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.
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.
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.
On January 5, 431 teams began the annual Dakar Rally: a two-week off-roading adventure through South America. The vehicles — which include specialized cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes — are traversing extremely challenging territory between Rosario, Argentina, and Valparaíso, Chile. One racer and two members of the press have died so far in separate incidents. As the participants depart the Uyuni Salt Flats today, here is a look at Dakar 2014 in progress.
Each year, the Macedonian village of Vevcani marks the Orthodox St. Vasilij Day — the beginning of the old Julian calendar — with a 1,400-year-old carnival rooted in pre-Christian traditions. Performers revel in the streets wearing masks that reflect pagan rituals, religious issues, or political satires of current events. Below are some images of the costumes and parades in Vevcani over the past few years.