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Mark Ralston

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Time once more for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet. Today's photos include Iranian dog owners under pressure, a bloom of mayflies, Kim Jong-un visiting Breeding Station No. 621, animals fleeing recent fires and floods, and a dachshund receiving acupuncture therapy. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers, part of an ongoing series on animals in the news. [38 photos]

James Hyslop, a Scientific Specialist at Christie's auction house holds a complete sub-fossilised elephant bird egg on March 27, 2013 in London, England. The massive egg, from the now-extinct elephant bird sold for $101,813 at Christie's "Travel, Science and Natural History" sale, on April 24, 2013 in London. Elephant birds were wiped out several hundred years ago. The egg, laid on the island of Madagascar, is believed to date back before the 17th century. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)     

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China’s communist leaders are promising to revolutionize the world’s second largest economy and move on from being the world’s workshop. Unlike most communist governments, China’s one-party state has survived by embracing capitalism to deliver new wealth. Chinese officials recently reported they would reach their target for annual economic growth of 7.5 percent this year despite [...]

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New leaders emerge in China but once a decade. The 18th Party Congress concluded with the ascension of Xi Jinping to the top leadership posts. The meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing's Tiananmen Square drew delegates to formalize the power transfer and led citizens to wait for news. Pictured here are scenes from inside the gathering, and from outside the hall as China anticipated the next ruler of the largest country on earth. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)
A passenger watches a television screen showing Xi Jinping on a subway train in Shanghai on November 15, 2012. Xi vowed to fight official corruption and build a "better life" for the nation's 1.3 billion people. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

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China, the most populous country and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. In this, the latest entry in a semi-regular series on China, we find images of tremendous variety, including astronauts, nomadic herders, replica European villages, pole dancers, RV enthusiasts, traditional farmers, and inventors. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [47 photos]

Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, waves during a departure ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, on June 16, 2012. China sent its first woman taikonaut into outer space this week, prompting a surge of national pride as the rising power takes its latest step towards putting a space station in orbit within the decade. Liu, a 33-year-old fighter pilot, joined two other taikonauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft when it lifted off from a remote Gobi Desert launch site. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

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For well over a hundred years, people have hopped on bicycles for transportation, recreation, competition, and more. In many parts of the world, spinning pedals moves goods and generates electricity. While usually attached to two wheels, pedal power takes many forms, adapting to a wide range of needs. Globally, over 100 million bicycles are produced every year - over 60% of them in China - easily doubling world production of automobiles. Efficient, clean, and cheap, pedal power in all its forms can solve modern problems with basic technology, and offers a health benefit to those cranking away. And it's hard to beat the simple joy of riding a bike. Gathered here are images of people around the world as we pedal for a reason, or just because. -- Lane Turner (49 photos total)
A boy rides his bicycle near rice fields in Bago, Myanmar on February 20, 2012. (STR/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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Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day, an event established by the United Nations in 1993 to highlight the challenges associated with this precious resource. Each year has a theme, and this year's is "Water and Food Security." The UN estimates that more than one in six people worldwide lack access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. And as the world's population grows beyond 7 billion, clean water is growing scarcer in densely populated areas as well as in remote villages. Collected here are recent images showing water in our lives -- how we use it, abuse it, and depend on it. [36 photos]

A journalist takes a sample of polluted red water from the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, China, on December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution were two illegal chemical plants discharging their production wastewater into the rain sewer pipes. (Reuters/China Daily)

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The Chinese Lantern Festival takes place on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. As they mark the end of the Spring Festival, celebrants create colorful lanterns, set off fireworks, and hold parades. In one village, residents hurl molten metal against a wall to create an impressive display of sparks in a 300-year-old tradition. Gathered below are some vibrant images from this year's Chinese Lantern Festival. [29 photos]

A blacksmith throws molten metal against a cold wall to create sparks, as he and others celebrate the Lantern Festival which traditionally marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations, in Nuanquan, Hebei province, China, on February 6, 2012. For over 300 years, the village, which is famous for its blacksmith skills, has maintained the tradition which they consider a cheaper alternative to buying fireworks during the Lantern Festival. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

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