2012’s Most Powerful Photos

Take a look at the dramatic events of and the very best photos of 2012.

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FILE / AP
","id":"2261518","thumbnail_url":"https://nbcots.go-vip.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2012-review-new-thumb.jpg?fit=722%2C406","type":"image","focusedSlide":""},{"caption":"The Costa Concordia cruise ship <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/13/world/europe/italy-cruise-deaths/index.html">ran aground and capsized</a> off the Italian coast on Jan. 13. Thirty-two people were killed. After its recovery operation was suspended, nearby residents worried about the environmental threats the ship might pose to the area. Click to see 2012's most powerful news photos.
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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had a heated conversation with President Barack Obama after he arrived in Phoenix on Jan. 25. "He was a little disturbed about my book," Brewer said. <a href="http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/01/25/10238029-arizona-governor-obama-in-tense-exchange-over-book?lite">Their tarmac tiff</a> boosted sales of "Scorpions for Breakfast," which described the president as "patronizing" during an earlier meeting — a description Obama disputed.
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Indian soldiers from the Border Security Forces stood at attention in front of the Presidential Palace. Atop their camels, they prepared for the annual Beating Retreat in New Delhi, India.
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On Jan. 30, a Hindu holy man took a dip at Sangam during the annual traditional fair of Magh Mela in Allahabad, India. Hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers during Magh Mela.
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FILE / AP
On the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards, <a href="/entertainment/music/Singer-Whitney-Houston-Dies-139164069.html">singing sensation Whitney Houston died</a>. The star was found underwater in the bathtub of her Beverly Hills hotel room on Feb. 11. She was 48.
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FILE / AP
This Feb. 26 photo of George Zimmerman was taken by a Sanford police officer the night Zimmerman <a href="http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Father-Wants-Man-Who-Shot-His-Son-Arrested-142067953.html">fatally shot unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin</a> and was released later by Zimmerman's lawyers. Martin's death attracted national attention, <a href="http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/George-Zimmerman-Was-Not-Arrested-For-Shooting-Trayvon-Martin-Because-His-Self-Defense-Claim-Was-Backed-by-Evidence-Testimony-Chief-Says-143712316.html">fueled by controversial police handling of the case</a>.
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On Feb. 16, North Korea's new leader Kim Jong Un waved at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang after reviewing a parade of thousands of soldiers, commemorating the 70th birthday of his late father Kim Jong Il.
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Talk about your glitz and glam! At <a href="/blogs/popcornbiz/Octavia-Spencer-Freaking-Out-Over-Best-Supporting-Actress-Oscar-140513633.html">the 84th Academy Awards</a>, Meryl Streep took home the award for best actress for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Jean Dujardin won the prize for best actor for his role as a silent movie star in "The Artist."
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At least 11,000 villagers were trapped by heavy snow and blizzards in Serbia's mountains, authorities reported. The death toll from eastern Europe's week-long deep freeze in February rose to 122; many of those reported dead had been homeless.
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A Japanese snow monkey relaxed in a Jigokudani Valley hot spring. The macaques descend to the warm waters each morning and return to the security of the forests in the evening.
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FILE / AP
On the eve of Valentine's Day, Thai-Swedish couple William Timhede and Napatsawan Timhede swung out on a rappelling rope as part of an adventure-themed wedding ceremony.
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In March, Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke <a href="http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Limbaugh-Apologizes-To-Georgetown-Student-141310973.html">drew national headlines</a> after conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" on his show, following her testimony before Congress on birth control costs. Fluke later was a featured speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
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FILE / AP
Men stood by a beached abandoned ship off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria, on March 14. Abandoned ships are an environmental threat to the area, as the wrecked rusting hulks litter the coastline of the west African country, which lacks the funds or incentive to clean up.
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Space shuttles Enterprise and Discovery <a href="http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Discovery-Enterprise-Udvar-Hazy-Center.html">met nose-to-nose</a> at the beginning of a transfer ceremony at the Smithsonian's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C. In April, space shuttle Discovery took the place of Enterprise at the center to commemorate past achievements in space.
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FILE / AP
People took photos of Mohawk Gaz's hair, emblazoned with Trayvon Martin's first name, as thousands — including national civil rights leaders — <a href="http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Trayvon-Martin-Supporters-Gather-At-Rally.html">gathered in Miami on April 1</a> to demand justice for the slain teen. Protesters said they would continue holding rallies until George Zimmerman was arrested, which he was later that month.
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In 2012, droughts dried ponds and devastated crops around the globe. Here, an Indian shepherd woman carried her lamb across a cry river bed on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
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First Lady Michelle Obama introduced President Barack Obama at Georgia's Fort Stewart Army post on April 27.
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A village boy led his goat past a parched pond on the outskirts of the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar, India. Huge swaths of rural farmland turned dry in May as planters awaited the annual monsoon rains.
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FILE / AFP / Getty Images
Paving the way for the future of space travel, SpaceX Dragon <a href="http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/47571949">became the first private spacecraft</a> to dock with the International Space Station on May 25.
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Facebook founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg <a href="http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Mark-Zuckerberg-Rings-Facebooks-Bell-152022545.html">rang the opening bell</a> of the Nasdaq stock exchange on May 18, the day of the social media behemoth's IPO. Shares fell from their IPO price of $38 in the coming days, following <a href="http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Facebook-Shares-Sell-at-XXX-a-Share-152037595.html">trading problems during the opening</a>.
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Queen Elizabeth II has held the throne for 60 years. As part of <a href="http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/05/12062377-diamond-jubilee-celebrations-queen-touched-by-happy-atmosphere?lite">a four-day Diamond Jubilee celebration</a>, British revelers watched as their queen appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
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A soldier with his face painted the colors of the Venezuelan flag attended a military parade in Caracas in June.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former neuroscience graduate student James Holmes was arrested after <a href="/news/national-international/President-Obama-to-Address-Colorado-Shooting-in-Florida-163164216.html">a shooting rampage</a> that killed 12 people and wounded scores more in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. Holmes <a href="/news/national-international/Colo-Massacre-Suspect-Heads-to-Court-Dark-Knight-Rises-James-Holmes-163385776.html">later appeared in court</a> looking dazed and glassy-eyed, his hair dyed red.
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Actor Christian Bale and his wife Sibi Blazic <a href="/entertainment/movies/Christian-Bale-Visits-Shooting-Victims-in-Colorado-163617286.html">visited an Aurora, Colo., memorial</a> following the mass shooting. Twelve people were killed at late-night screening "The Dark Knight Rises," which stars Bale as Batman.
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Gabby Douglas made history at the London Olympics, edging out her competition to <a href="/news/sports/Gabrielle-Douglas-and-Aly-Raisman-164740506.html">win the most coveted title in women's gymnastics</a> – a gold medal in the women's individual all-around competition – and help her team to a gold medal in the team competition.
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Getty Images
Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time this year when <a href="/news/sports/Olympic-Viewing-Guide-Phelps-Could-Make-Medal-History-164311446.html">he won his 19th medal</a> — his 15th gold — during the 4x200m freestyle relay. As if those prizes weren't enough, he went on to win <a href="/news/sports/Michael-Phelps-Swan-Song-164934546.html">another three golds</a> at the 2012 games, for a career haul of 22 medals, 18 of them gold.
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Team USA's Russell Westbrook scores against Nigeria during a men's basketball game at the 2012 Olympics. The U.S. team <a href="/news/sports/NATL-US-Spain-Gold-Medal-Game-165863736.html">went on to defeat Spain for gold</a>.
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This photo shows the 20th century Ecce Homo-style fresco of Christ from a Spanish church before (left) and after (right) amateur artist Celia Gimenez, 80, took it upon herself to restore it. The incident <a href="http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/48776729#48776729">made national news</a> and was an Internet trending topic for weeks.
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An Afghan refugee boy poses with a plastic rifle as he and other children celebrate the first day of the Eid al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, in August.
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A chapter of the layered geological history of Mars is laid bare in this color image from the Curiosity rover showing the base of Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual science destination.
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Striking mine workers armed with machetes, sticks and spears march to a smelter plant in South Africa. Labor unrest began roiling South Africa in August, when platinum miners in Marikana staged a wildcat strike demanding higher pay. In a violent confrontation not seen since apartheid ended in 1994, <a href="http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/16/13317646-south-africa-police-fire-on-striking-miners-killing-34?lite">police shot and killed 34</a>.
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Public school teachers march past John Marshall High School in West Chicago. <a href="/news/national-international/CPS-Schools-Open-Part-Time-if-Teachers-Strike-168016256.html">Teachers walked off the job</a> for the first time in 25 years amid disputes over job security and teacher evaluations, among other issues.
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Occupy Wall Street protestor Chris Philips screams as he is arrested near Zuccotti Park in September. <a href="/news/national-international/Occupy-Wall-Street-Anniversary-Zuccotti-Park-170006006.html">More than 180 protestors were arrested</a> during a march toward the New York Stock Exchange on the anniversary of the grass-roots movement.
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A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son near Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo. As the 20-month-old war in Syria continued to rage, there were new signs that President Assad’s support continues to slip domestically.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Costco members fill up with discounted gasoline at a Costco gas station in Van Nuys, Calif. Prices jumped by as much as 20 cents a gallon overnight in October, and after they <a href="/news/national-international/Gas-Prices-Hit-New-Record-Sunday-los-angeles-auto-club-california-173031861.html">hit a record high</a>, California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered emergency action.
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Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky <a href="/news/national-international/Sandusky-Sentenced-Penn-State-Child-Sex-Abuse-173267581.html">was sentenced in October to 30 to 60 years in prison</a> following his conviction of multiple counts of child sex abuse. "This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life," the judge said.
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Sandusky later lashed out at <a href="/news/national-international/Jerry-Sandusky-David-Goliath-Letter-Judge-173732971.html">what he called a conspiracy against him</a>. A prosecutor called his stance "<a href="/news/national-international/NATL-Sandusky-Headed-to-Prison-But-Scandal-Persists--173468441.html">a masterpiece of banal self-delusion</a>." Former Penn State officials <a href="/news/national-international/Sandusky-Penn-State-Graham-Spanier-Charged-176748121.html">still face charges</a> for allegedly conspiring to cover up Sandusky's alleged crimes.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
When he jumped out of a capsule in a giant leap from more than 24 miles above earth, Felix Baumgartner <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49410049/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/astronauts-hail-skydiver-felix-baumgartners-record-breaking-supersonic-jump/#.UMdAEF2E3jM">shattered the sound barrier while making the highest jump ever</a> — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.
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President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney <a href="/news/national-international/NATL-Rematch-Obama-Romney-Face-Off-in-Second-Debate-174473571.html">traded barbs during the second presidential debate</a>, held at Hofstra University. Obama turned in a better performance, following a dismal one at the first debate, and Romney's remark about "<a href="/news/national-international/NATL-Debate-Sparks-Bindersfullofwomen-Trend-174503821.html">binders full of women</a>" soon became <a href="/entertainment/celebrity/2012-Top-Quotes-From-Binders-Full-of-Women-to-Gangnam-Style-NATL-182816791.html">an enduring meme</a>.
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Robert Connolly embraces his wife Laura as they survey the remains of her parents' home in the Breezy Point neighborhood of New York after it burned to the ground. More than 50 homes were destroyed in the fire, which swept through the oceanfront community during superstorm Sandy.
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A parking lot full of yellow cabs sat under water after superstorm Sandy. The compact city of 50,000 people and a single square mile, just across the Hudson River from New York, <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Hoboken-Flood-Hudson-River-Sandy-Storm-National-Guard-176562161.html">got emergency supplies deliveries from the National Guard</a> after it was left almost entirely without power by Sandy and faced lingering flooding.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rebel fighters watch as smoke rises after Syrian government forces fired an artillery round at a rebel position during heavy clashes in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria.
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President Barack Obama hugs Vice President Joe Biden at his election night party. President Obama defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney after a hard-fought, bitter campaign fight, winning most battleground states for <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/Election-Day-2012-By-the-Numbers-177663431.html">a wide margin of victory in the electoral vote tally</a>.
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FILE / Getty Images
Supporters of President Barack Obama gathered in Times Square in New York to watch him speak on giant television screens after he won a second term in office.
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The Rolling Stones <a href="/entertainment/music/NATL-Rolling-Stones-Mark-50th-Year-with-London-Show--180755041.html">performed at the O2 arena in east London</a> in November in celebration of <a href="/entertainment/music/Old-Rockers-Roll-On-182371841.html">their 50th anniversary as a band</a>.
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Iranian mourners cover themselves with mud during Ashoura, marking the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, at the city of Bijar, west of Tehran.
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Palestinian mourners carry the body Mohammed Hijazi, 4, who was killed with his father and brother in an Israeli strike during <a href="/news/national-international/Israel-Expands-Air-Assault-on-Rockets-in-Gaza-179764711.html">Israel's November offensive in the Gaza Strip</a>. Israel drew fire for striking homes during its targeted killings of suspected Hamas militants.
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A member of Hamas' Palestinian National Security personnel blows fire during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City in December. Days earlier, just after Hamas and Israel declared a ceasefire, Palestinians scored a diplomatic victory when <a href="/news/national-international/NATL-Palestinian-Bid-for-Enhanced-Status-Goes-to-Vote-in-UN--181340631.html">the U.N. recognized Palestine as a non-member state</a>.
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Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Morsi supporters carry a body of one of the six victims who were killed during clashes outside Al Azhar mosque, the highest Islamic Sunni institution. During the funeral, thousands Islamist mourners chanted, "with blood and soul, we redeem Islam."
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Transfer cases containing the remains of Army Spc. Tyler J. Orgaard and Army Sgt. 1st Class Darren M. Linde sit on a loader during a prayer at Dover Air Force Base. They both died on Dec. 3 in Afghanistan when their unit was attacked with an IED.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
A Syrian rebel fighter aims his weapon during clashes with government forces in Aleppo, Syria.
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Hosts LL Cool J and Taylor Swift perform onstage at the Grammy nominations concert in Nashville on Dec. 5.
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Britain's Prince William stands next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London. She was admitted there earlier in the week for severe morning sickness in the early stages of her just-announced pregnancy.
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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill. House Republicans are negotiating with President Barack Obama on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff, the eligibility age for Medicare and lower cost-of-living hikes in Social Security benefits.
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Just days before Christmas, a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., leaving 26 people dead — including 20 children. Six adults were also killed, along with the gunman's mother and the gunman himself. It was the second most deadly school shooting in the nation's history.
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Clockwise, from top left: Benjamin Wheeler, Catherine Hubbard, Rachel D'Avino, Jesse Lewis, Anne Marie Murphy, Allison Wyatt and Lauren Rousseau.
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President Barack Obama visited Newtown, telling the nation at a news conference, "The majority of those who died today were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own."
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Angie Whitworth hugs her son Eli, 10, as prayers are said for the victims of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 in Shelby, N.C.
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