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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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Too often the subjects of images of Africa seem to be reduced to symbols - viewers do not encounter them as fully rounded human beings, rarely seeing journalistic images of the middle class, artists or the cultural heritage of African countries. Peter DiCampo, with his iPhone, endeavors to address this.

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On Aug. 20, Will Lucas, a lanky righty from Fairfield, Conn., pitched a no-hitter in the Little League World Series. His performance was the opening highlight—the lead—on ESPN’s SportsCenter the next morning. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a bunch of prepubescent ballplayers, a few with voices higher than an Albert Pujols homer. Are we such a sports-obsessed society that we’ll devour the sporting thrills and heartbreak of children just to hold us over until football season?

But try telling the 11-year-olds from impoverished Lugazi, Uganda, who play in bare feet at home, why they shouldn’t be on television. They’ll just keep smiling and having the time of their lives in Williamsport, Pa., host since 1947 to the series—a 10-day tournament featuring eight teams from across the U.S. and eight international teams from places like Mexico, Curaçao, Japan and Panama.

Plus, the kids give better interviews than the pros. After Lucas hurled his no-no, an ESPN reporter asked a typical postgame question: How did it feel to be on the bottom of a celebratory dog pile? “It’s exciting,” Lucas said. “But then at the end, it really hurts.” Sharp, and funny. Can we call him up to the big leagues?

Sean Gregory is a staff writer at TIME.

Wayne Lawrence is a Brooklyn-based photographer. See more of his work here.

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In the last week of June, at an airfield outside Moscow, Russia laid out a smorgasbord of military hardware—including everything from tanks to anti-aircraft batteries—and invited some of the most militaristic nations in the world do some pleasant summer shopping. Meat was grilled in barbecue pits, comely models stood around in mini-skirts, ’80s music and obnoxious techno pounded through the speakers, and once a day, a choreographer from the Bolshoi Theater staged a “tank ballet” of twirling war machines that was grandiloquently titled, “Unconquerable and Legendary.”

Welcome to the deceptively titled Forum for Technologies in Machine Building, the biennial Russian arms bazaar that President Vladimir Putin inaugurated in 2010. Delegations from Iran, Bahrain, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, among many others, attended the expo this year, and spent their time ogling cruise missiles, climbing into armored jeeps and trying out the most famous—and most deadly—Russian weapon of them all: the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which is thought to hold the stomach-turning honor of having killed more people than any other weapon in the history of man.

On the afternoon of June 28, TIME followed around the delegation to the arms bazaar from Syria, who, like many of the participants, would not legally be able to buy their weapons in the West (the TIME magazine story is available to subscribers here). For the past 16 months, Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have brutally tried to crush a homegrown rebellion, which has already cost around 15,000 lives, including thousands of women and children. The U.S. and Europe have responded by banning weapons sales to Syria, and along with their allies in the Arab world, they have pushed for an international arms embargo against Assad’s government. But Russia, the world’s second largest arms dealer after the U.S., has used its veto power in the U.N. to block these sanctions. With around $4 billion in weapons contracts to fulfill for its Syrian clients, Russia has continued supplying arms to Damascus, which gets nearly all of its weapons from Russia.

It was impossible to tell what, if anything, the Syrians came to the Moscow arms bazaar to purchase. Such deals would be signed behind closed doors, and both sides declined to comment. Colonel Isam Ibrahim As’saadi, the military attache at the Syrian embassy in Moscow, chaperoned the three officials in town from Damascus, and they would only say that they came to Moscow especially to attend the fair. The items that seemed to interest them most that day were armored military vehicles, trucks equipped with roof-mounted rocket launchers and brand new Kalashnikov assault rifles. Andrei Vishnyakov, the head of marketing for Izhmash, the company that created the AK-47, spent more than an hour selling them on the virtues of the firm’s new sniper rifles and machine guns. Before handing the head of the Syrian delegation a silencer-equipped AK-104, Vishnyakov said: “This weapon is perfect for close-quarters combat, house to house.” The Syrian official then lifted the gun’s sight to his eye and pointed it across the crowded pavilion, no doubt wondering how useful it could be back home.

Simon Shuster is TIME’s Moscow reporter.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Events celebrating and protesting LGBT rights took place in many parts of the world in the last several months. Pride parades were met with violence or intimidation in Russia, Georgia, and Albania while other places saw wild street parties. Three million people celebrated on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, often considered the biggest Pride event in the world. Activists in Uganda and Chile sought to change laws, while in the United States Barack Obama became the first American president to endorse same-sex marriage. Gathered here are pictures from events related to gay rights issues, LGBT Pride celebrations, and the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)
Mark Wilson carries a rainbow flag during San Francisco's 42nd annual gay pride parade on June 24, 2012. Organizers said more than 200 floats, vehicles and groups of marchers took part in the parade. (Noah Berger/Associated Press)

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Photographs of elephants deep in the Ugandan jungle, leopards in the Ecuadorian rain forests or jacquacus in a national park in Peru have never been seen like this before. Caught without the presence of a human photographer, animals were captured alone in their homes as part of an initiative by TEAM, the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network. Since 2007, TEAM has installed cameras in the middle of remote areas all over the world to collect data on local animals and climate with hopes of monitoring local trends in tropical biodiversity to provide early warnings about climate change.

The result is a series of candid black-and-white images that give a truly up-close look at animals in their natural habitats. The process begins with camera installation, itself a laborious task: fieldworkers go into the jungle or forest without trails, often walking for days to get to the desired location. After installing the camera in a predetermined location, the workers test its functionality and return 30 days later to retrieve the technology. Cameras take between 3,000 and 20,000 images at each installation site and record the time, date and moon phase, as well as the f-stop and exposure of the film, while workers later identify the species and group series.

TEAM hasn’t discovered any new species to date, but they have found animals previously unknown to a particular area. For example, in Costa Rica, the Central American Tapir was thought to be locally extinct from that site, but TEAM captured photos of the tapir with babies. Likewise, TEAM was able to confirm the presence of elephants in areas of Uganda thought to be without the mammal for years.

In the future, TEAM hopes to expand the number of sites from 17 to 40 locations. At a macro level, the organization disseminates information to global leaders and plays an active role in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. On a local level, TEAM works with partners to develop products that help them manage their forests and parks, including changes in the abundance of species and overall animal communities. And only five years into the project, there’s no telling what information—and images—are yet to be discovered.

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network is a partnership between Conservation International, The Missouri Botanical Garden, The Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and partially funded by these institutions and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. More information about TEAM can be found here.

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TEDxVillanovaU - Michele Pistone - The Future of Higher Education

This talk discusses the future of higher education, which has been based on the same educational model for more than 100 years. But the status quo is about to be disrupted, by the Internet and those educators -- including new competitors -- who would unleash its potential. Higher education institutions at a whole have not adequately recognized the threat to the status quo, or come close to responding adequately to it. In truth, responding adequately will be very difficult, because higher ed face a classic innovator's dilemma. Michele Pistone guides law students as they evolve from student to lawyer at the Villanova School of Law. She founded its current clinical program and is the Director of the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES). Through CARES she and her students provide free legal representation to asylum seekers fleeing persecution, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other forms of mistreatment. Her clinic's clients are survivors of human rights abuses directed at them because of their religion, their political opinions, or other beliefs and characteristics that we as a nation have always sought to protect. Among the clients that she has represented are former child soldiers from Sierra Leone and Uganda; political dissidents from Belarus, Cameroon, and Afghanistan; women's rights activists from Nepal and Kenya; children's rights activists from Peru; and religious minorities from Iraq; among countless others. She is a lifetime learner, always <b>...</b>
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