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The lunar new year is celebrated throughout the world, but especially in Asia when the lunisolar calendar ticks off a new cycle. This year is the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese zodiac, and is viewed as very auspicious. In China, the holiday is known as 春节, the Spring Festival, and kicks off 15 days of celebration. It also triggers the largest human migration in the world, as hundreds of millions of Chinese trek to see families. Gathered here are images of the preparation for the holiday, the travel scene in mainland China, and celebrations in many parts of the world. 新年快乐! -- Lane Turner/雷恩 (38 photos total)
Chinese folk artists perform the lion dance at a temple fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 22, 2012 in Beijing. Also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar calendar, it is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with the Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

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The Hajj pilgrimage draws millions of Muslims from around the world every year to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's holiest place. Saudi Arabia expects to host perhaps three million people in a ritual journey that every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make at least once in their lifetime. It is the largest annual gathering of humanity anywhere. Timed to the Muslim lunar calendar, the Hajj is followed by the celebrations of the three-day festival of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which symbolizes Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Collected here are photographs of the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as images of preparations for the Hajj and Eid al-Adha in many other parts of the Muslim world. -- Lane Turner (42 photos total)
A Muslim pilgrim prays as visits the Hiraa cave at the top of Noor Mountain on the outskirts of Mecca, Saudi Arabia on November 2, 2011. According to tradition, Islam's Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while he was praying in the cave. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

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Erupting volcanoes, drug wars, famine in Niger, aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, children suffering from Agent Orange disabilities, abortions performed by untrained practitioners in Kenya but also lucha libre for women, traveling cinema in India and couchsurfing in Brooklyn continue

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Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, lies on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron as he appears in a Cairo courtroom. The scene, shown live on state television, is the country’s first look at their ousted ex-president since February when he gave a defiant speech refusing to resign, the day before he resigned.

With the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks a little more than a month away, One World Trade Center towers over the lower Manhattan skyline. The skyscraper, under construction, has reached 76 floors with 28 to go.

In Brazil, demonstrators in São Paulo march to demand a reduction of hours in the workweek; the first print of a Macrobian World Map from Ambrosius Macrobius’s 1483 incunabulum “In Somnium Scipionis Expositio. Saturnalia” depicting the Great South Land now known as Australia is part of a collection of rare books and maps detailing the search for Australia being offered for sale; while in Texas, the dry bed of O.C. Fisher Lake bakes and cracks in the hot sun. Long periods of 100-degree-plus temperatures combined with a dearth of rain in the drought-stricken region over the past few years have almost entirely dried up a reservoir that once spanned over 5,400 acres.

In Switzerland, the 64th Locarno Film Festival opens on a clear summer evening at the city’s Piazza Grande; the WTA tennis tournament is underway in Carlsbad, Calif.; and in Brazil, an inmate of the Women’s Prison of Brasilia lets her nail polish dry in preparation for the third annual Miss Penitentiary beauty pageant. A modeling agency selected 12 finalists out of the nearly 100 incarcerated hopefuls who entered the contest.

Being an insider was a definite plus.

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Muslims around the globe have begun their holiest month of the year by giving up food, drink, smoking and other physical needs from dawn till dusk each day. In many communities, large dinner gatherings are held each evening to break the fast. The month also marks a time for Muslims to reexamine their lives through the prism of Islamic teachings. -- Lloyd Young (38 photos total)
A student reads the Koran before morning prayer on the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Solo, Indonesia Central Java province, August 2. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

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