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he stunning Cook Islands are a tropical paradise located deep in the South Pacific Ocean. The Cook Islands are self-governing and are in free association with New Zealand which lies to the southwest. Also nearby are French Polynesia (including the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora) and American Samoa. Within the Cook Islands are 15 major islands divided into two groups: the Northern Cook Islands and the Southern Cook Islands. The Northern Cook Islands consist of six coral atolls. The capital of the Cook Islands is the city of Avarua, on the most populous island Rarotonga. The island of Aitutaki is also a popular destination for tourists. Visitors to the Cook Islands can enjoy swimming in the crystal blue ocean waters, sunbathing on the spectacular white sand beaches, or snorkeling over the fertile reef. The Cook Islands are also popular for weddings and honeymoons.

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view Cook Islands as presented by: Beautiful Places To Visit


Defying a deadly government crackdown, tens of thousands of protesters on Wednesday poured into the streets of Yemen’s second largest city in the latest demonstrations against the long serving president. Two groups of protesters met up in the city center where a general strike had closed shops and banks in what activists were calling the “Tsunami of Taiz” and the largest demonstration in this troubled southern city to date. More than 120 people have been killed since Yemen’s protests calling for the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh began on Feb. 11, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In Taiz alone, 16 people were killed Monday when government forces opened fire on demonstrators. The rising death toll across the country has helped inflame public opinion against the government and sent even more people flooding into the streets of the Arab world’s most impoverished country. Running out of food, water and oil, Yemen is wracked by a tribal rebellion in the north, a separatist movement in the south and the presence of an al-Qaida affiliate operating in the remote mountainous hinterlands. Saleh has been a U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida, but there are signs he is losing American support. An injured anti-government protestor looks on after being treated in a field hospital during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, April 5, 2011. Tribesmen loyal to Yemen's embattled president on Tuesday clashed with a group of soldiers whose commander has sided with the opposition, and the fighting in a suburb of the capital Sanaa left three tribesmen dead, according to tribal elders and military officials. An elderly anti-government protestor reacts during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, March 26, 2011. The White House urged governments in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain to cease attacks on protesters Friday, while saying the violence against protesters in those countries have not risen to the same level as in Libya, where Western forces are engaged in military action to stop violence perpetrated by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh hold his posters and wave their national flag during a rally supporting Saleh in Sanaa,Yemen, Friday, April 1, 2011. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have packed a main square in the capital and are on the march elsewhere across the nation, demanding the country's ruler of 32 years step down.

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view Captured: Yemen Unrest as presented by: Denver Post


Horseshoe Bend is a picturesque horseshoe-shaped turn in the Colorado River, just South of the town of Page, Arizona. Visitors can reach Horseshoe Bend by taking a short 1/2 mile (0.8 kilometers) hike off US Route 89 to an overlook 1,000 feet (405 meters) above the river. Horseshoe Bend is part of Glen Canyon, which was carved by the Colorado River over a period of 5 million years. Glen Canyon is also home to the beautiful Lake Powell. Horseshoe Bend is popular with photographers and tourists who seek the beautiful canyon scenery.

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view Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River, Arizona, USA as presented by: Beautiful Places To Visit



In the chill of a damp spring morning, ranchers at the Bledsoe ranch in Hugo, Colo., castrate, vaccinate and brand young calves. Bill Bledsoe holds the hot branding iron, as Dallas Loutzenhiser, left, J.D. Schier and Wil Bledsoe help hold down the calf. The ranchers’ practiced motions take just 60 to 90 seconds per animal. Branding day has unfolded this way for generations on ranches all across the West. But ranchers from Colorado to Oregon, from Montana to Texas, worry that the tradition is under threat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to rewrite its regulations so that hot-iron brands will no longer be recognized as an official form of identification for cattle sold or shipped across state lines. Instead, the USDA wants every cow to have a unique numerical ID, stamped on an inexpensive ear tag, to make it easier to track individual animals from ranch to feedlot to slaughterhouse. Here, Wil Bledsoe counts cows after they branded calves. The proposed regulation won’t bar ranchers from branding their livestock. Individual states will be free to recognize brands as official ID if they so choose. Here, a recently branded calf at Bledsoe ranch is back out in a pen. ‘When government steps in, they like to make things more complex,’ Wil Bledsoe said. ‘Branding’s the simplest, most efficient way to do it. Why change?’ Here, Wil Blesdoe heads back for lunch after a morning of branding calves.

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view Branding Calves at the Bledsoe Ranch as presented by: Wall Street Journal


It might sound cool on the streets to say you did time, but these photographs show us life behind bars isn’t a picnic, so be smart. The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison is seen after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by a firing squad in Draper. An Orange County sheriff's deputy stands in the doorway after loading prisoners in to jail in Fullerton, California. Los Angeles, the second-most populous U.S. city, posted its lowest crime rate in about 50 years, with violent crimes including homicide dropping nearly 11 percent from 2008 levels and property crimes down eight percent for the same period. Homicides alone in Los Angeles dropped by 18 percent. Inmates serving a jail sentence make a phone call at Maricopa County's Tent City jail in Phoenix.

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view Life Behind Bars as presented by: Totally Cool Pix


This past month, much of the attention focused on Afghanistan centered on the release of thousands of classified documents from the war effort by WikiLeaks. While the consensus appears to be that nothing significantly new was revealed by the release, the picture painted by the documents remains rather bleak. NATO and the United States now have 143,000 troops in Afghanistan, set to peak at 150,000 in coming weeks as they take a counter-insurgency offensive into the insurgents' southern strongholds. Taliban control remains difficult to dislodge, and once removed from an area, Taliban forces often return once larger forces leave a region, especially in rural areas where local government presence remains small. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. Master Sgt. Todd Nelson sits for Dr. Joe Villalobos as he makes adjustments to a prosthetic ear at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. An Afghan girl who fixes potholes in a road between Kabul and Bagram and depends on tips from passing motorists, waits for vehicles in Afghanistan. Sgt. Christopher Duke and wife Lauren Duke greet Rufus at PetAirways on Thursday, July 29, 2010, in Atlanta, Georgia. Rufus and two other dogs saved Duke's and other soldiers' lives while serving in Afghanistan when on the evening of Feb. 11, 2010, the dogs attacked a suicide bomber trying to enter their barracks, forcing the bomber to detonate his explosives in the entry corridor. Though five of the 50 soldiers present sustained injuries, none died that night thanks to the three dogs. One of the dogs was killed, the other two later recovered from their injuries. Sgt. Duke wrote to a veterans assistance group called "Hope for the Warriors" asking for the dogs to be brought to the United States, and $21,000 was raised in less than 3 months enabling the dogs to leave Afghanistan.

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view Afghanistan, July, 2010 as presented by: Boston Big Picture


AMC’s zombie drama “The Walking Dead” returns for its third season on Sunday, and for cast members who play “walkers” (the zombies), preparing for the role involves careful, professional application of the ugly stick. Last week, David Walters Banks, on assignment for The Wall Street Journal, photographed Xan Angelovich undergoing this transformation by co-executive producer Greg Nicotero and special-effects makeup artist Andy Schoneberg. Ms. Angelovich before make-up. They apply make-up to her teeth. Ms. Angelovich on the set. All photographs by David Walter Banks for The Wall Street Journal.

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The sweeping color of sea and sky, blue is a common thread in nature, seen in the cerulean of a whale shark (pictured here), the indigo of a stormy night, and the cobalt of a peacock's feathers. Over the centuries, the hue has come to represent calm, cold, mysticism, and sadness. The Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, is pictured at twilight. Dating to the first century A.D., the well-preserved structure is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A dog jumps into Lake Banyoles in northern Spain. The lake is the country’s second largest.

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view Life in Color: Blue as presented by: National Geographic



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