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Jacquelyn Martin

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Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It also marks the end of "the winter that wasn't," as the past several months in North America have been dubbed. It was the fourth-warmest winter in the United States since record-keeping began 117 years ago. In accord with the unusual weather, this turn of the season brings us snow in Arizona and Saudi Arabia, while conditions remain sunny and warm in America's Northeast and Western Europe. Collected here are scenes from around the world as a strange winter gives way to spring. [40 photos]

The sun sets behind cherry blossoms which have come into full bloom due to the early warm weather in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2012. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

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President Obama delivered his third State of the Union speech last night before a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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In the year 2011, a total of 565 NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan were killed -- down from 711 in 2010 -- marking the largest decline in annual deaths during the decade-long conflict. The large number of NATO soldiers on the ground appears to have made a difference, a fact that worries Afghans as the U.S. and others accelerate their planned pullback. This year, 23,000 U.S. soldiers are scheduled to depart the country, heading toward a full withdrawal by 2014. For now, U.S. troops appear to be focusing on intensive training of Afghan forces and preparing for the logistical challenge of shipping home some $30 billion worth of military gear. Gathered here are images of the people and places involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [42 photos]

Cpl. James Hernandez, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, and a native of Goodyear, Arizona, uses an electric saw to dismantle a HESCO barrier at Firebase Saenz, in Helmand province, on December 13, 2011. FB Saenz is the first of several patrol bases being demilitarized by the Marines of 9th ESB throughout the month of December. (USMC/Cpl. Bryan Nygaard)

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Philip Toczylowski, of Philadelphia, sits by his son’s grave with a trumpet at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, a day after the Pentagon declared an end to the war in Iraq. Toczylowski says that he plays taps every time he visits the grave of his son, Army Major Jeffrey Philip [...]

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It's now been three weeks since the "Occupy Wall Street" protests began in New York City's Financial District, and the movement has grown, spreading to other cities in the U.S. Protesters have organized marches, rallies, and "occupations" from Boston to Boise, Los Angeles to New Orleans, Seattle to Tampa. Using social media, handmade signs, and their voices, they are voicing anger at financial and social inequality and protesting the influence of corporate money in politics. Seattle police recently arrested 25 protesters camping out in Westlake Park, following on the heels of 700 arrests on New York's Brooklyn Bridge last week. Collected here are a some of the scenes from these protests across the U.S. over the past week, as the movement moves forward with no signs of slowing. [44 photos]

Protestors march through downtown Boise, Idaho, Wednesday October 5, 2011. Activists have been showing solidarity with movement in many cities, including Occupy Boise. More than 100 people withstood an afternoon downpour in Idaho's capital to protest. (AP Photo, Idaho Statesman/Darin Oswald)

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