Tag Archives: Bloody Civil War

TIME Picks the Most Surprising Photos of 2012

Clint Eastwood’s appearance and speech to an empty chair at the GOP convention stupefied us, Felix Baumgartner’s jump from 24 miles above the Earth astounded us and Gabby Douglas’ Olympic performance thrilled us. But now that it’s on the wane, we can step back and report that, all in all, 2012 held relatively few major surprises. Perhaps one reason for the year’s ho-hum factor is that several long-anticipated events the Mars Curiosity rover landing; the London Olympics; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; the U.S. elections set a tone of predictability for a year that, in large part, failed to ignite.

Granted, there were some genuine scandals, which always raise eyebrows (if not the level of national discourse): the Petraeus affair, Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace and pictures of a naked royal prince gallivanting with friends in Vegas, of all places.

In front of the ubiquitous TV cameras, Angelina Jolie courted publicity at the Oscars, while Rihanna and Chris Brown shamelessly courted controversy everywhere. That it was all so baldly contrived hardly stopped the media from buying right into it.

A calculated, cautious and utterly uninspiring American presidential campaign contrasted with the hope and optimism of four years ago.The promise of the Arab Spring gave way to protests against the new government in Egypt, a deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and a bloody civil war in Syria that shows no signs of a resolution.

The surprises, when they did come, were brutal shocks rather than thrilling or uplifting wonders. The shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the movie theater rampage in Aurora, Colo., left us three parts numb and one part seething with a kind of violent despair.

We marked solemn anniversaries, like the 100th year since the sinking of the Titanic and the 50th since the death of Marilyn. linkwheel . proveedor factura electrnica . Mick, Keith and the rest of the Stones kept rolling to mark their own 50th anniversary, but they did so with an utterly foreseeable bombast.

It was left to a Korean YouTube sensation riding an invisible horse to truly surprise and entertain us this year. But even then the novelty and fun rapidly wore thin, as Psy tributes from the likes of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Eaton school boys and countless others lay siege to the Internet.

And yet … in the face of what can really only be called a rather disappointing year, TIME presents a gallery of images from the past twelve months that did, despite everything, manage to surprise us: pictures that, we hope and trust, will in some small way redress the flaws of a year that, despite spectacles as wondrous as a man falling to earth from space and a Hollywood icon chatting with a chair, ultimately fell a little flat.

TIME’s Best Photojournalism of 2012

If 2011 was a year of simple, powerful narratives of revolution and sweeping change 2012 was when things got a lot more complicated.

The aftermath of the Arab Springs upheavals saw uneasy transitions toward democracy. backlinks . The exhilaration of freedom dissolved in the face of new struggles and contests for power: in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, the streets are once again filled with protesters angry over the advent of religious radicalism, the return of authoritarianism and the unemployment and tough economic conditions that remain. In Syria, peaceful demonstrations in 2011 morphed into a bitter, bloody civil war that has claimed over 40,000 lives and rages on. Hostilities between Israel and its adversaries in the occupied territories were once more renewed as the peace process collapsed and the road map to a two-state solution looked to have been crumpled up and tossed away. And in the U.S., a seemingly endless, costly election cycle served only to restore the status quo: the re-elected President Obama faces many of the same challenges and obstacles he did before Nov. 6.

Throughout 2012, TIMEs unparalleled photojournalists were there. linkwheel . We stood within the tumult of Tahrir Square and shared moments of quiet with the worlds most powerful President. We documented both the ravages of war on Syrias blasted cities and the devastation nature wrought on our own backyard in the Northeast. At a time when so much hangs in the balance, bearing witness can be the most essential act and thats what we do.

Ishaan Tharoor

Living with the Past in Liberia

Like much of West Africa, Liberia is a country of dark, heavy skies emerging from bloody civil war. But like everywhere else in West Africa, there’s also much more to the place — elements that make it unlike any other. A street friendliness that all but snuffs out Monrovia’s reputation for street violence. A patois that is both thuggish and warm. Strange points of excellence, like an ambition to become the first biomass-powered country in the world or the proud possession of some of the world’s best surfing breaks.

Liberia’s history is particularly arresting. The country was created in the 1820s by former American slaves shipped back to Africa by philanthropists who purchased their freedom — hence Liberia — only to watch their freed charges, dressed in top hats and hoop skirts, exploit the local population. It’s a tale that holds some hard lessons about human nature, and charity, and has divided the country between locals and Americos ever since. After more than a century of oppression, in 1989, the indigenous population staged a coup that led to two civil wars, the second of which ended in 2003. The fighting displaced a third of the country and left 200,000 dead. In a country of just 3 million, no one was untouched.

Glenna Gordon has been documenting Liberia since 2009. She made her latest collection of images during the run-up and aftermath of last October’s general election. In the images, she tries to present “a wider view of Liberia as neither a place filled with mythically strong women led by the cult of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,” who won the Nobel Peace Prize days before the poll and is due to be inaugurated for a second term today, “nor merely a post-civil-war success/failure story.”

Johnson Sirleaf’s opponent was Winston Tubman, the nephew of the former President William Tubman, himself a grandson of a former American slave. During his nearly three decades in power, from 1944 to ’71, William Tubman ushered in massive foreign investment. One of the things Gordon examines most closely is America’s historical, cultural and economic legacy in Liberia. “I seek out signs of a time before the conflict — remnants of the past that are easy to romanticize today,” Gordon says. “I seek traces of war wounds — psychological and physical — and examine the improvisations used to hide the pain … and embrace the present.”

Gordon has been photographing and writing about Africa for various publications since 2006, including TIME. You can see more of her work on her website and blog.

Perry is TIMEs Africa bureau chief. His latest book Lifeblood: How to Change the World, One Dead Mosquito at a Time was published in September.