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United Arab Emirates

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(author unknown)

The time to enter the 25th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is running short -- entries will be accepted for another few days, until June 30, 2013. The first prize winner will receive a 10-day Galapagos expedition for two. National Geographic was once more kind enough to allow me to share some of the later entries with you here, gathered from four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. Photos and captions by the photographers. Also, be sure to see Part 1, earlier on In Focus. [46 photos]

From the 'Sense of Place' category, a couple paddle out for a sunset surf in the coastal surfing town of Byron Bay, Australia. (© Ming Nomchong/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)     

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Sophie Butcher

In 2007, after only one year of working as a freelance photographer in Toronto, Philip Cheung was asked to shoot for a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, a move that eventually led him to spend a total of five years professionally photographing the Middle East.

“It was a very spontaneous move,” Cheung told TIME. He arrived knowing very little about the region — when he was still in Canada, he was able to find very little concrete information about the country. But once he arrived, he began relentlessly observing and researching the lives he found around him. This diligence aided him as he crafted a series of photographs that embody much of the United Arab Emirates’ fast-changing landscapes.

It’s not hard to notice the rate at which the UAE is developing and adapting as a country. “In 2008 and 2009, I spent some time taking pictures in Mussafah, an industrial town and a suburb of Abu Dhabi. It was known for its labor camps, home to many of the country’s labor force. A year later, when I returned to Mussafah, once a small, bustling city within a city, full of shacks, low-end restaurants, convenience stores and makeshift markets  — it had completely disappeared. The camp had been demolished and the laborers were moved to better housing,” he says.

Oil-driven development has propelled cities and suburbs through drastic change. Foreigners now make up 85% of the population, people come and go, and with them come radical cultural shifts. Cheung’s approach is interesting and unusual, focusing on rather anonymous objects in sparse environments. Ultimately, his photographs show the strange and beautiful result of two very different cultures — the local Bedouin culture and the international business-oriented culture — as they try to co-exist in one space.

Cheung explains that the absence of men, women and cultural reference points was deliberate, so that he may push the boundaries of the kinds of photos he wanted to make, and take a closer look at the environment and its awkward subtleties. “My focus for the project is space — as a holding environment for human interaction or the remnants of it. People, especially the expatriates, are present in many of the images indirectly as the foreign influence on this evolving space.”

Today, when one searches for ‘Abu Dhabi’ online, there are pages and pages of links detailing countless tourist attractions and activities. Cheung’s series of photographs are an interesting documentation of this change, but also act as a personal reminder of Cheung’s experience there. “Taking these photos was like writing in a journal,” he says. Now, back in Toronto and starting to re-build a home for himself, he looks back on his five year journey.

“Just like all those people coming in and out of the city, it felt like my time to go through the revolving door and head home.”

Philip Cheung is a photographer currently based in Toronto. He has recently returned to Canada after five years in the Middle East where he worked on commissioned and self-initiated projects.

Sophie Butcher is a writer and photographer based in New York.

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Original author: 
Adrianne Jeffries

Atm_robbers_large

Defendants Elvis Rafael Rodriguez and Emir Yasser Yeje posing with approximately $40,000 with cash. Source: US Attorney, Eastern District of New York

If you’d been waiting for the ATM inside the deli at East 59th and Third in Manhattan on Tuesday, February 19th around 9:24PM, you would have been annoyed. A young man in a black beanie and puffy black jacket made seven withdrawals in a row, stuffing around $5,620 into his blue backpack. The man wasted no time. He exited the deli and headed up five blocks to repeat the process at four more ATMs, finishing his route at a Chase bank at 69th and Third at 9:55PM, where he made four withdrawals totaling $4,000.

While the man in the black beanie was beelining along the Upper East Side, seven...

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Original author: 
Dan Goodin

Wikipedia

Federal authorities have accused eight men of participating in 21st-Century Bank heists that netted a whopping $45 million by hacking into payment systems and eliminating withdrawal limits placed on prepaid debit cards.

The eight men formed the New York-based cell of an international crime ring that organized and executed the hacks and then used fraudulent payment cards in dozens of countries to withdraw the loot from automated teller machines, federal prosecutors alleged in court papers unsealed Thursday. In a matter of hours on two separate occasions, the eight defendants and their confederates withdrew about $2.8 million from New York City ATMs alone. At the same times, "cashing crews" in cities in at least 26 countries withdrew more than $40 million in a similar fashion.

Prosecutors have labeled this type of heist an "unlimited operation" because it systematically removes the withdrawal limits normally placed on debit card accounts. These restrictions work as a safety mechanism that caps the amount of loss that banks normally face when something goes wrong. The operation removed the limits by hacking into two companies that process online payments for prepaid MasterCard debit card accounts issued by two banks—the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC in the United Arab Emirates and the Bank of Muscat in Oman—according to an indictment filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. Prosecutors didn't identify the payment processors except to say one was in India and the other in the United States.

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Simple and efficient, rail travel nonetheless inspires a sense of romance. By train, subway, and a seemingly endless variety of trams, trolleys, and coal shaft cars, we've moved on rails for hundreds of years. Industry too relies on the billions of tons of freight moved annually by rolling stock. Gathered here are images of rails in our lives, the third post in an occasional series on transport, following Automobiles and Pedal power. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
An employee adjusts a CRH380B high-speed Harmony bullet train as it stops for an examination during a test run at a bullet train exam and repair center in Shenyang, China on October 23, 2012. (Stringer/Reuters)     

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