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MARK OF FAITH
MARK OF FAITH: A Catholic man’s forehead was marked with ash for Ash Wednesday in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Jose Cabezas/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

LOOKING AFTER LOOTING
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GUN READY
GUN READY: An Afghan police officer patrolled in Kabul as people gathered for another day Wednesday to demonstrate against the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. At least seven people were killed and dozens injured in violent clashes in several cities. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

MONOCHROMATIC
MONOCHROMATIC: Carnival revelers performed at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro Tuesday. (Vanderlei Almeida/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

CENTRAL SPOT
CENTRAL SPOT: A farmer fed buffaloes at a farm in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday. (Arif Ali/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

NEW POINT OF VIEW
NEW POINT OF VIEW: Nepalese man Chandra Bahadur Dangi, 72 years old, flew to the capital, Katmandu, Wednesday. Guinness World Records representatives were going to measure Mr. Dangi, who claims to be the world’s shortest man at 22 inches tall. (Prakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

MANY MIRRORS
MANY MIRRORS: A man looked at mirrors displayed for sale outside a car-accessories shop in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Wednesday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

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Boston conducted its 32nd census of the city’s homeless population earlier this week. A report to the United Nations in 2005 stated there were an estimated 100 million homeless people in the world, and an additional 1.6 billion living without adequate housing. Here are some images of homelessness across the globe, collected from wire images this year. -- Lloyd Young (31 photos total)
John Filliger who has been homeless for the past five years, lies wrapped in bedding on Washington Street in the heart of the Downtown Crossing area of Boston Dec. 12. Filliger, who was offered a bed in a shelter for the evening, stayed on the street for the night and was counted in the annual homeless census. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

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WHITE EYE
WHITE EYE: A ‘bandage’ covered the eye of a statue of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz in Cairo Thursday. The bandage is believed to reference the wounds protesters suffered in clashes with security forces before parliamentary elections. Mr. Mahfouz’s 100th birth anniversary is Dec. 11. (Khaled Elfiqi/European Pressphoto Agency)

CONTRITE CORZINE
CONTRITE CORZINE: Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine defended his actions and expressed sorrow as he testified on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday. Mr. Corzine resigned after MF Global’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing. A trustee estimates $1.2 billion went missing at the firm. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

ZIPPING BY
ZIPPING BY: A couple crossed over a stream using an aerial cableway in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Thursday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

HOT SEAT
HOT SEAT: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder listened to an aide during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington Thursday. Lawmakers told Mr. Holder to fire some Justice Department subordinates over the flawed arms-trafficking Operation Fast and Furious. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ROUSING APPROVAL
ROUSING APPROVAL: Unionized Boeing machinists Mike Olebar, left, and Charles Grieser, cheered Wednesday in Seattle at the approval of a four-year contract extension. Boeing promised to build a new version of the 737 in Washington’s Puget Sound area. (Stuart Isett/Bloomberg News)

TREE TIME
TREE TIME: A Christmas tree salesman arranged trees at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London Thursday. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

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Kayaker Alan Brady is surprised by two breaching humpback whales while kayaking off the coast of Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. Photographer Paul Schraub was shooting pictures from a boat while on assignment for the Santa Cruz Conference and Visitors Council when he captured the moment. Newborn Pakistani babies, receive phototherapy treatment against [...]

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A Pakistani woman displaced by the floods walks along a flooded road holding an axe to cut wood, in Digri district near Hyderabad, Pakistan. The United Nations and Pakistani government appealed for $357 million in foreign donations to urgently help more than seven million people swamped by a second year of catastrophic floods.

One year from the country’s worst-ever floods that left more than 21 million people in need, Pakistan’s southern plains have been inundated again, with some parts of Sindh province swamped with more water than last summer.

 Pakistan Floods

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A Pakistani woman displaced by the floods walks along a flooded road holding an axe to cut wood, in Digri district near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. The United Nations appealed for $357 million Sunday to help millions of Pakistanis affected by floods that have damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and destroyed millions of acres of crops. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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This photograph taken from a Pakistani Army helicopter shows flood affected villagers seeking refuge on a dry patch in the flood-hit Sanghar district of Sindh province on September 19, 2011. The United Nations and Pakistani government appealed for $357 million in foreign donations to urgently help more than seven million people swamped by a second year of catastrophic floods. One year on from the country's worst-ever floods that left more than 21 million people in need, Pakistan's southern plains have been inundated again, with some parts of Sindh province swamped with more water than last summer. AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN (Photo credit should read ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A Pakistani boy, right, reaches for his bowl after crossing a flooded field in Tando Muhammad Khan near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. The United Nations appealed for $357 million Sunday to help millions of Pakistanis affected by floods that have damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and destroyed millions of acres of crops. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A Pakistani woman stands in floodwater as she removes belongings in her house following heavy monsoon rain in Hyderabad on September 13, 2011. Pakistan called on the world to speed up relief efforts after torrential rains exacerbated major floods, killing 270 people and making another 200,000 homeless in the south of the country. AFP PHOTO / YOUSUF NAGORI #

 Pakistan Floods

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In this photo taken from a helicopter, a displaced Pakistani man gestures to Pakistani army officers as they deliver rice and sugar to flood victims, in Badin District, in Pakistan's Sindh province, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A Pakistani family member stands between patients suffering from the mosquito-borne disease, dengue fever, at a local hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Pakistani authorities who are already under pressure to help hundreds of thousands of flood victims, struggling to contain dengue fever which has killed many people and around 4,400 cases have been reported, officials said. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash) #

 Pakistan Floods

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Local residents wade through a flooded street following heavy monsoon rains in Quetta on September 13, 2011. Pakistan called on the world to speed up relief efforts after torrential rains exacerbated major floods, killing 270 people and making another 200,000 homeless in the south of the country. AFP PHOTO / BANARAS KHAN #

 Pakistan Floods

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In this photo taken from a helicopter, displaced Pakistanis run through flood water to pickup bags of rice and sugar delivered by the Pakistani army, in Pakistan's Sindh province, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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Pakistani Navy personnel distribute aid to flood-affected villagers in Jhudo district on September 16, 2011. The United Nations said that it was stepping up aid to Pakistan, where monsoon floods have killed 270 people, affected over 5.5 million others and destroyed 1.1 million homes. TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO/Asif HASSAN #

 Pakistan Floods

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Pakistani flood affected peoples line up for relief supplies at a distribution point on the outskirts of Badin on September 18, 2011. In Pakistan's fertile south, a grim-faced soldier found himself in a standoff with 100 flood-stricken protesters demanding help for their communities marooned by the surging water. The UN and Islamabad on September jointly issued an emergency funding appeal for 357 million USD to shore up rescue and relief efforts. AFP PHOTO/Asif HASSAN #

 Pakistan Floods

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A displaced Pakistani girl sleeps on a bed as she and her family take refuge on a roadside in Tando Allah Yar, in Pakistan's Sindh province, after fleeing their flood-hit homes, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A displaced Pakistani child, his face covered with flies, lies on the ground as he and his family take refuge on a roadside in Tando Allah Yar, in Pakistan's Sindh province, after fleeing their flood-hit homes, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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Displaced Pakistani Orung Zeeb, 1, sleeps in a hammock attached to a bed his mother laying on, as they take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their homes in Tando Allah Yar district near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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Displaced Pakistani Shahinaz Afser, 8, stands inside her family's tent in a relief camp set by the Pakistani army in Kaloi, in Pakistan's Sindh province, after fleeing their flood-hit homes, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A Pakistani woman displaced by floodwater, carries a young boy while crossing a flooded way, in Tando Muhammad Khan near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. The United Nations appealed for $357 million Sunday to help millions of Pakistanis affected by floods that have damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and destroyed millions of acres of crops. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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Pakistani flood affected villagers arrive at a safe place in flood-hit Badin district in Sindh province on September 13, 2011. Pakistan called on the world to speed up relief efforts after torrential rains exacerbated major floods, killing 270 people and making another 200,000 homeless in the south of the country. Local officials say devastation in parts of the country's main breadbasket is worse than last year, when a fifth of the country was left under water by the country's worst ever floods that affected a total of 21 million people. AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN #

 Pakistan Floods

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In this photo taken from a helicopter, Pakistani farmers look up while working in their partially flooded fields in Pakistan's Sindh province, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A displaced Pakistani youth, crosses a flooded field carrying tree branches, in Mirpur Khas in Pakistan's Sindh province, after fleeing their flood-hit homes, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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An aerial view shows the tents of people displaced by flooding in a relief camp in Kanri Village district Umarkot on September 24, 2011. A United Nations food agency launched an appeal for 18.9 million USD September 23 to help farmers in southern Pakistan hit by floods it said were even more disastrous than last year. AFP PHOTO/Rizwan TABASSUM #

 Pakistan Floods

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A displaced Pakistani man pushes a bed through flood water after fleeing his home in Tando Allah Yar district near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A displaced Pakistani boy, center, looks on as he and others collect water from a tanker in Umerkot District in Pakistan's Sindh province, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Flood victims camped out near inundated fields and crowded hospitals on Monday as authorities and international aid groups struggled to respond to Pakistan's second major bout of flooding in just over a year. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A displaced Pakistani child looks on while being held by her mother as they and others take refuge in a college in Tando Muhammad Khan near Hyderabad, Pakistan, after fleeing their flood-hit homes, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. Pakistani authorities are unsure how many people are still stranded by floods that first hit Pakistan in August following unusually heavy monsoon rains and have affected at least 5.4 million people. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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Displaced Pakistani Nelo Fotah, 10, sits inside his grocery stall, where he and others take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their homes in Tando Allah Yar district near Hyderabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Flood victims camped out near inundated fields and crowded hospitals on Monday as authorities and international aid groups struggled to respond to Pakistan's second major bout of flooding in just over a year. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

 Pakistan Floods

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A Pakistani flood effected child cries beside a makeshift tent on the high ground of flooded area of Jhudo on September 16, 2011. Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani cancelled a visit to the United States to address the UN General Assembly because of widespread new floods, his office said. Heavy rains in the fertile southern province of Sindh have caused flooding that has so far killed 289 people and forced 400,000 others to leave their homes, one year after the country suffered its worst-ever floods. AFP PHOTO/Asif HASSAN #

 Pakistan Floods

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Displaced Pakistani Shanmaha Radow, 37, sits with her daughters, Reemo 4, left, and Zuma, 2, as they take refuge on a roadside in Tando Jam, in Pakistan's Sindh province, after fleeing their flood-hit homes, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. In Pakistan's Sindh province alone, the floods have killed over 220 people, damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to the United Nations. Neighboring Baluchistan province has also been affected. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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Kufow Ali Abdi, 51, holds the body of his three-year-old daughter, Kadija, in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 28, 2011. Kadija had died of starvation. The al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape al-Shabab territory.

South Korean army soldiers remove muddy water after a landslide, caused by heavy rains, hit the area around an apartment complex in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 29, 2011. Tens of thousands of South Korean firefighters, soldiers, police officers and other workers Friday continued to clean up walls of mud and search for possible survivors in hard-hit areas, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Washington. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise.

 August 5, 2011

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Kufow Ali Abdi, 51, holds the body of his three-year-old daughter, Kadija, in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 28, 2011. Kadija had died of starvation. The al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape al-Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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A man gets a haircut in Central Havana, July 26, 2011. The area is one of the most heavily populated of the Cuban capital since many of these old buildings have been subdivided to house multiple families. Experts say that even with some state controls, property sales, announced recently by the government that some would be permitted, could transform Cuba more than any other economic reform announced by President Raul Castro's government. (The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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South Korean army soldiers remove muddy water after a landslide, caused by heavy rains, hit the area around an apartment complex in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 29, 2011. Tens of thousands of South Korean firefighters, soldiers, police officers and other workers Friday continued to clean up walls of mud and search for possible survivors in hard-hit areas, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) #

 August 5, 2011

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Women prepare a meal on the site of their home, destroyed by last year's floods, next to their temporary accomodation one year on, on July 29, 2011 in the village of Basti Jagwala Shoki, near Muzaffargarh, Pakistan. A year ago, monsoon rains caused flooding which ravaged Pakistan causing the worst natural disaster since its inception in 1947. Flood waters submerged a fifth of the countryside, equivalent to the size of England, affecting over 20 million people, displacing over 4 million and killing 2000. Millions lost their homes, farms and livelihoods. But the crisis still continues, as hundreds of thousands of people still remain homeless. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

 August 5, 2011

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A malnourished child in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 27, 2011. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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Kieren Fallon riding Hoof It win the Blue Square Stewards' Cup at Goodwood racecourse on July 30, 2011 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images) #

 August 5, 2011

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A stunt rider of Red Bull X-Fighters performs during a show in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, July 30, 2011. The Red Bull X-Fighters is one of the biggest Freestyle Motocross Championship riders in the world. (AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena) #

 August 5, 2011

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A Filipino Muslim woman enters a mosque to pray during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in suburban Paranaque, south of Manila, Philippines on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. During Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) #

 August 5, 2011

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In this picture taken Thursday, July 28, 2011, Hindu pilgrims are carried on palanquins by Muslim bearers over a glacier near Amarnath Cave,150 kilometers (93 miles) from Srinagar, India. At least half a million devotees make the pilgrimage to the icy cave which lies 13,500 feet (4,115 meters) above sea level in Indian-controlled Kashmir amid tight security. Hindus worship a stalagmite inside the cave as an incarnation of the Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) #

 August 5, 2011

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Gwynne Chapin, foreground right, hands an ice cream cone to Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Bryan Hall (68) from her truck as his teammates wait in line for their orders following NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) #

 August 5, 2011

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A Nepalese Muslim prays on the second day of the holy fasting month Ramadan at a mosque in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. Muslims are a minority in this predominantly Hindu nation. Official data indicates only 4.3 percent of the country's 27 million people are Muslim. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha) #

 August 5, 2011

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The Malecon, Havana's seaside bouleveard, July 28, 2011. Cuba as a country has been seemingly locked in time since its revolution. But through a labyrinth of rations, regulations, two currencies and four markets (peso, hard currency, agro and black), people make their way, though the going is hard. The world economic crisis plunged Cuba into an abyss not seen since the years after the Soviet Union collapsed. Before that, the island of 11 million people suffered decades of economic deterioration.(The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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Peninah Pechenik (C), from Buffalo, New York, leans around to take a closer look of wax figures of (L-R) U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey while visiting Madame Tussauds Wax Museum on Obama's 50th birthday August 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. On Obama's 50th birthday, the replica Oval Office at Madame Tussauds was decorated with party balloons, streamers and presents, while the figures the Obamas, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey were outfitted with party hats and noisemakers. . (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) #

 August 5, 2011

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An electronic board displays trading activity on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 in New York. The Dow plunged nearly 513 points Thursday, its biggest point decline since Oct. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Jin Lee) #

 August 5, 2011

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An old house that has been subdivided and is in use by several families, known as a "solar," in central Havana, July 29, 2011. Experts say that even with some state controls, property sales, announced recently by the government that some would be permitted, could transform Cuba more than any other economic reform announced by President Raul Castro's government. (The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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An Afghan carries his belongings as he passes burning fuel tankers in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. Police said around five fuel tankers carrying fuel for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan caught fire inside a depot in Kabul. No casualties were reported, and it was not immediately clear what caused the fire.( AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

 August 5, 2011

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An Indonesian woman reads a copy of the Koran on the fourth day of Ramadan at the Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta on August 4, 2011. Like millions of Muslim around the world, Indonesians celebrated the month of Ramadan by abstaining from eating, drinking, and smoking as well as sexual activities from dawn to dusk. AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY #

 August 5, 2011

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This video image taken from Egyptian State Television shows 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak laying on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom Wednesday Aug. 3, 2011 as his historic trial began on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. The scene, shown live on Egypt's state TV, was Egyptians' first look at their former president since Feb. 10, the day before his fall when he gave a defiant speech refusing to resign. (AP Photo/Egyptian State TV) #

 August 5, 2011

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Cristina Alfaro Mejia, whose husband and daughter were killed by soldiers during a massacre in the community of Dos Erres in 1982, holds a rose while waiting to the sentence in Guatemala City, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. The court sentenced three former special forces soldiers to 6,060 years in prison each for the massacre of more than 200 men, women and children, one of hundreds that occurred during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996. Some 240,000 people, mostly Mayan Indians, vanished or died.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

 August 5, 2011

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In this image from House Television, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., appears on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Washington. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise. (AP Photo/House Television) #

 August 5, 2011

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Malaysian jellyfish swim in a tank at the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo on August 1, 2011. The aquarium loacted on the top of a building, will be reopened on August 4 following a one year renovation. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO #

 August 5, 2011

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A man performs the traditional "El Torito" dance at the Rabin Ajau National Folkloric Festival and Indian beauty contest in Coban, Guatemala, Saturday July 30, 2011. Unlike traditional beauty contests, the panel of judges not only value the participants' leadership skills, but their commitment to the rescue and maintenance of Mayan values. The Rabin Ajau, or Queen Daughter, contestants, whose ages range from 14-26 years, go through numerous rounds of competition, including a speech that must be given in their native dialect and Spanish. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

 August 5, 2011

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U.S. Marine Sgt. Myron Ellis, 26, of Sacramento, Calif., with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, looks out from under a tent at a mountain top outpost called The Shrine Saturday, July 30, 2011 in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #

 August 5, 2011

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An Indian bicycle rickshaw puller sleeps after stopping in a water-logged underpass during monsoon rain in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. India receives the annual monsoon rains from June to September. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

 August 5, 2011

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U.S. Marine Cpl. Abraham Willis, 22, of Beech Bottom, W. Va., with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and his IED detection dog Preacher ride in the back of a wagon as they are shuttled over a bridge for a foot patrol at sunrise in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #

 August 5, 2011

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Romanian brides pose for pictures at the Triumph Arch in Bucharest, Romania, early Sunday, July 31, 2011. The arch, a replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the French capital, is a rendezvous place for brides after midnight on the wedding night during the stealing of the bride ritual. The ritual, of ancient origin, is performed by wedding guests who take the bride away from the party and then demand a ransom from the groom, usually money or alcoholic drinks, to return her.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #

 August 5, 2011

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An Indian farmer works in a rice paddy field near Saputara Hill Station some 400 kms from Ahmedabad on July 30, 2011. The strength of the annual June-September downpour is vital to hundreds of millions of farmers and to economic growth in Asia's third-largest economy which gets 80 percent of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season. TOPSHOTS / AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY #

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A boy sleeps on a wall at a bus station during 'Iftar', when Muslims break their fast, on the third day of the holy month of Ramadan on August 4, 2011 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Ramadan, the month in which the holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Mohammad, is observed by devout Muslims who abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset, when they break the fast with the meal known as Iftar. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

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UPSIDE DOWN
UPSIDE DOWN: Israel’s Anastasia Gloushkov performed during a synchronized swimming solo final at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai Wednesday. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

DRINK UP
DRINK UP: A Somali refugee child drank water from a container in the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday. Tens of thousands of Somalis are feared dead in the world’s worst famine in a generation, the United Nations said Wednesday. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

DAD’S TURN
DAD’S TURN: Lamon Rogers cooled off in a kiddie pool as his children Autumn and Noah played in their front yard in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday. (Rex Larsen/Grand Rapids Press via Associated Press)

MULTITASKING
MULTITASKING: A man smoked a hookah pipe while riding a bicycle in Faisalabad, Pakistan, Wednesday. (Fayyaz Hussain/Reuters)

WALKING OVER WATER
WALKING OVER WATER: People walked on a temporary trestle over a flooded path at a transit station in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, Tuesday. The city has experienced more than 30 days of constant rainfall. (China Foto Press/Zuma Press)

WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS
WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS: A man checked the time on his watch as he waited for customers at his roadside stand in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Wednesday. (Faisal Mahmood/Reuters)

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The Pakistan Taliban launched a brazen attack on a Pakistani naval base, killing at least 11 people and destroying two spy planes provided by the United States. Not only did the melee last through the night, the terrorists appeared to call on the power of the Dark Side of the Force to press their assault.

Pakistan’s humiliations compound. About twenty gunmen and suicide bombers successfully infiltrated what’s supposed to be a secure facility in the southern port city of Karachi, right as Pakistan is trying to project an image of martial strength in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing and a brief gunfight with NATO forces. Then the interior minister, Rehman Malik, made the bizarre statement that the terrorists resembled… Star Wars characters.

This is the second time in under two years that the Pakistani Taliban have struck deep and destructively into the heart of Pakistan’s military. The first, in October 2009, targeted the military’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Like the Rawalpindi attack, the raid on Karachi’s PNS Mehran base — very, very far from the tribal areas — most likely involved operatives with knowledge of the facility. Not only were they able to infiltrate successfully, they found the hangars housing the P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, blowing them up like the Death Star.

Let’s pause for the message here. The Orions are supplied by the United States, something of a bribe for Pakistan’s counterterrorism aid. They play absolutely no role against al-Qaida: Orions hunt submarines — Indian submarines. It’s possible that the bin Laden killing prompted the Taliban to target any U.S.-supplied spycraft. But they attacked a navy base, not the Shamsi airfield used for the drone war. The Pakistani Taliban appear to be saying: Continue your alliance with the Americans, and your struggle with the Indians — Islamabad’s major strategic concern — will be a casualty.

It took Pakistani troops 15 hours to secure PNS Mehran. The newspaper Dawn reports that 11 Navy officials and a Ranger are dead, with 16 others wounded. Interior Minister Malik said that security officials recovered the head of a suicide bomber.

That wasn’t all he said. Not only did Malik appear to list far fewer attackers than Dawn reported, he said that they resembled Star Wars characters — although an AP reporter tweets that Malik, like so many, may have spaced and meant Star Trek figures instead. (Klingons?) So much for focusing on what matters.

What’s sad is now that I’m thinking WHICH Star Wars race would want to attack PNS Merhan and take out those military targets,” tweets writer Khaver Siddiqi. “4-6 Wookiee militants could easily take out an entire airbase,” contends @desmukh. Quo Vadis, Siddiqi wonders. (“Sullustans? Twi’leks? Wookiees? Hutts? Droids? Sand people?…”)

The judgment of al-Jazeera’s Evan Hill is more succinct: “Rehman Malik may have gone insane.”

Or Malik might have been freaked out. (Ask him about the attack yourself: he’s @SenRehmanMalik on Twitter.) PNS Mehran is just 15 miles from Pakistan’s largest air base — a likely repository of nukes. “Are Pakistani nuclear weapons safe, if the country’s military installations are vulnerable to penetration through force, stealth, or the exploitation of inside-information?” the Royal United Services Institute think tank wonders. Outside Mehran, Reuters finds passersby who wonder “how can any Pakistani feel safe” and suspect “India or the CIA could have been behind this.” Anger, fear, aggression: the Dark Side are they.

Update, 3:50 p.m.: As some commenters have noted, my friend Rob Farley of the University of Kentucky writes that he thinks the Orions were “were being used by Pakistan as COIN [counterinsurgency] patrol craft,” rather than for anti-submarine warfare, so the attack could have been meant to disrupt the Pakistanis’ campaign against the militants directly.

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