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from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 14 November 2010

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A salute to all those who managed to get pictures, text and video out of Myanmar (Burma) of the release of Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a truly historic moment.  No foreign journalists were given visas to cover the election or Suu Kyi's release and there's no Internet.  Respect to you all.

MYANMAR-SUUKYI/

Aung San Suu Kyi (C) waves to supporters gathered to hear her speech outside the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party in Yangon November 14, 2010. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on Sunday for freedom of speech in army-ruled Myanmar, urged thousands of supporters to stand up for their rights, and indicated she may urge the West to end sanctions.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

MYANMAR-SUU KYI/

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks with supporters after she was released from house arrest in Yangon November 13, 2010. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

U.S President Obama's wrapped up his visit to Asia, where he visited India, Indonesia, Korea for the G20 and Japan for APEC. Having sat and edited the whole G20 Summit I can tell you first hand it is not the easiest place to try to shoot good pictures. Organisers try to create sanitised PR images that attempt to show the event in the best light; top leaders in an atmosphere of unity and cultural understanding where, hopefully, nothing uncontrolled happens. Good to see that the organisers placed Obama and the photographer, Jim Young, in just the right position to ensure that the most important person, Obama, has the biggest white hat.  Respect to you all. Below that are two more pictures where a coincidence of background and foreground has come together in an unexpected unity that allows the viewer enough visual ambiguity to ask questions.  "Mr President: Do you feel that on the international stage you are a shadow of your former self after your poor US election results? And "Prime Minister do you feel that as your austerity measures bit really hard, sparking violent demonstrations in London that will it undermine your position as leader of the coalition government with calls for a change in leadership and direction? "

from Tales from the Trail:

For Obama, what’s bigger challenge — being a dad or being president?

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Barack Obama has a storied resume but the job he says is the hardest may surprise you: being a father.

OBAMAThe U.S. president, who has drawn headlines for pushing dads to be more involved in their children's lives, returned to the subject on Monday.

from Russell Boyce:

Finding a nugget in the murky waters

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One of the greatest pleasures in editing photographers work is finding an interesting visual nugget that may have already been missed. In years of  looking at raw material a common trait I have spotted is that photographers who are headed to an assignment see something they are attracted to and take a picture of it thinking "that looks interesting".  The assignment is shot, the pictures are quickly edited, captioned and transmitted but the picture that was instinctively taken because it was interesting is often condemned to the darkness of the archive folder on the backup hard drive, never to be transmitted because it was not part of the assignment.

I was asked by our Hanoi based photographer Kham to have a second look at his file of the state visit of East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta to Vietnam; a good selection of handshakes, parade inspections and smiling suits. Then a pleasant surprise - at the end of the file were eleven frames of a fully dressed woman, nose and mouth covered with mask, wearing a traditional Vietnamese hat wading chin deep in water.  

from Africa News blog:

Sudan’s “foolproof” elections

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SUDAN-ELECTIONS/It all started so well... the lines of voters sheltering patiently in the shade from the sweltering heat to vote in Sudan's first open polls in 24 years.

Many criticised the opposition for boycotting the vote, saying it was missing out on a national event.

from Africa News blog:

When is an election boycott not an election boycott?

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sudanWhen it takes place in Sudan.

Preparations for Sudan's general elections -- due to start tomorrow -- were thrown into confusion over the past two weeks as opposition parties issued contradictory statements over whether they were boycotting the polls.

Some announced a total withdrawal, protesting against fraud and unrest in Darfur, only to change their minds days later. Others pulled out from parts of the elections -- presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial votes are taking place at the same time -- then changed their minds days later. Others left it up to individual candidates to decide.

from Africa News blog:

A new dawn for Sudanese press freedom?

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SUDAN-DARFUR/

Hosting a rare debate between Sudan’s much-maligned National Elections Commission (NEC) and opposition parties, the privately owned Blue Nile television was taking a risk broadcasting live to the nation.

In a country where, ahead of April’s first multi-party elections in 24 years, party political broadcasts are pre-recorded and censored, the evening promised to be fun.

from Africa News blog:

Sudan’s elections brinkmanship – can the opposition unite?

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SUDAN-OPPOSITION/

In a shock unilateral announcement, the leading south Sudanese party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), withdrew its presidential candidate, Yasir Arman, and said it would also boycott elections on all levels in  Darfur.

It paved the way for incumbent President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to win the April 11-18 polls. Arman was viewed as his main challenger, with much of south Sudan’s support – about 25 percent of the 16-million strong electorate.

from Photographers' Blog:

Destination: Afghanistan

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It all started out with a phone call from Reuters News Pictures Washington Editor In Charge Jim Bourg on Thursday night informing me there was a secret Presidential trip leaving on Saturday to an undisclosed destination which Reuters would like me to travel with the president on. I was told that this was very secretive and that I was not to mention it to anyone and that no details were available yet. I had been with President Obama on his secret trip to Baghdad last year, so it was pretty easy to figure out that the destination this time might be Afghanistan, a trip which had been highly anticipated since Obama became president 15 months ago. I was to expect to be contacted directly by the White House for a meeting to discuss the details. But I was to "open" the White House as the first Reuters photographer arriving there on Friday morning at 7am, my scheduled shift, and to go about my day as planned acting as if everything was normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That afternoon I was called in to meet with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in his office at 4pm, along with some of the other members of the 14 person media travel pool who would be going on the secret trip aboard Air Force One.

from Africa News blog:

Will Jonathan’s good luck hold out?

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goodluckThe puns were too much for the Nigerian press (and me) to resist in headlines after Goodluck Jonathan quietly managed to get himself into the top job without even appearing to want a position left open for more than two months by the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Suddenly it seems that everyone and his brother is congratulating themselves on having found such a wise way out of the impasse that derived from the ambitions of those in the various camps and the ambiguity of a constitution that had never foreseen such an eventuality.

from Global News Journal:

Cometh the hour, cometh Van Rompuy?

van rompuy2Three months ago, Herman van Rompuy might have struggled to be recognised on the streets of his native Belgium, let alone Paris or London. The bookish former prime minister, a fan of camping holidays and Haiku poetry, was nothing if not low-key; a studious consensus builder in the world of Belgian politics.

Three months on and Van Rompuy, 62, may not outwardly have changed much, but his title and the expectations surrounding him certainly have. In November he was chosen to be the first permanent president of the European Council, the body that represents the EU's 27 leaders, and on Thursday he will host those heads of state and government at an economic summit in Brussels -- the first such gathering he has chaired.

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