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Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for expressions of love and affection. The traditional western holiday has spread to many countries around the globe, despite some efforts by religious and cultural groups to fight its adoption. Valentine's Day spending in the U.S. this year is expected to reach nearly $15 billion -- $2 billion of it on flowers alone. Ninety percent of the flowers Americans will give to their sweethearts are imported, and nearly all of those imports originate in Colombia and Ecuador. Included in today's posting is an 18-photo series depicting the voyage of the roses from South American farm to florists worldwide. [37 photos]

A couple kisses during a flashmob organized by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the Russian city of Stavropol, on February 13, 2012. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)

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Water is essential to life but in such places as India, Pakistan, China, and Thailand deluges have once again caused misery. Typhoon Nesat hit the Philippines earlier this week on its way to south China. In Pakistan, more than 5 million people have been affected by recent flooding, according to the aid agency Oxfam. Pakistan is still struggling to recover from the devastating monsoon rains in 2010. -- Lloyd Young(36 photos total)
A village boy sits on the banks of the swelling Daya River, near Pipli village, about 25 kilometers from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneshwar Sept. 9. The flood situation in Orissa state worsened with the release of more water downstream from Hirakud dam, according to a news agency. A high alert has been sounded in 11 districts of the state. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)

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