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Jorge Silva

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Pope Benedict XVI is back in Rome following his week-long-travels to Mexico and Cuba. In reviewing almost 4,000 images that documented his historic travels to the two countries, I decided to concentrate on Cuba, a country that because of travel restrictions, still remains a bit of a mystery to most of us. The first image, though, shows the Pope traveling to Cristo Rey sanctuary in Mexico to lead the holy mass celebration. The Pope urged the faithful to seek a humble and pure heart and trust in God in the face of evil. While in Cuba, in the heart of Revolution Square, with the towering images of guerrilla heroes staring back at him, the Pope called for "authentic freedom" in one of the world's most authoritarian states. Benedict's visit comes 14 years after the historic first papal trip to Cuba by Pope John Paul II, a visit that yielded an era of greater religious expression. – Paula Nelson (50 photos total)
Pope Benedict XVI looks from the helicopter at the Cristo Rey sanctuary as arrives to lead the holy mass celebration at the Parque del Bicentenario in Silao, March 25, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI sought to boost the Catholic faith in the face of violence and other challenges on his first visit to Mexico, receiving eager support from vast crowds of Mexicans. (Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images)

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Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day, an event established by the United Nations in 1993 to highlight the challenges associated with this precious resource. Each year has a theme, and this year's is "Water and Food Security." The UN estimates that more than one in six people worldwide lack access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. And as the world's population grows beyond 7 billion, clean water is growing scarcer in densely populated areas as well as in remote villages. Collected here are recent images showing water in our lives -- how we use it, abuse it, and depend on it. [36 photos]

A journalist takes a sample of polluted red water from the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, China, on December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution were two illegal chemical plants discharging their production wastewater into the rain sewer pipes. (Reuters/China Daily)

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On October 31, 2011, the United Nations is expected to announce a projected world population figure of 7 billion. This global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date that we will hit the 7 billion mark - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March. In the last 50 years, humanity has more than doubled. What could the next decade mean for our numbers and the planet? In this post, we focus on births, but we'll be back with population-related content including it's affect on the environment and our food supply. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)
A baby, minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Oct. 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year. The cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

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The United Nations estimates that in one week, on October 31, 2011, the world's population will reach 7 billion. Just 200 years ago, there were only 1 billion people on the planet, and over the next 150 years, that number grew to 3 billion. But in the past 50 years, the world's population has more than doubled, and it is projected to grow to 15 billion by the year 2100. As the UN points out, this increasing rate of change brings with it enormous challenges. Meeting the basic needs of so many will meaning growing, shipping, and distributing more food while providing more clean water, health care, and shelter -- all without inflicting too much further damage on our environment. [42 photos]

A baby gestures minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year and the cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

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The spectacle of gaudy colors, outlandish floats, airborne beads, and extravagant costumes was not limited to the French Quarter of New Orleans Tuesday. Weeks of pre-Lent celebrations culminated into explosions of exhilarating events for "Fat Tuesday" and Carnival around the globe. Historians say the Mardi Gras tradition dates back to Roman times, when the newly converted Christians retained vestiges of their pagan festival "Lupercalia" as a period of celebration before the penance of Lent. That spirit ricochets today from the revelers of Carnival in Brazil to the flour-tossing sprites of Greece to the ebullient trombones of Bourbon Street. -- Lloyd Young (43 photos total)
A Grande Rio samba school dancer performs while parading through the Sambadrome during carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8. (Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press)

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