Thursday, May 21, 2015

'Woman In Gold' Celebrates Recovery Of Priceless Family Art Stolen By Nazis

Photo from the official Facebook page for Woman in Gold
By Rahul Krishnaswamy
Junior Reporter
LEWISVILLE, North Carolina, U.S.A. – The Holocaust had an obvious impact on the lives of millions of Jews during the ‘40s, but it also influenced culture, and that effect is at the heart of the film Woman in Gold.
Woman in Gold explores the struggle of a Holocaust survivor to regain a family treasure stolen by the Nazis during the Anschluss of Austria, or when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, unifying it with Germany.
A modern masterpiece based on a true story, Woman in Gold is directed by British filmmaker Simon Curtis, and stars Helen Mirren as the elderly Holocaust survivor Maria Altmann.  Tatiana Maslany plays the young Maria. It also stars Ryan Reynolds as brilliant lawyer Randol Schoenberg, who helps bring justice to Altmann’s family.
Maria comes from a Jewish family in Vienna. She loves her family and is especially close to her aunt, Adele Bloch Bauer, played by Antje Traue.
One day, “Tante” Adele shows Maria a painting of herself commissioned by renowned artist Gustav Klimt.
As the Anschluss occurs, most Austrians become fervent Nazis and are sympathetic to the anti-Semitic feeling so prevalent in Germany. The Nazis take over Maria’s house and steal many of its treasures. The painting of Adele is taken and Maria is forced to make a thrilling escape to America.
More than 60 years later, the painting of Adele is in the hands of the Austrian government, and is a modern symbol of Austria. With the help of attorney Schoenberg, Maria goes all the way up to the United States Supreme Court to retake the painting that had once belonged to her family.
Woman in Gold impresses in most every aspect. Its compelling and emotional narrative and its panoramic cinematography are perhaps the clinchers.
From the beginning, the authenticity of the film is apparent. All conversations are carried out in the appropriate language and the impeccable acting by all of the cast no doubt contributed.
With many of its scenes filmed in Vienna, the film provides beautiful panoramas of the Viennese landscape and intricate close-ups of the beautiful architecture in the Austrian capital. Flashbacks are also effectively utilized – the time period switches back and forth in a way that viewers can understand the historical and personal significance of the scene.
Women in Gold is an excellent film suitable for most any viewer. It shows the lifelong struggles of Holocaust victims and how the perseverance of one woman was heard around the world. The film serves as a reminder about the danger of anti-Semitism and racism and as a memorial to Holocaust victims.
As Maria’s parents chillingly said before she fled, “Remember us.” 

Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Roots Show More Of Nature's Beauty

Olivia Wright /
"Even though the root system is the most significant part of the tree, it's the part that's hidden. Being able to see the top of the tree and its root is beautiful. It's like being able to see what makes nature tick," wrote YJI photographer Olivia Wright, who made this image in a lake town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. 
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Nepal, Proudly Giving Blood For The First Time, To Help Earthquake Victims
Nischal Kharel rests after donating blood in Pokhara

By Nischal Kharel
POKHARA, Nepal – There is a saying in Nepali, Raktadaan, Jevandaan, which means Donate blood, donate life.” So of course I wanted to help by giving blood after a terrible earthquake last month killed more than 8,000 people in my country and left many more missing.
In Nepal, the victims and their families thank the donor and give blessings. Nepalese believe that if the patient gave a blessing then the blood won’t be wasted.
Since the earthquake, many victims in rural areas that are only accessible by helicopter or on foot still aren’t getting the help they need. People haven’t got food, clothes, medicines or even a tent. Rain and thunderstorms made the situation worse. Even small amounts of support can make a huge difference.
At Informatics College in Pokhara, where I study, students worked last week with campus administration to organize a blood drive. Out of a class of 65 students, more than 25 were ready to donate, many of them for the first time. We worked with the Sankalpa Foundation, a local organization started by senior students to help people get blood in times of need, and the Nepal Red Cross Society.
I was eager and excited for my first blood donation, and I woke up at 6:30 that morning with a new enthusiasm and strength. A friend picked me up and we went to the school together. When we arrived, I saw other friends who were already donating and they were smiling.
I was happy to see that strength and more excited about my own donation. A doctor asked whether I was taking antibiotics, if I drink alcohol, if I had a tattoo or if I had received any medical treatment recently.
After getting the negative answer for all those questions, he checked my blood pressure and weight and decided I was an eligible donor.
While I waited for my turn, I saw the happiness and pride on the faces of the other donors and realized that giving blood is a true way to help people. When they called for me, I laid down on a cot. After binding my upper arm with a rubber band, a health worker rubbed alcohol on my skin and inserted the needle. I squeezed a ball with my hand to encourage the blood to flow.
After about 10 minutes, the bag of 350ml was filled and he took the needle out. He asked me if was feeling poorly, or weak.
I was feeling physically normal but I was much happier and satisfied after giving the blood. Actually I was feeling proud.
And after resting on the cot for about 15 minutes, I got up and volunteers gave me juice, fruits and a light snack.  I talked with my friend and then went home.
Humans have incredible power to do good – or bad. So let’s be wise humans and help each other in need.
The devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 left more than 8,000 dead, many missing and many more with food, shelter or clothing. Civilian volunteers from colleges, NGOs, INGOs and foreign countries are still working with the Nepalese army and police to rescue people.
Aftershocks are still being felt, and people are afraid. Many people whose homes are still standing aren’t sleeping indoors out of fear of aftershocks or another quake.
Those who were killed in the earthquake are dead but we shouldn’t let anyone else die of hunger or from need for blood, medical treatments or water. We must not leave them without shelter, either.
We gave blood because we knew the increasing number of patients in hospitals meant a certain scarcity of blood. We thought our little contribution could save someone’s life, so why not do it? This is humanity.
If we college students could help, than you can, too. Always remember, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support Nischal Kharel
and other students at this nonprofit at

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lessons From "Miss Representation"

Official poster for Miss Representation

By Brianna Ramos
Junior Reporter
HOWELL, New Jersey, U.S.A. – Miss Representation is one film that every woman, many and child needs to see.
From America’s earliest days, the nation has been a patriarchy. We have had zero women presidents, and only a couple dozen women governors.
Women are not seen as important. They’re viewed as too “emotional” or too “weak” to hold powerful positions.
This stereotype not only degrades women, but is also damaging to men.
Modern media drives women to see themselves as objects, and men in turn see themselves as caricatures. The message to men is that they should be completely stoic, that they are stronger and should make the money.
To women, the message is to step down, that their voices do not matter, that their value is placed only on their looks.
Filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom's 2011 documentary film Miss Representation addresses the way women are viewed and the way women view themselves.
Infographic from the website for

After being told repeatedly that you are weak and you will never hold power, that you are too fat but your main goal is to find a husband, eventually you begin to believe it.
It’s the reason teen depression rates have gone up and the reason that while 51 percent of Americans are female, the country lags in women serving as elected representatives at the national level.
While this problem is universal, the film mainly focuses on women in America, a supposedly democratic model for countries around the world, but where white men are dominant in all major decision making.
The world’s eyes are on the United States, but how can we be a model for any country if more than half of our population is treated as if they were objects?
Miss Representation is truly life changing, more than any film with explosions and scantily clad women as props could ever aspire to be. It addresses how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go, and will open the eyes of anyone who watches, men and women alike.
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at:

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Thrill Is Gone: B.B. King, RIP

From the archives, a Sept. 23, 2002 piece:
Blues legend B.B. King rocks Hartford crowd
By Kate Haire
Dressed to kill in a tuxedo with small gold emblems all over it, blues legend B.B. King walked on the stage in Hartford recently with an American flag strapped on his famous Gibson guitar, which he named “Lucille” long ago.
King, who’s 76, told the crowd that his doctor told him not to stand anymore while performing.
“My band has told me that I have earned the right to sit down if I wanna,” King said. “And I wanna.”
The audience went wild.
But he didn’t sit still.
Throughout his concert at the Meadows Music Centre this month, King said things like “shake whatcha got!”
Then he’d dance around in his chair.
King also talked about his age.
“You always have to give an old man some extra time,” he said. His band was pushing the tempo a little too much for his liking, I guess.
King and his band played well-known songs that the crowd loved, including “I’ll Survive,” “Bad Case of Love,” “The Thrill is Gone,” and “You are my Sunshine.”
Of course it’s hard not to love a song when King is playing it.
King also had at least a couple of solid warm-up acts. By the time my family got to our seats after a 15-minute delay at the metal detectors, the Fabulous Thunderbirds had come and gone.
But at least we didn’t miss the man himself, or two other acts: Tower of Power and Susan Tedeschi.
Tower of Power , which has been around since 1968, electrified the crowd with favorites like “The Younger Crowd,” “Knock Yourself Out” and “I still Be Diggin’ on James Brown.” The band also played its biggest hit, “You’re Still a Young Man.”
Tower of Power is a funk/blues band with a 1970s feel, but modern likeability. Its bass lines are great and guitar riffs superb. Anyone interested in funk should pay them some attention.
Tedeschi didn’t have enough energy in her songs, and the vibes from the crowd were likewise.
But King ruled the night.
After 61 years on the road and two hours on the stage, King’s guitar solos came to an end.
He tossed out handfuls of guitar picks to the audience, and huge gold-colored chains, too.
King then left the crowd with one question: “Maybe I can come back again someday?”
Yes, B.B., you can come back anytime you want.

*** Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Photo Essay: A Visit To Chennai, India

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
These intricately carved and colored motifs on the body of the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Chennai, India each tell a different story.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
Words and symbols of love are etched on to the outside wall of the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Chennai, where couples pray for success in their relationships.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
The centuries-old Kapaleeswarar Temple in Chennai basks in the late morning sun as pilgrims wander about.
Rahul Krishnaswamy /
A rickshaw cycle travels past a busy market and an advertisement for modern mobile services, creating a conglomeration of both old and new.
Rahul Krishnaswamy /
The glistening San Thome Basilica in Chennai is a Roman Catholic basilica where St. Thomas the Apostle is purported to be buried.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
The band at Chennai's Kapaleeswarar Temple prepares to play. Seen are the Thavil (drum) players and the Nadaswaram (wind instrument) players.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
A jackfruit tree in Chennai forms a canopy of vegetation far above the bustling traffic and people below.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
A bare merry-go-round provides the only scenery on Chennai's Marina Beach during the mid-afternoon, when the sun is scorching and the heat is scalding.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
Friendly coconut vendors provide a welcome refreshment to Chennai-ites during all seasons for a reasonable price.

Rahul Krishnaswamy /
A three-wheeler, the most common type of cargo transport in Chennai, travels through the nooks and crannies that comprise India's streets.
Rahul Krishnaswamy /
Traffic slowly meanders its way through Mount Road, one of the busiest roads in Chennai, as political party flags line the railing as far as the eye can see.
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support 
all the students at this nonprofit at:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bike Race Brings Excitement To Yorkshire

Asia Koter /

By Asia Koter
Junior Reporter
FYLINGDALES, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom – My boarding school is in a small village where rarely anything happens. It’s no surprise then, that the first Tour de Yorkshire, held early this month, was the biggest event in recent memory.

Everyone was so excited that the headmaster decided to cancel afternoon lessons and the whole school went to see the race, which had been in the headlines all over the UK for weeks.
Despite cold weather that day, it was a great and eye-opening experience to see the race in person, which was different that watching the usual television coverage of the most exciting moments. As I had never actually seen a bike race before, my expectations were way different from what I saw.
The cyclists did not fly past me like a swarm of bees. They were not surrounded by railings and crowds of people. The closest village to our school is Robin Hoods Bay, where the cyclists had to climb up a very steep hill before reaching the main road leading through the moors to Scarborough.
Stage One finished on the prom on the city’s seafront, which may be familiar to those who watched Grand Depart of Tour de France last year.
The race began with a stage from Bridlington to Scarborough (174 km), which some cyclists found difficult due to its small roads and sheer slopes. It was followed by Selby to York (174 km) and Wakefield to Leeds (167 km). The last stage had the most demanding route with six climbs.

Asia Koter /
Asia Koter /
A colorful bicycle marks part
of the route on the Tour de 

A women’s race, featuring a Paralympic champion Sarah Storey, took place on May 2 across four 20 km laps around the city of York.
It turned out that all people who gathered in Robin Hoods Bay were just a tiny part of more than a million spectators who watched the race that weekend. The event attracted people from Yorkshire and visitors who came to see some of the best cyclists in the world.
I had an opportunity to finally see Sir Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner. He started his own squad after leaving Team Sky but chose to stay safe, away from the lead.
The Tour de Yorkshire, inspired by the Tour de France Grand Depart, boosted the local economy, bringing in many spectators. Perhaps even better, Yorkshire is now regarded as the cycling heart of the UK, which is not surprising due to its perfect routes along the North Sea coast and through North York Moors.

Your tax-deductible contribution can help support Asia Koter
and other students at this nonprofit at

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Shedding My School Uniform One Last Time
Year 11 pupils at Kings Norton Girls' School took pictures to remember each other by. Left to right are Lauren Pope, Fatima Bahoudashi are Ingrid O'Keeffe.
By Lauren Pope
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom – While many people in Britain spent their morning Thursday deciding which polling station to go to, year 11’s at Kings Norton Girls’ School prepared for their very last day in school uniform.
Putting on my school uniform for the last time had no significant effect on me. After all, I’d only been wearing it for less than a year, as the year 11’s at my school wear a different uniform to the rest of the school.
But thinking about leaving school did have an impact.
Not only were we bidding each other farewell, but also the teachers we have grown so close to over the years.
A selfie with the Spanish teacher: From left,
students Fatima Bahoudashi, Lauren Pope,
Ingrid O'Keeffe and front right, teacher Ann
Marie Commons.
We all cleared out our lockers for the last time and say some final and some temporary goodbyes.
It’s strange to think that the path we’ve all been on together is suddenly going to diverge in so many different directions.
Farewell messages cover a school polo shirt.
None of us expected for our final days together to mean so much. We are all mature, well rounded girls, and the people we were five years ago are now shadows of our current selves.
It is time to move from being the oldest in our secondary school, to the youngest in sixth form, which is an institution for 16-18 year olds – the final two years of secondary education before university. Students may attend if they wish to study Advanced Levels or alternatives, but it is not the only option but a possible next step in our education.
The year 11 logo, designed
by members of the class
and voted for by their peers.
It shows a lioness to
being strong females,
the time they spent at school together
and five birds, one for each year.

As we all begin to embark on the next journey of our lives some of us will stay on at our current school in sixth form, while others will move on to new schools, colleges or even take apprenticeships. Either way, change is ahead.
Coming to the realization that the people you have spent the last five years with will no longer be in your day to day life is a difficult thought process to go through.
Many people reject the notion of change, and I can understand why. Of course we will keep our memories, but letting go of people – even just for a while – is not an easy task.
For some of us this is a sad goodbye, for others this time could not have come soon enough, and for us all this has been a long time coming. 
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support Lauren Pope
and other students at this nonprofit at

Friday, May 8, 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron A Disappointment

From the official Marvel Facebook page
By Sydney Hallett
OAKVILLE, Missouri, U.S.A. – I don’t know anyone who likes superhero movies more than me. So while I eagerly went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film left me thoroughly disappointed in director Joss Whedon’s lack of creativity.
The second in the Avengers franchise, Age of Ultron grouped back some of Marvel’s most popular superheroes to fight against an Artificial Intelligence trying to destroy the world and bring about the extinction of human life.
Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, and Iron Man are just a few of the heroes in the movie who try to take down Ultron.
Two Russian twins with mutant powers are included as well: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, though both of their characters could have used more development.
Quicksilver is the male twin, with the power of super speed. Scarlet Witch, the female twin, has the power to manipulate the mind – and, in the comic books, probability as well, though that isn’t mentioned in the movie – and telekinesis.
They both have a less than significant role in the movie.
This film has many problems, but the first is Ultron’s purpose, or backstory. On screen, when he is created and turned on, he is automatically evil. Though the same happens in the comic books, the movie should have given Ultron some sort of purpose for being evil.
There story offered no reason why he wanted to kill everyone – it seemed as if he just felt like it. That was a major problem and left me more confused about the plot than wanting to dislike the villain.
Next is the characterization of Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow. Played by Scarlett Johansson, she is the female assassin of the Avengers. With Age of Ultron being Romanoff’s third Marvel appearance, one would think that she would be as well-rounded as a character can get.
Unfortunately, it seemed as if she was just there to be a love interest. As she gets with another Avenger, it made absolutely no sense that she would be attracted to this character. The two barely spoke in the last movie and had no romantic chemistry whatsoever.
But the most annoying reason, is that she said in the last movie, “Love is for children.”
As a viewer and fan, I’m frustrated that filmmakers would do a complete reversal of her character just to make her fit into the female stereotype.
Though Avengers: Age of Ultron has its flaws, both major and minor, I did think it was quite funny and genuinely felt like a Marvel movie – lighthearted, action-packed, and giving its fair share of plot twists.
I really like JARVIS, Tony Stark’s personal artificial intelligence, and though I will refrain from spoilers, he was the best developed character in the whole movie.
This movie was better than the first Avengers film because it wasn’t as boring as the first one.
Whedon is leaving the Marvel Universe, and I think it is his time to go and work on some individual projects that he did in the past.
I am excited that brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed Captain America: Winter Soldier and are taking over the Avengers storyline from Whedon. Hopefully, it will be for the better.

Your tax-deductible contribution can help support Sydney Hallett
and other students at this nonprofit at

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sixth Annual YJI Contest Honors Young Writers, Artists, Photographers Worldwide
The Youth Journalism International 2015 Excellence in Journalism trophies. In the back, Student Journalist of the Year annie Schugart, the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary Ahmad Zaqout, and Journalism Educator of the Year Barbara Bateman. In the front are trophies for Eden Tadesse, who won the Courage in Journalism Award and Sophie Tulp, who won the Frank Keegan "Take No Prisoners" Award for News. The contest included more than 130 awards.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – Young writers, photographers and artists from across the globe took home prizes in the Youth Journalism International 2015 Excellence in Journalism contest.
Annie Schugart, a standout editor for a suburban Kansas City high school paper who’s now a freshman at Harvard University, took top honors as this year’s Student Journalist of the Year.
Competition was stiff in nearly every category, with more than 130 awards in about three dozen categories going to students in 23 U.S. states and Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Egypt, Italy, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria and the United Kingdom.
“This year the field of entries was the strongest I’ve seen. It was inspiring to see so many well-crafted pieces on so many diverse topics,” said judge Joe Killian, a daily newspaper reporter in Greensboro, N.C. who got his start through Youth Journalism International.
The annual contest, now in its sixth year, recognized student writing and reporting, art, photo and multi-media skills in more than two dozen news, sports and opinion categories. A panel of experienced judges chose the winners and those picked in the top categories will receive engraved crystal trophies. Prizes for finalists and winners in the other categories are custom-made certificates.
“It becomes more obvious each year that the talent level is always increasing,” said judge Frank Johnson, the outgoing leader of the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut. “What great writers and such interesting topics. Many of these writers are far better than those who report local news in Connecticut or elsewhere.”
Another judge, Dr. Mariechen Puchert from East London, South Africa, said, “This year brought an impressive cross-section of feature writing. It was a pleasure to see that young journalists are not shying away from addressing serious topics that have a direct impact on their peers. “
Other big winners in the contest included Journalism Educator of the Year Barbara Bateman from Mobile, Alabama; Eden Tadesse, from Ethiopia, who won the Courage in Journalism Award; Sophie Tulp, of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas, whose newswriting earned her the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News; and Ahmad Zaqout, a Roanoke College freshman in Virginia, who collected the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to review the work of so many talented young people,” said judge Lynn Abrahamson, a public health official in Maryland. “It was especially hard to choose winners this year, since there were a number of excellent submissions.”
Shawnee Mission East High School posted the best overall record, taking home 15 awards. A Las Vegas, Nevada high school – Southwest Career and Technical Academy – placed second with 10.
Youth Journalism International has been educating the next generation of news professionals and talented teens since 1994. Formally incorporated in 2007, it is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit public charity. Its website can be found at
The contest covered work published in English between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014. Those eligible must be 19 or under and not working professionally.
For more information, please contact Jackie Majerus, Youth Journalism International’s executive director, at (860) 523-9632 in Connecticut or write to
A complete list of winners, along with judges’ comments in italics and many links, is posted online at Watch for more details about trophy winners in the coming days.

Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NCAA's Late Night Lacrosse In Lewiston

Kiernan Majerus-Collins /
The Bates Bobcats took on New Hampshire's Keene State Owls in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse championships Wednesday at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Bates prevailed, 16-11 and will play next on Saturday.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins /
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at