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Original author: 
Phil Bicker

From clashes in the West Bank and election preparations in Pakistan to the legalization of gay marriage in Colorado and battles against wildfires in California, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

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From wildfires in Australia and riots in Belfast to the one year anniversary of the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia and snow storms in the Middle East, TIME presents the best images of the week.

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From South Sudan’s refugee crisis and Spain’s historic Euro 2012 win to the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team trials and a polar bear cub’s piggyback, TIME’s photo department presents the best images of the week.

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From Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel lecture in Norway and the death of Rodney King in California to violent mining strikes in Spain and a New Democracy in Greece, TIME’s photo department presents the best images of the week.

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The year 2011 brought us dramatic and unexpected images from some of the world’s major news events, including the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, the violent end of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rule and the humiliating tweet that ruined New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s career. But beyond the widely seen and iconic images that accompanied the year’s biggest events, like the death of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, were unusual, equally astonishing and startling images that rested at the periphery of the news. A cat with two faces, rail tracks buckled by the shifting earth after a quake in New Zealand, the police rescue of a girl held hostage by her father, a suicidal bride and beautiful, abstract images taken from space by an astronaut photographer — these are just a few of the compelling and surprising images to have emerged beyond the main news cycle this year. Here, LightBox looks back at a small selection of the underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.

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