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European Pressphoto Agency

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They keep things out or enclose them within. They're symbols of power, and a means of control. They're canvases for art, backdrops for street theater, and placards for political messages. They're just waiting for when nobody's looking to receive graffiti. Walls of all kinds demarcate our lives. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total).
Note: You can now follow @bigpicture on the social network App.net, where you own your own data. If you'd like to try it out, we've also got some free invites for our readers.
Workers clean the curtain wall of the 40-story National Bank of Economic Social Development in Rio de Janeiro on December 12, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)     

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Sixty years ago today New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first confirmed ascent of the world's tallest peak which reaches 29,029 feet. Since then thousands of people have made the attempt, with many perishing. Just last week 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to reach the summit for the third time, although he said that he nearly died on the descent and that this would be his last time. The 1953 expedition that took Hillary and Norgay to the top ended with a stay of just 15 minutes, with Norgay leaving chocolates in the snow and Hillary leaving a cross that was given to him by Army Colonel John Hunt, the leader of the British expedition. -- Lloyd Young ( 37 photos total)
Tenzing Norgay, left, and Sir Edmund Hillary on their historic ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. (Associated Press)     

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In today's photos, a town battles with eggs and flour in Spain, new police officers graduate in New York City, beachgoers play soccer in Brazil, and more.

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Agencies and Collectives

It’s not even December yet, but some Best of 2012s are out already….

VII: Best of 2012: Highlights of a Year in Pictures | ‘VII photographers present their best images, shot or released in 2012′

Best Pictures of the Year from Agence France Presse (Whittier Daily News)

European Pressphoto Agency: The Year in Images (EPA)

Reuters’ best pictures of the year is pretty cool as it includes comments by the photographers and even technical info…

Photo © Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Photo © Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Reuters: Best Photos of The Year 2012 (Reuters)

VII Newsletter November 2012

TerraProject Newsletter November 2012

Prime Collective: Newsletter November 2012

NOOR: Evelien Kunst becomes NOOR’s new Managing Director | news on BJP

Magnum event at Frontline Club in London : Magnum Revolution: 65 Years of Fighting for Freedom : Thursday December 13, 2012 7:00 PM

Pioneer photo agency Sipa Press files for bankruptcy protection (BJP)

Katie Orlinsky joins Reportage by Getty Images as a Featured Photographer

Tommaso Protti joins Emerging Talent at Reportage by Getty Images

Firecracker November 2012

Photographers

Trailer to the upcoming McCulling documentary…Very much looking forward to seeing the film at some point…In the mean time I’ll be reading his autobiography Unreasonable Behaviour.

Trailer to the documentary ‘McCullin’ (Guardian) ‘Watch the world exclusive trailer for David and Jacqui Morris’s documentary on British photographer Don McCullin, whose acclaimed work for the Observer and the Sunday Times in Vietnam, Biafra, Cyprus and Lebanon produced some of the defining images of war. McCullin describes the ‘moral sense of purpose and duty’ behind his work. McCullin is released in the UK on 1 January 2013′

Somewhere to Disappear with Alec Soth

Looks like Contrasto has pushed the publication of James Nachtwey’s Pietas forward until September 2013… Was supposed to come out late October… Shame. Was on my wish list for Santa…

James Nachtwey: Pietas 

Reckoning at the Frontier by Eros Hoagland (Kickstarter crowdfunding) ‘Reckoning at the Frontier is an upcoming photography book that explores the drug war in northern Mexico.’

Workshop : Photographic storytelling with Sebastian Meyer and Anastasia Taylor-Lind : 7 December, London(Guardian) ‘Two eminent, widely published and very different photojournalists give a Guardian Masterclass in telling stories with images.’

Photo © Maysun

Maysun

Jordi Ruiz Cicera

David Vintiner

Matilde Gattoni

Hiroyuki Ito

Nicola Lo Calzo

Howard Schatz

Andrew Lichtenstein

Matthew Niederhauser

Lindsay Mackenzie

Andrea Frazzetta

Narciso Contreras

Georgina Cranston

Mark Seager

Matt Carr

Michal Solarski

Laura Pannack new website

Duncan Nicol Robertson

Mark Hartman

Mark Hartman on Verve

Paul Taggart on Verve

Pavel Prokopchik on Verve

Philipp Spalek  on Verve

Daniel Hartley-Allen on Verve

Linda Dorigo on Verve

Pascal Maitre

Matteo di Giovanni

Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini

Greta Pratt

Toufic Beyhum

Emine Ziyatdinova

Artur Conka

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Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Inmate Julie Harper, center, marches with members of America's only all-female chain gang early in the morning at Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona. Photos taken in May 2012 and made available to msnbc.com on June 28, 2012.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

The chain gang work in 104 degree heat, hacking at weeds at Bartlett Lake.

Photos and text by Jim Lo Scalzo, European Pressphoto Agency — It's a scene reminiscent of the Deep South at the turn of the 20th century: A dozen prisoners in pinstripes working by the side of the road, their legs shackled together and their brows dripping with sweat. Yet this is present-day Phoenix, and the prisoners are all women.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Kelly DeGrose, center, listens to a detention officer lecture them after a day's work on the chain gang.

With a few exceptions, chain gangs were abandoned in the U.S. by 1955. But Arizona's Maricopa County, which includes metropolitan Phoenix, reintroduced the practice in 1995, and today the county runs the only all-female chain gang in the country. Women volunteer for the duty, looking to break the monotony of jail life. Most are in for minor convictions - a DUI sentence, a probation violation - and are housed at the Tent City, a collection of surplus military tents erected next to Maricopa County's Estrella Jail to ease overcrowding. 

Previously on PhotoBlog: Rikers Island inmates graduate with high school diplomas

The "chain girls," as they call themselves, gather at 6 a.m., when detention officers drive them to that day's work site. It could be a local park to pick up trash, a highway roadside to pull weeds, or even a county cemetery to help bury the indigent. Though summer temperatures in Phoenix can rise above 110 degrees, inmates volunteer with surprising eagerness.

"It's worth it just to get out for a few hours," says Mickey Haas, who is serving time for a DUI. Fellow chain girl Honi Simmons agrees, adding: "It comes with a good story. I don't think people will ever believe I was in a chain gang."

Follow @msnbc_pictures

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Members of the chain gang line up for work early in the morning at Estrella Jail.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Members of the chain gang are seen in a bus driver's mirror en route to White Tanks Cemetery to help bury the indigent.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

The chain gang help bury an unclaimed body at White Tanks Cemetery, an indigent burial site in the desert west of Phoenix.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Inmates Alma Madrigal, left, and Jennifer Thomas, right, help Lisa McCorvey roll up her sleeves before a day's work.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Members of the chain gang clean the dust off their boots after another day's work in the desert.

 

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