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from Photographers' Blog:

The first embrace

On the road with President Obama in Myanmar

By Jason Reed

It was something you wouldn’t dream of ten years ago. Based then as a photographer in Bangkok, our forays into neighboring Myanmar consisted of clandestine treks across a slippery border into the jungle camps of Karen rebels. Rebels who were child soldiers brandishing impossibly heavy weapons in their fight against a military junta that had not only persecuted them but also banished Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi into years of house arrest - denying her a place in the political landscape following democratic general elections in May, 1990.

Journalist visas to Myanmar were almost impossible to obtain and the only visual fruit they bore was to strictly-controlled, officially-sanctioned photo opportunities at the ceremonial burning of illicit drugs intercepted from the golden triangle.

Fast forward to November 19, 2012 and the dream is now reality – a first embrace by the United States government to the new social and political reforms in Myanmar. We’re flying into Yangon in a plane bearing the seal of the President of the United States. As journalists we are privileged to have a front-row seat to history. In this case, it was the first visit by a U.S. president to this nation as it slowly reveals itself from behind a curtain of 50 years of strict military rule and international sanctions.

Yangon airport, where in a past life I smuggled memory cards of images out of the country concealed in my underwear, is now a flashy contrast of glass and steel. On the road to town is where the first true glimpse of social upheaval hits you – British colonial-era boulevards lined with thousands of flag-waving children and families, office workers craning their necks for a glimpse of President Obama as his entourage motorcades to a meeting with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein. At times the crowd were just inches from our vehicles as they sped past.

from Photographers' Blog:

Royal media circus comes to Canada

The last few days have been frantic to say the least as part of the traveling media circus following William and Kate across Canada.

There are no media charter flights on this particular tour which means that in order to stay apace with the couple's Canadian airforce jet we are constantly having to decide which events to shoot whilst leaving us enough time to dash to the airport to get our scheduled flights.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Ewwwwwww, we must be in France!

naked fan 490

Welcome back to our ever-popular feature, "Stuff Maybe We Should Have Mentioned in the Photo Caption, but didn't."

tour crop 180Today we see riders in the Tour de France, and the caption informs us they are being greeted by "fans."

from Fan Fare:

Perez Hilton’s ambitious concert tour dogged by apathy

Gossip columnist Perez Hilton probably hoped for bigger crowds and better buzz for his inaugural North American tour of up-and-coming musical acts. But the three-and-a-half week trek ended on a high note on Saturday as upwards of a thousand people showed up at the Avalon Hollywood theater to check out the vibrant lineup of would-be superstars.

ladyhawkeNumbers may have been boosted by the addition of a not-so-secret mystery headliner, indie rock band The Gossip, who are probably better known internationally. The other performers on the final stop of the "Perez Hilton Presents" club tour included the B-52s-like rock band Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, English singer/songwriter Julian Perretta, the glam-rock New York band Semi Precious Weapons, and usual headliner New Zealand dance-pop-rock starlet Ladyhawke (pictured at left).

from Fan Fare:

Kanye West’s arena tour with Lady Gaga killed off

If Taylor Swift had any intentions of catching Kanye West on the rapper's North American concert tour with Lady Gaga, she will now have to make other plans. The trek is off, according to a terse statement issued Thursday afternoon by concert promoter Live Nation.

kanye"Live Nation announced today that the Kanye West and Lady Gaga 'Fame Kills' tour has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the point of purchase. Tickets purchased online and via phone will be refunded automatically."

from Fan Fare:

UPDATE – The Aerosmith tour cancellation you saw coming

Word has finally come from camp Aerosmith that the band will cancel its tour. It really came as no surprise, considering the extent of the injuries suffered by lead singer Steven Tyler last week.

stevenBefore the official word of the cancellation, Tyler, 61, described what happened when he fell from the stage and broke his shoulder during a concert on Aug. 5 near Sturgis, South Dakota.

from Raw Japan:

Moonwalking with MJ

I learned of Michael Jackson's death this morning in a news bulletin from public broadcaster NHK, when the anchor began with: "This is urgent news just in from the United States."

I wondered what had happened? News from President Obama? Another U.S. bank failure?

from Fan Fare:

Yusuf Islam lets Cat out of bag, launches first tour in 33 years

Yusuf Islam, the British folk singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, has largely shunned the pop-music grind since he converted to Islam in the 1977 and devoted his life to his family and his faith. 
cat1But he is starting to dip his toe back in the waters, releasing his first mainstream album in almost 30 years in 2006 and playing his first concert in 28 years in 2007. He returns to stores next week with a new album, "Roadsinger," and will play a handful of intimate shows around the world to promote the release. 
First up is a May 3 stop at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, followed by a May 3 show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Each venue holds about 700 people. 
Islam, now 60, last toured in 1976. After converting to Islam, he slowly withdrew from his pop-star life, and finally hung up his guitar after a London show in 1979. 
In a 2006 interview with Reuters, he said he planned to perform occasional concerts although his songs such as "Peace Train" and "Moonshadow" often lose their intimacy in big concert venues. 
"Even though you're singing in front of people live, you're actually distanced by the stage and the whole presentation of music," he said.

from Fan Fare:

Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal spreading the blues for first time together

Strange but true: blues guitarists Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, longtime admirers of each other, have never toured together. Until now. ***    ***bbbThe road warriors, who have kept the blues alive for decades, will join forces in August on a 30-date U.S. tour with an unusual fan-driven charity element. They will each perform separately with their own bands, and then take the stage together for a blues jam.***    ***The "BonTaj Roulet" tour of amphitheaters, casinos and wineries begins on Aug 6. in Williamsport, Pa., and wraps on Sept. 25 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.***    ***"We've been like ships passing in the night," said Taj Mahal, who co-produced Raitt's third album, 1973's "Takin' My Time."***    ***"I watched a lot of the new generation coming up back then. She just got right in there and stomped it down -- she took it from where it was really being done."***    ***For her part, Raitt praised Taj Mahal for "pushing the blues into new territory, digging into his own African and Caribbean roots, collaborating with African and world music as far back as the '70s."***    ***Tickets will be priced between about $35 and $85. Raitt and Taj Mahal hope to set aside $1 per ticket for their BonTaj Collective Action Fund, with an online vote by concertgoers at ( determining how the funds are distributed. The designated organizations focus on energy, the environment, human rights, and music education. Additional funds will also be raised by VIP ticket packages.