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from Photographers' Blog:

Waiting to die

Varanasi, India
By Danish Siddiqui

The River Ganges is sacred in Hinduism, and the city of Varanasi, which lies on its banks, is one of the oldest and holiest sites for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.

Devotees believe that you can wash away your sins by taking a dip in the Ganges at Varanasi. What’s more, dying and having your ashes scattered here is a sacred thing for Hindus who believe that it brings “moksha,” or freedom for the soul from the constant cycle of death and rebirth. To attain this salvation, many travel to Varanasi to die.

A woman stands in a street outside the Mukti Bhawan (Salvation Home) at Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, June 17, 2014. Picture taken June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

“Mukti Bhavan,” or “Salvation House,” is a charity-run hostel for people who wish to pass away in the city. It has 12 rooms, a temple and small quarters for its priests. Lodging there comes with certain conditions: guests have two weeks to die or they are gently asked to move on.

Sometimes, Bhairav Nath Shukla, the hostel manager, extends his guests’ stays by a few days if he thinks the person is about to die. Eerily enough, Shukla can often predict roughly when it will happen.

from Photographers' Blog:

Uighurs of Shanghai

Shanghai, China
By Aly Song

The traditional home of China’s Muslim Uighur community is the far western state of Xinjiang, a region that has been plagued by violence in recent years.

The government blames a series of attacks on Islamist militants and Uighur separatists, who it says want to set up an independent state called East Turkestan. But human rights activists say that government policies - including restrictions on Islam - have stirred up the unrest, although the government strongly denies this.

from Photographers' Blog:

A touch of normality

Juba, South Sudan
By Andreea Campeanu

I first heard about kickboxing in Juba over a year ago, long before fighting broke out in South Sudan that has so far killed over 10,000 people.

The kickboxing team had members from different tribes as well as two South Sudanese girls and two Italian girls who were training with them. There were about 20 of them altogether.

from Full Focus:

Photos of the week

Our top photos from the past week.

from Photographers' Blog:

More than cojones

Pamplona, Spain

By Vincent West

“Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves.”

- George Mallory, mountaineer.

“I think about my mother," says bullrunner Deirdre Carney.

"I don't think a lot of men think about that. It might be a woman thing… Women think about the loved ones that will be harmed by them being harmed.”

U.S. runner Deirdre Carney (R) talks to veteran runner Joe Distler following the seventh running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 13, 2014. The festival, a heady mix of drinking, dancing, late nights and bullfights, made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his novel "The Sun Also Rises", runs for nine days until July 14. Four runners were hospitalized following the run that lasted two minutes and fifty-two seconds, according to local media. REUTERS/Vincent West (SPAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS SPORT ATHLETICS)

Carney is talking about her thoughts before running with the bulls at Pamplona’s famous San Fermin festival, where being harmed is a definite possibility.

from Photographers' Blog:

The other Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan

By Zohra Bensemra

A fist slams into a punching bag. Sparks flare from a saw as a punk carves a huge guitar from a block of stone. A female climber dangles precariously from a cliff.

A Pakistani interior designer Zahra Afridi uses a circular saw as she sculpts a guitar outside the classic rock cafe she designed in Islamabad

Welcome to Pakistan, a country of 180 million people whose residents are as varied as they come. Among them are millionaires and beggars, child brides and female executives, the Taliban and an ultra-chic international jet set.

from Photographers' Blog:

On the Sidelines of the Brazil World Cup

Miami, United States

Russell Boyce

As national soccer teams and the photographers who have been covering them start to trickle home from the Brazil World Cup, it's time to revisit the "On the Sidelines" project.

This Reuters Pictures project was billed as a chance for photographers to share “their own quirky and creative view of the World Cup". I thought that I'd examine what has been achieved.

from Photographers' Blog:

Seeking refuge in Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

By Cathal McNaughton

Gaining the trust of asylum seekers I met in Sweden and taking pictures that would grab the viewer's attention and convey the tremendous struggles and dangers they had faced was a challenge.

They were scared and suspicious and in most cases had family back in their homeland who were in danger.

from Photographers' Blog:

The soccer ball as protagonist

Brasilia, Brazil

By Ueslei Marcelino

Most Brazilians, rich or poor, are passionate about soccer. But that’s not to say that this love of the sport permanently unites the nation - recent protests over the World Cup have made that clear.

Brazilian society still suffers from class division and there is a wide gap between the wealthy and the less well-off. It seems to me that we Brazilians are not one people, but for a short while, whenever the national team plays, we can pretend we are.

from Photographers' Blog:

The good, the bad, and the ugly – diary of a World Cup photographer

Dylan Martinez, chief photographer for the United Kingdom and Ireland, is in Brazil to cover the World Cup. He’ll be keeping a diary of the highs and lows here.  

Sunday July 13

A sunny and very pleasant Rio de Janeiro

So how many nights, matches, sidelines, meals, pictures, headaches, national anthems, football chants, hotels, flights, taxis, new faces, friends, annoying people, breakfasts, uncomfortable beds, beards, repeats of useless sitcoms, stolen cameras, hotel laundries, bags, beers and dodgy rooms have we had now?

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