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Saudi special forces display some of their skills and equipment during a ceremony as they prepare for the influx of people to participate in the annual Hajj, in Arafat outside of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Security is a major concern during the pilgrimage by Islam’s devout to the holy sites of Saudi Arabia. At Arlington National Cemetery, Nicki Bunting hugs the grave of her husband, Army Capt. Brian Bunting, along with her children, Connor, age 3, and Cooper, age 1, at the end of their visit, Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Capt. Bunting was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Feb. 24, 2009. He is buried in Section 60, an area where more than a tenth of the casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rest. The Nation observed Veteran’s Day with memorial services and parades. Residents argue while they wait to collect water to be used for cleaning or cooking at the Cite Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. Three weeks after it was confirmed for the first time ever in Haiti, cholera has claimed at least 643 lives, mostly in the countryside, as the waterborne sickness may be also growing fast in Cite Soleil and perhaps all of Port-au-Prince, a city of more than 2.5 million.

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view Pictures of the Week: November 12, 2010 as presented by: Denver Post


Stress is something people can hardly avoid in this modern life. Everyone had experienced stress before and they would always like to find a way to relieve the stress. There are many ways for people to relieve their stress and there is someone who offered to help other people relieve it in a unique way. Nate Hill, a 33-year-old performance artist put on a panda costume and asked people to punch him in the stomach for stress relieve. He named his project as Punch-Me-Panda. Artist Nate Hill dresses as Punch Me Panda and invites abuse for a penny per punch in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Wednesday. Punch Me Panda offers to let people get out their frustration and aggression one punch at a time. Punch Me Panda takes a break at a nearby deli.

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view Punch Me Panda as presented by: Wall Street Journal


It’s not a commonplace thing to visit a sanctum sanctorum – McDonald’s fast-food restaurant. Almost every one of us visits it at least a few times a months, and some of us even more often; but have they ever thought of how all these burgers are made? Want to find out? You are welcomed inside. Near the staff entrance we were met by the director of a restaurant on Baumanskaya station, Aleksander Ostroukhov, and he lead us to his room (a tiny one, to tell you the truth) right away. Then we were asked to put on boot covers and special caps (they look almost like shower caps.) Feels strange, but you can make an effort. Now Alexander is going to reveal a secret of how to cook a sandwich from McDonald’s. Let it be Royal De Luxe.

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view McDonald’s – How It Works as presented by: English Russia



Actor Jeff Bridges, also an amateur photographer and author, took the camera into his own hands after his Wall Street Journal photo shoot this week. In town before the premiere of his new movie, “The Giver,” based on the dystopian young adult novel about a community run by elders who have banned pain, emotion and personal choice, Mr. Bridges hooted and hollered as photographer Axel Dupeux took his portrait, then he directed a few shots himself. On set, Mr. Bridges takes his own photographs of his movies’ scenes to relax.

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view Behind the Scenes at the Jeff Bridges Photo Shoot as presented by: Wall Street Journal


We share our world with many other species and live in an ever-changing environment. Fortunately, photographers around the world have captured the moments and beauty that allow us to see amazing views of this awe-inspiring planet. This is a collection of favorite photos from The Natural World gallery in 2011, a showcase of images of animals and environment that runs on Boston.com throughout the year. Next week's posts will take a look at the year in photos, so stay tuned. A new blue phalaenopsis orchid called "Blue Mystique" is sold by Bachman's florists in Minneapolis. The color is achieved using a patented process from Europe that colors the flowers from the inside. An Abyssinian Colobus baby yawns at the Nogeyama Zoological Gardens in Yokohama, Japan. A chameleon waits to be weighed and measured in the reptile house at the London Zoo. Every year the keepers record the heights and weights of more than 750 different species in the International Species Information System, where they can be shared with zoos across the world.

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view 50 Best Photos from The Natural World as presented by: Boston Big Picture


Onbashira is a festival held every six years in the Lake Suwa area of Nagano, Japan. The purpose of the festival is to symbolically renew the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine. "Onbashira" can be literally translated as "the honored pillars". Onbashira lasts several months, and consists of two segments, Yamadashi and Satobiki. Yamadashi traditionally takes place in April, and Satobiki takes place in May. "Yamadashi" literally means "coming out of the mountains." Before this portion of the festival, huge trees are cut down in a Shinto ceremony using axes and adzes specially manufactured for this single use. The logs are decorated in red and white regalia, the traditional colors of Shinto ceremonies, and ropes are attached. During Yamadashi, Teams of men drag the logs down the mountain towards the four shrines of Suwa Taisha. The course of the logs goes over rough terrain, and at certain points the logs must be skidded or dropped down steep slopes. Young men prove their bravery by riding the logs down the hill in a ceremony known as "Ki-otoshi." Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. The septennial festival has taken place for the past 1,200 years. The huge timbers are used as sacred pillars for the Suwa Grand Shrines of Kamisha and Shimosha, which are re-built in Suwa City. The lumbers' journey down the mountainside often results in injury and fatalities as participants try to ride the timbers as they slide down the mountain.

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view Onbashira Festival as presented by: Sacramento Bee


Takayuki Maekawa, one of Japan’s rising wildlife photography stars recently was awarded the grand prize in the first Nikkei National Geographic photo prize. Since 2000, Maekawa has traveled around the world to capture wildlife in its unabashed beauty. In Japan, and throughout Asia, Africa and North America, he has worked in extreme weather conditions to photograph polar bears, eagles, monkeys, elephants and lions. His art-like images capture moments of tranquility as well as the elegance of wildlife. They bridge emotional connections between the viewer and the animals being photographed. The following is a selection of an upcoming exhibition of Maekawa’s work. All photos are copyright Takayuki Maekawa and courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

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view Spectacular Wildlife Photography by Takayuki Maekawa as presented by: ABC News


In New York City's Financial District, hundreds of activists have been converging on Lower Manhattan over the past two weeks, protesting as part of an "Occupy Wall Street" movement. The protests are largely rallies against the influence of corporate money in politics, but participants' grievances also include frustrations with corporate greed, anger at financial and social inequality, and several other issues. Nearly 80 people were arrested last weekend in a series of incidents with the New York police as the protesters attempted to march uptown. Most are now camped out in nearby Zucotti Park. Demonstrations also took place yesterday in San Francisco, and an "Occupy Boston" protest is planned for tonight, September 30. Collected here are a handful of images of the protesters occupying Wall Street from the past two weeks.

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view Occupy Wall Street as presented by: The Atlantic



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