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Original author: 
Patrick Traylor

Using only his iPhone, photographer Mark Hirsch spent a year documenting an ancient Bur Oak Tree and posting a photo a day on Facebook. By Patrick Traylor, ptraylor@denverpost.com There is a tree that stands alone among the cornfields- about 5 miles south of Platteville, Wisconsin in the southwest corner of the state. Photographer Mark Hirsch [...]

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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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2011 was a year of global tumult, marked by widespread social and political uprisings, economic crises, and a great deal more. We saw the fall of multiple dictators, welcomed a new country (South Sudan), witnessed our planet's population grow to 7 billion, and watched in horror as Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster. From the Arab Spring to Los Indignados to Occupy Wall Street, citizens around the world took to the streets in massive numbers, protesting against governments and financial institutions, risking arrest, injury, and in some cases their lives. Collected here is Part 3 of a three-part photo summary of the last year, covering 2011's last months. Be sure to also see Part 1, and Part 2, totaling 120 images in all. [40 photos]

Occupy Wall Street protesters march and hold signs in New York City on September 17, 2011. Frustrated protesters had been speaking out against corporate greed and social inequality on and near Wall Street for the previous two weeks, further sparking a protest movement that spread across the world. Original here. (CC BY SA Carwil Bjork-James)

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As a gay man who came out at a young age—14, to be exact—photographer Ryan Pfluger was both excited and anxious about photographing the students at Milwaukee’s Alliance School, the only gay-friendly charter school in the U.S. that starts enrolling students in sixth grade. During this assignment, Pfluger, who says he grew up as “the only gay kid in a macho Italian suburb” of New York City, kept thinking about whether as a teenager he would have preferred to attend a school like Alliance, where about half the students identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but nearly all have been bullied or harassed at their previous schools. “I would have loved this at age 12 or 13 when I felt uncomfortable with who I was. I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t have people who understood me,” he says. “But looking back on it now as an adult — those experiences I had in high school shaped me to be who I am now. They made me the headstrong person I am now.”

Pfluger raises a point that is the central question surrounding Alliance and other schools like it: Is it better to let gay students self-segregate in a cocoon of tolerance, or have them suffer as mainstream schools struggle to reduce bullying? “I worry that this school is a Band-Aid for them and the reality of life is going to hit them when they leave,” Pfluger says. “That was the hardest part for me. This stuff they’re feeling isn’t going to change because they are in a special school — it’s only better when you make it better.”

Still, for some bullying victims, the school is nothing short of a lifeline. Pfluger says he could see the benefits of attending a school like Alliance most vividly when he took a photo of eleventh grader, Robbie Moore, holding hands with Jayde LaPorte, a transgendered ninth grader. “Those two were bonded in a way that was really special,” he says. “I could tell immediately how safe they felt with each other.”

That kind of support — and inclusiveness — is the goal at Alliance. Instead of being tormented, Jayde and Robbie can walk tall, in heels or whatever else they feel like wearing. Says Alliance’s founder and lead teacher, Tina Owen: “I always felt like these kids could survive in other places, but they could thrive here.”

Ryan Pfluger is a Brooklyn-based photographer. See more of his work here.

Kayla Webley is a Writer-Reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

MORE: Read the full story on the Alliance School in TIME Magazine here.

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The St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers will advance to the World Series after each winning their Championship Series. Take a look back at the final game of American League Series between the Rangers and the Detroit Tigers and the National League Series between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers.

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This is my BFA Thesis Show from 2007 focusing on Environmental Awareness. Can you imagine our planet and our way of life in fifty of hundred years from now? Consider this. We live in a profit-driven economy. Every decision is made with this question in mind: "What will bring us the most money?" Those decisions do not consider what is the best for the planet, but what is best for the economy financially. This series of work is to make you realize that if no action is taken we will create unsafe world for our children and grandchildren. The problem seems too big to feel as though our efforts will make a difference, so most of us don't even try. However, as long as put in any kind of effort with patience and persistence, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing to make a difference.

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CLOAKED IMMIGRANT
CLOAKED IMMIGRANT: A would-be immigrant wrapped in a blanket rested on ship after arriving at the southern Spanish port of Motril Monday. Dozens of African immigrants were intercepted off the coast. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)

CLOSE CALL
CLOSE CALL: Keith Carmickle’s brother and friend caught him when he almost fell head-first about 20 feet below while he tried to catch a baseball hit by Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder during the Home Run Derby in Phoenix Monday. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

SURROUNDED
SURROUNDED: People surrounded a man who allegedly tried to attack protesters camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tuesday. Several hundreds protesters have been camped out since Friday, demanding a wider purge of members of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

LIFE LOST
LIFE LOST: The body of Nasro Ahmed Gure, 3, was prepared for burial in Dadaab, Kenya, Tuesday. Relatives said the young Somali refugee died of malnutrition. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

BUS BLAST
BUS BLAST: Rescue workers inspected the rubble of a bus that caught fire after one of its fuel cylinders exploded Tuesday in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing at least 10 passengers. (T. Mughal/European Pressphoto Agency)

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Tim Hawkinson's Möbius Ship sculptures are nautical, single-surfaced and have fractional dimensionality. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Echoing the working methods of ship-in-a-bottle hobbyists, Hawkinson created a painstakingly detailed model ship that twists in upon itself, presenting the viewer with a thought-provoking visual conundrum. The title is a witty play on Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, which famously relates the tale of a ship captain's all-consuming obsession with an elusive white whale. The ambitious and imaginative structure of Hawkinson's sculpture offers an uncanny visual metaphor for Melville's epic tale, which is often considered the ultimate American novel.

Möbius Ship

(via Kottke)

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