Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Artful Henna Designs Add Beauty To Hands

Photos taken by Arooj Khalid of her hands after
she applied mehndi, or henna, designs.
The brownish color is the applied paste and the red
design is the result after the paste dries and is scraped away. 

By Arooj Khalid

LAHORE, Pakistan – Mehndi, also known as henna, is a really cool way to get funky, beautiful hands.
Its origins are from the subcontinent of South Asia, in the three countries of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Better known as henna in the outer world, it is a sort of mixture that now comes in paste, as well as powdered form.
A plant material, henna is applied in beautiful designs to the palm of the hand, sometimes the feet, and is also used to give hair a brownish orange color. 

Now-a-days, mehndi comes in cones; you just open and start making designs on your hands.

When it dries, you scrape it off, and feel amazed to see a beautiful dark red or brown color on the hands. It then gradually fades away, taking days or weeks to disappear.
Over the years, the trend of “henna tattoos” has developed, making tattoos with henna on the body in exactly the same way.

Not only the designs, but the color and the aroma play essential roles in the world of henna.
Applying henna is quite an old custom, most often used on important occasions such as weddings, religious feasts like Eid and other important events.
No one can imagine the sight of a bride, without her hands, arms and feet covered with henna. Besides the bride, each girl attending the wedding also tries her best to apply henna before the function.
Henna is also applied with glee at the anticipated event of Eid.
“Chand rat,” or the night before Eid day, typically finds girls going to the market to get henna applied on their hands by professionals.
Henna is loved by women of all ages and is now gaining popularity in the whole world.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

'Apocalypse Now' Is Apocalypse Great

By Adam Kelly
TORBAY, England – To describe how or why Apocalypse Now is so good is like trying to describe why great art is so much better than the rest.
Francis Ford Coppola produced a masterpiece in 1979 with this harrowing, brutal, chilling look into something much, much deeper than just the war in Vietnam.
Martin Sheen plays Captain Ben Willard – the second best character of his life, short only of that of the president on The West Wing – who is sent on a mission by two special ops soldiers to terminate, with extreme prejudice, Colonel Kurtz, an excellent soldier played by Marlon Brando, who has gone rogue and is leading a group of renegade troops in Cambodia.
Willard makes his way up on a boat containing a handful of characters as they encounter many different things along the way, even more in the Redux and especially excellent extended edition, with Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, Harrison Ford and Dennis Hopper all making appearances.
The film itself was, as a documentary charting the making of it once said, a “filmmaker’s apocalypse.” One cast member lied about his age to be in the film, claiming he was 17 when he was 13. However, by the time the film was released he was 17.
Coppola struggled to complete the film after years and years, problems after problems and more. It was finally released to a slightly poor box office.
But the box office lies, as Coppola, the production team and the cast created one of the greatest films of the 20th century.
Sometimes people can say too much, but the basics of what make a good film are all there, and they are better than most of the rest.

Martin Sheen
The screenplay, also written by Coppola, is a haunting, compelling, entertaining experience. The words seem so natural, as does the action that takes place on screen. Add this to narration by another man, as Willard tells us the story of both Kurtz and himself as we wind further up the river.
It is gripping and beautiful, combined with poetry from the mouth of Kurtz.
The cinematography is something to be proud of. The haunting sequences of helicopter attacks mixed with the sound of Wagner counter-balance the calm and surreal close-ups of Willard as he narrates, while they fade into the next horror, re-enforcing the madness of the jungle and the world into which we are being taken.
The acting is all-around good, but of course the credit must go to Sheen and Brando, who play their characters so well that we believe both men are mad and will snap at any moment.
But what makes Apocalypse so good isn't the fact that the technical aspect is spot on, it's the fact that although we are watching a film about Vietnam, we are actually observing a study in human madness.
The film looks at how the horrors of war drive its two central characters – two great men – to madness.
Coppola does something which a film has not done for years and had not done for years before, and takes his audience into the human psyche and makes them able to understand the terrible insanity men experience.
The only way anyone can truly understand his accomplishment is by watching this truly magnificent film.
But perhaps watch is the wrong word. You don't watch Apocalypse Now, you experience it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Macy's Parade Kicks Off Christmas Season

Kiernan Majerus-Collins
Senior Reporter
NEW YORK, NY—There is no spectacle quite like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
It is remarkable for its sheer magnitude, and its celebration of the American Christmas, a most unusual concept. Through events like this, society tries to preserve our commercial Christmas (and Thanksgiving too, for that matter).
The impact of that commercialism can be clearly seen in the parade. It’s a bit disconcerting to think that a large Ronald McDonald balloon is considered by anyone to be a bringer of holiday cheer.
Nevertheless, the parade is great fun.
We were packed right up against the railing, smooshed in with all the others, many of whom were not New Yorkers.
We could see the floats right up close, and got to talk to the bands – college students from Miami University in Ohio and high school students from Colorado.
It was really amazing.
I always thought that the bands would have been full of super amazing music students, but they seemed just like regular kids. One guy from Colorado, who had never been to New York before, said he already missed his mountains.
The most exciting part of the parade is seeing Santa on his sleigh, but it wasn’t quite the same this time as the first time I saw him at one of these parades. I think that this was because of my prime location. Before, I had been at the back of a crowd, and I only barely saw him, far in the distance—so it was really exciting.
This time, however, I was mostly focusing on getting good pictures of him and his reindeer for YJI’s readers. So take a look at them now – and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tear Gas And Tents At Alexandria Protests

Yasser Alaa /
Tear gas canister that police use on the protesters.
Youth Journalism International Senior Photographer Yasser Alaa, of Alexandria, Egypt, took these photos today.

After getting hit with tear gas Tuesday and then robbed of his camera, he rented another so he could return to the streets of Alexandria to document what's happening.

Yasser Alaa /
A pro-democracy demonstration in
Alexander, Egypt on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

He's okay, but he saw horrific sights and said today he feels as if he is living in a nightmare. He went to take photographs and had trouble because of the camera -- he even apologizes to those who view the pictures as they are not truly representative of his fine work.

But the images are important all the same, he said.

He said there are thieves who come to the protests and act like bullies, provoking police to lash out.

When they do, he said, the thieves snatch mobile phones or other valuables. Many people are fainting from the tear gas, he said, and some of the demonstrators set up tents in Victor Emanuel Square in the Smouha section of Alexandria.

Yasser Alaa /
Tents set up in Victor Emanuel Square in Smouha.

Thanksgiving Offers Turkey, Family and Fun

Macy's Holiday Parade in New York City.

Over the years, a number of Youth Journalism International students have written about Thanksgiving. Here are some of their stories:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Egyptian Revolution, Take Two

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
GRANVILLE, Ohio, U.S.A. – You just don’t make the same movie twice, especially since you will know the ending.
Starting Friday, Nov. 18th till this very moment today on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, the people of Egypt have once again taken to the streets, after much patience had slowly developed into much anger.
Many people don’t know about the protests that have taken place almost every other Friday after the January 25 revolution in Egypt as it is rarely televised in the United States. The demonstrations were also considerably non-violent on the side of the police.
Recently, however, the military and police have used more violence than ever, at least since the revolution ended, with the excuse of practicing restraint.
Hundreds of people were injured on Friday and Saturday and more than 25 people are dead. The warm neighborhoods of Cairo, Alexandria, Suwes and Ismaeleya have turned into what looks like a war zone.
More than a million people again took themselves to the squares in their cities and, more vital yet, the military headquarters, to protest against the Supreme Council for Armed Forces.
Now their chant is, “The people demand the removal of the Mosheer (the top general of SCAF).”
The people of Egypt are not frightened by death or plastic bullet injuries. Thousands suffered from the tear gas that was so abundant that it seeped from the streets into people’s homes.
The SCAF, like Mubarak “back in the day,” doesn’t understand.
Only a few moments ago, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of SCAF, addressed the people in the same aggravating way Mubarak used to do.
Ignoring completely the deaths and people in the streets, he told the country that all he wants is what’s good for them and that his own reputation and that of the military has been stained by outside forces.
If this is a repeated movie, we all know Tantawi has two more speeches and a few more days before the people once again prevail.
The government handed in its resignation, including the once hopeful but now disappointing Essam Sharaf, and Tantawi has accepted.
After Tantawi’s speech, people are now angrier and more united than ever.
Unlike other ‘mini’ post-revolution protests, this demonstration does not belong to one specific party, mentality or religion.
Instead, it is one by Egyptians – pure, brave, youth, women, children, men and elders who will not stand by to see what they worked so hard for destroyed.
The martyrs’ blood from last January and February will not go to waste – and neither will that spilled this November.
For the past four days, we’ve heard stories like that of Ahmad Harrah, a dentist, one of many January revolutionaries who lost his right eye from a bullet on Jan. 28 and now his left on Nov. 19.
Afterward, he said, “To live blind with dignity is better than living with sight and defeated.”
Stories like these made people who may have not been to the first revolution leave their homes in the midst of the danger and take to the streets in protest.
There are more people in the demonstration than ever before and they are ready to sacrifice anything and everything to keep their freedom.
There is no other solution or demand now except for the leaders of the armed forces to back down.
The people are not satisfied with Tantawi’s solution to simply have a referendum asking if the people want the SCAF to remain in control because they know the idea is meant to divide the people.
Once trusted, the SCAF initially fooled the people into believing that it was the guardian of the revolution, but it turned out to consist of power hungry hypocrites who do not care for the people of Egypt.
Despite being scared, insecure and living under constant tension, people can smell revolution in the air again and they are determined to prevail. Millions are still in the street and will stay there until their demands are met.
Revolution 2.0 has only just begun.
God bless the people of Egypt and keep them safe.
Jessica Elsayed, who is from Alexandria, Egypt, is a freshman at Denison University. 

A YJI Student Injured In Egyptian Protests

Yasser Alaa
One of our students – Yasser Alaa – was injured today during the protests in Alexandria, Egypt.
Yasser, 18, who has been taking photographs for Youth Journalism International since summer, was part of a group talking and joking around with police officers, seemingly having fun, when all of a sudden they opened fire with tear gas.
Demonstrators ran in every direction, some stumbling.
Yasser said he couldn’t find anyone to help him. He said he couldn’t breathe or see anything because of the thick smoke from the cannisters.
Eventually, Yasser said he fainted from the gas and fell in the street.
He woke up after someone carried him to safety, but then he felt a stranger grab his camera from his hand and take off. A girl who fell nearby had her purse stolen as well, he said.
As he looked around, he saw someone bleeding. He said he felt terrified and worried he would die there.
But Yasser is now safely at home, feeling "very sick now" and finding it difficult to breathe.
"I can't imagine what's happened to us today," he said.
Please keep him in your prayers and also his country, which deserves better.
We will update this as we learn more.
Meantime, if anyone has the means to help Yasser get a new camera, send us a note. He has started a photography business and has real talent. Check out  his work here. He obviously needs a camera.

From Egypt, Many YJI Stories This Year

Young people celebrating Mubarak's resignation last winter.
Here are the stories YJI reporters have done since the start of the Egyptian revolution on Jan. 25, 2011:

News Analysis: Tens Of Thousands Of Egyptians Protest For Human Rights (By Jessica Elsayed on Jan. 25, 2011)
Inside The Egyptian Revolution (By Jessica Elsayed on Jan. 29, 2011)
Egyptians Pin Hopes On ElBaradei (By Jessica Elsayed on Jan. 30, 2011)
Egyptian Protestors Stand Firm (By Jessica Elsayed on Jan. 30, 2011)
Background Briefing (Interview of Jessica Elsayd by Pacifica Radio's Ian Masters on Jan. 30, 2011)
Marching In Egypt: A Firsthand Account (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 1, 2011)
Reflections On A Day Of Peaceful Protest (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 1, 2011)
Egyptian Rutgers Student Has High Hopes For Her Homeland's Future (By Gokce Yurekli on Feb. 2, 2011)
Mubarak's Thugs Turn On Protesters (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 3, 2011)
Larson Calls On Egyptian Youth To 'Stay The Course' (By Celeste Kurz on Feb. 5, 2011)
Amsterdam Joins Anti-Mubarak Protests (By Caroline Nelissen on Feb. 7, 2011)
Two Weeks Into The Revolution (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 7, 2011)
Google Exec Inspires Egyptian Protests (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 8, 2011)
Photos From Alexandria, Egypt Protest (By Farah Nemr on Feb. 9, 2011)
More Photos From Egyptian Protest In Alexandria (By Miran Elleithy on Feb. 9, 2011)
Egyptians Won't Give Up On Freedom (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 11, 2011)
Egyptians Celebrate Mubarak's Resignation (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 11, 2011)
'Egypt Got Its Soul Back Today' (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 11, 2011)
'A New Epoch of Hope' In Egypt (By Lama Tawakkol on Feb. 23, 2011)
Egyptian Youth Reclaim Their Streets (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 24, 2011)
Libya Is The Latest To Catch Fire (By Jessica Elsayed on Feb. 24, 2011)
Qaddafi's Threats Won't Deter A People Yearning For Freedom (By Mehran Shamit on Feb. 25, 2011)
As Mubarak's Ministers Face Trial, A New Egypt Blooms (By Lama Tawakkol on Feb. 26, 2011)
Cairo's Christians And Muslims Unite (By Lama Tawakkol on March 1, 2011)
Egyptian Youth Rally Behind New Prime Minister (By Jessica Elsayed on March 5, 2011)
Schools Reopen in Cairo (By Lama Tawakkol on March 5, 2011)
Mixed Feelings On Opening Schools In Egypt (By Lama Tawakkol on March 6, 2011)
Egyptian Youth Need To Be Ready To Lead (By Ghada Abelhady on March 16, 2011)
Egyptians Head To The Polls (By Ghada Abelhady on March 19, 2011)
From Revolt To The Ballot Box in Egypt (By Jessica Elsayed on March 19, 2011)
Reporter's Notebook: Emotional Intensity At The Egyptian Science Fair (By Ghada Abelhady on April 13, 2011)
Students Show Creativity And Brainpower at Egypt's National Science Fair (By Ghada Abelhady on April 13, 2011)
Egypt Cheers As Mubarak Faces Trial (By Ghada Abelhady on April 14, 2011)
Video Commentary By Jessica Elsayed: Burka Ban (By Jessica Elsayed on April 15, 2011)
Osama Bin Laden Got What He Deserves, But What Comes Next? (Jala Ayman on May 2, 2011)
Skepticism And Hope In The Middle East (By Lama Tawakkol on May 20, 2011)
Obama's Mid-East Speech Disappoints (By Jessica Elsayed on May 23, 2011)
These Times Have Shaped Me (By Lama Tawakkol on May 24, 2011)
Egypt: Six Months After The Revolution (By Lama Tawakkol on July 29, 2011)
At The Sit-In, Alexandria, Egypt (By Yasser Alaa on August 2, 2011)
Protesting In Alexandria, Egypt (By Yasser Alaa on August 3, 2011)
Egyptians: Correct The Path (By Yasser Alaa on September 10, 2011
Demonstrators: Loosen Military Grip on Egypt (By Yasser Alaa on October 2, 2011)
Protesters Fill The Streets In Alexandria, Egypt (By Yasser Alaa on November 21, 2011)
Alexandria, Egypt: A View Into The Tear Gas (By Yasser Alaa on November 21, 2011)
The Journey Back to Cairo's Tahrir Square (By Lama Tawakkol on November 22, 2011)

All of these pieces were done by student reporters, most of them in Egypt. You can help us continue this extraordinary coverage by donating to Youth Journalism International, which offers its training to students for free. Please click on the Causecast link to the right or go to the Donate page on

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Journey Back to Cairo's Tahrir Square

Yasser Alaa /
A crowd of pro-democracy protesters in Alexandria, Egypt 
on Nov. 21. A translation of the sign is at the end of this entry.
By Lama Tawakkol
Senior Reporter
CAIRO, Egypt – Almost 10 months ago, immediately after Egyptians ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, I had hope and optimism – and faith in the Egyptian military.
I wasn’t alone in my support for the Supreme Council for Armed Forces, or SCAF, that was to help my country transition to a new, post-Mubarak, government. I wrote about it here, in a piece called “A New Epoch Of Hope.”  

Alongside most Egyptians, I believed, or wanted to make myself believe, that our nation had embarked on a new phase with Mubarak’s departure.
The Egyptian people, for the most part, wanted to move past the 18 days of the “revolution” and move on towards the real change they’d been promised.
Several activists called for continuing the protests and not merely stopping at getting rid of Mubarak. They were met, however, by people who were relieved to have reached their apparent aim, who believed that the snake’s head had been ripped off and most of the poison sucked out. The trials of tycoon Ahmed Ezz and several previous government ministers also served to appease the average civilian’s anger. In fact, it made a lot of people skeptical of these activists’ “exaggeration.”
Today, however, we see Tahrir and its spirit back in full swing. We see the people realizing it had been foolish to put so much trust in the army, an institution whose job had been to protect Mubarak – and whose job now is to protect its own political and economic interests. In retrospect, remembering the activists’ calls against SCAF for months, the people see that they’d been blinded by their need to believe in someone and by the military’s curtain of “security” and “economic stability.”
As the past 10 months quickly go through each of our minds, we remember 12,000 civilians who have faced military trials. We remember the female activists who were forced to endure virginity tests when the military detained them. We see our country, a nation that’s always been praised for its peace and security, turn into a place with hundreds of thugs on the loose. We recall incidents that had confused us at the time – unexplained violence that some protests witnessed and the government’s passive reaction later, for example – now starting to make more sense.
When activists gathered in July in front of the Ministry of Defense to protest SCAF remaining in power, they were met with looters and thugs while the military police stood aside, unabashed. Then, SCAF and the government opened an investigation and bas…. “Bas” is colloquial Arabic for “just” or “enough.” It is a word with such finality yet hollowness that it makes such an appropriate expression for what happened to the investigation afterwards: nothing.
Then in September, a large protest that attracted many more people than usual ended with catastrophic acts of violence and a break-in into the Israeli embassy. SCAF and the government accused the protesters of being thugs, referred several to military trials and, again, bas….
Yasser Alaa /
Pro-democracy protesters in Alexandria, Egypt in September
Exactly a month later, a small demonstration gathered in front of “Maspero,” the Egyptian State Television and Radio building, calling for Coptic Christians’ rights. Suddenly, there was mysterious violence. What the media and SCAF tried to portray as a Muslim-Christian rift soon turned out to be a battle between civilians and military personnel. Reports and footage of beaten soldiers circulated, as did civilians being run over by tanks. The government condemned the actions, called on “honorable” Egyptians to be calm and wise and opened an investigation. Bas. To this day, there has been no official statement as to what really happened.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, on October 30th, blogger, journalist and activist Alaa Abdel Fatah was arrested for allegedly inciting violence at Maspero, looting and stealing military weapons. It was too far-fetched this time to believe and people were quick to pinpoint the reason Abdel Fatah was being held behind military bars. His October 24th article in no vague terms held SCAF and the military responsible for the deaths that had occurred in Maspero.
Twitter hashtags used by followers interested in the situation now included #FreeAlaa and organizers calling for a November 18 demonstration added his arrest as another motive for protest.
Many people joined the protests last Friday, but by nightfall nearly everyone was going home. There had been no talk of an extended sit-in. Only a few hundred people who’d been injured in January and the martyrs’ families decided to stay, calling for the help promised them that they’d never received.
But reports of violence and force by Central Security Forces and military police enraged the people. They had no right to break up peaceful protests or use such measures to empty Tahrir Square. It was starting to be more and more obvious that SCAF needed to go.
Saturday morning attracted more people back to Tahrir with the intention to stay. The violence did not end as protesters described on Twitter how they were met with tear gas, beatings and rubber bullets. Still, not everyone was on board; some people were convinced the sit-in was unnecessary provocation.
Once again night pulled into day and Tahrir showed no signs of emptying. By Sunday afternoon, crowds were growing and as attention focused on the square, things became clearer. The people had announced their intention to stay. They demanded the immediate transition of power as well as the resignation of the cabinet and the Central Security Forces. The military police were doing exactly what the police had done at the beginning of the January 25 uprising.
Yasser Alaa /
Protesters in Alexandria, Egypt on November 21.
Eyewitnesses tweeted and called TV shows to give their accounts of what was happening. They highlighted clashes mainly taking place in Mohamed Mahmoud, a side street from Tahrir that leads to the Ministry of Interior headquarters. They talked of enormous quantities of tear gas that fogged the place and blurred their vision, and of CR gas that left them numb.
They reported that many people had fallen victim to live ammunition, rubber bullets, pellets and heavy beatings. Eye injuries were especially common. Throughout the night, it didn’t slow down. The shocking numbers of dead and wounded kept going up.
At 4 a.m. Monday, both sides agreed to a “truce” where the Central Security Forces and military retreated to the Ministry of Interior’s headquarters and the protesters in Tahrir were allowed a long-earned rest. It proved to be short-lived, though, with the police resuming violence almost two hours later, when many protesters had gone home to rest or went to sleep in their tents.
For those of us who hadn’t been able to go to bed while such acts were going on, following the news and the protesters’ pleas for help on Twitter was heartbreaking and disappointing. It was also infuriating that earlier on Sunday, the cabinet had released an official statement, supporting the Ministry of Interior and praising their exercise of self-restraint. It was like January 25th all over again, especially since the Ministry of Interior itself had denied the use of any violence in Tahrir. It was back to Mubarak’s mistakes again, as they inadvertently pushed the people back to Tahrir.
The rest of Egypt woke up in disbelief, astounded to see the return of Mubarak’s tools and tactics. They woke up to a Tahrir Square reporting about 30 people dead because of live bullets and at least 400 injured. They woke up to a square whose makeshift clinic was attacked in the early hours of the morning and relocated several times. They woke to pleas from their fellow Egyptians to join and help them. The people in Tahrir were no longer the other, the protesters who were going over the top. They had gone back to being fellows in the struggle as people gathered donations and supplies and rushed over to Tahrir to help.
Still, there was no tangible response on behalf of the government and SCAF except for a lame announcement that the law for political corruption would be implemented. Activists had been calling for it to be put into use for months, because it roughly means that political parties previously involved corruption would be banned from the upcoming parliamentary elections and public service in general. SCAF was, in short, trying to appease the people but it was a very late response to a demand made months ago and one that would do no good now. The people were getting an overdose of déjà vu.
As people watched things unfold, they continued to be in disbelief. Disturbing videos have been widely shared online and across the media. Some showed girls pulled by the hair on the ground or a man held captive, repeatedly beaten by the police. One outrageous clip showed a police officer aiming at a protestor’s eye, and another officer congratulating him on a good shot.
More and more people had shifted to Tahrir’s side, and calls for a Million Man March on Tuesday rang loud.
Late Monday night, the cabinet handed in its resignation and announced it was now waiting for SCAF’s decision. This got positive feedback as it was a key demand of the protesters, but it’s not enough. The cabinet was never really anything but an honorary post, a puppet of the SCAF. It is a step, but not really progress.
A little bit later, SCAF released a statement in which it condemned the acts of violence, expressed its sorrow at the deaths and injuries and offered its condolences to the families. It also implored the people to work together and exercise self-restraint and insisted that the upcoming parliamentary elections will take place on time next Monday. They also stated that the Ministry of Justice would be heading an investigation committee into the events in Tahrir. Really? Another investigation? Bas?
It is now Tuesday afternoon and Tahrir is packed once more with hundreds of thousands of protesters in preparation for the Million Man March scheduled for 4 p.m. The people want SCAF to leave and hand over power to a civilian temporary government until parliamentary and presidential elections are held. The chant that used to be, “The people demand the fall of the regime” has become, “The people demand the fall of the Marshall.”
Tahrir is reportedly safe, with only Mohamed Mahmoud Street a “war zone,” as some have put it. Everything is shaky and no one knows what to expect. Rumors of curfews are going around, but so far nothing has been confirmed. SCAF is calling for “national talks” but it is too late for that.
The spirit of January’s Tahrir is back and it is no longer separate parties protesting, but rather an entire people. Whatever it is that SCAF and the Ministry of the Interior think is worth killing people for isn’t going to be tolerated. The people will not rest until their demands are met.
Yasser Alaa /
A crowd of protesters in Alexandria, Egypt on Monday.
Too many people have died since January in the search for freedom and even more have been injured or lost their eyes. It is too late now to give up or compromise our demands, our legitimate demands, for freedom, dignity and a humane life.
As many people have tweeted, “We are losing many eyes but not the vision.”
For live updates, check Twitter hashtags #Tahrir, #TahrirNeeds, #NoSCAF, #Nov21, #OccupyTahrir, #Egypt and #Jan25.

PHOTO INFORMATION: For English readers who are curious about what the sign in Arabic says in the photo at the top of this blog entry, Youth Journalism International Senior Reporter Jessica Elsayed translated it:
“On top as a title it says, Al-Wafd Revolutionaries (Al Wafd is an Egyptian Political Party)
The list says:
1. No to 'El Selm' Document which was a proposed piece of legislation separate from the constitution that would ban scrutiny or questioning of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF
2. No to the Anti-Revolution
3. No to the 'Felool' which is a word used to describe anyone or anything loyal to the past regime and its survival and no to people who are supporting the revival of the old regime."

Alexandria, Egypt: A View Into The Tear Gas

Yasser Alaa /
Pro-democracy protesters in Alexandria, Egypt, on November 21

Yasser Alaa, a senior photographer for Youth Journalism International from Alexandria, Egypt, ventured out with his camera today to take pictures from the protests in the coastal city.

He braved police, who at the least fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators. He asked us to convey his apologies that his photos aren't better, but the working conditions were especially difficult.

Please check back for more from YJI's Egyptian students.

Protesters Fill Streets In Alexandria, Egypt

Yasser Alaa /
Demonstrators in the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, today

Youth Journalism International Senior Photographer Yasser Alaa of Alexandria, Egypt, took to the streets today, with his camera, to capture images from the pro-democracy demonstrations.

He expressed apologies that his photos weren't better, but he was having trouble getting any closer because of the tear gas. We're just glad he's safe. Please check back as there are more photos and reporting coming from YJI's impressive Egyptian students.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wozniak Woos Armenia With Tales Of Apple

Narine Daneghyan /
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Armenia last week

By Narine Daneghyan
YEREVAN, Armenia – Computer pioneer Steve Wozniak spent time with Armenian students recently, telling them his story of co-founding Apple with Steve Jobs and urging them to have faith in themselves.
Armenia honored Wozniak, an American, on November 9 with the Armenian President’s Award called “World Authority in the Field of Information Technology.”
Wozniak is the second, after Craig Barrett, chief executive officer of Intel, to receive the prize for contributions to the information technology sector.
While in Yerevan, Wozniak met with students and scholars.
“To reach success, first of all you yourselves must believe in your powers,” Wozniak advised students. “Trust in yourselves and don’t be disappointed from the difficulties.”
During the two-hour meeting, Wozniak presented his life story, and especially talked about the creation of Apple in 1976.
At first it was very difficult, Wozniak said, because he worked for Hewlett Packard at the time and loved that company.
But HP did not approve of his computer inventions, saying “it’s more a hobby than a serious business,” Wozniak said.
After that, he joined Apple.
“We sold the first lots of computers for $666.66. It was my idea, because I always loved the repetitive numbers. But we knew nothing about the meaning of that number then,” Wozniak said.
Wozniak described how the company came to be named.
One day, Steve Jobs returned from an apple farm and, pondering over the name of our company, offered to name it Apple Computers. It was a simple and a dear word, used in our everyday life with such combinations as, for example, an apple pie,” said Wozniak.
The IT legend said he would like to return to Armenia, as he is deeply impressed with the country. He said it was a big honor for him to receive the prestigious award.
“Armenia has become part of me,” he concluded.
Youth Journalism International Reporter Narine
 Daneghyan and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak
 in Yerevan, Armenia last week.

A Novel Idea: Students Write A Lot... Fast

By Celeste Kurz
Junior Reporter
WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – The month of November reminds every person of something different. Some think of Thanksgiving while others enjoy the autumn colors or football.
Yelena Samofalova/
But did you know that to over 200,000 writers around the world, including students in West Hartford, November represents NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month?
“I enjoyed it so much last year,” said Jordan Hutensky, a sophomore at Conard High School in West Hartford, “and even though I didn’t finish I’m sure I will this time. It’s really disappointing not to make it to the end, but once you fall behind it’s really tough to catch up.”
Sound strange? Here’s a brief explanation of the rules:
1. The challenge starts on the first of November and ends on the thirtieth. You have this amount of time. No starting early or finishing late.
2. The goal is to write 50,000 words in this time period. To put that into perspective, it’s about the same as a 180-page paperback.
3. Stay on track. It can be very easy to fall short of the 1,667 daily word quota, and all too hard to regain the necessary words in time if you don’t keep up.
Thankfully, after writers sign up online, they can view a graph of their progress and the suggested daily targets on their profile. The tools writers need for this grueling effort are online here.
4. Have fun! No one produces an amazing piece of work in a month. The end product is basically one giant first draft. In fact, writers are encouraged not to edit, during the challenge as they need to spend that precious time racking up their word count.
So who would subject themselves to such a thing? Do people really choose to isolate themselves from society for an entire month just to spend long hours of the night typing feverishly away? The answer is most certainly yes.
Determined to hit her goal of 50,000 words this year, Hutensky got off to a fast start this time around, with an already impressive total of 20,483 words after only a week.
Hutensky said she “forced myself not to edit. It’s too easy to focus on what you’ve already done when you just need to be writing more.”
Yelena Samofalova/
Sarah Whitney, another sophomore at Conard, said she also gave it a shot last year. But she’s not planning to do it again.
“I chose not to write this year because last year was just impossible,” Whitney said. “It’s hard to write that much every single day. You get tired very quickly.”
The entire process is extremely rewarding for many, however. Not everyone can say that they wrote a novel in a month’s time.
Plus the title of novelist doesn’t hurt.
The challenge appeals to all age groups, and the site recently announced a writing challenge for even younger writers as well. Surely they’ll have a much easier time when they make it to the big leagues.
Despite the hardships of writing, NaNoWriMo is experiencing its most successful year, with writers all around the world braving carpal tunnel syndrome and sleepless nights to boost their word counts and snatch the coveted prize at completion: 5 paperback copies of your book.
For aspiring authors, that’s a big carrot.