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Nicolas Sarkozy

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GUTTED: An aerial view shows a home burned during the Lower North Fork Wildfire near Denver Tuesday. Two people have died and a third is missing in the fire, which forced hundreds to evacuate the mountains southwest of Denver. (Joe Amon/Denver Post//Associated Press)

BONJOUR: French President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted a local woman during a visit to the medieval city of Guerande, in western France, Tuesday. He is in the middle of a re-election campaign. (Michel Euler/Associated Press)

BLOCKED: Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson blocked a shot by the Philadelphia Flyers’ Erik Gustafsson, of Sweden, in the first period of the teams’ game Monday in Philadelphia. Tampa Bay won, 5-3. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

ASHEN: A man examined the interior of a burned-out bus in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday. Unidentified men torched the bus and some two dozen other vehicles in Karachi Tuesday, hours after gunmen killed a political activist, police and firefighters said. (Arshad/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

INTERESTING GIG: A window-washer worked on the outside of the 94th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center Monday. More than 30 workers on the window-cleaning team of the skyscraper work in pairs every day. (ChinaFotoPress/Zuma Press)

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Earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta indicated that American forces in Afghanistan would be accelerating their withdrawal. "Hopefully by the mid-to-latter part of 2013," Panetta said, "we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advice, and assist role." This announcement came shortly after the Taliban declared its plans to open a political office in Qatar, allowing for direct peace negotiations. At the moment, the U.S. still has 90,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, with 22,000 scheduled to return home later this year. 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]

Men of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, during an operation near the end of their third deployment in three years in Afghanistan. They were securing route 611, which runs Kajaki Sofla, an area that had long been a safe haven for insurgent sub-commanders and for arms and drug trafficking. (Cpl. James Clark/USMC)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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THROWING STONES: A Palestinian child threw stones toward Israeli border guards during clashes in Shuafat, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Thursday. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A ROUGH PATCH: A statue of Umm Kulthum, a deceased Egyptian singer, wore an eye patch Thursday. Someone placed the patch there to symbolize protesters wounded in clashes with security forces during recent protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square before parliamentary elections. (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press)

A MIGHTY WIND: Keith Curo looked at a damaged Shell gas station in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday. Some of the worst winds in years blasted through California overnight, gusting up to 97 mph, toppling trees and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people. (Bret Hartman/Associated Press)

UP, THEN DOWN: A trader worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Stocks fell following reports that Germany would continue to oppose common euro-zone debt and after comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the crisis enveloping Europe. (Jin Lee/Bloomberg)

SWEPT AWAY: Workers at a Canon manufacturing factory swept the ground outside their workplace in Ayutthaya Province, Thailand, Thursday. Manufacturing is resuming in Thailand as floodwaters have receded. (Rachen Sageamsak/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

BILLOWING BLACK SMOKE: Firefighters worked to extinguish a fire at United Bank Limited in downtown Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday. According to local reports, the blaze started due to an electrical short circuit. (Khaqan Khawer/European Pressphoto Agency)

FIRESIDE: Supporters of South Ossetian presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva warmed themselves near a fire during a rally in Tskhinvali, Georgia, Thursday. A court threw out results that had the candidate leading and barred her from competing in a new election in March. (Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters)

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SEARCH AND RESCUE: A National Disaster Response Force member climbed out of a damaged school’s window in Chungthang, India, Thursday. Rescuers are trying to reach victims of Sunday’s 6.9-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 100 people in India, Nepal and Tibet. (Manan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

SENIORS AT A STOCK EXCHANGE: Pensioners received a guided tour of the Madrid Stock Exchange as stocks skidded Thursday. (Paul White/Associated Press)

BUTTON PUSHERS: Deputies voted during the last session of the term in the Spanish Parliament in Madrid Thursday. The Parliament restored a deficit-reducing wealth tax before dissolving to make way for a Nov. 20 general election that opposition conservatives are favored to win. (Sergio Barrenechea/European Pressphoto Agency)

ADAPTING: Fernando Cruz Vega, 3 years old, played cards in a shanty in Comas, Peru, Wednesday. Fernando’s mother traveled from rural Peru to seek therapy for her son, who was born without arms. (Mariana Bazo/Reuters)

CLOSE SHAVE: Haji, a baker, got a shave from a roadside barber in a Mumbai slum Thursday. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

AT THE PODIUM: French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke during a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security at the U.N. headquarters in New York Thursday. Mr. Sarkozy also visited the Statue of Liberty, along with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

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In the month of July, 54 coalition soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, including 32 Americans. This was as the United States began drawing down its forces, with some 10,000 U.S. troops due to pull out by the end of the year. Currently, the U.S. has some 150,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. This month also saw an escalation in recent assassinations claimed by the Taliban, as both the mayor of Kandahar and President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, were killed. The assassinations and continued suicide attacks are heightening uncertainty in the face of troop withdrawals, despite assurances from both coalition and Afghan officials. Gathered here are images from the ongoing conflict over the past 31 days, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [41 photos]

Members of the Third Platoon, Bravo Battery of the Automatic Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, light up the Zabul province night firing their M777A2 howitzer at suspected enemy movements from Forward Operating Base Pasab, Zharay District, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on July 20, 2011. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Christopher McCann)

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HOT IN CHICAGO: Mary Ware cooled off with a fan as she waited for a ride to dialysis treatment in Chicago Thursday. She said she can’t afford air conditioning. Forecasters issued high-heat warnings for a huge section of the country, from Kansas to Massachusetts. (Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press)

CUTTING OUT TERRORISM: Security officials diffused what was believed to be a suicide vest on a suspected Taliban militant after he was killed by militiamen in the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday. (Arshad Arbab/European Pressphoto Agency)

TALKING POINTS: German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Berlin Wednesday. The pair reached a deal over a fresh bailout for Greece ahead of a euro-zone summit in Brussels Thursday. (Tobias Schwarz/Reuters)

PACKED IN: Job seekers packed an annual job fair in Stavropol, Russia, Thursday. Russian unemployment fell to its lowest level in nearly three years in June, according to recently released figures. (Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters)

DOE-EYED: A woman carried her baby as she waited for food at a refugee camp for displaced people in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday. Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government established the camp. (Stuart Price/African Union/United Nations/Reuters)

TRYING HIS LUCK: A man ‘wrestled’ a crocodile at the Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm near Pattaya, Thailand, Thursday. (Tom Howell/Whitehotpix/Zuma Press)

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He was beaten with sticks, his gear smashed and his hand broken, it was then an armed man instructed the mob to kill him. Ahmad fled for his life escaping into a nearby house where he successfully...

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