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2012: The Year in Photos, Part 2 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]


2012: The Year in Photos, Part 1 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]


Afghanistan: November 2012

Most media attention paid to Afghanistan this month revolved around a scandal involving General David Petraeus and General John Allen, the two most recent U.S. military commanders there. However, that scandal has had little or no impact on daily life in Afghanistan. Of greater concern there is the continued insecurity. As the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops approaches, people are leaving Afghanistan at a higher rate than they have since 2002. Iran and Saudi Arabia, rivals for regional influence, are making investments in the country's infrastructure, each hoping to be the stronger partner after 2014. But it's far from clear what the future will bring. These photos show just a glimpse of this conflict over the past month. [37 photos]


National Geographic Photo Contest 2012, Part II

Back in September, the society started gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to vote for them as well. Winners will be chosen on or around December 15, 2012. National Geographic was once more kind enough to let me choose some of its entries for 2012 to feature here. Gathered below are 50 images from the three categories of People, Places, and Nature, with captions written by the individual photographers. [50 photos]


Rebel Attacks in Eastern Congo

For the past five months, a newly formed rebel group in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been attacking government forces and seizing small towns, and it just took control of the city of Goma a week ago. The movement, called the March 23 Movement (M23), is made up of former members of previous rebel groups and is largely a continuation of hostilities in the region that date back to the First Congo War in 1996. Amid a complicated web of proxy battles, political posturing, defections, and re-defections, M23 rebel forces (purportedly supported by Rwanda) have fought fierce battles against DR Congo government troops and local Mai-Mai militias, sending civilians fleeing for shelter. UN peacekeeping forces in the region have not resisted the advances of the rebels, claiming their duty is to protect civilians, not to act as a substitute national army. Several hundred rebels, soldiers, and civilians have reportedly been killed, and many more wounded, so far. At the moment, M23 refuses to leave Goma and has a stated intention of overthrowing the national government. [37 photos]


The 2012 Pushkar Camel Fair

Every year in the Indian state of Rajasthan, thousands of people and camels make a trip to the small town of Pushkar for the annual Pushkar Mela, or Pushkar Camel Fair. One of the oldest and largest camel fairs in the world, Pushkar has grown to become an important attraction for foreign tourists in recent years. Aside from the trading of livestock, the fair includes music, sports, and other events such as the "longest mustache" and "Indian bride dress-up" competitions. Collected here are a few scenes from this year's fair in India's northern desert. [21 photos]


Hurricane Sandy: Staten Island Survivors

As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, thousands of families in the northeast face a difficult holiday season. For those still reeling from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, emotions are still raw and futures are uncertain. Reuters photographer Mike Segar visited Staten Island last week, spending time with residents hard-hit by Sandy. He collected not just their portraits but their stories, as they stood amid the wreckage of what had been their homes, businesses, and places of worship. While there was anger and sadness on display, there was also a sense of gratitude for the outpouring of help from afar, and the groundswell of support from friends and neighbors. [19 photos]


Chinese Architecture, Old and New

The growth of China's massive population has slowed in recent years, but migration to urban areas has increased, with almost half of China's 1.3 billion people living in or near cities. A booming economy, government housing initiatives, infrastructure programs, and private real estate speculation have all driven construction to record levels. New apartment, office, and government buildings regularly rise up over older neighborhoods, and thousands have relocated to modern housing complexes. The blend of old and new Chinese architecture is ever-present in cities and villages, as older buildings are torn down and newer ones built at ever faster rates. The images below show glimpses of Chinese architecture, both traditional and modern, as it appears today. [51 photos]


Israel Steps Up Attacks, Gaza Returns Fire

Over the weekend, Israeli air strikes pounded dozens more targets in the Gaza Strip, as Hamas militants launched rockets into southern Israel and toward Tel Aviv. Israel's recent air barrage has targeted individuals and buildings in more densely populated areas, and the civilian death toll is mounting. Local officials in Gaza have placed the death toll at more than 90 since Wednesday. International mediators are working hard to forge a deal that would lead to a truce. However, Israeli forces are still massing on Gaza's border, and Hamas refuses to negotiate while Israel continues its air strikes. Gathered here are images from a weekend of violent exchanges between Israel and Gaza, with no clear indication whether the situation will worsen or reach a cease-fire any time soon. [39 photos]


Rockets Over Israel and Gaza

Over the past few weeks, a slowly growing series of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel, and retaliatory strikes by Israeli forces, has sharply escalated into a crisis. The skies over the Gaza Strip and southern Israel have filled with hundreds of rockets, missiles, and warplanes since Wednesday, bringing varying levels of destruction to the populations below. Tensions are growing as Israel's military has called up thousands of reservists and deployed troops along the border. At the same time, Egypt's new Prime Minister Hisham Kandil made an official visit to Gaza today. Meanwhile rocket attacks continued, setting off air raid sirens as far north as Tel Aviv. [39 photos]


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