Photo of the Day #16 
Thursday, July 3, 2008, 13:05 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

I saw this article from Reuters the other day and it nearly made me want to scream. It turns out that Hollywood actor Ben Affleck is doing some freelancing for the ABC news program Nightline. Apparently this is the only way to get people interested in what’s happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It says a lot about not just where TV news but journalism in general is going.


A victim of rape during the Rwandan genocide. Kigali 1999 © Damaso Reyes

One of the things I’ve encountered time and time again is the indifference that editors in the mainstream media have towards issues and places that are considered marginal. More people have died in the DRC in the past 10 years than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Apparently this is not enough to warrant our attention.

This is just one of the many reasons why I’m less and less interested in doing traditional journalism. There are better and more interesting ways of getting information out to the people who need it most. I hope that in some small way this blog can be part of that process.

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Photo of the Day #15 
Wednesday, July 2, 2008, 12:25 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

What is it about religion seems to drive people crazy? People can agree on 90% of the issues but that remaining 10% will give them justification for murder each other. At least that often seems to be the case when it comes to religion. A recent article in the Guardian announces a schism within the Anglican Church, the second largest group of Christians in the world.


An increasingly rare sight. Berlin 2007. © Damaso Reyes

For some time more conservative elements within the church have been unhappy with the more liberal and tolerant part of the church in the western industrialized nations. Most important to the conservatives seems to be the liberals’ toleration of homosexuals and homosexuality.

Within both Christianity as well as Islam there seems to be this growing tension between conservative and fundamentalists and liberals. These tensions threaten to not only tear their respective religions apart but alienate these faiths from society at large. As we know churches attendance in Western Europe has been declining rapidly for many years. I don’t think this latest row is going to help matters much.

What do you think?

The map shows the results of a Eurobarometer poll conducted in 2005. Available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinio ... ort_en.pdf (p. 9)

Shown here is the percentage in each country which chose the response "I believe there is a God" above other possible answers (not included in this image), which were: "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" and "don't know".

Grey countries were not included in the poll

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Photo of the Day #14 
Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 11:08 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

One of the things I love about the Internet is that it provides an opportunity for a back-and-forth between ideas and people no matter how far apart they are. A German friend of mine read my recent blog posting on the issue of censorship. On her blog she posted her own thoughts about the issue from her unique perspective as a young German. Here’s one interesting excerpt:

It seems clear: What we really need is not a censorship that represses people but a society that is awake and sensible for the subtle tones of racism.

But let us be honest and realistic: How often do we see big parts of this society fail? How often do we see ourselves fail? How often does it happen that no one raises his voice when it should be there?

To me there are some good reasons for a censorship: It is a sign that there are borders of things that can be said, borders in the name of freedom. There is a clear possibility for juridical consequences for who might not acknowledge these borders. It is an official statement from our state towards foreign states and towards Israel (with which we have in common that this belongs to our history that marks us – in a bad and I always hope also in a good way).



What else should we ban? Berlin 2006. © Damaso Reyes

I think she makes some interesting points but I stand by my original ideas. I think the biggest issue that Germany as a society has not really dealt with honestly is the fact that National Socialism was not an aberration, but a manifestation of a society which places too much importance on deference to authority. While I lived in Germany I encountered an almost pathological need to adhere to rules and regulations. In America the idea of challenging authority especially political authority deeply ingrained in our national character. From what I’ve observed Germans are still learning that this is a valuable and importance character trait to have.

Ultimately we need to deal with the ideas that we find most threatening and offensive openly. It’s far too easy and lazy for us to simply stand groups and ideas that we find threatening. And more importantly, it does not make these things go away. As we all learn sweeping dirt under the rug doesn’t mean that it has disappeared.

What do you think? I look forward to reading your comments!

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Photo of the Day #13 
Monday, June 30, 2008, 12:46 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

I hope that everyone had a great weekend! Here in New York it was hot and wet but I didn’t mind too much, after all it is summer. Another week, another article about Europe’s declining birth rate. The New York Times Magazine did a cover story about the issue and its potential ramifications. It was a very interesting piece; the article discussed many of the issues we have talked about here on this blog. The author asked “Will Europe as we know it just peter out?” I certainly hope not! But he did talk about many of the important economic issues as well as various theories about how to solve the problem including immigration.


The future is now. London 2005. © Damaso Reyes

“Another obvious approach to increasing the population: If you can't breed them, lure them. Britain is going through a radical transformation in its social makeup, largely as a result of immigration. A government report in late 2007 projected Britain would have 11 million more people by 2031 - an increase of 18 percent - and by one estimate 69 percent of the growth would come from immigrants and their children,”
wrote Russell Shorto.

This is a debate that will only become more important in the coming years. I hope that we can use the images I’m creating as well as this blog to increase the dialogue between us about the future of Europe.

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Photo of the Day #12 
Friday, June 27, 2008, 13:04 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

As we say in Brooklyn, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s not the hordes of illegal immigrants; it must be the microscopic black holes that threaten to devour the earth! It is at least according to an article today in the New York Times discussing a lawsuit brought against the federal government and CERN, the particle physics research laboratory in Geneva.


Almost done… Geneva 2007. © Damaso Reyes

As some of you know I visited CERN last year and documented the building of the LHC, which when it is turned on shortly will become the world’s largest supercollider. Those bringing the lawsuit fear the remote possibility that the collider could create mini black holes or other strange particles that could destroy the fabric of the universe, or at least the Earth. Needless to say the possibility is very remote indeed but that doesn’t stop people who want attention from using the legal system to get it. Personally I am very much looking forward to the activation of the collider. If it is successful we will learn a lot about our universe. If not, I won’t have to worry about paying off my student loans!

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Photo of the Day #11 
Thursday, June 26, 2008, 13:26 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn


Well the Germany-Turkey game was a nail biter but sadly Germany’s 3-2 win didn’t magically heal the cultural rifts within Germany or the E.U. In another great article in the I.H.T. we learn about how Italy is dealing with, or not dealing with, its immigrant population.


Post-game Interrogation. Stuttgart, 2007. © Damaso Reyes

“But with plummeting birth rates and an aging populace, Italy can hardly survive now without foreign laborers. Albanians and Romanians care for the elderly. Indians working in Emilia-Romagna tend the cows producing the milk for Parmesan cheese.

"The problem is that fears about crime by immigrants, inflamed by the news media and populist politicians, have combined with one of the largest waves of foreigners in Europe. The Northern League, a political party that once advocated the secession of Italy's north, joined Berlusconi's ruling coalition this spring after distributing posters around cities like Siena showing an American Indian next to a warning that Italians will end up, as the Indians did, penned into reservations if they don't stop immigrants from taking over the country,”
writes Michael Kimmelman.

Clearly there is more room for dialogue and discourse, something I believe photography is well suited to inspiring. Do you have some interesting photos on this topic? Send them to me and I will post them and we can continue the discussion…

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Photo of the Day #10 (EuroCup Edition) 
Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 11:49 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn


In many ways sports, just like art, reflects a society’s values and mores. Who we cheer for makes us think about why we root for whom we do. In America, the integration of baseball preceded the integration of the schools. Sport is another way we fight our social battles.


Security guard, Stuttgart 20006. © Damaso Reyes

Tonight there is a big game with Germany facing off against Turkey. The symbolism, as we learn in a great article in Der Spiegel, couldn’t be greater. It will certainly be interesting to see who wins tonight and how the fans react. As you can see in this New York Times chart below, Europe has a great deal of distance to cover in the evolution of its thought about immigration.


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Photo of the Day #9 
Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 12:29 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

This weekend I came across an interesting article in the New York Times Magazine. The topic of immigration in Europe is not just hot across the pond but Americans are also increasingly taking interest in this subject as well. While we Americans have a long tradition of external immigration, we have not always dealt with the issue well. Increasingly it seems like Europe is creating continental standards on many issues, unfortunately it seems like they’re taking a step backwards when it comes to immigration. Now more than ever Western Europe needs immigrants, especially when you factor in the declining birth rates in countries like France, Spain and Germany. But most Western European countries have yet to have an honest discourse about the benefits and difficulties of immigration.


Graffiti in Barcelona, 2005. © Damaso Reyes

I hope in some small way my work can have been given the process of this dialogue. I know to want to hope for but I think that image is can serve an important role in raising people’s awareness and consciousness about important issues like this.

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Photo of the Day #8 
Monday, June 23, 2008, 14:04 - Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

Well I hope everyone had a great and relaxing weekend! I had a chance to catch up with some old friends as well as see some great art. One of the great things about being in New York is you never know who you will run into or what you’ll see. But the weekend is over and now it’s time to get back to work. I am moving full steam ahead on my nonprofit corporation and I’d like to hear your feedback on my mission statement, check it out underneath the Picture of the Day.


Flying in Berlin, 2006. © Damaso Reyes

The Europeans seeks to visually document the changes which are occurring as the European Union expands and integrates. Using photographs, exhibitions, articles, discussion panels and an interactive website The Europeans will engage a global audience in an ongoing dialogue about how these historic changes are impacting the lives of ordinary people. Using these tools to create greater understanding among both those in and outside of Europe is at the heart of our mission.


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Photo of the Day #7 (PJG Edition) 
Thursday, June 19, 2008, 16:03 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

Last night I went to an amazing and moving tribute to the late Philips Jones Griffiths, perhaps the greatest anti-war photographer of his generation. His images, and they are too many to even try to pick a favorite, changed the way we look at war. His seminal book Vietnam, Inc. showed war and the totally of its terrible impact on all sides. So many people, from legendary photographers to ordinary people who were moved by his images came out. It was amazing to hear the stories his friends told and to see the moving film his family put together as he was dying.

We should all be so loved.

His work continues to inspire us all to speak truth to power.


Freedom from Fear. Berlin, 2007. © Damaso Reyes

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Photo of the Day #6 
Wednesday, June 18, 2008, 12:05 - Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

Looking through my images of Germany I sure do have a lot of graphically inspired images. I don’t know if it has something to do with the country’s Bauhaus tradition or my own roving eye but I wanted to keep going with yesterday’s theme and post another interesting image, this time in color (I know, it’s shocking).


Dancing in Stuttgart, 2007. © Damaso Reyes

I still haven’t shaved yet but I do have a razor so watch out!

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Photo of the Day #5 
Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 12:02 - Personal, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

So when I was younger, much younger, I wanted to be an illustrator. More specifically I just wanted to be able to draw accurately. Sadly this was a skill that I never developed but fortunately I discovered photography which we all know is drawing with light. While I left behind my ambitions to draw, I am still interested in graphic representations of the world around me. Because I am a photojournalist I don’t have as many opportunities to indulge this proclivity as I would like but every once in a while I can.


Sign of the times. Berlin, 2007 © Damaso Reyes

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Photo of the Day #4 Kosovo Edition 
Monday, June 16, 2008, 13:51 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

I came across an interesting article in the IHT this weekend about Kosovo. As you know the former province of Serbia (Serbia along with many other nations most notably Russia has not recognized it) declared independence some months ago after years of being administered by the United Nations. On Sunday its constitution went into effect moving the process of independence further along. The constitution calls for the European Union to take a leading role but not all of its members have recognized Kosovo. How the E.U. deals with Kosovo over the coming years will be a test of how mature an institution it is. Clearly there is a need for a common foreign policy but the member states are still clinging dearly to the idea of charting their own courses, sometimes with disastrous effects. Will Kosovo become one of the E.U.’s casualties?


What is the future of Kosovo? Pristina, 2005.© Damaso Reyes

In other news the results of my internet poll are in! And it’s a tie! Five votes for, five against and two people just don’t care. You have to love democracy in action! So where does this leave us? I have no idea but I think it is pretty funny…
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Photo of the Day #3 
Friday, June 13, 2008, 08:59 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

Who knew posting a picture a day could be so much fun, or so topical? I took this image in Paris last fall back when you could smoke indoors. Well no more! France, like Ireland, Germany, Italy and numerous other nations have mostly banned smoking in cafes, bars and restaurants. I remember coming back to NYC from Indonesia in 2003 and being amazed that there was no longer a cloud of smoke in every bar I went into. Some people may not like it but the health benefits for smokers and non smokers alike are clear. Now Amsterdam is getting into the act according to this article. You can have a joint as long as it is tobacco free. Amazing, isn’t it?


Puff, Puff… © Damaso Reyes

In other news you have just two more days to vote in my online poll. Should Damaso shave? That is the question. So far eight people have voted and the Yes voters hold a slim, one vote margin. So make sure you voice gets heard. Results will be announced on Monday…

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Photo of the Day #2 (Free Speech vs. Hate Speech) 
Thursday, June 12, 2008, 17:04 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

It’s good when I can use a photograph to talk about a larger issue, something I hope to do more of with this blog and the future website. There was an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune about free speech vs. hate speech and the different approaches that America and most of the rest of the developed world has.

“Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.

Last week, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined €15,000, or $23,000, in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep.”

By contrast, U.S. courts would not stop the American Nazi Party from marching in Skokie, Illinois, in 1977, though the march was deeply distressing to the many Holocaust survivors there,”
Adam Liptak writes.


The Wall. Vienna, Austria 2008 © Damaso Reyes

This is an issue I thought a lot about when I lived in Germany last year. I have to say that I am much more in favor of the American point of view here. Of course I don’t think that we should promote or endorse hate speech. I believe that once we begin to outlaw speech then the slope becomes very slippery very quickly. It’s an old argument but once you ban some speech that is very hateful what is to stop you from banning other speech which is somewhat offensive? More importantly who gets to decide?

In Germany the way they often deal with parties and groups that are offensive is to ban them. Of course this does not mean that these ideas go away as we have seen in the racist and anti-immigrant violence that still happens there, especially in the east. These ideas and their supporters are pushed underground rather than debated and refuted in the light of day. That is what by and large happens here in America. There are people who espouse neo-Nazi points of view but whenever they plan and march usually ten times as many people turn out to oppose them. They are shown as the racist and marginal figures that they are and society is strengthened without ever having to ban a book or idea.

To me this is a much more healthy and modern way of dealing with this issue. If we believe in the “marketplace of ideas” then we have to accept that there are some bad ideas out there and as progressive people we have to work as hard as we can to oppose them. But as we have seen simply outlawing an idea doesn’t make it go away.

What do you think?

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