Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beautiful And Diverse, Singapore Botanical Gardens Are Now A World Heritage Site

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
The national flower of Singapore, the orchid, is cultivated at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. This one is the hybrid Vonda Miss-joaquim.

By Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan

SINGAPORE – After more than 150 years in the heart of the city, the Singapore Botanical Gardens are Singapore's first and only World Heritage Site.
Early this month, the popular attraction was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.
"We all have happy memories visiting the Gardens, soaking in the greenery and tranquillity, and enjoying the company of family and friends," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page.
The crowning of the Botanical Gardens took place just before Singapore's 50th independence anniversary, which is August 9.
The prime minister called the international recognition "A great Jubilee year gift to Singaporeans" in his Facebook post.
Globally, only two other botanical gardens have attained a similar status – the Kew Gardens in England and the Padua Gardens in Italy.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
"It is of great honor that our nation has managed to have such a prestigious status awarded to one of our sites,” said Robert Liu, 56, who was out enjoying the Gardens recently.
"Tourists usually don't equate nature with Singapore,” said Liu. “After all, we're popularly known for our beautiful skyline and superb infrastructure and economy. But today, I believe that this status will make nature be another reason why they come here."
Founded at its present site in 1856 by an agri-horticultural society, the Singapore Botanical Gardens have played a fundamental role in agricultural development ever since.
The Gardens are now a national icon.

(Story continues beneath photos.)

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
The Symphony Lake
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
A rainforest trail.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
A sheltered walkway that is popular among newlyweds having their photos taken at the Gardens.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
One of the tallest trees in the Gardens.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
Arid region plants at the desert-themed "Sun Garden."
The Gardens' cultivation and hybridisation of the orchid - Singapore's national flower – began in 1928 and has become its speciality.

The National Orchid Garden, located on the grounds, is home to more than 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 orchid hybrids. About 200 hybrids have been named after world icons, such as Hong Kong-based actor Jackie Chan, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The site is also home to several other specialty gardens, all themed to different geographical settings.
On weekends, locals and tourists alike flock to the park in troves to enjoy the same immense beauty and culture that propelled the gardens to the world stage.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
A Komodo Dragon

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
  Garden paths are regularly cleared of leaves by park staff.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
A gazebo in the center of a large green lawn.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, where open-air performances are held.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
A waterfall in the botanical gardens.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
A squirrel in a treetop.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
Park workers ride in a cart, clearing trash bins.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /
Pamphlet collection point.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rocket Launch Is A Vision Of Celestial Majesty - And The Magic Of Star Trek

Olivia Wright /
The July 23 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida as seen from Cocoa Beach.
By Olivia Wright
Junior Reporter
COCOA BEACH, Florida, U.S.A. – I stood on a bridge over the ocean in awe and wonder as a Delta IV rocket blast off and make its way into the galaxy.
Watching the rocket leave Earth on sent chills down my spine and made me realize that with hard work, anything is possible.
Ever since childhood, I’ve loved Star Trek. While my family and I raced down the road Thursday to get to an area where we would be able to see the launch, I decided to play Captain Wright and made the rest of my family join in and adopt a role in my own little Enterprise.
After racing down unfamiliar roads – with my brother, Sergei, and boyfriend, Garrett navigating – we finally made it to a bridge recommended for viewing.
At T-minus five minutes on July 23, my mock fleet and I jumped out of our vehicle and ran to the viewing area. Dripping from the salty waves and clad in swimwear, we were a sight, but never mind. We were on a mission.
My eyes scanned the ocean, looking for some kind of action that would show the shuttle was launching. Suddenly I heard a gasp and I saw it.
Olivia Wright /
The view of the rocket launch from 
Cocoa Beach.
My gaze landed on a spaceship, and with an explosion, it discharged from land.
I stood, starry-eyed, in the same place where people watched the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, their hearts in as many pieces as the ill-fated spacecraft.
With my feet planted in the same spot as those who’d watched with glee as the Apollo missions blasted off successfully, I viewed the Delta IV rocket make its way to the mystery that is outer space.
The launch I saw was a product of United Launch Alliance. It took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
It was the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM communications satellite for the Air Force. These communications are used to convey important information to America’s armed forces. 
While I watched the satellite launch, I realized that the United Launch Alliance was not that different from my beloved Star Trek.
Space flights helped to explore strange new worlds, as seen with the Apollo Missions to the moon. To boldly go where no man has gone before with Atlas V in the spring, which carried instruments to help study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. It is a fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe.
And much like the Star Trek Enterprise, space exploration strives for peace, which brings us back to the launch I witnessed of a Delta IV, which made the world more peaceful for providing a way for communication to America's armed forces through the satellite.
Space is seemingly without boundaries, and thanks to technology and the phenomenal human brain, we are exploring, and utilizing it, more and more every day. 
I had an experience worthy of awe that day. Watching the rocket ascend toward the infinity of the heavens – with my own feet planted here on Earth – I felt the majestic glory of the stars.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Selfish Killing Of Cecil The Lion Shows Wildlife Needs More Protection

By David Joseph Kapito
Junior Reporter
ZOMBA, Malawi – The killing of the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe fouled ecological preservation efforts and casts doubt about whether man’s stewardship over nature continues to deteriorate.
A man, apparently an American using a bow and arrow, shot this 13-year-old lion – which lived on a protected wildlife reserve – without any reason or threat of harm.
Cecil’s death triggers many questions and brings to mind extreme anthropocentrism – a belief that the universe centers on humans. This view poses a threat to ecology.
If killing an innocent wild animal was part of this man’s pleasure, then the “hunt” was simply selfish.
According to philosopher John Stuart Mill’s principle of utilitarianism, the maximum pleasure should be to the greatest number of individuals.
In the context of Cecil, all the people who used to enjoy visits to see the famous lion are deprived of this pleasure. One person, the so-called “hunter,” sacrificed the enjoyable experience of all of the visitors for his own pleasure.
The slaughter of Cecil the lion should remind people to observe actions towards animals. Animal rights shouldn’t be neglected. Uncontrolled harmful human actions can cause scarcity in other species.
According to The National Geographic Society, the Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years.
We as humans must take on a bigger role to protect the wild animals while we still have them.
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Protecting Wild Elephants In Malawi

David Joseph Kapito /
An elephant in the Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve in Malawi
David Joseph Kapito
Junior Reporter
VWAZA MARSH GAME RESERVE, Malawi – The Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve is a habitat for many wild animals in the northwest part of Malawi, along the border with Zambia.
The reserve covers an area almost 1,000 square kilometers, or about 400 square miles. It contains open plains and woodlands.
The game reserve also attracts a lot of birds due to its marshy wetlands.
The life of an elephant is strictly monitored in most of the Malawi’s wildlife game reserves and national parks.
U.S. State Department map.
Click to enlarge.
Security is tight to protect from poachers who kill other animals for food or elephants in order to rob them of their ivory and sell it illegally at international markets.
Poaching is condemned and a crime in Malawi. It is illegal to hunt animals in the game reserve or the national parks.
Because game reserves are some of places that attract tourists to Malawi, they are a source of income and economic development in the country.
An individual can be sentenced to prison for poaching, which is an offense against Malawi’s constitution.
The Malawi reserve is the same southeastern part of the African continent as Zimbabwe, where hunters reportedly lured "Cecil," a popular mature male lion, out of protected area and killed him early this month.

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Museum Shows Array Of American Art

Laura Espinoza Jara /
From 1974, Untitled acrylic painting by Herbert Creecy on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art.
By Mary Majerus-Collins and Laura Espinoza Jara
NEW BRITAIN, Connecticut, U.S.A. – No matter what type of art you like, there’s always something interesting to see at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

The museum has both permanent galleries filled with old murals and classic Hudson River Valley paintings and it has temporary exhibits. 
The oil paintings of Tom Yost, mostly Connecticut landscapes, are currently on display.
An extensive collection of modern art fills the gallery on the second floor including an impressive piece from Andy Warhol.

It’s all a must-see for art lovers.

Mary Majerus-Collins / youth
West Rock, New Haven, an 1849 oil painting by Frederic Edwin Church of a Connecticut vista, is part of the museum's Hudson River collection. 

Laura Espinoza Jara /

Andy Warhol's 1974 acrylic painting Man Ray hangs at the museum.
Laura Espinoza Jara, 16, of Quito, Ecuador, studies some of the contemporary art at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Laura Espinoza Jara /
From 1933, the Analogical Emblem Landscape, by Stuart Davis.
Laura Espinoza Jara /
Sol LeWitt's A Square Divided Horizontally and Vertically into four equal parts, Each with a Different direction of alternatin parallel bands of lines. The 1982 work, by the New Britain native son, is one of many of LeWitt's works on display.

Mary Majerus-Collins /
The 1806 oil painting Thetis Bringing Armor to Achilles, is part of the museum's collection.
Laura Espinoza Jara /
This 2011 work by Titus Kaphar is called Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman.

Mary Majerus-Collins /
This oil painting, The Florist, is a 1943 work by John Koch.
No visit to the New Britain museum is complete without stopping to say hi to Syl Sijan, the security guard, a sculpture by Marc Sijan. Here, YJI reporters Laura Espinoza Jara of Quito, Ecuador, and Mary Majerus-Collins of Connecticut, U.S.A., pose for a picture with Syl.
YJI reporters Laura Espinoza Jara of Quito, Ecuador, and Mary Majerus-Collins of Connecticut, U.S.A., with some of the contemporary art at the New Britain Museum of American Art.
Outside, YJI reporters Laura Espinoza Jara of Quito, Ecuador and Mary Majerus-Collins of Connecticut, U.S.A., spend a little time with the penguins on parade in front of the museum.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Ethiopian Teens Like Obama's Visit

Youth Journalism International Junior Reporter Dawit Leake in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia asked teens there what it meant to them to have U.S. President Barack Obama visit their country this week. Their responses show a wide spectrum of views and are presented below with photos of many of the youth interviewed.

Photo provided
Absera Getachew, 16, is a student at Saint Joseph School in Addis Ababa. He said, "It means a lot for a nation like Ethiopia to be visited by a president of a super power." Getachew said he believes the American president is "a great man." He said he is reading a book by Obama and sees the president has intellectually developed thinking. "I get to find people criticizing him for something that they are not even sure of," Getachew said. "I really like his speech, and he could be an example to our youth society."

Photo provided
Mahlet Wolde, 17, attends Magic Carpet School in Addis Ababa. She said Obama's visit means that Ethiopia has good foreign relations with America. "Obama is as we all know, the first black American president and I think of him as a role model for other African Americans," she said.

Dawit Leake /

Posters on the street advertised President Barack Obama's visit to Addis Ababa.

Dawit Leake /
Henok Tsegaye, 19, attends Addis Ababa University, said he is neutral on Obama's visit. He said he considers him an "average" leader.

Photo provided
Bethlehem Admasu, 16, attends the School of Tomorrow in Addis Ababa. Obama's visit, she said, means a lot becuase he is the first U.S. president to visit Ethiopia while in the White House. "This visit could mean a great future for our country," she said. "I think President Obama is a well-rounded president. I like his ways, how he handles situations. I do, however, disagree with his approach to gay rights."
Another student at the School of Tomorrow, Eyoel Hafte, who is 17, said, "I feel that our country is getting the recognition it needs from the world. President Obama coming here points to the fact that our country is developing."
Amen Wubtaye, 16, also attending the School of Tomorrow, said Obama is an inspiration.
"I'm glad he came!" Wubtaye said. "It's a good way of knowing how far we have come, as well as [how] much we have left to go."
Gelila Seyoum, 16, also attending the School of Tomorrow, said the president's visit is significant.
"It means he knows we actually exist and don't live on trees!" she said. "I think President Obama is brave and talented to be able to win the respect and votes of the American people."
Dawit Leake /
Eyob Moges, 18, attends the Addis International School in Addis Ababa. "I am excited," he said, about the president's visit. "I think he is a good leader."

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Author: Journalists Should Report On Race

Mugdha Gurram /

Journalist Jeff Chang, author of "Can't Stop Won't Stop" spoke at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine, Texas this month.
By Mugdha Gurram
Senior Reporter
GRAPEVINE, Texas, U.S.A. –   One of the major issues facing journalists today is reporting on important matters, such as race, while respecting the sensitivity of the subject.
Speaking before fellow journalists, author Jeff Chang talked about how reporters deal with race.
Chang, who wrote Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, a non-fiction book about the early years of the hip-hop generation, was a featured speaker at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine recently.
Chang discussed his thoughts on writing about a different race, and why it’s so important that journalist take the time to write about it.
Riots people hear about it in the news, whether it’s about Rodney King, Michael Brown or Eric Garner, are happening for a reason, Chang said.
The uprisings, he said, are “not a mistake. It’s because we don’t get to the conversations we need to have.”  
He attributed the lack of conversation to “this sort of racial amnesia that Americans have regarding these kind of issues.”
Chang emphasized the importance of bringing awareness to racial issues and the tension that rises because of them. It’s the only way real progress can take place, he said.
He encouraged journalists to report on the issues of racial tension, even giving them a suggestion as to where to start.
“Re-segregation, I think, is the issue of the day,” he said.
Chang also stressed that when writing about sensitive topics such as race, it’s importance to be fair to the subject, and readers, by telling the story accurately and objectively.
Part of writing a story about someone, he said, is forming a relationship with them. Chang says it’s a journalist’s job to respect this bond, while also giving an accurate representation to readers.
“It’s about being accountable and remaining accountable.”

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