Widespread demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro’s government have become increasingly violent, leading to as many as 14 deaths. The protests began earlier this month as student groups voiced anger at the lack of security, high inflation, and more. Peaceful protests were met with harsh resistance, including gunfire. The ranks of the demonstrators swelled shortly after, as a broad dissatisfaction with the government and its handling of the current crisis brought thousands more to the streets - calling for Maduro to step down. Both sides appear to be digging in for the long run, as outside governments and groups call for calm and dialogue. Be sure to also see Moisés Naím’s article The Tragedy of Venezuela.
Flames engulfed the main anti-government protest camp on Kiev’s Independence Square as riot police tried to force demonstrators out following the bloodiest clashes in three months of protests. The iconic square turned into a war zone as riot police moved slowly through opposition barricades, hurling stun grenades and using water cannon to clear protestors. At least thirteen people were killed and scores injured today, as protestors took back control of Kiev’s city hall just two days after vacating the building. Also, see: Ukraine’s Revolution Is Being Broadcast Live.
Earlier today, Indonesia’s Mount Kelud erupted violently, killing two, sending massive ash plumes miles into the air, and causing more than 100,000 to evacuate parts of Java. The explosive eruption could be heard by residents more than 100 miles distant. Meanwhile, Mount Sinabung - another of Indonesia’s 150 volcanoes, continues its recent months of sporadic activity. Earlier this month, one of the scorching pyroclastic flows that poured down Sinabung’s flanks overwhelmed a group of villagers, killing 16. Collected here are images of Kelud’s activity today, and some of Sinabung’s recent outbursts.
Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov, the masked Russian daredevils who have taunted authorities from Egypt to the Czech Republic by illegally climbing some of the most towering structures on the planet, have done it again. This time the target was the world’s second-tallest building: the 2,073-foot-high, still-under-construction Shanghai Tower in China.
The result are breathtaking. Literally. You may want to make sure you’re sitting down. Watch the men clamber in the clouds without ropes or other safety equipment, and peer down on one of the biggest cities on the globe from a tangle of metal grating and red scaffolding.
With the world’s attention focused on Sochi, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at some of the earliest Winter Olympics. At the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, 16 countries sent 250 athletes to compete in familiar sports like bobsleigh and hockey. The 1936 Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Nazi Germany, after which the Games were cancelled until 1948 due to World War II. The photos below are from Olympic Winter Games I-XII, which took place from 1924 to 1976.
On February 1, 1964 The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” reached the top of the American pop charts. On February 2, I became a Beatlemaniac. In short order I acquired a Beatles’ haircut, pair of Beatle boots, a Beatles fan-club membership card, and a stack of Tiger Beat magazines with dozens of Beatles photographs. My single greatest ambition, to actually meet the Beatles and shake their hands, was never realized, so for much of the ‘60s I envied others who had the good fortune that was denied me.
Fifty years should be enough time to get over Beatlemania. But recently I was shown a collection of never-published Beatles photographs from 1964 by Arnold Schwartzman, a graphic designer and award-winning documentary film director, and it brought back all the bittersweet memories and emotions.
In 1959, as a young designer on staff at London’s Associated-Rediffusion TV network, Schwartzman designed the logo and opening title sequences for the successful weekly pop show “Ready, Steady Go!”, the British equivalent of American Bandstand (but much cooler). As its roving photographer, Schwartzman captured The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, James Brown, Peter, Paul & Mary, and others backstage and onstage. Presciently, he retained the negatives.
Read more. [Image: Arnold Schwartzman]
The Sony World Photography Awards, an annual competition hosted by the World Photography Organisation, has recently announced its shortlist of winners. This year’s contest attracted more than 140,000 entries from 166 countries. The organizers have been kind enough to share some of their shortlisted images with In Focus, gathered below. Winners are scheduled to be announced in March and April. All captions below come from the photographers.
Billed as “the toughest race in the world,” the Tough Guy 2014 competition took place yesterday in Perton, England. Every year, thousands of men and women tackle the course, which is described on the Tough Guy website as eight country miles filled with freezing mud and “barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, electric shocks, sprains, twists, joint dislocation and broken bones.” Gathered here are some images of the fun had by the tough competitors in this year’s event.
Anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine took a deadly turn yesterday, with at least two protesters killed by gunshots. Government forces appear to be doubling down on recently-passed anti-protest legislation, increasing the level of response, even sending ominous area-wide text messages to protesters informing them that “you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” The pro-European demonstrators also increased their attacks on riot police in Kiev, bringing in a homemade trebuchet, fireworks, and crates full of Molotov cocktails. Also, see earlier entry: Renewed Protest in Ukraine.