Jerome Delay / AP
By Mikko Takkunen
December 23, 2013

Features and Essays

A deadly virus largely found in the Middle East has appeared in the United States for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which can appear like the flu with symptoms including shortness of breath, a heavy cough and fever, has been spreading mostly in Saudi Arabia since the virus was first identified in 2012. Since then, researchers have been stumped by its origin but have linked it to both camels and bats. In a briefing with reporters, two representatives from the CDC and Indiana State Department of Heath said one case had been confirmed. The patient, a health care provider, had traveled from Riyadh to London on April 24, then from London to Chicago. Once in the U.S., the patient took a bus to Indiana. On April 27, the patient began experiencing respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing and a fever. The patient went to an Indiana emergency room the next day and was admitted to the hospital. Later, the CDC said, a state lab and the CDC confirmed the patient was infected with the virus. The CDC confirmed the laboratory result Friday afternoon. At the moment, health officials are unsure how the patient became infected, how many people the patient was in close contact with, and whether those people became ill. Health officials have warned for months that it might be only a matter of time before a case appeared in the U.S. "It’s something we’ve predicted and expected," said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based organization that patrols the animal-human health border and has worked closely with researchers looking for MERS' origin. Daszak said he remains concerned that the virus is widespread in camels in Saudi Arabia and that it's likely more widespread across the region where camels are common. He added that while the virus doesn't pose a "high risk" to the public yet, "people continue to get infected and travel with this virus. That’s the concern for something that may have the ability to evolve into a pandemic risk." To date, the CDC has confirmed 262 cases of MERS in 12 countries and reported them to the World Health Organization. Some 100 other cases have not yet been reported to WHO.
Jerome Delay / AP

Jerome Delay: Central African Crisis (NYT Lens blog) Includes interview with photographer. More of his work also on the Guardian website here

Marcus Bleasdale: Chaos in CAR (VII) The Central Africa Republic is aflame with violence as ethnic tensions between a primarily Christian population and the newly empowered Muslim Seleka Rebel group reach a boiling point

Pierre Terdjman: The Spiral of Violence (Paris Match L’Instant) Central African Republic

Robin Hammond: Condemned (Photographer’s YouTube) Audio slideshow on Hammond’s long term project documenting the treatment of mentally ill in Africa. Narration by the photographer himself.

Various photographers: Honoring Mandela (NYT) The New York Times’ coverage of Mandela’s death

Jonathan Torgovnik: South Africa’s Poor Tune In to Mandela’s Funeral (TIME) Watching Mandela’s funeral on television in Alexandra township, in Johannesburg

Voting in Iraq’s first election since American troops left the country went relatively smoothly this week. Turnout reached almost 60 percent, no major irregularities were reported, and in a country defined for more than a decade by car bombs and mass fatalities, the death toll for election day stood at 14. “Anywhere else in the world, that would be seen as a terrible disaster,” says Hayer al-Khoei, an associate fellow at Chatham House, a London think tank. “Everything is relative in Iraq.” But then, getting people to vote has not been a great challenge in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, where traffic closures and security services out in force made for relatively safe. The problem, in Iraq, is what comes next: governing. Wednesday’s parliamentary election was the third since U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, and amounted to a referendum on the man who has governed for the last eight years: Nouri al-Maliki, seeking a third term as prime minister, is widely criticized for ruling the country of 32 million with a focus on sectarian divisions. Opponents argue that by favoring Iraq’s long-oppressed Shiite majority, he has encouraged a Sunni rebellion that has opened much of Anbar province to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, Iraq’s third major population, the Kurds, essentially govern themselves in a largely autonomous northern enclave. Very early returns suggested that, as analysts expected, Maliki appeared likely to remain the dominant political figure, though in a more crowded political universe. All major parties appeared to be drawing fewer votes than four years earlier, as smaller parties fractured the vote within each bloc. “He won,” al-Khoei says, “but it doesn’t look like he won by a large enough mandate” to assure a third term without forming a coalition— a negotiation process that dragged on for 10 months in 2010, and might take even longer given the increase in parties. The process could also aggravate the sectarian warfare that has already led to death tolls approaching the “civil war” bloodletting of 2006-7. But Al-Kohei says the process might also do the opposite, leading to the kind of inclusive character that has eluded Iraqi governance to date. “One of the paradoxes of Iraqi politics as I see it is the atmosphere is incredibly sectarian,” Al-Kohei tells TIME. “But at the political levels, in a weird way it’s gone beyond sectarianism, because all the parties are much more fragmented. So it seems to me it’s much more likely that blocs within the blocs will do deals at the expense of their co-religionists or fellow Kurds.” As in 2010, the makeup of a governing coalition will likely be influenced by Iran, which, despite the massive U.S. investment in lives and treasure, has emerged as the dominant outside influence in Iraq. Analysts call that another impediment to building trusted institutions as committed to democracy as the citizens who defy threats and bombs to cast their ballots. “The election is not the problem,” says Hiwa Osman, a former aide to Iraq’s Kurdish President, Jalal Talabani. “The key thing with Iraq is it needs to figure out what kind of system you have.” While Kurds favor a federal system with loose control, others prefer a centralized system—though Maliki has so concentrated powers that some critics warn of an emerging dictatorship. “I think Iraq is on a path whereby however more central government wants it to be, the more distance it will create between its various components,” says Osman, “Maliki has been trying for more than a year to control it by force, but security usually comes last in handling any political problem. Anbar’s problem is a political problem.”
Kate Brooks / Redux / Pulitzer Center

Kate Brooks: The View from Riyadh: Working Women (The New Yorker Photo Booth) Women in Saudi Arabia are making inroads into the country’s traditionally male-dominated workforce

Jonas Bendiksen: Far From Home (National Geographic) Millions of guest workers toil in oil-rich countries, cut off from both locals and loved ones

Lynsey Addario: In Lebanon, a Fear of Permanent Refugees (NYT) Lebanon worries that housing will make syrian refugees stay

Thomas Dworzak: Putin’s Party (National Geographic) Islamist insurgents, tough Cossacks, warm winters—welcome to Russia’s Olympic host city

Guillaume Herbaut: Ukraine Protests (Paris Match L’ Instant)

Adam Lach: The Roma in Poland (The New Yorker Photo Booth)

Magdalena Borowiec: In the shadow of Lenin Peak (Foto8) Mining in Kyrgyzstan

Activision wasn't supposed to unveil Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare until this Sunday. But the announcement trailer, starring the inestimable Kevin Spacey as the (apparent) bad guy, leaked early, and so we now have two minutes and 46 seconds of footage to mull over while we wait for May 2 to come and go and for further info to drop. I wouldn't dangle from a tenterhook waiting for an info-avalanche, though. After all, that's what E3's for. But there is a fair lot to observe and think about here. Let's step through most of it, and you can make fun of me in the comments below for all the stuff I get wrong. "The following was captured on Xbox One." This plays over black at the trailer's start and signifies nothing more than full disclosure. People naturally want to know what they're looking at, though it can't matter until we've also seen the PC and PS4 versions (until then, I'll leave the debate over resolutions and frame rates to my psychic readers). [caption id="attachment_86071" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] This fellow's wearing an exoskeletal suit that gives you superhuman powers. I first came across the powered exoskeleton concept doing research for a Computer Gaming World feature on Crysis in 2006. The military's been working on bionic exo-suits for a long time, so it's not really science fiction, though what happens a bit later in the trailer to some of the folks driving these things -- where they're timing crazy-big jumps between moving vehicles perfectly -- is pure fantasy. [caption id="attachment_86073" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] "Restricted Area. Authorized Personnel Only." Hi there, future-Guantanamo Bay! Who did the whole round-em-up-in-a-pen thing first in gaming-dom? Half-Life 2? I can't remember, I just know I keep seeing it pop up in copycat dystopias -- the whole martial-law-for-our-own-good thing. But is this America (the sign's in English)? Somewhere else? Destructoid, which broke the leaked video, says the game's about a guy (Spacey) running a private military company that goes rogue, so perhaps said PMC's taken over part or all of an American city, and that's what we're looking at here. [caption id="attachment_86104" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] I was wrong: Those aren't drones. They're twin-turbine helicopter-looking things. But they look kind of like drones, too, though on closer inspection you can see windshields and side doors, and there's that intercut shot of soldiers tooling around in an airborne one (the vest the soldier's wearing sports a logo, "Atlas" -- perhaps the name of the PMC, perhaps in turn a reference to Atlas Shrugged, the libertarian/conservative pseudo-philosophical fantasy novel by Ayn Rand). Someone with far superior military know-how than me will doubtless tell us what present-day flying vehicle(s) these are modeled after, or extrapolated from (I'd guess quadcopter, but what do I know). [caption id="attachment_86119" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] We've already seen Kevin Spacey play a zealot, but he's also Kevin-freaking-Spacey. You've probably heard the adage "So-and-so could read the phone book and I'd listen" employed to celebrate exalted elocutionists. Kevin Spacey could play Snidely Whiplash for all I care, or have to muddle through a sophomoric script -- I'll still watch. (I'm less impressed with the engine's stilted facial rendering tech, however.) [caption id="attachment_86136" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] The sign on the wall behind the soldier reads "Sector 02: BioLab Data Terminal." Will threats of biological warfare -- viral maladies with the potential to decimate huge swathes of the population -- play a role in what you'll be grappling with in the campaign? [caption id="attachment_86156" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] "Keep Lagos Clean." That's what the scrolling sign on the side of the overpass reads. Lagos is a port city in Nigeria. So either I'm totally wrong about the America thing, or the game takes place in multiple locations. I'd presume the latter, possibly as part of the preamble that sets the stage for Kevin Spacey's character's ideological meltdown. (Also, check the flag protruding from right: the Nigerian national flag is green-white-green.) [caption id="attachment_86167" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Nomad and Prophet (Crysis) have nothing on this guy. That's a big honkin' jump. And wait just one second...is that the Golden Gate Bridge? (See the sequence from 1:16, too.) [caption id="attachment_86175" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Hold on -- jet-boots? Jetpacks? Are these soldiers just super-jumping, or taking off, up-up-and-away-like? (After watching the sequence at 2:14, I'd probably stick with jet boots.) [caption id="attachment_86178" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] No, that's not a misplaced screen from Halo. Thought the way that gun's sides appear to slope, and with the design lines on that futuristic drop-ship...squint just a little, and it almost could be. [caption id="attachment_86198" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Hello, bat-cycle. That's the clearer head-on shot (in the video, you first see a soldier climbing onboard). Vehicles look to factor big and multifariously in this game. Is this the same thing as the hovering cycle we see later in the trailer, at 1:44 and 2:10? Looks like it. [caption id="attachment_86207" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Soldiers (and vehicles) will have cloaking powers. Another hat-tip to Crysis: these super-suits, assuming they're of a piece, will give you Predator-style powers to vanish at will. We saw this earlier in the trailer (at 0:24) with vehicles, too. [caption id="attachment_86218" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] I have no idea what's going on here. LSD mode? Or how about just "peek through walls mode" -- the followup shot shows the soldier identifying presumed targets through a solid wall, Batman Arkham-style. [caption id="attachment_86230" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] "I'll have the powered exoskeletal suit, sized Venti, please." Taking a page from Marvel's Iron Man films, these suits clap on with automatic servos, apparently, then turn your arms into gatling guns. [caption id="attachment_86247" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Oh hi there, Black Ops II nano gloves. Remember those things? They glowed green or orange to indicate whether they'd adhered to something (or not). I gather these are the new and improved (and faster climbing?) model. [caption id="attachment_86251" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Weaponized military drones apparently weigh very little. Is this the future of high-tech military drone launches? You just throw them out the side of something? (Okay, maybe it's not weaponized, but that kind of looks like a gatling cannon on the nose.) [caption id="attachment_86259" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] Coolest thing in the trailer yet: roll-your-own cover. Imagine unfurling something like a vertical projector screen, only sideways, then hunching behind it, only the screen's effectively bulletproof. That's what I'm gleaning from the little squibs going off in the video, anyway. [caption id="attachment_86270" align="alignnone" width="560"] Activision / YouTube[/caption] This tank has legs like an insect and wheels like a car. And with everything else we've seen, Call of Duty Kitchen Sink is what I'm thinking.
Francesco Zizola / NOOR for TIME

Francesco Zizola: Pope Francis (LightBox) Zizola photographed Pope Francis at the Vatican for TIME magazine’s annual Person of the Year issue

Enri Canaj: Family ties bind Albania’s social fabric (CNN Photo blog)

Sebastián Enriquez: Boxing for a Dream (New York Photo Booth) Peru

Vincent Rosenblatt: Favela Funk (NYT Lens blog) Brazil

Andrew Moore: This Is What It Looks Like at the Center of America (NYT Magazine) Moore has spent eight years photographing the area west of the 100th meridian, the territory formerly known as the Great American Desert, which remains one of the most sparsely populated regions in the country

Alec Soth: The Wandering Spirit (The New Yorker Photo Booth) Part of new long term project documenting America in collaboration with writer Brad Zellar

Todd Heisler / The New York Times

Todd Heisler: Once Around an Island (NYT) Twenty hours. More than 30 miles of coastline. Dozens of moments captured. The photographer Todd Heisler walked the perimeter of Manhattan over the course of one day in August

Todd Heisler: Gun Country (NYT) The United States continues to love and revile its hundreds of millions of firearms. Here is a look at that complicated relationship, told through the personal stories of Americans

Laura Morton: The Social Stage (Inge Morath Foundation) San Francisco’s high society

Katie Orlinsky: A Violent Border City’s Revival (NYT) Ciudad Juárez, city known for killing, gets back to living

Tomas Munita: Survivors of Bangladesh Disaster Receive Little Aid (NYT)

Eric Michael Johnson: Welcome to Tchotchke Town (NYT Magazine) World’s largest wholesale market for small goods in China

Articles

Molhem Barakat / Reuters

Syrian Photographer Molhem Barakat Killed in Aleppo (Reuters) Some of Barakat’s work on the Telegraph website here

Two Spanish journalists held by Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria (Yahoo News) El Mundo newspaper correspondent Javier Espinosa and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were seized in September. El Mundo said it had kept the kidnapping quiet until now while it contacted the captors via intermediaries

In Memoriam: Remembering the Photographers We Lost in 2013 (LightBox) As 2013 rolls to a close, LightBox pauses to remember the great photographers we lost this year

Obama’s Orwellian Image Control (NYT) AP’s Director of Photography Santiago Lyon writes about lack of access photojournalists have to President Obama

Why Photographers Need More Access In The White House (LightBox) Former White House photo editor Mike Davis on how the White House cutting out photographers hurts us all

White House criticized over press access (MSNBC) Charles Dharapak and Brooks Kraft explain why the limited access of White House photographers matters

White House Press Secretary to Photographers: We Respect You, But We Don’t Need You (PDN Pulse)

As Press Battles White House Over Photo Access, Did Media Cross its Own Line Publishing Obama/Bush Mandela Trip Pictures? (BagNewsNotes)

Convicted murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett died this week in Oklahoma, despite a “botched” execution. I’ve been asked how the “botching” could have been avoided. As a physician, I find that a strange and disturbing question, similar to asking a lifeguard to advise people on how to drown better. Though I did not witness the execution firsthand, I can put my mind to the question, but with great difficulty because as a physician I am in the business of saving lives, not taking them. To suggest that Lockett’s execution was “botched” raises an ethical question for physicians who are asked how it can be improved. Doctors swear an oath, the Hippocratic Oath, that they are concerned with the relief of suffering in others. States that utilize lethal injection appeal to a doctor’s oath to lend assistance during execution in order to reduce suffering, but that’s a suspect and misplaced appeal. Inmates who are being executed are not patients, and yet it seems that lethal injection attempts to turn them into such. But if Lockett were my patient, my duty would be to cure his sickness and reduce his suffering. At no time would it be to seek his death over his life, even if he were dying from a terminal illness. Oklahoma chose to begin the execution with an injection of the drug midazolam, a sedative that produces amnesia after the fact. So in the moment a patient under the influence of midazolam may feel anxious, but he won’t recall that anxiety later. In the circumstance of Lockett’s death, such effect of the drug was moot—there was no later. Lockett was then administered vecuronium bromide. This drug paralyzes all the muscles in the body, including those that control breathing. If all else fails, the eventual lack of oxygen will cause the heart to fail. Vecuronium bromide doesn’t effect consciousness, though, so an individual would be very much awake but unable to breath or move. Ironically, if Lockett had received only vecuromium bromide, he would have remained motionless and died a death outwardly peaceful but inwardly painful and terrifying. By report, Lockett did try to move, perhaps as some of the paralyzing drug may not have circulated or the quantity was insufficient. In that moment, he began to die by suffocation. His death appeared painful, according to witnesses on the scene, and most likely it was. But we will never know if Lockett, or any other person executed by lethal injection, experiences his or her own death as needlessly cruel. The last drug given was potassium chloride. In sufficient quantities, this drug will stop the heart, though, again, not in an instant and not without pain. Oklahoma corrections claimed that Clayton Lockett died of a “massive heart attack.” Pending autopsy, that is mere speculation. My view, based on a review of events as best can be determined, was that Oklahoma executed Lockett by subjecting him to a painful and terrifying death by suffocation. Lethal injection is merely an impersonation of medicine, nothing more. It wastes scarce drugs that could serve dozens of patients in medical need. When I study the details of the lethal injection protocol, my medical knowledge feels more like a curse, as I see the mistakes that lead to unnecessary cruelty. Whether one is for or against capital punishment, nearly all of us abhor needless suffering and cruelty. The Constitution of the United States wisely forbids our punishments to be needlessly cruel, even for those we despise. Can lethal injection be improved? Lethal injection was never anything other than a façade for punishment, never not needlessly cruel. If capital punishment is to go on, it must set aside lethal injection for it is time for that method to suffer its own execution. Dr. Joel B. Zivot is an anesthesiologist and intensive care specialist. He is the medical director of the Cardio-Thoracic and Vascular Intensive Care Unit at Emory University Hospital and is Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery in the Emory University School of Medicine.
Pete Souza / White House

Staging Politics: Beyond White House Access, the Photo Op is the Larger Issue (David-Campbell.org) If media organizations want to give us open journalism that pulls back the curtain on the theatre of politics, they have to use this moment to question the centrality of the photo op in the presentation of politics

In Ford’s White House, Not Holding Back (NYT Lens blog) David Hume Kennerly on his time as President Ford’s White House photographer

Pictures That Change History: Why the World Needs Photojournalists (The Atlantic) It’s never been easier to take photos—or harder to capture ones that matter

The death of photography: are camera phones destroying an artform? (Guardian) From presidential selfies to never-ending Instagram feeds, the world is now drowning in images. Celebrated photographers debate the impact of this mass democratisation on their craft

Lykke Li emerged on the music scene six years ago as a mysterious, free-floating ingénue, all black eye shadow and delicate swoon, her dainty vocals breathing life into lyrics about loneliness and detachment over hand-claps and raging, almost tribal drums. In the time since, the now-28-year-old Swedish singer-songwriter has released a pair of critically acclaimed albums and steadily built a rabid fanbase as well as a a reputation as a mystical, mesmerizing performer. Still, as she prepares to release her third album, the bare, heartbreaking I Never Learn — an album the singer views as the final installment in a trilogy of LPs chronicling the search for love — Li believes she must continue fighting for respect. “I will always be the underdog,” she tells TIME in a wide-ranging conversation that touches upon the songstress’ sonic left-turn of a new album, being unfairly labeled as a “pop” artist and the benefits of throwing back a few bottles of wine before performing. TIME: Was it always your intention to have I Never Learn be the conclusion of a trilogy of albums? It was. I signed a three-album [deal] when I was about 21. So I knew that I had embarked on this journey and that there was no turning around. I’m interested in a lot of different sounds and types of music. Instrumental music or voodoo music or purely singer-songwriter [material]. So, on this album, I was like, “I want to do something completely different.” But I felt like, "No, I have to finish what I started." What’s been the overarching theme of your first three albums? I’ve been trying to chronicle a woman in her twenties and her search for love and herself. I think everything in life comes in threes: heartbreak and all that. You’ve got to do the full round in order to learn. With I Never Learn now complete, can you move on? Yeah. In a good way. I do think it just coincides with my age, too. I feel like a lot of people, when they turn 30, it’s like the beginning of another chapter. It’s symbiotic. This album, though, is different than its predecessors. It’s so bare, and it's some of your most personal and revealing material. I’ve always been a person that is searching for truth and always wants to go further, deeper. So it’s just natural for me to try and go as deep as I possibly could. And strip away. It’s almost like you go hunting. The thing is, when I was writing it, I just did it for myself. I was feeling all of this. And I didn’t know any other way but to write about it. I didn’t think that anyone would ever hear it. I made a really private [album]. Also, the type of art that I can relate to and that’s changed me is the most revealing and personal. I think it always has to be personal if it’s going to be great. And if it’s going to be able to reach someone else you have to reveal part of yourself. I think what’s been probably the most hard thing is to do interviews, because I have a tendency [to be] real honest. And that can get a bit too much. It must be hard to dissect your own craft. It is really hard. But at the same time I have to stand for the art that I did. And I can’t start lying now. I made an agreement with myself to be as honest as I possibly could. It would be strange for me to start lying and say like ‘Oh, this song is about someone else.’ It’s almost like I only know how to be honest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7iLERCEznI Being that your music is so singular, is it frustrating see it labeled “pop”? I think any type of label frustrates me. It’s hard being labeled as a woman. But what I’m trying to do with my art is not label it. And search. Search for truth. Search for meaning. Search for the unexpected. Search for mystery. So yeah, it’s hard when people put you in a box, and all you try to do is break out of that box. It’s doubly funny that your music is labeled as “pop” seeing that you grew up with no TV, no Internet, literally no pop culture references at all. That’s the thing: it’s weird because whatever music I do it comes very naturally to me. It’s not like I’m trying to replicate something. I’m simply just following my intuition. And especially because growing up, I didn’t have anything: I hardly had any toys. I guess what that allowed me to do was it gave me a lot of imagination and freedom. And that’s what I always look for in life too. So that’s why it can be hard to live life because it can be so restricting, you know? Touring can be also be a tough pill to swallow — especially given the fact that every night you’re performing such highly emotional songs. The time onstage is very lovely. It’s a lovely thing to be dealing with real material. It’s almost like when you do a play by Tennessee Williams: the lighting is so pure and so great. So it is great material, you know? But I guess what’s difficult is the life around me. So that’s why it’s really important for me to have my band close to me and people that I trust and people that I’ve known for a long time. It can also help me to let off some steam after the show. What puts you in a good headspace before performing? Drinking three bottles of wine. My favorite thing in the world is to have just a big dinner with friends and just sit and talk about their life and their difficulties and all of that. Are you able to get a firm grasp on your growing popularity as an artist? Not at all! I’m so unaware of anything. I’m the exact same person that I’ve always been. And I have pretty much the same habits. And I have no idea if I’m popular or not. I will always be the underdog. Always a dreamer.
Kevin Frayer / AP

AP’s Top 10 Photos of 2013 (AP Big Story) Selection by AP’s Director of Photography Santiago Lyon

Photography books of the year – review (Guardian)

The Top 10 Photo Books of 2013 (NYT Magazine blog)

Photo Books From 2013 You May Have Missed (Slate Behold)

Photo Projects That Made For A Better 2013 (PhotoShelter blog)

List of 2013 best of lists (Monroe Gallery blog)

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Best of Getty Images 2013 (Denver Post)

Tearing Down the Pop Edifice of Mexico’s Drug Culture (NYT Lens blog) Shaul Schwarz on his Narco Cultura film

Susan Meiselas 1976-77 series on Bowery Santas (NYT Lens blog)

The Godfather of Street Photography (Dazed and Confused) King of the streets and master of cinema, New York-born, Paris-based William Klein is still going strong

The Letters of Sergio Larrain (Little Brown Mushroom blog)

There's nothing the media loves more than a good hunt. So for the past few months, news coverage has been dominated by the hunt for the missing Flight #MH370, the hunt for survivors on the South Korean ferry, even the hunt for 2016 Presidential candidates. But when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped over 230 Nigerian girls from their school on the night of April 14, Wolf Blitzer and his fancy graphics were nowhere to be found. It's atrocious that the Nigerian government has made almost no publicized effort to find the girls; locals haven't seen security forces searching for the girls, there's been no real communication with the families, the government even lied that most of the girls had been returned. But by failing to cover the story, the global media let the government sweep this kidnapping under the rug. The kidnapping was mentioned for the first time on network nightly news Thursday night, more than two weeks after the girls were taken, according to Andrew Tyndall, who runs the Tyndall Report analyzing TV news. NBC Nightly News ran a story Thursday night, CBS ran a piece Friday morning, and ABC has been mum. The story never made the front page of the National Edition of the New York Times. CNN has had a bit more coverage, but nothing approaching the coverage of the missing plane or ferry accident. We only started paying close attention after rumors surfaced that the girls were likely sold as child brides for as little as $12. That's too little, too late. By contrast, when Malaysia flight #MH370 disappeared March 8, the story was the lead story on all NBC, ABC, and CBS's news shows for 11 straight weekdays straight. CNN was widely mocked for covering the missing plane 24/7 for weeks, often dedicating entire broadcast to tenuous hypotheticals with no new facts to report. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who runs a shelter for girls abducted by Joseph Kony's LRA in Uganda, says the global media plays a major role in resolving conflicts that lead to these kinds of atrocities. "The media has the most powerful voice, the media can reverse evil if it is done correctly," she says. "Even these people who are doing these atrocities against humanity, once they hear the media is coming, they stop." The girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram on the night of they'd assembled at school to take an exam at the Government Girls Secondar School in Chibok, in the northeastern part of the country. That area is dominated by the extremist group, whose name roughly translates to "Western education is forbidden." Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigeria for years, capitalizing on instability fueled by economic inequality and unemployment in Africa's largest economy. The group has attacked villages, caused explosions at bus stations, and murdered boys at a boarding school, but this is their most brutal attack, the one that should have caught the world's attention. But the government did nothing. Some of the girls' fathers and brothers have even ventured by themselves to find the girls, because security forces weren't looking for them. It's possible (but unlikely) that the government is doing some behind-the-scenes negotiations for the girls' rescue, but the families are still protesting that the government is ignoring the lost girls. Nigeria just became Africa's biggest economy, and the World Economic Forum is holding their first big meeting there next week, so a mass kidnapping that exposes their violence and corruption is bad for the narrative of a Nigeria on the rise. They want the world to see Nigeria as a country of growth and middle class opportunity. That's why they're trying to make the story go away, that's why they lied that the girls had been returned, and that's why it took us so long to catch on. Mausi Segun, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Nigeria, says that the government's lie that the girls were returned was partially intended to throw the global media off the story. "The government is concerned about its image, and a lot of what happened initially was that to stave off that interest," she says, adding that the government pressured the school principal to back up their story, but she refused. Perhaps if they had been getting more bad press, they would have acted more quickly. And by Netflix-algorithm logic, this should have been the biggest story of the past two weeks; stories about searches, schools, and sexual abuse tend to capture our interest. Tyndall points out that the issue of girls education in Muslim countries is a huge story; just look at all the press Malala Yousafzai has gotten. So why did we practically ignore this for so long? Perhaps because the media has a tendency to over-report stories that affect our foreign policy, and under-report stories that are less geopolitically relevant to us. That's why we hear so much about the Middle East, China, and India and so little about Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. There's also the fact that foreign bureaus have been in massive decline, and twenty newspapers and companies have eliminated their foreign bureaus since 1998. It's also impossible to ignore the racial implications of this story. When a pretty blonde girl like Hannah Anderson or Elizabeth Smart goes missing, news outlets send helicopters and reporters to the scene. But when hundreds of black girls are kidnapped in a faraway country, it barely makes the news. The story is finally getting some traction on Twitter, and #BringBackOurGirls has been trending since Thursday. https://twitter.com/Christiana1987/status/461859817972576256 https://twitter.com/kristenhowerton/status/461886666509017089 And even celebrities like Dule Hill and Shonda Rhimes are calling for collective action to rescue the girls. https://twitter.com/DuleHill/status/461861639948894209 https://twitter.com/shondarhimes/status/461703968130101248 It's possible that the world started paying attention because of the horrific rumors that the girls had been sold into marriage, which Sister Rosemary says is just a euphamism for systematic rape. "This is not marriage," she says. "They are being given in sex slavery. This is human trafficking. We should call evil by its name." But it almost doesn't matter what got the world's attention, because the truth is that the media scrutiny came far too late. Two weeks ago the girls were taken in a caravan that move slowly enough that some girls were able to escape. If we had paid attention then, when the girls were together and on the move, they might have been found. But by now, it's likely that the girls have already suffered horrific abuses, and may even have been sold to men in Chad or Cameroon. But even though Boko Haram are the villains here, and the Nigerian government bears a brunt of the blame, this tragedy is partly on us. We weren't paying attention. We failed those girls. Let's not do it again.
Brent Stirton / Getty Images

Brent Stirton: A Native Son’s Ode To Nelson Mandela (PROOF)

Documenting South Africa’s Farewell to Nelson Mandela with Daniel Berehulak (Instagram blog)

João Silva Photographing Outside Apartheid’s White Bubble (NYT Lens blog)

In the Central African Republic, fear looks like a machete (AFP Correspondent blog) Photographer Fred Dufour on working in the Central African Republic

We Know Africa Is Not a Single Country, Newsweek Says (PDN Pulse) Newsweek.com published a story about the increasing dangers that gays face in Ethiopia. The only problem: The story is illustrated with photos taken not in Ethiopia, but in Uganda.

Robert Capa in colour sheds new light on a black and white master (Guardian) One of the 20th century’s most famous photojournalists, Robert Capa is renowned for his stark images of human conflict – but a New York exhibition of unseen colour shots could change all that

Updated 11:05 a.m. ET The tense situation in eastern Ukraine appeared in danger of spiraling out of control Friday, as the government launched its first big assault on pro-Russian insurgents occupying cities, the insurgents shot down government helicopters, and Russia said the renewed violence that killed at least three people had ended any hope of a peaceful end to the standoff. The insurgent-appointed mayor of the east Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, claimed that pro-Russian forces occupying the city shot down helicopters on Friday morning as the Ukrainian military kicked off an operation near the rebel enclave. The president of Ukraine later claimed that "many" pro-Russia insurgents had been killed or injured in the fighting, the Associated Press reports. There were conflicting reports about how many helicopters were shot down—Russian state news outlet RT reported that at least three helicopters had been downed by pro-Kremlin militia fighters, but that couldn't be immediately confirmed and other reports said two choppers were downed. At least one helicopter pilot was killed during the fighting, while another had been detained, the AP reports. That came after the Ukrainian military launched an unspecified operation near the rebel-held city on Friday morning, with news of sporadic gunfire and explosions erupting on the city outskirts. The new pro-Western government in Kiev has been grappling with Russian encroachment for month, starting with a crisis in Crimea that led Russia to eventually annex the peninsula, and more recently with insurgents who have been occupying buildings in several Russian cities. Russia signaled that the latest violence would doom any hope of a sustaining a peace deal that was reached last month in Geneva, one the United States and Ukraine have accused Russia of never respecting in the first place. Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, called the latest Ukrainian military moves a "punitive operation" that had killed “all hope for the viability of the Geneva agreements," the New York Times reports. During a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, Putin called for the withdrawal of “all military units” in southeastern Ukraine. Insurgents have taken over state buildings in at least a dozen cities in Ukraine's southeast since Russia annexed Crimea in late March. [AP] MORE: Decisions on Separation From Ukraine [time-brightcove videoid=3530988726001]
Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

Open-Access Learning, Afghanistan Style (AFP Correspondent blog) AFP photographer Noorullah Shirzada on his widely seen Afghanistan picture

Robert Nickelsberg’s Photos Show the Suffering and Turmoil of War in Afghanistan (Daily Beast)

Three Photographers Reflect on Typhoon Haiyan (NYT) Photographers Bryan Denton, Sergey Ponomarev, and Jes Aznar covered the Typhoon Hayian aftermath on assignment for the New York Times

Kevin Frayer Instagramming Typhoon Haiyan (Newsweek)

Iraq war eyewitnesses: The stories behind the images (LA Times) Several Los Angeles Times photojournalists were among those who risked their lives to chronicle the war in Iraq

The Wider Image (Reuters) Reuters’ Wider Image app is now available also online

Olivier Jobard awarded Tim Hetherington Grant for 2013 (Canon Professional Network)

Behind the Cover: Martin Schoeller Photographs an Amazon Tribe (National Geographic) A young Kayapo girl represents her tribe on National Geographic magazine’s January cover

Photographer Teru Kuwayama Goes to Work at Facebook as Photo Community Liaison (PDN Pulse)

Photographers Richard Mosse and Zanele Muholi Named Top “Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy (PDN Pulse)

Voting in Iraq’s first election since American troops left the country went relatively smoothly this week. Turnout reached almost 60 percent, no major irregularities were reported, and in a country defined for more than a decade by car bombs and mass fatalities, the death toll for election day stood at 14. “Anywhere else in the world, that would be seen as a terrible disaster,” says Hayer al-Khoei, an associate fellow at Chatham House, a London think tank. “Everything is relative in Iraq.” But then, getting people to vote has not been a great challenge in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, where traffic closures and security services out in force made for relatively safe. The problem, in Iraq, is what comes next: governing. Wednesday’s parliamentary election was the third since U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, and amounted to a referendum on the man who has governed for the last eight years: Nouri al-Maliki, seeking a third term as prime minister, is widely criticized for ruling the country of 32 million with a focus on sectarian divisions. Opponents argue that by favoring Iraq’s long-oppressed Shiite majority, he has encouraged a Sunni rebellion that has opened much of Anbar province to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, Iraq’s third major population, the Kurds, essentially govern themselves in a largely autonomous northern enclave. Very early returns suggested that, as analysts expected, Maliki appeared likely to remain the dominant political figure, though in a more crowded political universe. All major parties appeared to be drawing fewer votes than four years earlier, as smaller parties fractured the vote within each bloc. “He won,” al-Khoei says, “but it doesn’t look like he won by a large enough mandate” to assure a third term without forming a coalition— a negotiation process that dragged on for 10 months in 2010, and might take even longer given the increase in parties. The process could also aggravate the sectarian warfare that has already led to death tolls approaching the “civil war” bloodletting of 2006-7. But Al-Kohei says the process might also do the opposite, leading to the kind of inclusive character that has eluded Iraqi governance to date. “One of the paradoxes of Iraqi politics as I see it is the atmosphere is incredibly sectarian,” Al-Kohei tells TIME. “But at the political levels, in a weird way it’s gone beyond sectarianism, because all the parties are much more fragmented. So it seems to me it’s much more likely that blocs within the blocs will do deals at the expense of their co-religionists or fellow Kurds.” As in 2010, the makeup of a governing coalition will likely be influenced by Iran, which, despite the massive U.S. investment in lives and treasure, has emerged as the dominant outside influence in Iraq. Analysts call that another impediment to building trusted institutions as committed to democracy as the citizens who defy threats and bombs to cast their ballots. “The election is not the problem,” says Hiwa Osman, a former aide to Iraq’s Kurdish President, Jalal Talabani. “The key thing with Iraq is it needs to figure out what kind of system you have.” While Kurds favor a federal system with loose control, others prefer a centralized system—though Maliki has so concentrated powers that some critics warn of an emerging dictatorship. “I think Iraq is on a path whereby however more central government wants it to be, the more distance it will create between its various components,” says Osman, “Maliki has been trying for more than a year to control it by force, but security usually comes last in handling any political problem. Anbar’s problem is a political problem.”
Michele Palazzi

Featured photographer: Michele Palazzi (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Marco Kesseler (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Patrick Brown (Verve Photo)

Interviews and Talks

Spring finally arrived in the job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 288,000 and the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 6.3% in April. That’s a strong number, reflecting both a rebound from the weather-challenged first quarter of the year, which curtailed industries such as construction and retailing. Job growth has averaged 190,000 per month over the last 12 months, according to BLS. April’s overachievement was widespread, led by gains in professional and business services, retail, restaurants, and construction. But if the economy is blooming with the improving weather, it is certainly not booming. “The view from the outside is very positive, but there are an usual number of caveats in the report to suggest the inside picture of the labor markets is less pretty than that juicy +288K might otherwise suggest,” wrote Guy LeBas, Janney Montgomery Scott's chief fixed income strategist. The biggest of those caveats is the drop in the civilian labor force. The number of people in the workforce declined by 806,000 in April, after increasing 503,000 in March. It’s a disappointing drop, and lowered the labor force participation rate—the proportion of the adult population that is working or looking for work— by 0.4 percentage points to 62.8 % in April. Having fewer people active in the economy is not a recipe for growth. That’s why the drop in the unemployment rate, while encouraging, is also distracting. “This one number is clearly not telling policymakers what it’s supposed to. It’s become a bad measure of the job market,” LeBas said. The unemployment rate dropped because people left the work force, not because they found work. Another weakness: Job growth did not do much for wage growth. Hourly average wages for April were unchanged, and the average workweek held steady at 34.5 hours. So even though consumer spending rose last month—another spring rebound tied to the weather—workers aren’t getting the higher wages they need to increase spending. Remember, consumer spending is roughly two-thirds of the economy. That weakness in workforce participation will continue to hold the attention of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) as it wrestles with interest rates. Yellen is scheduled to report on the economic outlook to the congressional Joint Economic Committee next week. Part of the broader debate centers on whether keeping long-term interest rates low will help the long-term unemployed, or whether there's a need to keep inflation on a leash as the economy expands. In other words, is there still slack in the labor market? The April data suggests there is. [time-brightcove videoid=3024074024001] Yet according to Rick Rieder, CIO of fundamental fixed income for investment firm BlackRock, companies remain risk averse and cost conscious despite the low rates, which will keep a ceiling on hiring. So will other problems, such as mismatches in skill sets and education levels. In fact, there are some economists who believe that many of the longterm unemployed will never rejoin the workforce, meaning there may not be as much slack in the labor market as you'd expect—and that rates should go up more swiftly to combat the risk of future inflation. These factors signal a slow but steady growth in employment, but nothing like previous expansions. “Looking ahead, we continue to anticipate a trend of reasonable growth in the U.S. within a global economy whose growth rate can best be described as uninspiring, but growing nonetheless,” Rieder said. In other words, while it’s been a warm spring in the labor market, don’t expect a hot summer.
Jason Andrew

Jason Andrew (Leica blog) On his project entitled “Black Diamonds” on young Nigerian footballers who were lured to Turkey with false promises of stardom

Brent Stirton (PROOF) Photography as obsession

Robert Schmidt (Onthemedia.org) The AFP photographer behind the ‘selfie-gate’ at Mandela memorial

Robert Nickelsberg (PROOF)

The federal government said Friday it would establish its first regional energy reserves in the Northeast to provide gasoline to homes and businesses in case of a supply disruption. The move signals the Department of Energy is reexamining its strategy after the havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Two Northeast reserve locations, near New York Harbor and in New England, will be established, and they will store 500,000 barrels of gasoline each, which the Department of Energy says is enough to provide short-term relief in the event of a major supply disruption. The approximately $215 million project is intended to supply households through five hurricane seasons, officials said. Hurricane Sandy damaged refineries, terminals and left gasoline stations without power, causing severe gasoline shortages across the region in 2012. Some gas stations were left without fuel for as long as 30 days, and officials said the new reserves would safeguard against a similar catastrophe. "The sudden, massive gas supply shortage after Superstorm Sandy resulted in interminable line, panic and delivered a gut shot to the region's economy," New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said in an Energy Department statement announcing the new reserves. "That's why we called for regionally-placed reserves to ensure an uninterrupted fuel supply in the event of future storms like Sandy." Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the reserves were part of an Obama Administration effort to "better prepare for the effects of climate change we already see occurring here at home" The government already has reserves of diesel fuel in the Northeast, but the new supply would presumably allow home- and auto-owners to get through a supply disruption. The reserves would not, however, address the widespread loss of electric power caused by Hurricane Sandy.
National Geographic Live!

Marcus Bleasdale (National Geographic Live! on Youtube) Bleasdale wants to make people angry; as angry as he is about Africa’s first world war and the surprising way in which we are funding this violence

Ron Haviv (Anastasia Photo) Sebastian Junger interviews Haviv

Jodi Cobb (PROOF) On cultural exploration

Ivor Prickett (Panos Social) On his work in Iraqi Kurdistan

Eivind H. Natvig’s artifacts (PROOF) Artifacts is a series about physical items that have meaning to photographers in the field

Ben Lowy (NPPA) Embracing change


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


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