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Efrem Lukatsky

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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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A man wades through flood water in Calumpit, Bulacan, north of Manila on September 28, 2011. The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Nesat climbed to 18 as thousands of people battled widespread flooding and another storm bore down on the country. Rescuers reported two more deaths overnight, while 35 others remained missing, after [...]

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