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WSJ Staff

In today’s pictures, a horse dons headwear in a stable in England, policemen confront a government employee in India, tourists ride a boat through tunnels in Taiwan, and more.

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Afghanistan’s presidential palace is a bucolic refuge protected from the chaos of war by thick walls and layers of security—security so stringent that photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I were prevented from bringing in pens, and in my case, even lipstick. A decade’s worth of bombings, assassination attempts, terror attacks and riots have kept President Hamid Karzai a virtual prisoner. Last week, Yuri and I were invited to spend a day with Karzai in his palace. He keeps an exhausting schedule, zipping between meetings in different buildings with a ground-eating stride that forces his aids into an uneasy trot alongside, as they try to brief him on the latest news. When we arrived, Karzai had just learned of the assassination of one of the members of his High Peace Council, the group assigned to conduct peace negotiations with the Taliban. It was a terrible blow. Still, he kept to his schedule: presiding over his security council update, hosting a lunch for visiting tribal elders from the north, and meeting with a U.S. Congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi. He even squeezed in a moment to share his grief with other members of the Peace Council. The only time he paused for a break was when he went to the palace’s small mosque to pray.

The world outside the palace is equally frenetic. Kabul has been shaped by war; its monuments bombed, its green spaces littered with the detritus of battle and its citizens maimed by mines. Even though fear is rife that war will return, Kabulis are busy. The university is in full swing, and local factories now provide the Afghan Army with boots and uniforms. Cafes and shisha bars have sprung up, and, somewhat improbably, a 12-lane bowling alley has become the most popular pastime for the young middle class. It’s a Kabul that Karzai has never seen. The last time he walked through his capital, he tells us, was seven years ago. In two years Karzai will step down. Maybe then he will be able to take another walk.

Read more about Hamid Karzai in this week’s issue of TIME.

Aryn Baker is the Middle East Bureau Chief for TIME.

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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In early April, in an attempt to accelerate the transition of military responsibility to the Afghan government, the US agreed to hand control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role. This deal cleared the way for the two countries to move ahead with an agreement that would establish the shape of American support to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline. Domestic support for the war (in the US) has dropped sharply. We look back at March in the troubled country. -- Paula Nelson (37 photos total)
Young Afghan women use an umbrella to shield themselves from the sun in Kabul, April 5, 2012. The position of women in Afghanistan has improved dramatically since the fall of the Taliban, with the number of girls in education soaring. But as the Americans and the Afghan government have pursued peace efforts with the Taliban, women are increasingly concerned that gains in their rights may be compromised in a bid to end the costly and deadly war. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/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.

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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) #

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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 #

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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 #

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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) #

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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) #

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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) #

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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) #

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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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Each month in the Big Picture, we post a collection of photographs from Afghanistan.  They feature American forces and those of other countries, and they show us daily life among the Afghan people.  In June, President Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, which set in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. However, the fighting has spiked in some regions of the country. On Aug. 6, the United States suffered its deadliest day in the nearly decade-long war when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.  According to the United Nations, 360 Afghan civilians were killed in June alone.  The surges of violence reflect how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its strongholds. The war continues.  -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)
Villager Juma Khan meets with the provincial district governor and fellow villagers at a shura, or consultation, on July 23 at the US Marine Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As mentors with the international coalition attempt to phase out their involvement and put Afghan institutions in the lead, the Taliban continue to gain strength in many of Helmand's northern communities, where legitimate Afghan governance is more of a plan than a reality. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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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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