getty images reportage

SOUTH SUDAN. Leer. March 17, 2016. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese people line up for the first food distribution administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross since the fighting stopped in Leer and a tentative peace is holding in Unity State. 

When fighting raged throughout Leer in 2014 and 2015, most of the population fled, leaving civilians unable to harvest crops and many struggling to find food. The city of Leer, once a bustling city and headquarters of opposition leader Riek Marchar, is now a ghost town reduced to rubble and the carcasses of buildings.

Photograph: Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage for TIME

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The Civilian Saviors of Iceland

Iceland’s volunteer rescue squad saves missing hikers, stranded sheep, and helpless tourists. The group’s members are well equipped, self-funded, and enjoy a near-mythical reputation among their countrymen. Nick Paumgarten joins the search, in this week’s issue.

Photograph by Benjamin Lowy / Getty Images Reportage for The New Yorker

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Palau vs. the Poachers

The isolated nation of Palau, in the South Pacific, comprises 250 small islands that take up only 177 square miles combined. But international law extends its authority to 200 miles from its coast, giving it control over 230,000 square miles of ocean. For a relatively poor country with no military and a tiny marine police division, and waters teeming with poachers, it’s a tall order. But, as The New York Times reporter Ian Urbina writes, Palau has mounted an aggressive response: it has banned bottom trawling and shark fishing, employed the latest in surveillance technology, and provided a model for collaboration among countries, companies and NGOs.

Reportage photographer Benjamin Lowy visited Palau on assignment for The Times to show the marine police’s efforts and the natural resources they are trying to protect.

Read the article in this week’s issue of The New York Times Magazine.

I Can Breathe

By Aurin Squire

In my creative non-fiction class we were given the prompt of ‘I can breathe’ and told to write for 10 minutes. Afterward and when it was time to read our work aloud, students began talking about nature, the mountains, personifying air. I sat there, listened respectfully, and nodded. When I was asked to share what I wrote, I looked at my paper and thought 'Hmmm…this isn’t going to go over well. But okay.’

I launched into my essay about white, privileged artists willfully ignoring the struggle right in front of them; creating apolitical, disconnected, aesthetically comfortable, intellectually smarmy, quirky, safe, escapist work in the midst of the obvious evil that supports them.

I read about the 1,000 yard stare me and other artists of color invoke when we’re sitting through another story about neurotic, neutered, and privileged dilemmas; that 1,000 yard stare into space that tries to hold in the violent worm thrashing in our throats; that 1,000 yard stare and sigh.

I read aloud about the black and brown kids who pass by Juilliard every day on their way to Martin Luther King High School. The kids who are met with police officers, telling them to 'move along.’ An entire fleet of armed cops who suddenly appear on the street, who stand with arms akimbo on their holster belt like the high school jock, who stand there with the singular task of making sure that black feet don’t gather on the corner; black voices don’t talk too loudly around Lincoln Center, modern jazz, ballet, and opera; blacks bodies move immediately from the high school holding pen and directly to the subway to return to whatever holding pen society has devised for them, move from shipping container to storage facilities, moving past the tall citadels that are within reaching grasp, but they will never enter. Black, brown, and beige kids under the coercive watch of police.

I read about the pernicious virus in our blood: the default comfort and fear of inconvenience. The disease that poisons, blinds, chokes. But 'I…I can breathe.’ Afterward there was a LONG silence. I exhaled.

The professor’s eyes scanned across the classroom.

Feedback?

Dead air.

I couldn’t figure out whether this was the shameful silence of white liberalism or the sullen stillness of scorned children. Either way, I’m accustomed to the wake of speechlessness.

I’ve spent my entire life in privileged white establishments: from elementary school, to tennis tournaments, to violin recitals, to national forensic debate, to Northwestern, and now Juilliard. I enjoy the privileges these institutions offer and I’ve grown used to being the one who sits and nods, the one who has a firm grip on my emotions, the one who doesn’t mention the discomfort, the one who smiles with his teeth and not his eyes. The queer. The other. The blackness. When events like the Ferguson protest manage to punch their way through the pre-programmed media infrastructure, then I have a brief respite from the tight-lips and sighs. This is the feeling. Every. Day.  

Since there was no conversation to be had, the professor and I began talking about art and politics. He would occasionally throw a sarcastic quip to the rest of the mute students like 'you guys are talking way too much.’ A few people had death stares on their face (for me? You shouldn’t have!), while others slowly mumbled their way into the conversation. Once the ice was broken, a few apologists stepped forward to offer excuses for the silence, while others disagreed and said it was shameful (Eric: the only other person of color in the room, an Asian student, a master pianist).

Then it was time to go. Students fled the room like there was tear gas in it. A reluctant and strained dialogue was had by all who wished to engage. Most did not. Did this do anything? I took a moment and sat there in the room by myself. Then I gathered my jacket and bags. Eric was in the hallway waiting for me. We walked down the hall, talking, and wondering what to do. 

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Photo by Benjamin Lowy/for Getty Images Reportage

cnn

Vigils are being held across #Paris in the aftermath of the terror attacks. Photographer Gillian Laub met people who were out honoring the victims and reflecting on the tragedy the next day. Among them were 30-year-old Paquita Mboni and Laurent Farre, 40, at the Place de la Republique square. “In the United States I don’t know if this would have happened,” Farre said. “People would have been able to defend themselves because they are allowed to carry guns. We aren’t, so we are defenseless. But we won’t give in to fear. It’s not an option.” (Photo: Gillian Laub @gigilaub /Getty Images Reportage for CNN)