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Millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas awoke Tuesday without power, and an eerily quiet New York City was all but closed off by car, train and air as superstorm Hurricane Sandy steamed inland, still delivering punishing wind and rain. The full extent of the damage in New Jersey, where the storm roared ashore [...]

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Today marks the halfway point of the 70-day Olympic Torch relay through the United Kingdom. Since arriving in Cornwall on May 18, the flame has been carried through villages and cities, across lakes and mountain ranges, on foot, by train, on horseback, and through the air, from Cornwall to the Shetland Islands. By the time it reaches London to launch the 2012 Summer Olympics in 35 days, the torch will have passed through the hands of 8,000 torchbearers. [31 photos]

Torchbearer Peter Jack holds the Olympic Flame aloft on the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim on day 17 of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay on June 4, 2012 near Belfast, Northern Ireland. (LOCOG via Getty Images)

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During his short but noteworthy career, Shane Lavalette has examined distinct regions of the world, illuminating their respective character without succumbing to powerful clichés. At the age of only 25, Lavalette has photographed the west coast of Ireland, a small town in northern India and his native New England. You won’t find any pubs, elephants or lush shots of fall foliage in these collections. Instead, Lavalette combines portraits of ordinary people with pointed images of each area’s commerce, culture and the immediate countryside to create a portrait of a place as it might be seen by a local, but through the eyes of a wandering explorer.

In 2010, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which for decades has been the leading art museum in the South, commissioned Lavalette to produce a new collection of photographs for their Picturing the South series. “Having grown up in the Northeast, it was primarily through traditional music–old time Blues, gospel, etc.–that I formed a relationship with the South,” Lavalette says of his project. “The region’s rich musical history became the natural entry point for my work.”

As in his previous projects, Lavalette steered clear of standard images of the American South: willows and oak trees wilting in the humid heat; cotton fields and mountain trails. Nor was Lavalette interested in shooting a documentary about Southern music today. Instead he turned to “the relationship between traditional music and the contemporary landscape through a more poetic lens.”

There are scenes of nature, but not the sweeping landscapes often seen in the South. Lavalette shot ripples on a pond, where the towering pines are only visible in the reflection on the water. There’s the graffiti-strewn interior of an old café, with a poster so covered in marker scribbles that it’s nearly unrecognizable. Lavalette shows the collision of modern life and nature in the form of an empty parking lot beside the rusted wall of a warehouse, where kudzu has begun to encroach upon the asphalt.

Music has always permeated the consciousness of the South. The home of blues, gospel, bluegrass and countless combinations of those styles, the South is a region rich with musical heritage, a perfect gateway into understanding the region’s history and its culture today. “Moved by the themes and stories past down in songs,” Lavalette says, “I let the music itself carry the pictures.”

Shane Lavalette is a New-York-based photographer. More of his work can be seen here. The exhibition Picturing the South is on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from June 9 through Sept. 2, 2012.

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Christians commemorated the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday, a holiday that marks the end of Holy Week and the end of Lent. Observances around the world bring a diversity of traditions as varied as the countries celebrating. Eastern Orthodox Christians will observe Easter on April 15. Gathered here are images of Christians during Holy Week and Easter, including reenactments of the Crucifixion, pilgrimages, baptisms, sunrise services, and more. -- Lane Turner (37 photos total)
A girl wears an angel costume during Blood of Christ celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua on March 30, 2012. (Esteban Felix/Associated Press)

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“It changed my life,” my friend announced at dinner a few months ago. The “it” in question was a book, which she described as orgasmic. My interest was certainly piqued. In furtive late-night conversations and mid-day lunches over the next few months, the transformational qualities of the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, by British author E.L. James, spread among the wives and mothers all over New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County. The series, which began as online fan faction before racking up hundreds of thousands of e-book downloads, are about an S&M relationship between a billionaire and a virginal young college student. What started across the Atlantic as one woman’s desire to bravely express her lurid desires, had created sensual upheaval—as well as an ad hoc community of empowered women bound by their shared discovery of pleasure—in the unlikeliest of places: the suburbs. And I just had to document it.

Gillian Laub

(L to R) Sima Leyy, Jen Boudin, Lyss Stern and Stacey Cooper together at a party celebrating the Fifty Shades series of books in Long Island, NY celebrating the Fifty Shades series of books by the author E.L. James.

In mid January, I attended a book party in New York City for James, who was literally overwhelmed to tears of joy (and alarm) by a pack of hundreds of middle-aged women acting like adolescent girls unleashed on Justin Bieber. “I’m completely and utterly stunned by the reaction to these books,” James would tell me, a few days later, at my apartment. All the women in attendance claimed the same of themselves: forever changed – and all for the good. “You need to read it. You need to do it now. And you need to wear panty-liner,” one woman’s friend warned. Another fan at the signing told James that she’d never had an orgasm before—and that at 43, she had her first one just reading it. It’s obvious that Fifty Shades of Grey has become a suburban literary virus of sorts. And James’ life—as well as the women readers she inspires—will henceforth never be the same.

Read More: James’ Bondage

Gillian Laub is a New-York-based photographer. See more of her work here.

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TEDxIB @ York - Amin Sharifi - The Power of Will

Amin Sharifi, now in his final year of the IB program at Bayview Secondary, took great interest at a young age in the mind's influences on the body. In "The Power of Will," he discusses the virtues of stubbornness and virtually unreasonable persistence in one's ideas, and how these traits are crucial to achieving success, contrary to their common negative interpretations. TEDxIB@York is an event for International Baccalaureate Diploma students from all over the world to come together to experience TED talks and share ideas with peers and professionals. This event is held annually at The York School, a coeducational, non-denominational, IB, independent day school in Toronto, Canada. This event gives students a chance to see amazing speakers, musicians, artwork, poetry, videos and to connect with people from all walks of life in the spirit of "ideas worth spreading".
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Members of the Windy Hollow Hunt club — and their 18 foxhounds — on a morning fox hunt in Warwick, N.Y. The Windy Hollow hunters are upholding a 500-year-old British tradition that has been in North America longer than the U.S. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


The view of the Queensboro Bridge from the Ravel Hotel’s rooftop lounge in Long Island City, Queens. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Workers guided the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in position in New York on Nov. 11. The 74-foot Norway Spruce, from Mifflinville, Pa. is approximately 75 years old and is scheduled to be illuminated Nov. 30. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)


An MTA dispatcher oversees the buses on Crescent Drive in Long Island City on Nov. 10. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Creamy Peruvian stew of chicken, quail egg and greens at La Mar Cebicheria, at 11 Madison Ave. in Manhattan (Julie Glassberg for The Wall Street Journal)


The New York Fire Department responded to a 2-alarm fire at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx on Nov. 9. Dozens of hospital employees and patients were evacuated onto the street because of the fire, which started in a generator room. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


Council member Jumanee Williams spoke at a press conference at City Hall on Nov. 10. Councilman Williams and Kirsten John Foy, an aide to Bill de Blasio, were involved in a controversial arrest during the West Indian Day Parade. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal )


A five-story building under construction in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, collapsed on Nov 8, trapping several workers. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Chocolate turkeys made at Li-Lac Chocolate factory in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal)


Lloyd Macklowe adjusted a sculpture on display at his gallery, located at 667 Madison Ave. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Yogi Berra and his wife, Carmen, went to see ‘Moneyball’ at the Bellevue Theatre in Montclair, N.J. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

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Florent Morellet posed for a portrait with his parakeet Coco at his home on Lafayette Street on Nov. 9. Mr. Morellet is staging his first solo art show, called ‘Come Hell or High Water,’ at Christopher Henry Gallery in SoHo. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal )


Pantera Rosa, a cocktail made with chile-infused tequila, grapefruit juice and St. Germain at Salon Hecho, on Bowery in New York City. (Agaton Strom for The Wall Street Journal )


Douglas Russell, a huntsman with the Windy Hollow Hunt club, held his hunting horn after the morning’s fox hunt in Warwick, N.Y. on Oct. 29. Mr. Russell blows the horn to send various messages to the hounds and the other riders. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


Elite female runner Camille Heron grabbed her bottle at the corner of 5th Avenue and 119th Street in Harlem during the New York Marathon on Nov. 6. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, who are dubbing themselves ‘Occupy the Highway,’ walked in Newark, N.J., on Nov 9, their first day of a planned two-week march from Wall Street to Washington D.C. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

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Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)
A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)

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Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY)'s monologue at last night's Congressional Correspondents' Dinner is some danged funny stuff -- even if you can't follow some of the more esoteric Washington insider material, the self-deprecating montage of Weiner losing it during interviews with Fox News is worth the price of admission. And then there are the Weiner/weener jokes!

Anthony Weiner KILLS At Congressional Correspondents' Dinner

(via Reddit)

 

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The vast devastation wrought by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, may only be matched by the destroyed lives left in their wake. Few survivors have been found, but families continue to search for their sons, daughters, wives, husbands and friends. Threats of a nuclear reactor meltdown and resulting disaster loom. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)
The rubble caused by an earthquake and tsunami fill the landscape in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (Associated Press/Kyodo News)

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