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Across the northern hemisphere, people are doing what they can to cope with the summer weather. Heatwaves have recently struck the Midwest and East Coast in the United States and in parts of Eastern Europe. Hot summer days also bring stormy afternoons, with downpours that have caused numerous flooding problems across parts of China. For many, though, the way to beat the heat is to get outside and cool off in lakes, fountains, or water parks, or to find a place to simply live in the moment and enjoy the sunshine. Collected below are some images from these recent summer days, and of people around the world either enjoying or coping with the heat. Phoenix Fire fighter Tony Reiter dumps a helmet full of water over his head during a fire that destroyed Fiesta Asadero y Taqueria in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 27, 2011. This was the hottest day of the summer so far with a high of 115 degrees. A boy swims near an inflow from the river Drim into Ohrid lake in Struga, Macedonia, on July 12, 2011, as temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit). Yasmin Bolden, 7, has mud washed off her after a mud contest at the Wet and Wild Water Week Day Camp, Tuesday, July 12, 2011, at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center in Birmingham, Alabama.

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view Days of Summer as presented by: The Atlantic


It may look more like a perplexing work of avant-garde sculpture than it does a telescope, but make no mistake about it--the golden snowflake on a surfboard that is the James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier eye in the sky of the next decade. With the assistance of the Webb, astronomers hope to take a giant leap forward in understanding the origins of the cosmos. It trumps all previous space telescopes by virtue of its 18 hexagonal reflectors, which combine to form a huge mirror roughly seven times larger than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. This will allow it to collect far more light to see with, enabling it to peer at the most distant objects in the universe. Since light travels in time as well as space, the further away the James Webb Space Telescope can see, the further back in time it can look, granting the world unparalleled glimpses of the light from the first galaxies. This next-generation space observatory will yield vital clues about every stage in the history of the cosmos, from the formation of the universe to the evolution of our own solar system. Expected to launch in 2014, NASA has allowed us sneak peeks at how one goes about building a successor for Hubble.

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view How to Build a Telescope Even More Powerful Than Hubble as presented by: Discover Magazine


The first troops to leave Afghanistan as part of the U.S. drawdown handed over their slice of battlefield Wednesday to a unit less than half their size and started packing for home. When the 650 members of the Iowa National Guard's 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment arrived in Afghanistan in November 2010, bases didn't have enough housing, translators were in short supply and chow halls were packed. Commanders were using a buildup of 33,000 extra troops for a major push that they said would turn the tide of the war against the Taliban insurgency. Nine months later, it's still unclear if that push has succeeded, but the pullback has begun. Although major combat units are not expected to start leaving until late fall, two National Guard regiments comprising about 1,000 soldiers in all are withdrawing this month -- the Iowa soldiers from Parwan province in eastern Afghanistan, and the other group from the capital, Kabul. U.S. soldiers walk into a U.S. military plane, as they leave Afghanistan, at the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, July 14, 2011. U.S. soldiers with Task Force Red Horse wait in a bus to be transported for the airport section to leave Afghanistan, at the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. U.S. soldiers roll up the U.S. flag after a transfer of authority ceremony from Task Force Red Horse to Task Force Maverick at the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.

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view US Begins Drawdown of Troops from Afghanistan as presented by: Sacramento Bee



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


Back in August, 1995, Russian IL-76TD RA-76842 plane was captured by the militants from Taliban movement. Along with the plane an aircrew was also captured (8 people.) And today the story is going to go about this plane. IL-76 was owned by a private airlines from Kazan called Aerostan. The plane was subleased out by the Afghan government and was shipping ammunition supplies en-route Tirana-Sharjah-Kabul. The cargo was conforming with all norms of ICAO and was permitted for shipping. It was not their first flight to Kabul; special radio waves didn’t air any prohibitions or limitations for the flight. Everything was going alright. But over Afghanistan territory, while the plane was 8,000 meters high, it was captured by MIG-21 fighter jet which was owned by Taliban movement. A short time after the plane was forced to land at the airport of Kandahar city. No sooner than a year passed, 378 days if to be exact, before Russian pilots managed to make an outraging runaway; they played upon a silly blunt of security who allowed them to start repairing the plane. They were acting as sharp and consistently as ever: engineers were shutting the loading ramp, a pilot was starting engines and a radio operator was checking radio lines. Behavior or the air crew didn’t attract a bit of security’s attention. Maybe just the loading ramp made them somewhat uneasy. Slowly but firmly they were heading their way to a take-off which was too short. It’s not a fast thing to speed up a huge aircraft with some militants chasing you on a military car. But another capturing didn’t work this time and the plane got off from the last meter of the runway.

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view Then Captured Plane as presented by: English Russia


Images from Kerry Skarbakka‘s long-term project “The Struggle to Right Oneself” are currently on view at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles. “Ten Years of Falling,” as the show is appropriately named, includes 28 anxiety-ridden images of the artist in precarious situations, such as falling off rocks, ladders, buildings and trees. Skarbakka has a background in rock climbing, martial arts and acting, which makes him the perfect stuntman. The photographs are shot on location, occasionally with the use of ropes or a harness. Whatever Skarbakka lands on is intentionally obscured either in camera or, when necessary, with Photoshop. Skarbakka referred to himself as a performance-based photographer in a 2009 interview on NBC’s Today show. “I use my body to describe these tensions and anxieties I’m trying to create, and I use photography to disseminate my ideas.”"Ten Years of Falling” at the Kopeikin Gallery is currently on view through September 7, 2013.

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view Falling Forever as presented by: Photo District News


After the end of the surge, and with France accelerating its troop withdrawal, the number of NATO forces in Afghanistan is beginning to drop. Fewer than 70,000 American troops remain in the country now, and the Afghan National Army has grown to nearly 200,000 soldiers. However, the desertion and attrition rates among Afghan soldiers is extremely high, jeopardizing the future of the current government as NATO heads toward its drawdown in 2014. The current war in Afghanistan has become a political talking point in the presidential election, yet there are hundreds of thousands for whom it is part of daily life, and has been for more than a decade. These photos show just a glimpse of that experience over the past month, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. A soldier from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment (The Vikings) stands to attention as his regiment receives their Afghanistan Operational Service Medal at Picton Barracks in Bulford, England, on November 1, 2012. The parade was the first in a series of events marking the end of their successful six-month deployment to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Helmand. The parade comes during the same week that two more British soldiers were shot dead at a checkpoint in Afghanistan by a man wearing a local police uniform. An Alaska Air National Guardsman embraces his son on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flightline after returning from Afghanistan. Thirty citizen-Airmen of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing arrived in Alaska on October 17 after deploying this May in support of combat search and rescue.

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view Afghanistan: October 2012 as presented by: The Atlantic


On any given day or week in a city such as Los Angeles, you can find something new and outside of the regular routine to do. From June 16 – 26, the Hollywood Fringe Festival takes over various spaces in the slight area of one square mile in Hollywood. Photographer Mariah Tauger spent a couple days cruising this scene to capture a glimpse of what this year’s festival has to offer. She spent time behind the stage, following the “freaks,” taking in the shows and walked away experiencing passionate and creative people in this city. I think this is a must for next year. 4 Clowns member Alexis Jones makes some last-minute adjustments before a performance. Kasey Rose, contortionist and member of the FreakShow Deluxe, warms up before performing during the second annual Hollywood Fringe Festival. "Orange Freak" Liz Steele, right, and "Red Freak" Abby Burgess promote the fest.

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view A Glimpse of the Hollywood Fringe Festival as presented by: Los Angeles Times



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