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Stavropol

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Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for expressions of love and affection. The traditional western holiday has spread to many countries around the globe, despite some efforts by religious and cultural groups to fight its adoption. Valentine's Day spending in the U.S. this year is expected to reach nearly $15 billion -- $2 billion of it on flowers alone. Ninety percent of the flowers Americans will give to their sweethearts are imported, and nearly all of those imports originate in Colombia and Ecuador. Included in today's posting is an 18-photo series depicting the voyage of the roses from South American farm to florists worldwide. [37 photos]

A couple kisses during a flashmob organized by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the Russian city of Stavropol, on February 13, 2012. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)

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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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HOT IN CHICAGO
HOT IN CHICAGO: Mary Ware cooled off with a fan as she waited for a ride to dialysis treatment in Chicago Thursday. She said she can’t afford air conditioning. Forecasters issued high-heat warnings for a huge section of the country, from Kansas to Massachusetts. (Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press)

CUTTING OUT TERRORISM
CUTTING OUT TERRORISM: Security officials diffused what was believed to be a suicide vest on a suspected Taliban militant after he was killed by militiamen in the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday. (Arshad Arbab/European Pressphoto Agency)

TALKING POINTS
TALKING POINTS: German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Berlin Wednesday. The pair reached a deal over a fresh bailout for Greece ahead of a euro-zone summit in Brussels Thursday. (Tobias Schwarz/Reuters)

PACKED IN
PACKED IN: Job seekers packed an annual job fair in Stavropol, Russia, Thursday. Russian unemployment fell to its lowest level in nearly three years in June, according to recently released figures. (Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters)

DOE-EYED
DOE-EYED: A woman carried her baby as she waited for food at a refugee camp for displaced people in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday. Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government established the camp. (Stuart Price/African Union/United Nations/Reuters)

TRYING HIS LUCK
TRYING HIS LUCK: A man ‘wrestled’ a crocodile at the Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm near Pattaya, Thailand, Thursday. (Tom Howell/Whitehotpix/Zuma Press)

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