Friday, October 28, 2016

When your country doesn't do Halloween, the spooky burden is all on you

Celeste D'souza /
Scary, anyone? Click on any image to enlarge it.

By Celeste D’souza
Youth Journalism International
KARACHI, Pakistan – Because it's the last week of October and with Halloween right around the corner, I decided to contribute to the art and costumes of all things Halloween this year.
Using inspiration from a post on Tumblr, I put on some makeup at home and took photos.
I did the makeup myself in my free time and it was a lot of fun to try. It took me about two hours to finish. Since there are only a few days left before Halloween, I’m already getting into the spirit of the holiday.
Celeste D'souza /
Reflections on scary.
This is the first year I've ever done anything for Halloween. In Pakistan, we don't really celebrate the holiday but a lot of people I know do put up Halloween costumes / or pictures of makeup.
 Celeste D'souza /
Scary looks skyward.
There are also dances held, which are always nice, but not many people put on costumes. To me, that ruins the spirit of Halloween. I wish they would celebrate it properly, though. It would be so much fun to be a part of something like that.
This year, though, I’ll be spending Halloween at home cuddled up on the couch with a bunch of good classic horror movies to watch. I’ve got Halloween from 1978, A Nightmare on Elm Street from 1984, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 1974 and from 1968, Night of the Living Dead.
The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining are also in my stack of films, along with The Blair Witch Project from 1999.
Of course, I’ve got a lot of junk food to go with it.
I encourage others to go out and have fun. Enjoy it for those of us who don’t get the proper chance. Get your scary on, everyone

Celeste D'souza /
Here's looking at you, Scary.

Celeste D'souza /
Celeste D'souza /
Celeste D'souza /
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Family of Cubs fans shows team spirit as World Series comes to Chicago

Diana Awawdeh /
Jerseys with the name of every player on the Chicago Cubs baseball team decorate the house of the Vandewiel family in Tinley Park, Illinois.
By Diana Awawdeh
Junior Reporter
TINLEY PARK, Illinois, U.S.A. – In this Chicago suburb, there’s a house that leaves Cubs fans speechless.
The Chicago Cubs, playing in the 2016 World Series for the first time since 1945, are competing with the Cleveland Indians for baseball’s top prize. The series, which began Oct. 25 in Cleveland, will include as many as seven games. The champion is the team that wins four out of seven games. 
Each team has won a game, so the Series is tied. Game 3 is at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Friday, Oct. 28.
The house in Tinley Park the home of the Vandewiel family.
Kristi Vandewiel said her dad, Ron Vandewiel, is a born Cubs fan and the top decorator of what’s known as the Number 1 Cubs Fans’ home.
Vandewiel decorated his yard at the beginning of the playoffs, his daughter said, not yet knowing that the Cubs would make it into the World Series.
“He knew this year is different,” she said. “He even made a shirt at the end of last year’s season that says, 'Wait till next year.'”
The Vandewiel's whole yard is decorated, with a big flag that states, “Holy Cow,” a famous quote by the late Harry Caray, a longtime Cubs broadcaster who predicted that the team would one day again play in the World Series.
Diana Awawdeh /
A large sign hanging on the side of the house pays homage to Harry Caray, a longtime bespectacled Cubs announcer who loved to say "Holy Cow!"
The fence is also decorated with handmade jerseys of every player from the Cubs including number 70 for manager Joe Maddon. The fence has LED lights that glow a Cubbie blue at night to illuminate the jerseys.
The porch in their back yard is also decorated with Cubs flags and garlands.
Diana Awawdeh /
Chicago Cubs jerseys line the whole fence of the Vandewiel family property in Tinley Park, Illinois.
Vandewiel, who is a student at Benedictine University in nearby Lisle, Illinois, said her dad has a great feeling this year for the Cubs. He was born into a family with generations of Cubs fans.
Diana Awawdeh /
The back of the house boasts decorations in the
windows and on the deck.
His household today is full of Cubs fans, too.
“My brother and father are always watching the games,” said Vandewiel. “They knew this year is the year.”
The Vandewiels have been ready for this season before it even began. They had confidence as the team headed to Cleveland for the first two games of the Series.
“My father has already bought his gear for the games,” Vandewiel said.
The whole family knows, she said, that the Cubs are going to win it all this year.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Too young to vote, but old enough to care

Madeleine Deisen /
Democrats in Cobb County, Georgia organized a rally in support of Hillary Clinton.
By Madeleine Deisen
MARIETTA, Georgia, U.S.A. – I spent some time last weekend proudly standing on a busy street corner with a sign that said “Stronger Together” in support of my candidate, Hillary Clinton, a Democrat running for president of the United States.
This election season, in which Clinton is facing off against Republican Donald Trump, has frightened me.
Trump and his words have astounded and angered me. His threats to our democracy and our citizens have made me feel, at times, hopeless.
But this election season is more than that. 2016 may be the year when the United States of America elects a woman as our president for the first time.
Hillary Clinton in Hartford,
Connecticut earlier this year.
This thought fills me with hope for the future: Hillary Clinton could be our country’s next president.
She will defend the rights and freedoms of women as she has countless times in the past. She will work to help women achieve success through closing the pay gap, working for parental leave and childcare, and defending Planned Parenthood and women’s health.
But perhaps most of all, Clinton will show women that we can, in fact, rise to the most powerful position in this country.
At a time when Trump objectifies and demeans women, Clinton has risen above his painful and insulting words and actions. It is my hope that she will rise all the way to the White House and be the first woman to sit in the Oval Office.
On Election Day – November 8 – I want to be proud of my country when we elect our first woman president.
I want to send a clear message to those who seek to divide our country: America stands with her, and we are stronger together. 
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Star-studded cast can't save 'Suicide Squad'

From the film's official Facebook page
By Yash Patel
Junior Reporter
LORTON, Virginia, U.S.A. – What do you get when you take the world’s most dangerous gang of misfits, arm them with military-grade weapons, and send them off to a mission so hopeless that no one else is ready to take it on?
That’s the question on everyone’s mind when special intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), proposes the idea of the “Suicide Squad” to the government.
It doesn’t take long for them to make up their mind when archaeologist Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne) stumbles upon an ancient artifact that held the goddess Enchantress, allowing her to possess Moon’s body and attack Midway City.
With few options and even less time, the government reluctantly approves the top secret mission in this year’s super villain film Suicide Squad.
Led by Agent Waller and Dr. Moon’s boyfriend, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), six notoriously elite criminals are selected from the maximum-security Belle Reve Penitentiary, promised sentence reductions and other perks in exchange for cooperation, and fitted with nanobombs in the back of their necks to ensure complete obedience.
The roster includes Deadshot (Will Smith), a deadly accurate marksman; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a psychotic woman and the love interest of The Joker (Jared Leto); Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a skilled thief; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a former gang member who can conjure flames from his body; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a cannibalistic reptilian mutant; and Slipknot (Adam Beach), a specialized wall-scaler.
As Marvel fan, I can tell this movie is DC Comics’ answer to the new and wildly successful Marvel Universe series. A star-studded cast and high-octane plot usually makes an overall good movie, and while this movie had just as much potential and publicity as a Marvel film, it didn’t deliver.
Although it was a commercial hit, the characters were undercooked and the plot whizzed by too fast without giving them a chance to develop. Each one had an interesting back story, but simply lacked enough relevance to tie back to the main plot – a recipe for disappointment.
All we can do now is wait and hope for a more satisfying and redeeming sequel. 
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Monday, October 17, 2016

Teen draws inspiration, hope from Michelle Obama's speech on sexual assault

Official White House photo
First Lady Michelle Obama
By Garret Reich
Senior Reporter
GLENWOOD, Iowa, U.S.A. – At a Hillary Clinton rally in New Hampshire last week, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed one of the primary conflicts in our 2016 presidential election: sexual assault.
“This is not something we can ignore,” she said.
Both U.S. citizens and many others around the world are aware of the controversial comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.  
As a result, it was a personal relief to hear the First Lady speak out. She said that she would like to give her regular campaign speech but that “it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing.”
As not just a woman but as a human being, I was cheering inside to watch her address Trump’s comments about women caught on tape, whether a decade or a day old. In the recording, he tells another man that he “can do anything” he wants to a woman because he is famous, including grabbing them by the genitals.
“It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts,” Obama said.
Every person has a voice, whether spoken or written.  But it helps to create change when respected men and women speak out.
For teenagers and young adults, the First Lady started or helped to start many programs to initiate change that gained her the respect of people across the globe, including Let Girls Learn, Reach Higher and Let’s Move.  
My fear of a Trump presidency has been misconstrued by my classmates and my community. It was a consolation to hear that Michelle feels the same way.
Too many are treating this as just another day's headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal,” said Michelle. “Just politics as usual.”
But it’s not.  
Our First Lady’s speech generated new hope in me.
It spurred hope that not all presidential candidates say rude and misogynistic comments behind the backs of women and girls. It made me hope that that we do have government officials who care for the people the country.
But the speech was not only addressing Trump’s statements. Obama finished with a call to attention. Those who can vote, must, she urged.
The First Lady encouraged those who are unable to vote to “get on social media.”
I am inspired.  And thanks to our First Lady, I know that when “they go low, we go high.”
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Friday, October 14, 2016

Authors offer pro tips at writing festival

Jack Ward /
Writers Clementine Ford and Amy Gray talked about opinion writing with a moderator at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
By Jack Ward
MELBOURNE, Australia – Some of the world’s top authors gave tips and shared life experiences at the Melbourne Writers Festival, held recently in Federation Square in Melbourne.
John Marsden, the author of the Tomorrow series and Meg Rosoff, the author of How I Live Now spoke about how their books – both published in 2006 – had been adapted into movies.
Marsden said he wrote Tomorrow, When the War Began in eight months. It sold more than five million copies worldwide and won every major writers award for young fiction.
Marsden had more than 65 offers to turn his book into a film, but said, “Hollywood shouldn’t be able to buy everything.”
It was, however, such a good opportunity that he didn’t turn it down. Now the film, which came out in 2010, is in the past and ABC’s TV series of the book is the newest edition to the story.
“We are all writers and musicians; we can do anything we put our minds to,” Marsden said, advising young writers, “Learn by reading other writers work.”
Graeme Base, author of picture books such as Animalia stopped to chat outside the pop up bookshop at the Melbourne Writers Festival with Youth Journalism International Reporter Jack Ward.
Rosoff’s journey to the big screen started when she wrote a screenplay for How I Live Now for a filmmaker and received great feedback. But an unrelated tragedy befell the filmmaker and derailed the project.  It was 2013 before director Kevin Macdonald brought the film to the theater.
All forms of writing aren’t the same, according to Rosoff.
“Just because you can write one type of writing doesn’t mean you can write all types,” she said.
Her latest book, published this year, is a novel called Jonathon Unleashed and involves some doggy situations.
Suzy Zail, author of fiction and non-fiction books based on the Holocaust, told the audience at the writers conference about how her writing adventure began.
She quit her job as a solicitor, she said, to spend more time with her father, who had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.  Doctors said he might have just six months to live.
Author Suzy Zail with Youth Journalism International Reporter Jack Ward at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
She had one last conversation to have with her father, Zail said, and flew to his house. He had an interesting story to tell. After 10 days of talking, he had told her everything about his childhood Holocaust experience – something they’d never before discussed.
Zail then decided to share his story of survival and that’s when her writing career began with the book The Tattooed Flower: a Memoir.
That, however, wasn’t enough. She then wrote The Wrong Boy, which was her first fiction book. She said she wrote the book as a way of keeping her dad close – its main character is based on his stories.
Zail ended by saying how important research is and to make sure the story you are telling is true because that’s what the reader expects.
Two opinion writers, Clementine Ford and Amy Gray explained how their writing careers began and how hard it is to crack into the industry.
Gray said she started by blogging for years, while Ford, who was the editor at her university newspaper, began by giving herself a column. These first opportunities were great learning experiences for both of them.
Author Meg Rosoff at the Melbourne Writers Festival with Youth Journalism International Reporter Jack Ward.
Since then both women have written articles for many big name companies. Ford’s latest is her new book, Fight like a Girl. Both writers said that when it comes to opinion writing, people like personal stories and sometimes it is good to be hot headed, other times not.
Gray and Ford offered a few key point for aspiring writers to remember. The work is not about perfection, they said, but could be viewed as an exercise.
A writer should consider what he or she is trying to say, and make sure the reader can understand the point.  Most of the work – about 60 percent – is about the story, they said, while the writing itself takes up the rest.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Exploring my favorite neighborhoods in Addis Ababa for Ethiopian New Year

Dawit Leake /
Spices in the market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
By Dawit Leake
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – While celebrating Ethiopian New Year last month, I got a rare chance to go around the city of Addis Ababa and visit some of my favorite places.
The Ethiopian New Year is based on the Ethiopian calendar which originates from the Orthodox calendar system and has a unique set of 13 months. Ethiopian New Year falls on the 11th of
September and once every four years it falls on the 12th.  This year, the new year fell on Sept. 11.
The last month of our calendar year is “Puagume,” which lasts only of five or six days but is quite special.
It is believed in the Ethiopian Orthodox faith that the rain that falls during Puagume is holy water. In this month people are encouraged to forgive and forget, accepting the New Year with joy and happiness. New Years in Ethiopia has always had a vibe of forgiveness and harmony.
During my adventure in the city this past New Year’s Eve, I saw people buying dresses in the markets of Shiro Meda, which is a popular and large traditional cloth market area. The set of different colors of Tibebs, which are traditional designs of colorful fabric put on the white cotton dresses, is a way to truly show the city’s diverse look.
Dawit Leake /
In the spice market of
Addis Ababa.
Following that I went through and around some neighborhoods where I got to see people rushing around getting things, going places and preparing for the holiday to come.
Next, I went to Piassa, one of my favorite neighborhoods. I adore its old Italian architecture. Here you can find people exploring their shopping options for the New Year.
Finally, I went to Bole, which is a newer neighborhood. Here I decided to take a long walk around while the people I was with finished getting ready. Walking in this neighborhood, I saw commercial buildings with music and dancing set up at entries to entertain people passing by.
Many people, especially women, were dressed up very traditionally. Some were young girls wishing people a happy new year.
“Melkam Addis Amet,” they would say in Amharic, which means have a pleasant new year.
Most of all I got to see the special feeling of a new beginning on people’s faces, a feeling that only a New Year can bring.
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Go out of this world at the Space Center

Mugdha Gurram /
At the Space Center in Houston a display designed to show what a space vehicle might look like as it is hurtling through space.

By Mugdha Gurram
Senior Reporter
HOUSTON, Texas – Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Apollo rockets.
Stepping into the Space Center, a space-oriented museum connected to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, visitors get a glimpse into these space missions and more. From a variety of movies, to the various interactive exhibits, people get an in depth look at NASA’s work in space, including the science, technology, and people behind it.
Exhibits show off mock-ups of vehicles such as the Orbiter, space suits worn by astronauts during various space missions, and collections of lunar dust and a moon rock visitors can touch.
There is a show that uses an audience volunteer to demonstrate how astronauts live in the space station, using a mock-up of the space station.
The center also has rides that simulate what it’s like to be on a space mission, which seemed very popular among the kids visiting.
Mugdha Gurram /
Exhibits at the Space Center include space suits
actually worn in space and re-create scenes so
visitors can imagine what astronauts actually did in
While some of the activities are obviously geared towards younger visitors, such as the “How to train like an astronaut” exhibit and the fairly large play area, the center has something for people of all ages.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Space Center museum is the fact that it offers access to where the magic happens.
Tram tours take visitors to the Johnson Space Center and offer a look into places like the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, where astronauts train to use the machines up in space, and NASA’s Building 17, where they develop and test space food. These tours offer people a one-of-a-kind chance to see the actual facilities that astronauts and NASA employees use to prepare for space.
Mugdha Gurram /
The space vehicle mockup facility, where astronauts come to practice using real equipment they might use in space.

Visitors also get a chance to hear real astronauts talk about their experiences in space, and get a chance to grab a picture with them.
Mugdha Gurram /
Astronaut Kenneth D. Cameron speaking to
visitors at the Space Center in Houston.
I had a chance to hear astronaut Kenneth D. Cameron speak about the three shuttle missions he was a part of, and the opportunities he had to help secure a good relationship between the United States and Russia when they were combining their efforts in space. He joked that what really sealed the deal was the U.S. team bringing ice cream up to the Russian space station.
Cameron emphasized the importance of teamwork.  
“In order to build a space station, first you have to build a team that can build it,” he said.
Working cooperatively is crucial, according to Cameron.
“We have built an amazing machine up in space. But we built an even better team that built that machine,” said Cameron. “In the end, it’s the team that carries it through.”
The Center also pays tribute to the teams lost in the Challenger and Columbia space missions, in an exhibit and in a memorial of trees visible from the tram tours.
The Space Center is a definite must for anyone who enjoys learning about the vast universe, the astronauts who explore it, and the technology that brings them there. 
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