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Fall Is in the Air, Part II

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One last overview of autumn, my favorite season. Across the Northern Hemisphere, harvests are in motion, festivals are being held to celebrate the change of season, animals are returning to their winter grounds, and of course, viewers are enjoying the explosion of colors among the leaves. Collected here are some a few more images from this year's autumn. [27 photos]

Choose:
A leaf of the Virginia Creeper hangs from a roof in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany on September 30, 2014. (Patrick Pleul/AFP/Getty Images)
A leaf of the Virginia Creeper hangs from a roof in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany on September 30, 2014. (Patrick Pleul/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nikon Small World 2014

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Nikon will be announcing the winners of the 2014 Small World Photomicrography Competition on October 30. As a preview of the announcement, they've shared some of the unranked images from this year's competition with us here. Celebrating its 40th year, the contest invites photographers and scientists to submit images of all things visible under a microscope. More than 1,200 entries were received this year. Enjoy a trip into a miniature world through the images below, all from the 2014 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. [26 photos]

Mite in a small forest. (Jose R. Almodovar, Puerto Rico)
Mite in a small forest. (Jose R. Almodovar, Puerto Rico)
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A 50-Foot-Tall French Fire-Breathing Dragon-Horse Visits Beijing

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of French-Chinese diplomatic relations, the French production company La Machine traveled to Beijing, China, with two of its massive mechanical puppets, including a 20-foot-tall spider named La Princesse and the newly added Long Ma, a 46-ton fire-breathing dragon-horse made of wood and steel. La Machine put on three days of performances titled "Long Ma, Spirit of the Dragon Horse" next to Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium, ending yesterday. [25 photos]

French production company La Machine's latest creation, a massive mechanical puppet named "Long Ma" or Dragon Horse breathes steam while performs in front of the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing, China on October 19, 2014. The performance marked the climax of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
French production company La Machine's latest creation, a massive mechanical puppet named "Long Ma" or Dragon Horse breathes steam while performs in front of the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing, China on October 19, 2014. The performance marked the climax of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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Photos of the Week: 10/11-10/17

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This week we have photographs from Nepal, China, Venezuela, Siberia, Israel, Ukraine, Missouri, Nevada, outer space, and many more locations. Also, this week, I'm playing with visual rhyming—couplets and triplets of images that relate to each other or play off each other, either visually or contextually (or both). Several pairs and trios of images within today's essay are deliberately sequenced in this manner, some more subtle than others. Please let me know, in comments or directly, if you like this, or if it feels a bit gimmicky, thanks. [35 photos]

Blind student Marina Gimaraes, of the Association of Ballet and Arts for the Blind, warms up backstage before performing "Corsario e Paquitas" during celebrations marking Brazil's Children's Day at the Italo Theater in Sao Paulo on October 12, 2014. The Association was founded by Brazilian ballerina and physiotherapist Fernanda Bianchini in 1995, when she decided to teach classical ballet to the blind for free. Since then, her classes have been opened to the deaf and mute, and even to children and youths with other handicaps. Bianchini says that the school's main goal for their students is for them to improve their posture, balance, spatial sense and self-esteem, in addition to breaking barriers and prejudices about people with handicaps. (Reuters/Nacho Doce)
Blind student Marina Gimaraes, of the Association of Ballet and Arts for the Blind, warms up backstage before performing "Corsario e Paquitas" during celebrations marking Brazil's Children's Day at the Italo Theater in Sao Paulo on October 12, 2014. The Association was founded by Brazilian ballerina and physiotherapist Fernanda Bianchini in 1995, when she decided to teach classical ballet to the blind for free. Since then, her classes have been opened to the deaf and mute, and even to children and youths with other handicaps. Bianchini says that the school's main goal for their students is for them to improve their posture, balance, spatial sense and self-esteem, in addition to breaking barriers and prejudices about people with handicaps. (Reuters/Nacho Doce)
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Skulls and Bones

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In a number of crypts, catacombs, chapels, and memorials around the world, human skeletons are arranged for public view. Some of these compositions are designed for remembrance of loss and atrocities past; others are composed artistically to inspire worshipers and bring to mind thoughts of an afterlife and the temporary nature of this life. Gathered here are a few images of these ossuaries, from Europe, Asia, and Africa. [21 photos]

Skulls and bones in an ossuary with the remains of more than 50,000 people on October 19, 2012 under the Church of St. James in Brno, Czech Republic. Lost for some 200 years, the ossuary was discovered in 2001 during construction work under the Church of St James. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)
Skulls and bones in an ossuary with the remains of more than 50,000 people on October 19, 2012 under the Church of St. James in Brno, Czech Republic. Lost for some 200 years, the ossuary was discovered in 2001 during construction work under the Church of St James. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)
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Hong Kong Police Clash With Occupy Protesters

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For weeks now, pro-democracy protest groups have occupied parts of central Hong Kong, calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Local police have been urging the demonstrators to leave for days, and have recently stepped up efforts to dismantle barricades on several major roads - only to have many of them rebuilt hours later. Tensions boiled over last night, leading to a violent clash between police and protesters. Police arrested dozens, and at least one demonstrator, politician Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, was dragged away and beaten by police, a moment caught in this video. As of today, most of the Occupy protesters remain in place, Beijing refuses to budge, and no discussions are underway. [30 photos]

Police forces march toward pro-democracy protesters holding umbrellas during a standoff outside the central government offices in Hong Kong on October 14, 2014. Hong Kong police vowed October 14 to tear down more street barricades manned by pro-democracy protesters, hours after hundreds of officers armed with chainsaws and bolt cutters partially cleared two major roads occupied for a fortnight. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)
Police forces march toward pro-democracy protesters holding umbrellas during a standoff outside the central government offices in Hong Kong on October 14, 2014. Hong Kong police vowed October 14 to tear down more street barricades manned by pro-democracy protesters, hours after hundreds of officers armed with chainsaws and bolt cutters partially cleared two major roads occupied for a fortnight. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Battle for Donetsk

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For six months now, battles have taken place in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian rebels, part of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic. On September 5, both sides agreed to a cease-fire, but the shelling has continued in the weeks since, both sides blaming the other for violating the truce. Of the estimated 3,600 people killed in the fighting, more than 330 have died since the cease-fire was signed. Most of the current battles are taking place in a few neighborhoods of the city of Donetsk, primarily near the international airport. Several contingents of Ukrainian soldiers remain in control of the heavily-damaged buildings of Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, attacked constantly by rebel groups who surround them, and retaliating with outgoing fire. Donetsk city authorities said many residential buildings nearby had been destroyed and that two shopping centers had also been hit. Tensions between Ukraine and neighboring Russia remain high, despite a recent troop pullback by Russia and scheduled talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's President Vladimir Putin later this week. [36 photos]

The main terminal of Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, hit by shelling during fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on October 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
The main terminal of Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, hit by shelling during fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on October 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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Photos of the Week: 10/4-10/10

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This week we have images of human towers going up in Catalonia, eruptions of Mount Sinabung in Indonesia, a witch in flight above California, a serene Swiss meadow, the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, Kurdish peshmerga fighters in Iraq, a surfer in Morocco, an infinite sculpture in Mexico, and much more. [35 photos]

Japan's H-2A rocket, which carries the Himawari-8 weather satellite, leaves the launching pad at the Tanegashima Space Center, Kagoshima prefecture, in southwestern Japan in a bid to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts related to natural disasters. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Japan's H-2A rocket, which carries the Himawari-8 weather satellite, leaves the launching pad at the Tanegashima Space Center, Kagoshima prefecture, in southwestern Japan in a bid to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts related to natural disasters. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Statue or Bust: Around the World in Lenins

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Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, founder of Russia's Communist Party, and premier of the Soviet Union, has been dead since 1924, but his image has lived on worldwide for nearly a century. With the backing of the Soviet government, tens of thousands of statues, busts, and monuments to Lenin were erected in former Soviet states and allied nations. These likenesses became worldwide symbols of communism and the Soviet Union, and they have ridden the tides of fortune and disfavor over the decades. Dismantling Lenin statues is a symbolic act that goes back to World War II, and continues through the present day; last week, protestors in Ukraine tore down their country's largest Lenin monument. Collected here are photos of Lenin monuments from across the world, including Lithuania, Latvia, Mongolia, Ghana, Ukraine, Cuba, Russia, Romania, Vietnam, Georgia, Svalbard, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria—and Seattle. [36 photos]

A billiard club in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, with bust of Vladimir Lenin, 2007. The billiard club is located in the former Lenin museum. (CC BY-SA/freepix.eu)
A billiard club in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, with bust of Vladimir Lenin, 2007. The billiard club is located in the former Lenin museum. (CC BY-SA/freepix.eu)
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The Battle for Kobani

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For weeks now, ISIS militants in northern Syria have been attacking the Kurdish city of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, attempting to seize the city and solidify control of the territory. In the past few days, U.S.-led airstrikes on ISIS have included many targets around Kobani, and appear to have at least slowed their advance for the moment. Kobani is situated on a hillside right on the Syria-Turkey border, a border crossed by tens of thousands of Kurds fleeing their besieged city. Now, some of these refugees and fellow Kurds from southern Turkey have gathered on the border to watch the battles in Kobani through binoculars and cameras. Some Kurdish forces remain in the city, defending against invading militants, supported by Western aircraft and missiles, while ISIS continues to attack with artillery, mortars, suicide bombings, and small arms. CNN reports that senior U.S. administration officials conceded that Kobani will likely soon fall to ISIS, but downplayed the importance of the loss. [32 photos]

Smoke rises after an U.S.-led air strike in the Syrian town of Kobani Ocotber 8, 2014. U.S.-led air strikes on Wednesday pushed Islamic State fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said. The town has become the focus of international attention since the Islamists' advance drove 180,000 of the area's mostly Kurdish inhabitants to flee into adjoining Turkey, which has infuriated its own restive Kurdish minority and its NATO partners in Washington by refusing to intervene. (Reuters/Umit Bekas)
Smoke rises after an U.S.-led air strike in the Syrian town of Kobani Ocotber 8, 2014. U.S.-led air strikes on Wednesday pushed Islamic State fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said. The town has become the focus of international attention since the Islamists' advance drove 180,000 of the area's mostly Kurdish inhabitants to flee into adjoining Turkey, which has infuriated its own restive Kurdish minority and its NATO partners in Washington by refusing to intervene. (Reuters/Umit Bekas)
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Wrapped in Plastic: Preparing for Ebola

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As several African nations struggle to contain outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, and other countries ready themselves for any possible spread, images of healthcare workers wrapped in colorful personal protective equipment have become symbolic of the fight against the disease. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, local health providers and international volunteers protect themselves as best as they can, while caring for the sick and dying and disposing of infected belongings. In other countries, health professionals are making plans, preparing to handle any possible Ebola cases, and demonstrating their methods and protective gear for the press and government officials. [32 photos]

A health care worker of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy hospital of Monrovia wearing a protective suit enters the high-risk area of the hospital, the surgical section where Ebola patients are being treated, on September 3, 2014. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)
A health care worker of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy hospital of Monrovia wearing a protective suit enters the high-risk area of the hospital, the surgical section where Ebola patients are being treated, on September 3, 2014. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)
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Northern Lights in the Skies Above Norway

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Visible displays of the Northern Lights have been spectacular recently, for those in the far north, away from city lights. Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis recently took a trip to northern Norway, joining others making the journey to admire and try to capture the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis in photographs. Below is a collection of these images, looking to the skies above Troms County, Norway, last week. [18 photos]

A tourist takes photos of an Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over the Bals-Fiord north of the Arctic Circle, near the village of Mestervik, Norway, on September 30, 2014. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
A tourist takes photos of an Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over the Bals-Fiord north of the Arctic Circle, near the village of Mestervik, Norway, on September 30, 2014. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
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Photos of the Week: 9/27-10/3

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This week we have images of the Hong Kong protests, 35,000 walruses gathered in Alaska, a surf dog contest in California, the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Paris Fashion Week, Parkour in Gaza City, a tattoo of Morgan Freeman, and much more. [35 photos]

Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong Sunday, September 28, 2014. Hong Kong police used tear gas and warned of further measures as they tried to clear thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered outside government headquarters in a challenge to Beijing over its decision to restrict democratic reforms for the city. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong Sunday, September 28, 2014. Hong Kong police used tear gas and warned of further measures as they tried to clear thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered outside government headquarters in a challenge to Beijing over its decision to restrict democratic reforms for the city. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
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2014 National Geographic Photo Contest

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National Geographic Magazine has opened its annual photo contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on October 31, 2014. The Grand Prize Winner will receive $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic headquarters to participate in its annual photography seminar. The kind folks at National Geographic were once again kind enough to let me choose among its entries so far for display here on In Focus. Captions written by the individual photographers. [32 photos]

Empusa pennata, a conehead mantis, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey. (© Mehmet Karaca/National Geographic Photo Contest)
Empusa pennata, a conehead mantis, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey. (© Mehmet Karaca/National Geographic Photo Contest)
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The Eruption of Japan's Mount Ontake

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On Saturday, Japan's Mount Ontake volcano erupted without warning, surprising several hundred nearby hikers. Plumes of volcanic gas and ash overtook the fleeing hikers and buried nearby lodges and outbuildings. Though most of the people on Mount Ontake that day were able to escape. 40 suffered significant injuries and at least 36 bodies have been found so far, according to Japanese authorities. More than 24 bodies remain at the summit, and recovery crews have been unable to return, wary of more activity from Ontake as tremors continue to shake the region. [19 photos]

Climbers descend Mount Ontake as the volcano erupts in central Japan on September 27, 2014, in this photo taken by a climber and released by Kyodo. The volcano erupted on Saturday, killing at least 36 people, officials and media said. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the volcano, 200 km (125 miles) west of Tokyo, erupted just before midday and sent ash pouring down the mountain's south slope for more than 3 km (2 mi). Mandatory credit. (Reuters/Kyodo)
Climbers descend Mount Ontake as the volcano erupts in central Japan on September 27, 2014, in this photo taken by a climber and released by Kyodo. The volcano erupted on Saturday, killing at least 36 people, officials and media said. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the volcano, 200 km (125 miles) west of Tokyo, erupted just before midday and sent ash pouring down the mountain's south slope for more than 3 km (2 mi). Mandatory credit. (Reuters/Kyodo)
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Pro-Democracy Protesters Occupy Hong Kong's Central District

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Since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the semi-autonomous city has operated under a "one country, two systems" formula, allowing a limited democracy. In August, the Chinese government announced plans to vet candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 elections, virtually assuring only pro-Beijing politicians would be on the ballots. Student groups and pro-democracy supporters have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the limitations and to demand universal suffrage. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have occupied Hong Kong's Central District, bringing parts of the city to a standstill. The protests are one of the largest political challenges to Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chinese officials have scolded protesters and warned against any foreign interference. [30 photos]

A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on September 28, 2014. Hong Kong police used tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protests and baton-charged the crowd blocking a key road in the government district after Hong Kong and Chinese officials warned against illegal demonstrations. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on September 28, 2014. Hong Kong police used tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protests and baton-charged the crowd blocking a key road in the government district after Hong Kong and Chinese officials warned against illegal demonstrations. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
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Photos of the Week: 9/20-9/26

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This week, images of a storm cloud over Sydney, synchronized swimmers at the Asian Games, multiple scenes from in and around Syria, a city in Sierra Leone locked down to fight ebola, effigies of demon king Ravana in India, and much more. [35 photos]

Feifei, 21, undergoes breast implant surgery at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province, China. Feifei, who is a third-year university student and a part-time model, received a free breast implant surgery which costs about 300,000 yuan ($48,881), in return for advertising for the hospital. Around 10 days after the operation, she won a prize at a local beauty contest, reported local media. (Reuters/Stringer)
Feifei, 21, undergoes breast implant surgery at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province, China. Feifei, who is a third-year university student and a part-time model, received a free breast implant surgery which costs about 300,000 yuan ($48,881), in return for advertising for the hospital. Around 10 days after the operation, she won a prize at a local beauty contest, reported local media. (Reuters/Stringer)
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The Alberta Tar Sands

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Buried just beneath a layer of muskeg and forest in northern Alberta, Canada, lies a 50,000 square mile reservoir of heavy crude oil, possibly holding 2 trillion barrels of recoverable oil. These bitumen deposits require a lot of effort to extract, recover, and pre-process before the oil can be sent to conventional refineries. Most of the current extraction process takes place in open-pit mines, with massive machinery scraping up the tarry sandstone and moving it to facilities for processing. As the name "tar sands", or oil sands, implies, the heavy crude is found mixed in with sand, clay, and water, which must be removed, then the heavy crude must be "upgraded" to reduce viscosity and improve quality. Environmental activists have expressed concerns about the mining for years, citing destructive impacts on the land, the heavy carbon footprint of the laborious extraction and upgrade process, massive amounts of toxic byproducts, and studies that show oil sands crude emits more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil. Oil companies continue to make efforts to reduce carbon emissions, manage toxic byproducts, and reclaim mined land, while ramping up production. The Alberta tar sands are currently producing around two million barrels of oil per day, with plans to increase that to nearly four million barrels per day by 2022. Reuters photographer Todd Korol recently traveled to Alberta to photograph some of the mines, facilities, and surrounding landscape. [26 photos]

The top layer of muskeg and earth (right), and the underlying tar sands (left) after the removal of the muskeg, at the Syncrude tar sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, on September 17, 2014. (Reuters/Todd Korol)
The top layer of muskeg and earth (right), and the underlying tar sands (left) after the removal of the muskeg, at the Syncrude tar sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, on September 17, 2014. (Reuters/Todd Korol)
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