Panama’s Sinking Islands

A small island of Panama's San Blas Archipelago

This is a small island in the San Blas archipelago, one of about 370 that make up this Caribbean group off the coast of Panama. The vast majority aren’t more than a few feet above sea level. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, sea levels around the islands are rising at a rate of about three-quarters of an inch annually. At that pace, the islands will be underwater in the next 20 to 30 years. I hope to return before they disappear.

I’m finally getting around to processing and editing a few hundred photos that were taken in mid-June 2013. Just a month later news analyst and historian Juan Cole highlighted in his newsletter and website Informed Comment the plight that the indigenous Guna, or Kuna, community that live on the islands are facing.

The indigenous community of the Guna (Kuna) live on islands off Panama and along a narrow strip of its coast, in the province of Guna Yala (Kuna Yala). But global warming and sea level rise are threatening their lives on those islands, and those of Carti Sugdup (Gardi Sugdup) have decided that they have to move to the mainland.

They may be the first but they won’t be the last. Below is an onsight report from an academic team from McGill University studying the reasons behind the relocation.

We came to the Guna community of Gardi Sugdup because the village decided to abandon its island and move to the mainland. This will be a first migration to the mainland in more than 100 years. We will try to understand why that decision was made.

I’m aiming to post a few galleries of photos before the end of the week.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 314th straight, was snapped on 15-Jun-2013.

ISO 400

Visiting Auschwitz to Reflect on Death With Dignity

Zyklon B cannisters, Auschwitz

This week’s Der Speigel tells the story of a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp by a group of 70 Belgian euthanasia practitioners led by Wim Distelmans, a doctor who also chairs the Belgian government’s Euthanasia Commission. The Purpose?

In Auschwitz he intends to reflect with them on the meaning of “death with dignity”. That’s also the title of the tour, which is printed on the program booklet. It has to do with existential questions: self-determination, fear and freedom — and what these things mean to us today. And it concerns how far we go, should go, and should be allowed to go.

The visit provoked ample protests in the run-up but that didn’t deter members of the group, composed of doctors, psychologists and nurses with first hand experience with death.

They are following Distelmans to Auschwitz, they say, to learn more respect for their fellow human beings. In Auschwitz they intend to find out why the right of the individual to decide over his own life is inalienable — and why people must be absolutely free to make their own decisions in this respect. Auschwitz, they say, is the antithesis of everything that they hope to achieve, and they are seeking to reflect there upon what it means to kill out of humility and love.

By way of introduction to the trip, Distelmans addressed the group the evening prior to their visit:

“We are here today to allow ourselves to reflect on dying with dignity,” he says. “There were protests before our trip. But there is no better place than Auschwitz to ponder the meaning of dignity. When we deal with euthanasia, we must also come to terms with its opposite. In Belgium we use euthanasia in the original sense of the word: It means ‘good death.’ That’s the problem. We will have to explain over and over that we intend the opposite of what occurred in Auschwitz.”

Indeed, Auschwitz provides a setting to ponder lots of things. A fascinating read.


Labyrinth of Lies is a new film examining just how difficult it was for the first trial related to crimes committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp to come to pass. This isn’t about the well-known Nuremberg trials, but rather the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in which Germans prosecuted Germans for wartime-related crimes for the first time. And it wasn’t an easy process; well into the 1950s official West Germany wanted nothing more than to bury the past and move on into postwar economic boom bliss. Looked at nearly six decades later, it’s difficult to imagine that German citizens knew so little about the atrocities and that the majority of officials were in no hurry or under no obligation to tell them.

The film’s North American debut came at the Toronto Film Festival in September and is now in limited release through the fall. I hope to cross paths with it. Here’s Variety’s review.

In this video, Deutsche Welle speaks with director Giulio Ricciarelli and actor Alexander Fehling, who portrays the young public prosecutor who pursues the nazi war criminals in his midst.


And while on films, via Variety:

Andre Singer’s doc “Night Will Fall,” the story about the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps as WWII wound down, will be broadcast globally on Jan. 27, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Intl. Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The film, produced by Sally Angel and Brett Ratner, will air on HBO in the U.S., on German-French channel Arte, ARD in Germany, Channel 4 in the U.K., TVP in Poland, VPRO in the Netherlands, Channel 8 HOT in Israel, Denmark’s DR, RTVSLO in Slovenia, YLE in Finland and Norway’s NRK. Pic will also be distributed in Portugal by Midas Filmes.


Today’s Pic du Jour, the 313th straight, was snapped on 19-Jun-2014 at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oświęcim (Auschwitz), Poland. More of my images from Auschwitz are here.

Autumn Reflections on Cerknica Lake

Slovenia's Cerknica lake in autumn

I haven’t posted an image of Slovenia’s Cerknica Lake, Europe’s largest intermittent lake, in over a year, so it’s time for a quick revisit. I like how the the reflections create several angles of color, a nice fit for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, angular.

A little more about the lake, from a previous post:

When full, it’s also the largest lake in Slovenia, reaching up to 38 square kilometers (15sq mi). Even when it’s not, it’s still a gorgeous place to visit, even on a day as cloudy and misty as last Thursday.

It’s located near the town of Cerknica in southwestern Slovenia, about 50 kilometers south of Ljubljana, making it an easy place to reach. A little more info on Wiki here and on this Slovenian karst region site here.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 312th straight, was snapped on 24-Oct-2013. A couple more shots from the same day are here.

Fall in Love, Not in Line and 1300 Other Short Stories From the Ljubljana Fog

Fall in Love, not in Line - graffiti in Ljubljana, November 2011

Today’s Pic du Jour was taken on Ljubljana’s Resljeva Street three years ago today, a perfect opportunity to recycle the photo and the video below in which it had a starring role. It’s one of about 1300 shots I took during strolls through the Slovenian capital’s fog that week in an attempt to occupy my mind with something other than cigarettes.

I’m happy to report that I did manage to quit, and that I really liked how this mostly stop motion/ photo motion project, composed of the vast majority of those 1300+ shots and edited in a few hours, turned out. A breath of fresh air. Please enjoy. Would love to hear your thoughts.

For the Ljubljana-curious: most shots were taken in and around the city’s central Tivoli Park in mid-November 2011. And no, this graffiti no longer exists. At least not at this construction site.

| m u s i c |
Tarmac by et_
CC/ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License


And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the 309th straight (!), was snapped on 18-Nov-2011 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.



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Mannequin Monday #25

He'd wink if he could.

He’d wink if he could.

Mannequin Monday hits the big two-five with this dude, spotted near the main central market in Potosi, Bolivia on 30-March 2013.

If you’re new to this weekly series, an attempt to create the largest repository of blighted mannequins on the planet, you can and should catch up here. Enjoy and do spread the word.

By the way, this image also serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the 308th straight. When you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can catch up with some of those here.

The Vietnam Moratorium March, 45 Years Later

Rice fields in Vietnam's Tu Le Valley

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the nationwide Moratorium march on Washington. It’s always a good idea to remember one of the largest anti-war protests in US history.

Upwards of 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC in opposition to the ongoing war in Vietnam. Nationwide, the BBC reported, “The Peace Moratorium is believed to have been the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved.”

That figure was almost certainly quite higher. But not up for debate was the event’s significance in the anti-war movement as middle class and middle-aged voters turned out in large numbers for the first time.

About 45,000 US soldiers would die by in Vietnam by the end of 1969. Vietnam would suffer more than 1.1 million war-related deaths between 1965 and 1975, the period in which the US was directly involved.

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The Patience of a Fisherman, Essaouira, Morocco


Here’s a brief sneak peek from a 21-image series that I’ll be posting next week taken at the port of Essaouira, Morocco, in September. That’s a lot of netting to deal with, but the fisherman managed to plug the major holes. An achievement worthy of mention for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 305th straight, was snapped on 19 September 2014.



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Armeos Beach, Syros – a Six Photo Tour

Armeos Beach on the Greek island of Syros, November 2008

This is Armeos Beach on the Greek island of Syros as it looked exactly six years ago today. Lying serenely in the shadow of Ayia Pakou, the Church of the Holy Submission, Armeos is by far the finest beach on this 82 square kilometer hunk of rock.

I posted from and about the island (post 1, post 2 and post 3) during my visit there in November of 2008, my first trip to the Cyclades, so there’s no need to repeat most of that here. Only this, to give you a general idea about this part of the 22km long island:

The village of Gallisas, on the opposite side of the island from (the main port town and capital) Ermoupoli, is among the have-to stops. The south edge of the picturesque Gallisas Bay is divided by a hill; on one side is the attractive tranquil eponymous inlet and on the other is Armeos Beach, set aside for nudists. Perched atop the hill and looking down over both sides is Ayia Pakou, The Church of the Holy Submission. Remains of on old Akropolis have been found here. You can reach Armeos –by far the nicest beach on the island, and I did investigate virtually all of them– by walking up the hill and descending near the church, or you can walk around the hill along a marginally marked path. It’s not a difficult walk, but some careful climbing is involved. A hike up the hill to the south of Armeos, with a bountiful carpet of wildflowers even in early November, is worth the effort as well.

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