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Jeff J Mitchell

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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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Around the globe people celebrated with fireworks, kisses, toasts, cheers, and plunges into icy bodies of water to welcome the new year. Here's a look at how some of them marked the transition. -- Lloyd Young ( 39 photos total)
A woman celebrates the new year as she watches fireworks exploding above Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 1. More than two million people gathered along Rio's most famous beach to witness the 20-minute display and celebrate the beginning of a new year. (Pilar Olivares/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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Today marks the halfway point of the 70-day Olympic Torch relay through the United Kingdom. Since arriving in Cornwall on May 18, the flame has been carried through villages and cities, across lakes and mountain ranges, on foot, by train, on horseback, and through the air, from Cornwall to the Shetland Islands. By the time it reaches London to launch the 2012 Summer Olympics in 35 days, the torch will have passed through the hands of 8,000 torchbearers. [31 photos]

Torchbearer Peter Jack holds the Olympic Flame aloft on the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim on day 17 of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay on June 4, 2012 near Belfast, Northern Ireland. (LOCOG via Getty Images)

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With well over a year before American forces pull out of Afghanistan, the conflict there drags on. Every month in The Big Picture, we feature a selection of recent images of events there, from the soldiers and insurgents at war, the people longing for peace, and daily life and culture in the country of 29 million. Afghanistan remains among the world's poorest nations, and struggles with issues not found in other places, like an ongoing fight against polio. Afghanistan still supplies about 90% of the world's opium, a major cash crop in a country with few viable exports. Gathered here are images from April, 2012. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)
Afghan policemen are mirrored in glass from a broken window as they stand guard outside the building where Taliban fighters launched an attack in Kabul on April 16, 2012. A total of 36 Taliban militants were killed as they mounted a wave of attacks across Afghanistan. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

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Christians commemorated the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday, a holiday that marks the end of Holy Week and the end of Lent. Observances around the world bring a diversity of traditions as varied as the countries celebrating. Eastern Orthodox Christians will observe Easter on April 15. Gathered here are images of Christians during Holy Week and Easter, including reenactments of the Crucifixion, pilgrimages, baptisms, sunrise services, and more. -- Lane Turner (37 photos total)
A girl wears an angel costume during Blood of Christ celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua on March 30, 2012. (Esteban Felix/Associated Press)

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A massive demonstration of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo today to mark the anniversary of the uprising that eventually led to the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Political divides are still in force with liberals and Islamists differing on their visions for the future of the country. Mubarak is now on trial for complicity in the deaths of protesters. The uprising in Egypt last year was one of the initial protests of what is called the Arab Spring, which has included the slaying of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy and the ongoing protests in Syria. -- Lloyd Young (31 photos total)
Egyptians gather in their thousands in Tahrir Square to mark the one year anniversary of the revolution on Jan. 25, 2012 in Cairo Egypt. Tens of thousands have gathered in the square on the first anniversary of the Arab uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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SHIPSHAPE
SHIPSHAPE: Workmen painted and repaired the Royal Yacht Britannia in a dry dock at Forth Ports on Friday in Edinburgh, Scotland. The yacht has been power washed to remove barnacles and is currently getting three coats of paint that will protect it for years to come. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

DEVOTION
DEVOTION: Hindu pilgrims took a dip at the confluence of the Ganges River and the Bay of Bengal at Sagar Island, south of Kolkata, on Friday. Hindu monks and pilgrims are making an annual trip to Sagar Island for the one-day festival of Makar Sankranti. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

AWAITING EVICTION
AWAITING EVICTION: Residents of the Pinheirinho slum in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, stood ready to defend their neighborhood from police they expected to arrive with a court order to evict them on Friday. (Marcelo Alves/Reuters)

POLIO FREE
POLIO FREE: Babloo, a 14-year old Indian boy affected by polio, waited to get his brace at the Delhi Council for Child Welfare Orthopedics center in New Delhi on Friday. India marked a year since its last case of polio Friday. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

READY TO RIDE
READY TO RIDE: Indian soldiers trained on stunt motorcycles in preparation for an upcoming Republic Day parade in New Delhi Friday. Republic Day is Jan. 26. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)

MOURNING A STATESMAN
MOURNING A STATESMAN: Firefighters unfurled a large American flag outside St. Peter the Apostle Church in Parsippany, N.J., before the funeral of Assemblyman Alex DeCroce on Friday. Mr. DeCroce, 75, the top Republican in the state Assembly, died Monday night. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

HELP ON THE WAY
HELP ON THE WAY: Victims of ethnic violence in Jonglei, South Sudan, waited for emergency food rations at the World Food Program distribution center in Pibor. The International Organization for Migration said Friday that a convoy of four trucks carrying supplies is en route to Pibor. (Michael Onyiego/Associated Press)

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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