Photo Gallery The Best News Photos of 2012

It was a year or records and resignations, tears and triumph. Looking back, 2012 brought many exceptional moments. SPIEGEL ONLINE's photo editors reviewed thousands of photos over 12 months. They have selected the most important for a photographic year in review.
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When Italian captain Francesco Schettino ran the cruise ship Costa Concordia aground  off Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012, it sparked worldwide shock, dismay and indignation: 32 people died because they couldn't be evacuated from the sinking ship in time. After the maritime disaster, Schettino was sacked for gross negligence, but now he's suing his former employer to get his job back. For a long time, experts feared that the wreck might sink and break apart -- but it has now been secured and will soon be raised in a spectacular salvage operation .

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Leaping into thin air: Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped from an altitude of 39,045 meters (24.26 miles) on Oct. 14, 2012 -- with a helping hand from a beverage manufacturer. He managed to overcome a number of critical situations  -- and set six new world records: the highest jump with a parachute, the longest freefall, the fastest freefall without a drogue parachute, the greatest speed achieved in a freefall, the highest balloon flight and the longest freefall without a drogue parachute. And Baumgartner may possibly hold another world record: the most suicidal stunt of all time.

Foto: Red Bull Stratos
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This leg has the stuff of stardom: long, slim and complete with a high-heeled shoe. With a pose like that, such a lithe limb can only belong to one woman: Angelina Jolie, who shot her way to stardom back in 2001 as Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider" before making more sophisticated movies and eventually revealing a more serious side with "In the Land of Blood and Honey" -- an antiwar film that marked her writing and directing debut in 2011. Jolie deigned to show her right leg on the red carpet of the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2012. The photographers clicked away as if on cue. Jolie's husband Brad Pitt was also on hand, but hardly attracted any attention. One leg stole the entire show. The image went around the world and her sexy pose was eagerly imitated by all and sundry -- and mocked in photo montages.

Foto: Amy Sancetta/ AP
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Rich and poor: These two daily realities of life in America seldom collide so strikingly in a city like New York as in this photo of a homeless man and three fashion-conscious young women. It was taken near a subway station following a fashion show during New York Fashion Week on Sept. 7, 2012.

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Civil war in Syria: While the reign of dictators in Libya and Tunisia appeared to be over in 2012, Syrian ruler Bashar Assad has been stubbornly clinging to power -- partly thanks to ongoing support from Russia, China and Iran. The Syrian people are paying a high price for Assad's grip on power: Thousands have died  in fighting between the regime and opposition forces, and more than 100,000 people have fled to neighboring countries. This picture from Oct. 11, 2012 shows a boy in Aleppo who was injured by the Syrian army. The image was taken shortly after he received emergency field care from physicians. Aleppo is a center of resistance against Assad, and the city's population has been hard hit by shelling and sharpshooters.

Foto: AP
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The year 2012 was largely overshadowed by the euro crisis, and Greece generally topped the headlines as the country teetered again and again on the verge of national bankruptcy. A Greek insolvency would have had a potentially devastating impact  on the European monetary union. Athens has been able to avoid a default with help from fellow euro-zone countries -- but the struggle to defuse the crisis  will continue in the coming year. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says he anticipates a slight economic recovery in 2013. This photo shows Samaras' supporters on May 3, 2012 in Athens. Shortly thereafter, he won the election.

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Where there's smoke, there's fire: On Sept. 29, 2012, firefighters, security and military personnel demonstrated in Seville against cuts in their salaries by the Spanish government. Spain was extremely hard hit  by the economic crisis in 2012. By the end of the year, the government anticipates a deficit of 83.3 percent of gross national product, and it has applied to the euro-zone countries for nearly 40 billion euros ($53 billion) to bail out its domestic banks.

Foto: ? Marcelo del Pozo / Reuters/ REUTERS
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The dawn of a new era in Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood supporters on Cairo's Tahrir Square frenetically celebrated the election victory of their candidate in the first free presidential election since the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak. On June 24, 2012, Mohammed Morsi became Egypt's  new president with 51.7 percent of the votes. In late November, there were clashes on Tahrir Square: Ostensibly boosted by a wave of international respect and recognition for his intervention in the Gaza-Israel clashes, Morsi issued a decree that effectively places him above the justice system. The move triggered massive protests by the opposition.

Foto: Daniel Berehulak/ Getty Images
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Cute, but desperately in need of assistance: In 2012, the usual range of endearing animals stuck their heads into camera lenses -- but this squirrel didn't do so voluntarily. The rodent got caught in a manhole cover in the northern German town of Isernhagen on Aug. 5, 2012. After a few unsuccessful rescue attempts, a plucky policeman came up with the idea of pushing back the animal's ears -- making it possible to save it. Unfortunately, the squirrel died a few hours later. Apparently the stress had been too much of an ordeal for the little critter.

Foto: DPA / Polizei Großburgwedel
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North Korea made the headlines in 2012 on a number of occasions: There was a series of more or less unsuccessful rocket tests, speculation over the presence of a giant at the ostentatious state funeral of former leader Kim Jong Il, which lasted until the early days of January, and the successor to the dictator, Kim Jong Un, who shares his father's enthusiasm for propaganda photos, but also likes to reveal the private side of his life. And so it was that the world was treated to a number of more or less eye-opening photos. Here Kim poses with young subjects who apparently can hardly believe that they are able to stand so close to the ruler.

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Taking it lying down: In reaction to doping allegations, the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced on Oct. 22, 2012 that it was stripping record cyclist Lance Armstrong of all his titles won after Aug. 1, 1998, including all seven Tour de France wins -- and banning him from competition for life. And Armstrong? On November 10, he sent this photo to his 3.8 million Twitter followers. His message: "Back in Austin and just laying around…"

Foto: REUTERS / Lance Armstrong / Twitter
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Scalped by a Leopard: This spectacular photo was taken on January 7, 2012 in the northern Indian city of Gauhati. A fully-grown Leopard had wandered into a residential area and injured four people before the animal was subdued with a tranquilizer and brought to the city zoo. The man in the photo survived the attack.

Foto: AP / The Sunday Indian
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Pussy Riot? No, protection against sunburn! Nylon masks shade the faces of these beachgoers in Qingdao in the Chinese province of Shandong on July 6, 2012. This sun protection mask was invented seven years ago, and has enjoyed increasing popularity ever since.

Foto: ? Aly Song / Reuters/ REUTERS
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Pussy Riot -- but this time in the dock, and without their masks. The Russian feminist band Pussy Riot  performed a 41-second "punk prayer" against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's Russian Orthodox Christ the Savior Cathedral on Feb. 21 2012. The provocative protest action got the women in trouble with the Russian justice system -- and made them famous around the world. During their trial, seen here in this photo from Aug. 17, 2012, the defendants had to sit in a glass-walled cage. They were sentenced to three years in prison -- a clear indication of the lack of freedom of speech in Putin's Russia.

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Tears of power: After an interim period as prime minister, Vladimir Putin was re-elected as Russia's president on March 4, 2012. At a huge rally with tens of thousands of supporters on Moscow's Red Square, he declared himself the winner on election night -- and showed that he was touched by his victory.

Foto: AP
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In November, Israel and the Palestinian organization Hamas engaged in a running battle for eight days: Hamas fighters fired rockets into Israeli cities and the Israeli army bombed positions in the Gaza Strip – and, as usual, civilians bore the brunt  of the fighting. Here, for instance, is a photo from Gaza City taken on November 18, 2012. Following an Israeli air strike, the Dalu family's home was reduced to a bomb crater. Eleven family members died during the bloodiest attack of the conflict, including four children. According to the Israeli army, the actual target of the attack was a high-ranking member of Hamas.

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Punks in Burma: Young people at a music club in Yangon pose on April 11, 2012 during the Burmese Water Festival, as the New Year's celebrations are called. After nearly 40 years of military rule, a civilian president has been governing the country again since 2011. The punk movement  in Burma is a genuine and risky rebellion: the gigs are kept secret and the punishments are severe.

Foto: STRINGER/ Reuters
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Apprehended on the beach: Somali police arrested an al-Qaida suspect in front of bathers on Lido Beach north of the capital Mogadishu on March 23, 2012. This beach was a popular destination before Somalia descended into chaos in 1991.

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Ever since the murder of Tupac Shakur in 1996, conspiracy theories have suggested that the rapper may still be alive. On April 16, 2012, he actually appeared on the stage of the Coachella Festival in California -- and performed next to his old pal Snoop Dogg. Even Katy Perry was impressed. "I think I might have cried when I saw Tupac," the singer twittered to her fans. The performance was made possible by a new high-tech trick. An old image of Tupac was projected onto the stage as a hologram. Concert organizers see a huge market for this technology. Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury and Amy Winehouse could soon return to the stage. And Elvis, of course.

Foto: Damian Dovarganes/ AP
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Puzzling success: Korean rapper Psy has made the greatest YouTube hit of all times with his 2012 chart-topping song "Gangnam Style." By late November, the video -- in which the generally not particularly attractive Psy performs a generally not particularly attractive dance -- had been viewed over 800 million times. But not in Germany: Due to copyright problems, the local YouTube channel was not allowed to show the video. German Gangnam fans have to resort to watching copied versions.

Foto: ? Brendan McDermid / Reuters/ REUTERS
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Gay activist attacked: Svyatoslav Sheremet was assaulted in Kiev in broad daylight in front of the eyes of journalists on May 20, 2012. The head of a Ukrainian gay organization had just informed members of the media that the first gay parade in the Ukrainian capital had been canceled -- over security concerns. When the attackers realized that they were being photographed, they ran away.

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High-ranking hospital visit: Former Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva (right) kissed Fernando Lugo, who was still president of Paraguay at the time. Both men were at a Sao Paulo hospital for cancer-related treatment on Jan. 27, 2012. Lugo was ousted from office because he was held responsible for a confrontation between police and landowners in which 17 people died.

Foto: Ricardo Stuckert/ AP
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Return of the one-eyed man: Spanish matador Juan José Padilla was carried by his colleague Serafin Marin out of the Olivenza arena to the cheering of the jubilant crowd on March 4, 2012. Padilla made his triumphant comeback  to the ring only five months after a bull gored him, leaving him blind in one eye and paralyzed down the entire left side of his face.

Foto: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/ AP
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Exiled Tibetan Jamphel Yeshi self-immolated in New Delhi on March 26 to protest the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India. In the year 2012, as many as 80 Tibetans set themselves on fire to protest China's policies in Tibet.

Foto: ? Stringer India / Reuters/ REUTERS
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Germany's soccer nemesis: On June 28, 2012, Italian striker Mario Balotelli shocked German football fans as he scored two goals to put the Italian team in the lead during the semi-final of the EURO 2012 European Football Championship. Balotelli celebrated his second goal with his shirtless iconic "Hulk" pose. A last-minute goal by Mesut Özil wasn't enough to save the Germans. They were eliminated -- once again.

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The storm before the big storm: Young Palestinians threw stones at Israeli border police near the Shuafat refugee camp on the West Bank on Sept. 18, 2012. The clashes between police and demonstrators followed a rally against the film "Innocence of Muslims," which insults and vilifies Islam.

Foto: ? Ammar Awad / Reuters/ REUTERS
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Attack on America: An armed man stands triumphantly in front of the devastated US consulate compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. The American ambassador and three of his staff members were killed during the attack. For quite some time, it was unclear whether the assault was a more or less coincidental escalation of the protests against the controversial incendiary film "Innocence of Muslims" -- or a carefully planned operation. The question of when the United States government officially identified the storming of the embassy as a terrorist attack played a key role in the final weeks of the US presidential election.

Foto: STR/ AFP
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Gone with the wind: Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast of the US  in the night of Oct. 30, 2012, destroying buildings, roads and infrastructure and causing some $63 billion in damage. The state of New Jersey was particularly devastated by the storm, as seen here in Ortley Beach. In New York, the city came to a standstill and some neighborhoods were without electricity for days. The hurricane killed a total of 131 US citizens. While the world was gazing at the US, there was a tendency to forget that Haiti and especially Cuba had also been severely hit by Sandy.

Foto: REUTERS / Governors Office
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Yes, he still can: In the early morning hours of Nov. 7, 2012, Barack Obama celebrated his reelection as US president in his home city of Chicago. For many months, it was a neck-and-neck race for the office of the most powerful man in the world, but Democratic candidate Obama ultimately convincingly beat his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. Here is a chronicle of that dramatic night.

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On Friday, Dec. 14, a horrific bloodbath took place in the small town of Newtown, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of New York. Heavily armed Adam Lanza, 20, stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and, in less than 10 minutes, shot dead 20 children and six adults. Shortly beforehand, he had shot his mother to death. Afterwards, he turned the gun on himself. The massacre shocked America and sparked renewed debate on tightening up the country's lax gun laws. That is cold comfort for those who are mourning their dead. This photo shows a mother and her daughter, two days after the bloodbath, at an improvised memorial to the dead in Newtown.

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Destruction with the best of intentions: Working on her own, 81-year-old amateur artist Cecilia Giménez tried to restore a Jesus fresco in the northern Spanish city of Borja in August 2012 (left). The naïve result of her efforts (right) quickly became an Internet sensation: People around the world lampooned the botched restoration with their own versions of Gimenez' work. In her defense, it should be noted that the original fresco was rated by experts as having little artistic value -- and it only became famous once it was painted over.

Foto: AP / Centro de estudios Borjanos
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This is how education for the poor looks: Rajesh, 8, stood at a makeshift blackboard under a bridge in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Nov. 7, 2012. Some 30 children from the surrounding slums attend this improvised school.

Foto: Altaf Qadri/ AP
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Surviving in the rubble: Poor people comb a garbage dump near Port-au-Prince in search of anything useful. Following the devastating earthquake of 2010, the number of people who collect at the dump has risen from 200 to roughly 2,000. The natural disaster killed 316,000 people on Haiti. Many people are still homeless today.

Foto: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images
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The fastest man without legs: This photo shows South African Oscar Pistorius at the start of the men's 400 meter dash during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Pistorius, who doesn't have complete legs due to a genetic defect, runs on special carbon prostheses. Critics contend that these high-tech springs give him an advantage over runners without a disability -- and during the 2008 games in Beijing he was not allowed to start. For the London games, the International Olympic Committee came to a different decision: Pistorius was allowed to compete -- and became the first athlete to participate in both the Olympics and Paralympics. But the blade runner only won medals during the Paralympics: silver in the men's 200 meter dash and gold in the 4x100-meter relay.

Foto: AFP
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A quiet farewell: On Feb. 17, 2012, German President Christian Wulff announced that he was resigning from the country's highest political office. This was preceded by an agonizingly long phase in which Wulff remained evasive and intransigent. After it became known that he had far too close ties to rich and glamorous individuals, Wulff apparently refused to accept that he was hardly still suitable as a model head of state. When the Hanover state prosecutor finally announced that he would conduct investigations into allegations that Wulff accepted favors from affluent friends, the president resigned. His wife Bettina ended up feeling nothing but annoyance with all the fuss surrounding the affair, and she stood as far away from him as possible, as she later recounted in her moderately successful memoirs.

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Finally free: On March 18, 2012, the Federal Assembly elected with an overwhelming majority eastern German pastor Joachim Gauck as the new German president. During his inaugural address, Gauck used the word freedom a great deal -- and since then he has relished in speaking of it on many occasions. At the end of the year 2012, observers are already asking themselves whether Gauck will speak of anything else. He would have the freedom to do so.

Foto: Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
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Violent protest: On Oct. 25, 2012, outraged workers in the Peruvian capital Lima pulled a policeman from his horse and dragged him across the ground. Two people died and over 100 were injured during the unrest which was sparked when the city government decided to close the La Parada wholesale market.

Foto: REUTERS / Diario El Comercio
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Bottoms up! Jürgen Klopp accepted this beer shower with a laugh. After all, this was the moment when the coach of Borussia Dortmund had just led his team to the German championship for the second year in a row. The date was April 21, 2012, and Klopps' boys had beaten the other Borussia from Mönchengladbach 2:0 to take the title. Afterward, not only the stadium, but practically all of downtown Dortmund erupted in joyous celebration, waving the team colors of black and yellow. The beer shower was just the beginning.

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A friendship invitation for investors: At a ceremony in Menlo Park, California, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg rang the morning Nasdaq bell to mark the beginning of trading of shares in his social network on May 18, 2012. At an issue price of $38 per share, the company raised $16 billion in capital. Nevertheless, the share price lost half its value within just a few weeks. During the second half of the year, Facebook began to make its network more profitable with more advertising and paid postings.

Foto: REUTERS / Facebook
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God doesn't throw dice, but he has particles: For over 40 years, scientists have looked for it, and on July 4, 2012 at the CERN research center in Geneva they were able to celebrate the -- probable -- discovery of the "God particle," the Higgs boson. It is the final unproven key puzzle piece of the Standard Model of the universe. The particle is named after British physicist Peter Higgs, shown here, who predicted its existence. According to his theory, the field surrounding the Higgs' particle ensures -- in a nutshell -- that other particles have mass. Okay, it's not quite as simple as that. But you hopefully weren't seriously expecting an introduction to the fundamentals of elementary particle physics in a photographic end-of-the-year review.

Foto: CERN
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The new pope's proclamation: Tim Cook, Steve Jobs' successor at the helm of Apple, presented the latest iPhone generation in San Francisco on September 12. Version 5 is the best and fastest iPhone of all times -- and also the biggest: iPhone five is significantly longer than its predecessor.

Foto: AP
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China at the bottom of the ladder: Huang Sufang breaks down and cries as she sees how workers destroy part of her home in Yangji, a district of the city of Guangzhou, on March 21, 2012. A number of buildings had been slated for demolition in Yangji, to make way for new construction projects, but Huang's house was actually not on the list. It was torn down by accident. There are increasing protests in China against seemingly arbitrary construction projects.

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China at the top of the ladder: On Nov. 7, 2012, the night before the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, Hu Jintao (right), until then general secretary of the party and the current Chinese president, took a friendly stroll with Xi Jinping, his successor as party leader. It is anticipated that Xi will also take Hu's place as Chinese president in March 2013.

Foto: AP / Xinhua
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There can only be one! The left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) actually wanted to wait until December to name their top candidate for the 2013 German general election, but then suddenly everything went very quickly: On Sept. 20, 2012, the then-troika consisting of party leader Sigmar Gabriel (left), former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück (middle) and SPD parliamentary floor leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier (right) went before the press in Berlin and announced that Steinbrück would be running for chancellor. Steinmeier had declined earlier on his wife's advice. Gabriel said he had followed an inner voice.

Foto: AFP
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Dutch artist Bart Jansen gave his dead house cat by the name of Orville his last respects in a rather unusual manner in June 2012: He used the animal's skin as the outer layer for a remote-controlled helicopter. Actually, to be more precise, it's a quadrocopter. He installed a rotor on each of the cat's outstretched paws. In addition to the photos, a video of the "Orvillecopter" created quite a stir online. Was it a brilliant artistic installation or simply tasteless? The issue was hotly debated on the SPIEGEL ONLINE forum. Over 40,000 readers shared the article with their friends on Facebook.

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View of the third kind: This 3-D photo of the surface of Mars was published by the US space agency NASA on Aug. 7, 2012. It was taken by Curiosity, an aptly named Mars robot, shortly after it landed on August 5. Visible in the distance is Mount Sharp, a roughly 5,500-meter (18,000-foot) mountain on the Martian surface. Space researchers expect Curiosity to provide additional knowledge about the composition of the planet's surface, and possibly provide clues to the existence of life on the red planet. Curiosity has not yet discovered little green men. That would be an excellent photo for the 2013 end-of-the-year review, wouldn't it? Do you want to see more spectacular photos? You'll find an extraordinary photo here for every day in the year 2012.

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