Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Migrant Mother (USA)

The image of a worn, weather-beaten woman, a look of desperation on her face, two children leaning on her shoulders, an infant in her lap; has become a photographic icon of the Great Depression in America. The photo was taken in March 1936 at a camp for seasonal agricultural workers 175 miles north of Los Angeles by Dorothea Lange. Lange was working for the Farm Security Administration as part of a team of photographers documenting the impact of federal programs in improving rural conditions.

In 1936, while driving down US Highway 101, the car's timing chain snapped and they coasted to a stop just inside a camp. Florence set up a camp there, and Jim Hill, a man who was living with Florence, went to get help for their car with two of her sons. As Florence waited for Hill and her boys to come back, Dorothea Lange drove up and started taking photos of Florence and her family. Over 10 minutes she took 6 images.

Lange wrote of the meeting: "I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Madeline McCann (Portugal)

This is one of the few global campaigns launched to find a missing child. Her image has come to represent the many abducted children, who has yet to be found.
If the face of Helen of Troy launch a thousand ships, then Madeline McCann's image has launched a thousand campaigns to find abducted children.

Madeleine McCann disappeared on the evening of Thursday, 3 May 2007, in the resort of Praia de Luz in thegarve, Portugal, just days short of her fourth birthday. The British girl was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and siblings when she disappeared from an apartment in the central area of the resort. Madeleine's parents have said that they left her unsupervised in a ground floor bedroom with her two-year-old twin siblings while they ate at a restaurant about 120 metres away.

Her disappearance captured the attention for much of 2007, leading to pleas from well known figures, large aid donations and many accusations and sightings.

The initial investigation by the Policia Judiciaria (Portuguese criminal investigation police) concluded that she had been abducted. After further investigation, they subsequently stated that there was a strong hypothesis that she might have died in her room. During the investigation there were a number of unconfirmed claimed sightings of Madeleine in Portugal and elsewhere and additional scientific evidence was obtained.

Kate was interviewed on 7 September and was formally declared a suspect by the Portuguese police. After questioning, Kate was released from the police station just before 16:00 without being charged. Gerry was interviewed at the same police station during the afternoon and evening of 7 September and afterwards Pinto de Abreu announced that Gerry had also been named as a formal suspect. Before she became a suspect Kate said "The police don't want a murder in Portugal and all the publicity about them not having paedophile laws here, so they're blaming us," and Gerry said "We are being absolutely stitched up." Pinto de Abreu said that claims by relatives that police had offered Kate a plea bargain if she admitted to accidentally killing her child were wrong and the result of "a misunderstanding".

In early February 2008, Alípio Ribeiro, the national director of the PJ, said that there "perhaps should have been another assessment" before the McCanns were declared suspects.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Burning Monk - The Self-Immolation (Vietnam)

11 June 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Buddhist monks asked the regime to lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag, to grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism, to stop detaining Buddhists and to give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion.

While burning Thich Quang Duc never moved a muscle.

Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm regime.
After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact. This was interpreted as a symbol of compassion and led Buddhists to revere him as a bodhisattva, heightening the impact of his death on the public psyche.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ellis Park Soccer Disaster (South Africa)

Photo: Reuters

The Ellis Park Stadium disaster was the worst sporting accident in South African history. On 11 April 2001, spectators poured into the Ellis Park Stadium the city of Johannesburg for the local derby soccer match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. There was already a 68,000 capacity crowd in the stadium, but reports suggest a further 30,000 fans were still trying to gain entry to the stadium.
Reports also suggest that 120,000 fans were admitted into the stadium. An Orlando Pirates equaliser sparked a further surge by the fans trying to gain entry as they scrambled to see what had happened.

Television capture

As the crowd surged to gain seats and see the pitch, they overspilled into press boxes. As the stampede pressed forward, 43 people were crushed to death. Apparently untrained security guards firing tear gas at the stampeding fans exacerbated the situation further, and may have been the cause of the deaths. The South African Police Department denies these claims.

Photo: Kim Ludbrook

When it became apparent what had happened the match was halted and the crowd was dispersed. The bodies were laid out on the pitch for identification and medical attention, but none was revived.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Kosovo Refugee Crisis (Kosovo)

This photo is part of The Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning entry, taken by Carol Guzy in 1999, showing how a Kosovar refugee Agim Shala, 2, is passed through a barbed wire fence into the hands of her grandparents at a camp run by United Arab Emirates in Kukes, Albania.
The members of the Shala family were reunited here after fleeing the conflict in Kosovo.
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