Gaza images on display in France show resilience

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In this Aug. 11, 2014 file photo, a Palestinian boy holds an umbrella as he rests in front of the damaged Nada Towers residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this Aug. 8, 2014 file photo, Palestinians pray beneath the fallen minaret of the Soussi mosque that was hit by Israeli strikes in Gaza City. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this April 20, 2018 file photo, a Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this June 20, 2016 file photo, a Palestinian girl plays in a barrel as her mother bakes bread for a Ramadan dinner at their house in el-Zohor slum, on the outskirts of Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this July 31, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, and his bride, Falasteen, walk into the wedding hall, in Gaza City. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this July 8, 2014 file photo, Palestinians try to salvage what they can of their belongings from the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this July 29, 2014 file photo, Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky of Gaza City. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this July 26, 2014 file photo, Palestinians salvage what little of their belongings they could from their homes during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this Jan. 15, 2017 file photo, a Palestinian family warm themselves with a fire outside their makeshift house during a power cut in a poor neighborhood in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
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In this June 20, 2016 file photo, a Palestinian girl plays in a barrel as her mother bakes bread for a Ramadan dinner at their house in el-Zohor slum, on the outskirts of Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. (File/AP/Khalil Hamra)
Updated 15 September 2018
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Gaza images on display in France show resilience

CAIRO: Khalil Hamra, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for The Associated Press, is exhibiting his work in a show titled “Why Gaza?” at the 30th annual Visa Pour L’Image photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France. The exhibition runs through Sept. 16.
In 30 photos on display, Hamra shows the resilience of people in his native Gaza, a sliver of land on the Mediterranean Sea that measures just 360 square kilometers (140 square miles).
Gaza’s 2 million residents have endured 11 years of border blockade, imposed by neighboring Israel and Egypt after the takeover of the territory by the Islamic militant group Hamas in 2007. Hardships have worsened with each year of the blockade, including power cuts for most of the day, soaring unemployment and a health system on the brink of collapse.
The festival highlights photojournalism from around the world in exhibits, screenings, lectures and workshops. The event, held in the Mediterranean town of Perpignan near Spain, draws photographers, editors and industry celebrities.
Hamra won the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award in 2009. He shared the 2013 Pulitzer Prize with three Associated Press photographers for his work in Syria.
“Khalil Hamra’s work shines a light on the human condition in places most of us will never have the chance to visit,” said Maya Alleruzzo, the AP’s Middle East regional photo editor. “He often does so at great personal risk.”
Hamra joined AP in 2002. He has covered the Arab Spring in Egypt, civil war in Syria and the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Here is a selection of his photos from Gaza.


Quest for food stamp data lands newspaper at Supreme Court

After initially opposing the information’s release, the federal government reversed course after the Argus Leader took it to court and won. (AFP)
Updated 54 min 38 sec ago
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Quest for food stamp data lands newspaper at Supreme Court

  • Luther, who now works for InvestigateTV, said it’s “transparency 101” that “taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going”
  • The Trump administration is backing the grocery stores in arguing against the information’s release

WASHINGTON: In the summer of 2010, reporters at South Dakota’s Argus Leader newspaper decided to request data about the government’s food assistance program, previously known as food stamps. They thought the information could lead to a series of stories and potentially help them identify fraud in the now $65 billion-a-year program.
They sent a stream of what they thought were routine requests for information to Washington.
Government officials eventually sent back some information about the hundreds of thousands of stores nationwide where the food program’s participants could use their benefits. But the government withheld information reporters saw as crucial: how much each store received annually from the program.
Trying to get that data has taken the paper more than eight years and landed it at the Supreme Court, which will hear the case Monday.
Argus Leader news director Cory Myers, who directs a staff of 18 at the Sioux Falls paper, says getting the information is about “knowing how our government is operating” and “knowing what government is doing with our tax money.”
A supermarket trade association opposing the information’s release argues that the information being sought is confidential. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case could be narrow or could significantly affect the interpretation of a law that grants the public access to government records.
The Argus Leader is owned by USA Today publisher Gannett and is the largest newspaper in South Dakota. It wrote about the government’s initial release of information. But Jonathan Ellis, one of the reporters behind the requests, said there’s more to learn if the paper gets what it’s seeking.
Ellis said he would like to write about the companies who profit the most from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program , called SNAP. He would like to analyze how successful efforts to involve farmers’ markets in the program have been. And he is still hoping to use the data to identify stores that seem like outliers, an indication of potential fraud.
Megan Luther, the other reporter behind the requests, said the paper has been fighting for the information for reasons beyond “there’s a good story there.” Luther, who now works for InvestigateTV, said it’s “transparency 101” that “taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going.”
The paper has gotten close to getting the data before.
After initially opposing the information’s release, the federal government reversed course after the Argus Leader took it to court and won. But the Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute , a trade association representing grocery stores and supermarket chains, stepped in to continue the fight. The group lost an appeal, and the paper hoped it would soon get the data. Then the Supreme Court took the case.
The Food Marketing Institute, which declined interviews before Monday’s arguments, has said in court papers that the public already has access to a lot of data about SNAP. But SNAP sales data by store is confidential “much the same way how much business grocers do in cash, credit, debit, checks or even gift cards is confidential,” wrote Food Marketing Institute president and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin in a blog post last month.
To decide whether the information should be released, the Supreme Court will have to interpret the federal Freedom of Information Act .
It gives citizens, including reporters, access to federal agencies’ records with certain exceptions. In the Argus Leader’s case, the US Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, argued that disclosing the data the paper sought was barred by FOIA’s “exemption 4.” It tells the government to withhold “confidential” “commercial or financial information” obtained from third parties.
It will be up to the court to determine whether what the paper is seeking counts as “confidential.”
The Trump administration is backing the grocery stores in arguing against the information’s release. The Associated Press is among dozens of media organizations that have signed a legal brief supporting the Argus Leader.
Myers, the Argus Leader’s news director, said that in the years it has taken for the paper’s case to reach the Supreme Court, the paper has continued to do the kind of investigative reporting it was attempting to do in seeking the SNAP data.
In South Dakota, he said, “there are more stories and more malfeasance than one newsroom can root out, but we certainly try.”
The case is 18-481 Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media.