Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy 2016 From The Top Of The World

Nischal Kharel / youthjournalism.org
Fireworks are part of the night's celebration in Pokhara, Nepal.
Nischal Kharel / youthjournalism.org
Fireworks Basun Dhara Park, Lake Side, Pokhara, Nepal















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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lake Urmia, A Former Tourist Favorite And UNESCO Reserve, Is Drying And Dying

Frida Zeinali / youthjournalism.org
For many years, there were touristic ships on Lake Urmia for island tours. Followed by the dramatic drying of water, they all are out of service now.

By Frida Zeinali
Junior Reporter
TABRIZ, Iran– While you take your first steps on sun-baked black mud towards salt-covered rocks on the ground, you’re greeted with the pitiful silence of rusted ships.
All you see are salt crystals on the arid shores while only thing running through your mind is, “Once upon a time there was a vast lake right here.”
Lake Urmia, in the northwestern corner of Iran, once used to be the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth largest saltwater lake in the world, according to the Tehran Times, an international Iranian newspaper.
It’s also known for being the largest lake in Iran.
But now, the lake is disappearing and is far from its glory days. It’s not completely dried yet, but has lost almost 90 percent of its water, according to a report last month by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization which followed a conference at the European Parliament.
With its safe waters, birds and other wildlife, the lake was a popular tourist spot. The black mud found in its shores, was mineral rich and is believed to have benefits for skin and rheumatic afflictions.
U.S. State Department Map
Lake Urmia is in the northeastern part of 
Iran.
Click on the image to enlarge it.
For many years, Lake Urmia was one of the most popular destinations for tourists. Lots of people spent the summer holidays on its safe water. There wasn’t any danger of drowning because of the high levels of salt.
Home to birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, Lake Urmia is a registered UNESCO biosphere reserve.
The lake was attracting foreign visitors from Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan and also had a great impact on economy of region. Beyond tourism, the lake’s rich salt reserves had a significant industrial role.
Experts say that the combination of several environmental problems like climate change, dams on rivers and small springs feeding the lake and a prolonged drought are the main reasons for the water decline.
Others think all the water was lost due to evaporation caused by high degrees of heat in the region.
Frida Zeinali / youthjournalism.org
Salt crystals remaining on the shore of Lake Urmia show where the water levels used to be a few years ago.
Lake Urmia is not facing a danger of drying out, it’s drying now. For the majority of the Azerbaijani population who live around here, it is worrying.
It’s heartbreaking to see the dying lake in such a silence but there are still hopes that shriveled Lake Urmia may one day recover its former greatness.
Some steps to help the lake have been taken, and we are waiting see how effective they will be. Until then, keeping hope alive for this once-great lake is only thing Iranians can do.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hong Kong: A Bustling City In Pictures

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Victoria Peak offers great views of the city. Right below the peak are the financial districts of Central and Wan Chai. Located across Victoria Harbor (seen in the picture) is Kowloon - one of the most densely populated places on Earth.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Hong Kong streets are compact and busy. The Hong Kong Island Trams - euphemistically called "Ding Dings," - traverse the length of the island.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Bankers, housewives and domestic workers utilize the trams on a daily basis. The trams are a cheap and great way to explore the city.


Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Due to the lack of space, buildings in Hong Kong are tall and flats tend to be small and expensive.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Hong Kong Park is an oasis of greenery in the otherwise concrete jungle. In the morning, locals throng this park to exercise.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Even the roof of buildings are utilized, with many Hong Kong residents opting to build makeshift houses there.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
The Peak Tram - a funicular railway which opened its doors in 1888, links Central with Victoria Peak. Great views of the skyscrapers unfold during the ascend.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan  / youthjournalism.org
Victoria Peak is a favorite among tourists who flock here to marvel at sight of the city below.
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Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas In 'The Warm Heart Of Africa'

David Joseph Kapito / youthjournalism.org
After church services in the morning, people in Malawi enjoy the afternoon. Here, some people are playing in the water of Lake Malawi.
David Joseph Kapito
Reporter
LILONGWE, Malawi – Christmas season is one of good moments when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
In Malawi, also known as ‘the warm heart of Africa,’ people celebrate Christmas in various ways. They pray, party, shop and exchange best wishes.
Some start the celebrations on Christmas Eve, the evening of December 24 til Christmas Day on December 25.  Others celebrate only on Christmas Day.
In a country described as a God-fearing nation, most Christians attend a church service in the morning on Christmas Day. Pastors usually remind their congregations not to engage in sin or any bad acts during Christmas period since such mal-celebrations tend to tarnish the image of Christmas Day.
David Joseph Kapito / youthjournalism.org
On Christmas in Malawi, people eat their favorite foods. This is beef braai.
David Joseph Kapito / youthjournalism.org
Rice and chicken dishes are popular

in the holiday season.
David Joseph Kapito / youthjournalism.org
Soup and salad are also part of the

holiday meal in the festive season.

Pastors also remind church members to invite or share food with people of other religious beliefs, since the Gospel advocates love toward others.
On this day, children also enjoy their time with Santa Claus.

On Christmas Day, people like to enjoy most of their favorite foods. Since this day is special, a lot of nice dishes are served.

On this day the security is also strengthened on most roads, in order to avoid road accidents. In the afternoon, people make trips to Lake Malawi, entertainment centers and church halls.

In church halls, usually people enjoy the play about the birth of Jesus Christ. Some of the interesting scenes of the play are about how Mary and Joseph escaped the hatred of King Herod in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus.

In Malawi, Christmas usually comes during the rainy season, but the weather does not limit people. Families still visit each other and enjoy the holiday together.

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A Family Christmas In Glenwood, Iowa

Garret Reich / youthjournalism.org
A Christmas miracle in Glennwood, Iowa this year: snow.







Garret Reich / youthjournalism.org
In front of their Christmas tree, YJI reporter Garret Reich with her family behind her. From left, in the back are Turner, J.J. and Anita Reich.
Garret Reich / youthjournalism.org
The newest member of the Reich family, Sonny Boy, models his Christmas gift of reading glasses.

Garret Reich / youthjournalism.org
As a Christmas gift to her family, Anita Reich took her daughter, YJI reporter Garret Reich, and others to New York and Philadelphia for a visit. Here, family members pose in front of Philly's famous LOVE statue by Robert Indiana.
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Christmas, Quietly Observed, In Iran

Frida Zeinali / youthjournalism.org
A Christmas tree next to Iranian tiles in a bookstore in Tabriz, Iran.

By Frida Zeinali
 Junior Reporter
TABRIZ, Iran – Though Iranians do not celebrate Christmas at all, the people of the Armenian Orthodox minority celebrate it. According to the World Council of Churches, the largest Christian group in Iran is the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Overall, Christians number less than 1 percent of the Iranian population.
With a population of more than 300,000, they’re the second largest non-Muslim minority here.
Shop owners said that due to restrictions, they prefer not to do something special in public for Christmas.
Frida Zeinali / youthjournalism.org
A snowman doll under a Christmas tree in Iran.
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Secret Santa Is Part Of Holiday Fun

Shannon Yang / youthjournalism.org
Secret Santa gifts
By Shannon Yang
Junior Reporter
PALO ALTO, California, U.S.A. – Though most American high schoolers don't believe in Santa Claus anymore, and some don't celebrate the Christmas holiday itself, gift-giving still remains an essential part of the holiday spirit.
In December, Secret Santa gift exchanges are popular among friend groups and those in extra-curricular activities.
Everyone in the group is assigned to someone else, and without that person knowing, gets him or her a present.
Here is everything that I've gotten: a dress, body mist, an infinity scarf, a shoulder bag and a skater skirt. Not pictured: chocolate.


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No Place Like New York At Christmas

Yelena Samofalova /youthjournalism.org
Giant ornaments on display in 2014 across from Radio City Music Hall.
By Brianna Ramos
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
NEW YORK, N.Y., U.S.A. – If there’s anywhere besides the North Pole that screams Christmas from the top of its lungs, it’s the City That Never Sleeps.
New York during Christmas has become a legend of its own. From ice skating to the infamous Radio City Rockettes, to the gigantic tree in Rockefeller Plaza, to the beautiful storefronts, it doesn’t get more festive than NYC.
Living in New Jersey, I’m lucky enough to have been able to visit New York almost every year during Christmastime, and it never fails to get me into the holiday spirit.
Whether you’re spending it in Times Square or in your grandma's living room, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year's.
Mary Majerus-Collins /youthjournalism.org
A view of the Empire State Building in New York at Christmastime last year.
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

YJI Co-founder Explains Why Ethics Compelled Him To Quit His Reporting Job

Steve Collins
Christmas Eve, 2015

Twenty five years ago, as a young reporter, I sat in an Upstate New York courtroom where a judge ordered me to hand over a leaked hospital lab slip that showed a state trooper had been drunk during a late-night crash. When I refused, I thought I would wind up behind bars, the culmination of a months-long drama that forced me to confront both the best and worst parts of my chosen profession. In the end, fortunately, I dodged jail time without giving in.
Now, no longer young, I once again face a moment that calls for me to put my own needs aside and to stand once again for principle.
I work for a man, Michael Schroeder, who in 2009 bought the small daily that has employed me for two decades at a time when the future of The Bristol Press looked dim. He came in promising to shatter old ways and to help push the financially troubled paper to new heights. As is so frequently the case with newspaper publishers, his rhetoric didn’t mean much. By 2011, my wife – a superb fellow reporter who’d been at my side the whole time – quit in disgust after Mr. Schroeder cut a deal with a major advertiser, the local hospital, to keep a damaging news story under wraps. Because she could not let the community know the local hospital had fired all of its emergency room physicians, my wife, Jackie Majerus, handed in her resignation. It means very little to be a reporter if you cannot report the news. I stayed on, though, continuing to write about government and politics, because we could not get by without any paycheck.
Jackie has spent most of the past four years as the unpaid executive director of an amazing charity we created, Youth Journalism International, which teaches students across the globe about journalism. They write stories, take pictures, draw cartoons and so much more. For the past 22 years, it has been a labor of love for us both, a constant infusion of idealism and some incredible work on everything from Hurricane Katrina to Boko Haram. One of the things we emphasize is that journalism is not just a career, it is a calling, that it requires those who join its ranks to stand up for what’s right even when it is difficult.
I have watched in recent days as Mr. Schroeder has emerged as a spokesman for a billionaire with a penchant for politics who secretly purchased a Las Vegas newspaper and is already moving to gut it. I have learned with horror that my boss shoveled a story into my newspaper – a terrible, plagiarized piece of garbage about the court system – and then stuck his own fake byline on it. He handed it to a page designer who doesn’t know anything about journalism late one night and told him to shovel it into the pages of the paper. I admit I never saw the piece until recently, but when I did, I knew it had Mr. Schroeder’s fingerprints all over it. Yet when enterprising reporters asked my boss about it, he claimed to know nothing or told them he had no comment. Yesterday, they blew the lid off this idiocy completely, proving that Mr. Schroeder lied, that he submitted a plagiarized story, bypassed what editing exists and basically used the pages of my newspaper, secretly, to further the political agenda of his master out in Las Vegas. In sum, the owner of my paper is guilty of journalistic misconduct of epic proportions.
There is no excusing this behavior. A newspaper editor cannot be allowed to stamp on the most basic rules of journalism and pay no price. He should be shunned by my colleagues, cut off by professional organizations and told to pound sand by anyone working for him who has integrity.
So I quit.
I have no idea how my wife and I will get by. We have two kids in college, two collies, a mortgage and dreams of travel and adventure that now look more distant than ever.
But here’s what I know: I can’t teach young people how to be ethical, upstanding reporters while working for a man like Michael Schroeder. I can’t take his money. I can’t do his bidding. I have to stand up for what is right even if the cost is so daunting that at this moment it scares the hell out of me.
I hope that my profession can somehow lend a hand. Take a look at what we’re doing at Youth Journalism International – youthjournalism.org and yjiblog.org are good places to start – and maybe we’ll get some new donors who have as much faith in the future of journalism as we do. This is a truly outstanding nonprofit that should be paying my wife a salary for her countless hours of work.
As for me, I am sorry to give up on my coverage of Bristol. I feel a part of the fabric of the community after covering it since 1994. It has so many wonderful people and much to offer. But I think those I know there will understand why I’m doing this and, I trust, support my decision.
Whatever happens, I am going to hold my head high and face the future with resolve. Journalism is nothing if we reporters falter and fade. We are doing something important and men such Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Adelson – no matter how much money they can toss around – cannot have their way with us.
Steve Collins
majeruscollins@gmail.com
(860) 523-9632
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mark Twain House Full Of Christmas Spirit

Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
In Mark Twain's study, a Santa Claus suit and boots is ready for Christmas.
By Mirwais Kakar
Reporter
Youth Journalism International
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Although I had heard and read about the great American author Mark Twain, I recently got my first opportunity to visit his home in Connecticut.
The historic three-story mansion was amazingly decorated for Christmas. It’s beautifully arranged, with picturesque paintings on the walls and household items everywhere. It seemed as though Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was still living there with his family.

Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
Fireplace mantels all over the house are decorated for Christmas.
Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
Small gifts for the Clemens daughters poke out from the stockings hung by the fireplace.

Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
A piano in the second floor school room at The Mark Twain House is decorated for the season.
youthjournalism.org
A Christmas tree in the parlor of The Mark Twain House.
Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
In the front hall of  The Mark Twain House, a table holds a horse harness adorned with sleigh bells and  flowers for the neighbors. Gifts are piled up in baskets on the floor for taking or shipping to friends or for the needy.
Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
Gifts are piled on the sofa in Sam
and Livy Clemens' bedroom.

The expert guide explained to us about the author’s life and struggles, including financial ones. He also told us about some obstacles Twain faced in building and completing the house. He covered almost everything about the family and the house, talking about their cat, their servants, the dining tables, the way guests were treated, their bedroom and more.
Twain along with his wife Livy, moved to the house in 1874 and raised their three daughters there. Livy was interested in the interior design and wanted the house to be exquisite.
Twain, who lived a life full of adventure, came from Missouri and spent time growing up in a Mississippi River town. He worked on a riverboat and as a journalist.
In the course of his life, saw America go through many changes, including the Civil War and the end of slavery. As a writer, he had much to say about all of it.
The Mark Twain House & Museum will retain its festive look until at least New Year’s, so hurry to see it in its holiday splendor. The house is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
In the library of The Mark Twain House, a massive mantel over the fireplace commands attention.

Mirwais Kakar / youthjournalism.org
Mark Twain's pool table take up much of the space in his third-floor study.
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