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Seemingly strange weather patterns continue to break high and low temperature records. The same patterns spawned an early tornado season in the midwestern United States and brought late season snowstorms to the west. Record snow falls and frigid temperatures characterized a particularly difficult winter across Europe with many deaths attributed to the conditions. Signs of Spring for the Northern Hemisphere (which began officially with the Vernal Equinox - March 20 - when the hours of day are approximately equal to the hours of night) like trees blossoming and flowers blooming, the shedding of winter coats and the desire of anyone -who has spent an all too long winter season indoors - to venture outside to soak up the sun. -- Paula Nelson (45 photos total)
Cherry blossoms of the Japanese Yoshino variety bloom along the Tidal Basin, March 19, 2012, in Washington, DC, with the Jefferson Memorial to the rear. This season celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees from Japan to Washington, DC. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

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Yesterday I decided to try an experiment: I solicited reader requests for news photos. I asked people on Twitter and Google+, "Would you like to see a good photo of a particular subject? A high-res version of a photo you've already seen somewhere else? A photo from a particular photographer or event? If I have access and can find it, I'll try to post it" (details). The response was great, the subject matter was varied, and the task of finding the images and composing this entry was great fun. Images ranged from massive solar flares to tiny insects, taken in places from Thailand to outer space. If you enjoy this experiment, let me know in the comments, and I may develop it into a more regular feature. To all those who made requests, thanks so much, I hope you like what I was able to find. [29 photos]

Beth Winter (@bwinter) and Spidler both asked for a higher resolution version of "Anonymous in Polish parliament". -- Lawmakers from the leftist Palikot's Movement cover their faces with masks as they protest against ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, during a parliament session, in Warsaw, Poland, on January 26, 2012, after the Polish government signed the agreement. Poland's plans to sign ACTA sparked attacks on Polish government websites and street protests in several Polish cities this week. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

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CONGO CHAOS
CONGO CHAOS: An opposition supporter displayed what he said were fraudulent copies of election ballots in Kinshasa, Congo, Monday. Voting materials failed to arrive in some areas and several people have been killed in conflicts. More than 18,000 candidates are competing for 500 parliamentary seats. (Jerome Delay/Associated Press)

SPEAKING FRANKLY
SPEAKING FRANKLY: Rep. Barney Frank announced Monday in Newton, Mass., that he will not seek re-election for a 17th term. Mr. Frank, 71 years old, is the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. (Adam Hunger/Reuters)

MIC CHECK
MIC CHECK: Graduate student Anthony Trochez yelled ‘mic check,’ a phrase that has been used at Occupy protests, three times during a University of California Board of Regents meeting at the University of California, Los Angeles Monday. Students angry about budget cuts and Occupy crackdowns spoke out. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

THE MANNEQUIN AND THE SEA
THE MANNEQUIN AND THE SEA: A mannequin dressed as a fisherman in a Santa Claus costume sat on a rocky outcrop in the Irish Sea near Belfast Monday. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

BRICK BOY
BRICK BOY: Abdulghaffar Khamees, 12 years old, sat on a pile of bricks during his break at a factory on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

PITCHING A FIT
PITCHING A FIT: Protesters held pitchforks and spades during a rally in front of a city administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday. They protested against increasing communal tariffs. (Alexander Khudoteply/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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