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North Korea Puts Its War Machine on Display

Despite massive international pressure, North Korea has been moving ahead with its long-range missile and nuclear ambitions, launching a rocket in December and conducting a nuclear test in February. International sanctions tightened in response, and even China, a longtime ally, stepped up inspections of North Korea-bound freight. Responding to the crackdown, North Korea's government has been issuing new threats of war nearly every day over the past month, cutting ties to South Korea and ordering military units to prepare for attack at any moment. Over the past month, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea's official media division, has been issuing a stream of images of military exercises, soldiers in training, and, of course, supreme leader Kim Jong Un inspecting and inspiring the troops. (At least one of these images appears to be digitally manipulated). Gathered here are recent KCNA photographs of North Korea's war machine, as the country wishes the world to see it. The photos were distributed by Reuters, AFP, and AP as a service, and cannot be independently verified or authenticated. [33 photos]


Earth Hour 2013

Last Saturday, March 23, iconic landmarks and skylines were plunged into darkness as people and businesses around the world participated in Earth Hour 2013, turning off their lights at 8:30 p.m. local time. Earth Hour was organized by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007 as a way to bring attention to energy consumption, sustainability, and climate change issues. More than 150 countries took part in last year's event, and the movement has spread even further, with Palestine, Tunisia, Suriname, and Rwanda among a host of newcomers pledging to take part this year. The images below (starting with photo number two) are interactive - click on each image to "turn off the lights." [25 photos]


China's Toxic Water

On World Water Day, I'd like to share with you a strong collection of images from southern China, showing local activists fighting against industrial pollution in their waterways, and cancer sufferers in so-called "cancer villages", linked to pollution from hazardous chemicals. Earlier this year, China's environment ministry released a report officially acknowledging the existence of these villages for the first time and signaling its willingness to address toxic water pollution. Greenpeace reached out to World Press Photo award-winner Lu Guang and other photographers to bear witness and has allowed to share their images, in an effort to bring this environmental and human tragedy to the world's attention. Photos and captions were provided by the photographers and Greenpeace. [17 photos]


Iraq War's 10th Anniversary: After the War

In the eight years between invasion and withdrawal, more than 110,000 people suffered violent deaths as direct result of the Iraq conflict. Some estimates put that number at over a million. Hundreds of thousands of civilians and former combatants also suffered injury during the war, both physical and psychological. When the coalition finally withdrew in 2011, no significant weapons of mass destruction had been located, but Saddam Hussein's regime had been replaced by elected representatives. A mostly Sunni-led insurgency flared up, challenging the new government and security forces. Trillions of dollars were spent and millions of lives were affected, but the Iraqis are still struggling to find their post-war footing as near-constant violence hampers any efforts to move beyond poverty and pain. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the period from 2011 to present-day. [42 photos]


Iraq War's 10th Anniversary: Occupation and Insurgency

A few weeks after the invasion of Iraq, coalition forces began a long occupation, marked by almost immediate chaos. Groups held down by Saddam's regime rose up, and groups who opposed them struck back. Militias based in Iraq began a long insurgency against the occupation, and terrorist organizations joined the fight, escalating levels of brutality with each attack. Dozens of battles were fought across the country, with mounting tolls on the insurgents, the allied troops, and the civilian population caught in the middle. From 2003 to 2010, progress toward a new government and reconstruction was made in fits and starts, punctuated by frequent bombings, assassinations, and uprisings. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the period during which the majority of the war took place, after the 2003 invasion and just prior to the 2011 withdrawal. [50 photos]


Iraq War's 10th Anniversary: The Invasion

A decade ago, the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq on the premise that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Despite worldwide protest and a lack of UN authorization, 200,000 thousand troops deployed into Iraq in March of 2003, following massive airstrikes. The coalition faced minimal opposition, and Baghdad quickly fell. For years after President George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" speech, the war raged on, fueled by sectarian conflicts, al Qaeda insurgencies, outside agencies, and mismanagement of the occupation. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq, and the weeks immediately following. [50 photos]


Animals in the News

Today, we have the first of this year's posts about the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet. Today's photos include a locust swarm, a greyhound rescue, freeze-dried pets, a marten attacking an FC Zurich defender during a soccer match, and small aquatic animals in sealed plastic bags sold as good luck charms in China. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [47 photos]


North Dakota's Oil Boom

Underlying northwestern North Dakota is a massive rock formation, referred to as the Bakken shale, which holds an estimated 18 billion barrels of crude oil. When this resource was first discovered in 1951, recovering it was financially unfeasible because the oil was embedded in the stone. Then, around 2008, everything changed, and North Dakota boomed. New drilling technology called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," became widespread, and oil production took off. As of 2013, there are more than 200 active oil rigs in North Dakota, producing about 20 million barrels of oil every month -- nearly 60 percent of it shipped by rail, rather than pipeline. The rigs and support systems have resculpted the landscape, millions of dollars are being spent on infrastructure upgrades across the area, and thousands of oil field workers have arrived, living in new or temporary housing. Gathered below is a collection of images of this recent boom, spread across North Dakota's wide open plains. [30 photos]


The Mars Desert Research Station

In the vast open spaces of southern Utah, Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart recently paid a visit to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Built and operated by a space advocacy group called the Mars Society, the research facility is investigating the feasibility of human exploration of Mars, using the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet. Since 2000, more than 100 small crews have served two-week rotations in the MDRS, conducting research in an on-site greenhouse, observatory, engineering area, and living space. Urquhart was able to accompany members of the Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission inside the MDRS facility, and on a simulated trip to collect Martian geological samples. [24 photos]


A Trip to Iran

Amos Chapple is a travel photographer who made the following pictures over the course of three visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran between December 2011 and January 2013. The New Zealand freelancer said he "was amazed by the difference in western perceptions of the country, and what I saw on the ground... I think because access for journalists is so difficult, people have a skewed image of what Iran is - the regime actually want to portray the country as a cauldron of anti-western sentiment so they syndicate news footage of chanting nutcases which is happily picked up by overseas networks. For ordinary Iranians though, the government is a constant embarrassment. In the time I spent there I never received anything but goodwill and decency, which stands in clear contrast to my experience in other middle eastern countries. I met an American special forces soldier in Kyrgyzstan last year who said when it comes to the Middle East, America has the wrong friends and the wrong enemies." Below is a selection of Chapple's recent photographs of Iran, captions provided by the photographer. [20 photos]


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