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Violent Protests in India Over Rape Case

Last week, in New Delhi, India, news stories of a horrific gang rape spread quickly, igniting widespread outrage. A 23 year old woman was attacked by six men on a moving bus and brutalized for 45 minutes, in the most recent and alarming of several high-profile incidents. Protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the growing incidence of rape, and its slow and ineffective prosecution. Riot police have responded, dispersing crowds with forceful tactics including water cannons, batons, and tear gas. India's government has now ordered a special inquiry into the incident to identify any negligence or errors on the part of police. [26 photos]


Christmas Time Around The World

There are only a few days left until Christmas, and Santa Claus and his many helpers have been busy around the globe. From London to Tokyo, from the Ivory Coast to Los Angeles, people are out enjoying the winter weather, shopping for loved ones, visiting Santa, and taking part in pageants in anticipation of the big day. This collection is a quick tour of many different Christmas celebrations. Merry Christmas, everyone! The next photo essay here will be posted on Wednesday, the 26th. [39 photos]


Preparing for the End of the World

Tomorrow marks the end of the 13th cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar, giving rise to rumors about the end of the world. Worries about a looming apocalypse are nothing new in human history, but 21st century reactions to the possible destruction of the planet (or human civilization) vary widely, from "preppers" who cultivate self-sufficiency, to groups offering prayerful wishes, to entrepreneurs who have found a growing market for their survival gear. Regarding tomorrow's fateful date, the descendents of the Mayans themselves appear to regard the milestone as simply marking the end of an era, not the entire world. [26 photos]


Syria's Long, Destructive Civil War

Twenty-one months after the conflict in Syria began as a popular uprising, rebel forces are making gains, tactics are changing, and the threat of chemical warfare has made an appearance. Syrian rebels reached a level of cooperation, forming a single entity -- the Syrian National Coalition. The alliance has received recognition from Arab states and support from NATO members in its goal of unseating Syria's President, Bashar al-Assad, and replacing his government. But U.S. intelligence reports have noted activity within Syrian government-controlled chemical weapons facilities, and President Barack Obama has warned that the use of such weapons against rebels would cross a "red line." There are signs that al-Assad's hold on power is slipping as rebels gain ground and support, and even Russia, a longtime ally, has reportedly sent ships to the Syrian coast for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens. Collected here are images of this bloody conflict from just the past few weeks. [40 photos]


China's "Nail Grave" Relocated

In Taiyuan, in northern China's Shanxi province, construction began on a new high-end residential compound last year. When developers needed to excavate a cemetery for the building's foundation, they offered to pay villagers to relocate the remains of loved ones. One family refused to budge, complaining that the compensation was too low. In China, such disputed plots are typically known as "nail houses," and developers continue to build around them while the issue is resolved. In this case, workers carved out a "nail grave" belonging to the family of Chang Jinzhu. The small, bizarre column stood 10 meters above the foundation floor for months. This week, it was reported that Jinzhu's family had reached an agreement with the construction consortium, receiving 800 Yuan ($128 USD) in compensation. A platform and bridge to the gravesite were built, and the family had the four coffins and gravestones removed. [11 photos]


Mourning in Newtown

Today is Monday, the first school day since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed so many young lives last week. Like millions of other American parents, I sent my kids off to school today knowing that the difficult family discussions we had over the weekend will continue in the classroom, as educators and students address yet another tragic outburst of violence in our schools. Today, the first of many funerals will take place in Newtown, after a weekend of vigils and mourning. President Obama visited Newtown on Sunday, speaking before an auditorium of grieving parents. "We can't accept events like this as routine," he said, "These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change." [32 photos]


2012: The Year in Volcanic Activity

Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes around the world, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2012, active volcanoes included Guatemala's Volcan de Fuego, New Zealand's Tongariro, Russia's Plosky Tolbachik, Chile's Puyehue, Italy's Etna, and a new island appearing in the Red Sea. In Hawaii, Kilauea continues to send lava flowing toward the sea, and locals living near Mexico's Popocatepetl continued to deal with ashfalls. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year. [39 photos]


Sochi 2014: An Olympic Preview

In just over one year, the small Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russia, will host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi won its bid to host the games back in 2007, and has been preparing ever since - upgrading telecommunications, transportation, and other infrastructure, and constructing many huge new venues in two main locations: the Coastal Cluster along the Black Sea shore in the Imeretinskaya Valley and the Mountain Cluster in Krasnaya Polyana. With construction deadlines approaching next summer, here is a look at the progress so far in Sochi. [26 photos]


Typhoon Bopha

Last week, the southern Philippines was struck by Typhoon Bopha, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the island of Mindanao. Bopha made landfall as a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), flattening coastal villages, wiping out banana plantations, and causing mudslides and flooding. At the moment, the number of deaths has reached nearly 650, the number of missing is still near 800, and another 400,000 have been displaced by the storm. Collected here are images from the affected islands, as rescue and recovery workers continue to search through debris in fields choked with trees, boulders, and mud. [28 photos]


2012: The Year in Photos, Part 3 of 3

2012 was an eventful year, from big events like the London Summer Olympics and the U.S. presidential race, to regional conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, to smaller issues closer to home. Reverberations from last year's transformative Arab Spring still heavily affect Syria and Egypt; and the slow recovery from the recent global economic crisis brought bitter austerity measures to parts of Europe, leading to widespread protests. [45 photos]


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