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Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day, an event established by the United Nations in 1993 to highlight the challenges associated with this precious resource. Each year has a theme, and this year's is "Water and Food Security." The UN estimates that more than one in six people worldwide lack access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. And as the world's population grows beyond 7 billion, clean water is growing scarcer in densely populated areas as well as in remote villages. Collected here are recent images showing water in our lives -- how we use it, abuse it, and depend on it. [36 photos]

A journalist takes a sample of polluted red water from the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, China, on December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution were two illegal chemical plants discharging their production wastewater into the rain sewer pipes. (Reuters/China Daily)

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The Smithsonian magazine's 9th annual photo contest finalists have been chosen. The contest attracted over 14 thousand photographers from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Fifty finalists from 67,059 images were selected by Smithsonian editors. Those editors will also choose the Grand Prize Winner and the winners in each of the five categories which include The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel and Altered Images. Photos were selected based on technical quality, clarity and composition, a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment. (Smithsonian invites everyone to select an additional "Readers' Choice" winner by voting through March for their favorite image on line.) -- Paula Nelson (25 photos total)
BEHIND THE BLUE Lilongwe, Malawi, May 2011 (Paolo Patruno/Bologna, Italy)

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WHISKED AWAY
WHISKED AWAY: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was escorted to safety amid a protest during a ceremony in Canberra to mark Australia Day Thursday. About 200 supporters of indigenous rights surrounded a restaurant and banged on its windows while Ms. Gillard was inside. (Lukas Coch/Associated Press)

ONE FACE
ONE FACE: Lawmakers from the leftist Palikot’s Movement covered their faces with masks to protest the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement during a legislative session in Warsaw Thursday. Poland signed an international copyright agreement Thursday, sparking demonstrations. (Alik Keplicz/Associated Press)

COLD IN KIEV
COLD IN KIEV: A woman looked through an ice-covered window on a bus in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday. (Sergei Chuzavkov/Associated Press)

SEPARATE PRAYERS
SEPARATE PRAYERS: Jewish women prayed behind a curtain that separated them from men at the tomb of Rabbi Baba Sali during an annual pilgrimage to his grave in Netivot, Israel, Thursday. (Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

BUCKET HEADS
BUCKET HEADS: Bedouin Palestinian children played with buckets on their heads near the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, West Bank, Thursday. (Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency)

SAVING A SHACK
SAVING A SHACK: Paul Cook, left, and Al Anderson, tried to rescue a shack on Lake Mendota in Westport, Wis., Wednesday. The shack, used by a men’s recreational ice hockey group, began sinking during a recent thaw and then froze in place. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal/Associated Press)

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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include a fiery Spanish festival, a frightening encounter with a leopard in India, a flamingo undergoing laser treatment, a new species named in honor of entertainer Beyonce, and the plight of Ukraine's "vodka bears". These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [42 photos]

A man rides a horse through a bonfire on January 16, 2012 in the small village of San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain. In honor of San Anton, the patron saint of animals, horses are ridden through the bonfires on the night before the official day of honoring animals in Spain. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

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Jon Chey, co-founder of BioShock developers Irrational Games, has now moved into indie development, founding new studio Blue Manchu Games. Here, he talks to Gamasutra about the reasoning behind the move, and his new game Card Hunter.

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TEDxSydney - Richard Gill - The Value of Music Education

Music educator Richard Gill argues the case for igniting the imagination through music and for making our own music. In this talk, he leads the TEDxSydney audience through some surprising illustrations of the relationship between music and our imagination. Richard Gill has been Music Director of the Victorian Opera Company since its inception in 2006. He has also been Artistic Director of OzOpera, Artistic Director/Chief Conductor of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and Adviser for the Musica Viva in Schools Program. Currently the Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony's Education Program, Richard has frequently conducted for Opera Australia and OzOpera, Meet the Music (SSO), Discovery concerts (Sydney Sinfonia); Ears Wide Open (MSO), and Canberra, Queensland and Tasmanian symphony orchestras. Richard's many accolades include an Order of Australia Medal, the Bernard Heinze Award, an Honorary Doctorate from the Edith Cowan University of Western Australia, Hon. Doc. (ACU), and the Australia Council's prestigious Don Banks Award. tedxsydney.com richardgill.blogspot.com ------------------- TEDxSydney 2011 took place on Saturday 28 May 2011 at CarriageWorks. Tens of thousands of people enjoyed the day 800 in the theatre, over 1000 via big screen simulcast in The Forum, up to 48000 online via YouTube ... and up to 80000 tuning in to ABC Radio National. It was a grand day. About TEDx, x = independently organised event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of <b>...</b>
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