Civil Rights Era (NYT Lens)

Women Unveiled: Marc Garanger’s Contested Portraits of 1960s Algeria (LightBox)

Paul Kwilecki’s Photos of Decatur Country, Ga. (NYT Lens)

A Major Case of ‘the Mondays’: Photographs of Office Life (LightBox)

Brian Williams of NBC News during The Committee to Protect Journalists Honors Walter Cronkite's 25 Years of Service as Honorary Chairman at Cafe Gray
Ashley Gilbertson / VII

The Guide: May 2013 Edition (LightBox) Monthly round-up of the best books, exhibitions and ways to experience photography beyond the web—from the Reportage Photography Festival in Sydney and a new Mitch Epstein book to Martin Parr’s ‘Life’s a Beach’ at Aperture in New York and an André Kertész show in London. Above Ashley Gilbertson photo from a new book: Photojournalists On War: The Untold Stories from Iraq. University of Texas Press, May, 2013.

The month in photography – audio slideshow (Guardian)

Lee Miller: war, peace and pythons | Lee Miller: intimate moments of a 20th-century muse – in pictures (Guardian) Lee Miller, muse to Man Ray and pal of Picasso, was a celebrated photographer who captured the spirit of 20th-century life. Her archive – showing her various turns as war reporter, society snapper and fine-art photographer – went online at leemiller.co.uk on 23 April, on what would have been her 106th birthday

René Burri: A Study of Color (CNN Photo blog) His iconic black-and-white photographs have become part of history. However, his latest book, “Impossible Reminiscences,” offers a never-before-seen journey in color from the perspective of the great photographer.

Briton Bert Hardy captured the drama of war, and of daily life (CNN Photo blog) Bert Hardy, who would been 100 this year, was a renowned photojournalist. His photos are on exhibit the Photographers’ Gallery in London.

In Revealing Self-Portraits, Body Image Is Front and Center (Slate) Jen Davis’s self-portraits

From Above and Below: Man and the Sea – in pictures (Guardian) In a stunning new book of photographs, aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, founder of the Good Planet Foundation, and underwater snapper Brian Skerry have teamed up to observe our relationship with the sea.

A fresh bout of violence broke out on Sunday in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, the BBC reports. Demonstrators opposed to the government of President Nicolas Maduro were beaten back by police with water cannons and tear gas after launching petrol bombs in the district of Chacao. Other masked protestors burned effigies of the president in a day of demonstrations entitled “Rally for Democracy.” The demonstrations began in February when protestors demanded action against Venezuela’s high rates of crime and food shortages, and spiraling inflation rate. Over 40 people have died in the continuing violence, with hundreds arrested. Supporters of the president have also been protesting, with tens of thousands of people dressed in red taking to the streets. But many within the opposition movement have vowed to keep demonstrating until Maduro leaves power. “We’re staying in the street until we get our country back,” 22-year-old student leader Djamil Jassir told the BBC. [BBC]  
Emilio Morenatti / AP

Photographer Emilio Morenatti’s loss offers hope for Boston wounded (AP Big Story blog) Photographer who lost a leg to a road side bomb while covering the war in Afghanistan for the Associated Press, offers words to the maimed victims of the Boston bombings

How the AP verified photo of Boston bombing suspect leaving scene (Poynter.)

The Multiplier Effect and the Role of the Photograph in Boston (LightBox)

Boston Marathon runner who fell in photo joins the ranks of history’s sudden icons (Washington Post)

Boston Bombings Focus Attention on Caucasus, And Photo Projects on the Region (PDN)

I’m A Photo Editor for a News Organization and I Looked At Every Single Photo Taken At The Boston Marathon Bombing (Xojane)

When the line blurs between sport photography and photojournalism (Guardian)

Boston and Lower West: How Two Disasters Stack Up in the Media Eye (BagNewsNotes)

When pictures save lives (AFP Correspondent blog) Sometimes a picture is worth a lot more than a thousand words.

Note: Spoilers ahead. Fans of both Game of Thrones the TV show and Game of Thrones the book series likely noticed a disturbing plot discrepancy between the two while watching Sunday night's episode "Breaker of Chains," when Jaime Lannister raped his sister Cersei beside the body of their dead son. While plot changes aren't unheard of for the HBO show, what made this particular scene so controversial is that in George R. R. Martin's book, the sex is portrayed as consensual (albeit still incestuous and horribly morbid). While the episode's director Alex Graves told Vulture that the scene "was meant to be consensual," viewers couldn't justifiably argue that it was portrayed that way. Cersei says "no," "don't" and struggles throughout the entire scene. If consent was given, it didn't make the final cut. After the episode set off both fans and critics, Martin himself has weighed in on the scene in the comments of his blog to speculate why the show chose to make such a change: I think the "butterfly effect" that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey's death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her. The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other's company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that's just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection. Martin has discussed his theory of "the butterfly effect" before, which centers on the idea that any deviation the show makes from his intricate plot will logically lead to further deviations later on. Regarding Jaime and Cersei's scene, Martin keenly noted another crucial difference between the books and the TV series, namely that the books tell the story from different characters' point of views. Due to the nature of television, scenes can't quite be cast in that way: I was writing the scene from Jaime's POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don't know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing. If the show had retained some of Cersei's dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression -- but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline. That's really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing... but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons. [Vanity Fair]
Nick Turpin

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Interviews and Talks

A day before U.S. President Barack Obama is due to arrive in Tokyo, 147 Japanese legislators visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including top war criminals convicted of orchestrating imperial Japan’s appalling Asia campaigns. Japan’s polarizing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not among the worshippers. Instead, he sent a traditional tree offering the day before. Tuesday's Yasukuni pilgrimage took place during a spring festival of the Shinto faith and included one Cabinet-level official. In December, when Abe became the first of Japan’s last seven leaders to worship at Yasukuni, the U.S. embassy in Tokyo expressed its disappointment. Reaction in China and South Korea, two nations most ravaged by imperial Japan’s excesses, was far angrier. Since Abe took office in December 2012 — after a campaign in which he talked tough on China and called for a potential revision to a Japanese apology to wartime Asian sex slaves — Japan’s relations with Beijing have cooled. Territorial disputes in the East China Sea and historical grievances over Japan’s attitude toward its wartime past have even affected the two nations’ trade ties. (On April 21, more than 270 activists, including descendants of Japanese war dead, filed a suit at a Tokyo court, alleging that Abe’s December visit to Yasukuni Shrine contravened Japan’s postwar constitution, which was written by the Americans to ensure the country’s commitment to peace.) Obama is to spend two nights in Tokyo, underscoring the long-standing security alliance between the two nations and pushing for a trade pact that is facing domestic opposition in both countries. As part of an Asia trip that was postponed last year because of the American government shutdown, the Commander in Chief will also visit South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. (He will not make a stop in China.) Obama will be arriving in a region noticeably tenser than when he last visited. Last year, after years of Chinese double-digit military-budget hikes, Japan upped its defense budget for the first time in more than a decade. Tokyo’s defense commitments also increased this year as well, and Abe has made clear his ambitions of normalizing a Japanese military that is precluded by the postwar constitution from many military maneuvers. On April 19, Japan broke ground on a radar facility near islands that both Tokyo and Beijing claim; it is the first new deployment of Japanese armed forces in four decades. Since 2012, when Japan nationalized some of the disputed islands, China and Japan’s military movements in and above these contested waters have markedly increased, although they appear to have dropped over the past six months. The same day as the ceremony for the future radar station on Japan’s Yonaguni Island, a maritime court in Shanghai seized a Japanese-owned ship docked at a nearby port in order to fulfill a 1930s-era contract. The ship was impounded as payment for two Chinese-owned ships leased long ago by a Japanese firm; those two carriers were commandeered by the imperial Japanese government during the Sino-Japanese war and were lost at sea. On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the court decision “has nothing to do with Chinese-Japanese war compensation.” But Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed “deep concern,” saying the impounding of the container ship — which is owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, the company that is the successor to the original Japanese lessee — could have an “intimidating effect on Japanese companies doing business in China.” Was the timing of the Shanghai court’s decision, which derived from a 1988 lawsuit filed by descendants of the lost Chinese ships’ owners, a coincidence? Perhaps. But when it comes to relations between Asia’s two biggest powers, history has a way of forcing itself into the present.
Fabio Bucciarelli / AFP

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Australia's platinum-blond rapstress Iggy Azalea swaggered onto the scene in 2011 with an aggressive ode to cunnilingus (whose title can't be repeated here), but it's been the T.I. mentee's accent, not her sexual confidence, that's ruffled the most feathers in the lead-up to her debut LP, The New Classic, out today. Azalea, 23, raps in a geographically ambitious drawl she's picked from her idols and stints in various American cities; often it's a deal-breaker. You can find it endearing or fake. You can admire her studied dedication to artists she loves, or you can dismiss it as white privilege in action. Azalea defends her style as a technical necessity, but a New York Times story about her fashion career suggests a different philosophy at play: “I know how to play the game and get what I want,” Azalea told the paper. “Do you think what I wore to the Chloé show would really be something that I would wear? No. I picked the outfit out myself, because I know it’s appropriate and I know how to pander." As she warned on her trunk-rattling rags-to-riches tale "Work," you can hate it or love it. Or try to love it, at least. Azalea gets brownie points for the gutsy name, but simply calling your record a classic does not a classic make — rather, her debut is a paint-by-numbers exercise in what a modern rap album should be: a song name-dropping brands here, a chilled-out track asking for alone-time and admonishing hanger-ons there. Beyoncé may have hand-picked Azalea to go on tour, but when Azalea demands listeners "bow down to a goddess," there's rather little incentive to obey. In the past year, Azalea found her footing after a few false starts with a solid string of singles that combined the intrigue of her origin story with hefty beats from producers like The Invisible Men, who handle the most of the tracks here. After discovering Tupac as a teen in small-town Australia, Azalea (born Amethyst Kelly) dropped out of high school, saved up money working dead-end jobs and told her family she was going on a vacation — then never came back. The autobiographical "Work" is by the far the best thing she's done, and it's no coincidence that The New Classic's strongest material — the T.I.-assisted "Change Your Life," the guns-blazing opener "Walk the Line" — also address her unusual American dream with similar conviction and rapid-fire (if at times obnoxiously forced) delivery. But the story wears out its welcome not long after, suggesting she's perhaps already run out of things to say on her supposed classic: The platitudes of "Impossible Is Nothing" await whoever didn't finish putting in their 10,000 hours on Macklemore's own you-can-do-it-too anthem. Azalea has said before that she resisted singing on her album because she wanted to make a rap record, not a pop one. In its final form, The New Classic suffers for trying to have it both ways. Her most successful single is "Fancy," which features a redeeming hook by alt-pop siren Charli XCX and probably owes much of its success to the Alicia Silverstone-approved Clueless homage. The most likely candidates for future singles aren't the ones where Azalea attempts a new personal best in words-per-minute, but where she aims for melody ("New Bitch") or outsources that job to someone else (especially Rita Ora on the "Dark Horse" sequel "Black Widow"). Often, the songs don't feel like her own. That may say less about her personal tastes, though, and more about what it actually takes to be a successful female rapper in 2014: Since Azalea dropped her first mixtape in 2011, fans have watched Azealia Banks flounder and Angel Haze bust her way out of release-date purgatory only to bomb. Nicki Minaj's bipolar sophomore album and success with "Super Bass" and "Starships" reveal industry incentive to both spit a mean 16 and impress Taylor Swift, and Iggy Azalea has more or less said the same herself. "I do believe the reason people group me and Angel Haze and Azealia Banks all in the same category," she said last year, "is that none of us have had a hit yet, and once one of us has a hit, we won't be in that same category, and I want to be the first." You have to hand it to her: the girl's got ambition. Too bad the The New Classic doesn't live up to her own hype.
MediaStorm

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Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com.


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