A photo blog of world events by Sacbee.com Assistant Director of Multimedia Tim Reese.
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December 31, 2012
Moments Through Our Eyes, The Year In Pictures

A year in the life -- of our community, of our neighbors, our heroes and people we didn't know but felt in our hearts.

The images of them are subtle, soulful reminders of the fragility and the majesty of life. At year's end, they bear witness to the reality that joy and sorrow are interconnected in the continuum of our lives.

We wish this wasn't so, but the pictures don't lie. We hoped for joy in the year gone by, and we felt joy, but it came with pain, too.

The bitter and the sweet are like our region of two rivers that replenish and renew even as they threaten and sometimes deliver danger.

We had ourselves a year in this community of ours, didn't we? -- Marcos Breton

(24 images)

Jacob Caneba, 11, and his sister Kate, 8, hold an American flag Thursday to honor Marine Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote, 27, of El Dorado, who was killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 10, 2012. As a motorcade carried Mote's body from McClellan Air Park to Green Valley Mortuary, area residents waved flags from freeway overpasses and lined streets along the route in El Dorado Hills, where he attended elementary and middle school. The Sacramento Bee / Jose Luis Villegas
December 28, 2012
Fishermen fear losing livelihood in Peru

EL CALLAO, Peru (AP) -- Fishermen living around Peru's largest port have harvested the sea as a means of survival since the 16th century.

Their way of life, however, is soon bound to change.

Many of them fear a project to modernize El Callao, transforming it into the most important port on South America's Pacific coast, will force them to abandon fishing.

Development of the port undertaken by APM Terminals, a global shipping industry giant based in the Netherlands, will expand port operations over the next several years.

The impact that modernization may soon have on fishing isn't the only worry weighing down on the port's fishermen.

Decades ago, Peru's coastline provided a plentiful bounty. But overfishing has depleted the waters of scorpion fish, horse mackerel and mullet.

Fishermen once arrived at El Callao's pelican-infested docks and sold as much as 110 pounds of fish. These days, no more than 15 pounds are offered. -- Photo package by Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press

(25 images)

Marvin Vega unloads a crate of anchovies from the holding area of a "boliche," the Peruvian term for boats that are used by fishermen who fish with nets, at the port of El Callao, Peru on Dec. 12, 2012. Development of the Peru's largest and oldest port undertaken by a global shipping industry giant based in the Netherlands, will expand port operations over the next couple of years. Many fishermen fear the modernization of the port may have a negative impact on their livelihood. AP / Rodrigo Abd
December 24, 2012
Christmas displays light up the night

Christmas displays light up the night around the world.

(39 images)

Trees are decorated with lights to celebrate the upcoming Christmas and New Year at Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong, South Korea, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. Christmas is one of the biggest holidays in South Korea, where over half of the population are Christians. AP / Ahn Young-joon
December 21, 2012
Mexico's Maya heartland greets dawn of new era

MERIDA, Mexico (AP) -- Dec. 21 started out as the prophetic day some had believed would usher in the fiery end of the world. By Friday afternoon, it had become the punch line of countless Facebook posts and at least several dozen T-shirts.

At the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, thousands chanted, danced and otherwise frolicked around ceremonial fires and pyramids to mark the conclusion of a vast, 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar.

The doomsayers who had predicted apocalypse were nowhere to be seen. Instead, people showed up in T-shirts reading "The End of the World: I Was There."

For the masses in the ruins, Dec. 21 sparked celebration of what they saw as the birth of a new and better age. It was also inspiration for massive clouds of patchouli and marijuana smoke and a chorus of conch calls at the break of dawn.

(23 images)

People gather around a sacred fire during a ceremony at the Iximche archeological site to mark the end of the 13th Oxlajuj B'aktun in Tecpan, Guatemala, early Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. The end of the 13th Oxlajuj B'aktun marks a new period in the Mayan calendar, an event only comparable in recent times with the new millennium in 2000. While the Mayan calendar cycle has prompted a wave of doomsday speculation across the globe, few in the Mayan heartland believe the world will end on Friday. AP / Moises Castillo
December 20, 2012
Snow in Midwest leads to fatal 25-vehicle pileup

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The first widespread snowstorm of the season crawled across the Midwest on Thursday, with whiteout conditions stranding holiday travelers and sending drivers sliding over slick roads -- including into a fatal 25-vehicle pileup in Iowa.

The storm, which dumped a foot of snow in parts of Iowa and Wisconsin, was part of a system that began in the Rockies earlier in the week before trekking into the Midwest. It was expected to move across the Great Lakes overnight before moving into Canada.

The storm led airlines to cancel about 1,000 flights ahead of the Christmas holiday -- relatively few compared to past big storms, though the number was climbing.

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Snow-covered cars in a parking lot greet early morning risers in Madison, Wis. as a severe winter storm moves through the upper Midwest Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Wisconsin State Journal / John Hart
December 18, 2012
Lack of food stunts Chad children, damages minds

LOURI, Chad (AP) -- One morning, a little girl called Achta sat in the front row of this village's only school and struggled mightily with the assignment her teacher had given her.

She grasped a piece of chalk in her tiny fingers. Her face tense with concentration, she tried to direct the chalk clockwise across her slate. She'd been asked to draw a circle. What she drew looked more like a lopsided triangle.

After half a dozen tries, her teacher took away her slate and tried to hide his frustration as he wiped it clean with his palm of his hand. He held her miniature hand in his and traced a circle, then a second, then a third. "Like this," he said. "Like an egg. See?"

Drawing a circle is considered a developmental marker. It tests fine motor skills, the use of the small muscles that control the fingers. Children who are developing at a normal rate can trace a circle by age 3, and Achta doesn't look much older.

She is so small that when she sits on her bunk in class, her feet dangle a foot off the ground.

But Achta isn't three. School records show she is 7 years old.

In this village where malnutrition has become chronic, children have simply stopped growing. In the county that includes Louri, 51.9 percent of children are stunted, one of the highest rates in the world, according to a survey published by UNICEF. That's more than half the children in the village.

(13 images)

Seven-year-old Achta stands in the door of her family's cooking hut, as her mother prepares dinner over a wood fire by the light of a flashlight, in the village of Louri, in the Mao region of Chad on Nov. 1, 2012. A survey conducted in the county where Louri is located found that 51.9 percent of children are stunted, one of the highest rates in the world, according to a summary published by UNICEF. Stunting is the result of having either too few calories, too little variety, or both. The struggle that is on display every day in the village's one-room schoolhouse reveals not only the staggering price that these children are paying, but also the price that it has exacted from Africa. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
December 17, 2012
Gun control debate begins to simmer after massacre

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness.

Several Democratic lawmakers and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman said it was time to take a deeper look into the recent spate of mass shootings and what can be done to prevent them. Gun control was a hot topic in the early 1990s, when Congress enacted a 10-year ban on assault weapons. But since that ban expired in 2004, few Americans have wanted stricter laws and politicians say they don't want to become targets of a powerful gun-rights lobby.

Gun-rights advocates said that might all change after the latest shooting that killed 20 children aged 6 or 7. Police say the gunman, Adam Lanza, was carrying an arsenal of ammunition and used a high-powered rifle similar to the military's M-16.

At a Sunday night service in Newtown, Conn., the site of Friday's massacre, President Barack Obama did not specifically address gun control. But he vowed, "In the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this."

(35 images)

Teddy bears, each representing a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, sit on a wall at a sidewalk memorial, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. AP / David Goldman
December 11, 2012
Santa Claus 2012

A look at Santa Claus around the world and here at home.

(30 images)

Jerry Cowley, aquatic safety manager at the Silverton Hotel-Casino interacts with children as an underwater Santa Claus, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, at the casino's aquarium in Las Vegas. On weekends during the Christmas season, Cowley dives dressed as Santa into the 117-gallon aquarium tank for 90 minutes to take Christmas present requests from children and pose for photos. AP / Julie Jacobson
December 5, 2012
Death toll from Philippine typhoon nears 300

NEW BATAAN, Philippines (AP) -- Stunned parents searching for missing children examined a row of mud-stained bodies covered with banana leaves while survivors dried their soaked belongings on roadsides Wednesday, a day after a powerful typhoon killed nearly 300 people in the southern Philippines.

Officials fear more bodies may be found as rescuers reach hard-hit areas that were isolated by landslides, floods and downed communications.

At least 151 people died in the worst-hit province of Compostela Valley when Typhoon Bopha lashed the region Tuesday, including 78 villagers and soldiers who perished in a flash flood that swamped two emergency shelters and a military camp, provincial spokeswoman Fe Maestre said.

(29 images)

Residents cross a river in a flash flood hit the village of Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Typhoon Bopha, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines this year, barreled across the country's south on Tuesday, killing scores of people while triggering landslides, flooding and cutting off power in two entire provinces. AP / Bullit Marquez