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Photographers to give, not take, portraits December 10, 2011

(CNN) — “This is me and my daughter’s first picture,” a Los Angeles woman wrote on her portrait. “I’ll always remember this moment and cherish this beautiful picture forever and ever. I’m so blessed this was captured.”

This response from a recipient of a free portrait at the L.A. Skid Row Rescue Mission is what inspires celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. His nonprofit, Help-Portrait, gives professional quality portrait photographs to people who could otherwise not afford them.

Cowart, who has taken photographs of celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow and the Kardashian sisters, recruits other photographers, makeup artists and stylists to volunteer their time, equipment and expertise for a day. For the first time, Help-Portrait will share this year’s photographs with the world a week after the event, through their website and the CNN Photos blog.

“Part of the beauty of Help-Portrait is that it’s a movement that belongs to the people,” Cowart said. “All events are independently organized.” Each local coordinator determines where their community’s event will take place, with Cowart’s general guideline of helping people in need.

The third annual event will take place in more than 50 countries around the world on December 10, with a new twist.

“Subjects will be encouraged to draw or illustrate on a copy of their photo and tell others who they are,” Cowart said. He hopes that sharing these images with the world will allow others to “join us in celebrating stories of triumph, reconciliation and new beginnings.”

This year, many photographers started early, including Karen Lim, whose blog “The Story of Bing” won the 2011 Singapore Blog Awards Best Lifestyle Blog. She recently traveled to Swaziland to capture portraits in an underprivileged local community.

“The kids were very excited that they were going to have their photos taken,” Lim wrote on her blog. “Some of them rushed to wash themselves clean to look smart for their shot.”

While she was there, Lim photographed a school for disabled children. She said she had to try to hold back tears with each photograph.

“But I burst into tears as soon as I started processing the shots,” she wrote.

Lim added that some of the children had disfigured faces and bodies from birth, others from abuse. Some would never see their photo because they were blind.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s such a small contribution on my part. I know how to take pictures, and I was just taking some pictures for some people. But to them, it’s a huge thing.”

Luanne Dietz, a photojournalist and middle school photography teacher in St. Petersburg, Florida, said she has volunteered for Help-Portrait since its beginning. This year she has selected five journalism students to participate and partner with her and other professional photographers.

The event will take place at the Mosley Motel, an establishment that houses 95 people; 57 are children.

“Not only do I have the opportunity to bring along some of my students to help who are from the very neighborhood the Mosley is in,” Dietz said, “but I also get to open their eyes to the power they have to change the world through their talent.”

Her team has paired with the motel to provide portraits during a block party. Going above and beyond, they have set up a clothing giveaway, free back massage, a bounce house, free barbecue and a movie on the lawn at sunset.

“So often in photojournalism I feel that photographers get wrapped up in the news frenzy of ‘report the facts and let the viewer decide how to help,’ ” Dietz said. This year, she wants the photographers to be responsible for taking action.

Across the world, recipients of these portraits express their gratitude.

“Katrina took everything from me,” a New Orleans participant said. “But now you are here to help me get something back, and I thank you for that.”

Another in Calgary, Alberta, said, “You made me feel like I was special, like a rock star.”

The past two years combined, the group has given more than 101,000 pictures to people in places like nursing homes, homeless shelters and children’s cancer wings in hospitals.

“It started with a simple idea,” founder Cowart said, “to give back with our skills and talent — and it’s blossomed into a grass roots, worldwide movement fueled by people hungry to give, instead of take, portraits.”


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Herman Cain and the third-person presser | Ana Marie Cox November 9, 2011

Well, that should settle things, right?

Of course not. Already Cain’s press conference is being parsed by left and right – someone on MSNBC just said he wasn’t pointed enough; the right seems to like Cain blaming the media. But I’m not sure we’ll get any further in determining what actually, actually happened (if anything). Barring photo evidence, there are some people who will never believe these women were sexually harassed – those types usually don’t believe there’s such a thing as harassment.

But the conference may prove damaging to Cain. Not because he seemed guilty or because he kind of backwardly admitted that more accusations could be coming (they’re false, too!), but because this conference was the first sustained look America has gotten at an unscripted Cain. And it turns out he’s kind of a prick!

Right? Do Americans like people who refer to themselves (MANY, many times) in the third person?

Do they have warm feelings for people so confident in their blamelessness that they brag about “never” having behaved “inappropriately” with “anyone” ever?

Do they understand the point of the “same-height-as-my-wife” story? (Could someone please explain it to me?)

Cain’s performance only underscored political professionals’ critique of his unpolished campaign – though, not for the first time, that rawness had its appeal: a “real” politician probably wouldn’t have taken questions, for instance. And someone with more time on the stump probably wouldn’t have suggested that he’s open to taking a lie detector test.

Cain is not handling this scandal like a typical politician would; he’s handling it like a reality television star. But not the kind most people root for.

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Homeland Security and Dept. of Safety Issue Nearly 2400 Photo IDs for Voting Since July 1 November 1, 2011


October 31, 2011

by legitgov

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Homeland Security and Dept. of Safety Issue Nearly 2400 Photo IDs for Voting Since July 1 31 Oct 2011 The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced Monday that as of Oct. 24, it had issued 2,385 forms of photo identification for voting purposes since a new law went into effect making on July 1 photo IDs for voting purposes available at no charge. The number of photo IDs issued for voting purposes includes original photo identification cards (for voters who had never been issued a driver license or photo ID and were not already in the Department’s database) and non-photo driver licenses converted into photo driver [WHY is the *Department of Homeland Security* involved with voting issues?]

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Outraged protesters clash with police in Greece October 7, 2011


October 6, 2011

by legitgov

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Outraged protesters clash with police in Greece By Jonathan Woods 05 Oct 2011 Riot police engaged protesters in Athens, after a small group of protesters started throwing rocks in Syntagma Square on Wednesday. Meanwhile, thousands of striking workers marched to parliament, protesting austerity measures. (Photo essay)

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