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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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Pope Benedict XVI is back in Rome following his week-long-travels to Mexico and Cuba. In reviewing almost 4,000 images that documented his historic travels to the two countries, I decided to concentrate on Cuba, a country that because of travel restrictions, still remains a bit of a mystery to most of us. The first image, though, shows the Pope traveling to Cristo Rey sanctuary in Mexico to lead the holy mass celebration. The Pope urged the faithful to seek a humble and pure heart and trust in God in the face of evil. While in Cuba, in the heart of Revolution Square, with the towering images of guerrilla heroes staring back at him, the Pope called for "authentic freedom" in one of the world's most authoritarian states. Benedict's visit comes 14 years after the historic first papal trip to Cuba by Pope John Paul II, a visit that yielded an era of greater religious expression. – Paula Nelson (50 photos total)
Pope Benedict XVI looks from the helicopter at the Cristo Rey sanctuary as arrives to lead the holy mass celebration at the Parque del Bicentenario in Silao, March 25, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI sought to boost the Catholic faith in the face of violence and other challenges on his first visit to Mexico, receiving eager support from vast crowds of Mexicans. (Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images)

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Kufow Ali Abdi, 51, holds the body of his three-year-old daughter, Kadija, in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 28, 2011. Kadija had died of starvation. The al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape al-Shabab territory.

South Korean army soldiers remove muddy water after a landslide, caused by heavy rains, hit the area around an apartment complex in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 29, 2011. Tens of thousands of South Korean firefighters, soldiers, police officers and other workers Friday continued to clean up walls of mud and search for possible survivors in hard-hit areas, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Washington. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise.

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Kufow Ali Abdi, 51, holds the body of his three-year-old daughter, Kadija, in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 28, 2011. Kadija had died of starvation. The al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape al-Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

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A man gets a haircut in Central Havana, July 26, 2011. The area is one of the most heavily populated of the Cuban capital since many of these old buildings have been subdivided to house multiple families. Experts say that even with some state controls, property sales, announced recently by the government that some would be permitted, could transform Cuba more than any other economic reform announced by President Raul Castro's government. (The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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South Korean army soldiers remove muddy water after a landslide, caused by heavy rains, hit the area around an apartment complex in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 29, 2011. Tens of thousands of South Korean firefighters, soldiers, police officers and other workers Friday continued to clean up walls of mud and search for possible survivors in hard-hit areas, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) #

 August 5, 2011

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Women prepare a meal on the site of their home, destroyed by last year's floods, next to their temporary accomodation one year on, on July 29, 2011 in the village of Basti Jagwala Shoki, near Muzaffargarh, Pakistan. A year ago, monsoon rains caused flooding which ravaged Pakistan causing the worst natural disaster since its inception in 1947. Flood waters submerged a fifth of the countryside, equivalent to the size of England, affecting over 20 million people, displacing over 4 million and killing 2000. Millions lost their homes, farms and livelihoods. But the crisis still continues, as hundreds of thousands of people still remain homeless. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

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A malnourished child in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 27, 2011. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

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Kieren Fallon riding Hoof It win the Blue Square Stewards' Cup at Goodwood racecourse on July 30, 2011 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images) #

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A stunt rider of Red Bull X-Fighters performs during a show in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, July 30, 2011. The Red Bull X-Fighters is one of the biggest Freestyle Motocross Championship riders in the world. (AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena) #

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A Filipino Muslim woman enters a mosque to pray during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in suburban Paranaque, south of Manila, Philippines on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. During Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) #

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In this picture taken Thursday, July 28, 2011, Hindu pilgrims are carried on palanquins by Muslim bearers over a glacier near Amarnath Cave,150 kilometers (93 miles) from Srinagar, India. At least half a million devotees make the pilgrimage to the icy cave which lies 13,500 feet (4,115 meters) above sea level in Indian-controlled Kashmir amid tight security. Hindus worship a stalagmite inside the cave as an incarnation of the Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) #

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Gwynne Chapin, foreground right, hands an ice cream cone to Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Bryan Hall (68) from her truck as his teammates wait in line for their orders following NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) #

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A Nepalese Muslim prays on the second day of the holy fasting month Ramadan at a mosque in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. Muslims are a minority in this predominantly Hindu nation. Official data indicates only 4.3 percent of the country's 27 million people are Muslim. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha) #

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The Malecon, Havana's seaside bouleveard, July 28, 2011. Cuba as a country has been seemingly locked in time since its revolution. But through a labyrinth of rations, regulations, two currencies and four markets (peso, hard currency, agro and black), people make their way, though the going is hard. The world economic crisis plunged Cuba into an abyss not seen since the years after the Soviet Union collapsed. Before that, the island of 11 million people suffered decades of economic deterioration.(The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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Peninah Pechenik (C), from Buffalo, New York, leans around to take a closer look of wax figures of (L-R) U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey while visiting Madame Tussauds Wax Museum on Obama's 50th birthday August 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. On Obama's 50th birthday, the replica Oval Office at Madame Tussauds was decorated with party balloons, streamers and presents, while the figures the Obamas, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey were outfitted with party hats and noisemakers. . (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) #

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An electronic board displays trading activity on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 in New York. The Dow plunged nearly 513 points Thursday, its biggest point decline since Oct. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Jin Lee) #

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An old house that has been subdivided and is in use by several families, known as a "solar," in central Havana, July 29, 2011. Experts say that even with some state controls, property sales, announced recently by the government that some would be permitted, could transform Cuba more than any other economic reform announced by President Raul Castro's government. (The New York Times) #

 August 5, 2011

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An Afghan carries his belongings as he passes burning fuel tankers in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. Police said around five fuel tankers carrying fuel for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan caught fire inside a depot in Kabul. No casualties were reported, and it was not immediately clear what caused the fire.( AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

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An Indonesian woman reads a copy of the Koran on the fourth day of Ramadan at the Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta on August 4, 2011. Like millions of Muslim around the world, Indonesians celebrated the month of Ramadan by abstaining from eating, drinking, and smoking as well as sexual activities from dawn to dusk. AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY #

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This video image taken from Egyptian State Television shows 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak laying on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom Wednesday Aug. 3, 2011 as his historic trial began on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. The scene, shown live on Egypt's state TV, was Egyptians' first look at their former president since Feb. 10, the day before his fall when he gave a defiant speech refusing to resign. (AP Photo/Egyptian State TV) #

 August 5, 2011

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Cristina Alfaro Mejia, whose husband and daughter were killed by soldiers during a massacre in the community of Dos Erres in 1982, holds a rose while waiting to the sentence in Guatemala City, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. The court sentenced three former special forces soldiers to 6,060 years in prison each for the massacre of more than 200 men, women and children, one of hundreds that occurred during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996. Some 240,000 people, mostly Mayan Indians, vanished or died.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

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In this image from House Television, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., appears on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Washington. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise. (AP Photo/House Television) #

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Malaysian jellyfish swim in a tank at the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo on August 1, 2011. The aquarium loacted on the top of a building, will be reopened on August 4 following a one year renovation. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO #

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A man performs the traditional "El Torito" dance at the Rabin Ajau National Folkloric Festival and Indian beauty contest in Coban, Guatemala, Saturday July 30, 2011. Unlike traditional beauty contests, the panel of judges not only value the participants' leadership skills, but their commitment to the rescue and maintenance of Mayan values. The Rabin Ajau, or Queen Daughter, contestants, whose ages range from 14-26 years, go through numerous rounds of competition, including a speech that must be given in their native dialect and Spanish. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

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U.S. Marine Sgt. Myron Ellis, 26, of Sacramento, Calif., with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, looks out from under a tent at a mountain top outpost called The Shrine Saturday, July 30, 2011 in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #

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An Indian bicycle rickshaw puller sleeps after stopping in a water-logged underpass during monsoon rain in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. India receives the annual monsoon rains from June to September. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

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U.S. Marine Cpl. Abraham Willis, 22, of Beech Bottom, W. Va., with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and his IED detection dog Preacher ride in the back of a wagon as they are shuttled over a bridge for a foot patrol at sunrise in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #

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Romanian brides pose for pictures at the Triumph Arch in Bucharest, Romania, early Sunday, July 31, 2011. The arch, a replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the French capital, is a rendezvous place for brides after midnight on the wedding night during the stealing of the bride ritual. The ritual, of ancient origin, is performed by wedding guests who take the bride away from the party and then demand a ransom from the groom, usually money or alcoholic drinks, to return her.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #

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An Indian farmer works in a rice paddy field near Saputara Hill Station some 400 kms from Ahmedabad on July 30, 2011. The strength of the annual June-September downpour is vital to hundreds of millions of farmers and to economic growth in Asia's third-largest economy which gets 80 percent of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season. TOPSHOTS / AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY #

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A boy sleeps on a wall at a bus station during 'Iftar', when Muslims break their fast, on the third day of the holy month of Ramadan on August 4, 2011 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Ramadan, the month in which the holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Mohammad, is observed by devout Muslims who abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset, when they break the fast with the meal known as Iftar. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

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