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San Bartolome

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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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A man rides a horse through a bonfire in San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, in honor of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals. On the eve of Saint Anthony’s Day, hundreds ride their horses trough the narrow cobblestone streets of the small village of San Bartolome during the “Luminarias,” a [...]

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ORGANIZED PROCESSION
ORGANIZED PROCESSION: Soldiers carried the coffin of former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash during his funeral procession in Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday. Mr. Denktash, who died Jan. 13 at the age of 87, worked to create a separate Turkish Cypriot state. (Petros Karadjias/Associated Press)

SINGLE FILE
SINGLE FILE: A still from aerial video shows passengers of the Costa Concordia evacuating the sinking cruise ship off the coast of Giglio, Italy, Jan. 14. Costa Crociere, which operated the ship, said the commander had been properly trained, but he was detained and transcripts indicated that he evacuated the vessel before some of the passengers. (Guardia Costiera/Reuters)

CRYING OUT
CRYING OUT: Police officers scuffled with Tibetan activists trying to escape from a police bus outside New Delhi’s Hyderabad House, the venue of new border talks between Indian and Chinese officials. (Manan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

THROUGH THE FIRE
THROUGH THE FIRE: A man rode a horse through a bonfire Monday in the village of San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, in honor of San Anton, the patron saint of animals. (Juinen/Getty Images)

QUITE A STRETCH
QUITE A STRETCH: Great Britain’s Andy Murray played during the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday. Mr. Murray defeated American Ryan Harrison 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. (Jason O’Brien/Action Images/Zuma Press)

PUMPING AWAY
PUMPING AWAY: Hoses to be used to pump diesel and gasoline stretched from the Russian tanker Renda toward the iced-in town of Nome, Alaska, Monday. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy cleared a path for the tanker to deliver much-needed fuel. (Grant DeVuyst/U.S. Coast Guard/Reuters)

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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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Any "best of" list must surely be subjective. This one is no different. Choosing the best photographs of the year is an enormously difficult task, with many terrific photographs slipping through the cracks. But with major news events as a guide, and with single images I fell in love with throughout the year forcing their way into the edit, I look at my favorite pictures from the first four months of the year. Two main stories dominated headlines in the first part of the year: the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the rising of the Arab Spring. The protests in the Middle East would spread to Greece, Spain, and eventually inspire the Occupy movement in Western nations. Other stories included a historic wave of tornados in the U.S., a Royal wedding in London, and the creation of the world's newest nation in South Sudan. Images from the rest of the year will follow in posts later this week. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)
A wave caused by a tsunami flows into the city of Miyako from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck Japan March 11, 2011. (Mainichi Shimbun /Reuters)

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