Now that Carnival has drawn to a close, here’s a selection of top images taken at this year’s pre-Lenten parties across Latin America and the Caribbean.
At the iconic Sambadrome parade in Rio de Janeiro, some performers literally became shower heads, spraying water up into the air from their hats as they sang and danced. A performer who uses a wheelchair dazzled the crowd with a seemingly impossible feat: a handstand while holding the chair up in the air.
Animals got into the action during a pet parade along Rio’s Copacabana Beach, with some dogs in baby strollers and all of them in costume.
Other cities around the hemisphere celebrated in their own unique ways.
Revelers in Triunfo, Brazil, strolled the streets in sad-faced masks, while partygoers in Montevideo, Uruguay, banged on Candombe drums, a tradition dating from the colonial era when African slaves were brought to South America. In Oruro, Bolivia, dancers performed their pagan-Catholic blend of Carnival, an event considered one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of Humanity’s Oral and Intangible Heritage.
Political tensions in Haiti caused some events to be cancelled and dampened participation, but people still took to the streets to celebrate, including roller-skaters in elaborate costumes.
The Zika outbreak in the Americas was on a lot of people’s minds, but it didn’t dent Carnival celebrations. At one street party, Brazilians symbolically buried the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus, insisting the show go on as always.
This gallery was curated by AP Regional Photo Editor Enric Marti in Mexico City.
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year celebration descended into chaos as protesters and police, who fired warning shots into the air, clashed over a street market selling fishballs and other local holiday delicacies, with dozens injured and more than 60 arrested.
The violence is the worst in Hong Kong since pro-democracy protests rocked the city in 2014, leaving a growing trust gap between the public and authorities.
Activists angered over authorities’ attempts to crack down on the food hawkers in a crowded Kowloon neighborhood held running battles with police into the early morning hours of Tuesday.
Protesters pelted officers with paving stones, glass bottles and other pieces of debris. Some threw garbage cans, plastic safety barriers and wood from shipping pallets. They also set fires on the street.
The unrest started when authorities tried to prevent unlicensed street food sellers from operating Monday night in Mong Kok, a working-class district. The hawkers have become a local tradition during the Lunar New Year holiday but this year authorities tried to remove them.
The hawkers were backed by activists who objected to the crackdown over concerns that Hong Kong’s local culture is disappearing as Beijing tightens its hold on the semiautonomous city.
The scuffles underscore how tensions remain unresolved more than a year after the end of pro-democracy protests that gripped the city. Mong Kok, a popular and densely populated shopping and entertainment district, was one of the neighborhoods where activists occupied streets for about 11 weeks in late 2014, capturing world headlines with their demands for greater electoral freedom.
Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, told reporters a mob had attacked police officers and journalists, and said the perpetrators would be prosecuted. More than 80 officers and four reporters were hurt, he said.
Police cars and public property were damaged, fires started and bricks and other objects thrown at police officers, including those already injured and lying on the ground, Leung said.
“I believe the public can see for themselves from TV news reports the seriousness of the situation. The (Hong Kong) government strongly condemns such violent acts. The police will apprehend the mobs and bring them to justice,” Leung said.
Officials said they were investigating whether the violence had been organized in advance.
At one point, a protester tried to tackle a traffic police officer from behind before both sides rushed in to the melee in the middle of a busy street, according to video shown by local news channel Cable TV. Moments later, another officer appeared to fire two warning shots into the air.
Hong Kong police said the protesters had ignored their warnings to get off the street and shoved officers, who responded with batons and pepper spray.
Police said late Tuesday that 61 people ranging in age from 15 to 70 were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly, assaulting police, resisting arrest, obstructing officers, possession of offensive weapons and disorderly conduct in a public place.
Some were also suspected of participating in a riot, a charge that Police Commissioner Lo Wai-Chung told reporters earlier in the day has not been employed since 1967 riots expressing support for China’s radical Cultural Revolution and against British colonial rule.
Two warning shots were fired during the incident, Acting District Commander Yau Siu-kei said.
In Japan, the prime minister said North Korea would be committing a “grave, provocative act” if it followed through on plans to launch a long-range rocket. South Korea warned of “searing consequences” if the launch went ahead. Moscow and Washington, which rarely agree on much of anything these days, both denounced Pyongyang’s plans. Even China, North Korea’s closest ally, said it was worried.
But in the end, the international outrage didn’t make any difference. On Sunday, Pyongyang launched its rocket — which it says was designed only to carry a satellite into orbit, but which much of the world insists was a camouflaged long-range missile test — and then proudly proclaimed its success.
Because North Korea learned long ago that it could achieve a great deal with deliberate belligerence.
Here’s a look at Pyongyang’s provocations.
Years after North Korea first agreed to shut down its nuclear weapons program, even as it quietly built it up, Pyongyang no longer makes a secret of its ambitions. Its 2012 constitution enshrines its status as a nuclear state. When it set off its fourth nuclear weapons test just a few weeks ago, infuriating the international community, it called the explosion “a great deed of history.”
The test “guarantees the eternal future of the nation,” the government declared. If the statement was over the top, there was also truth amid the hyperbole.
North Korea is an impoverished nation with a military often reduced to using decades-old Soviet equipment. It is profoundly isolated, facing sanctions that cut it off from most international trade. Its leaders are mocked regularly in the Western media.
Nuclear weapons, though, make the world pay attention. Even to a country so poor that 24-hour electricity is considered a luxury.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons technology has given it immense international negotiating power, allowing Pyongyang to alternate nuclear tests with talks to ratchet back its weapons programs. Over the years, those talks have resulted in billions of dollars in aid.
The nuclear tests are also powerful messages for domestic consumption, proof of how North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather before him, had developed the country’s military technology to withstand the ever-looming threats of South Korea and the United States.
Or as Kim put it in his New Year’s address: “If invasive outsiders and provocateurs touch us even slightly, we will … answer with a merciless, holy war of justice.”
Nuclear weapons are inherently dangerous, of course, but they are far more dangerous if they can be launched quickly against targets around the world.
That, however, requires missiles, along with the technology to miniaturize nuclear explosives so they can fit onto warheads.
In announcing its launch plans, Pyongyang insisted its intentions were peaceful, calling it part of a “space development program” and saying the rocket would carry an Earth-observation satellite.
Many experts believe the North’s rockets look more like they are designed to carry satellites into space — and less like long-range missiles — but the technology is similar, and forbidden by a series of U.N. resolutions.
As a result, much of the world denounced the Sunday launch as yet another ballistic missile test, and one more step toward a North Korean arsenal of nuclear weapons capable of striking as far away as the United States.
The announcement was also quickly followed by demands to further tighten trade restrictions on North Korea, already among the most-sanctioned nations in the world. It also sparked renewed calls, particularly from U.S. officials, for China to exert pressure on Pyongyang. While Beijing quickly expressed regret Sunday that North Korea had “obstinately insisted in carrying out a launch,” it also pushed back against simply ratcheting up sanctions.
China’s U.N. ambassador, Liu Jieyi, said any new U.N. resolution should “do the work of reducing tension, of working toward denuclearization.”
Beijing has also made clear it believes there is plenty of blame to go around, and that it does not like being lectured to by Washington.
Soon after the January nuclear test, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the United States was responsible for much of the tension on the Korean Peninsula, saying “it boils down to Uncle Sam’s uncompromising hostility … flaring up the country’s insecurity and thus pushing it toward reckless nuclear brinkmanship.”
Such talk is welcome in Pyongyang, which has long portrayed itself as a courageous nation standing up to American aggression. Strained relations between Beijing and Washington also give North Korea more room for its own diplomatic maneuvering.
What happens when you want to demonstrate your military might but your technology isn’t quite ready? If you’re North Korea, experts say, sometimes you fake it. Or at least you exaggerate.
Pyongyang called its January nuclear blast a successful test of a hydrogen bomb, proof that North Korea was now “equipped with the most powerful nuclear deterrent.”
Well, probably not. Weapons experts said there was little chance that Pyongyang had detonated an H-bomb. At best, they said, Pyongyang had set off a “boosted” explosion, which uses hydrogen isotopes but has far less strength than a traditional two-stage hydrogen bomb.
Or take North Korea’s purported submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
In 2015, when North Korea announced it had successfully launched a missile from a submarine, experts said it may have actually been fired from an underwater testing barge.
Then, last month, a North Korea television report appeared to show leader Kim Jong Un proudly watching a successful underwater launch of a KN-11 missile. But detailed analysis of the footage done at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, a leading proliferation research center in Monterey, California, instead found a carefully edited collection of video clips. Hidden amid the splicing was a completely different reality, they said. The missile, the Middlebury scholars found, most likely exploded moments after leaving the water.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on an armed group that took over buildings at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon (all times local):
A Nevada state lawmaker says she will travel to Portland, Oregon, this week to protest the jailing of members of an armed group that took over a national wildlife refuge.
Michelle Fiore, a Republican state Assembly member from Las Vegas and an outspoken gun rights advocate, told The Associated Press she plans to fly to Portland on Wednesday ahead of a Thursday meeting involving lawmakers from several states who are members of a group called the Coalition of Western States. The group opposes federal management of Western lands.
Fiore says the people jailed for seizing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, last month were “exercising political free speech.”
The jailed leader of the standoff had earlier called on elected officials to support his cause. Ammon Bundy is among 16 people who have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.
The jailed leader of the armed Oregon standoff is calling on elected officials to support those charged in connection with taking over a national wildlife preserve.
Ammon Bundy is among 16 people who have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with federal workers. That includes four holdouts still holed up at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to oppose federal land policy after more than five weeks.
Bundy’s attorneys released an audio recording Monday in which he urges officials from eight states to visit defendants in jail and show support for their rights to free speech, assembly and civil disobedience.
The defendants hail from Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Ohio and Washington.
Federal authorities say the standoff is illegal, occupiers had threatened violence and intimidated federal employees.
The last four occupiers of an Oregon wildlife refuge have posted a series of defiant videos in which one of them calls FBI agents losers, shows defensive barricades they have erected and takes a joyride in a government vehicle.
The videos were posted Sunday on a YouTube channel called Defend Your Base, which the armed group has been using to give live updates. The holdouts are among 16 people charged with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.
David Fry says the FBI told him in negotiations that he was facing charges for setting up the barricades at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
In a video, he defends building them, then drives around in a government vehicle. He mockingly says the ride would give the FBI fodder for more charges.
When I founded the Fight Apathy Campaign in 2011, my sophomore year of high school, it was because I felt something missing in my high school. I wanted to start conversation about politics and the real world issues that surround us.
After talking over the idea with friends I designed a sticker with a very simple prompt: “I believe in…”
We planned on handing out the stickers when students entered school and encouraging them to fill it out. We handed out markers and asked them what they believed in—everything from marriage equality to a flat tax. The first event went even better than I hoped. Students, teachers and administrators all joined in conversations about real-world issues they were passionate about. It transformed the school, turning classrooms, cafeterias and hallways into centers for student initiated discussions. The event reinforced what I already knew: youth care.
We are passionate about the issues that surround us, only it is too rare that someone asks us out thoughts. Already having known how well the campaign worked, we improved the event and ran it again the next year at my high school. That year, a few students at other schools in my area took it on themselves to plan events for their peers too.
The next year, my senior year of high school, I wanted to get as many students involved as possible. The beauty of the campaign is in its simplicity. Anyone with a few committed student organizers and a lot of stickers can transform their school for a day. With help, I built a website, designed posters and materials, produced a video. We launched the campaign and reached out to every school we could, most of them associated with the Junior State of America, but many not. Through the work of so many people, over 80,000 students participated in Fight Apathy in 2014. Students sent me stories from across the country about how the campaign transformed their schools. At many schools, the campaign broke down social barriers, bringing together students who had seldom talked before after they found issues they were both passionate about. Other students connected with peers and teachers who believed in the same issues and then went on to organize activism events together for their communities.
In 2015, over 110,000 students participated in the campaign. This year we’re looking to be even bigger. So far, already we have 125,000 high schoolers across the country excited to join our movement to end apathy. That’s not big enough. We want to engage as many students as possible in the campaign, and to do so we need your help.
To register your school for the 2016 Fight Apathy Campaign and receive free “I believe in…” stickers:
- Visit fightapathy.org
- Check out the “Getting Started” tab for frequently asked questions and resources
- Click the “Register” tab at the top
Our website, fightapathy.org, has many resources to help make your campaign a success including media releases, social media tips and tricks and posters to prompt passionate conversations within your school. Fight Apathy 2016 is running from February 29th to March 11th, however your school’s event will only run for one day.
Be sure to register as soon as possible to join the movement and end political apathy in your school!
NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle repeatedly told employees they need to stay home if they feel sick and the restaurant chain kept all its U.S. locations shuttered early Monday as executives went over new food safety procedures.
The presentation for workers, which comes after Chipotle has been slammed by a series of food scares, was broadcast live at hundreds of theaters and hotel conference rooms around the country.
Co-CEO Monty Moran noted that two of the four incidents had been the result of norovirus, which is typically caused by sick workers.
“If you’re feeling sick, especially if you’ve vomited, whether at work or at home, you need to let your manager or your field leader know right away,” Moran said in a broadcast from a restaurant in Denver.
With an estimated 50,000 employees in attendance to view the presentation that lasted more than an hour, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. postponed opening its restaurants for four hours Monday, to 3 p.m. local time.
As a peace offering to inconvenienced customers, Chipotle said was offering free burritos to people who text in a code to the company. Moran urged employees to be “incredibly hospitable” to customers as the company pushes to win back business.
“We need you to be your very best,” he said.
Chipotle is trying to bounce back from plunging sales since an E. coli outbreak came to light in late October, and a separate norovirus incident in December. The declines have persisted, with January sales down 36 percent at restaurants open at least 13 months.
To work through the crisis, Chipotle has hired Rubenstein Public Relations, which helped organize the national worker meeting. The Denver company said employees watched the presentation at more than 400 locations around the country.
In New York City, employees filed into two theaters inside Regal Cinemas in Union Square. Many had orange pieces of paper on which they had been told to take notes, though that proved difficult in rooms darkened during the presentation. Employees, who were paid for attending, said they were told to come wearing their uniforms.
In a short video, employees were told to watch for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, yellowing of the skin and eyes and dark urine.
“When anyone vomits in the back of the house or the front line, this is a red event, which means we close the restaurant immediately,” said Gretchen Selfridge, a Chipotle restaurant support officer.
Executives also covered procedural changes that ranged from handwashing rules and the marinating of meat, to centralized locations where tomatoes and lettuce are chopped. During a brief question-and-answer period in which Chipotle selected screened questions, one employee asked whether the company planned to start chopping vegetables in restaurants again.
When the question appeared onscreen, employees in New York City groaned. One said upon leaving that cutting vegetables in stores is hard work.
How long it takes Chipotle to bounce back remains to be seen.
Other companies hit by food scares have taken about a year or more to recover, Chipotle executives note, though they acknowledge that their situation may differ because it involved more than one incident, and they received intense exposure in both social and mass media.
In the meantime, Chipotle has said it does not plan to slow down its rate of new store openings. Chipotle already has more than 2,000 locations, primarily in the U.S.
Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi