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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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Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It also marks the end of "the winter that wasn't," as the past several months in North America have been dubbed. It was the fourth-warmest winter in the United States since record-keeping began 117 years ago. In accord with the unusual weather, this turn of the season brings us snow in Arizona and Saudi Arabia, while conditions remain sunny and warm in America's Northeast and Western Europe. Collected here are scenes from around the world as a strange winter gives way to spring. [40 photos]

The sun sets behind cherry blossoms which have come into full bloom due to the early warm weather in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2012. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

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Mourning the loss of almost 20,000 people gripped Japan yesterday on the anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. While the nation has made enormous strides recovering from the triple disaster, yesterday was was a time for remembrance. But the country is rebuilding even as it still suffers the loss of lives and the economic effects of an estimated $210 billion price tag - the costliest natural disaster in human history. Gathered here are images from memorial services, the rebuilding efforts, and of people forging ahead with altered lives a year on from the catastrophe. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)
Families release a paper lantern in memory of the victims of last year's earthquake and tsunami, on March 11, 2012 in Natori, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images)

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Photographer Phyllis B. Dooney is documenting the plight of Japan's refugees who fled the nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She writes,"In Fukushima Prefecture, the third and most permanent disaster in the series followed; a nuclear meltdown occurred at Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Radiation poured into the atmosphere and environment. First it was a suggestion, but by mid-April the government was enforcing the mandate that the residents of Tomioka and Kawauchi, who hadn’t already left because of the earthquake and/or tsunami damage, leave indefinitely.  Nearly one year later an estimated 80,000 nuclear refugees are living in government-issued temporary housing or elsewhere. In the temporary housing, often just outside the evacuation zone, it is the elderly and mentally or physically disabled who comprise a large percentage of the residents." Collected here are images of those refugees made by Dooney in August of last year and in the last few days. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)
Masayoshi Katakura stands on the steps of his temporary housing in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, August 16, 2011. Masayoshi, like many others, is frightened and displaced by the earthquake and tsunami but his destitution and hopelessness are a result of the nuclear disaster. (© Phyllis B. Dooney)

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Japan continues to deal with the enormous task of cleaning up and moving forward three months after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast coast. Local authorities are still dealing with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and now the rainy season, which could increase the risk of disease as workers clear away the debris, is approaching. Collected here are images from this past weekend marking the three-month point, as well then-and-now images of the destruction shot by Kyodo News via the Associated Press. -- Lloyd Young (29 photos total)
Vehicles drive through the tsunami-hit area, three months and two days after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on June 13, 2011 in Natori, Miyagi, Japan. Japanese government has been struggling to deal in the aftermath of the disaster and the problems affecting the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Authorities are preparing for an increased risk of viral and infectious disease as delays in the clearing the debris combine with the arrival of Japan's humid, rainy season. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

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Spanish “rejoneador” or mounted bullfighter Sergio Galan performs during his bullfight at Las Ventas bullring in Madrid, Saturday May 28, 2011.

Amanda Carper holds her son Silas, 5 months, as she searches through the rubble of her deceased grandfather Charles Oster’s home after a massive tornado passed through the town killing at least 132 people on May 27, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri. Oster was 77 years old and perished during the tornado. The town continues the process of recovering from the storm which damaged or destroyed an estimated 8,000 structures.

Nicolas B. Rushlow, 13, left, from Lancaster, Ohio is embraced by his mother Michelle after being eliminated during the semifinals of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Rushlow spelled ‘drusy’ incorrectly.

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Spanish "rejoneador" or mounted bullfighter Sergio Galan performs during his bullfight at Las Ventas bullring in Madrid, Saturday May 28, 2011.(AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza) #

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Enthusiast Tommy Hall, dances with singer Miss Katie Spitfire on the platform during the 1940's re-enactment weekend on May 28, 2011 in Bury, England. Re-enactors dressed in 1940s fashion will attend the wartime weekend for nostalgic celebrations including tea dances, make-do-and-mend demonstrations and battle re-enactments. (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images) #

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"Brother Hermes" (L) performs an exorcism on Claudia Gaviria, 28, who claims to be possessed by spirits, on June 1, 2011, in La Cumbre, Valle del Cauca department, Colombia. "Brother Hermes", as calls himself Hermes Cifuentes, 50, has performed exorcism rituals during the last 20 years. AFP PHOTO/Luis ROBAYO #

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Singer Cody Simpson performs as his female fans do their best to push closer to him at a promotion for Footlocker and Pastry Footwear at Westfield Miranda on May 28, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images) #

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Amanda Carper holds her son Silas, 5 months, as she searches through the rubble of her deceased grandfather Charles Oster's home after a massive tornado passed through the town killing at least 132 people on May 27, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri. Oster was 77 years old and perished during the tornado. The town continues the process of recovering from the storm which damaged or destroyed an estimated 8,000 structures. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) #

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Bob Thornburg, left, and his brother Matt Thornburg, both from Las Vegas, Nev., salvage items Sunday, May 29, 2011 as they sort through the remains of a house occupied by their brother Gene Thronburg and mother Peggy Thornburg in Joplin, Mo. An EF-5 tornado tore through much of the city a week ago damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 139 people. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

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A museum worker stands near the entrance to an installation art work entitled "My Universe - The Beginning" by contemporary Chinese artiste Zhan Wang held in conjunction with luxury brand Louis Vuitton's Voyages exhibition held at the National Museum of China in Beijing, China, Tuesday, May 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #

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A pedestrian smokes a cigar as he passes in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Thursday, June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) #

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An Amish farmer plows his field behind six draft horses June 2, 2011 in New Wilmington, southwestern Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) #

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A Pakistani boy walks toward a water point to collect water for his family, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, June 2, 2011. The U.S. should hold back much of its $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan until it reforms dysfunctional policies related to energy, taxes and other areas, according to a new report that criticizes the American aid program's focus in a country beset by corruption, poverty and militancy. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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Indian tourists ride traditional boats on the Dal Lake, on the outskirts of Srinagar, India, Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Set in the Himalayas at 5,600 feet (1707 meters) above sea level, Kashmir is a green, saucer-shaped valley full of fruit orchards and surrounded by snowy mountain ranges. About 100 lakes dot its highlands and plains. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

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Barcelona's Brazilian defender Adriano Correia celebrates during a gathering with supporters at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 29, 2011 a day after the team won the UEFA Champions League final football match against Manchester United. AFP PHOTO/ JOSEP LAGO #

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The arm of a mannequin sticks out from the rubble in a devastated neighborhood in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, in northeastern Japan, Monday, May 30, 2011 which was destroyed in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The twin disasters, which damaged crucial cooling systems at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, left more than 24,000 people dead or missing in northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #

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New cadets for the Libyan rebel army dance and chant anti Moammar Gadhafi slogans before the ceremony graduation in Benghazi, Libya, Sunday, May 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

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A paraglider flies over the athletic stadium on May 31, 2011 during the Zlata Tretra (Golden Spike) athletics meeting in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR #

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Hans Van Alphen of Belgium throws a discus during the men's discus throw event on the second day of the men's decathlon meeting held in Goetzis, Austria on May 29, 2011. AFP PHOTO/SAMUEL KUBANI #

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A group of women dressed as brides hold sheets of paper that read in Spanish: "No to Keiko Fujimori, Because I teach my children the truth, Marry the truth," at a church in Lima, Peru, Saturday, May 28, 2011. Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned ex-President Alberto Fujimori, will face former army officer Ollanta Humala in a presidential runoff on June 5. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia) #

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An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Spc. Richard C. Emmons III Thursday, June 2, 2011 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, Emmons, 22, of North Granby, Conn., died May 31, 2011 in Logar province, Afghanistan of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark) #

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Spanish bullfighter Ivan Fandino performs during a bullfight in Madrid, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Bullfighting is an ancient tradition in Spain and the season runs from March to October. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza) #

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Nicolas B. Rushlow, 13, left, from Lancaster, Ohio is embraced by his mother Michelle after being eliminated during the semifinals of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Rushlow spelled 'drusy' incorrectly. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) #

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An Indian laborer carries a basket of mangoes at the wholesale mango market in Bangalore, India, Friday, June 3, 2011. India recognizes mango as its national fruit and is the world's largest mango producer with about 13 million tons each year, far exceeding all other countries. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) #

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A Buddhist monk carries a container of incense around a monastery during early morning religious rituals near the Boudhanath Stupa, a world heritage site and an important pilgrimage site, in Katmandu, Nepal, Friday, June 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha ) #

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Sirens wailed Friday along a devastated coastline to mark exactly one week since an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear emergency, and the government acknowledged it was slow to respond to the disasters that the prime minister called a “great test for the Japanese people.” Last week’s 9.0 quake and tsunami has left more than [...]

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