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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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Occupy Wall Street: police evict protesters November 15, 2011

12.31pm / 7.31am ET: Will sheer tiredness finish off what the NYPD began? Adam Gabbatt tweets:

Crowd seems to have dispersed a little from Foley Square – not surprising given many been up all night. Drummers are having a good time tho

12.21pm / 7.21am ET: Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to hold a press conference at 8am (1pm GMT). We will, of course, be covering it on this blog.

Photograph: Michael Tracey

12.16pm / 7.16am ET: Michael Tracey has just tweeted this photo of the now-cleared Zuccotti Park.

12.11pm / 7.11am ET: In other Occupy-related news, 60 protesters among the 700 or so arrested on Brooklyn Bridge during a march at the start of last month, an incident which prompted accusation of heavy-handed police tactics, will be arraigned at Manhattan criminal court this morning. We’ll be reporting from there.

12.03pm / 7.03am ET: Sarah Maslin Nir of the New York Times has tweeted a couple of photos of the dawn-light general assembly in Foley Square. More worryingly, someone has brought along their conga drums.

11.57am / 6.57am ET: There were plenty of tweets earlier about the supposed arrival of union supporters of the protest. Adam Gabbatt emails to say that at least some of this was true:

There was confused discussion this morning about union support arriving at one of the proposed general assembly locations. The general assembly ended up taking place at Foley Square, and it appears union members are beginning to arrive.

Derek Grate, political coordinator at 1199 SEIU, said he was at the square “just to support the First Amendment rights of the people”.

“I got emails from some of our folk,” he said. “We have contacts down there [at Zuccotti Park]“.

“We will continue to support the rights of these people who are here for peaceful protests”.

Grate said the operation to remove protesters from Zuccotti Park had been “absolutely terrible”.

“They say it’s about cleaning up the park, we think it’s about sabotaging and breaking up the movement.”

Photograph: Craig Ruttle/AP

11.55am / 6.55am ET: Another photo from earlier: police and protesters clash at Zuccotti Park.

11.44am / 6.44am ET: As someone who spent quite a while reporting from the parallel Occupy London camp, it’s interesting that Bloomberg justified the eviction on the usually woolly grounds of “health and safety”. When St Paul’s cathedral, in the shadow of which the London camp is based, asked the protesters to leave and closed the building, they were mocked for the idea.

Two other key quotes which stand out:

But make no mistake – the final decision to act was mine.

And, as a final flourish:

Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.

That’s all very well but I’ve not, as yet, encountered an argument that would keep you warm during a New York winter.

11.35am / 6.35am ET: Mayor Bloomberg has issued a statement on the eviction. It’s fairly long but worth running in full:

At one o’clock this morning, the New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park notified protesters in the park that they had to immediately remove tents, sleeping bags and other belongings, and must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest. Many protesters peacefully complied and left. At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Protesters were asked to temporarily leave the park while this occurred, and have been told that they will be free to return to the park once Brookfield finishes cleaning it later morning. Protesters – and the general public – are welcome there to exercise their First Amendment rights, and otherwise enjoy the park, but will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags, or tarps and, going forward, must follow all park rules.

The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day. Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protesters, making it unavailable to anyone else.

From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protesters’ First Amendment rights.

But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.

That is why, several weeks ago the City acted to remove generators and fuel that posed a fire hazard from the park.

I have become increasingly concerned – as had the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties – that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protesters and to the surrounding community. We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the City assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park. But make no mistake – the final decision to act was mine.

The park had become covered in tents and tarps, making it next to impossible to safely navigate for the public, and for first responders who are responsible for guaranteeing public safety. The dangers posed were evident last week when an EMT [emergency medical technician] was injured as protesters attempted to prevent him and several police officers from helping a mentally ill man who was menacing others. As an increasing number of large tents and other structures have been erected, these dangers have increased. It has become increasingly difficult even to monitor activity in the park to protect the protesters and the public, and the proliferation of tents and other obstructions has created an increasing fire hazard that had to be addressed.

Some have argued to allow the protesters to stay in the park indefinitely – others have suggested we just wait for winter and hope the cold weather drove the protesters away – but inaction was not an option. I could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting. Others have cautioned against action because enforcing our laws might be used by some protesters as a pretext for violence – but we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.

Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest, but rather to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others. There have been reports of businesses being threatened and complaints about noise and unsanitary conditions that have seriously impacted the quality of life for residents and businesses in this now-thriving neighbourhood. The majority of protesters have been peaceful and responsible. But an unfortunate minority have not been – and as the number of protesters has grown, this has created an intolerable situation.

No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities. The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out – but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here – the First Amendment protects speech – it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.

Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.

Let me conclude by thanking the NYPD, FDNY, and the Department of Sanitation for their professionalism earlier this morning. Thank you.

11.27am / 6.27am ET: Adam Gabbatt has sent through this run-through of the latest around the park:

Some 300 protesters were gathered on Broadway, south of Zuccotti Park, at 5am. Proposals by protesters to reconvene at Foley Square – a space which has been used by Occupy Wall Street for protests before – were met with chants of “Stay, stay, stay”.

The decision of whether to stay or go was eventually taken for protesters, when police announced people had to clear Broadway, retreating to the sidewalks, or face arrest.

Police then moved forward, prompting angry cries from protesters, and at least two arrests.

By 5.45am most protesters had left the area and headed to Foley Square with the plan, according to speculation among the crowd and on Twitter, to hold for a general assembly.

It’s now 6.20am, and that general assembly is under way. The main issue being discussed presently is how to provide legal support for those arrested – and what to do next.

Earlier the crowd was told there would be union support for Occupy Wall Street arriving at Foley Square at 7am, although I was told by a spokesman for the OWS media team this would be 9am. Plans are being made, and changed, quickly at the moment.

11.13am / 6.13am ET: It might still be early – especially if you’re in New York – but enough has happened already to merit a summary.

Police in New York have cleared the Occupy Wall Street camp from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where it has been based since 17 September. Officers with helmets and shields arrived around 1am, set up floodlights and ordered the 200 or so activists to leave or face arrest.

The majority of the campers left voluntarily, but a small number remained around the camp’s kitchen tent. Some reports said a few locked themselves to items. Police surrounded this small group and removed them around 3.30am. After the camp was emptied, teams cleared away tents and other possessions.

Before the eviction, flyers were issued on behalf of the city and Brookfield Office Properties, which owns the park, saying the emcampment posed “an increasing health and safety hazard to those camped in the park, the city’s first responders and the surrounding community”.

Police prevented media from getting within sight of the eviction process, in a seemingly deliberate strategy. There has been no official word on arrests or injuries.

Members of the camp, joined by other supporters, have massed on nearby streets. They are now gethered in Foley Square, where an assembly is taking place.

11.07am: Another interesting tweet on the efforts police seemingly went to in order to limit media coverage, from Scott Kidder of the Gawker website:

CBS News NY News Desk tells me their helicopter was forced down by NYPD — they had to go down for fuel but weren’t allowed back up. #ows

11.02am / 6.02am ET: Ah, the magic of social media – as pointed out by Adam Gabbatt, there’s now an @OccupyFoleySq Twitter feed, with 30 followers. It remains to be seen if this is an actual plan or a mere aspiration.

Adam says that there are currently about 200 protesters in the square, who are holding an impromptu general assembly. Presumably, the crowds are soon going to be joined by ever-growing ranks of confused commuters.

10.56am / 5.56am ET: Various tweets are pointing out this video, seemingly shot on a mobile phone as police began clearing the last protesters from the kitchen tent of the camp. It shows alarm as a white smoke is sprayed towards the crowd. Some earlier reports claimed tear gas was being used (see 8.36am), but later tweets say it could merely have been a fire extinguisher – the lack of apparent coughing on the video would support this.

10.51am / 5.51am ET: Newyorkist has tweeted a photo of the eviction notice handed to protesters in the park. It’s slightly fuzzy, but screw your eyes up and you can more or less read it.

10.47am / 5.47am ET: Sarah Maslin Nir, who was watching tension build as police massed in Foley Square (see 10.34am) is now tweeting that, mysteriously, most of the officers seem to have moved away.

10.35am / 5.35am ET: It’s worth mentioning, for those who’ve not already seen it, that by fortuitous timing the parallel Occupy London movement have “occupied” our Comment is Free site for the day – by invitation, of course.

Aside from a main piece explaining the day’s the basics behind the protest, there’s something on “hubristic capitalism”, on the pressing need for bank reform and an invitation to add to the movement’s policy on corporations.

10.34am / 5.34am ET: A lot of the focus now seems to be at Foley Square, where many protesters are heading. Sarah Maslin Nir of the New York Times tweets:

Tons more cops just showed up at Foley Square. Air tense. No one knows what’s going to happen. Cops won’t tell me plan

10.29am / 5.29am ET: Adam Gabbatt has filed this short video of police warning protesters to move or face arrest (see 10.20am)

10.26am / 5.26am ET: We now have a gallery of photographs from tonight’s events.

10.24am / 5.24am ET: Ryan Devereaux, a reporter for Democracy Now, filing for the Guardian, has sent this:

Occupy Wall Street protesters in the financial district remain in the streets. There are reports of multiple meet-ups, general assemblies and marches underway throughout Lower Manhattan. Police presence throughout the area is extremely high. Protesters who participated in a march from Foley Square, Manhattan’s downtown civic centrr, reported the use of pepper spray and multiple arrests.

10.20am / 5.20am ET: There are now outbreaks out trouble reported on some streets near Zuccotti Park, where some protesters have remained gathered. Adam Gabbatt tweets that he has seen at least two arrests after police ordered crowds to move from around the corner of Broadway and Pine Street. Crowds, – chanting, “Shame, shame” – are being pushed south down Broadway, he adds.

10.01am / 5.01am ET: Adam Gabbatt has managed to get a rare glimpse of events inside the park, albeit at second hand. He writes:

Andrew Carbone, who is in the media working group and has been involved in Occupy Wall Street since before 17 September, was one of the few on the Zuccotti Park side of the barrier at 4.30am.

“It’s packed out with sanitation workers,” he said. “The sanitation workers are taking stuff and throwing it into the garbage truck.” He said there were protesters who had been allowed out of Zuccotti and were sat down within the barriers. They had not been arrested.

Many were forced further away. Another activist, Ben Swenson said he was “shoved” out of
the park in a small group. “They shoved us out in rounds,” he said. “I was in the first round, the police came in and said take out your tents and leave the park immediately.

“I was moving around trying to tell people what was happening, but then they pushed us out in groups.”

He said he was hit on the head by a police baton, but believes it was by mistake. “Well, they said sorry,” Swenson said.

Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

9.57am / 4.57am ET: Also, a view of the clean-up operation.

Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

9.55am / 4.55am ET: Now for a couple of photos. Firstly, a protester yells at police after being ordered to leave the park.

9.39am / 4.39am ET: I’ve been chatting to Adam Gabbatt, who like the rest of the media has been frustrated in his attempts to get into the park itself. He told me that those evicted have been joined by other supporters, meaning he saw around 500 activists in all milling around the area, as he trudged the streets looking for a way past the police cordons.

On the complaints about possessions being thrown away (see 8.46am) Adam said that while he saw a few items being binned – a toy light sabre among them, apparently – similar evictions have seen tents put into storage.

Of the protesters he said:

At the moment here, plans are afoot to hold a general assembly at Foley Square, which is near City Hall, probably about half a mile away, although some people are in favour of staying at the barricades, and not moving at all.

9.23am / 4.23am ET: With the park still sealed off, there are crowds marching nearby, chanting slogans, amid a heavy police presence. It’s all fairly confusing and, according to people there, at times tense.

9.19am / 4.19am ET: There is no official news of injuries. Josh Harkinson – who tonight seems to have the reporters’ lucky fate of being at the centre of everything – has, however, tweeted a slightly hazy photo of someone being loaded into an ambulance, being given oxygen.

Both Harkinson and other press near the scene tweeted that riot police prevented them getting a closer look at the injured person.

9.15am / 4.15am ET: Just for the record, here is the tweet from a couple of hours ago with which Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office announced the impending eviction. Presumably, the message that protesters can return later implies they do so without tents.

Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protestors can return after the Park is cleared. #ows

Photo: Josh Harkinson

9.13am / 4.13am ET: Josh Harkinson, who managed to avoid arrest in the end, has tweeted this photo of the now-cleared Zuccotti Park.

9.02am / 4.02am ET: I’ve just received very useful this round-up of tonight’s events from Ryan Devereaux, a reporter for Democracy Now, filing for the Guardian. He writes:

Hundreds of officers with the New York City Police Department descended on the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan late this evening. At approximately 1.00am protesters say the NYPD set up emergency vehicles around the park and turned on massive flood lights. Scores of officers in riot gear began entering the park and handing out notices of eviction. Protesters say there was little time to respond the department’s orders to disperse. Several hundred of the demonstrators rallied around the park’s central eating area.

With roughly 200 protesters collected in the kitchen space, police and sanitation workers began tearing down tents and any standing structures around the park. Protester’s belongings were thrown into massive piles then loaded into large trucks.

Media were repeatedly directed away from the square and eventually confined to a metal pen at the far end of the block. Police buses were later parked in front of the pen, blocking clear shots of the park.

Meanwhile in the kitchen area six protesters reportedly used bicycle locks to chain themselves together by the neck. The demonstrators gathered at the centre of the park were free to leave but chose to stay, forming seated columns with their arms locked.

A mass of police officers began to gather around the kitchen area to begin arresting the remaining protesters. Reports from inside indicated the arrests were orderly and non-violent, but some protesters and press who managed to leave the area reported that they saw officers beating and stepping on demonstrators.

8.57am / 3.57am ET: Adam Gabbatt tweets that he is also unable to get anywhere near Zuccotti Park:

Police blocking access to Zuccotti. Tried at corner of Bdway and Cortlandt St and then at Trinity Pl and Cortlandt, turned away #OWS

8.52am / 3.52am ET: There’s a lot of Twitter anger among the media in New York City about not being allowed anywhere near the eviction operation, and police ignoring press passes. There seems to be a consensus that police have made a deliberate decision to keep journalists away from the park as far as possible tonight.

8.46am / 3.46am ET: It’s worth noting a point made below in the comments by Alithea50, about protesters’ possessions. On the live stream, and on Twitter, many have complained about not being allowed to remove their tents and personal items from the park, saying many of these, including valuable and personal items, have been taken away for disposal.

8.44am / 3.44am ET: Reuters have their own quite clever live update page of the eviction, which mixes video, photos and Twitter streams.

8.40am / 3.40am ET: Harkinson’s Twitter feed is increasingly compelling. Here’s some more, beginning with the police officer ordering him to leave, something Harkinson initially refused to do:

He literally started hauling me across the park. My feet were slipping on the ground.

All around me, protesters were being pepper sprayed and zip cuffed

I decided it would be better to stay out of jail and keep reporting on what’s going on tonight, so I let him haul me out, arguing with him

8.36am / 3.36am ET: Police have used tear gas to remove the last protesters from the park, according to various reports. Josh Harkinson, again, appears closest to the action. He tweeted:

The riot police moved in with zip cuffs and teargassed the occupiers in the food tent

Then they wrestled them to the ground and cuffed them

He then says he was ordered to leave by police, despite saying he was a member of the media. All press had to go a press pen, officers told him. There doesn’t appear to be any media access to the final removals of protesters.

8.35am / 3/35am ET: My colleague, Adam Gabbatt, is also very near the scene now. He tweets:

About 100 police officers moving down Broadway towards Zuccotti. Currently 50m away to the north #OWS

8.30am / 3.30am ET: The video stream by the food tent has been cut off, but activists outside the park, speaking to those inside by phone, say arrests are beginning. Josh Harkinson, who we quoted earlier, says he is within view. He tweets:

Riot cops now surrounding food tent.

8.23am / 3.23am ET: With crowds, and reporters, reportedly being kept a block away, the live video stream is more or less the only direct view into events inside the park, and it’s oddly compelling. The camera just panned round to canvass views of activists huddling together, surrounded by police. “It’s scary as hell but I’m not moving,” one said. Another added: “I’m excited – I think the world knows what’s going on.”

The feed occasionally shifts to another camera, outside the park, which seems to mainly consist of people arguing with impassive police officers.

8.18am / 3.18am ET: The Occupy Wall Street live video stream seems to be showing the small number of protesters who remain inside the park, by the camp’s kitchen area. When the camera pans round, you can see increasing numbers of officers surrounding the group, who clearly expect to be evicted at any moment. At the moment, however, it seems to be something of a standoff.

8.11am / 3.11am ET: One of the reporters tweeting from the scene is Josh Harkinson, a writer for the magazine Mother Jones. Here’s a few of his very recent updates:

Almost whole park is already clear except for food tent

Only #OWS supplies left are in a big heap by the red sculpture

A slew of riot cops with batons heading down broadway

Cops have a giant orange bulldozer that they’ve used to scrape everything up

8.03am / 3.03am ET: The police operation, of course, follows yesterday’s clearance of the Occupy Oakland camp in California. There, police in riot gear arrested 33 people and removed around 100 tents.

7.56am / 2.56am ET: You can, of course, follow a lot of this via Twitter, although searching the #ows hashtag does give you one of the fastest-moving message streams I’ve ever seen. When it slows down enough to read, a lot of tweets seem to be telling protesters to move to nearby Foley Square, though it’s by no means clear anyone is doing this. There’s undeniably a lot of anger from Occupy supporters.

7.54am / 2.54am ET: According to the New York Times, there were about 200 people camping in the park at the time police swooped. The newspaper has this description of the start of the operation:

The protesters… resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!” as officers began moving in and tearing down tents. The protesters rallied around an area known as “the kitchen” near the middle of the park and began building barricades with tables and pieces of scrap wood.

The officers, who had gathered between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and then rode in vans along Broadway, moved into the one-square-block park shortly after 1 a.m.

As they did, dozens of protesters linked arms and shouted “No retreat, no surrender,” “This is our home” and “Barricade!”

7.47am / 2.47am ET: The camp has been there since 17 September and attracted worldwide attention. While the wider movement has its roots in earlier actions in Spain, the momentum from New York helped spread the movement to a number of other cities, both in the US and elsewhere, for example London.

However, as my colleague Karen McVeigh reported on Saturday, with winter closing in and numbers gradually dwindling, the Wall Street protesters were facing a problem anyway, even before the eviction. She write:

Keeping the protests alive at all through the cold months is becoming a challenge for a movement flushed with the dramatic success of its first eight weeks.

The Guardian has learned that Adbusters, the Canadian activist group which helped spark the movement, is even considering calling on occupiers to declare “victory” for phase one and go home for the winter – clear recognition that numbers are likely to dwindle anyway and make it increasingly difficult for the protests to maintain momentum and generate headlines.

Back at the park, protesters have been chanting at police:

The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching.

7.40am / 2.40am ET: A police spokesman, Paul Browne, said the fliers issued to protesters, on behalf of both Brookfield Office Properties and the city, decreed that “the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park posed an increasing health and safety hazard to those camped in the park, the city’s first responders and the surrounding community”.

According to Browne, most people left voluntarily, although there was still a small group in the middle of the park.

The Occupy live stream shows the Lower Manhattan park still illuminated by bright floodlights erected by police for the operation, with helmeted police posted in significant numbers. Protesters appear to be holding a meeting directly outside the park, directing most of their focus at the police. One speaker just told officers:

What you are doing does not reflect the values of most New Yorkers.

7.28am / 2.28am ET: The Occupy Wall Street protest camp in New York’s Zuccotti Park has been removed by police in an overnight operation. It began around 1am today local time (6am GMT) when officers handed activists, who have been in the park since September, notices from the park owner, Brookfield Office Properties, saying it had to be cleared as it was now insanitary.

It’s not clear whether the protesters will be allowed to return. New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has said they should “temporarily leave”. However, other instructions seemed to indicate they will only be permitted to return without tents or other possessions.

What is clear is that police wearing helmets and carrying shields have now largely cleared the park, which is now sealed off. The camp’s internet video live stream shows workers clearing away tents and other items, as protesters complain loudly that they are not being allowed to retrieve possessions.

There is no apparent disorder, though police say they have made 15 arrests.

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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


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


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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