Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Malcom W. Browne on his photo and the Buddhist Protests of 1963 :
“Because of what I knew of the Buddhist tradition in Vietnam, I realized that it had to be taken seriously. So while other correspondents got tired of the endless Buddhist street demonstrations that were going on all that summer, I stuck with them, because I had the sense that sooner or later something would happen. I became a familiar presence at the main pagoda in Saigon. The monks knew that I appreciated their cuisine. We were friendly. One of them was a Yale graduate, as a matter of fact. And I was sincerely interested in what they were doing, quite aside from the news value of it.One monk in particular would telephone me in advance the night before something was planned. One night he advised me to come to the pagoda at seven the next morning because something very special and important was going to happen. He sent the same message to half a dozen other American correspondents, but they all ignored it. I did not. That was all.That morning a Buddhist monk went out and sat down in a main intersection in downtown Saigon. Two of his fellow monks poured gasoline over him, and he set himself on fire and died. I was there, the only western correspondent present and taking pictures. I suppose I took six or eight rolls of 35-millimeter film.It was clearly theater staged by the Buddhists to achieve a certain political end. At the same time, there was a human element to it that was just horrifying, because the sequence of pictures showed the initial shock of the flames touching his face, and so forth. He never cried out or screamed, but you could see from his expression that he was exposed to intense agony, and that he was dying on the spot — and then, in the end, when the body was rigidly burned, they couldn’t stuff him into a casket because he was splayed out in all directions. As shock photography goes, it was hard to beat. It’s not something that I’m particularly proud of. If one wants to be gruesome about it, it was a very easy sequence of pictures to take. Work is a great panacea for the horrors of that sort of situation, or of a battle, for that matter. I think combat photographers are very conscious of the idea that the real fear comes later, after they get home and develop their film and have a look at what they were through. Then they are aware that they nearly died.It was a picture that meant many things to many different people and interests. The Chinese and the North Vietnamese regarded it as a wonderful propaganda picture, and of course they labeled it “A Buddhist priest dies to oppose U.S. imperialism and its influence in Vietnam.” In the United States, it was regarded as a picture of a martyr who had died for a worthy cause, and therefore other Americans should support the overthrow of an autocratic Catholic government that had been supported by President Kennedy.I’ve been asked a couple times whether I could have prevented the suicide. I could not. There was a phalanx of perhaps two hundred monks and nuns who were ready to block me if I tried to move. A couple of them chucked themselves under the wheels of a fire truck that arrived. But in the years since, I’ve had this searing feeling of perhaps having in some way contributed to the death of a kind old man who probably would not have done what he did — nor would the monks in general have done what they did — if they had not been assured of the presence of a newsman who could convey the images and experience to the outer world. Because that was the whole point — to produce theater of the horrible so striking that the reasons for the demonstrations would become apparent to everyone. And, of course, they did. The following day, President Kennedy had the photograph on his desk, and he called in Henry Cabot Lodge, who was about to leave for Saigon as U.S. ambassador, and told him, in effect, “This sort of thing has got to stop.” And that was the beginning of the end of American support for the Ngo Dinh Diem regime.”
Photo : Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sets himself ablaze in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, 1963. © Malcolm W. Browne/AP
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Cecilia Giménez, 81, thought she was doing a good thing. A 19th century fresco by painter Elias Garcia Martinez had slowly been battered by time. The masterpiece portrait of Jesus had faded. His tunic was splashed by bare wall and half his face had gone missing.
Giménez, a member of the church where the fresco was located, took it upon herself to restore it to its former glory. Except, well, her artistic skills weren't up to the task.
The pictures tell the story, here, so we'll just show you.
On the left is what Ecce Homo should look like; in the middle is what it looked like at the church and to the right is what it looked like after Giménez was done with it.
Mitt Romney outlined an energy plan Thursday that would guide his Republican presidency. It focuses heavily on expanding the supply of fossil fuels. The presumptive nominee said the U.S., Mexico and Canada together could reach energy independence by 2020.
But the plan makes no mention of climate change and would end subsidies for cleaner sources of energy, such as wind and solar.
Romney unveiled the energy plan at a campaign stop in New Mexico, where he fought the wind as he showed flip charts of his policy. That was wind's major appearance in a speech that was overwhelmingly about fossil fuels.
The plan would open up oil and gas development off the Atlantic Coast, as well as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And he proposed putting states in charge of regulating oil and gas development on federal lands.
"Three million jobs come back to this country, by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet," Romney said. "That's oil and gas and coal. We're going to make it happen; we're going to create those jobs."
The Romney energy plan, laid out in a 21-page white paper, relies heavily on creating deeper partnerships with Mexico and Canada. Mexico could use technical help to reverse its declining oil production, he said, and "Canada has oil sands. We're going to take advantage of those, and build that Keystone pipeline and work with Canada to make sure we have advantage of their great energy sources."
All told, that would dramatically boost oil and gas production, the candidate said.
"I will set a national goal of ... North American energy independence by 2020."
The Romney white paper cites a study by Citibank showing that is possible — provided there are sharp efforts to reduce energy demand. But energy conservation is not part of the Romney plan.
Energy independence is often cited as a way to be free of price fluctuations caused by conflicts in oil-rich regions. But that wouldn't actually lock in stable oil prices.
"Last year, when civil war broke out in Libya and oil markets were deeply disrupted, the price of oil from Canada went up by more in percentage terms than oil from the Middle East," says Michael Levi from the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Prices are driven by the global market, regardless of where the U.S. buys the oil from, because if the world price skyrockets, trading partners would cash in on that. Overall, Levi praises some of the fossil fuel proposals in the Romney plan, though he says it addresses only part of the energy picture.
"The word climate does not appear in the energy plan. That is a conspicuous absence," Levi says.
You can't deal with climate change without finding ways to reduce burning fossil fuels, and that's not in the Romney plan. Indeed, the Republican says he does not want to continue subsidizing wind and solar energy, which are clean supplies of energy.
That drew a rebuke from the White House.
"While the Republican approach denigrates forms of energy like wind, this president believes that investing in renewable energy is essential to enhancing our energy independence," said spokesman Jay Carney.
In his energy speech, Romney framed the matter quite differently.
"Sometimes, I have the impression that the whole regulatory attitude of the administration is trying to stop oil and gas and coal," Romney said. "That they don't want those sources, that instead they want to get those things so expensive and so rare that wind and solar become highly cost effective and efficient."
Romney said he likes wind and solar "as much as the next person," but those technologies should rise or fall simply on their economic merits.
Republicans approve the “most conservative platform in modern history”
Find details at ThinkProgress
- No abortion in cases of rape or incest
- A salute to mandatory ultrasounds
- No legal recognition of same-sex couples
- Arizona-style immigration laws
- Audit the Federal Reserve
- No women in combat
- No statehood, but more guns for Washington D.C.