epa Feature Archive 2011
Tibetans live in harsh beauty on what is known as the roof of the world. The region has thin high-altitude air and a bitter cold climate. Situated north-east of the Himalayan mountain range, the earth’s highest and largest plateau is also home to the earth’s highest mountain. Tibet's people are deeply religious. They travel hundreds of kilometers to pour yak butter at temples, prostrate, circumnavigate and pray at monasteries and sacred sites. The land is also one of nomads and semi-nomads who have for centuries eked out their living depending only on their own fortitude, resilience and indigenous yak for survival.
The boarding school for girls was founded as part of the 'Strategy of Social Development of the Russian Federation's Armed Forces for the Period till 2020', based on the idea of the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. All the girls are from families of service men/women. According to the school, it provides high-quality secondary education and develops an appreciation of beauty and good taste in arts and culture. Besides the core curricula, many additional subjects are taught: three foreign languages, dance, sport, art and music.
A total of 15 German tanks are being restored in the repair facilities of the Bulgarian Army. All the tanks were manufactured by 1943. One of the most valuable exhibits is a Jagdpanzer T4 L 48, which is unique in Bulgaria and is one of seven in the world. Bulgaria became a German ally in 1941 and the tanks were donated to the Bulgarian army of the Third Ukrainian Front during WWII. After the war Bulgaria became a people’s republic with a communist regime under the Soviet sphere of influence. Hundreds of German and Soviet tanks were entrenched along Bulgaria’s southeastern border with Turkey.
Graffiti is a reflection of contemporary situations and public sentiment, and the deep crisis and recession in Greece, coupled with heavy austerity, is an inspiration for street artists in the Greek capital. Predominantly young artists are finding a way to vent their country’s anxieties and nervous energy on the dreary walls of run-down buildings. Politically salient pieces abound with puns on ‘debt’, ‘crisis’ and the ‘euro’ in many of the works. Despite the hard economic times, the art scene in general is reportedly thriving with high numbers of gallery visitors.
Most of the Tokaj wine-growing region, around twelve thousand hectares, is situated in Hungary, with close to one thousand hectares extending into neighbouring Slovakia. Consequently, the use of the 'Tokaj' name has been a source of dispute between Hungary and Slovakia. Ten pictures are from Jaroslav Ostorozovic's vineyard in the Slovakian part of the Tokaj wine-growing region near Mala Trna, Slovakia. Sixteen pictures are from the 107-hectare Royal Tokaji Wine Co. which was founded in 1989, is situated within the Hungarian part of the Tokaj wine-growing region.
The Invisible Empire is experiencing a revival in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Three chapters of the Ku Klux Klan have reemerged, holding rallies, lighting crosses, and seeking new members. Anger over gay rights, racial changes in the population, and a black president are frequent refrains at these rallies. Yet Klan members say they are not about hate, but about taking pride in their own race. 'The blacks have the NAACP, the Mexicans La Raza, and the Jews have the ADL,' says Stan Martin of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. 'We whites have the Ku Klux Klan.'
The tobacco factory of Continental Dohanyipari Zrt. (Continental Tobacco Corp.) lies in Satoraljaujhely, 247 kms northeast of Budapest, Hungary. Continental is the only tobacco company that remained in Hungarian ownership after the collapse of the communist economic system. The products manufactured by 250 workers of its 120 year old tobacco factory are exported to twelve countries in Europe.
Autumn is traditionally the season of the harvest and processing of sugar-beet in Hungary where the only one remaining sugar factory following the privatization of the Hungarian sugar industry in the 1990s functions in Kaposvar. The plant is owned by Magyar Cukor (Hungarian Sugar) Corp., an affiliate of the Austrian owned Agrana Group.
On 07 October 2001 the USA launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks. The stated goal was to dismantle Al Qaeda and end its use of Afghanistan as a base. The military campaign also aimed to remove the ruling Taliban regime from power and create a viable democratic state. At the end of 2001, the ISAF, which includes troops from 42 countries, was mandated to secure Kabul and its surroundings. During ten years of war over 2,000 coalition soldiers have been killed and thousands more wounded. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Afghans have lost their lives.
On 20 August 2011, 25-year-old chief councillor of the Kaputei Maasai community's Il Kibulu age group Lesian Ole Lasiti Maante married 18-year-old Nelly Nkurunka to enter the elderhood, start the family and build the wealth in form of cattle and children, in Mashuuru District, south of Nairobi, Kenya. Although the traditional Maasai wedding ceremonies involve more elaborate processes with rituals and courtesies, the modern day Maasai are opting for simpler and more contemporary ceremony styles, partly incorporating elements of Christian weddings such as the presence of bridal ministers.
Seasonal day-workers are the worst-paid occasional labourers, paid by the day. Their workday used to be measured from sunrise to sunset, but nowadays, only the start of their working day adheres to the sun, as this is the most suitable for the agricultural industry that employs most day-workers. With most seasonal agricultural work needing extra workers being during harvesting in the summer, working days that begin at 6 am and end at 2 pm are quite suitable, avoiding the worst of the afternoon heat.
Translated into English as 'Theater for the Masses', it is a kind of working class people's Kabuki theater. Having the same cultural origins as Kabuki, Taishu Engeki was traditionally popular with the working class people. Just as in Kabuki, male actors perform male and female roles, but Taishu Engeki is more spontaneous, lighthearted and easier to understand for the viewer than Kabuki. Similar to Western cabaret or variety theater shows, the performances consist of traditional parody, comedy, and cloak and dagger acts, followed by song and dance routines, both traditional and modern.
One of the American South's most symbolic religious traditions is making a comeback. Outdoor baptisms, popularized in the 18th century by African slaves, had all but disappeared by the 1950s with the rise of indoor baptismal pools. Yet an increasing number of Baptist churches are forsaking the safety and convenience of these pools for nearby rivers, lakes, oceans, and even fire hoses. 'It's a re-discovery,' says Gregory Hughes, Pastor of True Life Ministries, which holds an annual ocean baptism in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. 'It's a way to embrace tradition while renewing our spirit.'
The Bajau, or Bajaw, who live near Semporna, east coast of Sabah state, Borneo, Malaysia, are an indigenous ethnic group of Maritime Southeast Asians. Due to escalated conflicts in their native Sulu Archipelago, and discrimination suffered by Muslim groups in the Philippines with regards to education and employment, most of the Bajau have migrated to neighbouring Malaysia over the course of 50 years. Currently they are the second largest ethnic group in the state of Sabah, making up 13.4 per cent of the total population.
For more than 40 years the waves of Jeffreys Bay have enticed surfers from all over the world to visit the southern tip of Africa to ride the legendary Supertubes, universally acknowledged as one of the top 10 high performance surf breaks on the planet. Not only has it been a perennial contender for world's best wave status; it's seen extraordinary social development in recent decades, with massive growth of its tourist industry matched by similar growth in the importance of surfing to the local economy and the now booming surf industry.
Thirty-five year-old Sibu Giri has been living with HIV for the last decade. He contracted the virus through the use of infected needles. People used to know him as a junkie (drug user), and when he told his family members and friends that he infected, all he got in response was neglect. He was convinced he would die within two years.
The village of Bodvalenke is situated close to Hungary's border with Slovakia, in a poor region stricken by unemployment and social tensions. An annual Festival of the Dragon aims to draw on the two specialties of Bodvalenke: Roma arts and culture and ecotourism in the protected wetlands surrounding the village. Following last year's success, hopes were high for the 2011 event, but the number of visitors was but a tenth of the expected. Many spent all their savings on preparing for the festival, but the mere hundred visitors were not enough to recuperate their investment.
The Dadaab refugee camp, the largest refugee complex in the world set up at the start of Somalia's civil war in 1991 with a capacity to accommodate 90,000 refugees, is now overpopulated with ever increasing influx of new arrivals from Somalia who fled their embattled homeland to seek refuge in Kenya. The UNHCR agency estimates the number of new arrivals to be more than 10,000 every month. Reports state that the overall population of the camp is close to 400,000 as of June 2011. The Kenyan government is reluctant to expand it as this may encourage more refugees to enter the country for protracted settlement.
Nepal’s capital Kathmandu has a growing population of about one million in the total municipal area of 50.67 sq km, according to the 2010 census. With the ever increasing population in the valley, people have been facing an acute water crisis in recent years. The Nepal government plans to launch the Melmchi water supply project by 2015 that aims to relief the acute water crisis in the capital. Rishi Dev Yadav, a migrant worker from Inarwa district in eastern Nepal had to leave his wife and two sons behind in search for work opportunities. The last three years he has been digging wells in the capital of Kathmandu.
The Nikolo-Solbinsky Convent opened the orphanage for girls in 2007. The nunnery is situated deep in forests of the Yaroslavl region, far from even small towns and villages, some 180 km north from Moscow. The orphanage began when an elderly faithful woman left three orphans in the care of the nuns. Thereupon more and more children were brought to the nunnery. Some of the children were orphans; others lived in families of drug addicts and alcoholics or had imprisoned parents. The convent helps the children confront their personal problems and prepare them for their life to come.
Most of the Csango people, a Hungarian ethnic group of Roman Catholic faith, live in the Romanian region of Moldavia where they moved from Transylvania between the 12th and 17th century. A smaller group however lives in the Tatros valley in the Ghimes Mountains of Romania. From spring to late autumn, Csango families in the Ghimes move to summer cottages in the high mountain forests and pastures of the upper Tatros valley from their winter villages, where they herd animals and make dairy products. The Csango population is estimated at about 60,000 people in Romania.
On 19 May 2010 saw a crackdown by the Thai military on anti-government protesters in Bangkok. The military offensive followed more than six weeks of occupation by members of the political group National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), commonly called 'Red Shirts', who receive support from ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The crackdown cost the lives of dozens of people and ensued in several arson attacks nationwide. One year on, incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has dissolved the parliament, and elections are tentatively scheduled for 03 July 2011.
The Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries. During the festival, they prepare ritualistic food offerings, burn incense, paper-crafts offerings or joss paper and hell bank notes for the visiting spirits of the ancestors who seek food and entertainment. They believe that during the seventh lunar month, the gates of Hell are open for the ghosts to wander in and be fed in the earthly realm. These ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those who forgot to pay tribute to them after they died, or those who were never given a proper ritual send-off.
Ubiquitous streets stalls do a booming trade in fake brand-name garments, bags, watches, shoes, mobile phones, electrical gadgets, cosmetics, Viagra and other bogus medicines in Bangkok, Thailand. The multi-billion dollar illicit trade in counterfeit goods, with an estimated value at 7-10 per cent of world trade, is a sophisticated, fast-moving, globalized industry, often dealing in high-quality products via well-established delivery networks including the Internet. Thailand, once a major manufacturer of counterfeits, has in recent years become more of an importer nation and regional hub for fakes.
A Kumari is a 'living goddess'. Kumaris are young pre-pubescent girls that are considered to be incarnations of the Hindu Goddess of Power, Kali. They are worshipped in Nepal by both Hindus and Buddhists. Samita Bajracharya was appointed the new Kumari of Patan City after her predecessor reached puberty, which means that she is considered ritually unclean. The Kumari is often confined to her home, but there are some days when she is allowed to appear in front of the public. Yet she has to be carried from her from home to the events, never allowing her feet to touch the ground as this is considered unlucky.
Salt has been an important source of national revenue in Vietnam for centuries. In recent years, Vietnam’s salt industry has experienced some ups and downs that have resulted in redundancies and losses to the state budget. Due to falling domestic salt output and value, the country has to import salt to meet demand. In 2011, an expected 182,000 tons of salt will have to be imported despite inventories of salt in 2010. Khanh Hoa Province is a coastal province located in the South Central Coast. It is also known for its agarwood production.
Inner Mongolia is fighting severe desertification, much like the provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Heilongjiang and Hebei. Over-grazing, logging, deforestation of land for expanding farms and population pressure, along with droughts have steadily turned vast fertile grasslands into sandy dunes. Desertification of China's land has caused grave economic losses as farmers abandon parched lands and worsened rural poverty. Winds from the desert whipped up sandstorms across the country which combined with air pollutants spreads as far as Japan and North America.
The cranes overwinter on a river that does not freeze to protect themselves from their natural enemies like foxes, weasels, crows, Steller's sea eagles, white-tailed eagles and others. The Steller’s sea eagle and the white-tailed eagle are protected and designated as National Treasure in Japan. The Steller's sea eagle lives in northeastern Russia, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the coastal area of the Sea of Okhotsk and travels south for winter. Their population is estimated at around 5,000-7,000 all over the world. About 2,000 of them travel to northern Japan to overwinter.
NIROX, is a private foundation established four years ago to cultivate arts in South Africa. The property is set on 15 hectares of land in a private nature reserve in South Africa's Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site some 50 km north of Johannesburg. The Arts Foundation directed by Benji Liebmann includes a sculpture park laid out across the natural landscape, as well as an artist-in-residence programme for locally and internationally renowned artists. NIROX artists have included, amongst others, William Kentridge, Edoardo Villa, Marlene Dumas, and Auke de Vries.
On 26 April 1986 an explosion occurred at Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR, now Ukraine, causing a subsequent fire to rage through the building. Large quantities of radioactive contamination went into the atmosphere and spread over much of Western Russia and Europe. Nearby villages as well as a 30 km zone around the damaged plant had to evacuate as radiation levels reached lethal levels.
26 April 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the disaster.
An explosion on board the mobile offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April 2010 had triggered the worst oil spill in US history. An estimated five million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf from the underwater leak, killing countless birds and sea animals and bringing down fishery in the region. It took BP months to plug the leaking oil well.
The Miss Piranda or Gipsy Queen beauty contest takes place on a yearly basis. The 2011 edition saw 34 candidates take part. To enter the contest participants should not be married, and if under 18 year old, they need their parents approval to compete. The jury, composed of six local celebrities, awards points based not only the beauty of the contender girls, but on their belly dancing skills too. Eventually, 15 Miss Piranda hopefuls made it through to the final round. But it was finally Pucean Cristina, a 19-year-old student at the Traian Technical High School, that would win the crown of Miss Piranda 2011.
When autumn arrives reindeers are separated. Some go to the slaughterhouse, other are kept for breeding and a few males are neutered and trained as work reindeers, mainly for pulling sledges and racing. Once that has been done, local breeder cooperatives like to find out who owns the fastest and strongest reindeer. With the onset of spring, the cooperatives hold meetings to review the events of the past year. And that is the right time to have some fun and race the reindeer and find who has got the fastest beast. Nowadays the races take place as part of the Reindeer Cup.
Makoto Endo, 69, is a scallop and silver salmon fisherman in the town of Ishinomaki, about 350km north of Tokyo. With his friends Hiroshi Sasaki, 61, a shijimi (common fresh water clam) fisherman and Hiroshi Watanabe, 62, a former contractor, Endo was preparing to work when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit on 11 March 2011. The men climbed to safety as the tsunami flooded the harbor below, sweeping away houses and cars. Endo was joined by his wife Junko, 59, several hours later, but his house, his four fishing boats, his cars and his fishery had been all swept away by the waves.
On 04 October 2010 the dam of a waste reservoir of the aluminum producer MAL AG collapsed. Around 700,000 cubic meters of a toxic red substance spilled over several localities, mainly affecting Kolontar and Devecser. Ten people died and 300 were injured, more than 350 houses were destroyed and contaminated. The toxic red substance flooded and contaminated one thousand hectares of territory. It also affected the rivers Marcal and Torna, destroying most of the wildlife.
Six months later towns remain ruined and largely deserted.
Muammar Gaddafi was born in 1942 in Sirte, then Italian Libya, into a Bedouin family. Gaddafi went to a military academy and joined an anti-monarchy conspiracy which brought him into power by coup d'état against King Idris on 01 September 1969. His 41-year rule as 'Leader of the Revolution' may now come to a violent end as uprisings have spread to Libya from neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. While protesters are taking control of Libyan cities and the UN and many Western states impose sanctions, 68-year-old Gaddafi is still fighting to maintain his grip on the country.
In March 2011, China launched a campaign to improve the lives of the country's 242 million migrant workers and ensure their rights and interests. It calls for improvements in vocational training and consultation, legal and cultural services, psychological counseling and children's education for migrant workers and their families. Migrant workers in Chinese cities are generally poorly educated and are subjected to various difficulties of low pay, inadequate social security, and discrimination and their children suffer from a lack of proper schools and education resources.
Hiraizumi reached its cultural peak in the 12th century by assimilating cultural trends from the capital Kyoto into its Buddhist temples and pure land gardens to be recognized as a unique example of regional culture during Japan's medieval age. The area features several temples and ruins dating from the 11th to the 12th centuries. The possible registration of the historic Hiraizumi area in Iwate Prefecture as the first World Heritage site in north-eastern Japan would be a boost to the region which was devastated by the 11 March quake and tsunami. The UNESCO is expected to make the announcement in June.
After a heavy spell of monsoon rains in Khyber Pakhtu, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh and Balochistan regions at the end of July 2010, the Indus River burst its banks with devastating effects. The floods affected around 20 million people, causing widespread destruction of property and infrastructure. Half a year after the floods began, the inhabitants of the affected regions are doing what they can to rebuild and start living their lives once again. In this part of the world where poverty was already widespread before the floods, people are doing what they can to return to their previous standard of living.
More than 100 conservation officials from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Southern Sudan gathered in Tsavo, Kenya, to conduct a six-day aerial census of elephants and other large mammals in the Tsavo- Mkomazi Ecosystem in an effort to establish the populations and trends of animals to help the authorities in making conservation and management policies for the ecosystem. Nine aircrafts from KWS and other wildlife NGOs were deployed to survey an area of 46,437 sq km, divided into 43 blocks, and count the total number of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, rhinos, lions, ostriches and such.
In February 2011 a rebellion against the 42-year-long rule of Libyan leader Gaddafi took place. The protests began peacefully but soon escalated into violent confrontation. Within a few days one town after another slipped from the Libyan leader’s grip. After a brief hiatus, important oil towns such as Ras Lanuf fell to rebels advancing from Benghazi and pledging to march on to Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte and, ultimately, the capital Tripoli. One of the hardest battles was the one of the town of Ras Lanuf where days of fierce fighting by the Libyan Army and rebels took place.
Israel maintains the Shaar Menashe Mental Health Center solely for Holocaust survivors, which now holds some 70 patients. Most of the Israelis here suffered trauma as children during World War II and survived the death camps of the Nazis to suffer mental anguish for the remainder of their lives, often going from one mental institution to another, and never establishing families after immigrating to Israel in the post World War II years. There are some 230,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today and it is estimated that some 10 per cent of them need some mental treatment.
Although much less known and controversial compared to its Spanish version, Kenyan bullfighting, where two bulls fight against one another, draws thousands of spectators several times a year in Kakamega district of western Kenya, the homeland of the Luhya tribe people. Because of the use of traditional brew known as 'busaa', made from fermented sorghum and maize flour, cannabis and other 'secret' recipe of mixed herbs to intoxicate the animals before the fight in order to increase their aggressiveness, the event has been a target of condemnation by animal rights groups.
06 February 2011 marks late Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday Anniversary. Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives and during his second term oversaw the end of the cold war. Reagan died at the age of 93, after been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier.
The Vevcani Carnival is one of the most famous village festivals held in the Balkans. It is believed that the custom is over 1,400 years old. It is based on old pagan beliefs and rituals. Essentially the carnival is the ritual of calling after Saint Basil the Great, which coincides with the Twelve Days of the Orthodox Christmas and the Orthodox New Year. The festivity is held on 13 and 14 January every year. The carnival witnesses the passing of the old year and the coming of the new one. Vevcanci believe that with their masks they banish evil spirits from their lives.
On 12 January 2010 the Caribbean nation of Haiti was hit by a Magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The quake killed approximately 230.000 people and left around 1.5 million survivors displaced or homeless. Already considered one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, several parts of Haiti now laid in ruins. People had to fend for themselves against problems such as the unavailability of food and drinking water, a lack of medical supplies and facilities and widespread looting.
The Nile is about 6,650 km in length and is considered the longest river in the world. It has two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The two rivers meet near Sudan's capital Khartoum. Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and other countries have complained about an alleged Egyptian domination of its precious water resources. A step was taken by these countries to promote peaceful cooperation through The Nile Basin Initiative in which members meet periodically and try to work out solutions. Juba inhabitants rely on the White Nile waters to bath, wash their belongings, and themselves, transport things and for fishing.
Deep in the desert of southern California sits one of the worst environmental sites in America, a former tourist destination that has turned into a toxic soup: the Salton Sea. The sea was born by accident 100 years ago, when the Colorado River breached an irrigation canal; for the next two years the entire volume of the river flowed into the Salton Sink, one of the lowest places on Earth. The new lake became a major tourist attraction, with resort towns springing up along its shores. Yet with no outflow, and with agricultural runoff serving as its only inflow, the sea’s waters grew increasingly toxic.
Forecloseure is the legal proceeding by which a mortgagor's rights to a mortgaged property may be extinguished if the mortgagor fails to live up to the obligations agreed to in the mortgage. As the US economy moves toward recovery from the recession that began in 2008 and the number of jobs lost each month continues to decline, relief to homeowners delinquent in their mortgage payments has been slow in coming. By some accounts there were 1.2 million repossessions of property in 2010 with even greater numbers expected in 2011.