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Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, a magnitude 8.0 quake which struck a mountainous region in southwestern China, destroying several villages, killing more than 70,000, and leaving another 18,000 still listed as missing. In the hard-hit town of Beichuan, dozens of massive buildings toppled or collapsed. Chinese authorities decided to stabilize the remaining buildings after the earthquake, preserving the entire town as a memorial to the tremendous loss. Collected here are photographs of Beichuan as it stands today, mourners paying their respects, a newly-opened museum, and some of the rebuilding taking place in the region. See also: The Legacy of Sichuan's Big Earthquake. [26 photos]

Residents gather before a monument on the 5th anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, on May 12, 2013, in Yingxiu township of Wenchuan county, Sichuan province. China. (AFP/Getty Images)     

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The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest, now in its 25th year, has begun. There is still plenty of time to enter. The entry deadline is Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Entrants may submit their photographs in any or all of the four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The magazine's photo editors showcase their favorite entries each week in galleries. You can also vote for your favorites. "The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult," says Keith Bellows, magazine editor in chief. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly edited for readability.) As always, you can take a look at some of last year's entries and winners.. -- Paula Nelson ( 40 photos total)
OUTDOOR SCENES - Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl - Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey. Okeefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA. (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)     

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California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. yesterday declared this week as "Wildfire Awareness Week" in recognition of last week's devastating fires northwest of Los Angeles. His proclamation noted, "In an average year, wildfires burn 900,000 acres of California's timber and grasslands." Rains that moved into the area on Monday helped extinguish the fires that started last Thursday along US Route 101 near Camarillo Springs and Thousand Oaks, endangering some 4,000 homes. -- Lloyd Young ( 31 photos total)
A man on a rooftop looks at approaching flames as the Springs Fire continues to grow on May 3 near Camarillo, Calif. The wildfire has spread to more than 18,000 acres on day two and is 20 percent contained. (David Mcnew/Getty Images)     

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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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In today's pictures, a farmer finds World War I munitions in France, poisoned oak trees are cut down at Auburn University, France legalizes same-sex marriage, and more.

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New Zealand photographer, Amos Chapple, made three visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran between December 2011 and January 2013. Chapple "was amazed by the difference in western perceptions of the country and what I saw on the ground…" He goes on to say that every traveller he met inside Iran had the same sense of surprise. The government continues its anti-western campaign, but Chapple explains what was once a popular sentiment has long since faded with Iranians. Chapple describes this as a "constant embarrassment for ordinary Iranians. In the time I spent there, I never received anything but goodwill and decency, which stands in clear contrast to my experience in other middle eastern countries." A sampling of Chapple's images are featured in this post. -- Paula Nelson (The captions were provided by the photographer. All images are copyrighted.)( 25 photos total)
Palangan Village, in the mountains near the Iraq border. Palangan, illustrative of many of the country's rural settlements, has benefitted handsomely from government support. Many villagers are employed in a nearby fish farm, or are paid members of the Basij, whose remit includes prevention of "westoxification", and the preservation of everything the 1979 islamic revolution and its leader the Ayatollah Khomeini stood for - including strict rules on female clothing and male/female interaction. (Amos Chapple)

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