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Former AP photographer Max Desfor dies at 104

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Former Associated Press photographer Max Desfor, whose photo of hundreds of Korean War refugees crawling across a damaged bridge in 1950 helped win him a Pulitzer Prize, died Monday. He was 104.

Desfor died at his apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he’d been living in his retirement, said his son, Barry.

Desfor volunteered to cover the Korean War for the news service when the North invaded the South in June 1950. He parachuted into North Korea with U.S troops and retreated with them after forces from the North, joined by the Chinese, pushed south.

He was in a Jeep near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang when he spotted a bridge that had been hit by bombing along the Taedong River. Thousands of refugees were lined up on the north bank waiting their turn to cross the river.

“We came across this incredible sight,” he recalled in 1997 for an AP oral history. “All of these people who are literally crawling through these broken-down girders of the bridge. They were in and out of it, on top, underneath, and just barely escaping the freezing water.”

Desfor climbed a 50-foot-high section of the bridge to photograph the refugees as they fled for their lives.

“My hands got so cold I could barely trip the shutter on my camera,” he remembered. “I couldn’t even finish a full pack of film. It was just that cold.”

The Pulitzer jury in 1951 determined that Desfor’s photos from Korea the previous year had “all the qualities which make for distinguished news photography — imagination, disregard for personal safety, perception of human interest and the ability to make the camera tell the whole story.” The Pulitzer board honored his overall coverage of the war, based on a portfolio of more than 50 photos, and cited the Taedong River bridge shot in particular.

A native of New York, Desfor was born in the Bronx on Nov. 8, 1913, and attended Brooklyn College. He joined the AP in 1933 as a messenger. After teaching himself the basics of photography and moonlighting as a baby photographer, he began shooting occasional assignments for the AP. He became a staff photographer in the Baltimore bureau in 1938 and moved to the Washington bureau a year later.

During World War II, Desfor photographed the crew of the Enola Gay after the B-29 landed in Saipan from its mission to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945. He was with the first wave of Marines at Tokyo Bay shortly after Japan’s surrender that month and photographed the official surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.

Desfor worked for the AP in the Philippines and in India, where he photographed Mahatma Gandhi and later covered the assassinated leader’s funeral in 1948. He also worked in the AP’s Rome bureau and was set to return to the U.S. when war broke out in Korea.

After the war Desfor served as supervising editor of Wide World Photos, the AP’s photo service, and returned to Asia in 1968 as photo chief for the region. He retired from the AP in 1978, then joined U.S. News & World Report as photo director.

Desfor and his wife, Clara, raised a son, Barry, of Wauconda, Illinois. She died in 2004.

In January 2012, when he was 98, Desfor and his longtime companion, Shirley Belasco, surprised guests at a party celebrating her 90th birthday by marrying in front of their guests. They had been friends since the 1980s when the Desfors and Ms. Belasco lived in the same Silver Spring apartment building and became a couple a few years after his wife’s death. Ms. Belasco died in 2015.

A photo Desfor took during his long career that had particular meaning to him also came from the Korean War. Walking near a field he spotted two hands, blue from cold, sticking up in the snow and photographed them. The hands, which had been bound, belonged to one of several civilians taken prisoner and executed, their bodies left to be covered by snowfall.

“I labeled that picture, later on, ‘Futility,’ because it’s always been — I’ve always felt that it’s the civilians caught in the crossfire, the civilians, the innocent civilians, how futile it is for war,” he said for the oral history. “That epitomized it to me.”

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Trainer Gordon Elliott apologises ‘profoundly’ for photo of him sitting on top of dead horse | World News

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Horse trainer Gordon Elliott has apologised “profoundly” for an image in which he appeared to be sitting on a dead horse.

The image was posted and shared on Twitter during the weekend and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said the matter was under investigation.

In a statement the trainer said: “I would like to address the speculation and rumours that have been rife since an old photo of me began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon.

“Firstly, I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused and can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed here at Cullentra.

Trainer Gordon Elliott after the 5.15 Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase Action
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Elliott is a three-time Grand National winner

“The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth.

“At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned.

“I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished.

“Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing.

“However, I feel it is important to provide people with some context surrounding this photo. To the racing community, to anyone who has worked with and loves horses and to anyone offended by this image I cannot apologise enough.

“Horse welfare and the care and attention to detail involved is absolutely at the core of everything we do here and both myself and all of my team pride ourselves on those standards.

“Again I apologise for any offence caused and ask people to consider this statement as opposed to the various falsehoods and misinformation being circulated on social media.

“At this time, I would like to stress that I continue to extend my full cooperation with the ongoing IHRB investigation.”

General view during the 5.15 Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
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‘Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport’, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has said

An IHRB spokesman said: “The investigation is under way, and it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

Elliott is a three-time Grand National winner, having sent out Silver Birch to claim the Aintree prize before Tiger Roll became the first back-to-back winner of the race since Red Rum when lifting the marathon event in 2018 and 2019.

The British Horseracing Authority said: “We hope the Irish authorities will quickly confirm how this shocking picture originated.

“Respect for horses is a fundamental value of our sport, contrary to the impression in this picture. The IHRB have assured us that the investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and that they will keep us informed as more information becomes available.”

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Trump CPAC speech: Former president says he may run again in 2024 | US News

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Donald Trump has suggested he may run for president again in 2024 – amid an angry attack on Joe Biden in his first major address since leaving the White House.

The Republican used his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in an apparent effort to cement his status as the party’s undisputed leader despite his defeat in November.

“Do you miss me yet?” Mr Trump began, amid rapturous applause

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In his first speech since leaving office, former US president Donald Trump says he may consider running for office again.

“I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together… there’s never been a journey so successful – we began it together four years ago and it is far from over,” he said.

He dismissed suggestions he may start a new party, saying “we’re not interested in them”.

“We all knew the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us even imagined just how bad they would be,” he said.

“He talked about energy. I thought ‘this guy, actually he’s ok with energy’. He wasn’t ok with energy… he wants windmills.”

Continuing his attack, he suggested the Democrat would lose in 2024, adding: “Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time” – a reference to repeated and baseless claim that he did not lose the last election.

The former reality TV star returned to many of his favourite themes, apparently deviating from his prepared speech while railing over immigration, the Paris Climate Agreement and attacking China.

Donald Trump kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020. Pic: AP
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The president kisses the American flag after speaking last year’s CPAC. Pic: AP

Despite his entirely unfounded allegations that last year’s election was not fair having helped trigger deadly riots involving his supporters at the US Capitol on 6 January, Mr Trump repeatedly returned to the claims.

The event so far at a Hyatt hotel in Orlando, Florida, has been a tribute to Trump and Trumpism – even featuring a golden statue in his likeness.

Speakers, including many potential GOP 2024 hopefuls, have argued the party must embrace the former president and his followers, even after the insurrection at the Capitol.

They face opposition from others who argue the party must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not only the White House to Mr Biden but both chambers of Congress in the last elections.

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COVID-19: New West Bank lockdown as Palestinians face surge of coronavirus cases | World News

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A new lockdown has been imposed across the West Bank as Palestinians face a fresh surge of coronavirus cases and a continued wait for a proper vaccine rollout.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced the 12-day shutdown late on Saturday and blamed it on the struggle to get vaccines delivered to the territory.

In the last 24 hours there have been 910 new cases and five deaths in the West Bank.

Palestinian PM announcing the lockdown
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Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announcing the lockdown

To date Palestinians in the West Bank have received 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.

A separate delivery of 20,000 Russian vaccines has been delivered to the other Palestinian territory, Gaza.

The Covax scheme, the global initiative to get vaccines to poorer nations, has yet to provide any for Palestinians but a delivery is expected this week.

Israel has now vaccinated half of its population but has only provided 2,000 jabs to the West Bank.

Under a plan approved this weekend, Israeli government has now authorised a plan to vaccinate over 120,000 Palestinians who are legally employed in Israeli settlements, according to Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians.

But a huge imbalance remain which has added a new dynamic to the decades long Israel-Palestine conflict as well as put focus on Israel’s obligations as an occupying power.

Last month, Israel’s Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told Sky News that it was in the country’s interest to ensure the Palestinian population is vaccinated.

Palestinian health workers being vaccinated earlier this month
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Palestinian health workers being vaccinated earlier this month

But asked if Israel would provide the vaccine to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Mr Edelstein said it would only happen once Israel’s population is vaccinated.

“We definitely will consider that but as I’ve said, I sincerely hope that by that time, part of their population will be vaccinated by different vaccines that they are trying to purchase. If any other help will be needed, we will offer.”

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Will COVID jab get to occupied territories?

Israeli officials have constantly said that Palestinians, who have limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank and all of Gaza, are responsible for their own health system under agreements made in the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s.

However, an annex of the Oslo Accords, which were only meant to be a temporary route to full Palestinian statehood, also calls for co-operation to combat epidemics.

Palestinian health workers being vaccinated earlier this month
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The West Bank has received 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine

Human rights groups also cite the Fourth Geneva Convention which says occupying powers are obliged, as far as possible, to take responsibility for the public health of people living under occupation.

Under the West Bank lockdown, schools, universities and non-essential shops will all be shut.

All movement will also be restricted during night-time hours.

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