North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a bullet factory, pausing to fire a rifle at the range.
Korea's Central News Agency reported that the supreme commander of the Korean People's Army paid a visit to the Sporting Bullet Factory, which was built under his father's initiative in 1996.
Inspecting the production process, Kim Jong Un underscored the importance of plans to increase production and improve quality by modernizing the factory to bring the factory into what he called the "new century."
After he learned about operations at the plant, he fired a rifle and looked at the sporting gun which Kim Jong Il personally used.
A Kashmiri villager slips as he clears snow off the roof of his house in Gagangeri, northeast of Srinagar on Feb. 23.
AP Reports: Two massive avalanches in snowbound regions of Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 16 soldiers, and at least three others were feared trapped in a military camp that was partially buried under snow, an official said Thursday.
Farooq Khan / EPA
A Kashmiri woman gestures after her hut was buried under snow due to an avalanche on Feb. 23.
Col. K.S. Grewal said three of the soldiers were killed in the mountainous area of Sonamarg and 13 were killed at a large army camp in Dawar, a town close to the heavily militarized cease-fire line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are stationed along this de-facto border. Both avalanches took place late Wednesday night, and state officials warned more may occur in mountain areas.
Dar Yasin / AP
Kashmiri Villagers inspect damage after an avalanche in Ramwari on Feb. 23.
Rescue workers in Dawar pulled out 13 survivors who were being treated at a local army hospital, Grewal said. Three soldiers there were still believed to be trapped under the snow, he said. Dawar, in the frontier Gurez region, remains cut off from the rest of Kashmir for nearly five months every year as heavy snowfall and rains block road links to the region.
Farooq Khan / EPA
A vehicle is burried under snow in Gagangeri, northeast of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir in India on Feb. 23.
Dar Yasin / AP
Kashmiri villagers remove fallen trees as they search for belongings at the site where their homes stood, now buried in snow after an avalanche on Feb. 23.
Dragon Head-Raising Day, also called Spring Dragon Day, is a traditional Chinese festival that falls on the second day of the second lunar month. According to custom, getting a haircut today can bring you good luck for the rest of the year.
Judging by their expressions, these kids don't seem to have realized their good fortune.
Wu Hong / EPA
A child gets his hair cut for good luck on Dragon Head-Raising Day in a barber's shop in Qingdao city, eastern China's Shandong province, on Feb. 23, 2012.
ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
A child gets a haircut in Hefei on Feb. 23, 2012 in Hefei, China.
Nic Bothma / EPA
A man carries prayer beads, a cellphone, goggles and a mask to protect against tear gas during protests in Dakar, Senegal on Feb. 22, 2012.
Senegal, once a beacon of democracy in the troubled West African region, has been plagued by violent demonstrations against incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade in the lead up to Sunday's presidential election, the European Pressphoto Agency reports.
The country's top judges have ruled in favour of Wade's bid to seek a third term in office and have barred the hugely popular music star Youssou Ndour from standing in the election.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered across the country, some chanting "Death to America!", Reuters witnesses and officials said. In eastern Kabul, hundreds of youths threw rocks at police, who fired shots into the air to try disperse the crowds.
Prisoners who have taken over a guard post watch police reinforcements backed by armored vehicles arriving outside the Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Bali on the second day of rioting, Feb. 23, 2012.
Romeo Gacad / AFP - Getty Images
Police reinforcements backed by armored vehicles arrive outside the Kerobokan prison on Feb. 23, 2012.
Indonesia said on Thursday it would evacuate 60 foreigners as well as female prisoners from the Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Bali, Agence France Presse reports. The jail is currently under the control of rioting inmates.
Callista Gingrich, the wife of presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, has been trying to visit schools in cities her husband visits to read from her children's book "Sweet Land of Liberty," which features Ellis the Elephant revisiting key moments in U.S. history.
A Palestinian worker labors at the construction site at the Jewish West Bank settlement of Shilo on Wednesday. Israel gave preliminary approval on February 22 to a plan to build 600 new homes in a settlement deep inside the West Bank, a move that drew a rebuke from the United Nations and Palestinians and threatened to raise new tensions with the U.S. as the prime minister prepares to head to the White House.
AP reports about Israel's preliminary approval to build new homes in the West Bank: the timing of the move may further hinder already troubled Mideast peace efforts. It casts a shadow over a trip by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington in March, in which he is expected to discuss Iran's nuclear program and other regional issues.
The U.N.'s Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, called the Israeli announcement "deplorable" and said it "moves us further away from the goal of a two-state solution."
Speaking to reporters, State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to comment about the announcement, but said the U.S. policy on settlement activity is clear. "We don't believe it's in any way constructive to getting both sides back to the negotiating table. And we want to see clearly a comprehensive settlement that delineates borders and resolves many of these issues."
A man riding a horse prepares to throw his wooden spears at his rival during the two-day Pasola War Festival in the remote Kodi Pangedo village, in Indonesia's West Sumba province on Friday. Held on February 16 and 17, Pasola is a ritual of the West Sumba people, a part of the local Sumba belief called Marapu in which the participants, whose livelihoods are dependent on their corn and rice crops, ask for the blessings of the gods for a good harvest.
The Pasola ritual is a war game between two groups of 100 men from the Hill village and the lowland village, forcing the horses which they ride on bareback with no saddle to run faster, and how they strategize to win the war, with the rest of the villages as the judges.
To get there I caught a small plane from Bali, and arrived at Tambulaka airport, which is small and surrounded by green hills. From there, I rented a car and drove on small paved roads that cut through villages and little wooden houses. During the journey, I discovered a strong presence of animism, in the form of respects to ancestors. At every corner of the towns and villages, the houses have a traditional worship place and the graveyards of their ancestors, and at this time of year, when it is high time to prepare for blessings from the Gods, the graveyards are adorned with offerings of beetle fruits.
Yusuf Ahmad / Reuters
A man and his son smile before they take part in the two-day Pasola War Festival in remote Kodi Pangedo village.
Yusuf Ahmad / Reuters
Tribal elders walk during a ritual procession amidst the two-day Pasola War Festival in the remote Kodi Pangedo village, in Indonesia's the West Sumba province.
After a two hour drive, I arrived at the remote Kodi Pangedo village, a place where the Pasola festivity is held each year in February and stayed for four days there without electricity and very little water for the shower. In fact, I only showered once for three days in the village.
Yusuf Ahmad / Reuters
A woman and several children gather in front of a house during a ritual procession amidst the two-day Pasola War Festival.
Usually there are minor injuries to the arms and legs of the fighting men. Each drop of blood spilled on the earth is considered a salvation of sins or violation of rituals in the past year, and hence a seal of guarantee that the harvest in the months to come will be abundant.
Yusuf Ahmad / Reuters
Villagers walk along a beach near the remote Kodi Pangedo village in Indonesia's West Sumba province.
Children suffering from nodding syndrome gather in Akoya-Lamin Omony village in Gulu district, 238 miles north of Uganda's capital of Kampala on Sunday. Nodding syndrome, which mostly affects children under 15, was first documented in Tanzania as early as 1962. However, despite extensive investigations, researchers are still largely confounded by it. Most of the fatalities attributed to the disease are the result of secondary causes. Children with nodding syndrome are prone to accidents such as drowning and burning.
James Akena / Reuters
Okello Reagan, 11, who is suffering from nodding syndrome, sits with his peers in Akoya-Lamin Omony village in Gulu district.
Stringer / Reuters
Nancy Lamwaka, 12, who is suffering from nodding syndrome, is tied to a rope as she sits out in the open in Lapul.
Stringer / Reuters
Nancy Lamwaka, 12, who is suffering from nodding syndrome, is tied to a rope as she walks in Lapul.
The disease was first reported in northern Uganda in 2009 but health experts diagnosed it as epilepsy. The disease has attracted international attention due to the progressively worsening head nodding, cognitive decline and malnutrition among suffering children.
"We knew that the children had this bizarre nodding but the explanation for the nodding was not known," Dr. Scott Dowell explains. "Since December 2009 we have documented the cause for the nodding itself and found that these children have a severe seizure disorder."
Uganda’s health ministry, with the help of CDC, has conducted a series of investigations to establish the cause of the disease but has so far not come up with any results.
A bear lays inside a cage at the bear farm of Guizhentang pharmaceutical company, which makes bile tonics during a media tour in Hui'an county in southeast China's Fujian province, on Feb. 22. Last week, Chinese voiced outrage when the pharmaceutical company that sells tonics made with bear bile announced plans for a public listing. Dozens of Chinese entertainers, writers and other celebrities signed a petition to the China Securities Regulatory Commission urging it to withhold approval for the initial public offering by Guizhentang, a Chinese medicines maker.
A bear lays inside a cage at the bear farm of Guizhentang pharmaceutical company, which makes bile tonics during a media tour in Hui'an county in southeast China's Fujian province.
A bear looks out from a cage at the bear farm of Guizhentang pharmaceutical company, which makes bear bile tonics during a media tour in Hui'an county in southeast China's Fujian province, on Feb. 22. Last week, Chinese voiced outrage when the pharmaceutical company that sells tonics made with bear bile announced plans for a public listing. Dozens of Chinese entertainers, writers and other celebrities signed a petition to the China Securities Regulatory Commission urging it to withhold approval for the initial public offering by Guizhentang, a Chinese medicines maker.
AFP - Getty Images
Chinese workers collect bear bile, at one of the traditional Chinese medicine company Guizhentang's controversial bear bile farms in Hui'an, southeast China's Fujian province on February 22, 2012. Bear bile has long been used in China to treat various health problems, despite skepticism over its effectiveness and outrage over the bile extraction process, which animal rights group say is excruciatingly painful for bears.
Bears wait to be feed at the bear farm of Guizhentang pharmaceutical company during a media tour in Hui'an county in southeast China's Fujian province on Feb. 22. Last week, Chinese voiced outrage when the pharmaceutical company that sells tonics made with bear bile announced plans for a public listing. Dozens of Chinese entertainers, writers and other celebrities signed a petition to the China Securities Regulatory Commission urging it to withhold approval for the initial public offering by Guizhentang, a Chinese medicines maker.
AFP - Getty Images
Bears are seen at one of the traditional Chinese medicine company Guizhentang's controversial bear bile farms in Hui'an, southeast China's Fujian province on Feb. 22. Bear bile has long been used in China to treat various health problems, despite skepticism over its effectiveness and outrage over the bile extraction process, which animal rights group say is excruciatingly painful for bears.
By John Makely, NBC News
These images were taken on a media tour of one of the Guizhentang company's farms after an uproar over their plans to expand erupted online in China, so please take into account that these are the images of a cleaned-up facility that the company allowed to get their side of the story out.
SHANGHAI — A share listing plan by a company that sells tonics made with bear bile is provoking a storm of online criticism in China from animal rights groups, celebrities and ordinary Chinese.
Reports Friday said dozens of well-known entertainers, writers and other celebrities signed a petition to the China Securities Regulatory Commission urging it to withhold approval for the initial public offering by Guizhentang, a Chinese medicines maker. The company is awaiting approval for a share listing in Shenzhen.
Hundreds of thousands of comments on "weibo," the Chinese version of Twitter, blasted the company for extracting bile from the bears.
Animal rights groups contend the practice of bear bile farming is cruel because the animals are confined to small cages and milked of bile through catheters inserted into fistulas, or permanent wounds, in their gall bladders.
Fighters believed to be pro-government mercenaries and snipers are captured by rebel fighters in the Tripoli neighborhood of Abu Slim during the final resistance of Gadhafi loyalist forces, on Sept. 25, 2011.
Just 28 when he died, Remi Ochlik had been photographing in conflict zones since 2004, when he covered the violent unrest in Haiti surrounding the downfall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The resulting work won an award for young reporters at the Visa pour l'image photojournalism festival. Jean-François Leroy, director of the festival, expressed his admiration for the work of Ochlik, then barely out of his teens.
An injured passenger is lifted from athe train wreckage by firefighters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Feb. 22, after an accident in Once train station. The city emergency service confirmed so far 550 injured and at least 40 fatal casualties when a suburban train failed to break and ran into the buffers at the railway terminus.
Enrique Marcarian / Reuters
Rescue workers extract a passenger from a commuter train that crashed into the Once train station at rush hour in Buenos Aires on Feb. 22. Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi confirmed that 340 people were injured and that passengers were still trapped inside after the train's brakes failed.
Juan Mabromata / AFP - Getty Images
Police and rescue workers surround a train that crashed at Once train station in Buenos Aires on Feb. 22. At least 340 people were injured in the accident, authorities informed.
Enrique Marcarian / Reuters
Rescue workers carry a passenger who was injured when a commuter train crashed into the Once train station during rush hour in Buenos Aires, Feb. 22. Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi confirmed that 340 people were injured and that passengers were still trapped inside when the train's brakes failed.
Enrique Marcarian / Reuters
Commuters help a passenger who was injured when a commuter train crashed into the Once train station during rush hour in Buenos Aires, Feb. 22, 2012. Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi confirmed that 340 people were injured and that passengers were still trapped inside when the train's brakes failed.
From msnbc.com staff and news services:
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A packed train slammed into the end of the line in Buenos Aires' busy Once station Wednesday, injuring at least 340 morning commuters, Argentina's transportation secretary said.
"There are people still trapped, people alive, and there may have been fatalities. We don't know if there are dead people" in the wreckage, J.P. Schiavi told reporters at the station.
The commuter train came in too fast and hit the barrier at the end of the platform, smashing the front of the engine and crunching the first car behind it, according to reports.
Hundreds of people have been hurt after a packed train ran into a busy station in Argentina. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.
Untitled Film Still #21, 1978 - Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" series, comprised of 70 black-and-white photographs made between 1977 and 1980, are made to resemble publicity pictures taken on movie sets. The images represent clichés from films of the 1950s and 60s: career girl, bombshell, housewife and so on.
Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
Untitled # 213, 1989 - Sherman's history portraits make allusions to paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio, Fragonard and Ingres.
By Brooke Sopelsa, msnbc.com
From an eerie clown to a society doyenne to a nubile milkmaid, photographer Cindy Sherman has masqueraded as a series of characters in front of her own camera, producing books and exhibitions that have gained international attention. Now, for the first time in 15 years, work that spans the master of disguise’s entire career, from the mid-‘70s to the present, will be on display in one place: New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
“I think Cindy Sherman is more contemporary than she’s ever been,” says Eva Respini, associate curator at the Museum of Modern Art. “I think we’re in a media-saturated society, where everyone can be their own star, and everyone is taking pictures of themselves and posting them to Facebook or any other kind of social media outlet, and I think her work definitely picks up on that, and responds to that.”
To create her photographic portraits, Sherman works unassisted in her New York studio. She is the photographer, model, art director, make-up artist, hairdresser and stylist.
“The really important thing about her work is they’re not self-portraits,” notes Sarah Evans, assistant professor of contemporary art history at Northern Illinois University. “They’re portraits of the types of images that surface in our world. She’s mirroring the media in a way that’s especially important for women.”
Sherman will not admit to being a feminist, according to Evans, but her work has been interpreted as having strong feminist themes.
“Many feminists,” Evans added, “have adopted her work as one of the most historically significant examples of feminist art.”
Cindy Sherman, which includes 180 photographs spanning the artist’s career, will be on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art from Feb. 26-June 11, 2012. The exhibit will then travel to San Francisco, Minneapolis and Dallas.
Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
Untitled #96, 1981 - Part of Sherman's centerfolds series, this photograph sold for a whopping $3,890,500 in May 2011, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold. It held that record until November 2011.
Afghan protesters hold rocks during a protest near a U.S. military base in Kabul on Feb. 22, 2012. Hundreds of angry Afghans gathered in a second day of violent clashes after copies of the Quran, Islam's holy book, were burned at NATO's main base in Afghanistan.
Ahmad Masood / Reuters
An Afghan policeman runs away as protesters throw rocks near a U.S. military base in Kabul on Feb. 22, 2012.
Parwiz / Reuters
Smoke billows from a fuel tank supplying NATO troops, after it was set on fire by protesters during a demonstration in Jalalabad province on Feb. 22, 2012.
The shots were fired into demonstrators when they charged at police lines and smashed car windows, witnesses told Reuters. It appeared police had fired the shots but there was no immediate confirmation from Afghan security forces.
The reading was followed by two minutes of silence at 12:51 p.m., the minute the magnitude-6.1 quake struck. It destroyed thousands of homes and much of downtown Christchurch, causing 30 billion dollars ($25 billion) in damage by the government's estimate.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker told the crowd that the city would never be the same again. He said people disagree about how the city should be rebuilt, but that one day it will again be a great place to live and work. Read the full story.
Martin Hunter / Getty Images
A boy carries a bear as families arrive at Latimer Square ahead of the anniversary memorial.
Their discovery, published Wednesday in a journal of the Royal Society of London, gives yet more evidence that India is a hotbed of amphibian life with habitats worth protecting against the country's industry-heavy development agenda.
Sd Biju / EPA
The discovery of the tailless burrowing caecilians was made by a team of international scientists led by Professor SD Biju from Delhi University. 'Scientists performed DNA analysis of the specimens and confirmed that it is an entirely new family,' Biju said.
President Obama took to the microphone again, this time to belt out "Sweet Home Chicago" with B.B. King. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
B.B. King, left, Buddy Guy and Warren Haynes, right, perform during the White House Music Series saluting Blues Music in recognition of Black History Month, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
Win McNamee / Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaks on Tuesday night.
Chris Kleponis / Reuters
Blues legend B.B. King signals approval while performing on Tuesday night.
President Obama took to the microphone at the White House's Black History Month Blues Concert, along with B.B. King and Mick Jagger.
The concert featured music legends and contemporary major artists, including King and Mick Jagger, as a celebration of Blues music and in recognition of Black History Month. The concert, airing next week on PBS, is part of the "In Performance at the White House" series.
Win McNamee / Getty Images
Shemekia Copeland (L) and Susan Tedeschi (R) perform with an all-star cast on Tuesday night.
A two-stage Terrier-Black Brant rocket arcs through an auroral display 200 miles above Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range as the MICA mission investigates the underlying physics of the northern lights. In this long-exposure photo, the rocket's first stage has just separated and is seen falling back to Earth. The green arc toward the top of the photo is a scientific laser that's shooting into the sky to make profiles of the atmosphere. The beam only appears curved due to the wide-angle lens used to capture the photo.
A rocket experiment sampled the stuff of the northern lights over the weekend, adding some scientific substance to the great auroral views we've been getting from Earth and space.
Saturday night's launch from the Poker Flats Research Range in Fairbanks, Alaska, was part of a NASA-funded mission called the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfven Resonator, or MICA for short. The project involves researchers from the University of New Hampshire, Cornell, Dartmouth, the Southwest Research Institute, the University of Oslo and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
A two-stage, 40-foot-tall Terrier-Black Brant rocket was sent arcing through the aurora to a height of 186 miles, sending down a real-time data stream as it flew. The payload was recovered 200 miles downrange, UNH said in a news release.
MICA's aim is to measure electric and magnetic fields and sample the charged particles in Earth's upper atmosphere while they're under the influence of a form of electromagnetic energy known as Alfven waves. These waves are thought to spark a particular type of auroral display: a well-defined band of shimmering lights, about six miles (10 kilometers) thick and stretching east to west, from horizon to horizon.
The northern (and southern) lights are the result of interactions between Earth's magnetic field and electrically charged particles streaming from the sun, in a region ranging from 60 to 200 miles or more in altitude. The mechanism behind the Alfven-wave displays is thought to be like a guitar string that gets "plucked" by energy delivered to the magnetosphere by the solar wind, said Marc Lessard, a UNH space physicist and one of the leaders of the MICA campaign.
"The ionosphere, some 62 miles up, is one end of the guitar string, and there's another structure over a thousand miles up in space that is the other end of the string. When it gets plucked by incoming energy, we can get a fundamental frequency and other 'harmonics' along the background magnetic field sitting above the ionosphere," Lessard said in the news release.
Physicists think the "string" takes the form of a beam of electrons accelerated by solar energy. "The process turns on an auroral arc, and then these waves develop on both sides of the resonator moving up and down. That's the theory, and it appears to be valid, but there's never been any really good measurement of the process in action. That's what MICA is all about," Lessard said.
A fisheye view of the Terrier-Black Brant rocket's ascent is captured by an automated camera near the entrance gate at the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska.
In Alaska, a two-stage rocket is helping scientists understand how the lights are formed and how they impact satellites. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
The mission gathered data about other auroral phenomena as well. Cornell University's Steven Powell, another leader of the MICA campaign, reported in an email today that the initial results look promising.
"We can tell from the stripchart recordings that we have made excellent measurements of the electric fields, magnetic fields and charged particles (electrons and ions) associated with the aurora," he wrote. "These stripchart recordings are much like a patient's EKG in a hospital, and give us a 'quicklook' real-time glimpse of our data, so that we know that our instruments worked properly and the data quality is excellent. The detailed digital data was written onto data CDs, and our graduate students and scientific staff look forward to analyzing the digital data in the coming weeks and months."
He said the display may have been intensified by the presence of a co-rotating interaction region, or CIR. Solar wind plasma tends to pile up in such regions, and that generally sparks better-than-usual auroras.
The northern lights glow in a video recorded on Saturday night by Bob Conzemius in Chippewa National Forest, north of Grand Rapids, Minn. "It was fun watching the auroras illuminate the fog and snow on the lake while listening to barred owls calling," Conzemius told SpaceWeather. com. "I may have heard a couple wolves howling in the distance, too."
The views have been great from the International Space Station as well. NASA's Gateway to Astronaut Photography From Space is offering a fresh batch of aurora videos from late January and February, including this must-see moonlit view of an outer-space passage from the North Pacific to the North Atlantic:
This Feb. 4 video was taken by the International Space Station's crew during a pass from the North Pacific Ocean, just west of Oregon, to the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Nova Scotia.