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Susana Vera

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WSJ Staff

In today’s pictures, a firefighter careens through rapids in Kentucky, a dancer stretches before an audition in Madrid, riot police secure an embassy in Yemen, and more.

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For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have recently evacuated or otherwise abandoned a number of places around the world -- large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to vanish from the planet altogether. Collected here are recent scenes from nuclear-exclusion zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence, unsold developments built during the real estate boom, ghost towns, and more. [41 photos]

A tree grows from the top of a chimney in an abandoned factory yard in Luque, on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, on October 2 , 2011. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

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SWEATING BEADS
SWEATING BEADS: Beads of perspiration dropped from the face of Spain’s Rafael Nadal during a match against the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday. Mr. Nadal won. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

CHALLENGING PUTIN
CHALLENGING PUTIN: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin instructed a boy during a judo demonstration in Kemerovo, Russia, Tuesday. (Reuters)

MOVING HOUSE
MOVING HOUSE: Workers lifted a Habitat house over a fence from a South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Columbia, S.C., Monday. Youths at the facility worked with volunteers to build the home for a woman whose son suffers from cerebral palsy. (Gerry Melendez/the State/Associated Press)

A MOCKERY OF JUSTICE
A MOCKERY OF JUSTICE: A demonstrator motioned to a doll bearing the likeness of former dictator Gen. Francisco Franco as he held up a banner of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon at Madrid’s Supreme Court Tuesday. The judge is being tried for probing alleged atrocities around Spain’s 1936-39 civil war, which brought Mr. Franco to power. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

TEARFUL TESTIMONY
TEARFUL TESTIMONY: Audrey Mabrey wiped tears away as she testified Tuesday in Tampa., Fla., against her husband, Christopher Hanney, who allegedly set her on fire. (Kathleen Flynn/Tampa Bay Times/Zuma Press)

FATHER AND SON
FATHER AND SON: A boy rested next to his father at a hospital after they were wounded in a car bombing in the Sadr City area of Baghdad Tuesday. A series of car bombs exploded in Shiite areas, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens, an interior ministry official said. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TANGLED UP
TANGLED UP: Iceland’s Robert Gunnarsson lay on the ground during a game against Spain at the European Handball Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia, Tuesday. (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters)

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WARNING: SOME IMAGES CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT OR NUDITY
From the uprisings across the Arab world to the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, there was no lack of news in 2011. Reuters photographers covered the breaking news events as well as captured more intimate, personal stories. In this showcase, the photographers offer a behind the scenes account of the images that helped define the year.

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The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow and has now spread across the world, motivating thousands to voice their anger at financial and social inequality, and in some places merging with existing anti-government protests. On Saturday, a global "Day of Rage" was observed, and demonstrations took place in more than 80 countries around the world. Protesters took their messages and anger to the streets from Hong Kong to Fairbanks, from Miami to London, from Berlin to Sydney, and hundreds more cities large and small. The demonstrations were largely peaceful -- with the exception of some violent clashes in Rome. Collected here are some images from the past several days as the Occupy Wall Street message continues to resonate and grow. [50 photos]

A participant protests with a mock 500 euro bill during a demonstration to support the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in Munich southern Germany, on October 15, 2011. Protestors gathered at many major European cities Saturday to join in demonstrations against corporate greed and inequality.(AP Photo/Joerg Koch)

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BLUSTERY
BLUSTERY: A man displaced by flooding rushed toward a helicopter to receive air-dropped supplies in Badin, Pakistan, Monday. Millions of Pakistanis have been affected by monsoon flooding. (Rehan Khan/European Pressphoto Agency)

JUST ABOUT READY
JUST ABOUT READY: A model got some finishing touches before walking in designer Montse Bassons’s spring/summer 2012 collection show at Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week Monday. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

CLEARING A PATH
CLEARING A PATH: A woman moved fallen stones Monday in Kathmandu, Nepal, after an earthquake struck Nepal, northeast India and Tibet Sunday. At least 53 people were killed. Rescue workers dug through mudslides as they struggled to reach thousands of villagers. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)

RESTOCKING
RESTOCKING: People released rare and endangered Chinese sturgeon into the Yangtze River in Yichang, Hubei Province, China, Monday. (Liu Shusong/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

IN THE SHADOWS
IN THE SHADOWS: Protesters demonstrated outside the New York Stock Exchange Monday. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

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SMILING POPE
SMILING POPE: Madrid Archbishop Antonio Maria Rouco Varela watched as Pope Benedict XVI put on a hat at a welcoming ceremony there as part of World Youth Day festivities Thursday. In hard-hit Spain, the pope denounced the profit-at-all-cost mentality that is behind Europe’s economic crisis. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

THUMBS-UP
THUMBS-UP: Vice President Joe Biden and his granddaughter Naomi Biden, left, visited a restaurant in Beijing Thursday. Mr. Biden will visit China, Mongolia and Japan. (Ng han Guan-Pool/Getty Images)

REBEL RESTS
REBEL RESTS: A rebel took cover from mortar shelling in an unfinished mosque near Sabratha, Libya, Wednesday. Rebels claimed control of the city. Meanwhile, explosions shook the capital Thursday, possibly striking near Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s compound. (Marc Hofer/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

DISTRAUGHT
DISTRAUGHT: Bibi Hur cried over her injured daughter at a hospital in Herat, Afghanistan, Thursday. The woman lost three of her children and two were injured by a roadside bomb that killed at least 21 passengers traveling on a minibus in Obe, Afghanistan. (Hoshang Hashimi/Associated Press)

CABBAGE PATCH
CABBAGE PATCH: A woman harvested cabbages in a field at a state farm on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, Thursday. (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)

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Most of us don't get enough sleep. "As the world is getting faster and crazier, I've noticed sleepers around the streets, just everywhere," writes photographer Romain Philippon. "Of course, I also see some poetry and dreamings in all of that, but the contrast is so interesting to me, people trying to escape to their condition…" Philippon is self-publishing a book on the topic called "Inconscience". The first eight photographs in this entry are from that book. Collected here as well are more photographs of people everywhere lucky enough to find a few winks. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)
Delivery man, in front of a shop, Kolkata, India © Romain Philippon

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