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The Photographer Who Took This Picture Barely Escaped With His Life


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The Photographer Who Took This Picture Barely Escaped With His Life

Pakistani nature photographer Atif Saeed managed to capture this stunning shot of a lion — just before it leapt at him.

Photo: Atif Saeed Fine Art Photography — republished at io9 with permission

This photograph was snapped by Atif Saeed (Facebook, Flickr) at a safari zoo park near Lahore. He got out of his jeep to take the photo, but the sound of the lens’s whizzing caught the lion’s attention. Saeed figures the big cat got as close as 10 feet, before he was able to reach the safety of his jeep.

Once safely inside his vehicle, Saeed started to laugh about what had happened. But after some retrospection he came to realize just how close he came to death — and vowed to never do anything quite as reckless again.

[ h/t Bored Panda ]

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Watching These Airplanes Try to Land in Crazy Winds Is the Scariest Thing


Post 7658

Watching These Airplanes Try to Land in Crazy Winds Is the Scariest Thing

3/23/16 4:56pm

 http://sploid.gizmodo.com/watching-these-airplanes-try-to-land-in-crazy-winds-is-1766710762

Here’s some truly frightening footage of airplanes landing at Birmingham Airport in the UK. “Landing” actually might not be the best term for these though because the airplanes look more like they’re spinning sideways and tilting out of control and praying that their wheels touch the ground instead of bouncing off like a basketball. These giant flying machines look more like toys than actual airplanes holding hundreds of people.

Filmed by flugsnug, the landings at BHX airport are difficult because of the sudden change in wind speed and direction. Basically, don’t fly to Birmingham. Or any place that has wind.

What Would Happen If Humans Disappeared from Earth?


Post 7656

What Would Happen If Humans Disappeared from Earth?

Yesterday 10:16pm

 http://sploid.gizmodo.com/what-would-happen-if-humans-disappeared-from-earth-1779763996

It’s an age old question that we love to entertain because we’re all obsessed with our own mortality and the future of the world: what would happen to the world if humans disappeared? With enough time, the Earth would be able to reset itself and erase any trace of our existence. Mind Warehouse goes deep into answering it by detailing the progression of what would happen when.

Here are some highlights:

  • A few hours after humans disappear, most of the lights around the world will shut off because most of the power stations won’t be able to run (hydroelectric stations would still work).
  • Ten days later, pets and farm animals would die off while packs of big dogs would form to hunt down other animals.
  • A month later, the cooling water in nuclear power stations would have evaporated which would cause Chernobyl-level disasters across the world.
  • One year later, our satellites will fall.
  • Twenty five years later, vegetation will cover the world with some cities being buried in sand.
  • Three hundred years later, metal buildings, bridges, and towers will start to break apart because of corrosion.
  • 10,000 years later, the only evidence of our existence will be the things we’ve made with stone: Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Mount Rushmore, etc.

Bliss Dharma Assembly


Post 7204

Bliss Dharma Assembly

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/bigpicture/2015/11/06/bliss-dharma-assembly/RqxE9MN6hmMDJZehBe9IMN/s

Thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns recently gathered for the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly in remote China to mark Buddha’s descent from the heavens. The gathering was held at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute, widely regarded as the world’s largest and most influential center for Tibetan Buddhist studies.–By Lloyd Young
Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns walk home from the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Nov. 1 in Sertar county, in the remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China. The last of four annual assemblies, the week long annual gathering takes place in the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar and marks Buddha’s descent from the heavens. Located high in the mountains of Sichuan, the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute was founded in 1980 by an influential lama of the Nyingma sect and is widely regarded as the world’s largest and most influential centres for Tibetan Buddhist studies. The school is home to thousands of monks and nuns and is popular for followers from all over the Tibetan areas and other parts of China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist monk prays with lay people on a hillside during a morning chanting session as part of the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 30. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist nomad boy is seen at the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 30 in Sertar county. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Monks and nuns walk across a steep hill back to their dormitory after attending a daily chanting session during the Utmost Bliss Dharma Assembly, the last of the four Dharma assemblies at Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute in remote Sertar county, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China early Nov. 1. The eight-day gathering of people chanting mantras and listening to teachings of monks starts every year around the 22nd of the ninth month on Tibetan calendar, the great day of Buddha’s descending from Tushita Heavens. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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A Tibetan Buddhist woman prostrates at a monastery above the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Nov. 1 in Sertar county, in the remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist nuns carry tea as others sit during a morning chanting session at the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist monks spins a prayer wheel at Buddhist laymen lodge where thousands of people gather for daily chanting session during the Utmost Bliss Dharma Assembly, the last of the four Dharma assemblies on Oct. 31. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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A Tibetan Buddhist walks through smoke froom juniper bruned as a blessing on his way to a morning chanting on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns walk back to their dormitories after attending a daily chanting session during the Utmost Bliss Dharma Assembly on Nov. 1. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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Tibetan Buddhist nuns prepare butter lamps during the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist nomads cook and stay warm by candlelight at dusk following a chanting session on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist nomad reads a religious book by candlelight in his tent following a chanting session as part of the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist nomads are blessed with juniper smoke as they pray at the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Nov. 1. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist monk spins a prayer wheel on a hillside following a chanting session on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist nomad woman prepares tea at dusk following a chanting session as part of the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist nomads listen during a prayer session on Nov. 1. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist monk takes pictures with his smartphone of a daily chanting session at a Buddhist laymen lodge on Oct. 30. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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Tibetan Buddhist nomads rush passed a large prayer wheel outside the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 30. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns make tea from yak butter and milk before a morning chanting session at the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Tibetan Buddhist nomads drink tea at dusk following a chanting session as part of the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 31. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist monk looks from inside a Buddhist laymen lodge where thousands of people gather for daily chanting session during the Utmost Bliss Dharma Assembly, the last of the four Dharma assemblies at Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute in remote Sertar county, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China as the sun comes out on Oct. 30. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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Tibetan Buddhist monks pray during a chanting session as part of the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 30. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist nomad spins a prayer wheel, or mani khor-lo, as he sits on a hillside during the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 30. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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A Tibetan Buddhist nomad carries his daughter in the crowd on a hillside during the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly at the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute on Oct. 31 in Sertar county, in the remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China. The last of four annual assemblies, the week long annual gathering takes place in the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar and marks Buddha’s descent from the heavens. Located high in the mountains of Sichuan, the Larung Wuming Buddhist Institute was founded in 1980 by an influential lama of the Nyingma sect and is widely regarded as the world’s largest and most influential centres for Tibetan Buddhist studies. The school is home to thousands of monks and nuns and is popular for followers from all over the Tibetan areas and other parts of China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A Cold Place, With No Curves: Life Inside Belgian Prisons


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A Cold Place, With No Curves: Life Inside Belgian Prisons

Sebastien Van Malleghem
View of a wing inside the prison of Ghent, Belgium, December 2013.

“My goal was to show the reality of these places, without the photographic clichés,” says Belgium photographerSebastien Van Malleghem, who, for the past three years, has gained access to and photographed everyday life inside his own country’s prisons.

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
Writings made with a lighter on the ceiling of a cell at the Forest prison, Brussels, Belgium on October 2011.

“These [penal] universes have been photographed many times before, but I was more interested in the psychological oppression created by these places,” Van Malleghem tells TIME. “Being locked up is a form of punishment, but once you’re inside you realize it’s just the beginning. There are many other forms of punishment—psychological and emotional ones. Once you’re in this box, they put you into another smaller box where your movements, your spirit and your ideas are confined.”

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
Toilet for working prisoners inside the prison of Forest, Brussels, Belgium on October 2011.

The 28-year-old photographer’s curiosity towards his country’s penal system came after four years spent following police officers for his Police project. “I wanted to start a story on justice and violence in Belgium, and I felt that the first step would be to follow the police.”

Van Malleghem readily admits that, as a younger man, he was attracted to this world of violence. It’s only after he finished that earlier project that he shifted his focus to another form of violence—namely, “a social violence; the one embodied in the relationship between a state, which is represented by these policemen and prison guards, and citizens. I wanted to see how a government sentences its own people.”

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
An agent in the food storage facility in Forest, Brussels, Belgium. October 2011.

Gaining full access to these prisons, however, proved difficult. “It took me six to eight months to get permission from the Belgian government,” says Van Malleghem. “Once I received that general authorization, I still had to approach and convince prison directors to open their doors to me.”

Most prisons couldn’t afford to dedicate resources for Van Malleghem’s project beyond just a few hours. “I had to be followed by a guard,” he notes. But, in some cases, the photographer was able to spend up to three months in the same place. “For some directors, my work represented a way to raise awareness about the state of their prisons,” he adds. “With the economic and social crises, the Belgium government doesn’t really have the budget to help renovate these prisons, some of which were built in the 1800s.”

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
Female prisoners are exercising inside the courtyard of the prison of Ghent. They said that it was the only thing they could do to keep their mind occupied. Ghent, December 2013.

Once inside, Van Malleghem faced yet another hurdle: convincing inmates to let him photograph them. “In the beginning, it’s always a little bit tense,” he explains. “When you get in, people check you out. They try to define you. Are you working for the prison? Are you a psychological resource? What can you bring them? Are you a potential danger?”

All of these questions are asked with a stare. “They don’t say a word. It’s your role to come forward and explain the project, and when they realize that this work will really talk about them and the conditions they’re in, most of them welcome you. It’s like anywhere else: you have to break the ice once or twice, but when they realize that you keep on coming back, the ice has melted.”

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
A female prisoner sunbathing at the women’s prison in Berkendaele, Brussels. This courtyard is located next to a prison for men, whose cells offer a direct view on the women’s courtyard. Some of the women enjoy mocking the men or exposing themselves to them. Brussels, Belgium. July 2011.

At one point, Van Malleghem arranged to spend three days locked up in his own cell, in an attempt to understand how it really felt to be behind bars. “Everything is sanitized, everything is cold. You’re surrounded by grey concrete. It’s all straight lines and straight angles,” he tells TIME. “In fact, you never see something round. You never see curves. Everything is square. Everything is awful.”

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
Guards Inside the main security hall. Ghent, December 2013.

For Van Malleghem, this environment is counter-productive to the process of rehabilitation. “I don’t think it helps reform these prisoners. On the contrary, I can understand, if you’re a young detainee, how this experience would foster a form of aggression toward an entire system.”

Sebastien Van Malleghem
 
Visits are private and important moments of joy for inmates. Prison of Leuven, Belgium. May 2014

Read more: These Photos Show the Reality of Living Behind Bars – LightBox http://lightbox.time.com/2014/10/13/inside-prisons-belgium/#ixzz3HpLVJ2cc


Sebastien Van Malleghem is a freelance photographer based in Belgium. His first photobook, Police, is available on his website.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent


Photos of the day – June 21, 2014


Post 5539      http://news.yahoo.com/photos/photos-of-the-day-june-21-2014-1403374415-slideshow/

Photos of the day – June 21, 2014

 Photos of the day - June 21, 2014

A Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, smokes marijuana at the Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India, Saturday, June 21, 2014. The annual Ambubasi festival begins Sunday where hundreds of tantric Sadhus, holy men from an esoteric form of Hinduism, gather to perform rituals at the temple. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)                                                                                                                                                                            Photos of the day - June 21, 2014        The sun rises as thousands of revelers gathered at the ancient stone circle Stonehenge, near Salisbury, England, to celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Photos of the day - June 21, 2014         A relative of Palestinian member of Hamas’ armed wing Ibraheem al-Arqan holds a weapon as others mourn during his funeral in Gaza City June 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)    Photos of the day - June 21, 2014        Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take part during a parade in Basra, southeast of Baghdad, June 21, 2014. Iraq’s senior Shi’ite religious cleric Moqtada al-Sadr issued a call for unity, saying Shi’ites and Sunnis should rally behind the authorities to prevent the Sunni militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from destroying the country. (REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani)                                                                                                                                                          Photos of the day - June 21, 2014       Village volunteers train during a self-defense practice session organized by Police and the Thai army in Yala province, southern Thailand June 21, 2014. Reports of gunfights, drive-by shootings, beheadings and bombings are near-daily events. Martial law, declared last month in the rest of Thailand, has been in place in Pattani and neighbouring Narathiwat and Yala provinces for almost a decade. (REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom)                                                                     Photos of the day - June 21, 2014    Armed pro-Russian separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic pledge an oath during a ceremony in the city of Donetsk June 21, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday ordered a seven-day ceasefire in the fight against pro-Russian separatists, but also warned them they could face death if they did not use the time to put down their guns. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov)                                                                                                                                 Photos of the day - June 21, 2014      Relatives and families of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi react outside a court in Minya, south of Cairo, after the sentences of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and his supporters were announced, June 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)            Photos of the day - June 21, 2014Relatives grieve at the flag-draped casket of one of the soldiers killed in clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants after being flown from southern Philippines Saturday, June 21, 2014 at Villamor Air Base at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. Seven soldiers were killed when Philippine security forces battled Abu Sayyaf militants in the volatile Jolo island in southern Philippines on Thursday, June 19, in fierce clashes that also killed ten rebels in the latest confrontation in the insurgency-wracked region, military officials said. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)Photos of the day - June 21, 2014     Relatives and loved ones cry in front of a coffin of a slain soldier upon arrival at the Villamor air base in Pasay city, metro Manila June 21, 2014. The military said seven soldiers and 10 Muslim rebels were killed on Thursday in the latest fighting in the south as the government stepped up offensive against al-Qaeda linked militants holding less than 10 foreign hostages. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)                                                                                                                                              Photos of the day - June 21, 2014    People celebrate the summer solstice at the Kokino megalithic observatory, near the city of Kumanovo June 21, 2014. The 3,800-year-old observatory was discovered in 2001 in the northwestern town of Kumanovo, north from Skopje, and is ranked as the fourth oldest observatory in the world, according to NASA. (REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovsk)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Photos of the day - June 21, 2014      Israeli soldiers take part in searches for three Israeli teenagers believed to have been abducted by Palestinians near the West Bank city of Hebron June 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)                         Photos of the day - June 21, 2014         Israeli soldiers take a break as they search for three missing Israeli teens, feared abducted in the West Bank last week, in the village of Beit Kahil near the West Bank city of Hebron, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used the search to promote two other objectives â a new crackdown on Hamas and an attempt to discredit the Palestinian unity government formed earlier this month by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, which is supported by Hamas. The Islamic militant Hamas group has praised the abduction of the teenagers but has not claimed responsibility for it. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)          Photos of the day - June 21, 2014          A pro-Russian fighter holds a flower after taking an oath in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Saturday, June 21, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered his forces to cease fire Friday and halt military operations for a week, the first step in a peace plan he hopes will end the fighting that has killed hundreds. The Kremlin dismissed the plan, saying it sounded like an ultimatum and lacked any firm offer to open talks with insurgents. Separatist leaders have also rejected the ceasefire and said they will not disarm. In Donetsk, a group of armed men gathered in the central square to take a military oath to the self-proclaimed Donetsk Peopleâs Republic. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)                                                                                                                          Photos of the day - June 21, 2014    Volunteers in the newly formed “Peace Brigades” raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 21, 2014. The armed group was formed after radical Shiite cleric Muqtatda al-Sadr called to form brigades to protect Shiite holy shrines against possible attacks by Sunni militants. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Photos of the day - June 21, 2014    Relatives of a Muslim Brotherhood member who was sentenced to death react to the verdict outside a courtroom in Minya, Egypt, Saturday, June 21, 2014. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, Mohammed Badie and over 180 others were sentenced to death Saturday by an Egyptian court in the latest mass trial following last year’s overthrow of the country’s Islamist president. The ruling by the southern Minya Criminal Court is the largest confirmed mass death sentence to be handed down in Egypt in recent memory. The court acquitted more than 400 others in the case and family members of the accused wailed or cheered the verdicts. (AP Photo/Ravy Shaker, El Shorouk newspaper)                                                                                           Photos of the day - June 21, 2014Volunteers of the newly formed “Peace Brigades” participate in a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Thousands of Shiite militiamen have paraded in Baghdad and several other cities in southern Iraq with heavy weaponry, signaling their readiness to take on Sunni militants who control a large chunk of the countryâs north. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)                                                                                                                                                 Photos of the day - June 21, 2014Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian man during a search for three missing Israeli teens, feared abducted in the West Bank last week, in the village of Beit Kahil near the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, June 21, 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used the search to promote two other objectives â a new crackdown on Hamas and an attempt to discredit the Palestinian unity government formed earlier this month by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, which is supported by Hamas. The Islamic militant Hamas group has praised the abduction of the teenagers but has not claimed responsibility for it. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)                                                                                                                             Photos of the day - June 21, 2014Volunteers of the newly formed “Peace Brigades” participate in a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Thousands of Shiite militiamen have paraded in Baghdad and several other cities in southern Iraq with heavy weaponry, signaling their readiness to take on Sunni militants who control a large chunk of the country’s north. The Arabic on the banner reads, “No for America, No for Israel, No for Terrorism, No for ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).” (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)                                                                                                                                              Photos of the day - June 21, 2014Volunteers of the newly formed “Peace Brigades” participate in a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 21, 2014. The armed group was formed after radical Shiite cleric Muqtatda al-Sadr called to form brigades to protect Shiite holy shrines against possible attacks by Sunni militants. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Photos of the day - June 21, 2014Pro-Russian fighters pose for a photo after taking the oath of allegiance to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, on Lenin square in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Dozens of pro-Russian armed militiamen gathered on Lenin square in Donetsk on Saturday to take the oath of allegiance to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered his forces to cease fire Friday and halt military operations for a week. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Heartbreaking Photos of Children Who Are Risking Everything to Reach the United States


Post 5510

Heartbreaking Photos of Children Who Are Risking Everything to Reach the United States

Michelle Frankfurter tells the stories of these young migrants and also those of the thousands who jump aboard “the death train”

smithsonian.com
June 11, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

michelle frank a seasoned professional with exceptional operational …

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/multimedia/heartbreaking-photos-children-who-are-risking-everything-reach-united-states-180951715/#7o6XFgHMdHyH3hrC.99
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Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A Honduran boy, at a shelter in Tapachula, a border town in Chiapas. Children are often running away from abusive home situations when they come to Mexico, but once there they are often trafficked or enslaved. He worked as a sex worker. At the shelter, kids can attend school and have a safe place to sleep at night (Michelle Frankfurter)                                                                                                                                  

Why would a 53-year-old award-winning photojournalist with a successful wedding photography business leave the comfort of home and take risks that would endanger her life and well-being? A humanitarian crisis that has led to 47,000 unaccompanied children to be apprehended by U.S. border security in just the past eight months. Michelle Frankfurter has turned her concern and her camera to document the dangerous journey many young, aspiring immigrants from throughout Mexico and Central America take to better their lives and escape the extreme poverty of their home countries.

 

                                                                                                  A sleeping kid in the canal zone that straddles the border of Tijuana and San Diego. This area is called El Bordo (the Edge), the name aptly represents where the people are in their lives. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

For eight years, Frankfurter has accompanied youths on freight trains, commonly referred to as the “death train” or la bestia because so many travelers do not survive the trip. Originating in the southern Mexico town of Arriaga, the migrants, many of whom have illegally entered Mexico from countries further south such as Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, take various freight routes that lead to the border towns of Cuidad Juarez, Tijuana, Laredo, Piedras Negras and Nogales. Those who board in Arriaga, can simply clamor aboard up ladders while the train is in the station and sit on top of the train. This is where Frankfurter would begin her trips. Further along the way the train must be boarded while in motion. Many people slip, lose their grasp and fall under the train. Others fall asleep while underway and fall off the train. Sometimes criminal organizations like the Zetas try to extort money from the migrants at various points along the trip and push them off the train if they don’t pay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A Salvadoran migrant feeds her infant son at the Casa de la Misericordia migrant shelter in the Arriaga in July, 2010. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

Frankfurter, who once described this project as part of her “amazing midlife crisis”, has created a collection of startlingly beautiful and empathetic images of families and children, some as young as 9 years old, traveling alone. She sees her subjects as brave, resilient and inspiring and is producing a book of these images called Destino, which can be translated as either “destination” or “destiny.”

 

Inspired by the epic tales of Cormac McCarthy and other authors, Frankfurter has been photographing in Mexico for years. In 2009, her interest was piqued by Sonia Nasario’s Enrique’s Journey, the story of the Central American wave of immigrants from the view of one child.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This 17-year-old Honduran boy, photographed in Tenosique, is an example of the phenomenon known as the surge; he was traveling alone, had no money and knew no one in the United States. He said his cousin showed up drunk and hacked off his arm because his sister had killed the cousin’s dog. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

“The economy was still limping along and I didn’t have much work booked,” says Frankfurter. “I found myself having the time, a vegetable bin filled with film, some frequent flyer mileage, and my camera ready. Beginning this project, I felt like I was falling in love. It was the right time, right place and right reason. I felt I was meant to tell this story.”

 

I spoke with Frankfurter in-depth about her experiences on the train.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Guatemalans sleeping near the track in Lecheria, an industrial zone, in Mexico City in July, 2010. A migrant shelter used to stand here, but it was was closed when neighbors threatened violence. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

On the books she had been reading:

 

“I was infatuated with these scrappy underdog protagonists. I grew up reading epic adventure tales and the migrants I met fit this role; they were anti-heroes, rough around the edges but brave and heroic.”

 

On why she took on the task:

 

“It was a job for perhaps someone half my age. But I also felt that everything I had done prior to this prepared me for this project. I feel a connection to the Latin American people. I had spent time as a reporter in Nicaragua working for Reuters when I was in my 20s. In a way I became another character in the adventure story, and I added some moments of levity to the journey just by the improbability of being with them. Somehow I made them laugh; I alleviated some difficult situations, we shared a culturally fluid moment. I was very familiar with the culture, the music, the food the language, and so in a way, I fit right in, and in a way I stood out as quite different.”                                                                                                                        This is a group of Central American migrants on the first leg of the journey, starting in Arriaga, Mexico, about 160 miles from the Guatemalan border in July, 2010. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

On the challenges these migrants face:

 

“The worse thing I experienced myself was riding in the rain for 13 hours. Everyone was afraid that the train would derail, the tracks are old and not in good condition and derailment is common. Last year, there was a derailment in Tabasco that killed eight or nine people”

 

“I felt I had a responsibility to collect their stories, be a witness to their lives and experiences. Overwhelmingly I got the sense that, even in their own countries they were insignificant, overlooked, not valued. When in Mexico, it’s even worse for the Central American immigrants, they are hounded and despised. They are sometimes kidnapped, raped, tortured or extorted. Local people demonstrate to close the shelters for the migrants and the hours they can stay in the shelters are often limited to 24 hours, rain or shine. When and if they to make it to the United States, it’s no bed of roses for them here either.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Francisco is a Salvadoran traveling with his sister. He told everyone that the woman was his wife because he felt that afforded more protection for her. (Michelle Frankfurter)

On re-connecting with some of her subjects:

 

“I recently connected on Facebook with a family and found out that they settled in Renosa (Mexico), they gave up on getting to the U.S., at least for now.”

 

“I met one person in a shelter in a central Mexico; later he had lost everything along the way except for my business card. He showed up on my front lawn in Maryland one day. He had no family in the U.S., it was when the recession was at it’s deepest and there was no work. I helped him and he helped me. I taped his stories for the record, and I found him a place to stay.He shared some of the horrors of his experience. Once he and a group of migrants in a boxcar almost asphyxiated when a fire they made for warmth got out of control and consumed the oxygen in the car. Other times the migrants could barely walk they were so stiff from a long and dangerous exposure to cold.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Migrants ride between boxcars on a northbound cargo train through the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca in February, 2011. Traveling in small groups is considered safer and attracts less attention from police or criminal gangs. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

On how she stayed safe during her journeys:

 

“I stayed in shelters along the train line and when I had a good group, I asked to go along. In the shelters people live dormitory style, it’s a bit like college, sharing stories and thoughts about life, the future.  We are social animals, people like to listen and share life stories.  We’d sit on Blanca’s bed and share “la cosas de la vida.” When I traveled with a group, we were a bonded group. People form coalitions based on mutual needs. And friendships are formed quickly because the circumstances are so intense. My decision to travel alone, not to take a fixer or travel with anyone but the migrants was a good one. People opened up to me more, related to me more, we were doing this thing together. They realized I was interested in their lives, I cared and I identified with them. They were happy to have me along, I was welcome.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   A Guatemalan woman holds her 6-month-old baby; she also has 2 other boys and is fleeing an abusive marriage. Her sister lives in California and she hopes for her sister’s help in getting across the border. Taken in Arriaga, January, 2014. (Michelle Frankfurter)

 

On how to solve the crisis:

 

“The United States can’t fix all these things, the responsibility for fixing lies with the countries [such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador] themselves, but we can help. And we should because indirectly we do bear responsibility. Our society uses and is interested in cheap labor, and cheap products, this is our relationship with these countries for years, so in a way we are conflicted about changing that system. Global corporations take advantage of the fact that there is little or no regulation, lots of cheap labor and no protections for workers on top of that. Then if circumstances change, on a whim companies will move and destabilize an entire area. Then people have no option but to migrate, with factories closed there are no other options. Add to the mix, criminal organizations selling drugs, guns, trafficking humans and wildlife, and you can understand why people need to leave.”

                                                                                               A view of the Tijuana – San Diego border fence as seen from the Mexican side of the border in August, 2010. (Michelle Frankfurter)


This mural is painted on the wall of the La 72 Refugio Para Personas Migrantes migrant shelter in the border town of Tenosique in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. It illustrates the cargo train route crisscrossing Mexico. The map includes a legend indicating locations of migrant shelter, sites of extortion, regions where kidnappings and assaults occur, U.S. border fence, and a demographic breakdown of the various cartels and the regions they control. (Michelle Frankfurter)