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China's Toxic Sky

Since the beginning of this year, the levels of air pollution in Beijing have been dangerously high, with thick clouds of smog chasing people indoors, disrupting air travel, and affecting the health of millions. The past two weeks have been especially bad -- at one point the pollution level measured 40 times recommended safety levels. Authorities are taking short-term measures to combat the current crisis, shutting down some factories and limiting government auto usage. However, long-term solutions seem distant, as China's use of coal continues to rise, and the government remains slow to acknowledge and address the problems. gall_id.txt grab.sh grabbed.txt index.html theatlantic.com.sh Starting with photo #2, a four-part set of these images is interactive, allowing you to click the photo and 'clear the air', viewing a difference over time. [31 photos]


The Wolf Man

Wolfspark Werner Freund is a wolf sanctuary spread over 25 acres in western Germany. It is home to 29 wolves -- six distinct packs hailing from Europe, Siberia, Canada, the Arctic, and Mongolia. Researcher Werner Freund, 79, a former German paratrooper, established the sanctuary in 1972 and has raised more than 70 animals there over the last 40 years. He acquired the wolves as cubs from zoos or animal parks and has reared them mostly by hand. Werner has also taken to living closely with his wolves, behaving as an alpha male to earn their acceptance and respect. Reuters photographer Lisi Niesner recently spent some time with Freund and his wolves, capturing the interactions between these old friends. [18 photos]


Egypt's Unfinished Revolution: Two Years Later

Twenty-four months have passed since the start of the uprising that led to the overthrow of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. In that time, much has changed, but many of the most vocal revolutionaries are not yet satisfied. President Mohamed Morsi, who assumed office last summer, has frustrated the opposition within the new government. Morsi has sought to expand his powers by decree and has been accused of heavily favoring the wishes of his own political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is promoting a new Islamist constitution for Egypt. In the midst of all this, many of the same activists who set things in motion in 2011 took to the streets again this past weekend, feeling that their voices had been drowned out once again. At least 50 are now reported to have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and government (and pro-government) groups, and a state of emergency has been declared in three provinces. [34 photos]


The Conflict in Mali

Two weeks ago, the French military launched Operation Serval, intervening in a complicated, months-old conflict in northern Mali. A year earlier, Tuareg rebels had attacked government positions throughout northern Mali, temporarily seizing control of a large area and declaring it a new state named Azawad. The rebels soon lost control though, displaced by several Islamist groups, including elements of Al Qaeda, intent on imposing Sharia law in the region and possibly establishing a base for terrorist activity. Those militant groups began pushing south recently, prompting a planned U.N. action, but France felt compelled to act sooner than anticipated, to prevent further damaging gains. More than 2,000 French troops are now involved in Mali, pursuing and attacking anti-government forces from the air and ground, with support from nine other western countries and several neighboring African nations. [36 photos]


Chicago's Freezing Fire

On Tuesday night, a huge vacant warehouse on Chicago's South Side went up in flames. Fire department officials said it was the biggest blaze the department has had to battle in years and one-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames. Complicating the scene was the weather -- temperatures were well below freezing and the spray from the fire hoses encased everything below in ice, including buildings, vehicles, and some firefighting gear. The warehouse was gutted, but the fire was contained. Fire crews remain on the scene as some smaller flare-ups continue to need attention. [16 photos]


The European Southern Observatory

High in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has built several collections of telescopes and observatories on remote, arid mountaintops. The locations are ideal for ground-based astronomy -- far from city lights, high above sea level, with more than 350 cloudless days a year. The ESO is an intergovernmental research organization with 15 member states, founded in 1962. It has been making observations from the southern hemisphere since 1966, and continues to expand its facilities to this day. The sites are La Silla, which hosts the New Technology Telescope (NTT); Paranal, home to the Very Large Telescope (VLT); and Llano de Chajnantor, which hosts the APEX submillimeter telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Construction on the newest project in Chile's desert -- the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), a 40-meter-class telescope -- is due to start later this year in Cerro Armazones. I've collected below some amazing images of the ESO's observatories, and a few of the astronomical images they've been able to make over the years. [34 photos]


The 2nd Inauguration of Barack Obama in Photos

Preparations have been under way for weeks for the 57th U.S. Presidential Inauguration, taking place today in Washington, D.C. Planners are expecting hundreds of thousands to attend the public swearing in of President Barack Obama for his second term, and more to attend the Inaugural Parade and dozens of related parties, balls, and concerts around the area. I'll be posting photographic coverage of the events to this essay throughout the day, so check back later for more. [51 photos]


President Obama's First 4 Years

On Monday, January 21, U.S. President Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term during an inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. As Obama and his team prepare for another four years, it seems appropriate to look back on his first term. White House photographers have captured thousands of images, including world tours, congressional battles, national tragedies, ceremonies, and many personal moments. Collected here are 50 images of Obama's first four years, from the intimate to the iconic. [50 photos]


Nigeria's Illegal Oil Refineries

Reuters photographer Akintunde Akinleye recently gained rare access to an illegal oil refinery near the river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa. There, he was able to document the secret and dangerous practice of oil bunkering, where locals hack into oil pipelines, steal the crude oil, and refine or sell it abroad. For over 50 years now, crude oil and natural gas have been extracted from the Niger Delta by large corporations, which have had their share of environmental disasters. The ongoing damage from the tapped pipes and these makeshift refineries continue to take a terrible toll on the environment and the local population. [30 photos]


Hurricane Sandy: 80 Days Later

Two and a half months after Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, the U.S. Congress appears to be close to approving a relief package of tens of billions of dollars. Government workers, contractors, and volunteers on the ground are still in the midst of an extensive cleanup phase and welcome the much-needed funds as they rebuild homes, businesses, and infrastructure. While some of the estimated 230,000 cars damaged by Sandy's saltwater surge will soon be going up for auction, many are simply headed for the crusher. Gathered below are images of the ongoing cleanup efforts and those still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. [26 photos]


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