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from Full Focus:

Burning Man

Over 65,000 revelers from all over the world gathered at the sold out festival to spend a week in the remote desert cut off from much of the outside world to experience art, music and the unique community that develops.

from Photographers' Blog:

Living as a Muslim in Paris

Paris, France

By Youssef Boudlal

Photographing the daily life of Muslims in Paris is a challenge. I discovered this by throwing myself into the project, which rapidly became a story of failed encounters, rejection and disappointment. Among the people I met, the fear of prejudice towards the Muslim world was intense, as was the worry that cliches about the community could be fueled or spread by images.

I met a good number of people as part of my investigation. The first few were in the suburbs of Paris, home to a large Muslim community. In Vitry-sur-Seine, I met four twenty-somethings of North African origin sitting outside a church. I explained my project to them and their suspicions were quickly aroused. I was asked about my job, the reasons for my project and why I was interested in them. They worried about how my images would be used. One of them took me for a spy.

from Photographers' Blog:

Beware of Englishmen in Civvies

Novi Sad, Serbia

By Marko Djurica

At the Exit Festival in Serbia’s second city Novi Sad, you won’t find any signs pointing the way to the closest place to egress, but only signs for “emergency escape.” It is intentional so that concertgoers don’t get confused that the party continues outside the fence, but I came to see it as a hidden message.

The festival is held on the grounds of Petrovaradin, a medieval fortress on the banks of the Danube River, and has been drawing crowds from the region and from Europe for over 14 years. The original festival grew out of a post-war student protest movement against the regime of former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic. The name was meant to be a clear call for the Milosevic regime to step down and for society to leave the consequences of a terrible dark decade behind. The festival climaxed in the mid 2000s when it was recognized as one of Europe’s top ten festivals. Since then, it has all been downhill.

from Photographers' Blog:

A widow’s refuge offers solace to the sorrowful

Vrindavan, India

By Adnan Abidi

The sound of applause echoing in the dingy shelter forced a smile on the face of Tulshi Dasi. An expression she had almost forgotten since her world turned white. The reason: she could now write and had just finished writing the English alphabet on a blackboard. And all this at the age of 70! She had never felt this empowered and never knew that learning was so much fun. As Dasi wrote a new chapter in her life in the grimy shelter in Vrindavan, that she shares with many women like her, her companions, around 50 odd widows applauded her progress.

GALLERY: WIDOW REFUGE

Widows, either abandoned by their family members or shunned by society, find their life's last refuge in various government run shelters such as this one. They come here from all across the country, but mostly from Bengal, where they survive by begging and chanting hymns in temples.

from Lauren Tara LaCapra:

As Morgan Stanley drops “Smith Barney,” some wonder about the brand

At the Goldman Sachs investor conference on Tuesday, Morgan Stanley wealth management executive Greg Fleming ran through his 31 slides like a financially savvy drill sergeant, with a full discussion of margins, lending, technology, "value propositions" and "illustrative solutions."

But in the Q&A session, he was asked an unusually thoughtful question by an audience member: What about the brand, and the culture, of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management?

from Breakingviews:

West still rules in global education

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In most aspects of current affairs, the world’s traditional economic leaders are losing ground to developing nations. But when it comes to top quality universities, the old powers remain firmly in the lead. Of the top 200 universities in the world, 42 percent are in Europe and another 42 percent in the United States and Canada. Add in the countries which are basically European and American settlements - Israel, Australia and New Zealand - and the West’s share comes to 90 percent. Those countries account for only 50 percent of global GDP.

from Photographers' Blog:

A tourist in my own backyard

By Kevin Lamarque

There may be no free lunch, but for those seeking to take in art and education, visiting Washington is a bargain. The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, includes 19 museums and galleries. All of which are free of charge. Add to that the National Gallery of Art, and the only toll you will pay is the fatigue on your legs as you wander from site to site in the nation’s capital.

I have upon occasion been lured into the National Gallery of Art, located next to the U.S. Capitol, before or after covering my news assignments on Capitol Hill. The National Gallery of Art provided me with a temporary escape from the world of politics that dominates this town. It also gave me some much needed visual stimulation. I would rarely come out without some interesting photo for Reuters. I enjoyed trying to capture the aesthetic relationship between the physical space of the gallery, the art and the visitor.

from Full Focus:

Washington Museum Moments

Washington-based photographer Kevin Lamarque visits the Smithsonian museums and national galleries looking for the moment when space, display and visitors combine in a visually striking instant. Read Kevin's personal account of events here.

from Photographers' Blog:

Addicted to the needle

By Jason Reed and Larry Downing

The tattoo is as ancient as time itself.

Born out of man’s desire to draw more than straight, simple lines, today’s tattoos have evolved into beautiful interpretations by savvy artists that bend those old lines into colorful masterpieces etched onto a virgin canvas of skin with sharp needles and bright inks. Lifetimes of stories of hard love, or high adventures archived onto an arm, a leg, or for that matter, anywhere skin lives for curious eyes to enjoy forever.

The hobby of collecting tattoos has exploded into the mainstream. Look around and you’ll find them worn by anyone…. and anywhere. Annual conventions and competitions are held freely inside luxury hotels instead of hidden from view. Tattoos are even stars of their own reality television shows.

from Edward Hadas:

What price beauty?

From a narrow economic perspective, the art world is working brilliantly. But the success shows just how narrow that perspective really is.  

Start at the very top end of the art market: last week's sale of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" for $120 million, a record for any artwork sold at auction. It may seem bizarre for an icon of cultural despair to become a token of financial exuberance, but the transaction reinforced the social meaning of art among the elite.  

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