Category: Photography

Revisit the legacy of Agent Orange


Click to enlargeReuters photographer Damir Sagolj

As April 30 approaches, marking 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, people in Vietnam with severe mental and physical disabilities still feel the lingering effects of Agent Orange.

Respiratory cancer and birth defects amongst both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to the defoliant. The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange onto Vietnam’s jungles during the conflict to expose northern communist troops.

Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj travelled through Vietnam to meet the people affected, four decades on.

I would say, “Never again”; but, I haven’t that much trust in our government, our politicians.

In a cameras-everywhere culture, everyone can watch everyone else

Science fiction writer David Brin calls it “a tsunami of lights” — a future where tiny cameras are everywhere, lighting up everything we do, and even predicting what we’ll do next.

Unlike George Orwell’s novel “1984,” where only Big Brother controlled the cameras, in 2015, cheap, mobile technology has turned everyone into a watcher.

With each technological advance, more of our lives — from the humdrum to the hyper-dramatic — is being caught on camera.

That includes the police, whose actions can be recorded by anyone with a camera phone. In South Carolina, a cellphone video released last week showed a police officer firing eight shots at a fleeing man’s back. In San Bernardino County, news choppers captured footage of deputies punching and kicking a man as he lay face-down on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Painting a picture that cameras are everywhere and anywhere is pretty provocative,” said Ryan Martin, a technology analyst at 451 Research, but it can also present opportunities to increase accountability and improve safety.

There are 245 million surveillance cameras installed worldwide, according to research firm IHS, and the number increases by 15% a year…

ParaShoot is selling a $199 HD camera that’s light enough to wear on a necklace or stick to a wall or car dashboard. “Never miss the meaningful moments again,” the company touts.

Another company, Bounce Imaging, is manufacturing a throwable camera shaped like a ball, with police departments as the target customer. The omni-directional cameras can literally take pictures on the fly and instantly transmit pictures to a smartphone.

It’s not just governments that are collecting rich stores of data. Facebook uses face-recognition technology to identify users’ friends in photos.

We expect the government, city, state or feds, to keep an eye on us. In public places, I think it can serve up as much good as opportunist evil. They didn’t expect us to start watching them on our own.

“Evolutionarily, we’re primed for it,” said Kevin Kelly, author of the book “What Technology Wants.” “For most of human history, we’ve been covering each other. It’s only in recent history we’ve developed a heightened sense of privacy.”

But, he adds, social norms guided behavior in the less-private past. Norms for the cameras-everywhere era haven’t been developed — nor are there well-thought-out legal structures that would keep inevitable abuse in check.

Meanwhile, while courts continue to uphold the rights of ordinary citizens to record police and politicians, the states run by the most repressive politicians fight back – passing new laws every year making it illegal to photograph or record the actions of officialdom even in public. Every one of those has to be challenged.

From Texas to Kansas, Arizona to Minnesota, conservative political hacks are scared crapless that someone will catch them being stupid – or criminal – and post it online. And if they’re scared, I’m impressed.

Pic of the day

Ukie army grocery bike
Click to enlargeAP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

A Ukrainian serviceman rides a bicycle in Shyrokyne, eastern Ukraine… Russia and Ukraine agreed in Berlin on Monday to call for the pullback of smaller-caliber weapons from the front lines of the conflict that has claimed more than 6,000 lives.

Too many kinds of comment in my poor brain for this one. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, humorous, philosophical or otherwise.

Mom who abandoned disabled son in woods facing attempted murder charge

A woman accused of dumping her quadriplegic son in the woods at a park so she could spend the week with her out-of-state boyfriend will face an attempted murder charge…

Nyia Parler has been hospitalized for undisclosed reasons in Maryland since hours after her 21-year-old son was found last Friday in a pile of wet leaves in Cobb Creek Park in Philadelphia next to his wheelchair and a Bible. Police said they believe Parler’s son had been in the woods all week and was exposed to the cold, rainy weather and to wild animals.

Police said they have added attempted murder to an initial slate of charges listed in an arrest warrant Saturday. Those charges include aggravated assault, kidnapping and neglect of a care-dependent person.

Police said they did not expect to arrest the 41-year-old Parler until she was cleared for release from the hospital and charged in Maryland as a fugitive. They would then seek to have her extradited…

Parler’s son, who has cerebral palsy, was found around the corner from his home by a man who saw the wheelchair and went to investigate.

If the man hadn’t done that, Philadelphia police Lt. John Walker said, “this kid would have died a miserable death.”

The son was hospitalized in stable condition Monday after being treated for dehydration, malnutrition and abrasions…

The man who discovered the woman’s son was in the woods trying to take pictures of deer for his grandchildren. We are all glad he is a thoughtful grandfather.

Yes, I still wonder how inhuman we can be to our own – much less strangers.

Mexico — Evidence of the missing

memories of murder

The view from the hills around Iguala, Mexico, was stunning. But the more Christopher Gregory walked along the paths, the more his eye was drawn to the objects scattered along the way: scraps of clothing, beer bottles, trash. To him, these castoff items were possibly linked to the hundreds of people reported missing — presumably kidnapped, if not killed — by drug cartels that have long operated with impunity…

Little more than six months after 43 students were abducted and presumably killed in Iguala in Guerrero State, Mr. Gregory is wondering about all the other people who have vanished in that region. He had wanted to do a project on the missing students, but abruptly changed his mind when, during the early stages of the search, a mass grave was found with the remains of 28 people.

None of them were the students.

That became a flash point for him and Jeremy Relph, a writer with whom he had teamed up for the story. Once they got to Iguala, they discovered that disappearances had been going on for years, and on an alarming scale. While the government has put the tally of missing people in Guerrero State at about 120 from January to November of last year, local advocates working with families reported that some 400 people had been reported missing in Iguala alone in recent years.

“The photo is an evidentiary document,” he said. “There is no way to witness these kidnappings or document these violations of human rights, other than to point at the residue and try to have a conversation about what it means, how it looks like and how do we navigate these complex social and political issues, as well as the psychological issues. You can’t believe anybody or trust anybody in these areas because for all intents and purposes, they’re lawless.”

RTFA. Take a good look at what lawless means. You don’t need to go to the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa.