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MOHAMMED HOSSAM

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World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year. The day to recognize the importance of earth's most precious natural resource was proposed 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. While we often take water for granted, many cannot. And water plays a role in almost everything we do. We drink it, wash in it, play in it, generate power with it, irrigate crops with it, travel and transport goods on it, fight fires with it, and worship with it. Gathered here are images of water from the last year in all its uses, in scarcity and in abundance. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
A child bathes from a public tap in his neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on March 6, 2012. A UNICEF report says unhygienic conditions cause an estimated 1. 2 million child deaths before the age of five from diarrhea worldwide every year. The report says in urban areas access to improved water and sanitation is not keeping pace with population growth. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)

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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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LETTING IN THE LIGHT
LETTING IN THE LIGHT: Acid-attack survivor Memoona, 23 years old, posed for a picture Wednesday in her Karachi, Pakistan, home. The nursing student lost an eye when a boy threw acid on her over an old family feud. New laws explicitly criminalize the attacks. (Insiya Syed/Reuters)

WINDY
WINDY: Visitors braced themselves as Marine One departed the White House in Washington Wednesday, carrying President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. Mr. Obama was en route to speak with troops in Fort Bragg, N.C., after they arrived from Iraq. (Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency)

MOURNING PERIOD
MOURNING PERIOD: Women comforted each other in Liege, Belgium, Wednesday. Police said grenade-lobbing gunman Nordine Amrani killed two teenage boys and a toddler at a shopping plaza Tuesday. Authorities also found a fourth victim, a woman, in his garage. The suspect fatally shot himself. (Marius Becker/DPA/Zuma Press)

STUCK ON
STUCK ON: Etibar Elchiyev posed with utensils stuck to his body in Tbilisi, Georgia, Wednesday. Mr. Elchiyev was attempting to break the Guinness record for most spoons on a body. (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)

STANDING FOR YULIA
STANDING FOR YULIA: Supporters of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko gathered outside a court in Kiev Wednesday. Ms. Tymoshenko did not appear at the hearing. She is appealing a seven-year sentence after she was found guilty of abuse of office while negotiating a gas contract with Russia. (Sergei Chuzavkov/Associated Press)

IN THE FRAY
IN THE FRAY: A security official tried to control a crowd that gathered outside a polling station in Giza, Egypt, Wednesday. Voters poured into polling stations for the second round of parliamentary voting. (Mohammed Hossam/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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Hours after violent clashes between masses of protesters and police, Egyptians swarmed the polls early this week for the beginning rounds of parliamentary elections. They are the first elections since a prodemocracy uprising ousted longtime president Hosni Mubarak from office earlier this year. The poll stations have been remarkably peaceful, despite the simmering anger over the military’s extended role in running the government. In contrast, the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential and legislative elections this week were beset by fraud, some observers say. In one town, rebel fighters attacked a polling place, killing at least five people and burning ballots. The voting was Congo's second since the end of the country's last war and the first organized by the government rather than the international community. -- Lloyd Young
(30 photos total)
A man waits outside a polling station to cast his vote during parliamentary elections in Cairo Nov. 28. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

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RURAL FUEL
RURAL FUEL: A villager arranged cow dung to dry in Allahabad, India, Tuesday. The cow chips are a major source of fuel for rural households. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press)

INK-STAINED
INK-STAINED: A man dipped his finger in ink at a polling station in Cairo’s Shubra neighborhood Tuesday. Voter turnout was still high on the second and final day of the first round of parliamentary voting in Egypt. (Mohammed Hossam/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

EMBASSY RUN
EMBASSY RUN: Police chased some protesters from the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday. Students stormed the complex two days after Iranian Parliament approved a bill that reduces diplomatic relations with Britain. (Reuters)

TROUBLED ELECTION
TROUBLED ELECTION: An election worker sat a polling station in Lubumbashi, Congo, Tuesday. Officials extended voting to a second day after the first day was marred by missing ballots, violence and accusations of fraud. President Joseph Kabila’s term expires next week. (Phil Moore/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

UNDER COVER
UNDER COVER: Men worked in the Silberberg Tunnel near Grossbreitenbach, Germany, Tuesday. (Martin Schutt/DPA/Zuma Press)

ON PATROL
ON PATROL: Congolese army forces patrolled in Saki, Congo, Tuesday. The armed forces were deployed after several attacks in the country during an election. (Simon Maina/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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Shaking off years of political apathy, Egyptians turned out in long lines at voting stations Monday in the first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a giant step toward what they hope will be a democracy after decades of dictatorship.

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