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Pulitzer Center Update February 13, 2014

This Week: Braving the Depths


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Tiny children and teens toil in the gold mines of the Philippines and Indonesia. A risky, often...

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Compressor mining was banned in the Philippines under a 2012 executive order. Miners say they stay in business by paying police agencies the equivalent of $11 a month for each worker. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2013.


There is no point in taking a camera down into the depths of an underwater compressor mine. There is nothing to see. But as Pulitzer Center grantee Larry C. Price's stark photographic portrayal of young men working in these mines amply demonstrates, this is an occupation hellish beyond all imagining.

With a breathing tube clenched in their teeth, the miners submerge themselves in muddy waters with the opacity of chocolate milk. They dig blindly for hours at a time, hoping that luck will spare their lives and reward their labors with a few flecks of gold.

Larry has been documenting the dangers and abuses in small-scale gold mining operations around the world. In the latest installment for the PBS NewsHour, Larry reports from a remote corner of the Philippines on the terrible human cost of gold. His images, particularly those of child miners, are powerful and deeply disturbing.


The Supreme Court of the Philippines is expected to rule next month on the constitutionality of a new law that would require the government to subsidize contraceptives for poor women.

Pulitzer Center Senior Editor Tom Hundley, who has been following the case as part of a long-term project exploring the intersection of religion and public policy, notes that the Philippines is no stranger to the culture wars over abortion and contraception. In a report for the Los Angles Times, Tom writes that the controversial law was signed by President Benigno Aquino III after a bitter 14-year struggle between women's rights advocates and the Roman Catholic Church.

"Raising the stakes in this profoundly Catholic country — and the potential implications far beyond the border — is the new tone struck by Pope Francis, who has expressed frustration that the church has become 'obsessed' with issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception."


"Diabetes is on the rise in Cambodia, and in many ways that's not a surprise," says Joanne Silberner in a story for PRI's The World. "The population is aging, people have more to eat and they are doing less physical labor. These are known risk factors for type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes."

What is surprising is the number of sufferers in their late 30s. Joanne, who has been looking at the growing problem of "rich country diseases" in the developing world, says the rise in diabetes among those in their mid- to late-30s might be the result of the starvation endured by their mothers during the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in the late 1970s.

Researchers, citing evidence from Holland's "Hunger Winter" during the Nazi occupation, believe that the pancreas of babies conceived during periods of acute hunger will not develop correctly, making them more susceptible to diabetes—and at a much younger age. For Cambodians, the disease would be cruel legacy of the country's darkest hours.





Three women grouped together: an elderly woman smiling, a transwoman with her arms folded, and a woman holding her headscarf with a baby strapped to her back.


Gender Equality

Gender Equality
teal halftone illustration of a construction worker holding a helmet under their arm


Labor Rights

Labor Rights