Gustavus Adolphus professor Scott Bur works in his aluminized office in St. Peter, Minn., on July 22. Students slipped into the chemistry professor's office while he was on vacation and as a prank, covered everything right down to pens and even his coffee pot cord with aluminum foil. "It's sort of become a tradition in my research group," said Bur, who'd only managed to unwrap his coffee pot and a few other essentials by Thursday morning. "When I go on vacation and come back, I always find something, " he told the Mankato Free Press
People wear 'Keep Drilling' tee shirts at the 'Rally for Economic Survival,'a rally opposing the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA 21 July 2010. Supporters of the rally want President Obama to lift the moratorium immediately to protect Louisiana's jobs and economy. BP continues to evaluate a new containment cap that they hope will allow them to eventually shut down the blown Deepwater Horizon well.
Ann Heisenfelt / EPA
While over 13,000 people took part in the 'Rally for Economic Survival,' a rally opposing the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a handful of people gathered in support of the moratorium in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA 21 July 2010. Supporters of the rally want President Obama to lift the moratorium immediately to protect Louisiana's jobs and economy. BP continues to evaluate a new containment cap that they hope will allow them to eventually shut down the blown Deepwater Horizon well.
The oil industry is a huge employer on the gulf coast, and many people there support drilling even though they live close to the spill's impact. This rally was sponsored by oil industry companies, but they couldn't have filled the Cajundome without some popular support. Outside there was a smaller group of people showing their support for maintaining the deepwater drilling moratorium. What do you think about the moratorium?
Three weeks into the fight in the volatile Arghandab Valley, an American platoon of the Army's 101st Airborne Division is heading to the rear, weakened by horrific war injuries and unable to continue its mission. The platoon -- 1st platoon, Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 320 Field Artillery Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division -- started the mission with 17 men, and now is down to nine. Combat Outpost Nolen has seen some of the most intense fighting in Kandahar Province.
This area is critical to U.S. control of the region because it's a main supply route into the city of Kandahar for the Taliban. It's also treacherous for the platoon trying to carry out its mission.
Shrapnel ripped into Sgt. Matthew Kendall's face and left arm on July 4, when a soldier from another unit stepped on a homemade bomb, which the military calls an IED, as Kendall walked next to him.
Spc. Kevin Gatson fell victim to another IED July 12. It was one of many that have been seeded in farming land surrounding the former school the platoon is using as a base. Gatson lost his leg and three fingers. The platoon leader, 1st Lt. Norman Black, had his eardrum blown out by the blast.
A quick reaction team was immediately sent from COP Nolen and came to Gatson's aid. On the way, an IED exploded and Staff Sgt. Kyle Malin lost both of his legs. Less than 45 minutes later, an IED took off both of Pfc. Corey Kent's legs and part of his left hand. Sgt. Michael Hagan was hit in the face and arm by shrapnel, and also suffered a ruptured eardrum.
Just two days later on July 14, Pfc. Brandon King, a soldier from a different platoon, was shot by a marksman while standing guard duty. He was the first soldier killed at COP Nolen since it was taken over by the 101st Airborne Division.
On July 19, Staff Sgt. Avionne Reese walked into an IED for the third time in the three-week deployment -- it shot pieces of the bomb into the right side of his body. Luckily no one was seriously injured in the first incident on July 5, when an IED went off near a patrol. But on July 12, in the second incident, he was struck by shrapnel from the IED that hit Gatson. After three IEDs the Army will take a soldier out of the fight for evaluation.
Spc. Pedro Torres injured his arm and was hit in the face by the same blast that hit Reese.
The group has already been recommended for 10 Purple Hearts.
Sgt. Leon Richards, from a different platoon, was recommended for a Bronze Star for Valor for calling a medivac helicopter, providing aid and assistance to the wounded, and helping Spc. Jacob Walker out of a field peppered with IEDs.
The numbers alone tell you Afghanistan is getting more dangerous by the month, but those tragically killed in action only tell part of the story.
The numbers can't describe the feeling these men have of leaving the razor wire around their tiny mud-walled compound each day. Every day they try desperately to walk in the footprints of the man in front of them, in 120 degree heat, while weighed down by 85 pounds of gear through humid pomegranate groves and grape fields. The fields swamp visibility in every direction, with green foliage carpeting otherwise dusty terrain areas.
They can't walk on roads or paths because the IED threat is too great. They must climb over 10-foot mud walls on a route so difficult that 600 meters of walking could take an hour and a half. All the while they're on the lookout for a command wire, milk jug, or a rock pile that wasn't there the day before.
The minute they leave the wire the enemy has been alerted they're on the move. The element of surprise is not in their favor. Firefights are a daily occurrence. In fact, COP Nolen is attacked so often that the men refer to a "witching hour," usually between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. That's when the energy-sapping heat has faded down enough that the Taliban is ready for fighting.
The buzzwords here are about counterinsurgency doctrine, fighting corruption in the government, setting up local governance, and standing up the Afghan Army and police. But at the very basic level it's about survival for the men leaving the wire to walk through the fields, and for the average farmer working those same fields, too.
Numbers can't explain the constant tension, fear, lack of sleep, or horrific scenes that unfold before platoon members' eyes each day.
Soldiers often say that courage isn't just willing to go into the fight. True courage is knowing what's waiting for you, and going anyway.
Editor's note: Associated Press photojournalists Evan Vucci and Rodrigo Abd are Photoblogging for msnbc.com while embedded with U.S. troops stationed at Combat Outpost Nolen, in the volatile Arghandab Valley in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
U.S. Army soldiers from Alpha Battery walk among grape orchards during a patrol towards COP Nolen, in the Arghandab Valley, Kandahar, Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
National Archives/National World War II Museum via AP
Butch, a sentry dog, stands guard over Pfc. Rez P. Hester of the Marine Corps' 7th War Dog Platoon on Iwo Jima in this undated photograph from the National Archives. The photo will be part of an exhibit, titled "Loyal Force: Animals at War" at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans from July 22-Oct. 17.
Barely visible in the thick sludge of crude oil, a worker pulls a struggling colleague to safety in the Chinese port of Dalian, Liaoning province. A massive explosion at a refinery as a tanker was off-loading its cargo Friday night resulted in a slick covering 71 square miles of the Yellow Sea.
Oil imports were still restricted at Dalian, which is home to a 19 million barrel strategic petroleum reserve, as the clean-up operation continued Tuesday.
The authorities have used some 23 tonnes of oil-eating bacteria and called in a total of 800 fishing boats to help some 24 specialist vessels. Dispersant chemicals and absorbent materials are also being deployed. The photo was released Tuesday by environmental group Greenpeace.
The workers were caught in just some of the 1,500 tons of crude which spilled into the sea following an attempt to fix an underwater pump. Chinese officials said a third of the oil had been collected and they expect to resume oil imports by the end of the week.
(Jiang He/AFP/Getty Images)
The two workers, covered head-to-toe in oil, are helped to the shore from a boat by rescuers. No-one was injured in the explosion at the refinery, although the subsequent fire raged for 15 hours. Dalian's Xingang oil port is one of China's four state storage bases currently in operation. It is also a transfer spot for two major refineries, Dalian Petrochemical Corp and WEPEC, both operated by PetroChina with a combined processing capacity of 600,000 barrels per day.
(Jiang He/AFP/Getty Images)
One of the oiled workers tries to help his colleague, who appears to have collapsed following his ordeal in the slick. Several miles of floating booms have been deployed in the area in an effort to contain the oil. Already, questions are being asked about the cost and who is to blame.
"It's not going to be a major cost in the big scheme of things. It's going to be in the tens of millions of dollars, not tens of billions of dollars," said David Johnson at RBS, who estimated the cost at $50 million. "The question is, who owns the oil in the tanker and whether the oil is insured. But some of them will have to pay the clean-up costs. The question is, who's going to be liable? It's like the BP story -- whose fault is it?"
No protective gear. I'm glad to see this worker survived.
Tom Lea / National Constitution Center via Reuters
"That 2,000 Yard Stare" painted by Tom Lea, World War Two, 1944. The painting is among about 300 paintings by U.S. servicemen and women that will be unveiled to the public for the first time at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center in September. The paintings have been selected from about 15,000 collected by the U.S. Army since the 1840s. Most have never been on public display. "Art of the American Soldier" focuses on the duties, sacrifices, and everyday lives of troops, and covers every conflict from the World War One to Afghanistan.
The painter had some insight to render this expression, which suggests a lot of emotions at the same time. You can read more about the exhibition of soldiers' paintings here.
Bevil Knapp / EPA
A dead crab and jelly fish were found in the surf near Longbeach, Mississippi on July 16, 2010. Hopes run high that BP"s capping of the oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, will be successful and will prevent more oil from polluting the Gulf and the shorelines.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs appears on stage during a news conference at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. on July 16, 2010. Jobs said that Apple is addressing antenna and reception issues with the iPhone 4, saying "we are not perfect" and "we want to make all our users happy."
This summertime feature image was eliminated from this week's The Week in Pictures during the final round of editing. While the editors felt the lone foot suspended in the left window really added to the playfullness of this image, we also felt that it wasn't quite different enough to set it apart from the underwater swimming image that we did include in the final slideshow. To see more about how we edit The Week in Pictures each Thursday, check out this Behind the Scenes video. See the full slideshow for the week of July 8 - 15 here. Which image do you like best this week, and why?
Tim Hales / AP
John Daly of the U.S. prepares to place his ball on a tee on the sixth hole during the second round of the British Open Golf Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, Friday, July 16, 2010.
I've seen some bad golf pants in my day, but John Daly took it to a whole new level this morning.
Leo Valle / EPA
People holding photographs of bombing victims mark the 16th anniversary of the bomb attack against the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July, 16 2010. The bombing, on July 18, 1994, caused the seven-story building of the Jewish-Argentine Mutual Association community center in Buenos Aires to collapse, killing 85 people and injuring another 300.
A South Korean elementary school student shouts as she lays in the mud while performing an exercise during a summer military camp for kids at the Cheongryong Self-denial Training Camp on Daebu Island in Ansan, southwest of Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, July 15, 2010. One-hundred fifty-six kids took part in the three-day camp to strengthen themselves mentally and physically.
Next time my kid writes from camp that he's not having fun, I'll send him these photos to look at. I have a feeling he has it a bit easier.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Recovery Act with Council of Economic Advisors Chair Christina Romer in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building July 14, 2010 in Washington, DC. Biden addressed the Council of Economic Advisers' quarterly report on the economic impact of the Recovery Act and said the act is responsible for creating 2.5 to 3.6 million jobs.
A prototype unmanned combat aircraft, called Taranis, is seen in this handout photograph received in London on July 14, 2010. The prototype demonstrator, unveiled by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), will test the possibility of developing an autonomous stealthy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) that could strike targets at long range, and be under the control of military crews on the ground.
The external fuel tank for the last scheduled space shuttle flight is transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, July 14, 2010. The tank is designated for space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission scheduled to launch in Feb., 2011.
“The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.” ~ John Schaar, scholar and political theorist who has published articles on patriotism, equality and authority.
Robert Hood says: I find myself surprisingly, deeply sad over the end of NASA’s shuttle program. I’ve always viewed the shuttle as part of what defined “the future”. I even had a shuttle poster on the wall of my bedroom all through my high school years. Seeing the program end reminds me that nothing lasts forever, and the future is just an idea.
Behrouz Mehri / AFP-Getty Images
Pakistani worker Hamid Shah removes a damaged bottle from the control line of whisky bottling at The Murree Brewery Company in Rawalpindi on July 13, 2010. The Murree Brewery company was established in 1860 to meet the beer requirements of British personnel (mainly army). Pakistan's oldest public company and the only brewery in this Islamic republic produces 60000 liters of Beer, 30000 liters of liquors, like whisky, Vodka and Gin and 100000 liters of non-alcoholic drinks and juices per year after 150 years in business. Only being allowed to sell to the non-Muslim three percent of the 170 million population as under the present prohibition law, only non-Muslims and foreigners are permitted to consume alcohol. The alcoholic production can not be exported to the other countries and non-Muslims can only buy from designated shops inside hotels in Islamabad and also from alcoholic shops in the local markets of Karachi and other cities of Sindh province.
I wonder how shops determine a potential buyer's religion before selling alcoholic drinks.
(Charles McQuillan/ EPA)
A tug-of-war battle between riot police and protestors as the latter try and prevent an arrest at the height of disturbances in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, Northern Ireland late 12 July 2010. A petrol bomb was among the objects thrown from a crowd of more than 100 who were staging a sit down protest against an Orange order march in the city. The parade marks the victory of Protestant King william of Orange over the army of Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Betlejewski had called on Poles on his website to send in "all the evil thoughts they may have had about the Jews and which are getting to them," so they can be burnt for good. Joined by over 1,000 people, he read out the names of those who sent in their thoughts, then left their notes inside the barn rebuilt outside Zawada and poured petrol inside the structure before lighting it.
Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP - Getty Images
Residents of the Riverlea township stand near a fire as laser beams lit Soccer City Stadium in the background a few moments before the kick-off of the final of the 2010 Football World Cup between The Nethlerands and Spain on July 11, 2010.
Nice juxtaposition of World Cup glitz viewed from a township. Do you think South Africa will be left like Athens following their Olympics, heavily in debt and dotted with empty stadiums, or will the country be able to build off the attention and investment?
Kevin Frayer / AP
A U.S. soldier from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne, has his head shaved by the light of a flashlight at Combat Outpost Ware in the volatile Arghandab Valley, outside Kandahar City, Afghanistan, on Sunday, July 11.
Is running with the bulls on your list of must-do things? See more pictures from the San Fermin festival here.
Mark Duncan / AP
Passersby stop to take photos of workmen removing a large mural of NBA basketball star LeBron James in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday, July 10. James, who played seven years for the Cleveland Cavaliers, signed with the Miami Heat after becoming a free agent after the season.
Issac Baldizon / NBAE via Getty Images
The Miami Heat announces the return of Dwyane Wade, left, and welcomes LeBron James, center, and Chris Bosh on Thursday, July 8, at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fla.
While Cleveland begins to erase LeBron James from its collective memory, Miamians have already begun to kneel at the throne of King James. But hey, don't fret Cleveland, doesn't it still does take five guys on the court to win a ballgame, not just one, or even three? You have to wonder if the enormous amount of hype around James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will eat away at team chemistry considering all of the egos involved.