A photo blog of world events by Sacbee.com Assistant Director of Multimedia Tim Reese.
Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed
November 30, 2012
Congo rebels indefinitely delay exit from Goma

GOMA, Congo (AP) -- Rebels in Congo believed to be backed by Rwanda Friday postponed indefinitely their departure from the key eastern city of Goma, defying for a second time an ultimatum set by neighboring nations.

The delay raises the possibility that the M23 rebels don't intend to leave the city they seized last week, giving credence to a United Nations Group of Experts report which argues that neighboring Rwanda is using the rebels as a proxy to annex territory in mineral-rich eastern Congo.

An M23 spokesman said Friday morning that for "logistical reasons" the rebels needed 48 more hours to complete their withdrawal, promising that the fighters would leave the city by Sunday.

Later in the day, the rebels attempted to force their way into Goma's international airport in order to seize arms belonging to the Congolese military which were being safeguarded there. Although the city fell to the rebels last week, United Nations peacekeepers regained control of the airport and on Friday, they blocked the fighters from entering, prompting the rebels to cry foul, and say that this "changes everything."

The regional bloc representing the nations bordering Congo had issued a Friday deadline for the M23 fighters to retreat, after the rebels had thumbed their nose at an earlier ultimatum. The statements made by the rebels on Friday suggest they are dragging their feet.

(30 images)

M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. Rebels in Congo believed to be backed by Rwanda postponed their departure Friday from the key eastern city of Goma by 48 hours for "logistical reasons," defying for a second time an ultimatum set by neighboring African countries and backed by Western diplomats. AP / Jerome Delay
November 27, 2012
Workers raise 1st section of new Chernobyl shelter

CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR POWER STATION, Ukraine (AP) -- Workers have raised the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that eventually will cover the exploded nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station.

Project officials on Tuesday hailed the raising as a significant step in a complex effort to clean up the consequences of the 1986 explosion, the world's worst nuclear accident. Upon completion, the shelter will be moved on tracks over the building containing the destroyed reactor, allowing work to begin on dismantling the reactor and disposing of radioactive waste.

Suma Chakrabati, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is leading the project, called Tuesday "a very significant milestone, which is a tribute to the ongoing commitment of the international donor community, and an important step towards overcoming the legacy of the accident."

The shelter, shaped like a gargantuan Quonset hut, will be 257 meters by 150 meters (843 feet by 492 feet) when completed and at its apex will be higher than the Statue of Liberty.

The April 26, 1986, accident in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe and forced the evacuation of about 115,000 people from the plant's vicinity. A 30-kilometer (19-mile) area directly around the plant remains largely off-limits and the town of Pripyat, where the plant's workers once lived, today is a ghostly ruin of deteriorating apartment towers.

(17 images)

A toy lies in the window frame of a kindergarten in the deserted town of in Pripyat, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant. AP / Efrem Lukatsky
November 26, 2012
Dog days in Cuba: from shih tzus to schnauzers

HAVANA (AP) -- The Cuban capital has played host to political summits and art festivals, ballet tributes and international baseball competitions. Now dog lovers are getting their chance to take center stage.

Hundreds of people from all over Cuba and several other countries came to a scruffy field near Revolution Plaza this past week to preen and fuss over the shih tzus, beagles, schnauzers and cocker spaniels that are the annual Fall Canine Expo's star attractions. There were even about a dozen bichon habaneros, a mid-sized dog bred on the island since the 17th century.

As dog lovers talked shop, the merely curious strolled the field, checking out the more than 50 breeds on display while carefully dodging the prodigious output of so many dogs.

The four-day competition, which ended Sunday, included competitions in several breeding categories, and judges were flown in from Nicaragua, Colombia and Mexico.

(16 images)

Chihuahua dogs in costume, from left, Petite, Legrand and Lentille, sit on the hood of a classic American car at the Fall Canine Expo in Havana, Cuba on Nov. 25, 2012. Hundreds of people from all over Cuba and several other countries came for the four-day competition to show off their shih tzus, beagles, schnauzers and cocker spaniels that are the annual Fall Canine Expo's star attractions. AP / Ramon Espinosa
November 21, 2012
Annual Pushkar Fair 2012

The Pushkar Fair, or Pushkar ka Mela, is the annual five-day camel and livestock fair, held in the town of Pushkar in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is one of the world's largest camel fairs, and apart from buying and selling of livestock it has become an important tourist attraction and its highlights have become competitions such as the "matka phod", "longest moustache", and "bridal competition" are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists.-- Wikipedia

(27 images)

Indian camel traders arrive with their livestock for the annual Pushkar fair in Pushkar, Rajasthan state, India, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. AP / Deepak Sharma
November 20, 2012
Push for Israel-Hamas cease-fire gains momentum

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A diplomatic push to end Israel's nearly weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip gained momentum Tuesday, with Egypt's president predicting that airstrikes would soon end, the U.S. secretary of state racing to the region and Israel's prime minister saying his country would be a "willing partner" to a cease-fire with the Islamic militant group Hamas.

As international diplomats worked to cement a deal, senior Hamas officials said some sticking points remained even as relentless airstrikes and rocket attacks between the two sides continued. The Israeli death toll rose to five with the deaths Tuesday of an Israeli soldier and a civilian contractor. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held a late-night meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after rushing to the region from Cambodia, where she had accompanied President Barack Obama on a visit.

(34 images)

Palestinian children stand in the rubble left after an Israeli strike on a house in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. AP / Hatem Moussa
November 15, 2012
Israel moves troops toward Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Palestinian militants barraged Israel with more than 200 rockets on Thursday, killing three people as Israel pressed a punishing campaign of airstrikes on militant targets across the Gaza Strip. Three rockets targeted the densely populated Tel Aviv area, setting off air raid sirens in brazen attacks that threatened to trigger an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Late in the day, Israel signaled a ground operation may be imminent as forces moved toward the border area with Gaza. At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers, and a number of buses carrying soldiers arrived. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he had authorized the army to call-up additional reservists for possible action. The army said it was prepared to draft up to 30,000 additional troops.

Israel TV stations said a ground offensive was expected Friday.

The fighting, the heaviest in four years, has killed 15 Palestinians in two days and brought life to a standstill on both sides of the border. School has been canceled and many were huddling indoors.

Israel and Hamas have largely observed an informal truce for the past four years. But in recent weeks, the calm unraveled in a bout of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.

(28 images)

Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. AP / Majed Hamdan
November 13, 2012
Diwali 2012, the festival of lights

Diwali, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a five-day festival which starts on Dhanteras (Dhantrayodashi), celebrated on thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. The name "Diwali" or "Divali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" which translates into "row of lamps". -- Wikipedia

(30 images)

An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier lights a candle inside a bunker as part of Diwali celebrations at the India-Bangladesh border on the outskirts of Agartala, India, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Diwali, the festival of lights dedicated to the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, is being celebrated across the country Tuesday. AP / Sushanta Das
November 9, 2012
Keeping up a routine aboard the USS Underwood

ABOARD THE USS UNDERWOOD (AP) -- The crew of the USS Underwood is waiting.

Somewhere amid the endless expanse of water that surrounds the U.S. Navy frigate, drug traffickers are speeding millions of dollars of contraband from Latin American shores to the U.S. The ship's mission is to stop at least some of that traffic, which from day to day means spending long hours searching the Western Hemisphere's coasts while preparing for action.

Endless duties and drills fill the day, as the crew trains for everything from a terrorist attack to a riot at port. At night, sailors sleep in tiny cubicles so cramped that many can't turn onto their sides.

In October, the 30-year-old vessel was patrolling the Caribbean waters off Panama, as part of a multinational effort to hit illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus.

Since it set sail with a crew of 260 in April 2012, it's visited ports in Panama, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherland Antilles and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The Underwood is the oldest surface combatant ship in the U.S. Navy but no longer carries guided missiles. In fact, the recent deployment was the Underwood's last voyage, with 10 other U.S. Navy ships scheduled to be decommissioned early next year.

(24 images)

A helicopter takes off for training purposes onboard the USS Underwood on Oct. 11, 2012 while patrolling in international waters near Panama. In October, the 30-year-old ship was patrolling the Caribbean waters off Panama, as part of a multi-national effort to hit illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus. The deployment was the Underwood's last voyage, with 10 other U.S. Navy ships scheduled to be decommissioned early next year. AP / Dario Lopez-Mills
November 8, 2012
China opens power transfer by keeping it off-stage

BEIJING (AP) -- China's ruling communists opened a pivotal congress to initiate a power handover to new leaders Thursday with a nod to their revolutionary past and a broad promise of cleaner government while keeping off-stage the main event -- the bargaining over seats in the new leadership.

All the main players were arrayed on the stage in the Great Hall of the People: President Hu Jintao, his successor Xi Jinping and a collection of retired party insiders. A golden hammer and sickle, the Communist Party's symbol, hung on the back wall. Yet in a nearly two-hour opening ceremony, scant mention was made of the transition or that in a week Hu will step down as party chief in favor of Xi in what would be only the second orderly transfer of power in 63 years of communist rule.

The congress is writ small the state of Chinese politics today. It's a largely ceremonial gathering of 2,200-plus delegates who meet while the real deal-making is done behind-the-scenes by the true power-holders.

(28 images)

Communist leaders stand before the national anthem during the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. AP / Lee Jin-man
November 6, 2012
American voters go to the polls

After a grinding presidential campaign President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, yielded center stage to American voters Tuesday for an Election Day choice that will frame the contours of government and the nation for years to come.

(41 images)

2-year-old Liana Brinkerhoff, top left, looks on while sitting on the shoulder of her farther at a polling place in Billings, Mont., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. AP / Jae C. Hong
November 1, 2012
Storm-crippled NYC begins to recover

NEW YORK (AP) -- Subways started running again in much of New York City on Thursday for the first time since Superstorm Sandy, but traffic at bridges backed up for miles, long lines formed at gas stations, and crowds of hundreds of people, some with short tempers, waited for buses.

Three days after Sandy slammed the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, New York and New Jersey struggled to get back on their feet, the U.S. death toll stood at more than 70, and more than 4.6 million homes and businesses were still without power.

Nearly 20,000 people remained stranded in their homes by floodwaters in Hoboken, N.J., across the river from the New York, and swaths of the New Jersey coastline lay in ruins, with countless homes, piers and boardwalks wrecked.

Downtown Manhattan, which includes the financial district, Sept. 11 memorial and other tourist sites, was still mostly an urban landscape of shuttered bodegas and boarded-up restaurants. People roamed in search of food, power and a hot shower.

(29 images)

Early morning traffic in Brooklyn moves slowly beneath the Manhattan skyline, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in New York. Commuting remained a challenge on Thursday as New York City moved closer to resuming its frenetic pace, three days after superstorm Sandy hit the city. AP / Mark Lennihan