Erika Larsen–National Geographic
By Mikko Takkunen
February 24, 2014

Features and Essays

An FBI agent was arrested and held on anti-terrorism charges in Pakistan after allegedly trying to bring weapons and ammunition onto a plane, Pakistani officials announced Tuesday. Airport police in Karachi detained the agent on Monday after he attempted to board a Pakistan International Airlines flight traveling from Karachi to Islamabad, the Washington Post reports. He was reportedly carrying a 9mm pistol magazine and 15 bullets. Anti-terrorism laws outlaw carrying ammunition or weapons on commercial flights. In court on Tuesday, a judge ordered the agent be detained until Saturday at the earliest in order to allow officials to investigate the incident. U.S. officials said the agent was temporarily assigned to duty in Pakistan but requested the Post withhold his name. [The Washington Post]
Lynsey Addario–National Geographic

Lynsey Addario: Syria: The Chaos of War – Journey Without End (National Geographic) Documenting the struggles of Syria’s displaced | From National Geographic magazine’s March 2014 issue

Bryan Denton: Syrians Flee Heavy Aerial Bombing (NYT) Hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians have fled rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo in recent weeks under heavy aerial bombardment by the Syrian government, emptying whole neighborhoods and creating what aid workers say is one of the largest refugee flows of the entire civil war.

If you remember the days when Intel and Microsoft were an unstoppable force, you might be tickled by the former's newfound love for Chromebooks. At a press event on Tuesday, Intel heaped praise on machines running Google's Chrome OS, pointing out how well they've been doing on Amazon's sales charts and in schools. A long list of PC makers lined up to announce new hardware, including new Chromebook laptops and tiny "Chromebox" desktops. I think Chromebooks are great, but as they gain support within the PC industry, they're also inheriting the industry's warts. I've been worried about this scenario for a while now: Chromebooks are no longer a small, focused selection of purpose-built machines. Instead, they've become a vast lineup of computers in all shapes and sizes, meant to appeal to every niche. And most of them look pretty dull. My colleague Doug Aamoth has the nitty gritty details, but in short, we've got Chromebooks with long battery life and lightweight processors, Chromebooks with shorter battery life and more powerful processors, bigger Chromebooks, smaller Chromebooks, Chromebooks with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, Chromebooks with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and a couple of Chromebooks with touch screens. It's a dizzying array of options, and it's reminiscent of the Windows PC market, whose sagging sales have left Intel and its partners scrambling for alternatives. The positive way to look at this is that you've got lots of choices, and choice is good. Not tickled by the design of Acer's Core i3-powered Chromebook? Maybe you'll like Dell's version a bit better. Not comfortable with just 16 GB of storage? Asus has you covered with 32 GB options. Here's the downside: Choosing a Chromebook will become needlessly complicated, as the performance gap between low- and high-end Chromebooks is now wider than ever. Nevermind that the justification for a Core i3 Chromebook is kind of thin--Intel says you might want it for Google+ Hangouts or 3D games--or that 2 GB of RAM can be a drag on multitasking, or that 32 GB of storage is overkill for a cloud-based computer. These are all things you'll have to consider now. The old Chromebook mantra was "speed, simplicity, security," the implication being that all Chromebooks are fast gateways to the Internet. But that message is muddier now. Instead of making hard choices on what makes a good Chromebook, PC makers are taking the shotgun approach, and leaving buyers to sort through the mess.  
Andrea Bruce–National Geographic

Andrea Bruce: Syria: The Chaos of War – Damascus: Will the Walls Fall? (National Geographic) The city’s culture offers hope for saving Syria | From National Geographic magazine’s March 2014 issue

Guy Martin: Playacting for Power in Istanbul: Portraits of Protesters and Soap Opera Stars (LightBox) Following a long hiatus away from photography after being injured in Libya, photojournalist Guy Martin writes for LightBox about his newest project pairing the theatricality of Istanbul’s protests with the drama of its soap opera stages.

Josh Hartnett did not take the career path that a onetime It-boy heartthrob, thrown into the limelight by Michael Bay, is expected to have by Hollywood standards. But he wants you to know - that's okay. "It was kind of like being in a relationship with Hollywood, and it just didn't feel like we weren't in the same place at the same time, I wanted something that they didn't want to give me," Hartnett says. "So I took a break from my relationship." That break included some time off to move back to his native Minnesota, starring in a string of indie films, and getting involved in politics. His vanishing act has prompted a flurry of publications to wonder what had happened to him. But what happened to him is just trying to make independent films, he told TIME. "[The narrative was] either I was so disillusioned and afraid that I ran away or that I was some punk who didn't know how good he had it," Hartnett says. "And it's neither of those. It was that I tried to take a different path towards achieving good film." In the interview above, the actor discusses openly the up and downs in his career - from the hit success of Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down to turning down big roles like Superman and eventually struggling to make his work in independent movies widely known. But the actor, now 35 and starring in a new Showtime 19th century drama Penny Dreadful, has learned his lesson. "I'm older now, I'm wiser now. (...) I know that if I make one or two more films in the system," he says, "I'll be able to go off and do these smaller films and possibly give them the release they deserve."          
Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Daniel Berehulak: A Highway That Is Crucial for a Nation’s Future (NYT) Afghan army’s test begins with fight for vital highway

Wang Qing: In Restive Remote China, Uighurs’ Piety and Peace (NYT Lens) A photographer ventured to Xinjiang Province, where tensions seethe between the Muslim Uighur minority and the majority Han Chinese, and made pictures only a quiet, unobtrusive observer could.

The first "walk of shame" I can remember happened my freshman year of college when I hurried across campus in the wee hours of a late October morning wearing a very pronounced bee costume. (It should be noted that even though I got back to my dorm with my costume's stinger hanging between my legs, I wasn't ashamed.) My latest walk was less of a stereotype, but it left me feeling far more disgraced. The tryst was with a movie aptly titled Walk of Shame. I didn't feel dirty because my theater emptied into sweaty Times Square (Warning: If a movie is only playing in one theater in all of New York its opening weekend, it's going to be bad), but rather because I spent 95 minutes of my life listening to unfunny jokes that relied on racial and slut shaming/sex worker bashing stereotypes and weren't even that original or edgy. Even though the movie bombed, I had contributed to its paltry $38k opening weekend earnings. The premise of the movie seemed harmless enough: "good girl" news anchor Meghan Miles goes on a debaucherous night on the town with the ladiez after her fiance leaves her and her dream job with network is taken by another anchor. Cue the adorable bar tender/"writer of books" who provides her not only with lemon drops, but also the sweetest one night stand Hollywood could muster. Miles (played by the hilarious Elizabeth Banks) runs out on the cute bartender's downtown LA loft in the middle of the night after she gets a message from her producer saying that she has another shot at the dream job if she gives a killer newscast the next morning. Unfortunately for Banks, her car was towed and her phone and purse are nowhere to be found. Thus begins a series of hijinx to get her to work on time. Ok this never sounded like a masterpiece, but with a cast like Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Kevin Nealan, and Gillian Jacobs, it was bound to be a little funny, right? But this movie was just flat-out misogynistic and offensive to just about everyone. The movie revolves around the fact that Banks must convince every single character she comes across that she, a "good girl," isn't a sex worker. Because what else could a woman in the inner city, wearing high heels and a "slutty" dress (but not really, I mean, it's Marc Jacobs) be if not a prostitute? Banks is asked to provide everything from a lap dance to a boob flash to a happy ending to a song in exchange for help she never gets.Cops spew unsettling one-liners aimed at scaring the wayward "prostitute" which I think, as an audience, we're meant to laugh at, yet accept as inevitable simply because she's wearing a tight dress. What a misunderstanding! These repetitive jokes enter the dangerous territory of normalizing mistreatment of women based on her outfit. The script also is full of sex worker bashing. There was a deluge of pejoratives ranging from "hooker" (said 9 times over the course of the film) to "hooker hoodlum" to "dumb hook;" "whore" to "crackhead whore;" "prostitute" to "deranged prostitute." And let's not forget "raggedy ass trip." There's even a scene on a bus in which an old woman literally yells "shame" at Banks for her outfit and inability to pay. Everyone cheers when the bus driver pepper sprays the supposed fallen woman after taunting her for being bad at her "job" if she doesn't even have dollar bills to pay for a ticket. And then there were the racial jokes, which began in the first five minutes of the film when a job interviewer asks Banks, a self-proclaimed voracious reader, if she liked Toni Morrsion's Beloved while obviously nodding at the one black man on the hiring team. But at least that racial stereotype of a character had a job that didn't involve selling crack, which was the profession of practically every other man of color for the rest of the film. Banks winds up in a "ghetto crack den" as she puts it, with characters named Pookie, Scrilla, and Hulk. They prove to have hearts of gold because they give her career advice, threaten to hurt her ex-fiance, and give her a vial of crack as a gesture of good will. The sweetish scene is cut short by a shootout. Obviously. For diversity's sake, the Mexican characters are crack dealers, too. Hasidic Jews are portrayed as repressed, sex starved, lechers who are so stingy they won't give Banks a few dollars. And if you were an Asian actress in the film, chances are you worked in the Happy Ending massage parlor. (Banks pretends her name is Kim Jong Il and talks in a bad, Asian accent when she pretends to be a masseuse while on the run from the cops. It's complicated.) On a positive note, Banks is never ashamed of or shamed for the act of having sex with Marsden (probably because he's actually her future husband) and her friends are painted in a very supportive light. They even go to Marsden's house to make sure he didn't murder her. But even an empowering-ish closing speech about how Banks has embraced her matted hair and form-fitting dress, how she is done being a "good girl," isn't enough to save the film from its many offenses. The movie was written and directed by Steve Brill who managed to get $15 million to produce this dud. Although Brill was responsible for The Mighty Ducks, he more recently dolled out box office bombs like Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and Without a Paddle. Thanks Steve!
Patrick Brown–Panos Pictures

Patrick Brown: Trading to Extinction (BBC) Photographer Patrick Brown spent 10 years documenting the illegal trade of endangered animals in Asia. The project is now getting published as a book. | Also on LightBox here

Lynsey Addario: A Roadside Birth in the Philippines (LightBox) The remarkable birth of a baby in a typhoon-ravaged part of the Philippines becomes a symbol of renewed hope

Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on Tuesday, setting the stage for what could become the largest technology stock offering in history. If successful, Alibaba's IPO could eventually value the company at substantially more than $150 billion, according to Wall Street analysts, in what would amount to a windfall for Yahoo, which owns 24% of the e-commerce giant. Alibaba's public debut would be the largest ever by a Chinese company in the U.S. public markets. Alibaba, which was founded 15 years ago by English teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jack Ma, dominates the Chinese e-commerce market, powering four-fifths of all online commerce in that country, according to Reuters. Along with its flagship Taobao website, the company also operates a digital payments service and a cloud computing business. In its filing with the SEC, Alibaba said it aims to raise $1 billion, but that figure is a placeholder amount used to calculate registration fees. Ultimately, Wall Street analysts believe Alibaba could eventually top Facebook's 2012 $16 billion IPO, which set a record as the largest technology stock offering in history. Alibaba has yet to decide whether to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq. Alibaba aims to sell a 12% stake to the public, according to Bloomberg, which cited "people familiar with the matter," which could generate as much as $20 billion in new capital for the company. In coming months, Alibaba will embark on "road show" designed to woo Wall Street investors. Demand for a piece of the IPO is expected to be intense. Alibaba could eventually have a market valuation of between $150 billion and $200 billion, according to Jeffries technology analyst Brian Pitz, who estimates that Alibaba accounts for about 75% of Yahoo's valuation, along with other Asian assets and cash holdings. At $200 billion, Alibaba would be worth more than U.S. tech titans Facebook and Amazon, but it would still trail Apple and Google, the world's two most valuable technology companies. Last year, Alibaba handled $248 billion in online transactions, according to the company's IPO filing, more than Amazon and eBay combined. Last month, Yahoo reported tepid results for its core business, but the company's stock jumped 8% based on Alibaba's revenue, which soared 66% from the year before. The company’s net income was $1.6 billion, more than double the previous year. "The bottom line is that Yahoo's stock continues to be driven by Alibaba results," Macquarie tech analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a recent note to clients. "With its reaccelerating revenue growth and high margins, Yahoo will continue to reap the rewards of its Alibaba holdings."
Davide Monteleone–VII

Davide Monteleone: The Protests Continue in Kiev (The New Yorker’s Photo Booth) The photographer Davide Monteleone captured the scene of the protests throughout the capital.

Jerome Sessini: Ukraine (De Standaard)

Mikhail Mordasov: The Other Sochi (Foreign Policy) Images of the seaside spa town cherished by generations of Russians. Will it survive the Olympics?

Misha Friedman: Two Sides of Sochi (The New Yorker) For the past few weeks, Friedman has been in Russia to cover the Winter Olympics for the New Yorker.

Misha Friedman: The Sochi Olympics County Fair (The New Yorker’s Photo Booth) One of the Olympic attractions was the Sochi Fan Zone, a carnival-like venue that allowed enthusiasts to pose in front of murals depicting Russian athletes.

Mads Nissen: The Dangers of Being Gay in Russia (Newsweek)

Rafal Milach: Portraits of the Winners, the Best and Better in Belarus (LightBox) Wry portraits of the best milkmaids, fitness queens, hunters, potato farmers and other winners of the quirky propagandistic contests organized by one of last remaining dictatorships in Europe.

1. Getting Off You'd think that tatters of shredded board games would be buried in a heaping landfill of the barely recognizable parts of industries, businesses, and people disintermediated, rendered obsolete, or just plain squashed by the Internet. But it turns out that people often use technology to get themselves back offline. Last year, more Kickstarter money was raised for tabletop games than for video games. Sales at hobby stores have risen significantly over the past three years. And game creators are using technology to get games from their brains to your kitchen table faster than ever. From NYT's Nick Wingfield: High-Tech Push Has Board Games Rolling Again. 2. Present, Tense "For a long time we have perceived climate change as an issue that’s distant, affecting just polar bears or something that matters to our kids. This shows it’s not just in the future; it matters today." The latest U.S. Climate Report confirms what we already know. Climate change is happening, and the impact is already severe. + Vox: Nine maps that show how climate change is already affecting the US. + MoJo: 7 scary facts about how global warming is scorching the United States. 3. The Missing "The girls in the school dorm heard the sound of gunshots from a nearby town. So when armed men in uniforms burst in and promised to rescue them, at first they were relieved." With the help of a student who escaped, AP's Michelle Faul pieces together the anatomy of a kidnapping. + The kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is getting a lot of international attention. But it took awhile. The kidnapping happened about three weeks ago. And the group behind the crime, Boko Haram, has been operating for about a decade. From NPR: Boko Haram's local fight suddenly gets international scrutiny. + The U.S. is sending in experts to help locate and free the girls. 4. What You Get Out of Getting In According to a new survey, getting into that elite college doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a happier person later in life. But then again, neither does anything else. 5. Game of Phones "Upon getting word that investigators were outside, employees at the plant began destroying documents and switching computers, replacing the ones that were being used -- and might have damaging material on them -- with others." Vanity Fair's Kurt Eichenwald on Apple, Samsung, and the Great Smartphone War. 6. Down and Out in Beverly Hills Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah just began rolling out Sharia law. So celebrities and many others have announced a boycott of his hotels, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air. + The Daily Beast: How the Sultan of Brunei violated his Sharia law with me. 7. The Seen "Someone points out something and suddenly a secondary interpretation of an image appears. There's something a little scary about this process, even when the images are harmless. We have a flash of insight and a new pattern is revealed hiding within the world we thought we knew. It surprises us." The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal on the things you cannot unsee (and what that says about your brain). + Did you happen to see the face of Jesus on a piece of toast? Don't worry, that's perfectly normal. (I tend to see Moses, but maybe that's because I usually eat rye.) 8. The Blue Period "I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet." Monica Lewinsky says "it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress." It's also time for her book. Maybe, after all these years, we'll finally learn what the meaning of "is" is. 9. These Kids Today "It was, in other words, a sharp reversion to the banality of yore." In Believer Magazine Anne Helen Petersen provides a detailed and interesting overview of the banality of the celebrity profile, and how it got that way. + Why would you teach a class on Miley Cyrus? 10. The Bottom of the News The Washington Post tries to explain what it's like to be 100 years old, in 10 charts. (Get up to pee every three charts, then you'll know what it's like...) + All politicians are not useless. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber got out of his car to give a woman CPR. (He once left the stage during a debate to help someone in need.) + A new app enables San Francisco drivers to auction off their current parking spot to the highest bidder. (Mike Judge will never run out of material.)
Fabio Bucciarelli–AFP/Getty Images

Fabio Bucciarelli: On the Brink of an Abyss (LightBox) South Sudan remains on the brink of an ethnic conflict. Italian photographer Fabio Bucciarelli is documenting the unrest.

Micah Albert: Kenya’s Traditional Brewers (BBC)

Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba has filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public in U.S., setting the stage for what could become the largest technology stock offering in history. If successful, Alibaba's IPO could eventually value the company at substantially more than $150 billion, according to Wall Street analysts, in what would amount to a windfall for Yahoo, which owns 24% of the e-commerce giant. Alibaba's public debut would be the largest ever by a Chinese company in the U.S. public markets. Alibaba, which was founded 15 years ago by English teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jack Ma, dominates the Chinese e-commerce market, powering four-fifths of all online commerce in that country, according to Reuters. Along with its flagship Taobao website, the company also operates a digital payments service and a cloud computing business. In its filing with the SEC, Alibaba said it aims to raise $1 billion, but that figure is a placeholder amount used to calculate registration fees. Wall Street analysts believe Alibaba could eventually top Facebook's 2012 $16 billion IPO, which set a record as the largest technology stock offering in history. Alibaba has yet to decide whether to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq. Alibaba aims to sell a 12% stake to the public, according to Bloomberg, which could generate as much as $20 billion in new capital for the company. In the coming months, Alibaba will embark on "road show" designed to woo Wall Street investors. Demand for a piece of the IPO is expected to be intense. Alibaba could eventually have a market valuation of between $150 billion and $200 billion, according to Jeffries technology analyst Brian Pitz, who estimates that Alibaba accounts for about 75% of Yahoo's valuation, along with other Asian assets and cash holdings. At $200 billion, Alibaba would be worth more than U.S. tech titans Facebook and Amazon, but it would still trail Apple and Google, the world's two most valuable technology companies. Last year, Alibaba handled $248 billion in online transactions, according to the company's IPO filing, more than Amazon and eBay combined. Last month, Yahoo reported tepid results for its core business, but the company's stock jumped 8% based on Alibaba's revenue, which soared 66% from the year before. The company’s net income was $1.6 billion, more than double the previous year. Yahoo shares moved 1% higher in after-hours trading on Tuesday, following Alibaba's IPO filing. "The bottom line is that Yahoo's stock continues to be driven by Alibaba results," Macquarie tech analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a recent note to clients. "With its reaccelerating revenue growth and high margins, Yahoo will continue to reap the rewards of its Alibaba holdings."
Erika Larsen–National Geographic

Erika Larsen: People of the Horse (National Geographic) Many Native American tribes developed a deep, almost mystical, connection to the horse | From National Geographic magazine’s March 2014 issue

Andrea Bruce: Westward Bound (The New Yorker’s Photo Booth) A photographer’s trip with her Iraqi fixer from D.C. to Oregon

Ben Marcin: The Camps (Feature Shoot) Hidden dwellings of Baltimore’s homeless

Jared Soares: Struggle and Hope in a Small Virginia Town (Slate) Economic downturn in Martinsville, Va.

Carlos Javier Ortiz: The Toll of Zero-Tolerance Discipline (MSNBC) Young black and Latino men are being churned out of classrooms and into the criminal justice system at an astounding rate. One in three black and one in six Latino boys are likely to face incarceration during their lifetime.

Andrew Burton: Locked Up and Growing Old (MSNBC) Aging men and women are the fastest-growing population in U.S. prisons, a recent Human Rights Watch report found, and prison officials are ill-equipped to provide the appropriate level of care.

Aaron Huey: Salvation Mountain (TIME) Folk artist Leonard Knight, creator of Salvation Mountain, died at 82. Photographer Aaron Huey documented Knight and his creation during the course of several years.

1. Getting Off   You'd think that tatters of shredded board games would be buried in a heaping landfill of the barely recognizable parts of industries, businesses, and people disintermediated, rendered obsolete, or just plain squashed by the Internet. But it turns out that people often use technology to get themselves back offline. Last year, more Kickstarter money was raised for tabletop games than for video games. Sales at hobby stores have risen significantly over the past three years. And game creators are using technology to get games from their brains to your kitchen table faster than ever. From NYT's Nick Wingfield: High-Tech Push Has Board Games Rolling Again. 2. Present, Tense   "For a long time we have perceived climate change as an issue that’s distant, affecting just polar bears or something that matters to our kids. This shows it’s not just in the future; it matters today." The latest U.S. Climate Report confirms what we already know. Climate change is happening, and the impact is already severe. + Vox: Nine maps that show how climate change is already affecting the US. + MoJo: 7 scary facts about how global warming is scorching the United States. 3. The Missing   "The girls in the school dorm heard the sound of gunshots from a nearby town. So when armed men in uniforms burst in and promised to rescue them, at first they were relieved." With the help of a student who escaped, AP's Michelle Faul pieces together the anatomy of a kidnapping. + The kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is getting a lot of international attention. But it took awhile. The kidnapping happened about three weeks ago. And the group behind the crime, Boko Haram, has been operating for about a decade. From NPR: Boko Haram's local fight suddenly gets international scrutiny. + The U.S. is sending in experts to help locate and free the girls. 4. What You Get Out of Getting In   According to a new survey, getting into that elite college doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a happier person later in life. But then again, neither does anything else. 5. Game of Phones "Upon getting word that investigators were outside, employees at the plant began destroying documents and switching computers, replacing the ones that were being used -- and might have damaging material on them -- with others." Vanity Fair's Kurt Eichenwald on Apple, Samsung, and the Great Smartphone War. 6. Down and Out in Beverly Hills Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah just began rolling out Sharia law. So celebrities and many others have announced a boycott of his hotels, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air. + The Daily Beast: How the Sultan of Brunei violated his Sharia law with me. 7. The Seen "Someone points out something and suddenly a secondary interpretation of an image appears. There's something a little scary about this process, even when the images are harmless. We have a flash of insight and a new pattern is revealed hiding within the world we thought we knew. It surprises us." The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal on the things you cannot unsee (and what that says about your brain). + Did you happen to see the face of Jesus on a piece of toast? Don't worry, that's perfectly normal. (I tend to see Moses, but maybe that's because I usually eat rye.) 8. The Blue Period   "I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet." Monica Lewinsky says "it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress." It's also time for her book. Maybe, after all these years, we'll finally learn what the meaning of "is" is. 9. These Kids Today "It was, in other words, a sharp reversion to the banality of yore." In Believer Magazine Anne Helen Petersen provides a detailed and interesting overview of the banality of the celebrity profile, and how it got that way. + Why would you teach a class on Miley Cyrus? 10. The Bottom of the News   The Washington Post tries to explain what it's like to be 100 years old, in 10 charts. (Get up to pee every three charts, then you'll know what it's like...) + All politicians are not useless. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber got out of his car to give a woman CPR. (He once left the stage during a debate to help someone in need.) + A new app enables San Francisco drivers to auction off their current parking spot to the highest bidder. (Mike Judge will never run out of material.)
David Guttenfelder–Associated Press for The New York Times

David Guttenfelder: Traveling From Ocean to Ocean Across South America | Still Life in Motion From a Road Trip Across South America (NYT Magazine) The cover story of the magazine’s Voyages issue takes readers on a journey along the Interoceanic Highway, the first paved route to fully cross the heart of South America.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins: The Business of Death (The Wider Image by Reuters) Venezuela has one of the world’s highest levels of homicides and Caracas’s murder rate is over 100 per 100,000 residents, according to a monitoring group.

Dominic Bracco II: Life on Ecuador’s oil frontier (Washington Post) Ecuador pumps more than 500,000 barrels of crude a day, but with production falling, the country is moving to drill inside Yasuni National Park, one of the world’s most ecologically complex and fragile places, an area that is also home to the Waorani tribe

Jim Mortram: Small Town Inertia (Guardian) Mortram started photographing the residents of his home town of Dereham, Norfolk, more or less by accident. But his results lift the lid on life in an isolated community – and add up to an unsettling snapshot of Britain today | Related: Mortram on his work here

Articles

“For you have but mistook me all this while: I live with bread like you, feel want, Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus, How can you say to me, I am a king?” —Shakespeare’s Richard II It has been ever thus. From Shakespeare’s deposed Richard II to Lyndon Johnson, from Henry V to Bill Clinton, outsize ambition often brings along outsize emotional needs. Theodore H. White, the Time-Life chronicler of U.S. presidential campaigns, once defined what he called “the politician’s optic,” in which the hostile language in any press story leaps off the page. By the same token, White wrote, even the slightest compliment to an opponent “swells to double-size capitals” in the politician’s gaze. “This is an occupational disease of politicians,” wrote White, “just as it is for authors and actors, who similarly live by public approval or distaste.” During the Bay of Pigs invasion in early 1961, White’s most iconic protagonist, John F. Kennedy, was so consumed with the demands of the presidency that he greeted an ambitious Barry Goldwater with a question: “So you want this f-cking job?” A cool, intellectual u.s. president in the ­maelstrom and in something of a bad mood about it: the parallels between 1961 and 2014 are far from precise, but the image of an American leader trying to exert his power over a resistant world through controversial means does bring us to the two prevailing separate but related narratives about Obama at the moment. The first allegation is that he is conducting a weak foreign policy that is damaging American prestige and power. And the second is a result of the first: that the President, faced with criticism of his stewardship of our place in the world, is a self-absorbed whiner who’s making too much of his view that there are practical limits to what the U.S. should do to advance its interests. In chattering-class shorthand, we’ve moved from the Cowboy Diplomacy of George W. Bush to the Cowering Diplomacy of Barack Obama—from unthoughtful hawk to self-pitying dud. You can imagine the joy the President takes in such criticism. Well, actually we don’t have to imagine it. We can hear it directly from him in the transcripts of a press conference in the Philippines. Dismissing the possibilities of direct military action in the Ukraine and Crimea, Obama said: “Where we can make a difference using all the tools we’ve got in the toolkit, well, we should do so. And if there are occasions where targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them. We don’t do them because somebody sitting in an office in Washington or New York thinks it would look strong. That’s not how we make foreign policy.” The way it is made, he said, “may not always be sexy. That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.” To Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Obama’s Manila soliloquy was one of whining and whinging: “The American president should not perpetually use the word ‘eventually.’ And he should not set a tone of resignation with references to this being a relay race and say he’s willing to take ‘a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf,’ and muse that things may not come ‘to full fruition on your timetable.’ ... A singles hitter doesn’t scare anybody ... It doesn’t feel like leadership. It doesn’t feel like you’re in command of your world.” The sound you may hear in the background is that of the goalposts of American punditry being moved up and down the field. Not so long ago the common wisdom held that Bush 43 was shredding our alliances with a swaggering unilateralism, refusing (or unable, in the common myth) to acknowledge the complexities of the early 21st century world. Now, in the blink of the historical eye, Obama is being routinely maligned as professorial, an ineffective multilateralist (a damning combination, that) who is acting like a latter-day Lord Halifax, the late-1930s British Foreign Secretary, who was willing to entertain the possibility of talks with the Axis when Neville Chamberlain, the architect of appeasement, had at last thrown his support to Winston Churchill. From the perspective of as serious an observer as Charles Krauthammer, Obama’s foreign policy is a catalog of compounding weakness from Syria to the Ukraine and beyond. Yet Obama is choosing limited action in many spheres because he believes that more expansive action may create more problems than it would solve. He is a pragmatist who has always ­masqueraded—and been depicted as, particularly by his opponents—as an ideologue. Obama’s vision of American power is much more in keeping with John Quincy Adams’ adage that we should not seek out monsters to destroy than with the muscular globalism of Bush’s second Inaugural Address, a speech that argued America’s overriding purpose was to end tyranny wherever it might flourish. American foreign policy has proven most effective when it has found itself somewhere between Adams and Bush. In modern times, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush tended to exercise national power in ways that balanced democratic idealism with political realism. Depending on the moment, they reached out or held back; projected power but kept the powder dry. The art of decision often—not always, but often—benefits from a cautious weighing of the relative costs of action and inaction. Lord knows, we get things wrong—we have fought unwise wars; ignored the plights of persecuted peoples; sent contradictory signals—but by and large, generation in and generation out, we have, in British journalist and economist Walter Bagehot’s phrase, muddled through. The question now is whether Obama is muddling through in the manner of his better ­predecessors or is at once withdrawn and weak. The fairest critique of recent events is that Obama’s drawing a “red line” in Syria and then deciding to say, in effect, “never mind,” was a mistake with serious consequences both there and in the wider world. Statecraft 101 teaches that you don’t issue ultimatums you aren’t determined to live up to. (Even Obama’s most fervent friends admit Syria was poorly handled.) Vladimir Putin’s expansionism is deeply troubling, and arming the Ukrainians with weapons more substantial than Meals Ready to Eat makes sense, but does Obama’s caution in the Russian crisis really rise to 1930s-level appeasement? Did Bush’s essential acquiescence in the invasion of Georgia make him a squish, or was it a rational decision based on a cost-benefit analysis of what America could ­effectively do? Russia is a complicated problem—we oppose Putin on his drive for more territory, but need him on Iran and Syria. The real issue comes down to sanctions, the stronger the better. “If America fails to act—and I’m not talking about deploying troops, but tough, smart sanctions—at times when we can act,” says U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then “we may be heading in a direction that makes a major conflict more likely, not less.” Corker is a sensible man, and he’s right that there’s plenty to worry about. It is disproportionate, however, to think of Obama as an existential failure. And yet the criticism will never end. Musing on the perils of fame, Thomas Jefferson wrote a friend who was under public attack: “If you meant to escape malice you should have confined yourself within the sleepy line of regular duty,” Jefferson wrote. Anguish is the price a public man pays for adulation, and Obama knows that. In a preface to a series of lectures about White House decisionmaking his adviser Theodore C. ­Sorensen published in 1963, Kennedy observed: “­Every President must endure a gap between what he would like and what is possible.” As do we all.n
John Stanmeyer—VII for National Geographic

World Press Photo Contest Winners Gallery (World Press Photo) View the entire collection of winning images from the 57th World Press Photo Contest. The winners were selected from more than 90,000 images submitted to the contest.

VII Photo’s John Stanmeyer wins 57th World Press Photo of the Year (BJP) John Stanmeyer, a VII Photo member and National Geographic contributor, has won World Press Photo of the Year for an image of African migrants on the shore of Djibouti, “raising their phones in an attempt to capture an inexpensive signal from neighbouring Somalia”

World Press 2014: Signals from Djibouti (PROOF) John Stanmeyer and National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Kim Hubbard share their thoughts on “Signal,” which took the top prize of 2013 Photo of the Year.

Statement following discussions about World Press Photo of the Year 2013 (World Press Photo) World Press Photo addressing the possible conflict of interest in awarding the World Press Photo of the Year 2013 to John Stanmeyer given that Stanmeyer and general jury chair Gary Knight are two of the founding members of VII Photo Agency.

David Campbell: World Press Photo 2014 contest: Reflections from the Secretary’s seat (David Campbell website)

Thoughts on John Stanmeyer’s 2014 World Press Winning Photo (BagNewsNotes)

This Contest Winner Looks Like a Movie Poster (And That’s Good) (PhotoShelter blog) On the World Press Photo of the Year.

Eight percent of final World Press Photo entries were manipulated and disqualified, say judges (BJP)

The World’s Best (Unaltered) Photos (NYT Lens) World Press Photo announced the winners of its 2013 contest while its judges lamented the proliferation of digital alterations, which disqualified several top contenders

Paul Melcher: Photojournalism Is Not a Competition (Melcher System)

1. Getting Off You'd think that tatters of shredded board games would be buried in a heaping landfill of the barely recognizable parts of industries, businesses, and people disintermediated, rendered obsolete, or just plain squashed by the Internet. But it turns out that people often use technology to get themselves back offline. Last year, more Kickstarter money was raised for tabletop games than for video games. Sales at hobby stores have risen significantly over the past three years. And game creators are using technology to get games from their brains to your kitchen table faster than ever. From NYT's Nick Wingfield: High-Tech Push Has Board Games Rolling Again. 2. Present, Tense "For a long time we have perceived climate change as an issue that’s distant, affecting just polar bears or something that matters to our kids. This shows it’s not just in the future; it matters today." The latest U.S. Climate Report confirms what we already know. Climate change is happening, and the impact is already severe. + Vox: Nine maps that show how climate change is already affecting the US. + MoJo: 7 scary facts about how global warming is scorching the United States. 3. The Missing "The girls in the school dorm heard the sound of gunshots from a nearby town. So when armed men in uniforms burst in and promised to rescue them, at first they were relieved." With the help of a student who escaped, AP's Michelle Faul pieces together the anatomy of a kidnapping. + The kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is getting a lot of international attention. But it took awhile. The kidnapping happened about three weeks ago. And the group behind the crime, Boko Haram, has been operating for about a decade. From NPR: Boko Haram's local fight suddenly gets international scrutiny. + The U.S. is sending in experts to help locate and free the girls. 4. What You Get Out of Getting In According to a new survey, getting into that elite college doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a happier person later in life. But then again, neither does anything else. 5. Game of Phones "Upon getting word that investigators were outside, employees at the plant began destroying documents and switching computers, replacing the ones that were being used -- and might have damaging material on them -- with others." Vanity Fair's Kurt Eichenwald on Apple, Samsung, and the Great Smartphone War. 6. Down and Out in Beverly Hills Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah just began rolling out Sharia law. So celebrities and many others have announced a boycott of his hotels, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air. + The Daily Beast: How the Sultan of Brunei violated his Sharia law with me. 7. The Seen "Someone points out something and suddenly a secondary interpretation of an image appears. There's something a little scary about this process, even when the images are harmless. We have a flash of insight and a new pattern is revealed hiding within the world we thought we knew. It surprises us." The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal on the things you cannot unsee (and what that says about your brain). + Did you happen to see the face of Jesus on a piece of toast? Don't worry, that's perfectly normal. (I tend to see Moses, but maybe that's because I usually eat rye.) 8. The Blue Period "I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet." Monica Lewinsky says "it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress." It's also time for her book. Maybe, after all these years, we'll finally learn what the meaning of "is" is. 9. These Kids Today "It was, in other words, a sharp reversion to the banality of yore." In Believer Magazine Anne Helen Petersen provides a detailed and interesting overview of the banality of the celebrity profile, and how it got that way. + Why would you teach a class on Miley Cyrus? 10. The Bottom of the News The Washington Post tries to explain what it's like to be 100 years old, in 10 charts. (Get up to pee every three charts, then you'll know what it's like...) + All politicians are not useless. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber got out of his car to give a woman CPR. (He once left the stage during a debate to help someone in need.) + A new app enables San Francisco drivers to auction off their current parking spot to the highest bidder. (Mike Judge will never run out of material.)
Bulent Kilic–AFP/Getty Images

Kiev Explodes (AFP Correspondent) AFP photographer Bulent Kilic, usually based in Istanbul, is in Kiev covering the dramatically worsening events in Independence Square. He says it feels as much like a war as it does a protest.

Fidel Castro Handout Photos Digitally Altered (AP) Associated Press eliminated seven Cuban government handout photos of Fidel Castro after determining some were digitally altered to remove what appears to be a hearing aid from the retired leader’s ear.

Why Can’t Photographs Persuade? (No Caption Needed) Robert Hariman on how “public and academic discussion has saddled photography with a highly unrealistic model of persuasion. The assumption is that photographs are supposed to persuade, and any failure to do so then motivates increased ethical scrutiny of the medium. This failure and subsequent scrutiny are most likely to occur when the stakes are highest, that is, with atrocity photographs.”

mnh.si.edu

How We Visualize Disaster (Motherboard) On Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s exhibition Unintended Journeys, which looks at the aftermaths of natural disasters long after media attention has faded, highlighting the work of group of Magnum photographers

Who Owns This Image? (New Yorker) Ben Mauk on Richard Prince and fair use

Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Centre Pompidou (FT) Cartier-Bresson’’s work exhibited at Centre Pompidou in Paris, until June 9.

Where the World’s Greatest Photographers Go to Get Away (NYT Magazine) As part of the magazine’s annual Voyages issue, it asked some of the world’s greatest photographers to share their vacation photos.

Anastasia Taylor-Lind taking portraits in Kiev (Foreign Policy) What happens when you bolt an iPhone to a film camera?

A photographer Robert Nickelsberg who couldn’t forget Afghanistan (Al Jazeera America)

Letizia Battaglia’s best photograph: mafia murder victims in Palermo (Guardian)

Featured photographer: Arief Priyono (Verve Photo) Indonesian photographer

Featured photographer: William Eckersley (Verve Photo) London-based photographer

Interviews and Talks

Here’s the latest proof that the financial model of the pay-TV industry is broken: despite a growing number of cable networks, people are watching the same number of channels they always have. A new study by Nielsen shows that the number of channels available in the average U.S. TV household has ballooned in recent years, from 129 in 2008 to 189 in 2013, a 46 percent increase. In the same time period, the number of channels people actually watched was nearly flat, inching up slightly 17.3 to 17.5. “This data is significant in that it substantiates the notion that more content does not necessarily equate to more channel consumption,” Nielsen wrote in the release accompanying the data. “And that means quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers.” Unfortunately for consumers, they are paying more for all these channels that they’re not watching. Data from the Federal Communications Commission show that the average price of expanded cable increased from $49.65 in 2008 to $61.63 in 2012. That’s a 24 percent increase, more than double the rate of inflation. The cost per channel decreased during that period, from $0.68 to $0.51, but because so many new channels emerged, overall cable bills rose considerably. Of course, a more positive take (at least for the entertainment industry) is that traditional TV has managed to keep customers’ attention despite the proliferation of online video options. In 2008, Netflix’s streaming service was a curious bonus feature for its DVD-by-mail subscribers. Today 34 million people in the U.S. pay for Netflix streaming. Add in offerings from Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and countless others, and it’s kind of impressive that people even have time to watch 17 channels on the regular boob-tube. Nielsen data show that when combining live and time-shifted television, the average person watched just one less minute of TV in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. From a consumer perspective, though, all these new services come at an additional cost to the ever-rising cable bill. Eventually, customers won’t accept mounting expenses for a service that brings no additional entertainment to them personally. We may have already reached an inflection point—according to research firm SNL Kagan, pay-TV subscribers declined for the first time ever in 2013.
Goran Tomasevic–Reuters

Gary Knight (BJP) “These awards show the consequences of a lack of resources in the industry,” says World Press Photo’s chair Gary Knight, who spoke to BJP about judging the prestigious awards for the fourth time, noting the evolution of an industry that is struggling to find proper resources | Knight on the winning photo in a World Press Photo Vimeo here

Rena Effendi (BJP) World Press Photo winner Rena Effendi on National Geographic, responsible story-telling and Transylvanian agrarian culture. National Geographic supports in-depth documentary photography, says Effendi – then ensures the image-maker is involved in the editing and layout process, to tell their story to maximum effect

Marcus Bleasdale (BJP) Bleasdale on his WPP award-winning project on the Norwegian whaling community for which he needed three years and a wealth of personal introductions to complete

John Tlumacki (BJP) World Press Photo win is ‘bittersweet’, says John Tlumacki of his Boston Marathon bombing image. Tlumacki won Second Prize in the Spot News (singles category)

Here’s the latest proof that the financial model of the pay-TV industry is broken: despite a growing number of cable networks, people are watching the same number of channels they always have. A new study by Nielsen shows that the number of channels available in the average U.S. TV household has ballooned in recent years, from 129 in 2008 to 189 in 2013, a 46 percent increase. In the same time period, the number of channels people actually watched was nearly flat, inching up slightly 17.3 to 17.5. “This data is significant in that it substantiates the notion that more content does not necessarily equate to more channel consumption,” Nielsen wrote in the release accompanying the data. “And that means quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers.” Unfortunately for consumers, they are paying more for all these channels that they’re not watching. Data from the Federal Communications Commission show that the average price of expanded cable increased from $49.65 in 2008 to $61.63 in 2012. That’s a 24 percent increase, more than double the rate of inflation. The cost per channel decreased during that period, from $0.68 to $0.51, but because so many new channels emerged, overall cable bills rose considerably. Of course, a more positive take (at least for the entertainment industry) is that traditional TV has managed to keep customers’ attention despite the proliferation of online video options. In 2008, Netflix’s streaming service was a curious bonus feature for its DVD-by-mail subscribers. Today 34 million people in the U.S. pay for Netflix streaming. Add in offerings from Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and countless others, and it’s kind of impressive that people even have time to watch 17 channels on the regular boob-tube. Nielsen data show that when combining live and time-shifted television, the average person watched just one less minute of TV in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. From a consumer perspective, though, all these new services come at an additional cost to the ever-rising cable bill. Eventually, customers won’t accept mounting expenses for a service that brings no additional entertainment to them personally. We may have already reached an inflection point—according to research firm SNL Kagan, pay-TV subscribers declined for the first time ever in 2013.
Tyler Hicks—The New York Times

Tyler Hicks (BJP) “The gunmen were willing to do anything to get their message across,” says Tyler Hicks who won Second Prize in the Spot News Stories category for his coverage of the Nairobi Westgate massacre in Kenya.

Dignity and hope – Susie Linfield on the World Press Photo (BJP) Journalist and author Susie Linfield, a judge at this year’s World Press Photo awards, discusses ethics and ways of exploring violence and suffering

Julie McGuire (BJP) McGuire on drawing international attention to the plight of street dogs – and winning a WPP award for doing so

Marcus Bleasdale (Telegraph) Bleasdale talks about photographing the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic

Do you have that one friend who's always telling you that you just have to watch The Wire? Feeling out of the cultural loop because you still haven't seen Breaking Bad? Well, the folks over at Nielson TOPTEN crunched the numbers to determine just how much time it will take to marathon those and other popular TV shows. So, allow this handy little guide to help you determine which shows to add to your Netflix lineup. If you don't have a lot of time on your hands right now, you might want to push 24 and The West Wing down to the bottom of your queue.  
Brendan Hoffman–Getty Images

Brendan Hoffman (Wired Rawfile) On the front lines of Ukraine’s violent protests

Daniel Berehulak (In Focus by Getty Images) Berehulak, Reportage by Getty Images, recently won first place photographer of the year in the 71st Annual Pictures of the Year International awards

Jonas Bendiksen (Ideas Tap) Bendiksen on his project The Places We Live, for which he photographed slums in Kenya, India, Venezuela and Indonesia.

MaryAnne Golon (NPPA) Assistant Managing Editor and the Director of Photography at the Washington Post interviewed about her career

David Burnett (NBC Olympics) Photographer David Burnett is in Sochi working his 10th Olympic Games. Look back on some of Burnett’s iconic Olympic images, and come along as he blends the old and new styles of the art of photography in Sochi.

An FBI agent was arrested and held on anti-terrorism charges in Pakistan after trying to bring weapons and ammunition onto a plane, Pakistani officials announced Tuesday. Airport police in Karachi detained the agent on Monday after he attempted to board a Pakistan International Airlines flight traveling from Karachi to Islamabad, the Washington Post reports. He was carrying a 9mm pistol magazine and 15 bullets. Anti-terrorism laws outlaw carrying ammunition or weapons on commercial flights. In court on Tuesday, a judge ordered the agent be detained until Saturday at the earliest in order to allow officials to investigate the incident. U.S. officials said the agent was temporarily assigned to duty in Pakistan but requested the Post withhold his name. [The Washington Post]
Adrienne Grunwald

Artifacts: Photographer Adrienne Grunwald (PROOF) Artifacts is a series about physical items that have meaning to photographers in the field.

Lynsey Addario (Charlie Rose) Addario on documenting Syrian refugees

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz (APhotoADay) Five questions with Lewkowicz who won 2014 World Press Photo 1st prize for Contemporary Issues stories

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz (Alexia Foundation) On “Shane and Maggie” and success

Diana Markosian (Wired Raw File) “I don’t care where the industry is going. I care much more about where I am going.”

Patrick Brown (MediaStorm) Brown on a decade of documenting illegal wildlife trade

Alec Soth (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art YouTube) Soth describes the process of completing his recent commission for SFMOMA, a series of photographs of Silicon Valley.

Gabriella Demczuk (NYT Lens) The New York Times’ photography intern at the paper’s Washington Bureau on the turning point of her career


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


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