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Eduard Korniyenko

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Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for expressions of love and affection. The traditional western holiday has spread to many countries around the globe, despite some efforts by religious and cultural groups to fight its adoption. Valentine's Day spending in the U.S. this year is expected to reach nearly $15 billion -- $2 billion of it on flowers alone. Ninety percent of the flowers Americans will give to their sweethearts are imported, and nearly all of those imports originate in Colombia and Ecuador. Included in today's posting is an 18-photo series depicting the voyage of the roses from South American farm to florists worldwide. [37 photos]

A couple kisses during a flashmob organized by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the Russian city of Stavropol, on February 13, 2012. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)

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Coal occupies a central position in modern human endeavors. Last year over 7000 megatons were mined worldwide. Powerful, yet dirty and dangerous, use of coal is expanding every year, with 2010 witnessing a production increase of 6.8%. Around 70 countries have recoverable reserves, which some estimates claim will last for over a hundred years at current production levels. Mining for coal is one of the world's most dangerous jobs. While deadliest in China, where thousands of miners die annually, the profession is still hazardous in the West and other regions as well. Our mining and use of coal accounts for a variety of environmental hazards, including the production of more CO2 than any other source. Other concerns include acid rain, groundwater contamination, respiratory issues, and the waste products which contain heavy metals. But our lives as lived today rely heavily on the combustible sedimentary rock. Over 40% of the world's electricity is generated by burning coal, more than from any other source. Chances are that a significant percentage of the electricity you're using to read this blog was generated by burning coal. Gathered here are images of coal extraction, transportation, and the impact on environment and society. The first eight photographs are by Getty photographer Daniel Berehulak, who documented the lives of miners in Jaintia Hills, India. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
22-year-old Shyam Rai from Nepal makes his way through tunnels inside of a coal mine 300 ft beneath the surface on April 13, 2011 near the village of Latyrke, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. In the Jaintia hills, located in India's far northeast state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Children and adults squeeze into rat hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

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Boston conducted its 32nd census of the city’s homeless population earlier this week. A report to the United Nations in 2005 stated there were an estimated 100 million homeless people in the world, and an additional 1.6 billion living without adequate housing. Here are some images of homelessness across the globe, collected from wire images this year. -- Lloyd Young (31 photos total)
John Filliger who has been homeless for the past five years, lies wrapped in bedding on Washington Street in the heart of the Downtown Crossing area of Boston Dec. 12. Filliger, who was offered a bed in a shelter for the evening, stayed on the street for the night and was counted in the annual homeless census. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

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THROWING STONES
THROWING STONES: A Palestinian child threw stones toward Israeli border guards during clashes in Shuafat, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Thursday. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A ROUGH PATCH
A ROUGH PATCH: A statue of Umm Kulthum, a deceased Egyptian singer, wore an eye patch Thursday. Someone placed the patch there to symbolize protesters wounded in clashes with security forces during recent protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square before parliamentary elections. (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press)

A MIGHTY WIND
A MIGHTY WIND: Keith Curo looked at a damaged Shell gas station in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday. Some of the worst winds in years blasted through California overnight, gusting up to 97 mph, toppling trees and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people. (Bret Hartman/Associated Press)

UP, THEN DOWN
UP, THEN DOWN: A trader worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Stocks fell following reports that Germany would continue to oppose common euro-zone debt and after comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the crisis enveloping Europe. (Jin Lee/Bloomberg)

SWEPT AWAY
SWEPT AWAY: Workers at a Canon manufacturing factory swept the ground outside their workplace in Ayutthaya Province, Thailand, Thursday. Manufacturing is resuming in Thailand as floodwaters have receded. (Rachen Sageamsak/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

BILLOWING BLACK SMOKE
BILLOWING BLACK SMOKE: Firefighters worked to extinguish a fire at United Bank Limited in downtown Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday. According to local reports, the blaze started due to an electrical short circuit. (Khaqan Khawer/European Pressphoto Agency)

FIRESIDE
FIRESIDE: Supporters of South Ossetian presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva warmed themselves near a fire during a rally in Tskhinvali, Georgia, Thursday. A court threw out results that had the candidate leading and barred her from competing in a new election in March. (Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters)

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HOT IN CHICAGO
HOT IN CHICAGO: Mary Ware cooled off with a fan as she waited for a ride to dialysis treatment in Chicago Thursday. She said she can’t afford air conditioning. Forecasters issued high-heat warnings for a huge section of the country, from Kansas to Massachusetts. (Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press)

CUTTING OUT TERRORISM
CUTTING OUT TERRORISM: Security officials diffused what was believed to be a suicide vest on a suspected Taliban militant after he was killed by militiamen in the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday. (Arshad Arbab/European Pressphoto Agency)

TALKING POINTS
TALKING POINTS: German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Berlin Wednesday. The pair reached a deal over a fresh bailout for Greece ahead of a euro-zone summit in Brussels Thursday. (Tobias Schwarz/Reuters)

PACKED IN
PACKED IN: Job seekers packed an annual job fair in Stavropol, Russia, Thursday. Russian unemployment fell to its lowest level in nearly three years in June, according to recently released figures. (Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters)

DOE-EYED
DOE-EYED: A woman carried her baby as she waited for food at a refugee camp for displaced people in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday. Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government established the camp. (Stuart Price/African Union/United Nations/Reuters)

TRYING HIS LUCK
TRYING HIS LUCK: A man ‘wrestled’ a crocodile at the Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm near Pattaya, Thailand, Thursday. (Tom Howell/Whitehotpix/Zuma Press)

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