Jacob Schneider of the Connecticut National Guard, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment hugs his mother Lori Schneider (r.) at the William A. O'Neill Armory in Hartford, Conn. on Wednesday. Two units of the Connecticut National Guard are returning home for the holidays, thanks to a fundraising effort that will bus them back to the state from bases in Wisconsin and Indiana. They have been training for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan early in the new year. Jessica Hill/AP
Cocolo, a toy poodle, eats a special Christmas cake made with rice powder, yogurt, and honey with strawberries on top in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday. Itsuo Inouye/AP
Protesters against the talks between Taiwan and China release sky lanterns outside the site of the talks in Taichung, Taiwan, on Wednesday. China and Taiwan, political rivals for six decades, agreed on Tuesday to negotiate a trade deal that would cut tariffs and bring the two sides closer. Nicky Loh/Reuters
Two girls play with their mugs as they wait for free ice cream at an evacuation center in Legazpi city, Philippines on Wednesday. As Mayon volcano continues to spew ash and lava, tens of thousands of evacuees are expected to spend Christmas in different evacuation centers. Bullit Marquez/AP
A flamingo stands in its snow-covered, outdoor enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday. Axel Heimken/AP
Children play soccer as they wait for a delivery of toys, as a part of Christmas activities organized by Nicaragua's government, in Managua, on Wednesday. Esteban Felix/AP
US Army Sergeant Czech from Task Force Denali Platoon trains Afghan national policemen at a police station in the Dwamanda district in Khowst province, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. Zohra Bensemra/Reuters
Baby elephant Jamuna Toni cuddles with a zookeeper at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo on Dec. 23 in Germany. Michael Dalder/Reuters
Wooden boards usually set up as walkways during annual high waters are seen floating away in St. Mark's Square after the high water reached a peak of 4.7 feet, the highest level of 2009, in Venice, Italy, early on Wednesday. The phenomenon of high water, which floods the Venice lagoon, occurs mainly between autumn and spring when tides are reinforced by seasonal winds. The heavy rain and snowfall which has been hitting most of Italy in the past few days contributed to raising the water level in the lagoon. In the background are St. Mark's Basilica (l.) and St. Mark's bell tower. Luigi Costantini/AP
President Robert Mugabe (c.) shares a light moment with Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (l.), and his Deputy Arthur Mutambara after giving their end-of-year message to the nation, at Zimbabwe House in Harare, on Wednesday. The three leaders said they had made progress in clearing the outstanding issues in the Global Political agreement, and hoped the economy would improve ahead of the New Year. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
An Amazonian native takes pictures before a mass wedding in the remote village of Mapuera in the western part of Brazil's second largest state, Para, on Tuesday. 283 indigenous couples from the Wai Wai, Katwena, Xerwuiana, Hiskararyana, Mawaiana, Wa-dlxana, Tunayana, Xowyana, Ckiyana and Caxuyana tribes, were wed at the event organized by the state government on the banks of the Mapuera River. Paulo Santos/Reuters
A pilgrim holds burning candles in the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Wednesday. Christian visitors coming to Bethlehem this week to celebrate the birth of Christ will encounter a concrete wall with watchtowers, built by Israel, between nearby Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity. Ammar Awad /Reuters
Workers and police investigators sift through debris surrounding the cracked fuselage of American Airlines flight AA331 which crash landed overnight on a flight from Miami to Kingston, Jamaica, just beyond the runway of Norman Manley International Airport. More than 40 people were injured, at least 4 seriously, but there were no fatalities according to officials. The aircraft overshot the runway when it landed in heavy rain early on Wednesday. Lloyd Robinson/AP
President Barack Obama's daughter Malia walks with the family dog, Bo, as she waits for her mother, First Lady Michelle Obama, to read a Christmas story to patients at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington on Dec. 22. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
The European Parliament elected Antonio Tajani on Tuesday to replace outgoing president Martin Schulz. Mr. Tajani faces a number of challenges, including the growing influence of anti-establishment and anti-EU political parties.
On Tuesday, the European Parliament elected centrist Italian Antonio Tajani as the body's new president, making him the third center-right leader heading the European Union's top institutions, at a time of growing opposition to the European Union from euroskeptical parties across the continent.