epa Photo Essays 2017

A gold smith cleans his finished products in Paracale, Camarines Norte province, Philippines, 26 November 2017. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) takes place in more than half of the provinces in the Philippines, producing 80 percent of its gold supply. The livelihood of some two million people depends on the industry that has over 300,000 miners (including over 18,000 women and children). Most of the miners work in unregulated, illegal mining sites that rely heavily on mercury to extract gold, a toxic metal that can cause serious damage to health and the environment. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

The Price of Gold

Noel and Domingo work in different mining towns in Camarines Norte. They rely on the artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) industry as their main source of livelihood together with 300,000 other miners in the Philippines. ASGM takes place in more than half of the provinces in the Philippines, producing 80 percent of its gold supply. Most of the miners work in unregulated and illegal mining sites that rely heavily on mercury to extract gold. Miners work without protective gears and handle this toxic metal with bare hands, which can cause serious damage to the miners, the community and the environment. Mercury is used to attract and bind gold but attacks the central nervous system causing headaches, brain damage and even death.

 

 

 

Nikolaos Gavalas, 86, waits to be examined by military doctors during a mission of medical staff organised by the Hellenic Navy, on the Greek island of Anafi in the Aegean sea, Greece, 10 November 2017. Three to four times a year a warship of the Hellenic Navy transfers military doctors of various specialties from Navy, Land and Air forces of Greek Army, along with equipment and nursing staff, to offer medical care to island residents. The missions use existing medical facilities but also classrooms in order to provide medical attention. Doctors and their staff have always been received with great enthusiasm by the islanders. EPA-EFE/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

Hellenic Navy Medical Mission on Greek Islands

The Greek islands welcome millions of tourists every year in summer. Yet, in winter the population decreases dramatically leaving 200-700 permanent inhabitants on these islands. Life for these people can be very tough. Coastal connections between the islands and the major urban centers are reduced to once per week. As a result, the access for islanders to large hospitals and to an experienced medical and nursing staff is almost impossible. Therefore, they are an unpopular destination for young doctors. The Greek Navy has come up with the solution. Three to four times a year a warship transfers military doctors of various specialties from Navy, Land and Air forces along with equipment and nursing staff to offer medical care to island residents.

 

 

 

An African man walks at a market close to Sanyuanli neighborhood, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, southern China, 16 November 2017. In the late 1990s thousands of African expatriates, most of them traders and business people, began to move to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in search for a better life. In the 2000s, during a time of economic boom in China, the country's African population rapidly started growing, with African migrants building their own small businesses and creating the biggest African community in China, now known as 'Little Africa' or the 'promised land'. The area stretches for about 7 kilometers from Dengfeng urban village, the heart of Guangzhou's Little Africa, to Sanyuanli area, a place full of wholesale markets where people can buy almost everything - from products, clothing, and wigs to electronics. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY

African Migrants in China

In the late 1990s, thousands of African expatriates began to move to Guangzhou, China. In the 2000s, during a time of economic boom in China, the country's African population rapidly started growing. City border checkpoints recorded some 430,000 arrivals and exits by African nationals in the first nine months of 2014. But since 2014, thousands of African migrants have begun to leave after the government initiated a so-called 'beautification' of Dengfeng urban village and started to control the African-populated area more carefully and deporting those who, for example, overstayed their visas. By February 2017, according to a Guangzhou police official, about 10,000 Africans were officially registered in the city. It is however likely that their number is higher than the official figures suggest.

 

 

 

Wig and Make-up supervisor Judith Abegg adjusts wigs before a performance of the Barber of Seville at the English National Opera in London, Britain, 30 October 2017. The English National Opera (ENO) is an opera company based in London. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London. ENO traces its roots back to 1931. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

Behind the Scenes at the English National Opera

Backstage the performers stand in the dim-lit gloom. Amongst props, lighting equipment and cables they laugh, engrossed in a conversation about their plans for the next day. Silently, the stage-manager steps forward holding some script-notes, prompts and points towards a performer. Barely interrupting the conversation, the performer breaks into a giant opera cascade of sound as he steps on stage to the marvel of a full house. Over a hundred people are involved in putting on a single performance of an opera: prop-makers, musicians, actors, costume, managers, front of house staff. Backstage is a quiet hum of activity - with plenty of time for a sandwich and conversation but as soon as people see their cue, sets change, lights come on and actors magically appear in the right place to the right piece of music.

 

 

 

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A Life Dedicated to Serve the Poor

The congregation of Sororum Franciscanium Pauperibus Succurrentium, founded 90 years ago by Father Oslay Oswald, former regional leader of St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity in Hungary, engages in helping the most vulnerable people living on the periphery of society. In their daily routine, nuns of the 'Carers for the Poor Convent' in Esztergom take care of people in need and of the outcasts, visiting them at home, teaching them and spending time with people with physical and mental diseases. Following the example of Saint Francis, the Sisters of the Congregation live in sacrifice and poverty, and believe that every opportunity, social or spiritual, is useful to help those in need. Contemplation, common prayer and Sacred Scripture reading are, in this regard, as important as helping the weaker and needy.

 

 

Marani Devi Chaudhary (C), aged 40, performs a ritual in front of shaman Paltan Yadav (unseen) at her home in Rajaur village in Dhanusha district, Nepal, 02 November 2017. The shaman identified Marani Devi to be possessed by their lineage god who was dissatisfied by their worship is thought by the family to have caused them misfortune and is even feared lead to their death. Therefore Marani Devi spent 1,500 USD to perform a healing ritual at the Ghost Festival held at the banks of Kamala River in Dhanusha district two days later. Every family or community has their own sacred god, called 'Kuldevta' in Nepali which means family deity or lineage god. Only family members or people within communities of the same caste can worship to the deity. They have their own rules and regulations of worship which varies from one family and community to another. Being unable to follow the rules and regulations or carry out worship is believed to cause misfortune. EPA-EFE/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

In the Name of Superstition

The Ghost Festival is a centuries-old celebration held at Kamala River in Nepal’s Dhanusha district. Every year on the full moon day of November, thousands of people, mainly belonging to the lower caste Dalit, flock to the holy river with deep-rooted, superstitious beliefs. For a whole night, they gather at the site and chant mantras while shamans practice various rituals. Shamans reiterate the tale that people can be either possessed by the soul of a person who suffered an untimely and unwanted death, and are thus considered ghosts, or by their lineage god or goddess, and therefore considered godly. A local journalist says that the shamans are exploiting and abusing vulnerable people. Families spend up to 2,000 USD to attend the festival in hopes to be healed from the possession by evil spirits.

 

 

 

Tibetan monks attend the teachings of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (not pictured) at the Tibetans' main temple of Tsuglhakhang at McLeod Ganj, near Dharamsala, India, 30 August 2017. At the heart of the Free Tibet movement are principals of non-violence and a middle way towards conflict resolution with China and a return to Tibet. Yet nearly six decades have passed since the soul of the movement and leader of the peaceful resistance, the Dalai Lama, known also by his religious name as Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, fled China controlled Tibet fearing his life. The Dalai Lama cites dreams stating that he will live until 113 years of age, but as decades pass and international attention strays to other conflicts, commentators now say Tibetan Buddhism is at a cross-roads. The reality of returning to Tibet, for those wishing for return, is very distant, according to assessments by independent observers. EPA-EFE/HARISH TYAGI

Tibetan Turning Point

At the heart of the Free Tibet movement are principals of non-violence, and a middle way towards conflict resolution with China and a return to Tibet. Yet nearly 60 years have passed since Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, fled Tibet fearing his life. Thousands of refugees followed his flight over the Himalayan mountains to India. As decades pass and international attention strays to other conflicts many commentators now say Tibetan Buddhism is at a crossroads. The reality of returning to Tibet is very distant, according to independent observers. The region is facing China’s continuing stronghold and the allegations of destruction of Tibetan culture, the militarization of the region and the migration of much ethnic Chinese to make Tibetans a minority in their own land.

 

 

A mentally handicapped child enjoys being covered in material used as part of the act as he smiles during a show of the Dutch clowning group, Africlowns, at a school for the mentally and physically disabled in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, 25 October 2017. Once a year, Dutch clowning organization Africlowns travels to South Africa to perform clown shows for the handicapped, poor and township schools in an attempt to put a temporary smile on the faces of those watching their shows. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Africlowns

Once a year, Dutch clowning organization Africlowns travels to South Africa to perform clown shows for the handicapped, poor and township schools in an attempt to put a temporary smile on the faces of those watching their shows. In October 2017, Willem Hans Elbrecht, aka Clown Pluum, brought with him Bluf and Puk, two other part-time clowns who hold down day jobs where they earn the majority of their income. Elbrecht, the founder and chairman of Africlowns, set up the group in 2000 and has performed in many countries in Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi and Zimbabwe to name a few. The clowns staged shows in front of packed schools, under trees in the poorest of communities and to the handicapped at the Baragwanath Hospital near Johannesburg.

 

 

 

Principal Swaran Singh Virk poses at Baba Aya Singh Riarki College in Tughalwala village, near Gurdaspur city, Punjab state, India, 24 October 2017. Baba Aya Singh Riarki College is a self-governed institution only for girls with the principle 'Free Education - No Donation', where students after graduating teach other students. Principal Swaran Singh Virk started the college in 1976 and dedicated it to Baba Aya Singh ji, an Indian social worker in the early 20th century. The institution now has about 5,000 students who receive not only quality education but also are taught moral values, ethics and religious values with no discrimination on the basis of caste or religion. EPA-EFE/RAMINDER PAL SINGH

Girls College in Punjab

Baba Aya Singh Riarki College is a self-governed institution with the principle ‘Free Education - No Donation’. The college was founded by Principal Swaran Singh Virk in 1976 when 14 girls began to learn 'Gyani' (lit: knowledge in Punjabi) religious studies. Now over 5,000 female students study at the college where they gain not only a quality education but also are taught ethics and religious values with no discrimination on the basis of caste or religion. Many students have topped their exams and appeared in merit lists, year after year, apart from excelling in religious studies. Principal Swaran Singh Virk says that finances for the college are generated from its own organic dairy farm and from student hostel's fees.

 

 

 

A man takes medical gloves out of a washing machine, rebel-held Douma, besieged Eastern al-Ghouta, Syria, 21 October 2017. Due to the siege on eastern al-Ghouta, nurses inside Damascus Countryside Specialized Hospital started washing gloves, surgical suture, and ventilation tubes, and then sterilize these tools by using formaldehyde, before the seige in normal situations, these tools are thrown away and replaced after each operation. Rebel-held Eastern al-Ghouta, located 15km outside of Damascus and home for more than 400 thousand people, has been under siege by forces loyal to the Syrian government for four years. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED BADRA

Life Under Besiegement in Eastern al-Ghouta

Rebel-held eastern al-Ghouta, located 15km outside of Damascus, Syria and home to more than 400,000 people, has been under siege by forces loyal to the Syrian government for four years. In the spring of 2015, smuggling tunnels were dug to nearby areas held by rebels who signed truce deals with the Syrian government which helped the besieged region's economic stability. However, in February 2017 the Syrian regime started a military operation in areas under rebel control around Damascus. Smuggling tunnels were bombed and destroyed, leaving the region with a limited supply line of consumer goods. This in turn led to a massive increase in prices that reached an all-time high in September 2017.

 

 

 

A horse looks through a window into a room of the house of a Roma family living in the Transylvanian village of Ghidfalau (Gidofalva in Hungarian), near Sfantu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyorgy in Hungarian), Covasna County, Romania, 16 October 2017. In Sfantu Gheorghe and the neighbouring villages, thousands of Roma people live below the subsistence level. EPA-EFE/Zoltan Balogh SPECIAL NOTICE: THIS IMAGE IS TO BE USED SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS IMAGE WITH THE ORIGINAL TEXT - HUNGARY OUT

Roma People Living in Transylvania

The Roma ethnic group has its origins in several states of India. Traditionally nomads, they now mostly live in Europe and North and South America. The largest Roma community of Transylvania lives in the Orko settlement in Romania, where the nomadic Roma people began to settle by the end of the 20th century. Despite their Gypsy origin, their common language is Hungarian and most of them are deeply Christian believers. The number of illiterates is high among them as is the unemployment rate, especially in the Orko settlement. Since 2014, Romanian citizens are free to work throughout the European Union, so the labor migration is very high and Roma people's integration has become an issue in EU countries, which are now developing comprehensive plans to ensure a better lifestyle.

 

 

 

A doctor holds a lens in front of an eye of a boy at the Lady Reading government hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, 15 August 2017. The Lady reading hospital, one of the most important medical institutions in Pakistan, is a government funded hospital, was established by Lady Reading, wife of Rufus Isaacs Marquess of Reading in 1924. The Asian region was found to have the highest rates of blindness with 11.7 million people in south Asia, 6.2 million in east Asia and 3.5 million in southeast Asia. According to World Health Organization (WHO), chronic eye diseases are the main cause of vision loss worldwide and un-operated cataract is the leading cause of blindness in low income countries, while 80 percent of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured. People who remain untreated or have incurable visual impairment have to come to terms and live with lack of vision. EPA-EFE/BILAWAL ARBAB

Blindness and Visual Impairment in Asia

Projections from a research showed that if the current increment remains constant there would be 38.5 million blind people by 2020 with changes mostly due to rise in population and global ageing. The Asian region was found to have the highest rates of blindness. In low income areas many have to rely on foundations and government support. The Lifeline Express, a non-profit organization inspired by the original Lifeline Express from India, runs a rainbow-colored hospital train that offers free cataract surgeries to patients in remote and poverty-stricken areas in China. According to WHO, chronic eye diseases are the main cause of vision loss worldwide and un-operated cataract is the leading cause of blindness in low income countries, while 80% of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured.

 

 

 

Pabitra Devi Jaisi, aged 29, a mother of four children, uses a leaf as an umbrella while waiting in the rain for food outside her home at Mastamandali village in Acham disctrict, Nepal, 23 September 2017. Pabitra is not allowed to go inside her home to eat during her menstruation period according to the 'Chaupadi' tradition. She has to wait outside until her mother-in-law or daughter bring her food. They believe that if she goes inside the house during her cycle, she will bring ill fate and someone from the family will fall sick. 'Chaupadi Pratha' is an ancient social tradition in Nepal that banishes girls and women from their home to makeshift sheds and huts during their menstruation period. The custom is practiced by religious Hindu communities in some districts of western Nepal, especially in the far western Accham district, which is located 424 kilometers from the capital of Kathmandu. Girls and women are forced to stay in small huts or sheds built away from their homes, or even caves, for seven to nine days during their monthly period in following with the centuries-old ritual. They are also prohibited to participate in normal daily activities as they are considered 'impure'. EPA-EFE/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

Chaupadi Tradition Banishes Menstruating Girls & Women

'Chaupadi Pratha' is an ancient tradition that banishes girls and women from their homes during their menstruation period. The custom is practiced by religious Hindu communities in some districts of western Nepal. Girls and women are forced to stay in small huts or sheds built away from their homes, or even caves, during their monthly period in following with the centuries-old ritual. They are also prohibited to participate in normal daily activities as they are considered 'impure'. They are denied access to water taps and barred from using toilets and bathing stations at home, which forces them to go to jungle for defecation in the open air, use contaminated water sources and spend their nights in dirty and unsafe conditions. According to media reports, eight girls or women have died in the past ten years in Nepal while practicing the tradition. In August 2017, the Nepalese parliament passed a law criminalizing the 'Chaupadi' tradition.

 

 

 

A sink and bathtub in the dilapidated Ducor Hotel in Monrovia, Liberia 02 October 2017. The Ducor Hotel was once the most prominent hotel in Africa. It was built by Israeli builder Moshe Mayer in 1960 on the highest point of Monrovia. The hotel closed in 1989. It was the first 5-star hotel in Africa. Frequented by politicians, diplomats and business people from across the continent and abroad the hotel was a shinning example of the prosperous years in West Africa at the time. It hosted many important meetings between African leaders. Ugandan dictator Idi Amin is said to have swum in its pool while carrying his gun.The hotel was used by former Liberian president Charles Taylor's fighters as a firing position due to its vantage point on the highest hill in Monrovia during the siege of Monrovia by rebel forces in 2003. Since then thick tropical vegetation surrounding it has invaded every crevice, corner and floor of the deserted art deco styled landmark. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

Dilapidated Ducor Hotel

From the dilapidated Ducor hotel on the highest point in Monrovia I was photographing a city overview out a seventh-floor window with a Liberian colleague standing two feet away when a bullet passed between our heads and struck the wall behind. 14 years later, I return to the same place where I nearly lost my life to find the Ducor Hotel still standing with the thick tropical vegetation surrounding it invading every crevice, corner, and floor of the deserted art deco styled landmark. Built in 1960, the Ducor Hotel was once the most prominent hotel in Africa, the first ever 5-star hotel in Africa with 106 rooms and nine floors. The Ducor hotel was used by Charles Taylor’s fighters as a firing position due to its vantage point on the highest hill in Monrovia during the siege of Monrovia by rebel forces in 2003.

 

 

 

A car rolls south along the Dalton Highway near Coldfoot, Alaska, USA, 03 September 2017. Stretching 414 miles (666 kilometers) north from central Alaska to Prudhoe Bay, the Dalton Highway is one of America's northernmost roads and arguably its most remote. Built as a supply road for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the Dalton was opened to public use in 1981. Largely gravel and littered with potholes, a round-trip drive takes four days. Though it still offers few facilities and no radio, cell service, or internet the Haul Road, as it is often called, rewards its rare visitors with spectacular Arctic scenery. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

The Dalton Highway, America's Loneliest Road

Stretching 414 miles north from Livengood, Alaska (population 13) to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, just shy of the Arctic Ocean, the Dalton Highway is the most remote: there’s no radio, no internet, no cell service. And for a 240-mile stretch there are no facilities whatsoever - no hotels, no gas stations, no nothing. But what it lacks in services it makes up for in scenery: the treeless mountains of the Gates of the Arctic National Park stretching to the west, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the east. Built by the Alyeska Pipeline Company in 1974 as the haul road for the Alaskan pipeline, which runs alongside it, the Dalton is mostly gravel. Basketball-sized potholes litter the road, and giant supply trucks kick up great clouds of dust and rock as they barrel between Fairbanks and the oil fields on the North Slope. The road ends there, at an ugly and unceremonious intersection in the oil worker camp of Deadhorse.

 

 

 

A three-years-old White male Rhino Wasinda stands alone in a boma with a temporary hid covering his open wounds prior to being treated by Saving the Survivors vets at a private game farm in the Free State Province, Clocolan, South Africa, 19 September 2017. Wasinda, Zulu for 'Survivor' was poached two days earlier and had both his horns hacked off by a saw. After a closer examination it appears he was shot two times to the head by a 375 rifle with both shots traveling through his head. Most concerning for the vets was that Wasinda may have been blinded by the incident. South Africa has the world's largest population of Rhinos in the world. However over the past nine years a staggering 6,115 rhinos have been killed by poachers seeking their horns for sale to the lucrative traditional healing market in the Far East. In a ground-breaking and world-leading initiative, Dr Marias and Dr Glyphis from 'Saving the Survivors' race to injured and poached Rhinos once they have been called by conservation groups or private rhino owners in an attempt to save the animals and heal their often horrifying open wounds. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

South Africa Saving the Survivors Rhino Poaching

South Africa has the world's largest Rhino population. However over the past nine years a staggering 6,115 rhinos have been killed by poachers seeking their horns for sale to the lucrative traditional healing market in the Far East. The poaching of rhinos showed an incredible 9,000% increase between 2009 and 2016 with a staggering 1,054 rhinos killed in 2016 alone. The effects of rhino poaching will be visible for years to come. Only a small number of poached rhinos survive the horrifying experience of having their horns hacked off by either a saw or an axe. To help these seriously injured rhinos wildlife vet Dr Johan Marais founded the NGO 'Saving the Survivors' in 2012. The doctors clean and cover the huge, open wounds left after horns have been hacked off. This involves darting the rhinos with tranquillizers so they are able to tend to the wound while the two-tonnes animals are immobile.

 

 

 

Polar bears gather on a barrier island after feasting on the remains of a bowhead whale, harvested legally by whalers during their annual subsistence hunt, just outside the Inupiat village of Kaktovik, Alaska, USA, 11 September 2017. As climate change shrinks their natural habitat, polar bears are turning Kaktovik into their very own sanctuary city. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

Threatened Polar Bears Find Sanctuary in Alaskan Village

The rise in global temperatures is having a very real and devastating effect on Arctic ice formation, diminishing its scope and delaying its seasonal buildup. NASA reported a record low wintertime maximum extent of ice in 2017. That scarcity means Alaskan polar bears can’t reach their traditional hunting grounds until later in fall. Land-bound and hungry, as many as 60 polar bears have learned to gather in late summer in the Inupiat community of Kaktovik. That’s when the town begins its annual subsistence harvest for three bowhead whales. After residents carve and distribute the meat and blubber, a front loader carries what remains of the carcass to a bone pile at the far end of town. There, the bears converge, scavenging for whale meat and much-needed calories.

 

 

 

A nurse checks in new patients after they arrived from a local hospital at the depot where the Lifeline Express hospital train is parked in Baishan city of Jilin Province, China, 30 August 2017. In the small prefecture city of Baishan in Jilin province of northeastern China, a small team of doctors and nurses living on a rainbow colored train, is literally returning the gift of sight to hundreds of patients from the surrounding region for the past two months. It is one of four hospital trains called the Lifeline Express that have been chugging through the remote countrysides of China for the past twenty years to perform free cataract surgeries for thousands of patients from poverty stricken areas. Inspired by a similar project in India, the non-profit organisation started in Hong Kong and has since became part of a national health care program with opthalmologists and medical staff volunteering from major hospitals in Beijing and other cities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), China accounts for about 18 percent of the world's blind, the largest number of blind people in the world at around five million. Cataracts is thought to be the principal cause of blindness in China, a condition that refers to a clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye and is normally linked to aging. It is responsible for half the country's blind and around 400,000 people become completely blind from the disease each year. The country has recently announced in August plans to provide free treatment for all cataract patients living in poverty. EPA-EFE/HOW HWEE YOUNG

China Lifeline Express

In the small prefecture city of Baishan, China, a small team of doctors and nurses living on a rainbow colored train is literally returning the gift of sight to hundreds of patients from the surrounding region. It is one of four hospital trains called the Lifeline Express that have been chugging through the remote countryside of China for the past twenty years to perform free cataract surgeries for thousands of patients from poverty stricken areas. Every morning, an ambulance brings patients from the local hospital to check into the train where they will stay overnight for health checks before their cataract surgeries the next morning. The patients will then stay another night for observation and further checks before being discharged the next day.

 

 

Safal Pokhrel takes a shower after shaving his head during a full moon day in Gurukul’s premise in Kathmandu, Nepal, 27 July 2017. Once a month, in the auspicious day of full moon, the students must shave their head since they believe that by shaving the hair they are free from the sins. A temple in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu is home to one of the world’s oldest Sanskrit schools. Located within Pashupati Temple and founded in 2040 BS (Nepali Year Calendar), 34 years ago, Shree Bhagwat Sanyash Ashram and Gurukul School and hostel is funded by the donations of Hindu followers. The school was established to practice and preserve the Sanskrit Dharma-shastra. Sanskrit is the main holy language in Hinduism and Dharma-shastras are Hindu scriptures teaching the rules of social behavior. EPA-EFE/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

Sanskrit Gurukul

A temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, is home to one of the oldest Sanskrit schools. Located within Pashupati Temple and founded 34 years ago in 2040 BS (Nepali Year Calendar) Shree Bhagwat Sanyash Ashram and Gurukul School and hostel is funded by the donations of Hindu followers. The school was established to practice and preserve the Sanskrit Dharma-shastra. Sanskrit is the main holy language in Hinduism and Dharma-shastras are scriptures teaching the rules of social behavior. The students, mostly from the Brahmin community, are educated in shastras and behavior while residing with gurus. It is here where they learn to practice everything they have studied in class according to a teacher.

 

 

 

An Indonesian waitress dressed as a nurse holds eye ball dessert called Organ Surgery Parfait (L) and chicken dim sum with spicy sauce called Chicken Palm Pruritus, part of the menu, at the Hospitalis restaurant in Depok, West Java, Indonesia, 27 July 2017. Hospitalis offers a medical themed menu, is decorated in hospital equipment, furniture includes hospital bed headboards and wheel chairs, while utensils include infusion and blood bags and lab beakers among other medical paraphernalia. Restaurant staff wear doctors and nurses uniforms. It used to be a restaurant attracted customers because of good food. But now, with so many choices and options, tasty food is not always enough. Asia's many and varied theme restaurants were quick to recognize dining is more than that. They took up the challenge to offer of a palette of weird and wonderful dining experiences that turn a quick bite, into an unusually memorable sensation. EPA-EFE/BAGUS INDAHONO

Asia Theme Restaurants Offer an Unusual Bite

Asian based theme restaurants are blossoming, displaying a palette of weird and wonderful dining experiences that turn a quick bite into an unusually memorable sensation. Among the offers on the menu at Hospitalis in Indonesia are a blood transfusion, actually strawberry syrup, that goes into your eyeball dessert tray, called Organ Surgery Parfait, only one of the medically themed delicacies on hand, all served by a waitress in a nurse’s uniform. Take a seat on your toilet stool, and hoe into all sorts of squishy poo resembling offerings from toilet shaped bowls at Taipei’s Modern Toilet restaurant. You can dine in a bus in Vietnam, in an upside down house, or a Hobbit House in the Philippines. But it is not all light-hearted entertainment of a modern world. Among the theme restaurants are those that draw on culture and tradition of long ago, that may have been slipping in contemporary memory.

 

 

 

Chinese children practise Chinese martial art Tai Chi during a training at the Chinese folk traditional martial arts union training base in Gu'an County near Beijing, China, 10 June 2017. The roots of Chinese martial arts can be traced back to the Xia Dynasty that existed more than 4,000 years ago. EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

Chinese Martial Arts

The roots of Chinese martial arts can be traced back to the Xia dynasty more than 4,000 years ago. In ancient China martial arts had been attributed to military training, self-defense and hunting. Chinese martial arts, also named Kung fu or Wushu, have hundreds of different styles developed over the centuries with their own ideas and techniques. From the beginning, martial arts have been incorporating different philosophies expanding the goal from self-defense to health maintenance and self-cultivation. A proper Chinese martial arts training provides such components as basics, applications, forms, weapons, ethics, philosophy and medical practice. Some martial arts are more about fighting, some focus on fitness, breathing techniques and the spiritual side of movements.

 

 

 

A member of the Samaritan community attends a wedding ceremony atop Mount Gerizim, above Nablus, West Bank, 30 July 2017. The Samaritans' gathering celebrates the Shavuot festival, marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai seven weeks after the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. The Samaritan religion is based on four principles of faith: One God - The God of Israel, One Prophet - Moses Ben Amram, The Belief in the Torah - the first five books of the bible, and One Holy Place - Mount Gerizim. Samaritans recite prayers in ancient Hebrew using a Torah scoll. Today's Samaritan community hails from ancient people who once numbered over a million. Now the community counts about 780 members, half of them living in a village on Mount Gerizim near Nablus, and the rest in Holon near Tel Aviv, Israel. Despite its many hardships over the last 2,700 years, they have been in this country for over 2,600 years. They have their own culture, civilization, language, heritage, and religion. EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

Samaritans in Nablus

Samaritans lived in several places in the Holy Land, extending from the southern part of Syria to northern Egypt. According to tradition, they are descendants of the Jews who were not deported when the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 BC. Despite many hardships, Samaritans have been in this country for over 2,600 years. They have their own culture, heritage and religion and possess what could be the oldest document in the world in the form of a bible that was written in ancient Samaritan characters on lambskin, 13 years after the death of Moses. Today's Samaritan community hails from ancient people who once numbered over a million. Now the community counts about 803 members, half of them living in a village on Mount Gerizim near Nablus, West Bank and the rest in near Tel Aviv, Israel.

 

 

 

A teenage jockey is carried by a man to the horse he is about to ride during the annual horse race held by the Basotho tribesmen on the King's birthday in the mountains near Semonkong, Lesotho, 15 July 2017. For decades the horse and donkey have been the main from of transport for the villagers in Lesotho as no car can get access to their villagers and sheep stations in the ruggered hills. The horses carry everything from humans, gas cylinders, coffins, foot, water, maize meal, etc. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Lesotho Horse Race

Deep in the mountains of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, an annual horse race amongst the rural Besotho tribesmen on the birthday of the King brings hundreds of men and their horses together for a day of betting, racing and drinking that seems like it has been frozen in time and being raced 100 years ago. Early in the morning horse owners, teenage jockeys and hundreds of other villagers gather on a step high above the village of Semonkong. Clad in the traditional Basotho blankets to keep out the freezing winter wind blowing, the villagers start to view the horse being paraded for the first race, including the smallest horse and Basotho ponies ridden by tiny teenage jockeys. The horsemen race for the bragging rights of being the best horse and jockey of the year and to make some well-earned money.

 

 

 

Cadets perform pull-ups in Jaysh al-Islam Military Academy, in an undisclosed location, rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 14 December 2016. In February 2016, Jaysh al-Islam announced the establishing of a Military Academy, after efforts from its former leader Zahran Alloush who died in December 2015. The academy is conducted in cooperation with the Military Council for Damascus and its Suburbs. The goals of the academy is to graduate fighters with thorough background in fighting tactics, and to enlist its graduates in the newly formed Unified Syrian National Army called for by various rebel groups. EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

Jaysh al-Islam Military Academy

For eight months, Mohammed Badra covered the intense military training of the Jaysh al-Islam armed group, held for members of its military academy in an undisclosed location, in rebel-held eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria. The Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel armed group was formed in 2011 as Liwa al-Islam (Flag of Islam), and renamed in 2013 after merging with other rebel factions operating around Damascus. In 2016, Jaysh al-Islam announced the establishing of a military academy which is conducted in cooperation with the Military Council for Damascus and its suburbs. Its goals are to graduate fighters with thorough background in fighting tactics, and to enlist its graduates in the newly formed Unified Syrian National Army called for by various rebel groups.

 

 

 

Villagers and tar heritage enthusiasts stack chopped 'tervas' wood to a pine tar pit on the grounds of the Yli-Kirra Outdoor Agricultural Museum in Punkalaidun, Finland, 27 June 2017. The bottom of the pit has been prepared and the center pole raised to help keep the right shape and height of the tar pit. For this pine tar pit 25 m3 of wood were used to produced 500 liters of traditional tar. The Yli-Kirra Outdoor Agricultural Museum in Punkalaidun preserves the old ways of working and farming. As part of the museums' activity, they burn a pine tar pit every four years to keep up the traditional skills. The burning of the pine wood in a pit produces charcoal and tar. EPA/MARKKU OJALA A

Pine Tar Tradition in Finland

In the small Finnish community of Punkalaidun, Tar Pit Master Valdemar Nummelin instructs his young apprentice in the ancient Scandinavian tradition of pine tar making. Together they stack damaged pine wood in a pit, cover it with moss and peat, then light the huge pile that will go on to burn slowly over the next three days. As the wood gradually decomposes, the tar pit master will apply pressure to the natural fibres so it compresses and slowly disintegrates into 500 liters of sticky tar. This product will be used to protect historical buildings or to finish and protect traditional boats. Many Finnish people also use pine tar to salve minor skin irritations, to flavor sweets, icecreams and liquor or even add it to shampoo to prevent dandruff. But the old way of working with tar is under threat.

 

 

 

Bitcoin miner Huang inspects a malfunctioning mining machine during his night shift at the Bitcoin mine in Sichuan Province, China, 26 September 2016. Miners can check a machine's condition and operations using phones and personal computers. For most issues, they can simply restart a machine. 'If it's a complicated problem, we just ship it to the factory and let them fix it,' Huang said. China is one the main exchange market of bitcoins although the digital currency exists in a legal limbo and prone to speculation. The country hosts some of the biggest 'mining pools' in the world, clusters of supercomputers which task is minting new bitcoins and maintaining the system, sometimes installed in shady places close to power plants. Sichuan has become known as 'the capital of bitcoin mining' as entrepreneurial Chinese set up 'mines' there due to its abundance of hydropower, perfect for the high electricity needs of the large number of computers required for Bitcoin mining. Bitcoin mines are buildings with warehouse-like structures equipped with massive numbers of microprocessors with which 'miners' solve complex math problems and are rewarded in the digital currency.
The industry exists in a legal gray zone in China, and the miners in this story, concerned about attention from the government, asked not to have their full names or the names of the villages where their mines are located mentioned in this story. EPA/LIU XINGZHE/CHINAFILE

Inside the World of Chinese Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin is a virtual currency devised by the mysterious Satoishi Nakamoto as a revolutionary monetary system independent of central banks and governments. The currency is booming as an investment asset and form of payment in China, Japan and South Korea. China is one of the main exchange markets of bitcoins although the currency exists in a legal limbo and is prone to speculation. The country hosts some of the biggest 'mining pools' in the world where clusters of supercomputers mint new bitcoins and maintain the system. Sichuan has quietly become known as 'the capital of bitcoin mining'. The industry operates in a legal gray area in China. The 'miners' in this story, concerned about government attention, declined to have their full names or work locations mentioned in the story. The 'miners' live and work at the mine, which is so remote the nearest public transportation is 20 miles away.

 

 

 

Filipino activists hold a banner reading 'Stop The killings!' during a protest to mark the Philippines' 119th Independence Day in Manila, Philippines, 12 June 2017. Critics, including human rights advocates, lawyers and the Catholic Church, have widely condemned President Rodrigo Duterte's policy against illegal drugs and his breach of human rights through a hardline stance, criticizing furthermore the police's handling of extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings. EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO ATTENTION: For the full PHOTO ESSAY text please see Advisory Notice epa06053425

One Yearlong Anti-Drug Campaign in the Philippines

In 2016, Rodrigo Duterte took office after a landslide victory in the Philippine presidential election campaigning to rid the nation of corruption and crime, in particular, the drug trade. Between July 2016 and June 2017 about 2.4 tons of 'shabu' (drug methamphetamine) were seized in over 61,500 anti-drug operations. Over 82,600 people have been arrested and some 3,100 persons linked to drug trafficking have been killed, according to government agencies. Since July 2016 around 1.2 million individuals involved in illicit drugs have surrendered and undergone government proceedings, increasing the influx of detainees and leading to overcrowding of jails across the nation. From the same period, over 2,000 people have been categorized as severe drug users, with more than 1,200 receiving treatment.

 

 

 

A gay couple kisses during a party after a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) mass wedding organised by the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) China organisation on a cruise in open seas on route to Sasebo, Japan, 15 June 2017. About 800 members of the Chinese LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and their parents spent four days on a cruise trip organised by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) China, a grassroots non-government organisation, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the organisation. It aims to promote coexistence among homosexuals and their families. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

An LGBT Oasis on the High Seas

About 800 members of the Chinese LGBT community and their parents spent four days on a cruise trip organized by grassroots non-government organization Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays China celebrating its 10th anniversary. It aims to promote coexistence among homosexuals and their families. The round trip beginning in Shanghai to Sasebo (Japan) include four days of talks with experts, sharing experiences, games, and freedom on the high seas, where there is also a mass wedding between LGBT couples. However, the mass wedding will be a symbolic one as same-sex marriages are still not legal on mainland China even though Taiwan, seen as an inalienable part of China, made history by becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriages in May 2017.

 

 

 

A rider helps her Lipizzaner perform a 'Capriole', or jump off the ground with all four legs, during a demonstration of the horses' riding skills at the elite Blue Hills Estate School by the South African Lipizzaners school in Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 June 2017. Horses where trained to perform this during war time so as to de-capitate soldiers. Lipizzaner horses are a noble horse breed that traces its lineage back to the late 15th century. These horses were originally bred by royalty and valued in military skirmishes for the fast and light qualities. The South African Lipizzaners School has thirty horses and performs weekly shows on a Sunday for the public, together with outdoor shows. The school has student riders who train for eight months before qualifying as Lipizzaner riders. Lipizzaner have a few defining physical characteristics and breeding standards have not changed in over 400 years. Born black, their hair slowly changes into a white color as they reach adulthood. They stand approx. 157cm tall and can weigh 700kg. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

South African Lipizzaners School

Lipizzaner horses are a noble horse breed that traces its lineage back to the late 15th century. These horses were originally bred by royalty and valued in military skirmishes for the fast and light qualities. The breed has been endangered numerous times during times of war. During the World War II Count Jankovich-Besan rescued a few Lipizzaner from his stud in war-torn Hungary and transported them via Austria to the UK. In 1948, the horses joined his family on a journey to South Africa, where they formed the first Lipizzaner stud in Kwa Zulu Natal. In 1969, a second stud farm was formed in Gauteng which now operates as South African Lipizzaners School and has an indoor arena and stables with thirty horses and performs weekly shows on a Sunday for the public, together with outdoor shows.

 

 

 

A horse is reflected on the decorative glass door of a carriage at a stable in Mumbai, India, 19 March 2016. The Victoria's Carriages are out from the streets of Mumbai for almost a year now. The once highly popular tourist attraction was banned by the Bombay High Court in June 2015, on the grounds of violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Horse-carriages were introduced during Queen Victoria's reign and then were nothing but the remnant of British rule after independence. These colorful and fancy decorated Victoria’s are being used for joyrides for a small distance route at the two iconic landmark, one is the Taj Mahal Palace hotel near Gateway of India, and second is the Trident hotel, near Nariman point. Citizens of Mumbai and the tourists will not be able to get rides of the historic horse-drawn carriages or buggies, popularly known as the Victoria carriages, as the Bombay High Court imposed the ban on it. EPA/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

Victoria Carriages

The Victoria’s Carriages are out from the streets of Mumbai, India, for almost a year now. The once highly popular tourist attraction was banned by the Bombay High Court in 2015, on the grounds of violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Horse-drawn carriages were introduced during British Queen Victoria’s reign and then were nothing but the remnant of British rule after independence. These colorful and fancy decorated Victoria’s were used for joyrides for a small distance route between the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and the Trident hotel. The Bombay High Court ordered the Maharashtra state government to come out with a rehabilitation plan for the people directly or indirectly affected by the ban. About 800 people were associated with this business as owners, attendants, drivers and stable boys.

 

 

 

Muslim Rohingya Pir Mohammed, 20 (R) and his wife Yurita,18 with their two month old baby boy, Mozahidul Islam, at a refugee shelter in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, 11 February 2017. Mohammed and Yurita fled their village in Myanmar after violent conflict and have been in Medan for two years, waiting to be resettled to Malaysia or Australia. They are housed in simple hotel rooms, and wait for news of their future acceptance. Despite the risks, the Rohingya continue to leave Myanmar, fleeing anti-Muslim violence and discrimination in the predominantly Buddhist country, searching for state-hood and a country to accept them as citizens. A religious Muslim minority group, Rohingya have faced waves of persecution, according to human rights groups. More recently, those in the north-west of the state have faced alleged brutal human rights abuses: beatings, murder, house burnings, disappearances, extortion, rape and harassment. The Rohingya have been called perhaps the most persecuted minority group in the world. EPA/DEDI SINUHAJI

Rohingya Refugees in Asia

They are Rohingya, about one million predominately Muslim people living in Myanmar's poorest Rakhine state. More recently, those in the northwest of the state have faced brutal abuses: beatings, murder, house burnings, disappearances, extortion, harassment, and rape. The Rohingya have been called perhaps the most persecuted minority group in the world. In recent violence, over 94,000 people identifying as Rohingya have been displaced since October, among them 75,000 who have searched refuge, legitimacy, a better life, and asylum in nearby countries. Most fled to the Bangladesh border with Myanmar, and then many onwards, risking perilous journeys on overpacked boats and dangerous overland journeys, entering neighboring countries. But who are the Rohingya?

 

 

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Ageing Asia

By 2050, the number of people over 65 in Asia is predicted to triple. While ageing populations are a global issue, Asian nations are at the visible forefront of the change. The Asian Development Bank says Asia's elderly population is projected to reach nearly 923 million by the middle of this century placing the region on track to become one of the oldest in the world in the next few decades. Rising percentages of 'oldies', caused by increasing life expectancies and coupled by lower birth rates in many nations, are causing shifts in economic thinking and development. Faced with an older workforce, a shortage of labor, and changing needs and demands, ageing populations will increasingly influence the way countries develop their public policy and economic plans in the years ahead.

 

 

 

Dong Zhi Bu training on the heavy bag as downtime after the morning group training at Enbo Training Center, Chengdu, China, 24 May 2017. In the South West Sichuan region of China, 40 young Tibetan kids, all orphans of the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, are getting an opportunity to rewrite their lives. These children are all from Aba, an 'autonomous' Tibetan prefecture in northern Sichuan province that was once part of Greater Tibet but has been partitioned off since The Liberation in 1951. Now, these 40 orphans live in Chengdu, Sichuan because of the efforts of their committed benefactor Mister Enbo. Also born in Aba, Mister Enbo is a former Special Armed Police, Sanda coach, boxer, MMA enthusiast, and philanthropist. EPA/LOLA LEVAN

Fighting for a Future

In Sichuan, China, 40 young Tibetan kids, all orphans of the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, are getting an opportunity to rewrite their lives. Now, these orphans live in Chengdu because of the efforts of their committed benefactor Mister Enbo. Also born in Aba, he brought these kids to Chengdu from poverty-stricken villages, where the conditions of life are very difficult and normal daily necessities are considered luxuries. At the Enbo Training Center, a well-equipped gym and combat training center, these 40 kids learn and train in Mixed Martial Arts and live together under the supervision of a group of people from Aba, who take care of all their necessities from freshly cooked meals, to clothes and health assistance. Additionally, the children learn the Chinese as well the Tibetan language.

 

 

 

Hungarian mountaineer Szilard Suhajda, member of the Hungarian Everest Expedition is en route to the Everest base camp near Namche Bazaar in Nepal, 01 April 2017. Hungarian climbers David Klein and Szilard Suhajda, members of the Hungarian Everest Expedition, intented to reach the 8,848 meters peak of Mount Everest or Chomolungma without using oxygen tanks. In case of their eventual success they would be the first to conquer the earth's highest peak without oxygen tanks in the Hungarian mountaineering history. EPA/Balazs Mohai HUNGARY OUT

Hungarian Everest Expedition 2017

Climbers David Klein and Szilard Suhajda, Hungarian Everest Expedition 2017 members, started their adventure in Kathmandu, Nepal in March and stayed at Everest Base Camp to acclimatize and prepare for the 8,848 meter climb. The pair wanted to become the first Hungarians in mountaineering history to reach the earth's highest peak without oxygen tanks. Unfortunately, they were forced to give up their mission in May. Suhajda fell sick and two days later, Klein also decided to abandon the climb and descend from 8,200 meters down the mountain due to poor weather. Oxygen levels above 8,000 meters are too low for a normal human to survive – after all this is why it's known as the 'death zone'.

 

 

 

Seasonal workers harvest Longjing (Dragon Well) tea at a tea plantation in the Meijiawu village, outside Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 13 April 2017. According to a legend, tea was first discovered by the legendary Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. Today China is the world's biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. In 2016, China produced 2.43 million tons of tea. The Chinese tea industry employs around 80 million people as farmers, pickers and sales people. Tea can be sold from around 80 RMB (around 11 euros) to over 4,000 RMB (around 525 euro) per kilogram. It is the most highly consumed beverage in the world. Chinese people believe that the practice of brewing and drinking tea can bring the spirit and wisdom of human beings to a higher level. EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

Homeland of Tea

According to Chinese tradition tea is considered one of the seven necessities of daily life. The history of tea in China is long and complex as the Chinese enjoy the herbal brew for millennia. According to a legend, tea was first discovered by the legendary Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. Today, the country is the world’s biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. Tea has been used for many different purposes. First as ritual offering and later, it was consumed as a vegetable and used as a medicine. Now it is the most highly consumed beverage in the world. China still boasts many teahouses, particularly in cities with a strong teahouse culture such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Chengdu.

 

 

 

A Thai woman devotee has her hair and eyebrows shaved by Buddhist female monks or bhikkhuni during a mass female Buddhist novice monk ordination ceremony at Songdhammakalyani Monastery, Nakhon Pathom province, Thailand, 06 April 2017. An estimate of 95 percent of the Thai population is Buddhist. Most Thai men aged over 20 from Buddhist families are expected to be ordained as monks. Thailand has roughly 300,000 Buddhist male monks but saffron-robed clad women are rarely seen. Recently, the number of female monks called Bhikkhuni has been growing and nowadays there are about 100 female monks nationwide. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

Buddhist Monk Ordination in Thailand

Freedom to practice religion is protected by constitution in Thailand where an estimate of 95 percent of population is Buddhist. Most Thai men aged over 20 from Buddhist families are expected to be ordained as monks. Thailand has roughly 300,000 Buddhist male monks but saffron-robed clad women are rarely seen because Thailand’s conservative Buddhist monastic clergy doesn’t officially recognize and refuses to acknowledge Thai woman to be ordained as female Buddhist monks, known as Bhikkhuni. The full ordination of female monk in Thailand is forbidden under the monastic clergy. Dhammananda was the first Thai woman ordained as bhikkhuni, she received full ordination as a Theravada monk in 2003 and is now an abbess of Thailand’s first only female monk temple.

 

 

 

A Tasmanian Devil looks on at a Tasmanian Devil sanctuary in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia, 23 March 2017. The world's largest marsupial carnivore is found only in Tasmania. It is classified as an endangered wild species because of the spread of a nearly 100 percent fatal contagious cancer called Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). There has been an overall population decline of more than 80 percent since detection in 1996. Behind the scenes there is more than tourism at stake, the park is one of two privately owned and commercial, wildlife sanctuaries that are termed bio-secure sites, and play a key role as conservation and breeding centers in the captive breeding program to establish an insurance population of healthy Devils, some already released back into the wild. EPA/BARBARA WALTON

Tasmanian Devils

Tasmanian Devils are nocturnal and can cover a range of up to 20 km2. Their jaw strength is legendary and, comparative to body size, more powerful than a tigers. They live in dens and their life span is around six years. As hunter scavengers, they have an important role in clearing carcasses. It is their bite that enables the transmission of the nearly 100 percent fatal contagious cancer called Devil Facial Tumor Disease. The spread of this cancer has brought the world’s largest marsupial carnivore close to extinction in the wild. Members of the Save The Tasmanian Devil Program are working to save the endangered species and run the largest captive breeding facility which houses between 30 and 100 Devils.

 

 

 

Anjali Lama gets photographed back stage prior her show for the brand Maku during Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer/Resort 2017 in Mumbai, India, 02 February 2017. Among the striking beauties sashaying down the catwalk at Lakme Fashion Week, is Anjali Lama, a new star with an unlikely past. Anjali may have the high cheekbones, a slender frame and striking gaze of many international catwalk models. But she also happens to have been born into a rural Nepalese village as a boy. EPA/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

Transgender Model Anjali Lama

The Lakme Fashion Week is Anjali Lama's first international show and the response has been overwhelming. Yet, the new star happens to have been born into a rural Nepalese village as a boy. In her little village, there was very little awareness of transgender issues and Lama didn't have words for the sense of dislocation she felt. Following school she moved to the urban metropolis of Kathmandu for college where she came across a documentary on LGBT issues and recognized her own feelings in those of the subjects. Then, a chance encounter with a transgender woman on the street led her to a local support group when she began to seriously consider a transition. But Lama also dreamed of becoming a model and spent years walking countless shows for free. After a few years, people started to recognize her face and things became easier.

 

 

 

An aerial view of traditional and underdeveloped Kampung Baru (front) against the skyline filled with skyscrapers and towering modern buildings of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 12 April 2017. Kampung Baru is a misfit in a modern city, spread across 230 hectares on prime city land. The traditional village more than 100 years old is located at the Malaysian capital's modern core is stuck in the past, keeping its old form and look of a time past, despite the advancing modern world. Development of the special area which holds its own legislation is made complex by the differing wishes of its more than 5,300 landowners. EPA/AHMAD YUSNI

Kampung Baru

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia was once a muddy mining town, but has transformed itself beyond the imagination of its first settlers. It is today a giant metropolis with towering skyscrapers and arteries of roads and highway networks intertwined throughout its heart. But amidst the sophisticated development is a pocket where none of this transformation has taken place. Known as Kampung Baru, it is a misfit in the modern city, a testament of a time gone by. Spread across 230 hectares, the traditional village located at the capital's modern core, is stuck in the past, keeping its looks of a time past, despite the advancing modern world. Kampung Baru was gazetted in 1900 and is the only village to have its own legislation established during the British colonial times. 

 

 

 

Ecoboard Project ambassador and professional windsurfer Florian Jung from Germany tests the world's first Eco Windsurfboard in Cape Town, South Africa, 25 March 2017. The Ecoboard Project is the development of the worlds first Eco Windsurfboard made out of recycled and biodegradable material such as Balsa wood. The Eco Windsurfboards are produced in Thailand by board manufacturer Starboard. Their company goal is to reduced the carbon footprint of board manufacture. For each board shipped, Starboard plants one Mangrove in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Myanmar, absorbing up to 1 ton CO2 over 20 years. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

World's First Eco Windsurfboard

The Ecoboard Project is the development of the world's first Eco Windsurfboard made out of recycled and biodegradable material. It was started with the main objective to be as energy efficient as possible by using raw materials that have a lower carbon footprint than those used today but with equal or improved mechanical properties. The Eco Windsurfboards are produced in Thailand by manufacturer Starboard. For each board shipped Starboard plants one Mangrove in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Myanmar, absorbing up to 1 ton CO2 over 20 years. The Balsa wood used as a sandwich material to replace conventional PVC for maximum strength and rigidity, at a tenth of the footprint of conventional PVC. Balsa wood is the fastest growing tree in the world, offering better mechanical properties than PVC for the same density.

 

 

 

Wrestler The Jackal bleeds as he kneels on broken glass and drawing pins during a hardcore wrestling match at the Brakpan Community Hall, in Brakpan, Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 March 2017. This match included the wrestlers hitting each other over the head with panes of glass and wooden boards covered in barbed wire. Added to that the ring was covered in drawing pins and the ropes covered in barbed wire. In the East Rand region of South Africa lives dedicated, passionate, amateur hardcore wrestling community, whose members find time between work and family to put on shows for their devoted following of fans at local community halls, high schools and motorcycle rallies. Hardcore wrestling is a form of professional wrestling where disqualifications, count-outs, and all other different rules do not apply. Matches are decided with the use of numerous dangerous items including tables, chairs, barbed wire, light tubes, shovels, chains, hammers, etc. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Hardcore Wrestling

In the East Rand region of South Africa lives dedicated, passionate, amateur hardcore wrestling community, whose members find time between work and family to put on shows for their devoted following of fans at local community halls, high schools and motorcycle rallies. Run by the country's premier hardcore wrestling promoters training of wrestlers and fight events become part of life for those who follow their passion of entertaining and fighting. Wrestlers with ring names like 'The Jackal', 'Hector Payne', and 'The Crow' stage matches that are decided with the use of numerous dangerous items including barbed wire, light tubes, shovels, hammers, etc. Hardcore wrestling is a form of professional wrestling where disqualifications, count-outs, and all other different rules do not apply.

 

 

Mohammad Shuku (R), 16, plays with his mobile phone as Noor Jahan (2-L), 35, her elder sister (L) and her daughter Ruqayyah Baksh (C-L) talk about Jahan's husband Jamal Husein, 40, who is in Malaysia, at Thet Kel Pyin Muslim internally displaced person (IDPs) camp near Sittwe of Rakhine capital, western Myanmar, 10 March 2017. The family were forced out of their village after it was burnt in religious violence in 1992. The family was torn apart with Jamal Husein waiting for legitimacy in Malaysia, hoping to find them acceptance, and a place to belong. Myanmar does not recognize Rohingya as an ethnic group or allow full citizenship or freedoms. A religious minority group, the Rohingya have faced waves of persecution, according to human rights groups. The Rohingya have been called perhaps the most persecuted minority group in the world. EPA/LYNN BO BO

Stateless Rohingya Family

Many thousands of Rohingya families are trying to find a country to accept them as citizens and their search for basic human rights, of statehood, of a place to call home, with no resolution. This is a story of fear, displacement, and uncertainty. Of wanting to belong, to have citizenship, have normal human rights of freedom and access. This is a desperate story of waiting and hoping for many Rohingya. Jamal Husein cries as he peers at the screen of his mobile phone in Malaysia. He looks at the face of his wife Noor Jahan and his children that look back at him from a Rakhine state displaced person camp in Myanmar. In both places their lives are insecure. They are Rohingya, a Muslim minority that is not wanted by the Buddhist majority state Myanmar.

 

 

 

Chinese model Sun Yichao (L) waits backstage before the start of the show for Melody Cashmere during the Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week at the Beijing Hotel banquet hall venue in Beijing, China, 29 March 2017. One of China's most promising up and coming fashion model, the 23-year-old Sun Yichao is a striking figure on the runway. At 1.79 metres tall, the svelte model with beautiful chiseled features is high in demand domestically and abroad, having walked the catwalks of Paris, Milan and New York's fashion weeks for major brands like Christian Dior and Chanel. She was also one of the recipients of the 'China Top Ten Professional Fashion Model Award' in 2016. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

Chinese Model Sun Yichao

One of China's most promising up and coming fashion model, 23-year-old Sun Yichao is a striking figure on the runway. At 1.79 metres tall, the svelte model with attractive chiseled features is high in demand, having walked the catwalks of Paris, Milan and New York's fashion weeks for major brands like Christian Dior and Chanel. Life as a famous fashion model is not all glamorous and exciting though and involves a lot of hard work and sometimes even long periods of boredom, as Sun will attest. She aspires to become a fashion designer herself with her own fashion brand and spends her down time taking English lessons, studying and learning from her designer friends.

 

 

 

A muslim sheikh recite koran at radio studio in El-Minya governorate, about 240 km from Cairo, Egypt, 16 March 2017. It’s been seven years since the last time this competition was held, hundreds of people from across Egypt apply to be the next Monshed (Chanter of Islamic Hymns) or Koran Reader in the Holy Koran radio station, one of Egypt’s oldest radio stations. The holy Koran radio station officials have decided to tour the Egyptian provinces for the competition, with 91 persons applying at Minya province 250km south of Cairo. The form to enter the competition costs 200 Egyptian pounds (11 US dollars). Each competitor gets seven minutes in front of the judges to show his skills. EPA/MOHAMED HOSSAM

Koran Reciting Contest

It’s been seven years since the last time this competition was held, hundreds of people from across Egypt apply to be the next Monshed (Chanter of Islamic Hymns) in the Holy Koran radio station, one of Egypt’s oldest radio stations. The holy Koran radio station officials have decided to tour the Egyptian provinces for the competition. Each competitor gets seven minutes in front of the judges to show his skills. Having your voice heard by 30 million people daily is a great honor that few achieve. The judges look for not only perfect phonetics and pronunciation but also for the competitors with character and showcase his own style of reciting Koran and Hymns.

 

 

 

Laura Farkas (R), who lives with autism spectrum disorder, plays with one of her teammates in the special autist group of the Barczi Gusztav elementary school's Unified Special Education Methodology Institute in Nyiregyhaza, 227 kms east of Budapest, Hungary, 28 March 2017. Having once been well-off, the financial situation of the Farkas family was impacted as they struggled to provide for their autistic child, Laura, who needs around-the-clock care, special schooling and therapy. The constant demands put a strain on the family and the parents subsequently split up. World Autism Awareness Day is marked annually on 02 April. The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by autism. EPA/ATTILA BALAZS

The Impact of Autism on the Farkas Family

Having once been well-off, the financial situation of the Farkas family was impacted as they struggled to provide for their autistic child, Laura, who needs around-the-clock care, special schooling, and therapy. The constant demands put a strain on the family and the parents subsequently split up. Arpad Farkas is the founding chairman of 'Most Elsz Egyesulet' - an institution of parents of children with autism that seeks new treatment opportunities for their children. Recently, the organization signed a cooperation agreement with the Clinic of the University of Debrecen. World Autism Awareness Day has marked annually on 02 April. The day was designated by the United Nations to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by autism.

 

 

Members of the Purwa Bharata human puppet troupe, Yudhi as Hanoman (C), Dewan as Giant Maruto (L) and Galih as Giant Maruti (R) perform during a show at the Wayang Orang Purwa Bharata theatre in Jakarta, Indonesia, 03 September 2016. More than 140 actors are listed as members of the Javanese traditional Purwa Bharata human puppet, also known as Wayang Wong in Javanese language. Established in 1973 Purwa Bharata is now the only human puppet troupe left in the capital. EPA/BAGUS INDAHONO

Jade and Drugs

Tens of thousands of Myanmar youth come to Hpakant, the land of the world’s rarest and valuable types of jade, with the hope and dreams of escaping from poverty and making their fortunes. In Hpakant the cost of a dose of heroin is 3000 Myanmar Kyats (about 2.3 USD.) Easily hooked, the dreams of a better future begotten from work excavating the jade, many living on the edges of the mines and scavenging through the dumped soil and rock for jade rests, are quickly lost in the need for drugs to feed the habit, and the debilitating physical and mental decline that accompanies it. Today, drug addiction has become one of the biggest problems facing impoverished Kachin State. 

 

 

 

Founder of Nanana Winbridge Education Center, Priscilla Nangurai (C) poses for a photo with some of 58 rescued girls at the school in Kajiado, Kenya, 01 March 2017. Nangurai established the Nanana Winbridge Education Center in 2007 with her retirement money where she hosts rescued girls who've run away from home to escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She has rescued 825 girls since 1986. The International Women's Day (IWD) was marked for the first time in 1911 and is celebrated on 08 March since 1913. March 08 was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the day for women's rights and world peace in 1977. EPA/DANIEL IRUNGU

Water Towers in Hungary

The photos show the large variety of types of water towers built in Hungary. The United Nations declared 22 March the World Water Day in 1992 with the aim to strengthen the awareness of the importance of the protection of the environment including the water resources of Mother Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24th generation Japanese farmer Takashi Mizugai inspects Kenaf or Jute fiber in his fields, 18 kilometers from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plants, in the Odaka district of Fukushima prefecture, in Odaka, Japan, 22 February 2017. Unable to sell rice or vegetables grown locally, Mizugai is forced to seek other crops to make a living. Evacuated residents from some of the off limits zones, have been allowed by Japanese government authorities to return to the area since July 2016, after extensive cleanup efforts were completed of the radioactive soil in the local area. However, only twenty percent of the 3,487 households have reportedly returned, according to Japanese newspapers. Odaka is within the 20 kilometer evacuation zone established after the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami, which destroyed the local nuclear power plant. EPA/EVERETT KENNEDY BROWN

The National Library of Greece in Athens

The National Library of Greece is making a bet on its future. From the historic neoclassical building in the center of Athens, one of an iconic ‘triplet’ of imposing public buildings erected by Theophil von Hansen and Ernst Ziller in the 19th century, the library is methodically preparing for a historic move and its transition into a new era, housed in the airy yet monumental building erected by architect Renzo Piano. In its new 22,000-square meter premises, it will provide the Greek public with access to a wealth of Greek knowledge and literature, either directly or in digital form, or through temporary exhibitions. The move of the library’s entire collection of books and periodicals of about 760,000 volumes and other items is expected to last up to six months.

 

 

 

Members of the Purwa Bharata human puppet troupe, Yudhi as Hanoman (C), Dewan as Giant Maruto (L) and Galih as Giant Maruti (R) perform during a show at the Wayang Orang Purwa Bharata theatre in Jakarta, Indonesia, 03 September 2016. More than 140 actors are listed as members of the Javanese traditional Purwa Bharata human puppet, also known as Wayang Wong in Javanese language. Established in 1973 Purwa Bharata is now the only human puppet troupe left in the capital. EPA/BAGUS INDAHONO

Transgender Inmates in Pattaya

The prominent beach resort Pattaya is also well-known for its nightlife and red light district. The coastal city is affected by an increasing crime rate that is currently higher than that of the country’s capital of Bangkok. Most crimes are robbery and drug delicts. As of 06 March 2017, there were 4,036 prisoners detained at Pattaya Remand Prison, of which 148 identify within the LGBT community. The prison has begun to introduce a policy to keep LGBT inmates apart from other prisoners in order to prevent inmate discrimination and violence. Transgender inmates who have already gone through gender reassignment surgery are separated to live in the female quarters while transgender women who have not yet had surgery have to shave their heads and live in the men’s sector.

 

 

 

Mico lands a jump during the Lidl Cup competition in Lahti, Finland, 15 January 2017. Mico Ahonen is a 15-year-old ski jumper from Lahti in Finland and son of Janne Ahonen, one of the most successful ski jumpers of all time. Mico’s path in the world of ski jumping started when he was just seven years old, when he jumped two meters from the K6 (beginners hill), and only four years later at the age of 11, he made his first jump from the Lahti HS 130 (professional hill) . EPA/KIMMO BRANDT

Ski Jumping Tradition

Mico Ahonen is a 15-year-old ski jumper from Lahti in Finland and son of Janne Ahonen, one of the most successful ski jumpers of all time. Mico’s path in the world of ski jumping started when he was just seven years old. He and the other junior jumpers in Lahti are the future hope of Finnish ski jumping. The country has had some twenty World Championship level ski jumpers in the past. Yet, since Janne Ahonen's victory in the 2008 Four Hills Tournament (Vierschanzentournee), it has had very little success in the Olympics and in the Ski Jumping World Cup competitions. However, the sport is highly regarded and popular in Finland and the fans hope for a new star. In this stage of his career Mico undergoes a specific training program with an assigned personal coach.

 

 

 

Ultra Orthodox Jewish women from the Haredi burqa sect also known as 'Shawl women ' walk with thier kids during Purim Holiday in Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel, 25 February 2013. In Israel, Ultra-orthodox (Haredi) women, who have adopted the covering of the entire body with black cloth, including a shal (shawl in English) when they are in public places, claim it is worn for modesty purposes. Although this custom is found mainly in the Islam religion, the number of Jewish women, who cover the entire body, is a phenomenon that is increasing in the recent years. It is estimated that the number of women who have adopted the style of dress has grown to several hundreds across the country. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Haredi Burqa Sect

Increasingly prominent in the streets of Jerusalem is a dress code found more commonly at home in Islamic nations. But members of the Ultra-orthodox (Haredi) burqa sect have adopted the more niqab than a burqa-style covering of the entire body claiming that thereby they will receive salvation. Some also stress that the holy mothers of the Jewish people have covered themselves some 3,500 years ago, too. The group is concentrated mainly in the cities of Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Safed and they raise many controversies in the Haredi community in Israel. From just around 100 in 2008, the number of Haredi women has grown to several hundreds across the country.

 

 

 

Founder of Nanana Winbridge Education Center, Priscilla Nangurai (C) poses for a photo with some of 58 rescued girls at the school in Kajiado, Kenya, 01 March 2017. Nangurai established the Nanana Winbridge Education Center in 2007 with her retirement money where she hosts rescued girls who've run away from home to escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She has rescued 825 girls since 1986. The International Women's Day (IWD) was marked for the first time in 1911 and is celebrated on 08 March since 1913. March 08 was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the day for women's rights and world peace in 1977. EPA/DANIEL IRUNGU

Women Changing Women's Worlds

This photo series is created to mark International Women's Day and features portraits of female activists, pioneers and change-makers who are transforming life for women around the world. The women featured have all fought against the dominant structures in their worlds to help improve the lives of other women. The group includes an artist, various professors, athletes, grassroots activists and even a lone female mechanic working in the Lebanese countryside. Despite the huge variations in their individual experience, all have a pioneering spirit that embodies the unifying themes of International Women’s Day.

 

 

 

 

24th generation Japanese farmer Takashi Mizugai inspects Kenaf or Jute fiber in his fields, 18 kilometers from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plants, in the Odaka district of Fukushima prefecture, in Odaka, Japan, 22 February 2017. Unable to sell rice or vegetables grown locally, Mizugai is forced to seek other crops to make a living. Evacuated residents from some of the off limits zones, have been allowed by Japanese government authorities to return to the area since July 2016, after extensive cleanup efforts were completed of the radioactive soil in the local area. However, only twenty percent of the 3,487 households have reportedly returned, according to Japanese newspapers. Odaka is within the 20 kilometer evacuation zone established after the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami, which destroyed the local nuclear power plant. EPA/EVERETT KENNEDY BROWN

Japan 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami Anniversary

On 11 March 2017, Japan will mark the 6th anniversary of the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed almost 16,000 people and destroyed the lives of thousands more. The twin disasters also caused widespread damage to northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Six years on, massive construction operations continue at the power facilities to reduce the environmental impact of the nuclear disaster, while extensive ground cleanup operations continue in neighboring towns in the evacuation zone, to enable former residents to return to their homes. In 2016, residents of Minami Soma, located just inside the evacuation zone, were allowed to return to their homes. Only twenty percent have chosen to return.

 

 

An employee dries a dog after washing at 'Miss Dolittle' dog barber shop in Tel Aviv, Israel, 24 February 2017. Tel Aviv is home to 25,000 registered dogs, and the ratio of dogs to humans (1:17), is considered one of the highest in the world. The Tel Aviv municipality has launched a special card for dog owners called 'Digi-Dog'. The card gives dog owners access to veterinary services, special activities, gardens and directions to the nearest beaches for dogs. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Dogs in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is home to 25,000 registered dogs, and the ratio of dogs to humans (1 dog for every 17 residents) is considered one of the highest in the world. The Tel Aviv municipality has launched a special service card for dog owners called 'Digi-Dog'. The card gives informations via a mobile app about veterinary services, pet-friendly activities, available dog walkers, training courses and directions to the nearest of the 70 public dog parks and beaches. The Digi-Dog service is connected to Tel Aviv’s Digi-Tel resident card system that offers location-based informations and discounts via newsletters and text messages. Tel Aviv received an award as Smart City at a digital expo in 2014.

 

 

 

Members of the Purwa Bharata human puppet troupe, Yudhi as Hanoman (C), Dewan as Giant Maruto (L) and Galih as Giant Maruti (R) perform during a show at the Wayang Orang Purwa Bharata theatre in Jakarta, Indonesia, 03 September 2016. More than 140 actors are listed as members of the Javanese traditional Purwa Bharata human puppet, also known as Wayang Wong in Javanese language. Established in 1973 Purwa Bharata is now the only human puppet troupe left in the capital. EPA/BAGUS INDAHONO

Javanese Traditional Human Puppet Troupe

Purwa Bharata is a Javanese traditional human puppet theater troupe also known as Wayang Wong in Javanese language. It was established in 1973 and is the only human puppet troupe left in the capital. The troupe counts over 140 members who range in age from six to 60. They practice and perform at the Wayang Orang Purwa Bharata theater in Jakarta. Many actors were introduced to the troupe by their parents who were former members. One actor, Daryanto Supono, 59, devoted his life to the troupe and participates as dancer and director. He is also the only member who creates costumes for the show. The plays feature enactments of ancient Indian epic poems called the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and are always accompanied by traditional Gamelan music.

 

 

 

Chinese migrant worker Wang Pengfei (L) eats his lunch as he looks out of the window of a train on his way back to his hometown Heze, Shandong from Beijing, China, 22 January 2017. Wang is the migrant worker and is working in the capital city as a delivery man. He will travel to visit his family in the Shandong Province for the annual Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. This is the only time he gets to see his family each year. Wang will join millions of fellow Chinese travelers making their way back home as they pack trains, planes and buses, in what is the largest human migration in the world. The journey, known as 'Chunyun' - the annual spring migration, will involve a total of 2,98 billion trips, starting from 13 January and continuing until 21 February 2017. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

Chinese Migration for Spring Festival

In the freezing hours before dawn, Wang Pengfei is already awake in the tiny dormitory room he shares with six other co-workers on the outskirts of Beijing. The migrant worker is working in the capital city as a delivery man and preparing to visit his family in the Shandong Province for the annual Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. This is the only time he gets to see his family each year. Wang will join millions of fellow Chinese travelers making their way back home as they pack trains, planes and buses, in what is the largest human migration in the world. The journey, known as 'Chunyun' - the annual spring migration, will involve a total of 2,98 billion trips from 13 January until 21 February 2017.

 

 

 

Chinese actor Xiao Jiguo practices a pose in a restroom while waiting for a performance as he participates in an entertainment program by Chinese Hunan TV in Beijing city, China, 28 October 2016. When Barack Obama leaves the White House on 20 January 2017, one of the people most affected is surprisingly a continent away in China. Xiao Jiguo, a former security guard and construction worker from Sichuan, who became famous in his country due to his resemblance to the outgoing US president may face the close of an important chapter in his life. EPA/WU HONG

The Chinese Obama

When Barack Obama leaves the White House on 20 January, one of the people most affected is surprisingly a continent away in China. Xiao Jiguo, a Chinese actor who became famous in his country due to his resemblance to the outgoing US president may face the close of an important chapter in his life. Born in 1986 in Sichuan Province, Xiao was working as a security guard in a factory in Guangzhou when he accidentally chanced upon a portrait of Obama and a colleague told him that he has a close resemblance to the 44th US-President. He saw an opening to fulfilling his dreams as a singer and quit his job in 2012 to move to Beijing to pursue his new career. Xiao started participating in local entertainment shows and traveling the country in search of acting jobs.

 

 

 

A file picture dated 22 March 2016 shows US President Barack Obama arriving to address the people of Cuba at the El Gran Teatro de Havana, during a historic visit to Havana, Cuba. On 04 November 2008, then Democratic Senator Barack Obama (Illinois), at age 47, earned 365 electoral votes and nearly 53 of the popular vote in a wider-than-expected margin of victory against Republican Senator John McCain in the US Presidential elections. He became the 44th president of the United States and the first African American to be elected to office. President Obama quickly became known as a progressive politician and was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate nine months after his inauguration. However, he faced his share of challenges during his 8-year tenure. The Republicans held control of the Senate throughout his time in the White House and he faced constant challenges passing legislation. His administration is generally known for pursuing policies such as gun control, greater inclusiveness for LGBT Americans, the promotion of the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change and the Obamacare health care program for Americans. It is also known for a series of historic initiatives in international relations such as a nuclear deal with Iran and normalized relations with Cuba. EPA/JEFFREY ARGUEDAS

Barack Obama - 44th US-Presidency Retrospective

On 04 November 2008, then Democratic Senator Barack Obama rode to victory on a message of hope and change. He won 365 electoral votes and nearly 53 of the popular vote in a wider-than-expected margin of victory over Republican Senator John McCain. He became the 44th president of the United States of America and the first African-American to be elected to this office. Expectations were high. President Obama was hailed as a progressive politician and became the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate just nine months after his inauguration. However, he faced his share of challenges during his 8-year tenure. When he took office, the country was suffering from the worst recession in living memory and he faced fierce opposition from Republicans who held control of the Senate.

 

 

 

A man allegedly involved in drug dealing or consumption lies lifeless on a street after being shot down by an unidentified gunman on Christmas eve in Manila, Philippines, 24 December 2016. Filipino presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on 27 December 2016, while speaking on the administration's accomplishment over the first six months of its crackdown on drug dealers and cartels, said that President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-crime campaign had resulted in the surrender of more than 900,000 drug addicts and the confiscation of billions of worth of illicit drugs. Abella added that the government had come to regard drugs not only as a national security but also a 'public health issue' which resulted in the building of rehabilitation facilities all over the country. President Duterte launched a nationwide campaign against illegal drugs that has so far reportedly led to the deaths of more than 5,900 people, allegedly killed in police raids and at the hands of vigilante groups since the campaign started on 30 June 2016. EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO

Duterte's War on Drugs

Since he took office, Philippines' new president Rodrigo Duterte has launched a nationwide anti-drug campaign that has so far reportedly led to the deaths of more than 6,000 people, who were allegedly killed in police raids or at the hands of vigilante groups. National and international human rights groups have condemned the campaign and called on Duterte to stop the extrajudicial killings and ensure the protection and rights of people who use drugs. An average of 11 people were killed daily based on statistics of the Philippine National Police. In December 2016, Filipino presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that President Duterte’s anti-crime campaign had resulted in the surrender of more than 900,000 drug addicts and the confiscation of billions of worth of illicit drugs.