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Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history. Check out how some of the worst affected areas fare one decade after.

It’s the National Dog Day everyone! No, it’s not an official holiday, in case you wondered. It was started in 2004 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert Colleen Paige to recognize the role of dogs in our lives, as protectors, companions, helpers, and rescuers. It also aims to raise awareness about dogs that need rescuing.
Let’s then, in the spirit of the National Dog Day, enjoy these 10 dog pictures, each captivating in its own right.
It is not quite certain how many dogs there are in the United States. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimated about 70 million dogs were owned in the country in its 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook.
Every year, almost 4 million dogs end up in shelters, according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. More than a million of them are put down.
“All a dog wants to do is love and protect you. That’s all,” Colleen Paige states on her website. “Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive, and sentient beings that deserve compassion and respect.”
In almost third of the cases where owners give up a dog, it is because their place doesn’t allow them to keep a dog. Perhaps they moved to a new apartment and the landlord doesn’t want dogs. Or perhaps this is just the most convenient reason people are comfortable giving to surveyers. One in 10 dogs is given up because the owner has a problem with the pet’s behavior.
It costs about $1,300 a year to have a dog, according to Statista.com. So, if you’re up to it, perhaps use today’s occasion to adopt a dog, or donate to a shelter, or at least pet one.

Best news photos of the day from around the world. Learn what’s going on in the fastest, most straightforward way through the lens of news photographers.

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Best news photos of the day from around the world. Learn what’s going on in the fastest, most straightforward way through the lens of news photographers.

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Week in Photos August 14-20

Thursday, 20 August 2015 by

A look into the world through photos from the week of Aug 14-20.

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The Bahamas, the Commonwealth nation of hundreds of islands roughly the size of Connecticut and with population of just a bit over Anaheim, is known for its crystal waters and pristine beaches—and its swimming pigs.
It is unclear when the pigs first appeared on Exuma Island or where they come from. There’s talk about a (daring) escape from a shipwreck, or sailors releasing the swine on purpose. In all probability, there were no pigs on this tropical paradise before European settlers came, so their mere presence is the work of human. The intriguing feat of nature, however, is that this population of pigs developed a fine aptitude for swimming.
Water’s good today. (Lisa Larsen/Public Domain/CC0 1.0)
“It’s unreal,” commented Capt. Jerry Lewless of Capt. Jerry Tours in a short documentary called “When Pigs Swim.”
Some two dozen pigs and piglets cruise the pristine waters of Exuma, surviving on what the locals and stream of tourists give them. Yes, unlike squirrels in the Central Park, these animals you’re allowed to feed. And boy, do people take advantage?
“The rest of the tour is really the beauty of Exuma, but the swimming pigs are the drawing card,” said Capt. Raymond Lightbourn of Exuma Water Sports in the documentary.
That’s right. This is possibly one of the world’s most beautiful havens of nature, yet people are coming here to see pigs.
And who can blame them? We’re just so easy to be distracted by the unusual. I mean, what if I told you there’s a photo gallery called “Top 10 Tight Fitting Animals Wearing Jeans” and the first picture is a pug? Ok, here’s the gallery. See?

Hundreds of couples gathered in Times Square to celebrate the victory over Japan in World War II the same way one of the American sailors did 70 years ago—by a kiss.
The reference is, of course, to the picture by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, taken in Times Square right after President Harry S. Truman announced on August 14, 1945, that Japan had surrendered.
Despite a cheerful atmosphere, today’s recreation wasn’t altogether accurate, since Eisenstaedt remembered the sailor grabbed a woman he didn’t know. This time, participants were specifically encouraged to come with a partner or, at the very least, ask for permission.

Forget about kittens and puppies—baby seals are the epitome of cuteness. Just look at how furry and helpless they look, and those big black eyes …
Moreover, baby seals have also become a symbol of a fight against animal cruelty as they are hunted for their coats.
Canada, the largest seal hunter in the world, allows more than 300,000 seals to be hunted each year (out of a population of estimated 7.4 million).
But the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that oversees seal hunting, calls it a myth that the “Canadian government allows sealers to harvest seal pups.”
“The harvesting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987,” its website states. “The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals.”
Yet that is a wording on the very edge of the facts. It is true that hunting white-furred baby seals is forbidden. But the website fails to mention that baby harp seals only remain white until about the age of two weeks. Any baby seal older that that can be legally hunted.
Calling such baby seal “self-reliant” and “independent” is also a controversial statement, though technically correct since the mother abandons a baby seal after just 12 days of feeding.
Yet baby seals older than 12 days are undeniably still puppies and so, yes, Canadian government allows sealers to kill seal pups.
To be sure, after decades of debates and counter measures, it seems baby seals are not hunted in a way any more cruel then other animals, meaning most are killed swiftly.
Still, killing a baby animal however “humanely” is for many simply inconceivable. Some wouldn’t eat lamb meat for the same reason. Though fewer seem concerned about eating chicken—technically still babies when slaughtered at the age of 5 to 14 weeks.

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A massive wildfire raging about 100 miles north of San Francisco, dubbed Rocky Fire, consumed 65,000 acres of land already. So far 24 homes fell victim to the blaze and almost 7,000 more structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
More than 3,200 firefighters are battling the flames aided by over 300 engines and 23 aircraft. Still, the wild fire is just 12 percent contained, based on Tuesday morning data, and the authorities estimate it will take another week to subdue.
Yesterday firefighters set up large backfires to cut the spreading inferno from crossing Highway 20, but as the wind shifted, flying ember set up multiple spot fires on the other side of the highway.
“Firefighters are working aggressively to build control lines and sustain perimeter control,” the department stated on its website. “Terrain is steep and rugged with limited access.”
Backfires are supposed to create a strip of burned land in front of the wildfire, so the main fire doesn’t have enough fuel to cross it. But this time the strategy wasn’t quite successful because the backfires failed to consume bigger bushes.
“The bigger brush was not burning, then the wind changed and the big stuff started burning and carried embers across Highway 20,” Cal Fire Capt. Danny DeViso told SFGate, a sister-site of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Wildfires are a rather common occurrence in California, with thousands igniting every year. The largest one, dubbed Cedar, consumed over 270,000 acres of land, over 2,800 structures, and caused 15 deaths in 2003.
Last year over 600,000 acres fell prey to wildfires in California, a similar number to the year before. The fires cause damages amounting to tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Hundreds of millions more are spent every year to combat the flames.

In just five months the new “Star Wars: Force Awakens” hits movie theaters, yet for many the force never went to sleep in the first place. Perhaps one of the most amusing examples is the never-ending stream of increasingly sophisticated photos of Star Wars stormtrooper action figures in imaginative and comical compositions.
Just to be sure, there are well over thousand of such pictures out there so narrowing the selection down to less than 30 really presents only the best of the best and the funniest of the funniest. At least in my humble opinion.
What stroke me was the incredible versatility of the figures, including how anatomically plausible they look in different poses. I mean, the YMCA stormtroopers? Priceless. And the twister game? I’d say the ultimate test of the action figure flexibility.
Among the more subtle realizations was the possibility to express plethora of meanings just through poses, as there are no facial expressions to play with. And the last but not the least: The craftiness of the photographers in creating the settings, finding all the tiny props, etc.
There’s definitely more out there so I may revisit this topic again in the future. This time I wanted to focus on the more “signature” stormtrooper humor. And just for variety, I added one picture with no stormtroopers at all. Some may argue it breaks the flow a bit, but it’s still Star Wars-themed and I’d say pretty clever too.
If you’d appreciate more on this topic, or if you have stumbled upon even better stormtrooper pictures, feel free to leave a comment.

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