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Mastery of winter: onto ice are skaters, swan, crabapple tree, child & sculptures at International Ice & Snow Show

Harbin, China: the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

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People visit ice sculptures for the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China on December 23, 2008.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, in Harbin, China, opened on Jan. 5, 2009. The festival lasts for one month, and features large ice and snow sculptures, ice lanterns, swimming in the icy Songhua River and more. The northern hemisphere is a hospitable place for ice festivals these days, so in that spirit, here is a collection of recent photographs of all things frozen, and some of the ways we live and play with ice.

Castleford, northern England: swan trying to land

A swan attempts to land on a frozen lake near Castleford northern England Monday Jan. 5, 2009. Freezing temperatures and snow have struck large areas of Britain.

visitors sliding down ice slides at 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

Visitors slide on tracks at an ice sculpture during a preview for the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at a park in Harbin, China on December 23, 2008.  read more »

Lewis Gordon Pugh astounded world by becoming 1st person to swim at North Pole, to raise global warming awareness

Lewis Gordon Pugh, nicknamed The Polar Bear, is the only person to have completed a long distance swim in each of the five oceans of the world

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Who is Lewis Gordon Pugh?

I am passionate about swimming and I enjoy pushing boundaries. But there's a lot more to it than that. Through my swims I have had a unique perspective on climate change. I have witnessed retreating glaciers, decreasing sea ice, coral bleaching, severe droughts, and the migration of animals to colder climates. It's as a result of these experiences that I am determined to do my bit to raise awareness about the fragility of our environment and to encourage everyone to take action.

But I've not always been in swimming trunks. I studied law at the University of Cape Town and the University of Cambridge, and then went on to work as a maritime lawyer in London. I now spend much of my time public speaking and lobbying world leaders to protect the environment.

Lewis Gordon Pugh

Letter from Lewis Gordon Pugh

Dear Friends

Forget about future generations. This is about us.

For many years, I've been known as a swimmer and an environmentalist. I've used my skills in the water to draw attention to disturbing changes in our oceans. Last year I undertook the first swim at the North Pole to raise awareness about the melting of the Arctic sea ice. It is happening quicker than anyone predicted.  read more »

France condemns Israeli offensive against Gaza revealing sharp difference in tone from official line in Washington

Israeli artillery guns fire towards the Gaza Strip from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border on January 4, 2009. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza and clashed in fierce battles with Hamas fighters today as Israel upped its deadly offensive on the Islamist

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AFP - France spearheaded alarmed reaction from European nations as Israeli tanks and troops pushed into the Gaza Strip, revealing a sharp difference in tone from the official line in Washington.

At least 460 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded in an eight-day bombing campaign, according to Gaza medics, as Israeli tanks clashed overnight with Hamas fighters who fired back with mortars and rockets.

a Palestinian man tries to get his family to safety

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the decision to send ground forces into Gaza after a week of air strikes was a "dangerous military escalation", while Britain called for an immediate ceasefire.

The European Union's new Czech presidency said Israel did not have the right to take military actions "which largely affect civilians," though its launching of land operations in the Gaza Strip was no surprise.  read more »

135 countries committed to International Year of Astronomy 2009: "The Universe, yours to discover." Began on 1 Jan

the Cygnus X-1 binary star system contains one of the best candidates for a black hole

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Stargazers around the world are busy preparing for the International Year of Astronomy. A staggering 135 nations are collaborating to bring the Universe closer to Earth. Events and activities will take place over the coming 365 days and beyond, in a spectacle of cosmic proportions.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) has been launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under the theme, "The Universe, yours to discover". Thousands of IYA2009 events are described on the national websites, as well as on astronomy2009.org, and a few of the global projects are listed here.

official name of this global celebration is the International Year of Astronomy, abbreviated IYA2009  read more »

"Thank you for dancing with me!" Matt invited people in 39 countries on all 7 continents to come out and dance...

dancing in Istanbul, Turkey

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Matt Harding is a 32-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. Matt achieved this goal pretty early and enjoyed it for a while, but eventually realized there might be other stuff he was missing out on.

dancing in Poria, Papua New Guinea

In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he'd saved to wander around Asia until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is. A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it." He was referring to a particular dance Matt does.

dancing in Paris, France  read more »

Poet in solitude. Voice out of silence. "Love's Footsteps ~dedicated to a Bridge for Wisdom to Walk on" by LuCxeed

Book front cover: Love's Footsteps ~ dedicated to a Bridge for Wisdom to Walk on
"Love speaks for Romance, Love speaks more for Compassion." New book release. A gift, inspirational & motivational

Poet in solitude. Voice out of silence.
Journey after journey, over decades, along a lonely path
filled with perilous adventures and distinct accomplishments
paralleling constant pondering in various schools of thought.
Thus,
the poems are wide-ranging in topics,
many inspired by true events, by true stories
while alongside, photographs and art, by nature.
Uncommon.

Book back cover: Love's Footsteps ~ dedicated to a Bridge for Wisdom to Walk on

Poet in solitude.
Voice out of silence.
For years, LuCxeed has led a mostly solitary
existence, dedicating life and passion to thought,
paying homage to philosophy & poetry, photography & art.

In equanimity, and more than often, the poet travels
back and forth, between West and East,
back and forth, between nature and society.

Journey after journey, over decades, along a lonely path
filled with perilous adventures and distinct accomplishments
paralleling constant pondering in various schools of thought.
Thus, the poems are
wide-ranging in topics,
many inspired by true events, by true stories while
alongside, photographs and art, by nature.

Poetry from life is presented to Life - the release of
more than 100 poems in five books by LuCxeed,
inviting readers to enjoy Poem in Art, Poetry in Gallery,
voice and visual art under one roof. Each page  read more »

Once upon a time: Christmas celebration outlawed in Boston; anyone exhibiting Christmas spirit fined 5 shillings

December. Christmas stars. Sisimiut

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Christmas is the most popular holiday of the year in the whole world. About 400 millions people celebrates Christmas holiday each year in winter. In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America.

Christmas at North Pole: what’s the thought of the dear deer in front of the chubby and jolly Frosty?

From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution.  read more »

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