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In today’s pictures, girls in Spain ‘dance’ on women’s shoulders, the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a softball win, a dock from Japan washes ashore in Oregon, and more.

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Coal occupies a central position in modern human endeavors. Last year over 7000 megatons were mined worldwide. Powerful, yet dirty and dangerous, use of coal is expanding every year, with 2010 witnessing a production increase of 6.8%. Around 70 countries have recoverable reserves, which some estimates claim will last for over a hundred years at current production levels. Mining for coal is one of the world's most dangerous jobs. While deadliest in China, where thousands of miners die annually, the profession is still hazardous in the West and other regions as well. Our mining and use of coal accounts for a variety of environmental hazards, including the production of more CO2 than any other source. Other concerns include acid rain, groundwater contamination, respiratory issues, and the waste products which contain heavy metals. But our lives as lived today rely heavily on the combustible sedimentary rock. Over 40% of the world's electricity is generated by burning coal, more than from any other source. Chances are that a significant percentage of the electricity you're using to read this blog was generated by burning coal. Gathered here are images of coal extraction, transportation, and the impact on environment and society. The first eight photographs are by Getty photographer Daniel Berehulak, who documented the lives of miners in Jaintia Hills, India. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
22-year-old Shyam Rai from Nepal makes his way through tunnels inside of a coal mine 300 ft beneath the surface on April 13, 2011 near the village of Latyrke, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. In the Jaintia hills, located in India's far northeast state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Children and adults squeeze into rat hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

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In the year 2011, a total of 565 NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan were killed -- down from 711 in 2010 -- marking the largest decline in annual deaths during the decade-long conflict. The large number of NATO soldiers on the ground appears to have made a difference, a fact that worries Afghans as the U.S. and others accelerate their planned pullback. This year, 23,000 U.S. soldiers are scheduled to depart the country, heading toward a full withdrawal by 2014. For now, U.S. troops appear to be focusing on intensive training of Afghan forces and preparing for the logistical challenge of shipping home some $30 billion worth of military gear. Gathered here are images of the people and places involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [42 photos]

Cpl. James Hernandez, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, and a native of Goodyear, Arizona, uses an electric saw to dismantle a HESCO barrier at Firebase Saenz, in Helmand province, on December 13, 2011. FB Saenz is the first of several patrol bases being demilitarized by the Marines of 9th ESB throughout the month of December. (USMC/Cpl. Bryan Nygaard)

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IN MOURNING
IN MOURNING: Women wept Friday at the grave of a victim of an air raid in the Turkish village of Gulyazi, near the Iraqi border. Kurds buried 35 victims of the Wednesday airstrike, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised an in-depth investigation. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

HOLDING TIGHT
HOLDING TIGHT: Garrett Jackson, an aide to GOP presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, steadied a chair for the candidate at a campaign stop Thursday at Music Man Square in Mason City, Iowa. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

MEETING IN PRAYER
MEETING IN PRAYER: Pastors met late Thursday to pray outside the Minneapolis home of Terrell Mayes, a three-year-old killed by a stray bullet this week. The Revs. Harding Smith of Brooklyn Center, left, and Prince Williams of Brooklyn Park were among the attendees. (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/Zuma Press)

CALLING HOME
CALLING HOME: Victims of a car bombing Friday in Quetta, Pakistan, called their relatives from a hospital. Nine people died in the explosion outside the home of a local politician. (Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

DANGEROUS BUSINESS
DANGEROUS BUSINESS: Firefighters sprayed water on the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine in a dock at the Roslyakovo shipyard in the Murmansk region of northwestern Russia Friday. The fire was put out late Friday; officials said there was no radiation leak. (Ru-RTR/APTN/Associated Press)

A VETERAN’S DAY
A VETERAN’S DAY: A member of the former Kosovo Liberation Army peered through an ice-covered window in Pristina while taking part in a peaceful protest on Friday, a day dedicated to War Veterans in Kosovo. (Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images)

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WARMING UP WARMING UP: Homeless youths sought warmth by a fire in New Delhi Tuesday. Temperatures fall sharply for a few weeks in December and January and poor people are the worst hit. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)

SHOE MANIA SHOE MANIA: A boy waited for customers at his roadside shoe stall in Quetta, Pakistan, Tuesday. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

FALLEN LEADER FALLEN LEADER: North Koreans mourned the death of leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang Tuesday. (European Pressphoto Agency)

HANDS TIED HANDS TIED: Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinian youths at the Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Associated Press)

LADIES’ NIGHT LADIES’ NIGHT: Thousands of women marched in Cairo Tuesday to protest the military’s recent use of force against protesters. (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press)

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FLOATING ALONG
FLOATING ALONG: A man floated in water as sandbags protected a section of Pathum Thani Province, Thailand, Thursday. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Thailand is in crisis as the government struggles to cope with the worst floods in half a century. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters)

SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF
SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF: Ariel Hsing of the U.S. competed in a table tennis match at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Thursday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

OPEN WIDE
OPEN WIDE: A new recruit of the Indian paramilitary Border Security Force participated in a ceremony on the outskirts of Srinagar, India, Thursday. (Dar Yasin/Associated Press)

BRIDGE DWELLERS
BRIDGE DWELLERS: A boy checked on food being cooked as his family and neighbors waited in a makeshift home built under a busy bridge in Parañaque, Philippines, Thursday. (John Javellana/Reuters)

MAN ON FIRE
MAN ON FIRE: Police assisted a colleague who was attacked with a molotov cocktail in Athens Thursday. At least one protester died and dozens of people were injured during anti-austerity demonstrations. Despite the unrest, Greek Parliament approved legislation enacting new austerity measures. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)

IN A BOG
IN A BOG: Workers harvested cranberries at a state farm in the village of Selishche, near Minsk, Belarus, Thursday. (Viktor Drachev/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

SHOE MANIA
SHOE MANIA: A cobbler fixed the sole of a shoe in a shop in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

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FLOATING ALONG
FLOATING ALONG: A man floated in water as sandbags protected a section of Pathum Thani Province, Thailand, Thursday. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Thailand is in crisis as the government struggles to cope with the worst floods in half a century. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters)

SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF
SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF: Ariel Hsing of the U.S. competed in a table tennis match at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Thursday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

OPEN WIDE
OPEN WIDE: A new recruit of the Indian paramilitary Border Security Force participated in a ceremony on the outskirts of Srinagar, India, Thursday. (Dar Yasin/Associated Press)

BRIDGE DWELLERS
BRIDGE DWELLERS: A boy checked on food being cooked as his family and neighbors waited in a makeshift home built under a busy bridge in Parañaque, Philippines, Thursday. (John Javellana/Reuters)

MAN ON FIRE
MAN ON FIRE: Police assisted a colleague who was attacked with a molotov cocktail in Athens Thursday. At least one protester died and dozens of people were injured during anti-austerity demonstrations. Despite the unrest, Greek Parliament approved legislation enacting new austerity measures. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)

IN A BOG
IN A BOG: Workers harvested cranberries at a state farm in the village of Selishche, near Minsk, Belarus, Thursday. (Viktor Drachev/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

SHOE MANIA
SHOE MANIA: A cobbler fixed the sole of a shoe in a shop in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

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RELAXED REVOLUTIONARIES
RELAXED REVOLUTIONARIES: Libyan revolutionary forces rested Sunday outside a shuttered shop in Sirte spray-painted with the slogan ‘Today Libya, tomorrow Wall Street.’ Leaders said they captured most of Bani Walid but still face pockets of resistance. (Philippe Desmazes/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

KING OF THE CLOTHES PILE
KING OF THE CLOTHES PILE: A man stood atop a pile of used jackets and coats for sale along a road in Quetta, Pakistan, Monday. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

BELOW THE POVERTY LINE
BELOW THE POVERTY LINE: A child living in a slum played on an improvised swing under a bridge on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

SURVEILLANCE
SURVEILLANCE: An agent kept watch from a rooftop as President Barack Obama spoke at Asheville Regional Airport in Fletcher, N.C., Monday. Mr. Obama was at the first stop on a three-day American Jobs Act tour. (Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

HAPPY WORKER
HAPPY WORKER: A worker dried persimmons in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Monday. (Ren Zhenglai/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

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