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The Battle in Kiev: Two Killed in Ukraine Protest

Anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine took a deadly turn yesterday, with at least two protesters killed by gunshots. Government forces appear to be doubling down on recently passed anti-protest legislation - increasing the level of response, even sending ominous area-wide text messages to protesters informing them, "You are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance." The pro-European demonstrators also increased their attacks on riot police in Kiev, bringing in a homemade trebuchet, fireworks, and crates full of Molotov cocktails. [42 photos]


Crossrail: Tunneling Beneath London

When one digs beneath London, England, one digs through history. Crossrail, the largest construction project in Europe, is tunneling under the British capital to provide a new underground rail link across the city, and has encountered not only a maze of existing modern infrastructure, but historic finds including mammoth bone fragments, Roman roads (with ancient horseshoes embedded in the ruts), Black Plague burial grounds, and 16th century jewelry. The $25 billion (15 billion pound) project is due to open in 2018, connecting London's Heathrow airport to the county of Essex - five tunnel boring machines are creating a kilometer of new tunnel under London every two weeks. The millions of tons of soil from the Crossrail construction are being shipped to Wallasea Island in the Thames Estuary, allowing the island to be transformed from levee-protected farmland into a thriving wetland. [28 photos]


Renewed Protest in Ukraine

Months of demonstrations against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to abandon an EU integration pact have snarled the country in a political crisis. Last week, tough anti-protest legislation was rushed through parliament, which political opponents say paves the way for a police state. In response, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in central Kiev, swelling the ranks of those already camping in Independence Square, and demonstrations turned violent. Bloody clashes took place between police and protesters yesterday, leaving more than 200 people wounded. The standoff continued into this morning, with no immediate resolution in sight. [32 photos]


Animals in the News

It's time again for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet. Today's photos include fire bulls in Spain, a massive iridescent ammonite, an ostrich amid the chaos in South Sudan, and the stray dog that took a team of 100 people to catch in China. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [38 photos]


The 2014 Dakar Rally

On January 5, 431 teams began the annual Dakar Rally: a two-week off-roading adventure through South America. The vehicles - which include specialized cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes - are traversing extremely challenging territory between Rosario, Argentina, and Valparaíso, Chile. One racer and two members of the press have died so far in separate incidents. As the participants depart the Uyuni Salt Flats today, here is a look at Dakar 2014 in progress. [38 photos]


The Carnival of Vevcani

Each year, the Macedonian village of Vevcani marks the Orthodox St. Vasilij Day -- the beginning of the old Julian calendar -- with a 1,400-year-old carnival rooted in pre-Christian traditions. Performers revel in the streets wearing masks that reflect pagan rituals, religious issues, or political satires of current events. Below are some images of the costumes and parades in Vevcani over the past few years. [21 photos]


The Continued Eruptions of Mount Sinabung

Mount Sinabung, in Indonesia's North Sumatra province, has been erupting sporadically since last September, spewing massive clouds of superheated gas and ash into the sky and down its slopes in deadly pyroclastic flows. The most recent series of eruptions began January 4, with hundreds of eruptions recorded in the days since. Further evacuations have been ordered, with more than 20,000 people now displaced. Gathered here are recent images from the region and of those affected. [30 photos]


The National Ignition Facility

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center about 50 miles east of San Francisco, scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) are trying to achieve self-sustaining nuclear fusion -- in other words, to create a miniature star on Earth. The core of the NIF is a house-sized spherical chamber aiming 192 massive lasers at a tiny target. One recent laser experiment focused nearly 2 megajoules (the energy consumed by 20,000 100-watt light bulbs in one second) of light energy onto a millimeter-sized sphere of deuterium and tritium in a 16-nanosecond pulse. The resulting energetic output, while far short of being a self-sustaining reaction, set a record for energy return, and has scientists hopeful as they fine-tune the targeting, material, and performance of the instruments. The facility itself bristles with machinery and instruments, impressing the producers of the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness, who used it as a film set for the warp core of the starship Enterprise. [24 photos]


A Trip to the Farne Islands

Off the coast of northeast England lies an archipelago of 16-28 islands (depending on the tide). Owned and protected by the British National Trust, the Farne Islands host 100,000 pairs of breeding seabirds, including more than 23 species. It is also home to one of Europe's largest grey seal colonies: About 4,000 adults give birth to 1,500 pups every autumn. Every five years, the National Trust carries out a census of the islands' population of puffins, and last year's survey showed there were almost 40,000 nesting pairs on the islands--an 8 percent rise from 2008. [28 photos]


Kingdom of ice

The first week of 2014 has brought frigid conditions to much of the Northern Hemisphere, including a phenomenon called a polar vortex, which pulled Arctic weather deep into Canada and the U.S. In Harbin, China, the chilly temperatures have one advantage: They come at a perfect time for the annual Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Collected here are recent images of the frozen north. [34 photos]


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