Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII for Wired
By Mikko Takkunen
November 25, 2013

Features and Essays

Productivity apps Docs and Sheets, Google’s free answer to the Microsoft Office suite, are now available for download for iOS and Android mobile devices, the company announced yesterday. [caption id="attachment_84351" align="alignnone" width="170"] Google[/caption] The apps allow you to create new documents and spreadsheets, and edit those you’ve already created and stored on the web via Google Drive. Both offer collaboration features, auto-save, an offline mode and other basic features you’ll need to make quick changes to docs on the fly. Over the last year, we’ve seen a proliferation of Word and Excel-like productivity apps made available on mobile devices. Microsoft recently made its Office suite available for iPad users, though a $69.99 per year subscription to Office 365 is required for making edits. Apple’s iWork for iCloud apps such as Pages and Numbers are free for those who purchase a new iOS device, but us owners of older Apple devices still need to pay $9.99 per app. Google’s mobile productivity suite is, thus far, the only one that’s truly free for all. You can find the news apps available on the Apple App Store for iOS (Sheets) (Docs) and on Google Play for Android devices (Sheets) (Docs). A mobile version of PowerPoint clone Google Slides is “coming soon.” For more on choosing the right office productivity suite, check out this side-by-side-by-side Google Docs, iWork for iCloud and Microsoft Office comparison. This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious. More from Techlicious: Humor: "What is a Photocopier?" Hulu Moves to Offer Free Streaming Over Mobile Devices Acer Introduces New Laptops, Tablets and Hybrids for the Summer Hackers Stole AOL Account Details to Send Spoofed Emails Taking Better Party Photos with Your Smartphone
Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII for Wired

Anastasia Taylor-Lind: The Surge (Wired) Fighting polio in Afghanistan | You can follow Taylor-Lind’s new project on Europe’s declining populations, called Negative Zero, here

Jonathan Saruk: The Forbidden Reel (Photo Booth) A look at Afghan cinema culture

Sim Chi Yin: Dissatisfaction and Dysfunction in a Model for China’s Urbanization (NYT) New China cities: shoddy homes, broken hope

Jonas Bendiksen: First Skiers (National Geographic) The origin of the sport may lie in remote Chinese mountains, where skiing is still a way of life

Finding a mate is one of the basic instincts of all living beings, and in most of the animal and insect world, it’s all done by smell. Sniffing out gender is something that animals are built to do, both with the appropriate scent-releasing structures to perfume the air with sex pheromones, and the most sensitive odor-detecting organs on the planet. Now scientists report in the journal Current Biology that people may have that ability as well, even if we aren’t always aware of it. Humans don’t have the same sophisticated olfactory organs as some of our animal counterparts, and while men and women do exude different scents, it’s been harder to confirm that people can pick up on these odors, or that they were working as sex pheromones to attract two people to each other. MORE: Your Nose Can Smell at Least 1 Trillion Scents In the latest study on the subject, researchers in China and at the University of Minnesota conducted a small study in which both men and women of different sexual orientation were exposed to male, female or neutral scents without their knowledge on three consecutive days while they viewed a series of computer dots representing a person walking. Heterosexual men thought the dots showed a more feminine gait when they were exposed to the female hormone estratetraenol. There was a similar effect among heterosexual women, who were biased to see the dots showing a more masculine gait when they smelled the male hormone androstadienone. Gay men responded more like the women to the two hormones, while bisexual or homosexual women showed more varied responses, between those of heterosexual men and women. MORE: Can Your Smelly Shirt Land You a Better First Date? “The study shows that people subconsciously extract gender information from chemosensory cues [that depend] on their gender and sexual orientation,” says Wen Zhou, the study’s lead author from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, in an email discussion about the findings. Zhou isn’t quite ready to say that estratetraenol and androstadienone, which are steroid products of estrogen and testosterone, respectively, work as sex pheromones between men and women by acting as sexual stimulants, since the group did not test how smelling varying amounts of the agents affected people’s sensitivities toward gender. But the findings provide the first hint that gender may have specific scents, and that the human nose and pick up on them. The study also suggests that the human nose may be relaying information about much more than smells that the brain processes on a conscious level. Recent studies, in fact, have confirmed that our olfactory sense is capable of picking up one trillion smells, and that we can pick up whiffs of illness when somebody’s immune system is activated. There’s even evidence that the human nose can smell age – an evolutionarily helpful skill that distinguished younger, more fertile mates from older ones. We are only beginning to understand what the nose knows, and we imagine ensuing research will continue to surprise and baffle us all.
Noriko Hayashi / Panos

Noriko Hayashi: Kyrgyzstan’s Bride Kidnappings (Newsweek) In Kyrgyzstan, as many as 40% of ethnic Kyrgyz women are married after being kidnapped by the men who become their husbands

Ivor Prickett: Punjabi Farmers in Georgia (Panos Pictures) In one of the more unusual contemporary migrations, several thousand Indian farmers have made their way to the former Soviet republic of Georgia | Also on NYT lens here

Olga Ingurazova: Foresaken Land: Abkhazia (Lens Culture)

Rob Hornstra: Scenes from Sochi (FT) Photographer Rob Hornstra explores a city reinventing itself for the Winter Olympics

Davide Monteleone: Spasibo (Photo Booth) In search of Chechen identity

A memoir from a “serial wedding guest” recounting almost every knot-tying ceremony she’s attended sounds like the premise of a rom-com, but Jen Doll’s new book, Save the Date, is no Katherine Heigl movie — it’s a smart examination of just how weird weddings can be when put under the microscope. Doll’s first book, which began as a post on The Hairpin, charmingly chronicles the contradictions of 17 nuptials. Weddings, you see, are meant to honor a happy couple’s special day, but most attendees will admit to secretly sizing up their own personal lives between snapping pics in the aisles. Weddings are also fleeting, single-day events meant to celebrate the idea of “forever,” yet for tradition that so clearly values the intangibles of love and happiness, there sure are a lot of material goods involved. (The book’s original working title: I Bought You a KitchenAid.) As counterintuitive as it is to say, the weddings themselves are the least interesting part of the book. Doll offers plenty of description about outfit choices, flower arrangements and hotel interiors, either to set the scene, inspire brides-to-be or anthropologically document one of society’s most treasured customs. Perhaps all three — it doesn’t matter. The who, what, where, when and why of the wedding are really just a jumping off point for Doll to expound about dating in the 21st century, falling in love and finding modern meanings in an ancient institution. Some of the best chapters aren’t even really about weddings, like when she recounts her Alabama upbringing, grills her parents about the secrets to a lasting partnership or describes a painful falling out that bleeds into multiple essays. Weddings, after all, are as much about friendship as they are about true love. They’re also about shenanigans, too: Doll doles out wedding protips she learned the hard way as she catalogs wedding hook-ups and alcohol-induced antics, which happen so frequently that Doll notes a section of the book may as well have been titled “Jen Might Have Had Sort of a Drinking Problem for a While.” At times it feels like she’s stretching to find meaning in otherwise ordinary moments, but it’s also easy to understand why. The ultimate wedding party favor is a good story — and Doll has several.
Adam Dean / Panos for TIME

Adam Dean: Seven Days of Tragedy (LightBox) Dean’s photographs of Typhoon Haiyan aftermath, taken on assignment for TIME

various photographers: Typhoon’s Haiyan’s Wrath (NYT)

various photographers: Typhoon Haiyan Cuts a Path of Destruction Across The Philippines (TIME)

Claire Martin: Kiribati Sinks as Pacific Ocean Rises (BusinessWeek) Where will its people go?

Joel van Houdt: The Dream Boat (New York Times Magazine) More than a thousand refugees have died trying to reach Christmas Island. But faced with unbearable conditions at home, they keep coming

A memoir from a “serial wedding guest” recounting almost every knot-tying ceremony she’s attended sounds like the premise of a rom-com, but Jen Doll’s new book, Save the Date, is no Katherine Heigl movie — it’s a smart examination of just how weird weddings can be when put under the microscope. Doll’s first book, which began as a post on The Hairpin, charmingly chronicles the contradictions of 17 nuptials. Weddings, you see, are meant to honor a happy couple’s special day, but most attendees will admit to secretly sizing up their own personal lives between snapping pics in the aisles. Weddings are also fleeting, single-day events meant to celebrate the idea of “forever,” yet for tradition that so clearly values the intangibles of love and happiness, there sure are a lot of material goods involved. (The book’s original working title: I Bought You a KitchenAid.) As counterintuitive as it is to say, the weddings themselves are the least interesting part of the book. Doll offers plenty of description about outfit choices, flower arrangements and hotel interiors, either to set the scene, inspire brides-to-be or anthropologically document one of society’s most treasured customs. Perhaps all three — it doesn’t matter. The who, what, where, when and why of the wedding are really just a jumping off point for Doll to expound about dating in the 21st century, falling in love and finding modern meanings in an ancient institution. Some of the best chapters aren’t even really about weddings, like when she recounts her Alabama upbringing, grills her parents about the secrets to a lasting partnership or describes a painful falling out that bleeds into multiple essays. Weddings, after all, are as much about friendship as they are about true love. They’re also about shenanigans, too: Doll doles out wedding protips she learned the hard way as she catalogs wedding hook-ups and alcohol-induced antics, which happen so frequently that Doll notes a section of the book may as well have been titled “Jen Might Have Had Sort of a Drinking Problem for a While.” At times it feels like she’s stretching to find meaning in otherwise ordinary moments, but it’s also easy to understand why. The ultimate wedding party favor is a good story — and Doll has several.
Moises Saman / Magnum for The New Yorker

Moises Saman: History Underground: Egyptian Archeology (Photo Booth)

Laura El-Tantawy: Amid the Chaos (Photo Booth) Photographs from Cairo

John Stanmeyer: Ouf of Eden (National Geographic) Photos of journalist Paul Salopek’s seven-year global trek from Africa to Tierra Del Fuego

Kadir van Lohuizen: Cocoa Trail (NOOR) The long production and supply chain from the cocoa bean farmers and local buyers in Ivory Coast, through the port of Amsterdam and Dutch chocolate factories all the way to supermarkets and luxury resellers

Kyle Meyer: Swaziland Church Battles Demons (CNN Photo blog)

The Windows Store at Best Buy
Marcus Bleasdale / VII

Marcus Bleasdale: Running from Rebels (Foreign Policy) A look inside the war-ravaged Central African Republic

Lynsey Addario: An Unrelenting Crisis (NYT) Syria seen as most dire refugee crisis in a generation

Jerome Sessini: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (Magnum Photos)

Yusuf Sayman: Exiled From Syria, Refugees Brace For Winter (Daily Beast)

A memoir from a “serial wedding guest” recounting almost every knot-tying ceremony she’s attended sounds like the premise of a rom-com, but Jen Doll’s new book, Save the Date, is no Katherine Heigl movie — it’s a smart examination of just how weird weddings can be when put under the microscope. Doll’s first book, which began as a post on The Hairpin, charmingly chronicles the contradictions of 17 nuptials. Weddings, you see, are meant to honor a happy couple’s special day, but most attendees will admit to secretly sizing up their own personal lives while snapping pics in the aisles. Weddings are also fleeting, single-day events meant to celebrate the idea of “forever,” yet for tradition that so clearly values the intangibles of love and happiness, there sure are a lot of material goods involved. (The book’s original working title: I Bought You a KitchenAid.) As counterintuitive as it is to say, the weddings themselves are the least interesting part of the book. Doll offers plenty of description about outfit choices, flower arrangements and hotel interiors, either to set the scene, inspire brides-to-be or anthropologically document one of society’s most treasured customs. Perhaps all three — it doesn’t matter. The who, what, where, when and why of the wedding are really just a jumping off point for Doll to expound about dating in the 21st century, falling in love and finding modern meanings in an ancient institution. Some of the best chapters aren’t even really about weddings, like when she recounts her Alabama upbringing, grills her parents about the secrets to a lasting partnership or describes a painful falling out that bleeds into multiple essays. Weddings, after all, are as much about friendship as they are about true love. They’re also about shenanigans, too: Doll doles out wedding protips she learned the hard way as she catalogs hook-ups and alcohol-induced antics, which happen so often that Doll notes part of the book could have been titled “Jen Might Have Had Sort of a Drinking Problem for a While.” At times it can feel like she’s stretching to find meaning in otherwise ordinary moments or coincidences, but it’s also easy to understand why. The ultimate wedding party favor is a good story — and Doll has several.
Peter van Agtmael / Magnum for TIME

Peter van Agtmael: From the Battlefield to the Comedy Stage: Healing Bobby Henline (LightBox) short film: Healing Bobby | Having survived an IED blast that killed four of his fellow servicemen and left him with burns covering almost 40% of his body, Iraq War Veteran Bobby Henline is a stand-up comedian today, healing scars that are not so physical.

Gabriele Stabile: Refugee Hotel (NYT Lens) Stabile spent years documenting refugees’ first nights in the United States

Charles Ommanney: Portraits of Americans and their guns (MSNBC)

Stephen Wilkes: Day to Night (LightBox) Photographer Stephen Wilkes creates unique and exhaustive images of major cities in his series, Day to Night, capturing the hustle and bustle of an entire day in a single photo.

Alec Soth: Valley Guy (Nowness) A rare glimpse of Los Altos’ invisible gold rush | also on Daily Beast here

https://twitter.com/drawnyourtweet/status/435505785951756288 The name says it all: The proprietor of this account tweets charming cartoons drawings of random tweets at its followers. Follow this feed and pretty soon, it just might be your lucky day. —Kelly Conniff
Brian L. Frank for The New York Times

Brian L. Frank: Identifying With the Bulldogs (NYT) The bulldog is no longer just a college sports mascot in Fresno, Calif. It has been appropriated by members of a street gang who call themselves the Bulldogs.

Rocco Rorandelli: The Tobacco Farm (CNN Photo blog) Where America’s story started

Ackerman + Gruber: Blue Ribbon (Feature Shoot) Portraits from midwestern county fairs

McNair Evans: In Search of Great Men (Feature Shoot) Portraits of people traveling long distance on Amtrak trains

Eugene Ellenberg: An Intimate Last Goodbye (CNN Photo blog) Ellenberg’s father was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer in July 2013. After the diagnosis, Eugene documented his dying father’s last days with his camera phone.

Adam Krause: The Skinheads of Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Slate Behold)

https://twitter.com/PublicDomainRev/status/456086071806558209 Public Domain Review’s Twitter account can be likened to a modern day cabinet of curiosities. The feed (and associated website) specialize in surfacing the most interesting — and frequently bizarre — works of art that have fallen into the realm of public domain. From etchings to archival photographs to obscure scientific reports from centuries past, Public Domain Review's feed is a whimsical rabbit hole. —Mia Tramz
Jon Lowenstein / NOOR

Jon Lowenstein: Chile’s Enduring Rifts Part 1 | Part 2 (Photo Booth) Exploring the ways in which the country has recently begun to confront its past

Dominic Bracco II: Postcard from Honduras (Photo Booth) Country on the eve of the election

Rodrigo Abd: On the Fringes of Peru’s Capital (NBC News Photoblog) Life on the dusty edges: Photos explore the fringes of Peru’s bustling capital

Michael Robinson Chavez: On The Road to Brazil (LA Times Framework)

Lianne Milton: Eviction in Rio’s Favelas (PROOF)

Articles

Today, high school seniors across the country will make their final decisions about what colleges they will attend in the fall. This was a particularly fraught year as headlines advertised that this was, yet again, the most competitive year ever. College admissions rates at schools like Duke, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Cornell and Penn are half what they were a decade ago. Admissions rates are so low that the prospect of not getting into any school makes kids panic, and they apply to more and more schools. That, of course leads to even lower admissions rates. When the admissions rates get lower, more people apply to more schools. "It's a vicious cycle," says Janet Rosier, a educational consultant at Janet Rosier's Educational Resources in New York City. The college admissions system is broken. Here are some ideas on how to fix it, courtesy of independent college counselors from across the United States. 1. Colleges must stop misleading students about their chances at getting admitted Right now, too much emphasis is put on college rankings by colleges, parents and counselors alike. One major flaw in the U.S. News and World Report ranking system is that universities are rated based on their admissions rate—the lower the better. This incentivizes schools to have as many students apply as possible, so that the school can reject them. Rosier says she has counseled students who are misled by college representatives at information sessions to believe that they can apply to places beyond their reach despite their grades and test scores. "Colleges will lead students to believe they have a decent chance of getting in when they do not," she says. "College representatives will tell students who aren't academically qualified that they 'look at more than your transcript,' which is technically true but can be misleading." Joan Casey, president of Educational Advocates College Consulting Crop. in Brookline, MA, believes that students' can build up unrealistic expectations just from opening their mailbox. Many colleges send materials by mail or email to students who "don't have a prayer of getting in," she says. And it's not just about scores: "Elite colleges should come clean on how many seats are already taken up for 'hooked' applicants, including legacies, major donors, celebrity children, athletes and the otherwise connected." Giving students a more realistic sense of the number of spots truly available to them could change their application strategy. The only way to disincentivize colleges from deceiving students is to change either the ranking system or for colleges to simply ignore it. "Colleges must stop viewing a 'good year' in admissions as one in which you denied a record number of students. Stop the quest for bragging rights for who has the lowest acceptance rates," Casey says. 2. Colleges should offer more specific information to specific students so they can find the best match Any student or parent who has done the college roadtrip knows that just about every information session and tour sounds exactly the same. On my own tour I heard the phrase "resources of a large university with the feel of a small liberal arts college" at schools that ranged in size from 1500 undergrads to 10,000 undergrads. "The info session and tour are a shallow, surface way to learn about colleges," Casey says. "There's no time to sit in on a class or talk to a faculty member." Colleges could group students with specific interests to specific tour guides or faculty liaisons. But part of that burden lies on the student too. "Many families place too much reliance on the U.S. News rankings t make decisions about which colleges their students should apply to," says Julie Gross, president and founder of Collegiate Gateway college counseling in Port Washington, NY. "Instead, students should do their research about the unique qualities of each college they are considering, and identify the colleges that are the best fit for their talents, interests and preferences."   3. There should be more educated guidance counselors who think outside the box In high schools, where guidance counselors often act as college counselor, the average guidance counselor is responsible for 239 students, the ASCA says. Those counselors must be well versed in the over 4,000 American colleges and know the perfect match for each student. Too few counselors with eaves uninformed students navigating the difficult applications process on their own. The even bigger problem is college counselors with too little training. Often, overloaded counselors will point students in the direction of a school that many of their peers are applying to but ignore lesser-known schools far away from their home state. "There are plenty of colleges out there who aren't getting as many applicants as they maybe deserve," says Rosier. Those schools could end up being the best match, but a counselor may not be familiar with them. 4. Schools need to put less emphasis on Advanced Placement tests More and more students are taking on too-rigorous course loads in an attempt to impress colleges. Because students' most direct competitors are their peers in their school, one student taking on 6 AP courses in a semester motivates others to do so as well. Partially, that's the fault of the colleges. Casey points out that even schools who accept 60 percent of students tell families in information sessions that they seek out students who took APs, even when many of the students they admit don't have them at all, causing extra stress. But lowering the stress level is also the responsibility of individual high schools. "Secondary school practices can be modified to better support students' mental health," says Gross. "A high school environment that encourages students to take the maximum number of AP courses, in a jam-packed schedule that doesn't even allow for lunch is sending the message that more is always better...students need downtime to reflect, socialize and ask questions." Teachers and guidance counselors can advise students to take the classes that interest them most rather than the most challenging on paper. The happy result will likely be a better transcript as students are more likely to perform well in classes that engage their particular interests. 5. Counselors and parents must remind students that in terms of success, where you go doesn't really matter. What you do once you get to college does Don't panic. Studies show that where you go to college doesn't actually matter much. What matters is how hard you work once you get there. A 1999 study by economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale followed college graduates on their career paths. All the students in the study had been accepted to elite schools, but half had chosen to go to a "moderately selective" school instead. Kreuger and Dale found that the earnings of the two groups 20 years after graduation barely differed. A similar, larger study from 2011 came to a similar conclusion: graduates of state schools were making as much as those of Ivy League schools. Another study from the National Bureau of Economics of 6,335 undergraduates found that students who applied to several elite schools but didn't attend them in favor of a school with a lower average SAT score were more likely to earn higher incomes later than those who actually attended elite schools. The bureau concluded, "evidently, students' motivation, ambition and desire to learn have a much stronger effect on their subsequent success than average academic ability of their classmates.” "Students and parents really need to realize that what you do in college once you get there can be far more important than acceptance into a particular school," says Marilyn Emerson of Emerson Educational Consulting in New York.
Philippe Lopez / AFP / Getty Images

Haunting beauty amid Haiyan’s devastation (AFP Correspondent) Photographer Philippe Lopez on one of his photographs

Photographers Protest White House Restrictions (NYT) A mutiny has erupted among photographers who cover President Obama over what they say is the White House’s increasing practice of excluding them from events involving the president and then releasing its own photos or video

Haitian Photographer Wins Major U.S. Copyright Victory (NYT Lens)

It didn’t take long. Just two months after world powers celebrated the unanimous adoption of a groundbreaking resolution by the United Nations Security Council calling for the delivery of aid to millions of desperate Syrians, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos all but admitted defeat. “Far from getting better, the situation is getting worse. Violence has intensified over the last month, taking an horrific toll on ordinary civilians,” Amos told reporters after a closed-door Security Council briefing at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. “I’ve told the Council that Resolution 2139 is not working,” she said, referring to the measure that even staunch Syria ally Russia had supported. The resolution specifically demanded that the regime of President Bashar Assad cease its use of indiscriminate barrel bombs dropped on civilian areas, and threatened “further steps” if its calls to open the way for the delivery of essential humanitarian aid went unheeded. Yet just hours before the Council met, the government unleashed a barrage of barrel bombs on a school in the northern city of Aleppo, killing 20 and further underscoring the resolution’s failure to improve the situation. While some anti-government militias have prevented humanitarian access in the areas they control, the resolution was largely directed at the Syrian government, which the Council singled out for continuing to use siege tactics on civilian populations, preventing humanitarian assistance and denying medical aid—actions the council has described in the past as violations of international humanitarian law. In a 60-day assessment of the resolution’s implementation, released last week, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted, “People are dying needlessly every day,” and demanded that the Security Council “take action.” Ban’s report, as well as assessments by a wide array of UN agencies, international aid organizations and human rights groups, shows that Syrians are still besieged, still starving, and still being denied medical assistance. “We have seen no significant change on the ground [since the resolution was implemented,]” says Vanessa Parra, Humanitarian Press Officer for Oxfam America, an international aid organization operating in Syria. “There have [been] some piecemeal instances of assistance getting through, which is welcome of course, but not with any predictability, and not in any way that fundamentally alters the dire humanitarian situation.” In her remarks following the Security Council meeting, Amos called for a robust response to the Syrian regime’s intransigence. “I think the onus rests on the Council to not only recognize that reality, but to act on it,” she said. But the threat of “further steps” is increasingly looking meaningless. Any decisive action by the Security Council, such as sanctions or military action, would require another resolution, one that most certainly would invite a Russian veto. For 27-year old Samer, an anti-regime activist from Homs who asked to go by only one name to protect his family, it is incomprehensible that any nation would hold back humanitarian access for political gain. Especially, he points out, when civilians caught in the middle of the warring sides are the starving victims. “I wish Russia would take part in constructive dialogue instead of preventing humanitarian organizations from doing their job,” he says. According to the U.N., more than nine million Syrians — nearly half the population — are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Many are in hard to access areas or in places held by the opposition. Yet in defiance of the U.N. resolution, the Syrian government has strictly limited access to areas outside government control, meaning that the U.N. and other international aid agencies cannot reach the populations most in need. Furthermore, the Syrian government, citing a legal justification of sovereignty, will not allow humanitarian aid to come across any rebel-held border. With all but one border post on the northern frontier with Turkey in rebel hands, and access to Jordan’s border crossings in the south similarly limited, the Syrian regime is essentially funneling all international aid deliveries through the few remaining corridors that lead to the capital Damascus, while depriving large swaths of the country of essential assistance. The U.N. operates in Syria only with government permission, and has, until now, been beholden to regime dictates that it not access populations in need except via regime-sanctioned corridors. International humanitarian law experts challenged that practice in an open letter to the UN on April 28, saying that current conditions trump traditional practice. Kristyan Benedict, the Syria campaign manager for London-based Amnesty International, says that the humanitarian imperative is paramount. “The UN needs to reconsider its adherence to these rules. Topline, we want unfettered cross border humanitarian access. I don’t think anyone can justifiably say that the concept of state sovereignty is more important than saving lives, especially when the state claiming sovereignty continues to commit war crimes.” Samer, the activist from Homs, says that it is time to focus on saving lives, even if that means breaking international law by going against regime wishes. “There should be an international committee to protect UN workers and they should deliver aid under international protection, no matter what the regime says,” he tells TIME via Skype. The risk is that the government can kick out the U.N. entirely if it defies regime directives, as officials have already threatened to do to international aid organizations registered in Damascus that have been caught conducting cross border operations elsewhere in the country. Aid agencies, as with the U.N., are forced to weigh the costs and benefits of defying the rules. It’s a complex calculation, says Benedict, one made more difficult by the U.N.’s political role in the country, and continuing hopes for a lasting political solution. Breaking the rules, says Benedict, “does not mean we are going to reach everyone, but the question is, could we be reaching more people than what is currently allowed by government permission?” And if the regime does decide to retaliate by kicking out the U.N., he adds, it may make for more clarity on future Security Council decisions. “Sure, the regime authorities may tell the U.N. to get out. But if they do, it would further make the case that the government is using civilians as pawns in a political game. Totally denying access to humanitarian aid would be a clear sign that the leadership has lost all legitimacy.” And Russia, he says, at that point, may be forced to reconsider its unquestioning support for Syria. With reporting by Hania Mourtada/ Beirut
Olivier Laurent / British Journal of Photography

French newspaper removes all images in support of photographers (BJP) To coincide with Paris Photo’s opening, French newspaper Libération removed all images from its 14 November issue in a bid to show the power and importance of photography at a time when the industry is facing unprecedented challenges, said the newspaper’s editors

Photo of Palestinian Mother Was the Wrong Choice (NYT) The paper’s public editor comments on a controversial photo choice

Remembering A Compassionate War Photographer Alexandra Boulat (PROOF)

‘War/Photography’ at the Brooklyn Museum (NYT) ‘Poignant images, with posterity the ultimate winner’

War/Photography, Brooklyn Museum, New York – review (FT) An exhaustive survey of 165 years of war photography is grim, grisly but surprisingly uplifting

Starting in mid-May, about a third of Best Buy stores in the U.S. will be reconfiguring their home entertainment departments to make away for a new feature: "The Sony Experience at Best Buy." It's the latest instance of the electronics chain introducing a flashy store-within-the-store dedicated to one brand--something it did last year with both Samsung mobile gadgets and PCs running Microsoft's Windows. The Sony Experience will stock a variety of Sony products: TVs at various price points, audio equipment and the PlayStation 4. But the emphasis will be on 4K--the technology that's the next step in image quality beyond HD--with Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs and camcorders on display and demos comparing the sharper 4K picture against mere 1080p HD. The 350 Sony Experience shops will be 400 square-foot spaces along the back of Best Buy stores. They'll be staffed by Best Buy "blue shirt" employees who have undergone training by Sony. "Best Buy has just been a wall of TVs," says Margaret Kairis, VP of consumer sales operations for Sony. "It's going beyond that now." This expansion comes a couple of months after Sony announced that it was shuttering two-thirds of its own 31 standalone U.S. stores, and represents the flipside of its earlier strategy of operating its own retail locations. Instead of trying to get consumers to come to its stores, Sony will redouble its merchandising efforts at the country's one remaining national big-box chain focused on consumer electronics. Sony is still in the process of turning itself around after years of difficult times for core businesses such as its TVs. You can get a hint of why raising its profile at Best Buy might be a good move for the company at the top of this story: Other TV brands are all crammed together, while Sony gets a roomy space of its own where dedicated sales staffers will show how the company's products all work together. For Sony, one of the key challenges of retail is convincing consumers that a Sony TV built with Sony technologies is worth more than the cheapest TVs on the store floor, such as those from Best Buy's house brand, Insignia. This might help. [caption id="attachment_84361" align="alignright" width="300"] The Windows Store at Best Buy Microsoft[/caption]Best Buy's ongoing reorganization around brands began a few years ago when it carved off space for Apple products; so far, its most ambitious expression is the Windows Store, which launched last year in 600 Best Buy locations. Replacing the old-school Best Buy PC section altogether, some of those stores-within-the-store are almost six times as large as the Sony Experience areas, and they've even got nicer flooring than the rest of the store. Like Sony, Best Buy is in the midst of its own turnaround attempt. Shopping at its stores isn't normally a scintillating experience. But as long as you can figure out where to find the stuff you want--not all Sony products will be in the Sony Experience area, for instance--the brand-boutique approach feels like a meaningful move in the right direction.
Veejay Villafranca

2013 Joop Swart Masterclass Projects (World Press Photo) In the time leading up to the masterclass, each of the photographers prepared a photo essay on the theme of hope for the masterclass

‘Photography cannot be objective’: uncovering Chechnya’s hidden identity (Guardian) Davide Monteleone’s poignant exhibition about the Russian republic shows signs that it is recovering after years of brutal conflict and repression. But at what cost?

Jack Mitchell, Photographer of the Arts, Dies at 88 (NYT)

Donna DeCesare’s “Unsettled” (Photo Booth) DeCesare’s new book is part nonfiction history and part memoir

First Look: Christopher Anderson’s book, Son (New York Magazine)

Pat Sullivan—AP

Mexico’s Narco Cultura: Glorifying Drug War Death and Destruction (LightBox) Shaul Schwarz’s new feature-length documentary captures the discomforting co-existence in Mexican and Mexican-American life of the horrifying violence of the drug wars and its celebration in pop and movies. | Also on Wired Rawfile here

National Geographic’s pioneering female photographers reveal all (CNN)

Beauty in the Everyday (NYT Lens) The photographs of Saul Leiter, who is the subject of a new film, depict gorgeous, poignant and fleeting moments in New York City

Swastikas and safety pins: London punks strike a pose (Guardian) Photographers Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon’s posed portraits from 1977 may not capture the chaos of London’s nascent punk scene, but what they do show is way more fascinating

Stark Close-ups on Europe’s Late-Night Regulars (LightBox) A 320-picture career retrospective of renowned Swedish photographer Anders Petersen’s work on show in Paris

The 100-Year-Old Instant Camera in Afghanistan Faces Extinction (Wired Rawfile) The Afghan Box Camera has been used in Afghanistan for over a century, but it is on the verge of disappearing

Finding a mate is one of the basic instincts of all living beings, and in most of the animal and insect world, it’s all done by smell. Sniffing out gender is something that animals are built to do, both with the appropriate scent-releasing structures to perfume the air with sex pheromones, and the most sensitive odor-detecting organs on the planet. Now scientists report that people may have that ability as well, even if we aren’t always aware of it. Humans don’t have the same sophisticated olfactory organs as some of our animal counterparts, and while men and women do exude different scents, it’s been harder to confirm that people can pick up on these odors, or that they were working as sex pheromones to attract two people to each other. MORE: Your Nose Can Smell at Least 1 Trillion Scents In the latest study on the subject, published in the journal Current Biology by researchers in China and at the University of Minnesota, however, scientists may have come close to showing that sex pheromones work among people as well. They conducted a small study in which both men and women of different sexual orientation were exposed to male, female or neutral scents without their knowledge – all three smelled like cloves -- on three consecutive days while they viewed a series of computer dots representing a person walking. Heterosexual men thought the dots showed a more feminine gait when they were exposed to the female hormone estratetraenol, even though the dots represented a range from gaits that were more male and those that were more female. There was a similar effect among heterosexual women, who were biased to see the dots showing a more masculine gait when they smelled the male hormone androstadienone. Gay men responded more like the women to the two hormones, while bisexual or homosexual women showed more varied responses, between those of heterosexual men and women. MORE: Can Your Smelly Shirt Land You a Better First Date? “The study shows that people subconsciously extract gender information from chemosensory cues [that depends] on their gender and sexual orientation,” says Wen Zhou, the study’s lead author from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, in an email discussion about the findings. Zhou isn’t quite ready to say that estratetraenol and androstadienone, which are steroid products of estrogen and testosterone, respectively, work as sex pheromones between men and women by acting as sexual stimulants, since the group did not test how smelling varying amounts of the agents affected people’s sensitivities toward gender. But the findings provide the first hint that gender may have specific scents, and that the human nose and pick up on them. The study also suggests that the human nose may be relaying information about much more than smells that the brain processes on a conscious level. Recent studies, in fact, have confirmed that our olfactory sense is capable of picking up one trillion smells, and that we can pick up whiffs of illness when somebody’s immune system is activated to fight a toxin. There’s even evidence that the human nose can smell age – an evolutionarily helpful skill that distinguished younger, more fertile mates from older ones. What your nose knows may surprise you.
Hossein Fatemi

Featured photographer: Hossein Fatemi (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Maxim Dondyuk (Verve Photo)

Peter Beste’s best photograph: Tiger Wood of the hood (Guardian)

Interviews and Talks

A mugshot of Clayton Lockett on June 29, 2011.
David Guttenfelder / AP

David Guttenfelder (National Geographic) AP’s Chief Asia photographer on covering Typhoon Haiyan aftermath in the Philippines

Shaul Schwarz (MSNBC) Schwarz on his documentary film Narcocultura

Josef Koudelka Part 1 | Part 2 (NYT Lens)

Steve McCurry (American Photo) On street photography and change

Don McCullin (Independent) ‘Forget foreign conflicts, chronicle Britain’ says McCullin

Aaron Huey (PROOF) On shattering assumptions

Sarah Leen, and Bill Marr (PROOF) National Geographic’s director of photography, Sarah Leen, and Bill Marr, the magazine’s creative director, on the “The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years” exhibition

It didn’t take long. Just two months after world powers celebrated the unanimous adoption of a groundbreaking resolution by the United Nations Security Council calling for the delivery of aid to millions of desperate Syrians, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos all but admitted defeat. “Far from getting better, the situation is getting worse. Violence has intensified over the last month, taking an horrific toll on ordinary civilians,” Amos told reporters after a closed-door Security Council briefing at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. “I’ve told the Council that Resolution 2139 is not working,” she said, referring to the measure that even staunch Syria ally Russia had supported. The resolution specifically demanded that the regime of President Bashar Assad cease its use of indiscriminate barrel bombs dropped on civilian areas, and threatened “further steps” if its calls to open the way for the delivery of essential humanitarian aid went unheeded. Yet just hours before the Council met, the government unleashed a barrage of barrel bombs on a school in the northern city of Aleppo, killing 20 and further underscoring the resolution’s failure to improve the situation. While some anti-government militias have prevented humanitarian access in the areas they control, the resolution was largely directed at the Syrian government, which the Council singled out for continuing to use siege tactics on civilian populations, preventing humanitarian assistance and denying medical aid—actions the council has described in the past as violations of international humanitarian law. In a 60-day assessment of the resolution’s implementation, released last week, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted, “People are dying needlessly every day,” and demanded that the Security Council “take action.” Ban’s report, as well as assessments by a wide array of UN agencies, international aid organizations and human rights groups, shows that Syrians are still besieged, still starving, and still being denied medical assistance. “We have seen no significant change on the ground [since the resolution was implemented,]” says Vanessa Parra, Humanitarian Press Officer for Oxfam America, an international aid organization operating in Syria. “There have been some piecemeal instances of assistance getting through, which is welcome of course, but not with any predictability, and not in any way that fundamentally alters the dire humanitarian situation.” In her remarks following the Security Council meeting, Amos called for a robust response to the Syrian regime’s intransigence. “I think the onus rests on the Council to not only recognize that reality, but to act on it,” she said. But the threat of “further steps” is increasingly looking meaningless. Any decisive action by the Security Council, such as sanctions or military action, would require another resolution, one that most certainly would invite a Russian veto. For 27-year old Samer, an anti-regime activist from Homs who asked to go by only one name to protect his family, it is incomprehensible that any nation would hold back humanitarian access for political gain. Especially, he points out, when civilians caught in the middle of the warring sides are the starving victims. “I wish Russia would take part in constructive dialogue instead of preventing humanitarian organizations from doing their job,” he says. According to the U.N., more than nine million Syrians — nearly half the population — are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Many are in hard to access areas or in territory held by the opposition. Yet in defiance of the U.N. resolution, the Syrian government has strictly limited access to areas outside government control, meaning that the U.N. and other international aid agencies cannot reach the populations most in need. Furthermore, the Syrian government, citing a legal justification of sovereignty, will not allow humanitarian aid to come across any rebel-held border. With all but one border post on the northern frontier with Turkey in rebel hands, and access to Jordan’s border crossings in the south similarly limited, the Syrian regime is essentially funneling all international aid deliveries through the few remaining corridors that lead to the capital Damascus, while depriving large swaths of the country of essential assistance. The U.N. operates in Syria only with government permission, and has, until now, been beholden to regime dictates that it not access populations in need except via regime-sanctioned corridors. International humanitarian law experts challenged that practice in an open letter to the UN on April 28, saying that current conditions trump traditional practice. Kristyan Benedict, the Syria campaign manager for London-based Amnesty International, says that the humanitarian imperative is paramount. “The UN needs to reconsider its adherence to these rules. Topline, we want unfettered cross border humanitarian access. I don’t think anyone can justifiably say that the concept of state sovereignty is more important than saving lives, especially when the state claiming sovereignty continues to commit war crimes.” Samer, the activist from Homs, says that it is time to focus on saving lives, even if that means breaking international law by going against regime wishes. “There should be an international committee to protect UN workers and they should deliver aid under international protection, no matter what the regime says,” he tells TIME via Skype. The risk is that the government can kick out the U.N. entirely if it defies regime directives, as officials have already threatened to do to international aid organizations registered in Damascus that have been caught conducting cross border operations elsewhere in the country. Aid agencies, as with the U.N., are forced to weigh the costs and benefits of defying the rules. It’s a complex calculation, says Benedict, one made more difficult by the U.N.’s political role in the country, and continuing hopes for a lasting political solution. Breaking the rules, says Benedict, “does not mean we are going to reach everyone, but the question is, could we be reaching more people than what is currently allowed by government permission?” And if the regime does decide to retaliate by kicking out the U.N., he adds, it may make for more clarity on future Security Council decisions. “Sure, the regime authorities may tell the U.N. to get out. But if they do, it would further make the case that the government is using civilians as pawns in a political game. Totally denying access to humanitarian aid would be a clear sign that the leadership has lost all legitimacy.” And Russia, he says, at that point, may be forced to reconsider its unquestioning support for Syria. With reporting by Hania Mourtada/ Beirut
Yunghi Kim / Contact Press Images

Yunghi Kim (Digital Photo Pro) With thirty years of war photography under her belt, photojournalist Yunghi Kim is turning to more personal work

Ron Haviv (Think Tank Vimeo) Haviv talks about one of his Bosnia photographs

Eli Reed (Harry Ransom Center YouTube) The Lost Boys of Sudan

A Chat With the Kashis (PROOF) A photojournalism family juggles chaos and calm

Bob Jackson (BBC)

Bob Jackson (Sixth Floor Museum YouTube) Jackson captured the iconic image of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters on November 24, 1963

Benjamin Lowy (Hipstography)

Donna DeCesare (Columbia Visuals) Getting intimate with gangs

JH Engström (Aperture blog) Sketch of Paris | Related audio slideshow on the Guardian website here

Ji Yeo (LA Times Framework)


Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


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