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Amir Cohen

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Israeli airstrikes began November 14, following months of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. Monday, the top leader of Hamas dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire in the six-day-old conflict, as the Israeli military conducted a new wave of deadly airstrikes which included a second hit on a 15-story building that houses media outlets. What follows is just a small collection of images from the last few days of the conflict. – Paula Nelson ( 34 photos total)
A Palestinian firefighter tries to extinguish a fire after an Israeli air strike, on a floor in a building that also houses international media offices in Gaza City, November 19, 2012. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

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Events celebrating and protesting LGBT rights took place in many parts of the world in the last several months. Pride parades were met with violence or intimidation in Russia, Georgia, and Albania while other places saw wild street parties. Three million people celebrated on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, often considered the biggest Pride event in the world. Activists in Uganda and Chile sought to change laws, while in the United States Barack Obama became the first American president to endorse same-sex marriage. Gathered here are pictures from events related to gay rights issues, LGBT Pride celebrations, and the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)
Mark Wilson carries a rainbow flag during San Francisco's 42nd annual gay pride parade on June 24, 2012. Organizers said more than 200 floats, vehicles and groups of marchers took part in the parade. (Noah Berger/Associated Press)

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April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet's environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution. -- Lane Turner and Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)
A ladybug in flight spreads its wings as it flutters from grass blade to grass blade at Rooks Park in Walla Walla, Wash. on April 2, 2012. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)

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Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It also marks the end of "the winter that wasn't," as the past several months in North America have been dubbed. It was the fourth-warmest winter in the United States since record-keeping began 117 years ago. In accord with the unusual weather, this turn of the season brings us snow in Arizona and Saudi Arabia, while conditions remain sunny and warm in America's Northeast and Western Europe. Collected here are scenes from around the world as a strange winter gives way to spring. [40 photos]

The sun sets behind cherry blossoms which have come into full bloom due to the early warm weather in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2012. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

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UP IN THE AIR
UP IN THE AIR: Members of Hanyang technical high school mountaineering club, wearing Santa Claus costumes, reached the summit of Dobong mountain near Seoul Friday. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/European Pressphoto Agency)

UPSIDE DOWN
UPSIDE DOWN: Two youths practiced parkour, also known as free-running, as they performed a somersault from a wall in Netanya, Israel, Friday. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

EVENT HORIZON
EVENT HORIZON: In a photograph by astronaut Dan Burbank on board the International Space Center, the Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth’s horizon at nighttime Wednesday. (Associated Press)

SEPARATE DEMONSTRATIONS
SEPARATE DEMONSTRATIONS: A protester in Cairo’s Tahrir Square held up a picture of his dead son Friday during a mass rally to denounce the recent violence by the military. Thousands attended a rival rally in another part of the city in support of the ruling generals. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

HOLD ON
HOLD ON: Women competed in a tug of war challenge during the concluding ceremony of Khel Mahakumbh, a sports event organized by the Gujarat government in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad Friday. More than 200,000 people ages 4 to 75 participated, according to organizers. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

AFTER THE FLOOD
AFTER THE FLOOD: Soldiers searched for dead bodies among debris in Iligan City, Philippines, Friday. Flash floods killed more than 1,000 people in the region. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

FROZEN SPORT
FROZEN SPORT: People in Santa Claus costumes played soccer on a frozen lake in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, Friday. (Reuters)

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WARNING: SOME IMAGES CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT OR NUDITY
From the uprisings across the Arab world to the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, there was no lack of news in 2011. Reuters photographers covered the breaking news events as well as captured more intimate, personal stories. In this showcase, the photographers offer a behind the scenes account of the images that helped define the year.

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Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, began earlier this month with the sighting of the new moon. Throughout this ninth month on the Islamic calendar, devout Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sex from dawn until sunset. The fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is seen as a time for spiritual reflection, prayers, and charity. After sunset, Muslims traditionally break the fast by eating three dates, performing the Maghrib prayer, and sitting down to Iftar, the main evening meal, where communities and families gather together. Collected below are images of Muslims around the world observing Ramadan this year. [42 photos]

Palestinian women stand in front of a window decoration of Islam's crescent moon and star on the eve of Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan in the West Bank city of Jenin, on July 31, 2011. (Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images)

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