FAQ Follow On:Twitter Google+ Facebook Tumblr subscribe by RSS or Email

Afghanistan: The Long Withdrawal

|

Five years ago, the war in Afghanistan began to escalate drastically. Troop surges soon pushed the number of NATO troops up to more than 140,000, and the levels of violence grew to match the surge. At the time, I felt the conflict was being under-reported relative to other international stories, especially considering the level of commitment involved, so I began a monthly series dedicated to covering the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Now, more than 60 monthly photo essays later, I'm ending the series as a regular feature. I will continue to post photos from Afghanistan through the withdrawal, as well as after the handover—but as an occasional entry, not monthly. In this time, I've been fortunate enough to feature more than 2,000 amazing images of Afghanistan taken by incredibly brave and skillful photographers—telling many aspects of a very difficult story. As of today, there are reportedly fewer than 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with a withdrawal deadline looming at the end of the year. How many soldiers will stay after the deadline remains in question, as the outcome of the recent Afghan presidential election remains in dispute, and the signing of any long-term agreements is on hold. For the past year, many coalition forces have been involved with what they term retrograde operations, defined by the U.S. Army as "defensive tasks that involve organized movement away from the enemy." Gathered here are images of recent retrograde operations in Afghanistan, from demolition and remediation to demilitarization and evacuation. Today's entry is the last of the monthly series here on Afghanistan. [38 photos]

Choose:
Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles wait in a staging area for onward movement at an undisclosed base in Southwest Asia. The joint team of Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Central Command's Deployment Distribution Operations Center is playing a major role in moving the more than 50,000 coalition military vehicles in Afghanistan that will need to be recovered or pre-positioned in contingency stocks abroad. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson)
Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles wait in a staging area for onward movement at an undisclosed base in Southwest Asia. The joint team of Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Central Command's Deployment Distribution Operations Center is playing a major role in moving the more than 50,000 coalition military vehicles in Afghanistan that will need to be recovered or pre-positioned in contingency stocks abroad. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson)
View Gallery

Burning Man 2014

|

Every year, participants in the Burning Man Festival descend on the playa of Nevada's Black Rock Desert to form a temporary city -- a self-reliant community populated by performers, artists, free spirits, and more. Last week, an estimated 65,000 people came to Burning Man 2014 from all over the world to dance, express themselves, and take in the spectacle. Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart spent the week in the desert, capturing some of the scenes from this year's festival, which lasted a week and comes to its conclusion today. [24 photos]

Dillon Bracken attends the Burning Man 2014 "Caravansary" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada on August 30, 2014. Over 65,000 people from all over the world gathered at the sold-out festival to spend a week in the remote desert cut off from much of the outside world to experience art, music and the unique community that develops. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
Dillon Bracken attends the Burning Man 2014 "Caravansary" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada on August 30, 2014. Over 65,000 people from all over the world gathered at the sold-out festival to spend a week in the remote desert cut off from much of the outside world to experience art, music and the unique community that develops. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
View Gallery

Photos of the Week: 8/24-8/29

|

This week we have a look at swarms of locusts in Madagascar, 31 riders on a single motorcycle, magma from Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano, Japan's tidy superhero Mangetsu-man, huge waves in California, and a gigantic French mechanical horse-dragon. [35 photos]

A Chinese woman and her daughter wear face-kinis while swimming in the Yellow Sea in Qingdao, China, on August 22, 2014. The locally designed mask is worn by many local women to protect them from jellyfish stings, algae and the sun's ultraviolet rays. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A Chinese woman and her daughter wear face-kinis while swimming in the Yellow Sea in Qingdao, China, on August 22, 2014. The locally designed mask is worn by many local women to protect them from jellyfish stings, algae and the sun's ultraviolet rays. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
View Gallery

NATO: Russian Soldiers Are Now in Ukraine

|

Earlier today, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko accused Russian troops of entering Ukraine, and NATO issued a statement saying that they were tracking well over 1,000 Russian combat soldiers operating heavy weaponry within Ukraine's borders. The announcements follow months of fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine—reportedly supported by Russian troops nearby. Ukrainian government forces had been regaining territory held by rebels in recent weeks, only to have the separatists open up battles on new fronts in the region. Caught in the middle is the civilian population, suffering hundreds of injuries and deaths as a result of massive shelling campaigns. Russia continues to deny direct involvement, even explaining that some of its captured servicemen were in Ukraine "by mistake." Below are images from eastern Ukraine over the past few weeks, as the situation may soon escalate even further. [42 photos]

Ukrainian soldiers detain a man suspected of spying for pro-Russian militants at a checkpoint near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, on August 16, 2014. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers detain a man suspected of spying for pro-Russian militants at a checkpoint near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, on August 16, 2014. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)
View Gallery

The Urban Oil Fields of Los Angeles

|

In the 1890s, the small town of Los Angeles (population 50,000) began a transformation driven by the discovery and drilling of some of the most productive oil fields in history. By 1930, California was producing nearly one quarter of the world's oil output, and its population had grown to 1.2 million. In the decades that followed, many wells closed, but even more opened, surrounded by urban and suburban growth. Machinery was camouflaged, loud noises were abated, methane pockets were vented, as residents learned to live side-by-side with oil production facilities. To this day, oil fields in the Los Angeles Basin remain very productive, and modern techniques have centralized operations into smaller areas or moved offshore. Gathered here are images of some of the sites and machinery still in use among the homes, golf courses, and shopping malls of Los Angeles. [24 photos]

An oil well pumps next to yard containing junked hearses and ambulances near Signal Hill in Long Beach, California, on May 29, 2003. The Signal Hill Oil Field, now known as the Long Beach Oil Field, had the world's highest oil production per acre by the mid-twentieth century. Hundreds of companies and individuals became rich on minute leases, some locations so close that derrick legs overlapped. New housing and stores are now being built among operating oil wells. (David McNew/Getty Images)
An oil well pumps next to yard containing junked hearses and ambulances near Signal Hill in Long Beach, California, on May 29, 2003. The Signal Hill Oil Field, now known as the Long Beach Oil Field, had the world's highest oil production per acre by the mid-twentieth century. Hundreds of companies and individuals became rich on minute leases, some locations so close that derrick legs overlapped. New housing and stores are now being built among operating oil wells. (David McNew/Getty Images)
View Gallery

Photos of the Week: 8/17-8/23

|

This week's edition features coverage of mudslides in Japan, a home-made electric wooden horse in China, an oil spill in Mexico, a massive rubber duck in Los Angeles, scenes from Ferguson, Gaza, and much more. [35 photos]

Australia's Nathan Hedge rides a wave during the 14th edition of the Billabong Pro Tahiti surf event in Teahupoo, on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, on August 18, 2014. (Gregory Boissy/AFP/Getty Images)
Australia's Nathan Hedge rides a wave during the 14th edition of the Billabong Pro Tahiti surf event in Teahupoo, on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, on August 18, 2014. (Gregory Boissy/AFP/Getty Images)
View Gallery

Meghalaya: The Wettest Place on Earth

|

Photographer Amos Chapple returns to our site once once again, bringing amazing images from the state of Meghalaya, India, reportedly the rainiest spot on Earth. The village of Mawsynram in Meghalaya receives 467 inches of rain per year. Laborers who work outdoors often wear full-body umbrellas made from bamboo and banana leaf. One of the most fascinating and beautiful features in the region are the "living bridges" spanning rain-soaked valleys. For centuries, locals have been training the roots of rubber trees to grow into natural bridges, far outlasting man-made wooden structures that rot in just a few years. The bridges are self-strengthening, becoming more substantial over time, as the root systems grow. Chapple has previously showed us St. Petersburg From Above, a view of Stalin's Rope Roads, and took us on a trip to Turkmenistan. [18 photos]

In a scene played out every weekday morning, students of the RCLP School in Nongsohphan Village, Meghalaya, India, cross a bridge grown from the roots of a rubber tree. In the relentless damp of Meghalaya's jungles, wooden structures rot away too quickly to be practical. For centuries the Khasi people have instead used the trainable roots of rubber trees to "grow" bridges over the region's rivers. (© Amos Chapple)
In a scene played out every weekday morning, students of the RCLP School in Nongsohphan Village, Meghalaya, India, cross a bridge grown from the roots of a rubber tree. In the relentless damp of Meghalaya's jungles, wooden structures rot away too quickly to be practical. For centuries the Khasi people have instead used the trainable roots of rubber trees to "grow" bridges over the region's rivers. (© Amos Chapple)
View Gallery

First Flight with the Wright Brothers

|

Yesterday was National Aviation Day, a holiday established by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939 to celebrate developments in aviation. The date selected was the birth date of aviation pioneer Orville Wright, who, along with his older brother Wilbur, is credited with inventing and building the world's first practical fixed-wing aircraft and making the first controlled, powered and sustained flight more than a hundred years ago. The Wright brothers documented much of their early progress in photographs made on glass negatives. Today, the Library of Congress holds many of these historic images, some of which are presented below. [18 photos]

Wilbur Wright pilots a full-size glider down the steep slope of Big Kill Devil Hill in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. This model was the third iteration of the Wright brothers' early gliders, equipped with wings that would warp to steer, a rear vertical rudder, and a forward elevator. (Library of Congress)
Wilbur Wright pilots a full-size glider down the steep slope of Big Kill Devil Hill in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. This model was the third iteration of the Wright brothers' early gliders, equipped with wings that would warp to steer, a rear vertical rudder, and a forward elevator. (Library of Congress)
View Gallery

Liberia Battles Ebola Epidemic

|

In West Africa, more than 2,200 people have contracted Ebola since March, and 1,200 of them have died from the virus. Liberia has suffered the most deaths to date, with teams of undertakers wearing protective clothing now collecting victims from all over the capital of Monrovia. Poor sanitation, close living quarters, and a lack of education have contributed to the spread of the virus. Among some, a belief has grown that the epidemic is a fraud, and that people are dying from other causes, leading to confrontations between citizens and health workers. Burial teams have been turned away while trying to retrieve bodies from neighborhoods, and isolation wards have been vandalized or overrun by mobs believing the Ebola virus is a hoax. Getty Images photographer John Moore has spent the past week in Liberia, documenting the situation as the country battles to halt the spread of Ebola while struggling to handle the huge rise of infectious, sick, and dying patients. [32 photos]

A burial team from the Liberian health department prays before entering a house to remove the body of a woman suspected of dying of the Ebola virus on August 14, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Teams are picking up bodies from all over the capital of Monrovia, where the spread of the Ebola virus has been called catastrophic. The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 1,200 people in four West African countries and has overwhelmed the Liberian health system. (John Moore/Getty Images)
A burial team from the Liberian health department prays before entering a house to remove the body of a woman suspected of dying of the Ebola virus on August 14, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Teams are picking up bodies from all over the capital of Monrovia, where the spread of the Ebola virus has been called catastrophic. The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 1,200 people in four West African countries and has overwhelmed the Liberian health system. (John Moore/Getty Images)
View Gallery

National Guard Sent to Ferguson, Missouri, After Week of Chaos and Protest

|

Ferguson, Missouri, has been racked by protests since an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last week. Over the weekend, despite calls for peaceful demonstrations by Brown's parents, several protests became violent. Protesters were not only angry about the shooting, but were outraged by the heavy police response to the demonstrations. The militarized tactics taken by Ferguson police were widely criticized, and officials are still struggling to control the situation. On Sunday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform an autopsy, in addition to one being conducted by state medical examiners, and earlier today, Missouri's governor said he was calling in the National Guard to help restore order. Gathered here are photos of the chaos in Ferguson over the weekend. [36 photos]

A law enforcement officer in a tactical vehicle watches after a device was fired to disperse a crowd on Sunday, August 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A law enforcement officer in a tactical vehicle watches after a device was fired to disperse a crowd on Sunday, August 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
View Gallery

Photos of the Week: 8/9-8/16

|

This week's edition features images of the Stromboli volcano, a fashion show in South Sudan, the Little League World Series, wild horses on a Maryland shore, the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and much more, including the passing of both Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. [35 photos]

A man watches as police walk through a cloud of smoke during a clash with protesters on August 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent, with people lobbing Molotov cocktails at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A man watches as police walk through a cloud of smoke during a clash with protesters on August 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent, with people lobbing Molotov cocktails at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
View Gallery

Desperate Iraqi Minorities Flee ISIS Attacks

|

Much of Iraq is now in chaos, and fighters from the the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), are fueling the instability, attacking towns at will and making large gains in territory. Last week, ISIS militants swarmed into several minority villages in northern Iraq, prompting tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee for their lives during their push toward the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil. Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters that IS militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive. U.S. warplanes bombed ISIS fighters and weapons on Friday after President Barack Obama said Washington must act to prevent "genocide." At least 20,000 civilians who had been besieged by jihadists on Sinjar mountain have safely escaped to Syria and been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq, officials said. Thousands more are still feared to be trapped in the region, forced to choose between starvation and dehydration, or a descent down the mountains toward armed militants. [36 photos]

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, ride a donkey as they make their way towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh, on August 10, 2014. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, ride a donkey as they make their way towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh, on August 10, 2014. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
View Gallery

Supermoon 2014

|

On Sunday night, skywatchers around the world were treated to views of this year's so-called "supermoon," the largest full moon of the year. Yesterday, on August 11, the moon approached within 357,000 km (221,800 mi) of Earth, in what is scientifically known as a perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system (perigee: closest point of an elliptical orbit; syzygy: straight line made of three bodies in a gravitational system). Though the moon did appear larger than normal last night, the size difference is so small that a casual observer would probably never notice. Nonetheless, photographers across the globe set out to capture the event, and collected here are 21 of the most super images of this year's supermoon. [21 photos]

A full moon dubbed "supermoon", rises over the Dolomiti mountains in Levico Terme near Trento in north of Italy on August 10, 2014. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images)
A full moon dubbed "supermoon", rises over the Dolomiti mountains in Levico Terme near Trento in north of Italy on August 10, 2014. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images)
View Gallery

Photos of the Week: 8/2-8/8

|

This was another rough week around the world—natural disasters and warfare left hundreds of thousands homeless, injured, or killed. We cover some of these stories, as well as other, lighter moments in the week's edition. Subjects include rapping Egyptians, landslides in Nepal, early Spring in New Zealand, fighting in Ukraine, a new close-up view of a comet, and a visit to a North Korean lubricant factory. [35 photos]

A fisherman transports a dead whale shark after it was caught in a net in Yangzhi county, Fujian province, China, on August 1, 2014. According to local media, the whale shark is five meters long and weighs over 2 tons. (Reuters/Stringer)
A fisherman transports a dead whale shark after it was caught in a net in Yangzhi county, Fujian province, China, on August 1, 2014. According to local media, the whale shark is five meters long and weighs over 2 tons. (Reuters/Stringer)
View Gallery

Gaza After the Bombardment

|

The 72-hour cease-fire agreed to by Israel and Hamas is set to expire tomorrow morning. As negotiators in Egypt work hard to extend the truce, Palestinians have been taking advantage of the relative peace to return to their homes and neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, assessing the vast damage after a month of bombardment. Israel announced that all of its troops had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip after completing a mission to destroy a sophisticated network of cross-border attack tunnels, ending a ground operation which began on July 17. Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,834 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8. [31 photos]

Backdropped by the damaged minaret of the Al-Azba mosque, a Palestinian smokes a cigarette as he sits on rubble of the Nada Towers, at a residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014. Israel and Hamas began observing a 72-hour cease-fire on Tuesday that sets the stage for talks in Egypt on a broader deal on the Gaza Strip, including a sustainable truce and the rebuilding of the battered, blockaded coastal territory. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Backdropped by the damaged minaret of the Al-Azba mosque, a Palestinian smokes a cigarette as he sits on rubble of the Nada Towers, at a residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014. Israel and Hamas began observing a 72-hour cease-fire on Tuesday that sets the stage for talks in Egypt on a broader deal on the Gaza Strip, including a sustainable truce and the rebuilding of the battered, blockaded coastal territory. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
View Gallery

Devastating Earthquake in China's Ludian County

|

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck southwestern China on Sunday, killing nearly 600 people in a remote area of Yunnan province, causing thousands of buildings, including a school, to collapse. The earthquake also triggered multiple landslides that have blocked rivers and created rapidly growing bodies of water that could unleash more destruction on survivors of the disaster. More than 10,000 soldiers and hundreds of volunteers have rushed to Ludian County to clear roads and dig out possible survivors from the debris, but landslides and bouts of heavy rain have complicated rescue efforts. An estimated 80,000 houses were destroyed and 124,000 seriously damaged. [36 photos]

A man walks among debris of collapsed buildings after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county, Yunnan province, China, on August 4, 2014. (Reuters/Wong Campion)
A man walks among debris of collapsed buildings after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county, Yunnan province, China, on August 4, 2014. (Reuters/Wong Campion)
View Gallery

Surfing Alaska's Bore Tide

|

Many years ago, I worked as a tour guide in Alaska, falling deeply in love with the state. One of my favorite drives was along Turnagain Arm, a long and shallow branch of Cook Inlet, a beautiful landscape that is home to a fascinating natural phenomenon. Bore tides occur when an incoming high tide collides with the outgoing tide in a narrow channel, generating a turbulent wave front. Getty Images photographer Streeter Lecka was recently lucky enough to spend six days on Turnagain Arm, photographing the brave souls who venture out onto the mudflats to ride these waves. Waves can reach as high as 10 feet tall, crashing over calmer waters, moving upstream at 10-15 mph. Gathered here are some of Lecka's images of the surfers riding the bore tides of Turnagain Arm. [21 photos]

A surfer rides the bore tide on Turnagain Arm near Anchorage, Alaska, on July 12, 2014. Alaska's famous bore tide occurs in a spot southeast of Anchorage, in the lower arm of Cook Inlet called Turnagain Arm, where wave heights can reach 6-10 feet tall and move at 10-15 mph. The water temperature stays around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A surfer rides the bore tide on Turnagain Arm near Anchorage, Alaska, on July 12, 2014. Alaska's famous bore tide occurs in a spot southeast of Anchorage, in the lower arm of Cook Inlet called Turnagain Arm, where wave heights can reach 6-10 feet tall and move at 10-15 mph. The water temperature stays around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
View Gallery

The Soviet War in Afghanistan, 1979 - 1989

|

Nearly twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union pulled its last troops out of Afghanistan, ending more than nine years of direct involvement and occupation. The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways. Rebellion was swift and broad, and the Soviets dealt harshly with the Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, leveling entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy. Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States. In the brutal nine-year conflict, an estimated one million civilians were killed, as well as 90,000 Mujahideen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers. Civil war raged after the withdrawal, setting the stage for the Taliban's takeover of the country in 1996. As NATO troops move toward their final withdrawal this year, Afghans worry about what will come next, and Russian involvement in neighboring Ukraine's rebellion has the world's attention, it is worth looking back at the Soviet-Afghan conflict that ended a quarter-century ago. Today's entry is part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [41 photos]

A low-flying Afghan helicopter gunship in snow-capped valley along Salang highway provides cover for a Soviet convoy sending food and fuel to Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 30, 1989. The convoy was attacked by Mujahideen guerrillas with rockets further up the highway, with Afghan government troops returning fire with artillery. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing)
A low-flying Afghan helicopter gunship in snow-capped valley along Salang highway provides cover for a Soviet convoy sending food and fuel to Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 30, 1989. The convoy was attacked by Mujahideen guerrillas with rockets further up the highway, with Afghan government troops returning fire with artillery. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing)
View Gallery