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David Mercado

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Simple and efficient, rail travel nonetheless inspires a sense of romance. By train, subway, and a seemingly endless variety of trams, trolleys, and coal shaft cars, we've moved on rails for hundreds of years. Industry too relies on the billions of tons of freight moved annually by rolling stock. Gathered here are images of rails in our lives, the third post in an occasional series on transport, following Automobiles and Pedal power. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
An employee adjusts a CRH380B high-speed Harmony bullet train as it stops for an examination during a test run at a bullet train exam and repair center in Shenyang, China on October 23, 2012. (Stringer/Reuters)     

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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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A last blast before the observance of Lent, Carnival has evolved in many parts of the world with Christian traditions to be the biggest party of the year. Traditions vary from country to country, and even from region to region, but most places celebrate with a parade filled with masks, music, and ecstatic revelers. The world's biggest party happens in Rio de Janeiro, where millions fill the streets as the parade enters the Sambadrome. Collected here are pictures of Carnival in many forms as celebrated in various parts of Europe, Latin America, and North America. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 20, 2012. Millions watched the sequin-clad samba dancers at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Carnival parade. (Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press)

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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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The spectacle of gaudy colors, outlandish floats, airborne beads, and extravagant costumes was not limited to the French Quarter of New Orleans Tuesday. Weeks of pre-Lent celebrations culminated into explosions of exhilarating events for "Fat Tuesday" and Carnival around the globe. Historians say the Mardi Gras tradition dates back to Roman times, when the newly converted Christians retained vestiges of their pagan festival "Lupercalia" as a period of celebration before the penance of Lent. That spirit ricochets today from the revelers of Carnival in Brazil to the flour-tossing sprites of Greece to the ebullient trombones of Bourbon Street. -- Lloyd Young (43 photos total)
A Grande Rio samba school dancer performs while parading through the Sambadrome during carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8. (Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press)

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BROKEN APART
BROKEN APART: People walked on a destroyed road in La Paz, Bolivia, Monday. Heavy rains caused a hilltop to collapse in a poor neighborhood of the Bolivian capital Sunday, cracking roads, destroying at least 400 homes and burying people’s belongings under mud and debris. (David Mercado/Reuters)

ON GADHAFI
ON GADHAFI: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday. She said Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi and his allies have ‘lost the legitimacy to govern’ by reportedly executing soldiers who refused to turn their guns on civilians. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)

YEMEN UPHEAVAL
YEMEN UPHEAVAL: Protesters demanded the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in San’a, Yemen, Monday. Mr. Saleh’s offer to form a unity government with opponents who want him out of office—provided protests against him stop—was swiftly rejected. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

CALLING OUT
CALLING OUT: A Bahraini Shi’ite woman shouted antigovernment slogans at the gate of Parliament in the Bahraini capital, Manama, Monday. Antigovernment protesters temporarily blocked access to the building and amassed outside the state-owned broadcaster. (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

HARD AT WORK
HARD AT WORK: Children took the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education examination in Calcutta, India, Monday. Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presented a budget Monday for the fiscal year starting April 1, 2011, and announced a 24% increase in funding for education. (Bikas Das/Associated Press)

NOT HOME
NOT HOME: African migrants stood outside an immigration center in Valletta, Malta, Monday. (Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press)

TAKING A REST
TAKING A REST: Mohammad Hanif, 80, held his two-year-old grandson, Wasif, as he sat on a railway line near their home in a Karachi, Pakistan, slum. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

DOWN TO THE RIVER
DOWN TO THE RIVER: One of the Chilean miners rescued from last year’s mine collapse was baptized in the Jordan River at the Yardenit baptism site in northern Israel Monday. Israel’s tourism ministry sponsored the eight-day trip. (Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press)

SECOND PLACE
SECOND PLACE: Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland sat on the snow after placing second in the women’s 10-kilometer individual cross-country skiing competition at the Nordic Skiing World Championships in Oslo, Norway, Monday. (Patrick Seeger/DPA/Zuma Press)

PARADE TRAGEDY
PARADE TRAGEDY: Mourners attended the funeral Monday of 16 people killed during a parade in Bandeira do Sul in southeastern Brazil. The victims were electrocuted when a power line fell atop a packed pre-Carnival street parade Sunday, police said. (Zuma Press)

CROPPING UP
CROPPING UP: A farmer checked wheat seedlings in a snow-covered field in Chenzhuang village in China’s Shandong Province Monday. Widespread rain and snow in northern China over the weekend brought relief to drought-stricken wheat-producing areas in China, official media said. (Zhang Zhenxiang/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

TAKING SHELTER
TAKING SHELTER: Smoke rose from the chimneys of tents at a refugee camp during a snowstorm in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press)

DESTROYING DESTROYERS
DESTROYING DESTROYERS: A man looked at land mines waiting to disposed of near the Western Sahara village of Tifariti Monday. (Arturo Rodriguez/Associated Press)

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