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Radovan Stoklasa

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Heavy rainfall over Europe during the the past week has swollen many rivers past their flood stage, wreaking havoc unseen in decades across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. At least 18 people across the region have been killed, and tens of thousands have been evacuated. In Germany, the crest of the Elbe River is now approaching the North Sea, as the swollen Danube River is surging toward the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Collected here are images from the past several days of those affected by these historic floods, even as meteorologists predict more rain over the coming weekend. [36 photos]

The city hall of Grimma, Germany, surrounded by floodwater, on June 3, 2013. Flooding has spread across a large area of central Europe following heavy rainfall in recent days. Eastern and southern Germany are suffering under floods that in some cases are the worst in 400 years. Tens of thousands of Germans, Hungarians and Czechs were evacuated from their homes as soldiers raced to pile up sandbags to hold back rising waters in the region. (AP Photo/dpa, Jens Wolf)     

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A last blast before the observance of Lent, Carnival has evolved in many parts of the world with Christian traditions to be the biggest party of the year. Traditions vary from country to country, and even from region to region, but most places celebrate with a parade filled with masks, music, and ecstatic revelers. The world's biggest party happens in Rio de Janeiro, where millions fill the streets as the parade enters the Sambadrome. Collected here are pictures of Carnival in many forms as celebrated in various parts of Europe, Latin America, and North America. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 20, 2012. Millions watched the sequin-clad samba dancers at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Carnival parade. (Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press)

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Around the world, the LGBT community celebrates in environments ranging from welcoming to tolerant to violently hostile. Many cities stage gay pride parades on or around June 28, the anniversary of New York's Stonewall Inn uprising in 1969 -- what many consider the beginning of the gay rights movement. New York enjoyed its parade this year on June 26, a celebration given added spirit with the legalization of gay marriage in New York state two days earlier. Some communities in the world still meet with resistance, with activists assaulted and arrested in Russian cities, and an Indian health minister describing homosexuality as a "disease" three days after the New Delhi pride parade on July 2. Collected here are photographs of people celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered pride around the world.

The Big Picture offers special thanks to Charles Meacham for making his photographs available. -- Lane Turner (43 photos total)


People take part in the gay pride parade on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on June 26, 2011. (Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images)

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