Philippines Preparing for the New Year

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A worker inspects unfinished firecrackers as they make pyrotechnics at a makeshift factory in Bocaue town, Bulacan province, north of Manila December 27, 2014. Firecracker makers in Bulacan province, the pyrotechnic capital of the Philippines, are in haste to meet the demands for the coming New Year revelry. (Photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

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Elephant Festival in Nepal

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Mahouts tie a seat on an elephant before the Elephant Festival at Sauraha in Chitwan, south of Kathmandu, December 26, 2014. Elephants and mahouts from Chitwan will participate in the Elephant festival, which involves elephant races, elephants playing an exhibition soccer match and taking part in various other sporting activities. The event will start from 26 December and will end on 30 December, 2014. (Photo by Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

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The Forbidden Cuban Cigars You Need to Get Your Hands On

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Staff member Maria Regla, 60, shows a tobacco leaf at a hotel in Havana December 19, 2014. From bus drivers to bartenders and ballet dancers, many Cubans are already imagining a more prosperous future after the United States said it will put an end to 50 years of conflict with the communist-run island. (Photo by Enrique De La Osa/Reuters)

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“Noche Buena”: A Christmas Eve Dinner on Philippines

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Filipino workers turn bamboo poles used in pigs at a roasting pit in suburban Quezon city, Philippines on Tuesday, December 23, 2014. Roasted pig is popular during Filipino celebrations and traditionally served during a Christmas eve dinner called “Noche Buena” in this predominantly Roman Catholic nation. (Photo by Aaron Favila/AP Photo)

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Abandoned Asbestos Mines Still a Hazard in India

“Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind. In Roro Village and other settlements below, people who never worked in the mines are dying of lung disease. Yet in a country that treats asbestos as a savior that provides cheap building materials for the poor, no one knows the true number and few care to ask. Neither the government nor the Indian company that ran the mines from 1963 to 1983 has made any move to clean up the estimated 700,000 tons of asbestos tailings and debris left scattered across several kilometers (miles) of hilly mining area.

India placed a moratorium on asbestos mining in 1986, acknowledging it was hazardous to miners. But that was the government’s last decision curtailing the spread of asbestos. It has since embraced the mineral as a cheap building material. Today, India is the world’s fastest-growing market for asbestos. India keeps no statistics on how many people have been sickened or died from exposure to asbestos, which industry and many government officials insist is safe when mixed with cement. Western medical experts strongly disagree. The World Health Organization and more than 50 countries, including the U.S. and all of Europe, say it should be banned in all forms. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause many diseases”. – Katy Daigle via The Associated Press.

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In this September 11, 2014 photo, Jema Sundi sits outside her home in barren hills where asbestos waste was dumped is visible in the background in Roro, India. An asbestos mine, abandoned nearly three decades ago still affects the people around it and 18 along with Jema were diagnosed with asbestosis in 2012. Tens of thousands more, some former mine workers, remain untested and at risk. (Photo by Saurabh Das/AP Photo)

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Smoke Sauna in Estonia

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Smoke rises from the sauna as Eda Veeroja walks past with birch twigs at Mooska farm near the village of Haanja December 20, 2014. Smoke saunas are usually built without chimney and have a stove that rest on boulders where firewood is burnt until the room heats up. When the smoke is gone and the room reaches the right temperature, people sit inside and whisk each other with birch twigs. The tradition of the smoke sauna in Voromaa vicinity, in the south of Estonia, is enlisted in the UNESCO representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. (Photo by Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

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Amos Chapple’s Photographs of the Coldest Town on Earth

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Globetrotting photographer Amos Chapple has shot in sixty countries, eventually working his way up to be named Cathay Pacific’s Travel Photographer of the Year for ’09. More recently, New Zealand native Chapple photographed a region with weather very opposite from that of his home country: Oymyakon, Russia, where the average winter temperature is negative-58 Fahrenheit (negative-50 Celsius).

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Shark Island in Central Indonesia

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This picture taken on November 8, 2014 shows students from Singapore snorkeling at a coral reef in the waters off Lombok, West Nusa Teggara. Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists. (Photo by Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP Photo)

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The Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

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A reveller wearing a golden cape celebrates as the sun rises during the winter solstice at Stonehenge on Salisbury plain in southern England December 22, 2014. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night of the year. (Photo by Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

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Holiday Decorations Around the World

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Children play with foam as festive lighting is pictured at the Garden by the Bay, showcasing Christmas Wonderland for the holiday season, in Singapore on December 19, 2014. Christmas Wonderland at the Garden by the Bay, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, is displaying Luminaire light sculptures from Italy as part of the upcoming Chirstmas celebration in Singapore. (Photo by Mohd Fyrol/AFP Photo)

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A Flea Market in Tokyo

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A woman browses through kimonos for sale at Boroichi flea market in Tokyo December 15, 2014. In the 16th century, Boroichi was a place for farmers to buy and sell rags, known as boro, for mending clothes and weaving sandals. Now in its 436th year, the original spirit lingers, with about 700 stands hawking fabric, used clothes and piles of rags. Others sell kitchen tools, pottery, seaweed and spices. About 200,000 people flock to the market, which is only open for four mid-winter days a year – two in December and two in January. (Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters)

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Daily Life in Cuba

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People are seen on a street in Havana December 17, 2014. Stunned Cubans celebrated an apparent end to decades of conflict with the United States on Wednesday after both governments said they would restore diplomatic relations cut off in 1961. Many said they expected a restoration of ties would lead to the end of a U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, which is vilified daily in the official media and which Cubans accept as a key cause of widespread poverty on the island. (Photo by Reuters/Stringer)

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15 Photos That Will Make Your Heart Rate Increase

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Adrenaline junkies are everywhere. We all have that one friend who always wants you to try out different extreme sports with them and just never seems to have enough thrill in their lives. Well if it sounds like you might just be that person, you should try some of these activities.

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Christmas Decorations in Germany

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A house and garden is illuminated ahead of Christmas in Olching near Munich December 11, 2014. The house is decorated with more than 30,000 lights. Every year hundreds of houses across Germany are decorated by their owners with lights ahead of Christmas. (Photo by Michaela Rehle/Reuters)

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Glacial Hydro Speeding in Switzerland

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Water way to go. These incredible images show the moment two brave adventurers decided to body board down Europes longest glacier. Seen carving their way through the icy rivers of the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland, the pair are seen risking their lives for an adrenalin rush of a whole new kind. Pictured mounted on their body boards as part of a sport known as hydrospeeding, the daredevils risked being carried away by strong currents and even drowning in hidden crevices to complete the winding seven mile journey. But if that wasnt dangerous enough, the duo also ran the risk of being overwhelmed by collapsing glacial lakes that could be released into the river at any moment. Luckily, Swiss mountain guide, Claude-Alain Gailland and canyon activity specialist, Gilles Janin, are part of only a handful people in the world qualified enough to perform the treacherous run. Located on a UNESCO world heritage site, mountaineering photographer, David Carlier, 42, spent five hours trudging through the icy terrain to reach the summit of the colossal ice mass. (Photos by David Carlier/Caters News)

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