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Original author: 
Russ Fischer


I know no one who has emerged unscathed from The Act of Killing. The film might be one of the strangest ever made, as it forces men to confront their actions by recreating them in movie form. But these aren’t just any men — they’re guys like Anwar Congo who, as death squad leaders during the “Thirtieth of September Movement,” staged a coup d’etat in Indonesia in 1965, and then committed genocide through an anti-Communist purge.

Estimates of the death toll vary widely, from 80,000 to one million. By any standard, these are heinous crimes. ”War crimes are declared by the winners,” Anwar Congo says, before happily proclaiming “I’m the winner!”

Today Anwar and other death squad leaders have not been tried as criminals; rather, they hold positions of some social standing. The Act of Killing features their full cooperation. It invites the death squad leaders to recreate their actions as genre movies — westerns, musicals, and so on — and in so doing bring their past back to life. The trailer below shows you some of the effect, and even in this abbreviated form it is deeply chilling.

The Act of Killing hits limited theaters on July 19. Apple has the trailer.

In this chilling and inventive documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog Of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), the filmmakers examine a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes, challenging them to reenact their real-life mass killings in the style of the American movies they love. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit. Shaking audiences at the 2012 Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals, The Act of Killing is an unprecedented film and, according to the Los Angeles Times, “could well change how you view the documentary form.”

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Original author: 
Aaron Souppouris


The Pulitzer Prize winners for breaking news and feature photography have been announced, and all depict scenes from the civil war in Syria. The near-century old journalism prize first began rewarding outstanding photography in the '60s. This year's winners for Breaking News are Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra, and Muhammed Muheisen, all for the Associated Press, while freelance photographer Javier Manzano picked up the best Feature Photography prize for his stunning shot, pictured above.

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Original author: 
Ars Staff

This story was co-produced with NPR.

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes—and for free. You'd open up a prefilled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

It's already a reality in Denmark, Sweden, and Spain. The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.

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Photo: JSmithPhoto/Flickr

We’re a nation of fatties, in no small part because we get half as much exercise as we should.

The typical American spends just two hours a week exercising, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Maryland, even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults age 18 to 64 get four hours of exercise per week. That could help explain why a separate study by Duke University finds 42 percent of the population could be obese by 2030, adding nearly $550 billion to the nation’s healthcare tab.

Ideally, the CDC says, we should get 2.5 hours of moderate exercise — brisk walking, riding a bike on level ground, that sort of thing — each week. We ought to spend another 75 minutes per week engaging in vigorous activity like running or shooting hoops.

The researchers, who analyzed American Time Use Study data the U.S. Census Bureau gathered from more than 100,000 people nationwide, found teens are the most active, spending about 41 minutes per day exercising. Adults spend about 17 minutes a day, while those 65 and older get roughly 13 minutes of exercise per day.

Walking is the most common activity, with about 5 percent of Americans spending about 53 minutes a week on foot. Among those people regularly breaking a sweat playing a team sport, basketball is the most popular activity. The results are reported in the 2011 edition of Time Use in Australia and United States/Canada Bulletin.

The researchers cited the typical reasons for our inactivity: We’re car-centric, we’re addicted to TV and we’re getting older. But they also say “a lot of physical activities, such as hockey and tennis” can be expensive to participate in and “because of crime, some people are afraid to leave their homes to go out for a walk or run.”

Whatever our reasons, the fact we’re getting far less exercise than we should be is problematic. A Duke University study (.pdf) finds the number of obese Americans will rise, from 36 percent of the adult population to 42 percent by 2030, without serious intervention. That means another 32 million Americans would be obese.

The researchers, appearing this week at the CDC’s “Weight of the Nation” conference in Washington, said the cost of treating the diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses associated with obesity would climb by $550 billion over 20 years.

The good news is the growth of the obesity rate is slowing. The researchers aren’t sure why, according to the Los Angeles Times, but say continued success with current anti-obesity efforts — including public health campaigns to encourage exercise and more-healthful eating — could further flatten the curve.

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Jessie Hoagland, 14, of Duff, Indiana, practices goat tying. The photo is from a story about Hoagland as the reigning Indiana Junior Rodeo Association Cowgirl of the Year.

Photo: Krista Hall

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“Where the hell is Dubois County and what the hell is The Herald?” you might ask, flipping through the 2012 newspaper picture editing winners from the prestigious Picture of the Year International awards.

Located in the town of Jasper in rural southern Indiana, among rolling hills and Amish communities, The Herald pops out in a list of papers you might actually expect to see — The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, etc. Shirking expectations of both its size and location, the paper has produced some of the country’s best documentary photography and most thoughtful presentations since the late ’70s.

“We’ve farmed dozens and dozens of great stories out of the community,” says Justin Rumbach, the current managing editor and the fourth generation of Rumbachs to run and own the paper. “And it proves that if a photographer can do it in Dubois county, you can do it anywhere.”

The paper, a tabloid instead of a broadsheet, has created a following mostly because of its now-famous Saturday photo stories, which combine thoughtful reporting and powerful photography. They’re run ad-free and take up the entire front page plus five additional pages inside, sometimes more.

“It all started in 1978 when my dad John went to a Flying Short [photography] Course in Bloomington,” says Rumbach.

Since 1946, The Herald has been a six-day-a-week afternoon paper — there is no Sunday edition. While the afternoon schedule facilitated a unique style of news gathering, it also meant that because of weekend schedules readers oftentimes weren’t getting to the Saturday paper until Sunday morning. By then, the front page was old news. The Saturday features came about, Rumbach says, because his dad John, the paper’s editor at the time, was looking for a solution to that problem.

“They wanted something with a longer shelf-life,” Rumbach says.

At the Flying Short Course, John came across a twice-weekly paper in California that kept its front page fresh by using a more magazine-like cover story that relied heavily on photos.

A writer by trade who also shot photos, John immediately liked the idea and brought it back to The Herald. In the process, he ended up creating not only a new way of laying out the Saturday paper but also a new way of thinking about photography.

“At many other newspapers the photography department is treated like a service department. The word side comes up with an idea and then it gets handed to the photo department,” Rumbach says.

But not at The Herald.

Because the new Saturday cover features were driven by photography, it was often the photographers who were out finding the stories instead of the other way around. This earned them a newfound respect that has since trickled down.

Today, photographers not only have a real voice in the Saturday features but also in the entire news cycle, bucking a trend of second-class citizenship that still plagues other photojournalists across the country.

“We now expect our reporters, when they are coming up with their ideas, to pitch them to a photo editor,” Rumbach says. “We are not going to put a photographer on an assignment that won’t produce a good picture.”

A tradition of smart, efficient, and thoughtful photo editing has also taken hold.

“We spend a lot of time editing the picture and picking pictures that make a point,” says Rumbach. “Every picture we run we want to run it with a purpose. Just because we have a lot of space doesn’t mean we run a ton of photos.”

The rise of photography and the Saturday features have also had an effect on the rest of The Herald. Unlike other small papers that only have time to react to that day’s news, The Herald has implemented a much more structured planning system.

Rumbach says they ideally try to work about four months out on the Saturday features. Sometimes it takes even longer than that.

“We don’t want to put a deadline on [the features],” Justin says. “We let [the photographers and reporters] tell the story until it’s done.”

Over the course of 30-plus years, the photographers who’ve passed through The Herald have taken all this freedom and responsibility seriously, telling stories about love, tragedy, family and everything in between with an intimacy that’s unheard of at papers with an 11,300 circulation.

“Our readers have a history with us and there is that built-in trust, we don’t have to sell people on letting us photograph them,” Rumbach says. “They know what we want to do and they are open to it.”

It’s not all rosy. The paper has felt the financial crunch effecting the rest of the journalism industry and revenues are down. But a strong local readership and the family structure of the paper have prevented a precipitous decline. Rumbach says the paper has had no layoffs and has given the staff a raise each year.

Like the rest of the media world, the paper is still trying to figure out how to fully harness the power of the internet. With an emphasis of visuals, The Herald is perfectly positioned to join the world of multimedia, but Rumbach says they’ve intentionally stayed away.

“I’m a fan of multimedia and if they gave me a full-time position to just work on just that it would be great,” he says. “But I don’t want to saddle our photographers with multimedia because making pictures and doing it correctly is hard enough.”

Ultimately, Rumbach says the paper’s plan for the future is still pretty simple.

“We want to continue our history of storytelling and continue to print it on newspaper for as long as possible,” he says.

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TEDxMindStreamAcademy - Kellee McQuinn - Motivating Kids to Shape the Future

Kid expert and dancing dynamo, Kellee is nicknamed "the Pied Piper with a Boom Box" by the Los Angeles Times. In 2002 she founded KidTribe, an international children's fitness, nutrition and self-esteem program that has activated over 3 million kids and teachers in thousands of schools and communities throughout the US and the UK. With a mission to provoke a positively contagious environment where being healthy, happy and sweaty is cool, Kellee has created numerous award winning kids' fitness videos and cutting edge curricula. Most recently she wrote, directed and produced an edutainment "hip-hopera" for NASA called Space School Musical that is revolutionizing science education. Partnering with the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, Kellee and the KidTribe Crew enjoyed the honor of performing at the White House for the Easter Egg Roll in 2010 and 2011, as well as Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play in DC for over 60000 families. This year Kellee received the Community Leadership Award by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition and she continues her commitment to ensure that wherever she goes, there's never a dry armpit in the house. MindStream Academy is a fun, innovative co-ed boarding program where teens achieve healthy weight, get fit and build self esteem by nurturing their Mind, Body, and Spirit. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a <b>...</b>

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Exile Without End

There are nearly 4.7 million refugees that have been displaced from Palestine after the creation of Israel more than 60 years ago. Many fled to neighboring countries in hopes of returning after the violence in Palestine had ended.  CBC News correspondent Nahlah Ayed and Radio Canada’s Ahmed Kouaou and Danny Braün spend two weeks in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut.  Shatilla is one of the poorest and most densely populated refugee camps in the Middle East.  Interactive graphics map out the historical events that affected millions of people.  Still photographs and videos paint a picture of everyday life for the inhabitants of Shatila.  It is a life where displacement has torn the identities away from these people, where their opportunities are stifled.  Children play in the streets with makeshift guns, many resigned to living in encampments.

Hotel Poverty

San Francisco has the third-highest median income in the United States.  Hidden in the shadows of San Francisco’s Financial District are 30,000 people living in single-room occupancy hotels.  Shane Bauer’s project Hotel Poverty reveals masses of people dealing with their daily struggles of turning their lives around, feeding themselves and surviving in the midst of rampant drug use, cutthroat hustlers and substandard living conditions where private showers or toilets are rare.  Various circumstances have  have brought them here, but they share a life in the shadows of society.

Under One Roof

Meet the Lee family; they are three generations of Chinese Americans who share living in their family’s Chinatown building in New York.   According to the Census Bureau, 10% of households in New York City span three or more generations.  The New York Times explores the multi-generational dynamics through innovative use of video that “simulcasts” the three generations at the same time.

Made by Hand
“Distillery” is the first film in the Made by Hand project, a series that celebrates the artisan handmade movement.  The premise is that  the things we use, consume, collect and share are part of who we are as individuals.  Each film in the  series aims to tell the stories behind locally made, sustainable crafts and the spirit of artisans.

Brad Estabrooke is a modern-day entrepreneur who was disgruntled after being laid off from his “lousy job.”  Inspired by local artists in his neighboring borough of Brooklyn, Estabrooke works to realize his dream of learning the craft of distilling to open the first gin distillery in Brooklyn since Prohibition.

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