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Sukkot

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The growing population of the world, now estimated to be over 7 billion, marks a global milestone and presents obvious challenges for the planet.  There are extremely densely populated cities and sparsely populated countries.  China is the most populous country with India following closely behind. This post brings together some disparate illustrations of our world as it grows, including scenes from Mong Kok district in Hong Kong, which has the highest population density in the world, with 130,000 per one square kilometer. In Mongolia, the world's least densely populated country,  2.7 million people are spread across an area three times the size of France.  Then there's Out Skerries, a tiny outcropping of rocks off the east coast of Scotland where the population is just 65.  And doing what he can to contribute to that 7 billion global milestone is Ziona, the head of a religious sect called "Chana."  He has 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren. The world is an interesting place. -- Paula Nelson  (41 photos total)
Motorists pack a junction during rush hour in Taipei in 2009. Taiwan's capital is notorious for its traffic jams, even though many motorists choose motorcycles and scooters over cars. United Nations analysts warn that population growth increases pollution, deforestation, and climate change. (Nicky Loh/Reuters)

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Flood waters inundating Thailand north of Bangkok since July have made the journey south and reached the capital. The disaster is responsible for 400 deaths in Thailand and neighboring Cambodia and Vietnam. Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter, but the floods have wiped out over a quarter of the country's crop. The government has declared a five-day holiday for the capital to allow residents time to evacuate. Damages could top six billion dollars in Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years. Collected here are images of the water as it moves south to Bangkok, and how residents there are dealing with the disaster. -- Lane Turner (43 photos total)
A woman holds a toddler as she walks through floodwaters in an area near the Chao Praya river in Bangkok on October 29, 2011. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

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On October 31, 2011, the United Nations is expected to announce a projected world population figure of 7 billion. This global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date that we will hit the 7 billion mark - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March. In the last 50 years, humanity has more than doubled. What could the next decade mean for our numbers and the planet? In this post, we focus on births, but we'll be back with population-related content including it's affect on the environment and our food supply. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)
A baby, minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Oct. 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year. The cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

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The effort to save any remaining earthquake victims continues around the clock in the eastern province of Van in Turkey after an earthquake reduced many of its buildings to rubble on Sunday, Oct. 23. A two-week old baby girl, her mother and grandmother were rescued in Ercis on Tuesday, but most teams are finding only bodies among the ruins. The 7.2 magnitude quake has reportedly killed at least 450 people as of Tuesday night and damaged more than 2,000 structures. Survivors live on the streets and in tents provided by the government. -- Lloyd Young
(28 photos total)
About 46 hours after an earthquake decimated the Turkish town of Ercis, rescue workers cradle 14-day old Azra Karaduma after pulling her from a collapsed apartment building. “Given the work conditions and hardships of rescue teams, the best prize is to bring people back to life,” Ercan Toprak, leader of the rescue team that saved the girl, told NTV. “We feel the joy of connecting her back to life and hope her mother and grandmother will also be saved very shortly.” Her mother and grandmother had taken shelter with the baby behind a couch in their damaged apartment. After hearing their cries for help, rescuers drilled a hole into their wall. (Reuters)

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Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Biblical holiday celebrated in late September to late October. The holiday lasts seven days. The Sukkah is a walled structure covered with plant material - built for the celebration - and is intended to be a reminiscence of the type of dwelling in which the Israelites stayed during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the Sukkah and many sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog (four species). The four species include the lulav (a ripe green, closed frond from a date palm tree), the hadass (boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree), the aravah (branches with leaves from the willow tree) and the etrog (the fruit of a citron tree.) -- Paula Nelson (29 photos total)
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child walks over palm fronds to be used to build a Sukkah hut, in Jerusalem's religious Mea Shearim neighborhood, Oct. 6, 2011. The palm branches are used as the roof of a temporary house called a "Sukkah" which is built and lived in during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)

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MIND GAMES
MIND GAMES: Psychiatric patients ‘bowled’ using a ball and empty bottles at a hospital in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang, China, Monday. The game is meant to mentally stimulate the patients. (ChinaFotoPress//Zuma Press)

HELLO, PITTSBURGH
HELLO, PITTSBURGH: President Barack Obama arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport Tuesday. The president visited the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers before heading to Florida. Mr. Obama said he is prepared to break his jobs bill into pieces to get it passed. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

CRACKED EARTH
CRACKED EARTH: A worker walked over debris in front of a tunnel in Mitholz, Switzerland, Tuesday. Heavy rainfalls flooded rivers in parts of Switzerland and damaging some transportation routes. (Michael Buholzer/Reuters)

SMOKE SIGNAL
SMOKE SIGNAL: A man rode a bicycle past a plume of smoke rising from NATO fuel-supply trucks after gunmen on motorbikes attacked them in Dasht, Pakistan, Tuesday. At least two drivers were killed, police said. (Naseer Ahmed/Reuters)

SUKKOT SUN
SUKKOT SUN: Samaritans attended a ceremony marking the holiday of Sukkot atop Mount Gerizim near the West Bank city of Nablus Tuesday. A religious sect closely related to Judaism, the group each year commemorates, as Jews do, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. (Chen Xu/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

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