Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pakistan must join the global war on terror

By Mohammad Awais
Junior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – Despite the enormous impact of 9/11, there are other events the world has witnessed in the 15 years since the attacks that had farther-reaching consequences, especially the global economic crisis, the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa and the financial rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
One nation, though, is still mired in the aftermath of 9/11 – Pakistan.
No other state equates with Pakistan in the monumental repercussions of 9/11. The BBC reported in 2011 that about 35,000 Pakistanis lost their lives in the aftermath. The loss of security personnel alone – according to a 2011 report in The New York Review of Books – totals more than the nearly 3,000 people who died that day on American soil.
The Pakistani government said its direct or indirect economic losses amounted to $68 billion in the first decade after 9/11, according to the report in The New York Review of Books.
That’s a figure far too great for a developing state to afford. Pakistan lost its sovereignty over a large territory in the northwest part of the country.
Most importantly, by harboring domestic and international terrorists, Pakistan plunged into a chaotic uncertainty where the very survival of the state is in question. As the economically devastated U.S. plans an exit strategy from Afghanistan, there seems no exit from terrorism and state failure in sight for Pakistan.
The heart of the matter lies in the simple question, ‘Is the war on terror our war?’
Religious parties and a significant section of the public declare it America’s war and argue for complete withdrawal of Pakistan from the ‘war on terror.’ Usually those associated with the corridors of power, along with some from the educated class, approve of the war as the better option because Pakistan is too weak to take the U.S. head on. The third category belongs to some politicians, liberal intelligentsia and political activists who not only own it as Pakistan’s war but consider it mandatory for Pakistan’s survival and prosperity.
Building a consensus on the ‘war on terror’ should be the highest national priority for Pakistan, which can afford no more delay.
Pakistan’s engagement with terrorism – and its struggle against it – has been in the pipeline for decades. It will remain after America’s exit from Afghanistan. For better or worse, 9/11 essentially brought us to the crossroads where the state had make a choice between supporting or abandoning militancy.
The question to be asked is, who decided to opt for using militancy as a proxy to achieve state objectives? What is the constitutionality of the policy of preserving militants as strategic assets? Consistently blaming others for the burns of our ideological contradictions and strategic shortsightedness has brought us damaging international alienation.
Today, the world is moving on from the post 9/11 era, but we in Pakistan don’t seem ready for this. The end of militancy in Pakistan is not only requisite for American troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan but also pivotal for Pakistan’s bright future.
Religious militancy has almost become a civilizational problem for us. The needed international consensus against militancy always seemed missing. Our commitment should mean nothing short of a national policy against all militants, disregarding the delusions of ‘strategic assets.
If not reason, the sheer urgency of the situation and the enormous losses we have suffered in the past decade should guide our thinking. Time is running out to act decisively against terrorism. Failing to do so could lead to more 9/11s, more wars, and immeasurable civilian strife for decades to come. 
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Parents' stories bring 9/11 attacks to life

Jen Plonski, then a YJI student, drew this for the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
By Garret Reich
Senior Reporter
GLENWOOD, Iowa, U.S.A. – I’m too young to remember the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but that awful day left my parents with enough memories for them and me.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and those aboard Flight 93 who deliberately crashed the plane into a Pennsylvania field rather than let it be used as a missile against another national target.
I’m still grateful and relieved that my family did not lose anyone that day. At the time however, my brother was 17 days old and my father was serving overseas as a Navy pilot. I was a year and a half old.
My mom, my new baby brother and I were isolated, living in a small rural Minnesota town, hours away from extended family or friends.
When the planes hit the north and south towers of the World Trade Center, all my mom could do was watch the news unfold on television.  Years later, I watched the videos and they still almost don’t look real to me. We don’t often see attacks like this, except in the movies.
Moments after the second plane hit the south tower, my mom got an email from my dad saying he loved her – and that he didn’t know when he’d be able to talk again.
He hadn’t even met his son.
One of the scariest things for my mom was not knowing what would happen next.  There were cases of anthrax attacks in the offices of U.S. senators shortly after the terrorists struck.
She later told me that she would leave us in the house when she walked to the mailbox – and then stayed outside to open the mail, just in case.
Emma Bally /
A photograph from 2011
showing what was then a new
sign in the New York City
subway directing people to
the 9/11 memorial.
According to my dad, who was serving a six-month deployment, he was able to receive letters but it was difficult for him to write us regularly after the attacks. But he wrote letters to each of us that he set aside in case he didn’t return.
Last year, my family took a trip to New York. We were exploring the city when my mom said she wanted to show us where the Twin Towers collapsed. It is now more commonly called Ground Zero.
Where the towers once stood are two large, gaping holes.  The nearly 3,000 names of men, women, and children killed in the attacks are inscribed in bronze along the side of the memorial.
Within the original footprints of the towers are fountains where water falls endlessly into the smaller hole in the middle.
Being at Ground Zero is hard to explain to anyone who has not been there. Some people take photos and some touch the names, but nothing captures the monumental awe that you feel looking at where the buildings used to stand.  
Support from readers empowers Youth Journalism International students to cover and reflect on the horrors of terrorism in the U.S. and around the world. Your tax-deductible gift helps give them a voice. Thank you.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

How to have fun at the amusement park, even if you don't like rollercoasters
Ready to take off on the American Flyers at Lake Compounce are, from left, YJI reporters Shelby Saunders, Kiernan Majerus-Collins and Mary Majerus-Collins.

By Kiernan Majerus-Collins
Senior Correspondent
BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. – The first time I rode a rollercoaster, I broke my glasses.
I was on a trip to Lake Compounce, America’s oldest amusement park, with four fellow YJI students, all of whom were thrilled at the chance to ride the fastest, most exhilarating rides the park could offer.
“I live for the stomach flips,” one of them said.
But I didn’t share their enthusiasm. I had never ridden a rollercoaster, and so stayed behind as they tried out Phobia, the park’s new coaster that claims to make riders face their fears. Watching from the ground, the ride seemed impossibly scary, but when they were done they all seemed to have loved it, and were eager to try out the next coaster.
YJI reporters Kiernan Majerus-Collins
and Ruth Onyirimba before riding
the Boulder Dash wooden rollercoaster
at Lake Compounce. One of them liked
“Come on,” said Mary, my sister. She claimed that Boulder Dash, one of two wooden coasters at Lake Compounce, would be more my speed. You don’t even have to go upside down, she said.
Reluctantly I agreed, and climbed into a little car that would shortly take me on my wild trip through the Connecticut woods.
At the outset, the coaster moved slowly, climbing upwards. It didn’t seem so bad, but I told my fellow rider that I was nervous as we approached the top. I had no idea what was in store, however.
The coaster plummeted down, shaking violently, and never really stopped again. After the third or fourth drop, my face drenched with sweat from the heat, I could feel my glasses slipping down my nose. If they fell off on the coaster, in the best case scenario they would be lost forever in the forest. In the worst case scenario, they would be crushed to pieces.
I tried to reach up and grab them, but it was hard to do as I hurtled forward at speeds in excess of 60 mph. I eventually snatched them as they fell off my face, right before we went careening down a giant hill and around a bend to give riders a momentary view of the lake.
The coaster roared up and down as it sped back to the beginning of the track, and I stared down, just waiting for the ride to be over.
Alan Burkholder /
Friends can make a day at the park
even better. Reporters Alan Burkholder
and Kiernan Majerus-Collins.
Once I got my wish, however, I noticed that my glasses had broken apart. I resolved to henceforth take them off before going on any more rides, and to not ride any more rollercoasters, at least that day.
The good news for me was that there’s plenty to do at Lake Compounce even for coaster cowards like me.
I rode the American Flyers, a World War-II era ride where you sit in a small compartment that hangs off the arm of a central post. It spins you around so it feels like you are gently flying and as you ride, you control the rudder, which means you can steer the compartment to some degree. I liked that ride a lot, and went on it three or four times.
I also liked the Wave Swinger, which were a bit more intense but still fun. And I liked the chance to ride the park’s old trolley and miniature train, which when taken in succession given riders a pleasant view of the lake and the park.
I had hoped to go on the Sky Ride, a gentle 30-minute glide on a ski lift up to the top of a ridge overlooking the park and then down again. I remembered riding it in elementary school, and the views were beautiful.
Aside from rides, Lake Compounce is filled with food and drink, which is helpful on a hot summer’s day. The park gives all visitors unlimited free water and soda (although the machines are surrounded by bees seeking spilled Pepsi), and has a few restaurants.
We ate at the Crocodile Café, where the best thing I had was the waffle fries, which I would definitely get again. The worst thing was a massive cupcake, which was an $8 disappointment. Don’t get it.
Instead, try the Old-Fashioned Ice Cream shop, where a milkshake made from hard ice cream is $5. The shop is air-conditioned (unlike the Crocodile Café), which was a relief after hours in the sun, and the chocolate milkshake I got was delicious.
Before the day was over I also got a chance to see the Caterpillar Train, one of my favorites rides from when I was a kid. I got a picture for old times’ sake.
YJI reporter Kiernan Majerus-Collins is reunited with his childhood pal, the Caterpillar Train.
We ended our day with the most charming ride of all – the 1911 carousel.
The traditional music and graceful wooden horses were enchanting, and as the final ride ended, I felt myself wishing we could stay just a little longer. Despite my broken glasses, sweaty clothes, and fear of rollercoasters, Lake Compounce offered a fun-filled escape from the worries of everyday life. I look forward to my next visit.


If you DO want thrills, read this: In search of stomach flips and plenty of speed: testing coasters at Lake Compounce, by YJI Junior Reporter Shelby Saunders

Want more? Read "Phobia forces coaster fans to face their fears" from YJI Senior Reporter Mary Majerus-Collins.

And don't miss: "Please secure all loose items: a woman's guide to dressing for success and thrills" by YJI reporters Shelby Saunders, Ruth Onyirimba and Mary Majerus-Collins. 

The best thrill? Changing lives by supporting young
journalists through your support of YJI. 
Your tax-deductible contributions take these students
on the ride of a lifetime. Thank you.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Stunning solar eclipse under African skies

David Joseph Kapito /
The September 1, 2016 solar eclipse as seen from Lilongwe, Malawi.

By David Joseph Kapito
Youth Journalism International
LILONGWE, Malawi – Today was another amazing day for skywatchers in Malawi and other parts of Africa as we observed the solar eclipse.

U.S. State Department
Click to enlarge map

The eclipse took some minutes in the late morning hours 11 a.m. to noon.

Skywatchers observed solar eclipse in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and other parts of Malawi.
There was a bit darkness in the sky, it was not normal. Clouds overhead foretold a sense of change in the atmosphere. The experience was amazing.
The dark cloud made it tough to observe the anticipated “ring of fire” look of the eclipse, but some zoomed pictures captured from the scene showed more.
According to National Aeronautics and Space administration (NASA), the next partial eclipse is expected to take place on February 26, 2017 in Africa and August 21 August on the American Eastern coast.

Brighter than the sun and more powerful than an eclipse are the people who make Youth Journalism International possible. Be a donor and make a difference.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In search of stomach flips and plenty of speed: testing coasters at Lake Compounce

Mary Majerus-Collins /
From the Ferris Wheel, riders can see the Wildcat historic wooden coaster and Phobia, the new steel ride at Lake Compounce.
By Shelby Saunders
Junior Reporter
BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. – As a seasoned roller coaster junkie, I have a need for speed and a love for the stomach-flipping drops of the nation’s biggest and best coasters. A day at Lake Compounce satisfied my adrenaline craving for the summer, so for my fellow thrill seekers, here is a roller coaster guide for the nation’s oldest amusement park.
Wildcat: As the oldest roller coaster in the park, the 1927 Wildcat is a must for any coaster enthusiast. My advice is to ride it and then get some water to fend off the inevitable headache. The first drop is smooth and exciting, but I was distracted from the rest of the thrills by bone-rattling turns and head-banging bounces. The innovation and durability of Wildcat is a feat, but it can be an uncomfortable ride for a generation spoiled by steel coasters. Jerry Brick, the park’s general manager, explained that a bumpy ride is typical of the humid summer months due to expanding wooden tracks. While Lake Compounce hoses down the coaster in attempts to cool it off, one ride on the Wildcat is all I can handle this season. A painful but respectful nod to the nearly 90 year old attraction.
Boulder Dash: Long hailed as the best wooden roller coaster in the world, Boulder Dash is a rite of passage. The hillside ride takes thrill seekers through the woods and trees that hide the upcoming drops, enhancing the stomach-flipping effects. The coaster’s many crests don’t disappoint, but on more than a few turns and speedy straightaways I felt my organs shift. Brick explained that due to the weather the ride is 15 seconds faster this August, topping 60 mph, than it was in May. Don’t get me wrong, I have a need for speed, but I would take a smooth ride over a brain-scrambler any day.
Zoomerang: Maybe I was smaller the last time I rode it. Maybe I hadn’t yet taken so many rickety budget flights across Europe. Or maybe I was spoiled after riding the new Phobia Phear Coaster. Zoomerang was short, slow, and more painful than a steel coaster should be. Also the fact that it goes both forward and backward makes choosing a seat difficult. We went for the back, agreeing that it was worth it to experience the high speeds going forward while going backward would be enough of a thrill itself, even if we were stuck in the boring and slow front car. Though I felt more stable overall than on the Wildcat and Boulder Dash, Zoomerang’s rock hard seat dug into my back. I would have gladly accepted this exchange if the coaster had been as thrilling as the others, but I didn’t have a single stomach flip. Not one. I would have been remiss if I had not gone on it, but on busy days, I suggest spending your valuable time waiting in line for Boulder Dash and Phobia instead. However, Zoomerang would be a good intro for youngsters just breaking into the roller coaster game.
Phobia Phear Coaster
Phobia: This summer Lake Compounce unveiled its Phobia Phear Coaster, hailed as the first of its kind in the northeast. The ride is a 15-story loop that reaches 65 mph during its three stomach-flipping drops. As I approached (read: ran excitedly to) the ride, the first one of the day, signs and voice recordings warned that I would soon face my biggest “phear.” Without the help of Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin from the Batman series, I wasn’t sure how the ride would achieve this. I managed to snag the last seat in the car, knowing that the back car is always the fastest. As I strapped myself in, I had a massive grin waiting for my first roller coaster ride in more than a year. My grin faded as the harnesses locked down and the shin guards dug into my legs. The ride harnesses don’t seem well suited to taller riders, but I was happy to be strapped in during the ride’s slower corkscrew before the big plunge. While it didn't play on my biggest "phears," Phobia was thrilling, smooth and a worthwhile investment. I would rank it as the park's best ride: low impact, low pain and high thrills.

Want more? Read "Phobia forces coaster fans to face their fears" from YJI Senior Reporter Mary Majerus-Collins.

And don't miss: "Please secure all loose items: a woman's guide to dressing for success and thrills" by YJI reporters Shelby Saunders, Ruth Onyirimba and Mary Majerus-Collins. 

If thrill rides aren't your thing, try: "How to have fun at the amusement park, even if you don't like rollercoasters," by YJI Senior Correspondent Kiernan Majerus-Collins.

You know what's really a thrill? Making a difference in young lives. That's what happens when you make a donation to Youth Journalism
International. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Please secure all loose items: A woman's guide to dressing for success and thrills

Kiernan Majerus-Collins /
Ruth Onyirimba and Shelby Saunders loved riding Down Time at Lake Compounce.
By Shelby Saunders, Mary Majerus-Collins
And Ruth Onyirimba
Youth Journalism International
BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. – A day at Lake Compounce requires planning. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, comfortable walking shoes, swimming gear and a bag of assorted bras.
Shelby Saunders ready to take
off on the American Flyers.
Here’s our best advice for what to wear on the park’s various attractions.

American Flyers: This fun and interactive ride allows you to control your height and speed.  Hop on with whatever undergarments you’re already wearing and choose the velocity that best allows safe and secure baggage storage.

Antique Carousel: 
Girdle up for these beautiful 19th century hand-painted horses. You can   take your pick of either a standing or a jumping horse, depending on the tightness of your corset.
Shelby Saunders
takes spin on the
Boulder Dash: This award-winning wooden coaster takes you up and along the mountain at an incredible speed. Riders beware: high impact sports bras are a must, maybe double up if you’re worried. Matching neck brace optional, but highly recommended.
Bumper Cars: The answer to this question is in the title of the ride. Even if you try to avoid the intense collisions that naturally occur with children behind the wheel, we’d still recommend at least a low impact sports bra for this bumpy ride.
C.P. Huntington Train: Tired from all the bra-switching madness? Take the scenic, convenient and, most importantly, bra-free train back to the main grounds. Certainly lower impact than walking all the way.
Mary Majerus-Collins
behind the wheel at the
Bumper Cars.
Down Time: The drop on Downtime is short but thrilling. The 185-foot drop felt much shorter at 60 mph, but after the initial stomach flip, the fall is smooth and gentle. Almost no pain, a simple bralette is recommended.
Ferris Wheel: Ferris Wheels may date back to the 1800s, but the politics need not - go ahead and free the nipple on this smooth, scenic ride.
Kiddie Coaster: If you’re wearing a bra like we are, you might be too old for this ride.

Phobia: This steel coaster lacks the more bouncy qualities of the wooden ones, without losing any of the thrill. This ride is a must for any roller coaster enthusiast. We would recommend at least some kind of upper-torso support, though the ride is so smooth that a sports bra isn’t necessary.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins /
Riding in the front seat of Phobia are Ruth Onyirimba. left, and Mary Majerus-Collins. In the rear seat are YJI's Shelby Saunders and Alan Burkholder.
Pirate Ship: This massive swing was a fun break from the whirling coasters.  Lake Compounce claims you will be “tossed like a ship in a perfect storm,” but our loose items were secure.  No bra necessary.
The Wave Swinger: The swingset of your wildest childhood dreams has become a reality. Catch a nice breeze and free the nipple on this smooth ride.
Thunder N’ Lightning: This gravity-defying experience will take you up into the clouds. If you chose to ride it once or twice, a regular bra will suffice. But if you want to ride it four times in a row like we did, then a low impact sports bra is ideal.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins /
Riding Thunder 'N Lightning are, at left, YJI reporters Alan Burkholder, Shelby Saunders and Mary Majerus-Collins.
Trolley: This antique 1911 trolley offers a comfortable, smooth ride to the Thunder Rapids and Sky Ride. Coincidentally, 1911 was also the year Californian women won the right to vote. Make like a second-wave feminist and burn that bra.
Waterpark: We recommend a bathing suit for all water-related rides, and it wouldn’t hurt to opt for a super-supportive one.
Wildcat: Strap in tight for the park’s 1927 wooden rollercoaster, and we guarantee your journey will be historic. For those who have not yet experienced it, we recommend a high impact sports bra. This ride doesn’t have the smooth contours of the newer rollercoasters, making it a very bumpy ride.
Zoomerang: Taking the rider both forward and backward along a steel track, Zoomerang offers a thrilling rollercoaster experience. However, it was a bit jiggly, so we would recommend a low impact sports bra.
Disclaimer: Lake Compounce requires a shirt and shoes to be worn everywhere in the park with the exception of Crocodile Cove, where a swimsuit may be worn instead.

Want more? Read "Phobia forces coaster fans to face their fears" from YJI Senior Reporter Mary Majerus-Collins.

And don't miss "In search of stomach flips and plenty of speed: testing coasters at Lake Compounce" by YJI reporter Shelby Saunders.

If thrill rides aren't your thing, try"How to have fun at the amusement park, even if you don't like rollercoasters," by YJI Senior Correspondent Kiernan Majerus-Collins.

No matter what your underwear choice, you can support young journalists through your tax-deductible contribution to this non-profit educational charity. Thanks!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Phobia forces coaster fans to face their fears
The newest rollercoaster at Lake Compounce is Phobia, a 15-story steel ride.

By Mary Majerus-Collins
Senior Reporter
BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Phobia, the newest and fastest rollercoaster at Lake Compounce, thrills parkgoers and steps up the park’s rollercoaster game big time.
Reaching speeds upwards of 65 mph, Phobia races ahead of the park’s other steel coaster, Zoomerang.
In contrast with the more intense over-the-shoulder-style seats on Zoomerang, the seats on Phobia may seem mild with only a lap guard, but don’t be fooled. The park’s newest addition is equally if not more thrilling than its older counterpart.
Alan Burkholder /
Signs outside of Phobia urge
riders to face their fears - and
instruct them how to sit safely.
The coaster propels riders 150 feet upwards using a magnet system to store the energy created by the coaster, according to Jerry Brick, the park’s general manager.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins /
YJI students Alan Burkholder and Mary 

Majerus-Collins in Phobia's front car.
This new system is able to dramatically reduce the total energy used by the coaster through reusing the kinetic energy it generates on its upward ascent, he said.
At the top of its 15-story journey, Phobia gives thrill-seekers a gorgeous view of the park, lake and surrounding wooded hills where the wooden coaster Boulder Dash makes its run. From the top, it is possible to see the park’s historic wooden coaster, the Wildcat, and other attractions such as DownTime and multiple waterslides as well as more chill rides like the Giant Wheel and the Wave Swinger.
Then, a series of upside-down turns and a stomach-flipping drop interrupt the brief second of calm at the top.
In a trip that lasts about a minute, Phobia switches directions three times, keeping visitors on their toes all the while. 

Watch the video below to hear further explanation from Lake Compounce General Manager Jerry Brick about how Phobia saves energy:

Want more? Read "Please secure all loose items: a woman's guide to dressing for success and thrills" by YJI reporters Shelby Saunders, Mary Majerus-Collins and Ruth Onyirimba.

And don't miss "In search of stomach flips and plenty of speed: testing coasters at Lake Compounce" by YJI reporter Shelby Saunders.

If thrill rides aren't your thing, try"How to have fun at the amusement park, even if you don't like rollercoasters," by YJI Senior Correspondent Kiernan Majerus-Collins.

Your tax-deductible gifts keep students on track and this educational non-profit humming like a well maintained rollercoaster. Thanks for coming along for the ride!