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Vesak Day

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The month of May in Afghanistan opened with news of US Navy SEALs killing Osama bin Laden. Suicide bombings claimed lives throughout the country, one injuring the top German commander. Another outside the Italian military base in Herat west of Kabul killed at least five. As the month closed, President Hamid Karzai issued vague warnings against Western airstrikes that cause civilian casualties. Gathered here in our monthly collection from Afghanistan are images of the US military mission and daily life in the country of just under 30 million people. -- Lloyd Young (45 photos total)
n Afghan youth looks on as a US Marine from 3rd Battalion 9th Marines Kodiak Company stands guard during a patrol in Kote Tazagul area in Marjah district in Helmand Province on May 24, 2011. US lawmakers saw momentum for political reconciliation in Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, but voiced fear that the fight against extremism was floundering in Pakistan. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images)

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Deadly storms struck again yesterday in the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It was a storm system that followed the massive, highest-rated EF5 twister that struck Joplin, Mo., on Sunday. The Joplin twister, which killed more than 120 people, is the eighth deadliest storm on record in the United States dating back to 1840. This year's tornado season has produced approximately 1,000 twisters and has taken the lives of more than 300 people. -- Lloyd Young
(36 photos total)
Debbie Surlin salvages items from her parent's home in Joplin, Mo. Wednesday, May 25, 2011. The home's residents Beverly and Roy Winans rode out the EF-5 tornado by hiding under a bed in the home. The tornado tore through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 123 people. (Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)

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Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland on May 21, 2011 has caused hundreds of travel delays. The ash cloud forced U.S. President Barack Obama to shorten a visit to Ireland and has raised some fears of a repeat of last year's huge travel disruptions across Europe when emissions from Eyjafjalljokull stranded millions of passengers. Although this disruption is said to be stronger than that of Eyiafjalljokull, it is not expected to have the same impact. Take a look back at two Big Picture posts from the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption: Iceland's disruptive volcano and More from Eyiafjallajokull. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)
A plane flies past a smoke plume resulting from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, May 21, 2011. Airlines began canceling flights to Britain because of the ash cloud from the volcano reaching its airspace, although experts expected no repeat of travel chaos from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull a year ago. (Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters)

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A deadly spring continued in the American South and Midwest as more tornadoes cut swaths of destruction through Missouri and Minnesota. The death toll in Joplin, Mo. was near 100 and expected to rise. As much as 30 percent of the town was damaged. In Minneapolis, a tornado killed one resident as it caused heavy damage and led to school closures and a curfew. The death toll from 2011 tornadoes stands now at 455, the deadliest year for tornados since 1953. -- Lane Turner (24 photos total)
Residents begin digging through the rubble of their home after it was destroyed by a tornado that hit Joplin, Mo. May 22. The tornado tore a path a mile wide and four miles long destroying homes and businesses. (Mike Gullett/AP)

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