Thursday, August 17, 2017

Photo essay: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Beth Criado-Band /
The Festival Fringe, which bills itself as the largest arts festival in the world, is now in its 70th year. This year, there are new, colorfully painted anti-terrorism barriers. The festival runs nearly the entire month of August in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Beth Criado-Band /
During the fringe, there are often street performers which can draw huge audiences. The gathered crowd is watching one of those performances. In the foreground are a mass of Fringe posters for different shows.

Beth Criado-Band /
An audience gathered for a street performer on Hunter Square.

Beth Criado-Band /
A place to stop for hot chocolate when the streets are mobbed is the corner cafe, Black Medicine.
Beth Criado-Band /
Thankfully, there was an empty table and a socket at the cafe.

Beth Criado-Band /
Even Lidl, a local supermarket, was full, with queues to the back of the shop. All this journalist wanted was a wee pastry.

Beth Criado-Band /
A street performer on Hunters Square by one of two golden postboxes in the city.

Beth Criado-Band /
Gazing away from Festival Fringe and toward Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh looks the same as it always does  - peaceful. 
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Who knew robots could be such fun?

Alyce Collett /
The competition field at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia during the 2017 Duel Down Under tournament.

By Alyce Collett
MELBOURNE, Australia – STEM. It’s the buzzword at the moment. Well, buzz acronym. With the changing nature of careers, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is now being pushed more and more into schools in Australia and around the world. Despite this push, not many students – especially girls – are taking up these subjects.
One organization that is trying to solve this problem is FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Using a progression of programs from Lego leagues to robotics competitions, FIRST aims to inspire students from the age of six to 18 to take up subjects in school and later a career in a STEM field.
I got involved in robotics after I saw how much fun my best friend was having on the I. C Robotics, a community team from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs that competes at the highest level.
I. C Robotics began out of the minds of kids who were too busy dreaming of what could be, to think about what couldn't be. Ben Jessett and Liam Stow, two boys at Yawarra Primary school in Boronia, Victoria, started the ‘Inventions club’ during their lunch times, dreaming of problems and then solving them.
They roped in parents to teach them the skills they needed to make their dreams, no matter how small, a reality and began competing in 2012.
I.C Robotics is now an incorporation with 17 student members and a number of parent mentors as well as mentors from industry partners such as Ford and BAE Systems.
As well as creating robots for competition, I. C Robotics does a lot of work in the community promoting STEM and FIRST.
The team, which still includes Stow and Jessett, connects with the community through participation in a local event called the ‘Stringybark Festival,’ by running Robocamps at a local library and a Robotics in Schools program.
The Robocamps, which run on weekends and school holidays, are designed to educate students about basic programming, robot building and game strategies. In the after school program, kids learn robotics coding and mechanics, leadership, problem solving and teamwork.
“As well as engineering skills, IC gives the kids in the team life skills and gets them excited about STEM in a way that sport excites them,” said Marty Stow, a parent who serves as a mentor in the program.
The FIRST program helps promote STEM in a fun way, but also includes positive things that aren’t just about robots and STEM.
“FIRST is a gateway to learning self-confidence and leadership,” said Meg Stow, a youth mentor with IC Robotics.
The way that they do this is engaging students worldwide in a friendly competition set out like a sports match.
In robotic competition, teams of students design, build and program a robot that is designed to complete a set of missions within a larger game. This game changes every year, but the general aim is still the same, no matter what the game is or which program it is.
“The FIRST program sets kids up for the future which can look scary,” Marty Stow said. “It gives them confidence, teaches teamwork, encourages humility and allows them to take the future on headlong.”
STEM is not just confined to the classroom or workplace. It’s right in the heart of the community. Students of all ages and genders are getting involved in STEM, and getting excited by it. It may take some time before the eagerness of the younger children translate into uptake of STEM subjects and careers, but it will come.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

After Charlottesville, she's standing for love

Madeleine Deisen /

Georgians gathered in the town of Roswell in solidarity with the victims of violence in Charlottesville.
Madeleine Deisen
ROSWELL, Georgia, U.S.A. – As I watched events unfold in Charlottesville Friday and Saturday, my main emotion was shock. I could not process the presence of white supremacists marching proudly and threateningly down the streets of Virginia with Confederate and swastika symbols in hand.
But upon further consideration, I realized that while my fear, anger, and disgust were called for, my shock was not.
How could I be shocked that such a large group of white supremacists exists when the White House is infiltrated with white supremacist ideas?
Before last year’s presidential election, David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump.
Trump works with Steve Bannon, founder of Breitbart News, an “alt-right” media outlet which has published overtly racist and anti-Semitic material. His other advisors include Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller, both known for their white nationalist and xenophobic ideologies.
Madeleine Deisen /
A protestor stands outside Barrington Hall
in Roswell, Georgia, the home of the town's
founders, who were slave owners. The sign
says,"White silence is compliance."

Since Trump took office, many events have been worthy of outrage. But I hope the heartbreaking, surreal violence in Charlottesville will be a wakeup call for all Americans. I hope everyone – from participants in the Women’s March to Trump voters – will love one another in the face of hatred and put in the work for justice and equality.
And I do believe there is hope.
Against the backdrop of bigotry shown in Charlottesville, I attended a rally in the town square of Roswell, Georgia to show solidarity with the peaceful counter-protestors and victims of violence in Charlottesville.
Like Charlottesville and most Southern towns, Roswell has its own history of slavery and oppression. Near the town square is Barrington Hall, where the founders of Roswell lived along with their slaves.

YJI reporter Madeleine Deisen and her mother,
Shannon Deisen, holding a sign that says,
"History has its eyes on you."
But instead of Confederate flags like those of the marchers in Charlottesville, we carried rainbow flags to show solidarity with Americans of all identities.
Our group was multicultural, and included everyone from whites with Southern accents to Asian-American immigrants. People carried signs that emphasized love, peace, and speaking up against all forms of hatred and oppression.
Charlottesville is further proof that we as Americans can’t continue to sweep our current and past racism under the rug. But even though we must acknowledge the existence of and work to dismantle racism, the domestic terrorists in Charlottesville do not represent the America I know.
The America I believe in is the loving group of people in Roswell who stood up for their fellow citizens and for love – and all the people who will continue to do so. 

See more viewpoints on Charlottesville from Youth Journalism International students around the U.S. From Connecticut, Max Turgeon writes that what happened there will make America stronger. From Iowa, Garret Reich urges America to take a good look at itself and respond peacefully. From California, where Shannon Yang is concerned about the impact of what happened in Charlottesville on the First Amendment.
You can help give a voice to young writers worldwide with a tax-deductible donation to Youth Journalism International. Thank you for being generous!

Monday, August 14, 2017

First Amendment at stake in Charlottesville

By Shannon Yang
Junior Reporter
PALO ALTO, California, U.S.A. – I hate to see people in 2017 still defending the Confederate flag and Confederate statues, denying that black lives matter, and insisting that the definition of American is a white, Christian male.
It's dehumanizing, it's inconsiderate, and it goes against my entire bottom line.
But for me, the violence at the Charlottesville protests isn't just about ideology. It isn't about where the alt-rights are wrong or right and where the liberal counter protestors are wrong or right.
We have always had people on both "sides" of our nation's issues, including in the question that seems to be at the core of American politics today: whether diversity beyond the white, Christian, male "true Americans" is a benefit or a threat to our country.
But it's about something more fundamental than that – our right to disagree is at stake.
According to Vox, after President Barack Obama's election, more people became resentful and the number of "patriot groups" went from about 150 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012.
President Donald Trump's rhetoric has legitimized these views and at the same time, a large socially liberal movement – now a resistance – has thrived.
Here in California, I've been constantly exposed to messages about the toxicity of gender norms, the limiting stereotypes associated with race, the need to humanize refugees and immigrants, and the urgency for affirmative action, all in the past few years.
Due to the rise of the internet, selective media consumption, and our social media blue-feed bubbles (like mine) and red-feed bubbles, we've become increasingly polarized and our views are only confirmed more easily.
Though many people self-identify as open-minded and accepting of all views, I think we've become cynical and hypocritical, and actually feel more afraid and threatened by the idea of political dissenters than ever before.
Our right to disagree is at stake because what happened in Charlottesville demonstrates that, wow, we as a country have a long way to go, and that right now, we can't have people who are openly on two sides of our political spectrum be in one place and simply just coexist. It wasn't just the car – demonstrators were pepper spraying one another.
The First Amendment was created, I think, because the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that if we were ever to disagree, we could speak safely, gather without consequence, and disagree in peace.
And that's all that was supposed to happen in Charlottesville. They came to speak, gather, and disagree. But none of what happened in the end was safe, inconsequential, or peaceful. It was the opposite: violent and heartbreaking. The scary thing is that it isn't just Charlottesville.
Though the degree of atrocity and violence varies, it happens everywhere, even the hippie liberal University of California campus in Berkeley.
There's a lot of controversy going on here in Silicon Valley right now around the Google manifesto. There's going to be an alt-right protest, and a counter protest to resist the alt-right protest and in response to what happened to Charlottesville.
I don't know if I'd be willing to go. I'm worried it will be adversarial. I don't know if I will even be safe, or if this is the right way to respond to Charlottesville.
As far as responding to Charlottesville, I have no idea where to start. It's ridiculous that this is even happening, that the most fundamental rights upon which America was founded are being challenged and met with violence, hatred and bigotry.
Some say the United States of America is the greatest nation in the world. But if we can't even speak out without risking our lives, then we aren't much better than Turkey or China or Saudi Arabia or the rest of the places that aren’t really free.
And if, instead of listening to the other side, we further pit ourselves against each other, we aren't United after all.
See more viewpoints on Charlottesville from Youth Journalism International students around the U.S. From Connecticut, Max Turgeon writes that what happened there will make America stronger. From Iowa, Garret Reich urges America to take a good look at itself and respond peacefully.  From Georgia, Madeleine Deisen describes attending a rally in support of the peaceful counter protesters and victims of violence in Charlottesville.

 You can help give young writers a voice with your tax-deductible contribution to Youth Journalism International. Thank you.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville violence is home grown terror

By Garret Reich
Senior Reporter
GLENWOOD, Iowa, U.S.A. – My heart sank as I sat down to write this, as it has whenever there has been a terrorist attack committed by American citizens based off of hate, anger, and animosity towards fellow American citizens.
Growing up as a white girl in Iowa, I’ve been inspired and excited when I find myself among people of diverse races and religions. These have been experiences I’ve gained mostly outside of the Midwest, experiences that simply don’t extend much into my part of the heartland.
I believe that is why, on Saturday, there was not the excitement or horror here in Glenwood that filled the hearts of millions across the nation over the Charlottesville violence.
Instead, the crisis appeared to be shrugged off, as are most uncomfortable agitations here.
At work on Saturday night, I asked customers what they thought of the turmoil in Virginia.
Several looked at me with a blank stare, unaware of what had occurred.
Others confessed that it was a pity, that America should not still be confronting these issues, but said there was nothing they could personally do.
And most were just relieved we Iowans are not addressing these same problems in our communities.
As long as we continue to maintain any one of these mindsets, these issues will remain relentless and bolstered by antipathy. This was not the first act of terrorism committed by U.S. citizens against U.S. citizens and I fear it will not be the last.
As a nation, we tend to blame the countries around us for the friction that preserves our anger. Just as Hitler blamed Jewish people, now Muslims are confronted with ill-founded accusations by Americans.
However, regardless of what is occurring outside this nation, these attacks are more often provoked by the acrimonious beliefs of our fellow Americans – based on both historical and modern attitudes.
Alas, as citizens, we also have to distinguish the line that defines a right to protest. In Charlottesville, a white supremacist group was said to be protesting the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee while carrying torches and screaming racial slurs.
A small group of counter protestors quickly gathered to question the white nationalist association.
Where peaceful protests should have advanced, fights ensued. One woman died and many others were hurt when a car rammed into the crowd of counter protesters. The driver, one of the white supremacists there that day, is under arrest on a murder charge.
Our country has endured generations of hate, spite and racism. The anger that stems from those things has cost us thousands of lives and often any hope of peace.
Despite how despairing this violence may seem, we must move forward.

If we ever even hope to aspire to the "American Dream" we claim, America has to stop repeating the worst of our mistake and work together as a united force for change.

See more viewpoints on Charlottesville from Youth Journalism International students around the U.S. From Connecticut, Max Turgeon writes that what happened there will make America stronger. From California, where Shannon Yang is concerned about the impact of what happened in Charlottesville on the First Amendment. From Georgia, Madeleine Deisen describes attending a rally in support of the peaceful counter protesters and victims of violence in Charlottesville.
Your can help give a voice to young writers in America and overseas with your tax-deductible contribution. Thank you for being generous.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville will make America stronger

By Max Turgeon
NEWINGTON, Connecticut, U.S.A. – In the wake of violent white supremacist demonstrations, it could be easy for America to drift into a divisive state not seen since the 1960s.
But I believe these ignorant demonstrators have played the wrong cards. They think their message will mobilize a new generation of white power. They think their message will deter minorities from being involved American citizens.
They failed to understand the power of American unity. More Americans are now aware of the ignorance that still exists in their country, and they will not stand for it. Leaders across the political spectrum have already denounced these protests, poking a hole in the goals of the supremacists. 
Good Americans must denounce these people, but we cannot hate them. That brings us down to their level. The supremacists are obviously severely misguided and we must pray that somehow by the grace of God they can find their way.
We must serve as examples to our youth that hatred cannot stop hatred, it only makes things worse. Black, white, Hispanic and all Americans can fight these supremacists by loving each other, which most do. It is important to remember that supremacism of any race is unacceptable.
They call themselves “Unite the Right.” While they may be right-wing extremists, they do not represent Americans who consider themselves right of center, as I do.
Their way of thinking does not replicate Republican Americans’ version of compassionate conservatism.
While President Trump has put issues into the forefront that this group is talking about, he should not be blamed at all. His ideas on policy should not be taken as a call to violence. I don’t believe this is what the President wants.
The only people that are to be blamed are the racist themselves.
They have not taken the time to learn to love their neighbors. I do not personally know anyone who is outwardly racist and believe that these racists are an extremely small group of people. That doesn’t mean that they cannot be dealt with.
America will be stronger because of the wake up call from these people. We’ve come a long way as a nation, but we still have some problems.
Civil discourse and affection are the only things that can keep us on the right path.
As John Goodman’s character, Glen Walken, put it in The West Wing, “The things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us.”

See more viewpoints on Charlottesville from Youth Journalism International students around the U.S.  From Iowa, Garret Reich urges America to take a good look at itself and respond peacefully. From California, where Shannon Yang is concerned about the impact of what happened in Charlottesville on the First Amendment. From Georgia, Madeleine Deisen describes attending a rally in support of the peaceful counter protesters and victims of violence in Charlottesville.
You can help give young writers a voice with your tax-deductible
contribution Youth Journalism International. 

Strength, determination on display at National Cowgirl Museum in Texas
The mobile in the grand rotunda of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.

By Mugdha Gurram and Garret Reich
Senior Reporters
FORT WORTH, Texas, U.S.A. – Tough, independent and inspiring women are the rule at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
“The cowgirl – a true American original – comes from a long line of courageous women,” says the narrator of the short film, Spirit of the Cowgirl, which plays in a small theater right inside the museum entrance.
The film, much like the museum itself, impresses upon visitors that despite the popular connotation of a cowgirl - lasso in hand, riding a horse - a true cowgirl is about the spirit of determination. It’s a wonderful introduction and well worth the less than eight minutes.
Museum visitors watch "Spirit of the Cowgirl."
Outside the theater is a grand rotunda, its dome ceiling filled with a giant spinning mobile of photo stills of legendary cowgirls – such as Annie Oakley – and short repeating videos – including Jessie from Toy Story.
The images remind girls that old style Westerns are not just about cowboys.
An exhibit of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, a popular form of entertainment, stars Oakley, a famous sharpshooter from the turn of the 19th century.

A replica of Annie Oakley's clothes
and Stetson hat on display.
It displays advertisements for the show, as well as Oakley’s “first real gun,” used during her 1887 performance for England’s Queen Victoria. There’s also a more intimate side of the legend on display, through letters she wrote and the furniture and trunks she used.
But the museum is not only historical memorabilia behind polished glass.
Within each main exhibit are opportunities for kids and adults to interact with history in a fun way.
In one room, you can make a short video of yourself on the back of a horse – posing as a rodeo rider. While it’s not a mechanical animal, you can shift in the saddle to simulate movement, and download the results of your embarrassing performance later.
In another, using green screen technology, you can insert yourself into historic photos of Annie Oakley and others and print out copies – or send them off via text or email in a new twist on the Old West.
Photos of National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductees.
Holding true to the idea that a cowgirl’s identity comes from her spirit rather than her job, the Hall of Fame features cowgirls of every sort: pioneers, trailblazers, artists, writers, and more. Among the many women included in the Hall of Fame are artist Georgia O’Keefe and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
While the museum displays the varied lifestyles these women had, it also shows that they all shared the same dedication to achieving their goals.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame preserves sides of history that are rarely talked about anywhere else.
While many historical stories portray women as dainty and weak, the cowgirls here were anything but fragile. Their willingness to break boundaries and stereotypes set them as important role models for girls today.
Youth Journalism International reporters Mugdha Gurram and Garret Reich at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Economy grows at Australian wind farm

Jack Ward /
A wind turbine at the Ararat Wind Farm in Victoria, Australia.
By Jack Ward
ARARAT, Victoria, Australia – Soaring 135 meters above the ground, the 75 wind turbines with blades 50 meters long, the Ararat Wind Farm is not only one of the biggest developments locally, but it is the third largest wind farm on the continent.
Though part of the state of Victoria’s renewable energy plan, the wind farm was a job generator, too.  During the construction phase, 165 people worked there. Open since June, it now has 13 permanent staff.
The Ararat Wind Farm is just part of the Victoria’s official plan to have 25 percent of its energy renewable by 2020.
“It won’t be easy but we are certainly on track to meet our 2020 target,” said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews.
Jack Ward /
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews speaking at 
the opening of the Ararat Wind Farm in June.
But not all of the wind farms energy will contribute to this target, with 40 percent of the power going to the nearby Australian Capital Territory.
Mick Gentleman, the Australian Capital Territory member for Brindabella said, “Of the 75 turbines, 27 turbines will generate about 271,000 megawatt hours per year, enough to power 37,000 Canberra homes.”
Victorians aren’t just getting energy out of this $450 million investment, said Ararat Mayor Paul Hooper.
Hooper said the project injected more than $40 million into the local economy. On top of this, annual payments of $75,000 will be paid into a community fund now that the wind farm has begun generating electricity.
Many community members attended the June 27 opening of the wind farm, including the land owners of the site where the wind farm was built and a large number of school students.
“I have a strong ambition for not only myself, but for our community as a whole to have a sustainable lifestyle,” said Gemma Hughes, who is in her final year at Ararat College, a secondary school. “The renewable energy revolution is happening faster than anyone could have predicted, and faster than most people can grasp.”
But it is unclear whether Victoria’s target for renewable energy use will remain intact after the state election next year.
Though some of the candidates seeking office have indicated plans to do so if election, Andrews – when asked about the probability – seemed to find it ridiculous.
“It just doesn’t make any sense to get rid of the renewable energy target, it doesn’t make any sense to have planning laws to stop windfarms like this being approved,” the premier said. “Ultimately that is an agenda that costs jobs, not just a few jobs, tens of thousands of jobs.”
While the current state political leaders are in place, more and more windfarms just like the one in Ararat will continue to be built, according to Andrews, with the Labour Party on track to meet their renewable energy target in 2020.
 On the same day the Ararat Wind Farm opened, a new Wind Farm was announced for Stawell, located about 20 minutes down the road. Construction is set to begin later this year. 
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Monday, August 7, 2017

Photo essay: Herm Island is her paradise

Shelley Jeffrey /

YJI student Shelley Jeffrey of Scotland has a summer job on Herm Island, a place she describes as "essentially paradise." Here are some of the images she made in the first couple days there, starting with this morning's breakfast on the beach.

Shelley Jeffrey /

Herm Island is one of the islands in the English Channel. At night, it's possible to see the lights of France across the water.

Shelley Jeffrey /

Herm Island is tiny - just a mile and a half long. It takes only two hours to walk around Herm, from cliffs to beaches to harbor. 

Shelley Jeffrey /

Sunset on Herm Island.
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