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Daniel Mihailescu

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WSJ Staff

In this week’s pictures, a soldier takes part in Victory Day commemorations in Moscow, a graduate dresses casually at a commencement ceremony President Obama attends in Ohio, a woman in a wedding dress gets muddy in England, and more.

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Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day, an event established by the United Nations in 1993 to highlight the challenges associated with this precious resource. Each year has a theme, and this year's is "Water and Food Security." The UN estimates that more than one in six people worldwide lack access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. And as the world's population grows beyond 7 billion, clean water is growing scarcer in densely populated areas as well as in remote villages. Collected here are recent images showing water in our lives -- how we use it, abuse it, and depend on it. [36 photos]

A journalist takes a sample of polluted red water from the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, China, on December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution were two illegal chemical plants discharging their production wastewater into the rain sewer pipes. (Reuters/China Daily)

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World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year. The day to recognize the importance of earth's most precious natural resource was proposed 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. While we often take water for granted, many cannot. And water plays a role in almost everything we do. We drink it, wash in it, play in it, generate power with it, irrigate crops with it, travel and transport goods on it, fight fires with it, and worship with it. Gathered here are images of water from the last year in all its uses, in scarcity and in abundance. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
A child bathes from a public tap in his neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on March 6, 2012. A UNICEF report says unhygienic conditions cause an estimated 1. 2 million child deaths before the age of five from diarrhea worldwide every year. The report says in urban areas access to improved water and sanitation is not keeping pace with population growth. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)

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Europe has been battling a deep freeze that started in late January and has killed hundreds, snow that has trapped thousands in Balkan mountain villages and prompted worries of flooding as heavy snow melts. In Greece and Bulgaria, flooding on Monday and Tuesday left dozens of homes under water and at least eight dead. Serbian [...]

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Frigid temperatures have gripped Europe in the last week, with the mercury reaching as low as 35 degrees Celsius below zero. After what had been a relatively mild winter, the sudden cold caught many unprepared. Eastern Europe is hardest hit, with over 100 deaths in Ukraine, and with over 11,000 people in remote villages cut off by snow in Serbia. Most of the fatalities recorded have been homeless people found frozen to death outside, and emergency tents with hot meals have been set up to help them in several affected countries. Russia and Poland are mobilizing help for the homeless. Travel in Romania has been chaos as a blizzard hampered efforts to clear both rails and roads. Recorded temperatures in Italy were the lowest in 27 years. -- Lane Turner (45 photos total)
A woman looks out a bus in Bucharest on February 2, 2012. (Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press)

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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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Their homelands are torn by war, economic distress, political strife, or environmental collapse. They choose to leave, or have no choice. They're called migrants, refugees, or internally displaced people. The labels are inadequate as often circumstances could allow all three descriptions, or some combination of them. Once in their new countries, they face difficult transitions, discrimination, or outright hostility. Host countries are burdened with the economic and political repercussions of the arrivals, while home nations are sometimes saddled with a "brain drain" of their most important human resources. Immigration is a hot-button issue in the American presidential race, and a wave of new arrivals from Libya to Italy has left the European Union struggling with decisions over the Schengen policy of borderless travel between member nations. Gathered here are images of some of the estimated 214 million people worldwide in the process of redefining what "home" means to them. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
Rescuers help people in the sea after a boat carrying some 250 migrants crashed into rocks as they tried to enter the port of Pantelleria, an island off the southern coast of Italy, on April 13. Italy is struggling to cope with a mass influx of immigrants from north Africa, many of whom risk their lives by sailing across the often stormy Meditteranean in makeshift vessels. (Francesco Malavolta/AFP/Getty Images)

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