Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Reason To Light Up Lahore's Canal

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Decorations on the canal in Lahore.

Pakistan celebrated Resolution Day last week with decorations and festivities. Youth Journalism International’s Amber Shakil made these photos from her home city of Lahore.

The nation marks March 23 as the day a resolution was passed to form the country of Pakistan. 

Decorations were everywhere and these pictures show a sampling especially some of what Shakil found to be the most beautiful, which were from the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Decorative birds along the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Lady bug decorations on the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Multi-colored lights adorn trees along the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Decorations along the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Large lighted 'candles' are part of the decorations on the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Illuminated bird houses along the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Lighted floral decorations along the canal in Lahore.

Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
Lighted floral decorations are part of the festival feel along the canal in Lahore.
Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
The tomb of Quaid-e-Azam, a leader who struggled successfully to create Pakistan, is replicated in a decoration on the canal. The actual tomb is in Karachi.
Amber Shakil / youthjournalism.org
A replica of the Pakistan Monument in Islamabad is among the decorations on the canal in Lahore.
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Singapore Bids Farewell To Lee Kuan Yew

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan / youthjournalism.org
Mourners in the queue at the Padang, a large field in front of the old Supreme Court where grieving citizens waited hours in line to view the body of the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew lying in state.
 

By Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan
Reporter
SINGAPORE – Despite a torrential downpour, thousands lined the streets on Sunday afternoon to bid a final farewell to the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died last week at age 91.
A 21-gun salute was fired as a mark of respect to the late leader at the Padang, a huge lawn in front of the Old Supreme Court, before his hearse made its way to Tanjong Pagar, the constituency Lee represented during his political career.
The procession covered a distance of 15.4 km, stretching from the Parliament House, where his body laid in state for five days, to the National University of Singapore Cultural Centre, where the state funeral was held.
In a massive outpouring of grief, many in the crowd chanted "Lee Kuan Yew!" and "Thank You!"
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan / youthjournalism.org
People wait in the rain for the hearse of the 
late prime minister to pass.
The hearse passed numerous landmarks, including the Corruption Investigation Practices Bureau. While in power, Lee worked closely with the bureau to root out corruption.
Foreign dignitaries attended the funeral, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lee's compatriots and sons, including current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, solemnly described their personal encounters with the former leader in eulogies that were broadcast live.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan / youthjournalism.org
A banner from a local church thanking 
Lee for his contributions.
According to the government, 454 687 mourners paid their respects earlier in the week at the Old Parliament House, where Lee’s body was lying in state. 
Undeterred by the hot tropical sun and the occasional downpour, many waited in line for more than 10 hours to pay their respects.
Act of kindness abounded as volunteers and citizens alike offered mourners refreshments while they waited.
Singapore observed a minute of silence on Sunday followed by a nationwide singing of the national anthem and recitation of the pledge.

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I Was There, Watching Thousands Of Nigerians Flock To The Polls To Vote

Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
The boxes used for casting votes. One is for the presidency and two are for parliamentary positions.

By Linus Okechukwu
Correspondent
ENUGU STATE, Nigeria – Travelling through different regions within Enugu state today, I saw a large number of voters – tens of thousands of them – crowding into polling stations to cast ballots.
Though three bombs went off in Enugu, voters never gave up. It happened as early as 7 a.m., but police anti-bomb squad were at the WTC primary school in New Layout, Enugu to defuse two of the bombs before the third one went off.
The police never allowed us to get close, but the bombs, which were concealed in a Honda Accord which was few meters away from the polling unit, destroyed the car.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
The busy streets of the Enugu
metro area were quiet during the
election. All vehicular and other
movement was banned until 5 p.m.
Enugu state Commissioner of Police Dan Bature confirmed there were no casualties, and urged people to continue voting as there was no reason to be scared. He said the police have yet to figure out the offenders.
All forms of movement were banned – so roads were free. Only journalists, electoral officials, foreign and local monitoring teams and security agents were allowed to move freely.
I won't forget the old woman I met at a suburb in Enugu who was just too passionate about voting in a new president – one she believed would help Nigeria surmount its problems.
As old as she was – and barely able to speak few words in English – her courage to stand under the sun was, I reckon, amazing.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
Voters in Orba, a village in the Udenu local government area of  Enugu State wait to cast their votes. Political apathy used to be a major problem in Nigeria, but the growing level of political consciousness has outshone apathy.  It's little wonder why so many people came out to vote.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
One of the polling booths used to ensure voter privacy.
Some voters who spoke to me complained about the card readers used to authenticate the biometric cards, a new technology introduced this year. With frustration on their faces, they said officials cannot vouch for how well those card readers work because they failed a lot of times.
Ultimately there were enough setbacks – technical and otherwise – to extend the voting into Sunday.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
An official of the electoral commission tries to authenticate the biometric card used for voting. Nigerian election officials introduced the biometric cards for the first time this year to reduce fraud.
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In Nigeria, Some Ballots Are For Sale

Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org
At a poll in Araromi, Nigerians came out and waited in the hot sun to vote.

By Festus Iyorah
Senior Reporter
Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria – Voting continued Sunday in the Nigerian presidential election – a close contest that could see the unseating of the incumbent leader.
Besides the technical glitches that added a second day to the balloting, the election has been marred by murder, thievery and corruption.
For some voters, Election Day is a chance to make money off their ballot.
Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org
When her own party officials
didn't 
pass along money for her
vote, 
Sukurat Sherifat took a
bribe 
from another party. 
At a polling booth in the Akufo area of Ibadan, local voters trooped out to vote for monetary gains more than candidates.
Wads of naira, the Nigerian currency, were distributed to party agents who would in turn distribute the naira to some preferred voters.
Among them is Sukurat Sherifat.
“I’m not voting until I get my own share of cash given to our party agents,” Sherifat said.
When asked if she can forfeit the naira notes by voting rightly without being bribed, the 29-year-old Sherifat revealed, “Our party leaders have collected the bribe money from the party secretariat but they have refused to give us our own share. “
According to Sherifat, she collected a bribe from another party instead.
In Akufo – a remote area about 15 miles from the city – bribery of voters is celebrated. Some people believe that elections are a time to make money rather than to vote.

Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org
At this polling place in Akufo, some people celebrate the practice of selling votes.
Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org
Samuel Omoluabi agrees with 
the 
practice of paying people
for their 
votes.
Even young people like Samuel Omoluabi agree with the practice.
“This is the time to make money with my permanent voter’s card,” said Omoluabi, adding that voters sell their votes to lucrative buyers.
On Saturday, when the election began, roads were deserted and shop and offices were clamped down as people came out in droves to vote for their desired candidates.
President Goodluck Jonathan is fighting off a challenge from General Muhammadu Buhari, who led the nation under military rule for about 18 months in the mid-1980s.
This year’s presidential election is seen as the first election in which has a serious chance to unseat the incumbent and some analyst are even predicting a photo finish.  The winner will lead the country for the next four years.


Election Delays

Though the Independent National Electoral Commission scheduled to begin checking voters in during the morning and begin voting in the afternoon, in some parts of the country, officials came late and the process went at a snail’s pace.
Some of the delay no doubt came from the high tech biometric card readers, introduced this year to prevent the vote-rigging that has affected previous election in Nigeria.
The BBC reported that the technical problem affected Jonathan as the president tried to register for almost an hour.
In the Araromi area of Ibadan, voters experienced the same challenge – technical issues slowed down the electoral process and voters patiently thronged under the scorching sun for a chance to vote for their desired candidates.
John Arogbo, a 26-year-old accountant, waited patiently for about four hours for his turn.
Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org
John Arogbo, a 26-year-old
accountant, waited for hours to
vote, then stayed to watch the
counting.
“The slowness in the electoral process is a normal thing,” said Arogbo. “This is the first time we are using the card reader and we should expect the challenges that comes with it.”
Even with the hurdles besetting the electoral process, Adeshina Oladeinde, an editor of the Saturday Tribune, a national newspaper in Nigeria, said he believes that God would provide a candidate with a genuine love for the country.
“Although we have heard a lot of propaganda going on, but I believe that Nigerians would use their head rather than any other thing to vote for the right person that will steer the affairs of this country,” Oladeinde said.
Vote selling and technical troubles were minor in comparison to the violence association with the election. The BBC reported that in the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt, unidentified gunmen forcefully took away ballot boxes and even worse, that unknown gunmen killed 20 people in attacks in the northern part of the nation.
Despite the problems, at least some Nigerians were satisfied with the election process.
“The election was free and fair,” said Arogbo who stayed to witness the counting of the votes after waiting so long to cast his ballot. “Scores of people waited to count their votes after the elections and there was no form of manipulation.”
Student journalist Victor Ejechi, who was at a polling place in Edo state in the southern part of Nigeria, agreed with Arogbo.
In a telephone interview, Ejechi said the election was free and fair at his polling place.
Another observer, Iruoma Kelechukwu, also said in phone interview that elections were free and fair in his own polling center in Nigeria’s large city of Lagos, in the southwestern part of the country.
“People stay back and counted their votes," Kelechukwu said, alongside the election officials.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nigerians Line Up At The Polls Saturday

Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org

Voters line up at a polling place Saturday in Ibadan, part of Oyo state in Nigeria.
Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org

A woman in Ibadan casts a ballot in Saturday's presidential election in Nigeria.

Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org

People wait in line to vote in Ibadan, Nigeria, on Saturday.

Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org

Independent National Electoral Commission officials stand by as voters cast their ballots in Ibadan, Nigeria on Saturday.
Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org

Voting in progress in Ibadan, Nigeria on Saturday.
Festus Iyorah / youthjournalism.org

A line of voters in Ibadan, Nigeria on Saturday, for the national election.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nigeria's Upcoming Presidential Election: The Choice Of Continuity Or Change

Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
Billboards like this one for General Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking the Nigerian presidency in the March 28 election, are a common sight. His running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo also appears in the advertisement.

 By Linus Okechukwu
Correspondent
ENUGU, Enugu State, Nigeria – On Saturday, nearly 70 million eligible voters will be trooping to polling stations to decide who becomes the next president of Nigeria. It's a decisive choice between two extremes: continuity or change.
Fourteen candidates are vying for the coveted position; but, for all practical purposes, only  two main presidential candidates – incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress – have a realistic chance of winning.

Only one woman, Oluremi Sonaiya of Kowa Party is contesting for the position of the president, though women make up almost 50 percent of registered voters.

Since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, the People’s Democratic Party has dominated Nigeria's political landscape without any fierce opposition. But, this year's election will test the party's influence after an alliance of opposition parties formed All Progressive Congress.
This election seems too close to call, or better still, it will be the most closely contested election in Nigeria's history. Elections are held every four years, and Nigeria has conducted four presidential elections since military rule ended in 1999.
Political punditry is no longer a prized skill: almost everybody has something – no matter how trifling – to say about the forthcoming election. On the streets, parks, commercial buses, the media, in churches, schools and homes, everybody seems to be engrossed in discussions about the presidential election.
Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org
An advertisement for Nigerian President
Goodluck Jonathan, who is running for
re-election, and his running mate, Namadi
Sambo, the nation's current vice president.
At no time in Nigeria's history have our presidential elections meant so much to people. No level of intimidation or bribery could change people's political leanings and choices.
Jonathan, the incumbent president, is seeking a second term in office, after defeating retired Buhari in 2011. He had polled 22 million votes against Buhari's 12 million. 
Presidents and governors of states in Nigeria are limited to two terms of four years each.
A former inspector, lecturer, environmental protection officer, deputy governor, governor, and then deputy vice president before he became president, Jonathan's meteoric rise to the limelight has been a source of motivation to many youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. He is especially seen as one who rose from poverty to fame through resilience, determination, humility and industriousness.
With a penchant for fedora hats, Jonathan is from the oil-rich Niger Delta region. His People’s Democratic Party unanimously picked him as the uncontested presidential candidate. He's a Christian and has been heavily criticized for not effectively handling the endemic corruption that has ravaged Nigeria for decades, as well as the security challenges posed by Boko Haram terrorists.
Buhari, his main opponent, is a former military ruler trying for the presidency for the fourth time. He lost three times, most recently against Jonathan in 2011. There's a widespread belief that his military background and disciplinarian credentials are needed to rout the Islamist insurgents and corruption.
Buhari earned his reputation as a stickler for discipline. When he ran Nigeria under military rule from January 1984 until August 1985, about 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were jailed as part of a campaign against waste and corruption.
During those years, Nigerians were forced to form orderly queues or face the anger of whip-wielding soldiers as part of Buhari's "War Against Indiscipline." Civil servants who turned up late to work were made to do frog jumps.
Press freedom and political gatherings were not tolerated under his watchful eyes, as reports of gross human rights violations and executions abound.
A Muslim from Daura, a village in the northern Nigerian state of Kastina, Buhari is reputed to be incorruptible. But his economic policies on importation and his refusal to let the currency depreciate in the face of a trade deficit caused a lot of hardship on the local population. Jobs were lost and businesses closed.
Key issues that have driven electioneering are hinged on unemployment, insecurity, corruption, infrastructure and energy.
Religion and ethnicity play subtle roles in voters' choices, too.
To emerge as president, a candidate needs more than 50 percent of the national vote and at least 25 percent of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.
A total of 150,000 polling stations nationwide will be deployed Saturday for the presidential and parliamentary elections.
High tech, fraud-resistant biometric cards called Permanent Voters' Cards will be used for the first time in Nigeria. The national minimum voting age is 18.
Huge billboards advertising the two main candidates are commonplace across cities, towns and villages in the country, but all official campaigning ends Thursday before midnight.
Nigeria’s presidential election, run by the Independent National Electoral Commission, was to have been held on Feb. 14, but it was pushed back to March 28 because of security concerns in the northeastern part of the country, where about 3 million people have been impacted by Boko Haram’s brutal acts of terrorism. Some Nigerians suspect that the shift had political overtones.
Governor and state assemblies' elections were also rescheduled from Feb. 28 to April 11 April for similar concerns. Nigeria’s constitution says elections must be completed 30 days before May 29, when power is usually handed over to the winner.
Past elections in Nigeria have been mired in violence, leaving hundreds dead. Many Nigerians, apparently for fear of the outcome of Saturday's polls, have fled to their hometowns. A large contingent of police and other security agents will be deployed across the country to curtail any form of turmoil.
Almost every Nigerian will be glued to their radio or television on Saturday night when the results begin to trickle in.
Victory or vanquish: People’s Democratic Party, or All Progressive Congress – tears of sadness or hoots of joy will fill the air by Sunday.
*** 
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Linus Okechukwu and other students of this nonprofit at

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Plan Your Visit To Athens, Then Relax

Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
Cloudy days in Athens are somehow still sunny.

By Eleni Grigovits
Junior Reporter
ATHENS, Greece – Greece is well known for its history, mythology, culture and beauty. It’s the place a dozen Gods decided to make home, but in recent years, it is also known for the economic crisis that is making life difficult for people here.
 Even though Greece currently has many problems to solve, I really don’t want to emphasize those, but present my country, and especially Athens, where I live, through my eyes.
Maybe this is a good time to plan your summer in Athens.
Last year I didn’t have much time for vacations so I stayed in Athens and didn’t visit any of our many beautiful islands.  Among the islands, my favorites are Crete, Paros, Santorini, and Kefalonia. The islands are a very popular place to go, especially in the summer.

Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
A view of the Acropolis in Athens.

Athens, named for the goddess Athena, is a very busy and loud city. It’s the Greek city with the largest population with big buildings, lots of cabs, and many cars on the streets. That’s actually the reason most of the time we are stuck in traffic in the mornings and afternoons.

Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
The south Athens suburb of Paleo Faliro.

Our subway, which is still new – Greece first got a subway in the early ‘00s – is always very clean and very crowded. Unfortunately the subway doesn't go everywhere in Athens that you might want to visit.
We have parks for long walks, many museums, and lots of wonderful places, especially in the center of Athens.
Nightlife in Athens is also very famous and if someone wants to party, he should definitely come to Athens!
In August though, Athens changes a lot. August is a holy month for Greeks. It’s called the month of the Virgin Mary. It is said that the Virgin Mary died on August 15 and it is a small Easter for us Greeks. Most people have their vacations during that time and leave Athens.
In that short period of time, the busy and loud city becomes a true paradise. Beaches are the best place to be.  The best beaches, like Sounio’s beach, Vouliagmeni’s and Kavouri’s beach, are in southern Athens.


Eleni Grigovits /youthjournalism.org
The Marina Floisvou in the Paleo Faliro suburb of Athens.

Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
A summertime view of the sea in the Athens suburb of Vouliagmeni.

Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
Typical fishing boats in the Athens suburb of Vouliagmeni.

When the sun rises in Greece, the sky has beautiful colors: pink, blue, light blue, darker blue and the sun shining everywhere. But when the sun sets, there are even more colors in the sky. Orange, yellow, blue, red, pink – any bright color you can imagine is in our sky!
Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
A full moon in Athens.
Also in August is the most beautiful full moon. Each year many events are held in different places so people can enjoy the days where the moon shines as a diamond in the sky.
A superb place to be for the full moon is Sounio, which is located 69 kilometers or about 43 miles, southeast of Athens, at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula.
Eleni Grigovits / youthjournalism.org
The Acropolis at night.
If a visit to Athens is in your future plans, you really must visit the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, where you will be amazed by the glass floor. In fact, don’t miss any of the museums.
You must also see the spectacular view from the roof of the Great Bretagne hotel and walk the Plaka, the most famous street in Athens. It runs under the Acropolis.
In southern Athens, be sure to see the beautiful small seaside port of Paleo Faliro.
In Athens, you should enjoy the Greek hospitality, relax and have fun.
***
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and other students at this nonprofit at