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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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Hurricane Irene wound up by most estimates as one of the top ten most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the United States since 1980. While ultimately not as powerful as many had predicted, the storm still killed at least 27 people along its path from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard. Transportation was shut down all along the east coast, stranding residents and tourists in shelters, airports, and train stations. More than 5.8 million customers lost electricity, thousands of flights were cancelled, flooding washed out roads and destroyed homes, and evacuation orders were issued for hundreds of thousands. Gathered here are pictures from the Hurricane's path. -- Lane Turner (44 photos total)
Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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US soldiers gather near a destroyed vehicle and protect their faces from rotor wash, as their wounded comrades are airlifted by a Medevac helicopter from the 159th Brigade Task Force Thunder to Kandahar Hospital Role 3, on August 23, 2011. All foreign combat troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 in a process that started last month and will require the Afghan army and police to play an ever-greater role in fighting the Taliban insurgency.

Hurricane Irene continues to move towards the eastern coast of the United States and could still be a major storm as it approaches the North Carolina coast.

Rebel fighter celebrate as they sit on top of a monument inside Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. The rebels say they have now taken control of nearly all of Tripoli, but sporadic gunfire could still be heard Wednesday, and Gadhafi loyalists fired shells and assault rifles at fighters who had captured the Libyan leader’s personal compound one day earlier.

 August 26, 2011

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US soldiers gather near a destroyed vehicle and protect their faces from rotor wash, as their wounded comrades are airlifted by a Medevac helicopter from the 159th Brigade Task Force Thunder to Kandahar Hospital Role 3, on August 23, 2011. Three soldiers were wounded while their vehicle was destroyed up by an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED). All foreign combat troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 in a process that started last month and will require the Afghan army and police to play an ever-greater role in fighting the Taliban insurgency. AFP PHOTO/ Johannes EISELE #

 August 26, 2011

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A pilot dips the basket of his hot-air balloon in the Androscoggin River in front of a couple in a canoe during the Great Falls Balloon Festival, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Lewiston, Maine. More than 20 balloons launched at sunrise to kick off the three-day event. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) #

 August 26, 2011

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Indian youth make a human pyramid to break the ‘Dahi Handi’, an earthen pot filled with yoghurt, as they celebrate Janamashtami, the birth anniversary of Hindu God Krishna in Mumbai, India, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) #

 August 26, 2011

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Salem Hasam Ali, 62, a shop owner, cries and flashes v-sign after singing the pre-Moammar Gadhafi Libyan national anthem at the rebel-held town of Benghazi, Libya, late Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. Hundreds of Libyan rebels stormed Gadhafi's compound Tuesday, charging wildly through the symbolic heart of the crumbling regime as they killed loyalist troops, looted armories and knocked the head off a statue of the besieged dictator. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini) #

 August 26, 2011

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Cory Ritz braces himself as a wave bursts onto a pier at the Boynton Beach inlet on August 25, 2011 in Boynton Beach, Florida. Hurricane Irene is moving over the Bahamas and could still be a major storm as it approaches the North Carolina coast the morning of August 27. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

 August 26, 2011

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A 19 year-old polar bear (Ursus maritimus) 'Vitush' swims as he eats a fish at the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden in Budapest on August 26, 2011, as the summer temperature approaches 35 degrees Celsius. AFP PHOTO/ ATTILA KISBENEDEK #

 August 26, 2011

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A injured man is carried from a United Nation's office after a car blew up in Abuja, Nigeria, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. A car laden with explosives rammed through two gates and blew up at the United Nations' offices in Nigeria's capital Friday, killing at least seven people and shattering part of the concrete structure. (AP Photo) #

 August 26, 2011

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A Libyan walks inside the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, LIbya, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011,one Libya's most notorious prisons and the scene of a 1996 massacre of prisoners. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

 August 26, 2011

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A Thai Muslim boy reads the Quran as he attends the last Friday prayer of the year's holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Central Mosque in the Thai southern city of Pattani on August 26, 2011. The holy month of Ramadan is recording a spike in attacks by suspected Muslim separatist insurgents in the Thai restive south with a roadside blast which killed at least five security officers on August 26 in the neighbouring province of Narathiwat. AFP PHOTO / Tuwaedaniya MERINGING #

 August 26, 2011

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A demonstrator points a toy gun at a line of riot police on the second day of a national strike in Santiago, Chile, Thursday Aug. 25, 2011. Chileans marched Thursday, demanding profound changes in the country's heavily centralized and privatized form of government. Union members, students, government workers and Chile's center-left opposition parties joined the nationwide two-day strike. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia) #

 August 26, 2011

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People celebrate the capture in Tripoli of Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, at the rebel-held town of Benghazi, Libya, early Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. Libyan rebels raced into Tripoli in a lightning advance Sunday that met little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi's defenders melted away and his 40-year rule appeared to rapidly crumble. The euphoric fighters celebrated with residents of the capital in the city's main square, the symbolic heart of the regime. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini) #

 August 26, 2011

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Indian policemen detain supporters of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare during a protest outside Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence in New Delhi on August 25, 2011. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the anti-corruption activist whose hunger strike has rocked the government to end his 10-day fast, leading parliament in a united appeal. Hazare's hunger strike has triggered large rallies among supporters across the country, as a civil movement backed by many middle-class urban voters has mushroomed around his cause. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA #

 August 26, 2011

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Rebel fighters maneuver their gun during fighting with loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, in the neighborhood of Abu Salim, in the south of the capital Tripoli, on August 25, 2011, during heavy fighting. Hardened fighters streamed into Tripoli as Libya's rebels sought to deliver a knockout punch to Moamer Kadhafi's diehards and to flush out the elusive strongman, dead or alive. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE #

 August 26, 2011

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Riot police stand covered with paint thrown by demonstrators trying to reach La Moneda presidential palace on the second day of a national strike in Santiago, Chile, Thursday Aug. 25, 2011. Chileans marched Thursday, demanding profound changes in the country's heavily centralized and privatized form of government. Union members, students, government workers and Chile's center-left opposition parties joined the nationwide two-day strike. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) #

 August 26, 2011

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People are guided through the "Dialog in the Dark'' exhibit at South Street Seaport on August 24, 2011 in New York City. The new exhibition takes visitors on a sensory tour of New York City while in a totally darkened space in an attempt to simulate the urban life of a blind person. Visitors are led by a visually impaired guide and carry a cane similar to what a blind individual would carry. Separate rooms feature items from a person's daily routines, such as shopping, riding a subway car, walking and shopping, which forces visitors to use other senses to figure out the smells, sounds, and textures they encounter during the hour-long presentation. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

 August 26, 2011

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A man walks along a seaside park as Hurricane Irene passes to the east of Nassau on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, Thursday Aug. 25, 2011. Irene is pounding the Bahamas as a Category 3 hurricane. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) #

 August 26, 2011

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Supporters of India's anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare shout slogans in solidarity with Hazare as they protest near Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. Singh seized control of a national anti-corruption debate Thursday, calling on Parliament to discuss protesters' reform proposals and appealing to the weakening 74-year-old activist to end his hunger strike. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das) #

 August 26, 2011

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Rebel fighter celebrate as they sit on top of a monument inside Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. The rebels say they have now taken control of nearly all of Tripoli, but sporadic gunfire could still be heard Wednesday, and Gadhafi loyalists fired shells and assault rifles at fighters who had captured the Libyan leader's personal compound one day earlier. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

 August 26, 2011

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North Koreans flip colored cards in the seats of the May Day stadium in Pyongyang to create their nation's flag during a performance Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. North Korea's huge synchronized dance and gymnastics show, called "Arirang", includes up to 100,000 participants according to organizers. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #

 August 26, 2011

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A bride in her wedding dress runs from the courthouse in Lower Manhattan in New York August 23, 2011 as buildings were evacuated because of the aftershocks from a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A.CLARY #

 August 26, 2011

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Artisans work on semi-finished clay statues of Hindu goddess Durga in Kumartoli, the idol makers village of Kolkata, on August 22, 2011. Ongoing monsoon rain has made it difficult for artisans to finish idols on schedule, with the recent economic slowdown and high inflation adding to the difficulties of the idol-makers ahead of the festive season. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR #

 August 26, 2011

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Rebel fighters speak to a suspected pro-Gadhafi soldier after he was captured in Tripoli, Libya, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. Rebels say they control most of Tripoli, but they faced pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

 August 26, 2011

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Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., are inscribed in the wall at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial as it is seen at dusk ahead of its dedication this weekend in Washington, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) #

 August 26, 2011

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A Pakistani security officer stands guard next to burning oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan, exploded after being attacked by gunmen on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt) #

 August 26, 2011

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A Palestinian child waits for her mother to cross the Qalandia checkpoint on their way to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Muslims around the world are observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan where they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking from dawn to dusk. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

 August 26, 2011

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Rebel fighters shoot to the sky during a funeral in the rebel-held town of Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Four bodies of rebel fighters, who were killed on the frontline of Brega, were buried. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini) #

 August 26, 2011

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Israeli soldiers mourn during the funeral of First Sgt. Moshe Naftali, 22, at the Mt. Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Gunmen who appear to have originated in Gaza and who crossed into southern Israel through the Egyptian desert ambushed civilian vehicles traveling on a remote road, killing eight people. Six were civilians, and two were members of Israeli security forces responding to the incursion. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

 August 26, 2011

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In this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, a poster of presidential candidate and former ruling party member Dr. Tan Cheng Bok is seen during his rally in Singapore. Singaporeans vote Saturday, Aug. 27, among four candidates for the ceremonial presidency after an uncharacteristically feisty contest that could show further signs of erosion in support for the overwhelmingly dominant ruling party. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) #

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When Atlantis touched down yesterday at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the high-flying era of the space shuttles came down to earth as well. After 30 years, the shuttle program, which began on April 12, 1981 with Colombia, has ended with the 135th mission. Atlantis delivered the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module packed with supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station, and retrieved a failed pump unit and other items for the return trip. Atlantis went aloft 33 times, logging over 125 million miles. The last shuttle will become a museum exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
The space shuttle Atlantis flies over the Bahamas prior to a perfect docking with the International Space Station on July 10, 2011. Part of a Russian Progress spacecraft docked to the station is in the foreground. (AP Photo/NASA)

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Today marks the end of an era. Three decades of missions came to a close this morning as the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down in Florida after a 13-day trip to the International Space Station. All told, the 135 space shuttle missions have racked up more than 542 million miles in low earth orbit. Commander Chris Ferguson piloted the Atlantis to a safe landing at 5:52 a.m., and the spacecraft will soon undergo processing and decommissioning. It has been an emotional experience for residents and workers along Florida's Space Coast -- some 9,000 shuttle engineers, technicians, and other staff are being laid off, and the main tourism draw for the area has come to an end. Shown here, for one last time, is a look at a full shuttle mission, STS-135, the final flight of Atlantis. Also, be sure to see The History of the Space Shuttle, an earlier entry on In Focus. [39 photos]

A view of the space shuttle Atlantis and its payload on July 10, 2011, seen from the International Space Station. At the rear of the cargo bay is the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module, packed with supplies and spare parts for the ISS. (NASA)

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[Video Link] Raw Opium is a journey around the world and through time, where conflicting forces do battle over the narcotic sap of the opium poppy. From an opium master in southeast Asia to a UN drug enforcement officer on the border of Afghanistan hunting down the smugglers of central Asia; from a former Indian government Drug Czar and opium farmer to a crusading Vancouver doctor and Portuguese street worker who daily confront the realities of drug addiction.

Raw Opium: A feature documentary about a commodity that has tremendous power - both to ease pain and to destroy lives

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