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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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Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could step back in time? I know I never will but occasionally you come across a scene that has barely changed for hundreds of years.

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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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Smithslist

One summer when I worked in a pub I had a colleague who never expressed one iota of joy or enthusiasm about anything. That is until the day a Smiths song came on the radio and she almost lost it, regaling me for the rest of the day about her all-consuming lust/love for Morissey and the various times she saw the band live in the 1980s.

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ALL SMILES
ALL SMILES: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron laughed as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden jokingly mentioned that his Irish grandfather wasn’t a fan of the British as Mr. Cameron visited the State Department in Washington Wednesday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

ALBINO FAMILY
ALBINO FAMILY: From left, sons Shankar, 24 years old, Ramkishan, 19 years old, mother Mani and father Rosetauri Pullan are set to enter the Guinness World Records for their albinism. The 10 members of the Indian family all have extremely pale skin and white hair. (Indian Photo Agency/Caters News/Zuma Press)

STADIUM SHOOTOUT
STADIUM SHOOTOUT: Saraperos de Saltillo baseball team players took cover during a shootout that broke out in a parking lot during a game in Saltillo, Mexico, Tuesday. According to a state police spokesman, three gunmen were killed and another was injured and captured. (Associated Press)

LEADER LOST
LEADER LOST: Ultra Orthodox Jewish people gathered around the body of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, leader of the Hasidic sect Vizhnitz, at a synagogue during his funeral procession in Bnei Brak, Israel, Wednesday. The rabbi was 95 years old. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press)

SHINY MAN
SHINY MAN: A man painted silver enjoyed the ‘Los Pintados,’ the Painted Ones, carnival in San Nicolás de los Ranchos, Mexico, Tuesday. (Alfredo Estrella/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TUNNEL TRAGEDY
TUNNEL TRAGEDY: A helicopter took off from the entrance of a tunnel near Sierre, Switzerland, early Wednesday. At least 22 schoolchildren were among 28 people from Belgium killed returning from a ski holiday when their bus hit a wall inside the tunnel Tuesday night, police said. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

RAPT
RAPT: People watched ‘Kony 2012,’ a film created by U.S.-based group Invisible Children, in Lira district, north of Kampala, Uganda, Tuesday. The film aims to raise awareness about Joseph Kony, who is accused of leading jungle militias that turned children into child soldiers. (James Akena/Reuters)

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CARNIVAL QUEEN
CARNIVAL QUEEN: Carmen Gil, wearing a costume called ‘Imperio,’ by designer Santi Castro, celebrated as she was crowned Carnival queen on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife Wednesday. (Santiago Ferrero/Reuters)

FACEDOWN
FACEDOWN: Police arrested a man outside a hotel as British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech in Edinburgh Thursday. Mr. Cameron hinted at transferring more powers to Scotland, but he also argued in favor of maintaining Scotland’s union with the United Kingdom. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

REMEMBERING WHITNEY
REMEMBERING WHITNEY: A fan scribbled a message in memory of Whitney Houston at a shopping mall in Quezon City, Philippines, Thursday. The singer’s funeral will be held Saturday in Newark, N.J. (Rolex Dela Pena/European Pressphoto Agency)

KISSING MUBARAK
KISSING MUBARAK: A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak kissed his picture during a rally outside a police academy in Cairo Thursday. The trial continues for Mr. Mubarak, who is accused of ordering the killing of demonstrators during an uprising. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

SCARRED
SCARRED: Sudanese man Mutasim Qamrawi, 22 years old, showed scars—from the four months he says he was held captive by smugglers in Egypt’s Sinai Desert—at a shelter in Tel Aviv Thursday. Thousands of Africans have entered Israel in recent years, fleeing conflicts and poverty. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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