WASHINGTON – 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.”
Girl, 15, dies after bridge collapses into river in France | World News
A 15-year-old girl and a lorry driver have been killed after a bridge collapsed into a river in southwestern France, officials have said.
The 150m-long (492ft) suspension bridge in Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, near Toulouse, collapsed at around 8am local time on Monday.
A lorry, a car and possibly a van were crossing at the same time, the local prosecutor said.
The bridge, which was renovated in 2003 by Haute-Garonne council, was limited to 19-tonne vehicles.
Television footage showed one car nose-down in the water with only its rear lights and bumper above the surface.
The mother of the deceased teenager was among three people rescued from the water, the prosecutor said.
The mayor of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn later said on French television station BFM TV that the lorry driver had also died.
The local prefect Etienne Guyot said the total number of casualties was not yet known.
The bridge was inspected every six years and had not shown any signs of structural weakness at its last inspection in 2017, according to the council.
A criminal investigation into the causes of the accident has been opened.
Following the collapse of a motorway viaduct last year in Genoa, Italy, which killed 43 people, senators called for extra funding to check and repair bridges across France.
Tata Steel to cut 3,000 European jobs – report | Business News
Tata Steel is planning to cut around 3,000 jobs in Europe, with over half in the Netherlands, a source has told Reuters.
According to the agency, Tata said on Monday that the job cuts are necessary as it wrestles with excess supply and high costs.
But the report said the company insisted there will be no plant closures.
In a statement to Reuters, Tata Steel said that challenging market conditions had been “made worse by the use of Europe as a dumping ground for the world’s excess capacity”.
The move comes 10 weeks after the steel giant announced plans to close two UK operations with the loss of 400 jobs, blaming a failure to sell off its loss-making Orb Electrical Steels business in Newport, South Wales.
The steelworkers’ union accused the company of “breaking its commitments” to the workforce.
Tata employs around 8,000 staff in the Wales.
All 26 jobs at its Wolverhampton Engineering Steels Service Centre will also be lost.
The Indian corporation began overhauling its European business in June, including its steel-making plants in the Netherlands and Wales and downstream operations across the region.
Tata’s quest to boost profitability follows a European anti-trust decision to block a joint venture with Germany’s Thyssenkrupp in May.
Last week Chinese steelmaker Jingye signed a provisional deal to buy British Steel, after it went into compulsory liquidation in May, safeguarding up to 4,000 jobs.
Jingye said it plans to invest £1.2bn in British Steel over the next decade.
Hong Kong: How long will China tolerate embarrassing protests and will it use force? | World News
China has accused the UK and US of interfering in the internal affairs of Hong Kong as authorities struggle to contain months of protests in the city.
It comes after fresh violence on Monday as Hong Kong police, firing rubber bullets and tear gas, clashed with anti-government protesters armed with petrol bombs and other weapons.
Here, Sky News looks at the options facing China and whether it is likely to use force to stop the protests.
How long can China tolerate this?
The protests are hugely embarrassing for China, without doubt.
They have put a huge dent in Chinese president Xi Jinping’s carefully crafted image as infallible leader.
The Hong Kong government and Beijing have badly mishandled the unrest. The longer it goes on the more damage is done.
There is also always the danger that it could inspire protest and disorder on the Chinese mainland.
Is that happening?
No sign of it yet.
The government’s total control of the media means most Chinese people aren’t seeing the protests in the way we are.
There is also some evidence that those Chinese who do know about it have little sympathy for the protesters, who they see as privileged and more free and so with little to complain about.
What else is China worried about?
The magic fraction to remember is two-thirds. That is the amount of China’s foreign investment that comes through Hong Kong.
That makes it hugely important to Beijing. And it will only continue if Hong Kong continues to be seen as semi-autonomous, apart from mainland China and where the rule of law remains supreme. Otherwise investors will be scared away.
What’s that got to do with the protests?
Protests don’t seem to have reduced that valuable foreign investment pouring through Hong Kong. In fact it’s gone up since they began.
But if China takes any action jeopardising Hong Kong’s special status, the opposite could be the case.
Hong Kong is ruled on the principle of “one country two systems of government”. Investors like that.
If Chinese forces were to replace Hong Kong police and crush the unrest it would be waving goodbye to “one country two systems”. And farewell to a lot of foreign investment.
Is one country two systems still a thing?
Sometimes it looks like China is pulling all the strings, but it is still not getting involved directly.
It can still say this is Hong Kong’s problem and quarantine some of the fallout. As soon as it intervenes directly, it has ownership.
is China threatening to use force?
Not explicitly. But it has been staging very public “riot control” exercises on the mainland, showing Chinese forces tackling civilian protest.
It also has doubled its military presence. Since the UK handed back control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing has stationed People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in barracks there.
They are rotated on a regular basis, but last time that happened, the existing garrison did not go home so it has twice as many soldiers as normal.
But these are PLA soldiers – trained to fight wars, not urban protest.
Might they still try it?
Analysts say only as a last resort.
The unrest is embarrassing and damaging but, without spreading, it is not an existential threat to the Chinese communist regime. So why risk jeopardising all that foreign investment?
What else are Beijing’s options?
- Covert means. Rumours are rife of Chinese agents-provocateurs engineering incidents turning public opinion against the protests. There’s not a lot of evidence supporting it
- Or it could play the waiting game hoping eventually the protests will subside? It has tried that for six months and so far they are only escalating
- Western diplomats say the only way out of this crisis is a political solution involving compromise by the Hong Kong government and protesters. China could try and encourage this, but so far seems to be insisting on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam holding the line
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