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Re. graphics placement (and other layout issues), my experience has always been that LaTeX is a lamb as long as you let it do its own thing. Trying to enforce your own ideas as to what goes where is to invite a world of pain.
This certainly can be true if you try to use the wrong tool for the job. LaTeX's float mechanism is designed for the automatic placement of figures, tables, etc. You can easily customize the policy that it uses but fine-grained control of individual figure placement is not its forte.
Don't get me wrong... I think that LaTeX does a fantastic job of layout in general and figure placement in particular. I meant to imply that it's best left to LaTeX to do what it's so good at.
However, you can use the optional float.sty package, which has an option for "right here, right now, or else!" figure placement.
I used float.sty once only... and came to the conclusion (after clearing up the mess) that LaTeX knew what I wanted better than I did ;-)