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No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock. Despite their show of force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a drop in nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after the evening’s ballet.

Sonia van Gilder Cooke is a reporter in TIME’s London Bureau. Follow her on Twitter at @svangildercooke.

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Seven weeks into Occupy Wall Street, the movement continues in locations both large and small. There have been recent clashes between protesters and police in several cities, most notably Oakland, California. Some of the first protesters arrested in New York are due to appear in court today, facing charges related to mass arrests made earlier in Manhattan and on the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, financial support has been pouring in. OWS organizers have raised more than half a million dollars and are now struggling to manage such a large pool of donations. Gathered here are recent scenes from the Occupy movement across the U.S. and overseas. [43 photos]

Occupy Oakland protesters cheer as they climb on tractor trailers loaded with shipping containers at the Port of Oakland, California, on November 2, 2011, effectively shutting down the United States' fifth busiest port during a day of non-stop protesting in Oakland. (AP Photo, Kent Porter, Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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Of the myriad lessons that can be gleaned from the Arab Spring, perhaps the most inspirational is the confirmation that there’s strength in numbers. So it’s hardly a surprise that several photographers who’ve made their livelihood documenting the Middle East – including the aftermath of the revolutionary riots from earlier this year – would apply such a lesson to their work.

Hence, the Rawiya collective, a photography cooperative made up of six female photographers from across the Middle East, who’ve pooled their resources, contacts and talents to not only strengthen their work, but to also expand their reach.

The photographers—Tamara Abdul Hadi (currently in Beirut), Laura Boushnak (currently in Sarajevo), Tanya Habjouqa (currently in East Jerusalem), Dalia Khamissy (currently in Beirut), Newsha Tavakolian (currently in Tehran) and Myriam Abdelaziz (currently in Cairo) – had each previously built careers shooting across the region, working the hard news cycles for various publications. However, the women felt that important social and political stories were still going unseen and wanted a platform to share them.

So when Tavakolian first approached Abdul Hadi and Khamissy during a trip to Beirut in 2009 with the idea of forming the collective, the women were enthusiastic. Boushnak and Habjouqa were asked to join the group soon after and in August 2011, Abdelaziz, whose work covering the Egyptian revolutions was admired by the other women, also joined the collective. The women spent long nights in Beirut cafes and chatting over Skype, discussing their vision.

The focus of Rawiya – which means “she who tells a story” in Arabic – is on capturing the region’s social and political issues as well as its stereotypes through photo essays and long-term projects. Unsurprisingly, this has translated into a body of work that spans the spectrum of subjects from dancers to displaced citizens to drag queens. The images are powerful and, thanks to the already extending reach of the group, now garnering an audience.

Rawiya made its official debut at the Format Festival in Derby, U.K. this March and the women say they’ve already benefited from exhibiting as a group. They went on to showcase their work at the Empty Quarter Gallery in Beirut, which led to invitations to exhibit in Greece and Kuwait. Because each woman brings a new region and issue to the collective table, they all benefit from one another’s audience.

In addition, being the first cooperative of its kind from the Middle East – with only female photographers – has provided the women with an extra bump in prominence. Of course, being female in a male-dominant industry isn’t without its challenges, yet the women insist that their gender hasn’t hindered their work. “When people ask me if it is more challenging being a female photographer in this region than a male photographer I usually answer ‘no,’” Abdul Hadi told TIME in an email. “I personally have had access to places a male photographer wouldn’t, which ends up being more of an advantage.”

The women hope to capitalize on that advantage and have plans to eventually expand the collective, hoping to work with other female photographers from across the region whose work they admire. Because that’s another way the collective has strengthened one another’s work: by inspiring it.

Read more about Rawiya here.

Megan Gibson is a reporter at the London bureau of TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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In the winter of 1955, Parisian high society buzzed in anticipation of a dance on ice to be performed by members of the royal houses of Europe. Inge Morath, 32 at the time, and a newly minted member of the Magnum photo agency, was assigned to cover the charity event, going behind the scenes to document the glamorous participants as they rehearsed for the gala evening. She shot 14 rolls in total, and the material was processed and distributed through the Magnum network, but never found its way into print.

In those days, the agency routinely distributed material shot on spec to a roster of sub-agents and publications, with the understanding that the prints would be returned. In many cases, that never happened; the prints remained in far-away files or gathered dust on the shelves of the recipients. Now, in an effort to reclaim the work, the Magnum Foundation, in partnership with the art magazine Esopus, has initiated a project to seek out that lost material and other works made by its photographers that never found its way into public view. Called “Analog Recovery,” the project is being edited by John Jacob, who is also the director of Morath’s estate. The goal, Jacob says, is to reintroduce a portfolio by a Magnum photographer twice a year. Morath’s Bal d’Hiver, is the first in the series.

Jacob had come across the Bal d’Hiver photos while doing research for another project about Magnum and the world of fashion. To assemble the piece, he used the marks that Morath herself had left on the contact sheets. “She really knew what she was doing with her editing,” he says. “I rarely needed to go beyond what she had selected.” How fitting, then, for the Esopus magazine feature on the photos to honor her astute eye—the issue includes a detachable reproduction of one of the 14 contact sheets, with Morath’s marks still visible.

A launch party for the issue, along with a small exhibit of the photographs will be held on Nov. 2 at Esopus Space in New York at 6 p.m. Select photos from the project will also be sold as prints by the online gallery 20×200, with proceeds benefitting the Magnum Foundation.

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Mathieu Belanger / Reuters

A polar bear swims underwater in the St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec, Canada, on October 31. According to Environment Canada, Canada is home to around 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 polar bears in the world. The U.S. (Alaska), Russia, Denmark (Greenland) and Norway are the other four countries where polar bears can be found.

David R Arnott writes

According to a Reuters report on October 28, a Canadian senator has launched a campaign to replace the industrious beaver with the indomitable polar bear as her country's national emblem.

Describing the beaver as "a dentally defective rat," Conservative politician Nicole Eaton told the Senate that beavers wreak havoc on the dock at her waterfront cottage every summer.

"A country's symbols are not constant and can change over time," she said. "The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part."

The polar bears at St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in Quebec certainly seemed to be living up to their billing as they played up for the cameras on Monday.

Mathieu Belanger / Reuters

A polar bear jumps into the water at the St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo on October 31.

Mathieu Belanger / Reuters

A polar bear shakes off water from its body at the St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo on October 31.

 

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On Oct. 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France, was dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland. Oct. 28, 2011 marks the 125th anniversary of the dedication. Take a look back at the history of the statue and all “the lady” has seen in her 125 years.

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The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow and has now spread across the world, motivating thousands to voice their anger at financial and social inequality, and in some places merging with existing anti-government protests. On Saturday, a global "Day of Rage" was observed, and demonstrations took place in more than 80 countries around the world. Protesters took their messages and anger to the streets from Hong Kong to Fairbanks, from Miami to London, from Berlin to Sydney, and hundreds more cities large and small. The demonstrations were largely peaceful -- with the exception of some violent clashes in Rome. Collected here are some images from the past several days as the Occupy Wall Street message continues to resonate and grow. [50 photos]

A participant protests with a mock 500 euro bill during a demonstration to support the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in Munich southern Germany, on October 15, 2011. Protestors gathered at many major European cities Saturday to join in demonstrations against corporate greed and inequality.(AP Photo/Joerg Koch)

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Shishmaref, Alaska 2006

Brandon Thibodeaux (b. 1981, United States) is a member of the New York based photography collective, MJR. Following his university studies in photojournalism and international development he now resides in Dallas, Texas, where he regularly contributes to the Financial Times Weekend Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a member of the Getty Reportage 2009-10 Emerging Talent, and the Eddie Adams XIX alumnus.

About the Photograph:

“This image is from my first real project endeavor during my senior year of college.  In August 2006 I traveled 120 miles northwest of Nome, Alaska, landing in the small island village of Shishmaref.  Its roughly 550 Inupiaq residents faced a looming migration due to the severe erosion plaguing the tiny island.  Climate change was keeping protective sea ice from forming around its shoreline leaving its brittle sand and permafrost foundation vulnerable against harsh winter storms. I was taken aback by the elements of pop culture that I found, like 2 Pac posters, and video game consoles, intertwined with the community’s more traditional ways of life.  Shortly after this image was taken we feasted on caribou steaks and Akutaq – otherwise known as Eskimo ice cream made from whipped caribou fat and seal oil, mixed with fresh picked salmon berries.”

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It's time for another look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today we have scenes of an elephant rescue in India, a loyal dog bidding a final farewell, a competitor in the Open Rabbit Sport Tournament, and a rather unfortunate moose discovered intoxicated and tangled in a tree. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from the past several weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [44 photos]

A dog casts a long shadow in the morning in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

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