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Benedict XVI

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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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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include researchers dressed in panda costumes, a massage given by an African snail, a 39-pound cat named Meow, a Japanese macaque with hay fever, and orangutans having a playdate using FaceTime on an iPad. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers, part of an ongoing series on animals in the news. [41 photos]

Polar bear cub Anori explores the outdoor enclosure at the zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, on Monday, April 23, 2012. Anori was born on January 4 and is becoming a visitor's highlight. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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PHOTOGRAPHING THE POPE
PHOTOGRAPHING THE POPE: People took pictures of Pope Benedict XVI during his weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City Wednesday. (Max Rossi/Reuters)

IN PARLIAMENT
IN PARLIAMENT: Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in purple, attended the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of Parliament, Wednesday in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. She had formerly been under house arrest. (Nyein Chan Naing/European Pressphoto Agency)

FRONT AND CENTER
FRONT AND CENTER: Janos Ader took his oath as president of Hungary during a swearing-in ceremony in Hungarian Parliament in Budapest Wednesday. Parliament elected him to a five-year term by a vote of 262-40. (Laszlo Beliczay/MTI/Associated Press)

WHIPPING THEIR HAIR
WHIPPING THEIR HAIR: Eunuchs danced as they re-enacted a story from the Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ during the annual Koovagam transgender festival south of Chennai, India, Wednesday. (Arun Sankar/Associated Press)

PAINT IN THE FACE
PAINT IN THE FACE: A police officer paused after being hit in the face with paint as officers advanced on Occupy protesters blocking an intersection during a May Day rally in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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