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Andrea Comas

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In today’s pictures, a person swims in a partially frozen lake in China, women seek to wear prayer shawls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a little girl tries to escape Santa’s lap at a mall in Pennsylvania, and more.

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Matters of the economy are forefront in many minds, with economic issues dominating the recent American election and the leadership change in China. But in several countries in Europe, economic debate is played out on the streets with protests, petrol bombs, and strikes. As the Eurozone struggles with the global financial crisis, many member countries have turned to a series of spending cuts to health, education, and other services and social programs. Widespread protests against these so-called austerity measures have erupted in several countries. Gathered here are photographs from the most heavily impacted nations in recent months, including Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Italy. -- Lane Turner (31 photos total)
A riot police officer is engulfed by petrol bomb flames in front of parliament during clashes in Athens on November 7, 2012. (Dimitri Messinis/Associated Press)

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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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There are many forms of protest, many ways to express an objection to particular events, situations, policies, and even people.  Protests can also take many forms - from individual statements to mass demonstrations - both peaceful and violent. In the last 30 days, there have been numerous protests across the globe in many countries.  The following post is a collection of only some of those protests, but the images convey a gamut of emotions as citizens stand up for their political, economic, religious and lifestyle rights.  -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)
As protesters sleep in Zuccotti Park, N.Y. police officers receive instructions. A group of activists calling themselves Occupy Wall Street targeted the Financial District for more than a week of demonstrations in late September. The group said they sought to bring attention to corporate malfeasance, social inequality, and the yawning gap in income between America's rich and poor. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

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Around the world, the LGBT community celebrates in environments ranging from welcoming to tolerant to violently hostile. Many cities stage gay pride parades on or around June 28, the anniversary of New York's Stonewall Inn uprising in 1969 -- what many consider the beginning of the gay rights movement. New York enjoyed its parade this year on June 26, a celebration given added spirit with the legalization of gay marriage in New York state two days earlier. Some communities in the world still meet with resistance, with activists assaulted and arrested in Russian cities, and an Indian health minister describing homosexuality as a "disease" three days after the New Delhi pride parade on July 2. Collected here are photographs of people celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered pride around the world.

The Big Picture offers special thanks to Charles Meacham for making his photographs available. -- Lane Turner (43 photos total)


People take part in the gay pride parade on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on June 26, 2011. (Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images)

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DOWN AND OUT
DOWN AND OUT: An honor guard member passed out before the arrival of Britain’s Prince Charles as Spain’s Princess Letizia, left, looked on at the Pardo Palace near Madrid Wednesday. (Andrea Comas/Reuters)

INCH BY INCH
INCH BY INCH: London police painstakingly searched for clues outside the Stockwell Food & Wine shop, where a 5-year-old girl and 35-year-old man were shot Tuesday night. Detectives believe the victims, who were hospitalized, may have been caught in the crossfire of gang violence. (Cliff Hide/London News/Zuma Press)

PIGS PASSING
PIGS PASSING: A villager towed pigs through floodwaters in Surat Thani Province, Thailand, Wednesday. Southern Thailand faced more torrential rain after heavy downpours caused at least 15 deaths and forced the Thai navy to evacuate hundreds of stranded tourists. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters)

BACK ON THE HILL
BACK ON THE HILL: Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D., Ind.), who served as vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, attended a Senate Homeland Security hearing Wednesday in Washington about the commission’s report. (Pete Marovich/Zuma Press)

RIDING BY
RIDING BY: A man rode his bicycle Wednesday in Kesennuma, Japan, between ships that were washed inland by the March 11 tsunami. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

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