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WSJ Staff

In today’s pictures, baseball players remember Jackie Robinson in Boston, North Korea marks an anniversary, a man goes face-to-face with a sculpture in Paris, and more.

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Before the space shuttle Discovery made its farewell flyover this week, it had to be attached to a 747 in what NASA calls the mate-demate device at the Kennedy Space center in Florida. The Boeing 747, called the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), was an ordinary commercial jet before being modified at NASA to transport shuttles between earthbound locations.

Observers gathered along the coast to watch as the SCA escorted the Discovery shuttle to Washington, where Discovery will be on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It’s not surprising that Discovery looks a little worse for the wear: In 39 different missions, Discovery orbited the Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles. Highlights of the shuttle’s career include deploying the Hubble Space Telescope, completing the first space-shuttle rendezvous and the final shuttle docking with the Russian space station Mir. Discovery also docked with the International Space Station 13 times and supplied more than 31,000 pounds of hardware for the space laboratory.


The SCA and the space shuttle Discovery on the ramp of the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier, the duo backed out of the mate-demate device. Known as the MDD, the device is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA. NASA/Kim Shiflett


The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying space shuttle Discovery backs out of the Shuttle Landing Facility’s mate-demate device at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA/Kim Shiflett


The SCA transporting space shuttle Discovery to its new home takes off from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 7 a.m. EDT. The duo fly south over Brevard County’s beach communities for residents to get a look at the shuttle before it leaves the Space Coast for the last time. NASA/Jim Grossmann


Workers use two cranes to position the sling that will be used to demate the space shuttle Discovery at the Apron W area of Washington Dulles international Airport in Sterling, Va. NASA/Bill Ingalls


The space shuttle Discovery is suspended from a sling held by two cranes after the SCA was pushed back from underneath at Washington Dulles International Airport, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Sterling, VA. NASA/Bill Ingalls

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WOMEN MOURN
WOMEN MOURN: Relatives of alleged militant Mohammed Daher, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, mourned at his funeral in Gaza City Tuesday. Airstrikes and rocket fire ebbed as an Egypt-brokered cease-fire took hold, ending days of cross-border violence that killed at least 24 Palestinians. (Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

JET SLIP
JET SLIP: A Delta Air Lines plane rolled off a taxiway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport early Tuesday. Mechanics were testing the Boeing 737’s engines when they experienced a braking-system problem around 5 a.m., officials said. No passengers were onboard; no injuries were reported. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Associated Press)

HEAD DOWN
HEAD DOWN: A hearing-impaired girl cried after her ears were cleaned during an event held by Starkey Hearing Foundation in Gulu, Uganda, Tuesday. (Xavier Toya/Reuters)

FIREWORKS FOG
FIREWORKS FOG: People made their way through a cloud of smoke from fireworks during the Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain, Tuesday. The festival commemorates St. Joseph. (Kai Foersterling/European Pressphoto Agency)

EXPLOSIVE SOUND
EXPLOSIVE SOUND: A man winced as another fired a weapon during the funeral of Mohammed Daher, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City Tuesday. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

FATAL FERRY CRASH
FATAL FERRY CRASH: Relatives gathered near the bodies of ferry-crash victims after a ferry carrying about 200 people collided with a cargo boat and capsized in the Meghna River, south of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday. At least 31 people were killed and dozens more are missing. (Shariful Islam/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

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According to the latest jobs numbers, issued by the Labor Department on January 6, the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 8.5 percent, down from 10 percent in 2009. The Great Recession has claimed more than 8.5 million jobs since 2007, and even though the current trajectory of the U.S. appears to be toward recovery, Americans are still struggling to find work. Nine of the photographs below appear in The Atlantic's January/February 2012 print issue, and I've added 25 more here to round out a collection of images from these years of uncertainty -- of men and women both at work and out of work in the United States. [34 photos]

A workman steams a U.S. flag in preparation for a planned visit by President Barack Obama, on April 6, 2011, at wind turbine manufacture Gamesa Technology Corporation in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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KNEE-DEEP IN THE NETHERLANDS
KNEE-DEEP IN THE NETHERLANDS: A man watched water rise around his home in Dordrecht, Netherlands, Thursday. The nation—25% of which lies below sea level—has been drenched by heavy rains and buffeted by strong winds for days. (Robin Utrecht/European Pressphoto Agency)

TANGLED UP
TANGLED UP: Librada Martinez, a member of the Ava Guarani ethnic group, scuffled with police officers who worked to clear a square in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday. People have been occupying the square, demanding government aid. (Jorge Saenz/Associated Press)

DISTRAUGHT
DISTRAUGHT: Estranged couple Matthew and Madonna Badger cried at the funeral for their three daughters in New York Thursday. Authorities say discarded fireplace ashes started a blaze at a Connecticut home where the girls died. Mrs. Badger and her friend escaped, but the girls and her parents were killed. (John Moore/Getty Images)

MOVING ON
MOVING ON: Boeing employees left a meeting Wednesday in Wichita, Kan., where it was announced that the company would relocate all of its Wichita operations by 2013. The closure will affect 2,160 workers. (Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/MCT/Zuma Press)

DOWNTIME
DOWNTIME: Switzerland’s Dario Cologna lay down after crossing the finish line to win the FIS World Cup men’s cross-country skiing free-pursuit race from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Dobbiaco, Italy, Thursday. (Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters)

GOP ENDORSEMENT
GOP ENDORSEMENT: Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) listened as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke at a Boys and Girls Club in Salem, N.H., Thursday. Mr. McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, endorsed Mr. Romney. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

LANDSLIDE LOSS
LANDSLIDE LOSS: The body of a girl who was killed when a mountainside collapsed early Thursday morning in Pantukan, Philippines, lay in a funeral parlor. Dozens of people were killed in the gold-mining village. The government had warned that the mountain was certain to crumble. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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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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The space shuttle program enters its final stage when Atlantis, the nation’s last operational space shuttle, blasts off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., capping a four-decade legacy of American ingenuity. The flight, scheduled to start July 8, also will close another chapter in Southern California aerospace history. Developing, manufacturing and sending skyward the nation’s fleet of space shuttles for NASA provided a livelihood for tens of thousands of workers and their families. With them came a new era in aerospace technology that has left a lasting imprint on Southern California business, education and civic life. The shuttle — half-rocket, half-airplane — has been called the world’s most advanced flying machine. The program’s technology has shaped many industrial and digital advances still unfolding.

Also see where some of the space shuttle parts were made in these panoramas. Read the full story by W.J. Hennigan: “The space shuttle’s Southland legacy”.

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