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Adnan Abidi

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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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The month of June sees LGBT Pride celebrations in cities in many parts of the world. Most are timed around the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, fought back against a police raid and ushered in the modern gay rights movement. But there are parts of the world in which it is still difficult or even dangerous to be openly anything but straight. The three people in this post have come out in societies where attitudes are becoming more tolerant, but where acceptance is minimal. Three photographers share the stories: Aly Song tells the story of Xiao Cao, a performer in Shanghai, Adnan Abidi tells the story of Seema, a prostitute in New Delhi, and Tobin Jones tells the story of Morine, a hairdresser in Nairobi. Next week, I'll look at LGBT Pride celebrations worldwide. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)
Xiao Cao, a 57-year-old gay man, salutes as he performs as a Cultural Revolution Red Guard at a park in Shanghai on March 13, 2012. China's gay community has long been on the edges of society but it is gradually becoming more accepted. Unemployed Cao is one whose life lifts the curtain on a less romanticized view of Chinese homosexuals. Living in an eight-square-meter apartment behind a public toilet and with a monthly income of 500 yuan ($79) from social insurance, he passes his days dancing in public and spending time with friends at gay clubs. (Aly Song/Reuters)

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After so many years of capturing events that have shocked people across the world, I was about to stumble upon a reality that would be more shocking than what my camera could capture.

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SUPPORTING SANTORUM SUPPORTING SANTORUM: Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum prayed with him during a campaign stop at the Bella Donna Chapel in McKinney, Texas, Wednesday. Mr. Santorum swept the Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri contests Tuesday. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

ILLUMINATING CHOICE ILLUMINATING CHOICE: A woman voted at a polling station during the state assembly election in Ayodhya, India, Wednesday. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

ON THE SIDELINES ON THE SIDELINES: Residents covered their noses as soldiers searched for missing people in La Libertad, Philippines, Wednesday. Officials conceded that there was little hope of finding survivors after a powerful earthquake Monday set off landslides. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

PICKET LINE PICKET LINE: Nokia Siemens Networks employees protested the planned closure of the Munich office Wednesday.  (Frank Leonhardt/European Pressphoto Agency)

GET AWAY GET AWAY: A soldier kicked a tear-gas canister during clashes with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Nasheed in Malé, Maldives, Wednesday. The nation’s first democratically elected president said he was forced to resign at gunpoint and he vowed to return to office. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

WEAVING A POLITICAL WEB WEAVING A POLITICAL WEB: An automatic loom produced tapestries bearing pictures of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a weaving mill in Vyritsa, Russia, Wednesday. (Anatoly Maltsev/European Pressphoto Agency)

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ON THE TRAIL
ON THE TRAIL: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greeted a voter at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday. He and the other Republican presidential hopefuls are gearing up for the Iowa caucuses, to be held Jan. 3, and the New Hampshire primaries, Jan. 10. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

READY FOR THE SHOW
READY FOR THE SHOW: LaQuita Staten listened as her husband, Corey Staten, welcomed the audience to the Attucks Theatre’s sixth annual Kwanzaa concert in Norfolk, Va., Monday. (Amanda Lucier/The Virginian-Pilot/Associated Press)

SAD DAY
SAD DAY: Karen Bell wiped her eyes as she sat Tuesday with her mother-in-law, Pamela Alexander, left, and her father-in-law, James Bell III, not shown, at the burial of her husband, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vincent Bell, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AFP/Getty Images)

ON GUARD
ON GUARD: A police officer watched as refugees and others at risk in the cold winter weather lined up for a distribution of U.N. aid packages in Kabul Tuesday. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

COLD MORNING
COLD MORNING: A man warmed himself by a bonfire at dawn Tuesday in the old quarter of Delhi. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

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The second collection of images from 2011 once again brought us nature at its full force with floods, drought, wild fires, tornadoes and spectacular images of volcanic eruptions. The death of Osama bin Laden, the attack on an island in Norway by a lone gunman, continued fighting in Libya, and protests around the globe were a few of the news events dominating the headlines. -- Lloyd Young Please see part 1 from Monday and watch for part 3 Friday. (45 photos total)
A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations for 3,500 people as it sent a cloud of ash that reached Argentina. The National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas 10 kilometers (six miles) high, hours after warning of strong seismic activity in the area. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) )

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Any "best of" list must surely be subjective. This one is no different. Choosing the best photographs of the year is an enormously difficult task, with many terrific photographs slipping through the cracks. But with major news events as a guide, and with single images I fell in love with throughout the year forcing their way into the edit, I look at my favorite pictures from the first four months of the year. Two main stories dominated headlines in the first part of the year: the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the rising of the Arab Spring. The protests in the Middle East would spread to Greece, Spain, and eventually inspire the Occupy movement in Western nations. Other stories included a historic wave of tornados in the U.S., a Royal wedding in London, and the creation of the world's newest nation in South Sudan. Images from the rest of the year will follow in posts later this week. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)
A wave caused by a tsunami flows into the city of Miyako from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck Japan March 11, 2011. (Mainichi Shimbun /Reuters)

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