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As 2011 draws to a close, Framework looks back on an eventful, tumultuous year, documented by the photojournalists of the Los Angeles Times.

It was a year marked by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan; the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, with rebel uprisings and hard-fought battles resulting in the fall of Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, and the capture and death of Libya’s Moammar Kadafi; and the humanitarian crisis of continued famine in Africa.

2011 also saw the somber 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001; the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement; the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London and their subsequent Southland visit; and the involuntary manslaughter trial, conviction and sentencing of Michael Jackson’s personal physician.

Carmageddon in Los Angeles, anticipated with dire predictions of monumental gridlock, turned out to be not so disruptive after all.

Almost nine years after the invasion of Iraq, the war was declared officially over with the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops and their return home — in time for the holidays, no less.

As always, the worlds of entertainment, sports and celebrity are part of the gallery, adding a light, colorful touch to a memorable year.

Enjoy the look back with us, and have a wonderful 2012.

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November 11th marks the 85th Anniversary of one of the most famous highways in America, U.S. Route 66.

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The $57-a-night Motel Caswell, a magnet for complaints, police and the unemployed, is the unlikely prize in a high-stakes tug-of-war between conservative legal activists and the government.

All photographs by M. Scott Brauer for The Wall Street Journal.


The sign for Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass. The motel’s owner, Russell Caswell is trying to convince a federal court that the Constitution bars the U.S. Department of Justice from seizing his property, where guests have been found guilty of drug offenses.


Tewksbury city officials say the case was pushed by federal officials and they don’t know how the roadside motel became a target. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston began the seizure proceedings two years ago.


Mr. Caswell on his property last week. The motel has been owned and operated by Mr. Caswell and his family since the 1950s.


Mr. Caswell, here in the motel’s lobby, is not accused of any wrongdoing but stands to lose his business under a law that calls for the forfeiture of properties linked to crimes.


Mr. Caswell said he and his employees try to keep out shady customers. At the front desk he maintains a ‘do not rent’ list with the names of 75 guests who have made trouble. Here, employee Art Love, who has worked in the office of Motel Caswell for six years.


A Justice Department court filing listed seven police investigations from 2001 to 2008 that resulted in at least eight convictions for drug-related crimes, including possession and trafficking. The motel has been the subject of more than 100 drug investigations since 1994, according to the government filing.


Motel guest Sheila Esposito, 50, of nearby Wilmington, Mass., is renting a room while looking for work. ‘This place is $800 a month, with everything included,’ she said. ‘Can you beat that?’


Motel guest Joel Dubeshter, 58 years old, said he had been staying at the motel for long stretches over the past three years after his divorce. The motel is his mailing address and he has furnished the small room with two of his walnut bureaus, along with family photos. ‘It’s definitely home to me,’ he said.


Mr. Caswell said that among his tens of thousands of past customers he could have unknowingly rented rooms to a relative handful of lawbreakers. But that’s a problem faced by many motel owners, he said. The guests who cause problems, he said, are only a ‘tiny percent of the people who stay here.’


The Tewksbury Police Department provided U.S. authorities with evidence for the case, according to a court filing, and could get as much as 80% of the proceeds from sale of the property under a federal forfeiture program known as ‘equitable sharing,’ which pays a portion to state and local agencies that help. The motel and land have no mortgage and are worth about $1 million, Mr. Caswell said.


Mr. Caswell said the legal battle has taken a toll on his family as well as the motel. ‘I haven’t done much maintenance in the last two years,’ he said, since the forfeiture proceedings began.

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TOMATO BATH
TOMATO BATH: A reveler was covered with tomato pulp after the annual Tomatina tomato fight in the village of Bunol, Spain, on Wednesday. (Heino Kalis/Reuters)

CLEAN SWEEP
CLEAN SWEEP: A volunteer removed mud and debris from a real estate office that was flooded in Tropical Storm Irene, on West Main Street in Wilmington, Vt., on Wednesday. The nearby Deerfield River overflowed its banks Sunday, inundating homes and businesses in the downtown area. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

TIDAL WAVE
TIDAL WAVE: A crowd of Chinese tourists ran away as a tidal wave broke through a dam by the Qiangtang River in Haining, in east China’s Zhejiang Province on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

PARTY DIVIDE
PARTY DIVIDE: Supporters of Julius Malema, the president of the youth arm of the African National Congress, gathered during his hearing in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday. Mr. Malema faces charges of sowing division and bringing the party into disrepute. (Kim Ludbrook/EPA)

EID RIDE
EID RIDE: Emiratis enjoyed a ride at a fun fair in Dubai late Tuesday as Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

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Shannan Bowen / Wilmington Star-News via AP

A funnel cloud in Wilmington, N.C., on Thursday, Aug. 18. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Southern New Hanover County until 11 a.m. The Weather Service also confirmed that there are numerous water spouts off the coast of Southeastern North Carolina. The Carolina Beach Police Department has reported that two water spouts came in and touched the ground in the Alabama Avenue vicinity.

See more weather-realted images on PhotoBlog here.

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Fred Comegys / The Wilmington News-Journal via AP

Rand Barton poses for his mom Louise by a tree knocked down by severe weather at corner of 19th and Tower Roads near Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Delaware on Aug. 9.

Chris A Wilson writes

An interesting moment.

Check out other weather related PhotoBlog posts and read more about the extreme weather from around the U.S.

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