Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Contenders Reviewed by YJI

During the past year, Youth Journalism International writers have reviewed most of the contenders for Best Picture at tonight's Academy Awards in Hollywood, California.

Take a gander at their reviews and you'll have a keener idea which movies are worth the time -- and which one might win top honors.

Here are the Best Picture contenders (underlined titles are linked to reviews):

Black Swan

The Fighter


The Kids Are All Right

The King's Speech

127 Hours

The Social Network

Toy Story 3

True Grit

Winter's Bone

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First Snow In Lahore Delights Residents

Snowfall in Lahore, Pakistan
Photo by Esha Farooq for Youth Journalism International

By Waleed Tariq
Junior reporter

Esha Farooq/

KARACHI, Pakistan – Just when people in Lahore were ready to take off their jackets and sweaters and bid farewell to winter, Mother Nature had other plans.To the surprise of Lahories Saturday, all of the sudden, dark clouds came and it felt as if the winter had come back unexpectedly.
Then snow started falling, the first snowfall the city has seen in memory.
This atypical storm gave parts of Lahore a feel of a hill station, making residents ignore a very big traffic breakdown that followed.
People came out on roads shocked as well as happy and started taking pictures and videos to welcome the snow.

Snow in Lahore, Pakistan
Photo by Esha Farooq for Youth Journalism International

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French Alps Offer More Than Ski Slopes

Photo by Robert Mooney

By Robert Mooney
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
VALMENIER, France – The tiny village of Valmenier in the French Alps is a popular skiing spot, but you can have fun there even if you don’t take to the slopes.
This winter, I visited Valmenier – a village of about 500 people at the bottom of Mont Thabor, not far from border between France and Italy – to celebrate my birthday.
It’s not a problem if you aren’t a skier at Snowcoach, the resort where I stayed. There is a cinema, a bowling alley and an ice rink. There is also a local convenience store nearby.
At first look it looks good.
Once you are settled in, the resort’s evening meal starts about 7:30 p.m. and later at 9:30, there’s a welcome talk introducing the staff and the activities.
On other nights there are games to play and quizzes to do. There are other places to eat nearby, but you have to pay separately for those.
If you want to ski or snowboard you need lift passes. Other activities, not all of them provided by the resort, are walking, flying microlites and photography.
Photo by Robert Mooney

Photo by Robert Mooney

I managed to get some good photographs while I was there. One drawback from the panorama is a big multi-story car park down the road which obstructs the view of anything ahead of it.
The only Snowcoach activity we took part in was snowshoeing. It’s a lot of fun, but quite challenging at times. I slipped more than three times.
Snowshoeing takes a long time but is worth it, and the views are spectacular.
As far as the activities in the hotel go, apart from just relaxing or doing the quizzes at night, there isn’t much to do. There’s a Wi-Fi connection, but it is very dodgy and doesn’t work most of the time, perhaps because of the number of guests using it.
At the top of the mountain is a restaurant called Le Panoramic which has good food and again, terrific views. But it’s quite expensive, so we went just once.
There are two DJs doing music up there, but every time I went past the speakers I had to cover my ears because it was so loud.
There are many things to do, but I found that that I was also happy occupying myself in my room. The only real problem was that because of the heat from the showers and other parts of the hotel, the fire alarm went off quite a lot. After a while, people began to ignore it. Clearly, the trouble with that is if there was a real fire, guests could be in danger.
Overall Snowcoach and  Valmeinier are good, but safety issues do need to be pointed out.
I enjoyed my stay at the hotel and maybe if I knew how to ski I would have enjoyed it more. I had a great time and I hope if you go there in the future, you will, too.

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127 Hours That Can Change Your Life

By Tasman Anderson
BRISBANE, Australia – Could you hold on to a single shred of your sanity after spending six days or 127 hours in a canyon with your arm pinned by a giant boulder?
How would you go about saving your sanity if in order to survive you needed to sever your own arm?
127 Hours tells the horrific true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who became trapped by a boulder in Robbers Roast, Utah in 2003.
Ralston, played by Spiderman legend James Franco, endures excruciating pain both mentally and physically as he fights to stay alive in the merciless canyon. Soon the fine line between sanity and insanity blend together and Ralston is forced to make the difficult decision of either cutting off his own arm to survive or dying.
Directed, produced and co-written by Danny Boyle, 127 Hours depicts the very definition of what one may do in order to save their life.
The film's story was so captivating that I found it nearly impossible to look away.
Franco's performance as Ralston sent chills down my spine. He portrays the reality of how one would feel in such a situation.
The grim imagery also amazed me.
I literally had to turn away when Franco began to sever his arm violently. The sound of his bone snapping in half gave me goose bumps that never seemed to go away.
The attention to detail in this film allows the audience to connect with Ralston and experience every emotion and thought he endured while he was trapped knowing that not a single soul on the planet knew where he was.
This film is by far one of the most amazing and realistic pieces I have.
However, I warn everyone this movie is not for the fainthearted. It will also cause you to reevaluate your own life and see that your problems could be worse.
See this movie and you will never be the same again.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

As Mubarak's Ministers Face Trial, A More Just Egypt Blooms

By Lama Tawakkol
Junior Reporter

CAIRO, Egypt – With five ministers from the former regime behind bars facing charges ranging from embezzlement to abuse of power, it seems like there are hardly any officials of ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s government who weren’t criminals.
For years the people of Egypt have known that our country is full of corruption and theft, but we never imagined the extent to which it had reached.
So far, the attorney general has locked up a handful of former ministers and businessmen and says he’s investigating a lot more than that.
This is so much better than the way it was before the revolution.
Egypt is finally becoming cleaner and ridding itself of the humongous dark clouds that had been accumulating and towering over it for the past three decades.
The new minister for social solidarity and justice, whose job is to implement social justice, take care of pensions, provide unemployment and welfare and the like, declared this week in Al-Ahram, the Egyptian state newspaper, that Egypt is not poor as former officials have repeatedly claimed.
Instead, he said, its wealth has been going into the wrong outlets – the pockets of government officials working for Mubarak, although he didn’t state it quite as bluntly as I have.
Despite the fact that the Egyptian people have always known they were being ripped off and left to live in poverty while the country’s elite prospered, the investigations and the public statements about it have made it all real and have given us a way of getting our rights back.
Most people still can’t imagine that the men who had had everything less than a month ago were now behind bars.
We had always known that someday somehow justice would be served and that God would stand by the people.
But whatever we thought might happen someday, it sure wasn’t this.
This is just the beginning as more reports and documents are delivered to the attorney general’s office and more former and current officials get called on their crimes and their taking advantage of their positions.
The Armed Forces High Council has promised that no crime will go unpunished and that no corrupt official, whether out of office or still holding a position, will be able to escape penalty.
Egypt is starting to bloom as the light of a new dawn shines on it.
I am hopeful of what the future holds, and I am happy to have seen the day when justice and honesty have returned to Egypt.
Who would have thought that the day would come when Ahmed Ezz, who had had the entire National Democratic Party and country in his palm and who had basically ruled alongside Gamal Mubarak, the dictator’s son, would be behind bars facing all he has done for the past 20 or 30 years?
Karma has decided to teach him and his peers a lesson, once and for all.

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A Sterling King’s Speech And More

By Noah Kidron-Style
Junior reporter

LONDON, England --There is no debating that The King’s Speech is a mainstream Oscar-baiting period biopic complete with British accents and the Royal Family.
For this reason I saw the film with trepidation, expecting to be put off by the twee American view of the Royals.
However, despite my anti-monarchist tendencies, I couldn’t help but be moved by Tom Hooper’s fine example of how to enliven a clichéd genre.
Yes, like many I was impressed by wonderful performances from Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, but for me the reasons for the success of The King’s Speech are more personal.
Like Firth’s King George VI, when I was younger I suffered from a speech impediment. It was not a severe stutter but a more minor lisp.
Yet despite having been cured for many years I still have pangs of doubt about my ability to form the sounds that I am aiming for while reading aloud.
The real success of the film is its understanding of the speech impediment that it is dealing with.
When King George first attends a session with speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) he is asked to speak while wearing headphones. As he cannot hear his own voice he does not stutter.
What this shows is that the problem suffered by the King George is largely a mental block.
Much like how I may be fearful of reading out loud, but confident when addressing a group without directly following a script, the King knows how to speak but is simply unable to do so.
This feeling of helplessness is the real blight of someone with a difficulty of this type, especially if they are required to address the country as George VI was.
The King’s Speech is not without its faults. Timothy Spall and Roger Parrott, as Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlin respectively, are awful and the real issues surrounding the monarchy are never touched.
However, it is a true story and a piece of history that deserved to be told – and it is told beautifully.
Perhaps for all its understanding of speech impediments it remains just another royal biopic, but it is a good one and deserves the Oscar glory that it will surly receive.
From palaces to slums and frontrunners to dark horses another film that is hoping for Oscar glory is Lucy Walker’s lesser know documentary Wasteland.
Wasteland is unlikely to win Best Feature Documentary, as that award will probably go to credit crunch film Inside Job, and deservedly so.
However, if any film warrants a moment in the limelight this is the one.
Wasteland follows acclaimed artist Vik Muniz for nearly three years as he returns to his native Brazil to work in the world largest garbage dump, Jardim Garmacho, located in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro.
There he photographs the “catadores,” pickers of recyclable materials as they work clambering over the rubbish dumps searching for reusable items. Muniz selects a number of these catadores to help him recreate their photographs out of the garbage at Jardim Garmacho.
The result is harrowing and uplifting. It shows the unimaginable hardship of the ‘pickers’ but at the same time gives us glimpse of their hope.
It is fitting that Wasteland has its moment in the limelight, as this is what Muniz grants the catadores when he reveals their dignity and despair.
Towards the end of the film Muniz wonders whether taking the catadores to the art sale in London will “mess with their heads.”
Whether it was a negative or a positive is an issue that we can all grapple with as one of the ‘pickers,’ Sebastiao Carlos Dos Santos (Tiao), will be attending the Oscar ceremony.
Finally, a special favorable mention must be made for The Social Network, Toy Story 3, The Fighter and James Franco in the otherwise flawed 127 Hours.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Qaddafi's Threats Won't Deter A People Yearning For Freedom

By Mehran Shamit
TORONTO, Canada -- The two successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have, without doubt, inspired and given hope to thousands in the Middle East to fight for their freedom and democracy.
Voices once silenced by oppressors are now united and have the strength at last to bring justice.
Mass revolutionary struggles are now sweeping the Middle East with people condemning their highly oppressive leaders and demanding immediate reform.
To control these popular uprisings and once again silence the people, pro-government thugs are attacking protesters and security forces are opening fire on them.
Many people have been killed and thousands injured in Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Iran, Iraq and Libya, all of which have had violent clashes.
All this bloodshed doesn’t seem to have an effect on many Arab leaders who refused to give ground despite the suffering of their people. They are content to continue the oppression that has held the people down for years.
Libya’s leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, has proven by far the most inhumane and outrageous of these dictators and kings, vowing to wipe out all who stand up to him.
Violence in Libya has continued to escalate, with Qaddafi willing to massacre protesters with hired guns and mercenaries. He even ordered fighter jets to bomb his critics.
Coming to power 42 years ago, Qaddafi is far from “the leader of the revolution” that he claims to be. In fact, he’s proven he could not care less for his own people.
Libyans are suffering a tyrant’s crimes against humanity as they fight to remove him.
In Tunisia, some 219 lives were lost to overthrow Zine El Abidine Ben Ali while Egypt saw 365 die in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
But already in Libya it appears that well over 1,000 are dead and the numbers are rising. To Qaddafi, seeing people dying and families suffering is as normal as watching a horror film.
It’s hard to imagine how a person can live with the burden of killing so many. But Qaddafi is ruthless and his greed for power so extreme that taking lives means nothing to him.
Yet it is his very inhuman behavior that makes it so crucial for Libyans to bring democracy and justice to their country.
They can no longer support Qaddafi’s regime so no matter how dire the threats, they keep fighting for their rights.
Though Qaddafi’s son promised rivers of blood if the protests didn’t end, they continued.
The regime cares more for its oil than its people.
Qaddafi’s claim that ultra-orthodox Islamic groups were tearing apart the country was especially outrageous.
Did it never occur to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi that Libyans might want liberty? It would never occur to the son of a dictator that it doesn’t take Islamic groups with political agenda to unite the people to fight for their rights.
Qaddafi himself can forget about holding his ‘Green Book’ high in the air because Libyans will never tolerate his repression again.
Even many members of the government – ministers, diplomats and military men – are turning away from Qaddafi.
Protesters firmly control the eastern half of the country from the border with Egypt to Tobruk and Benghazi, where soldiers have joined the rebellion. Qaddafi controls very little, just parts of the capital and the town of Sabha.
It’s only a matter of time before protesters will seize the entire nation.
But how many more lives will it take? How much blood must flow?
If the violence worsens, international action is needed, beginning with sanctions and perhaps going further until Qaddafi and his cruel regime are gone forever.
When Libya is freed, we will all remember those who sacrificed their lives for freedom there.
And we will continue to hope for the day when all of the people in the Middle East, and around the world, will have democracy, liberty and the rights that everyone deserves.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libya Is The Latest To Catch Fire

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – The flames of freedom in Tunisia and Egypt are setting the entire Middle East ablaze.
Now that youth in Egypt are tasting freedom, it’s become a priority to raise funds to aid our neighbors in Libya, people we call our brothers and sisters.
Libya has been afflicted with one of history’s worse leaders, Muammar el-Qaddafi.
Qaddafi, who long ago led Libya’s revolution against their monarchy, has ruled the country for the past 42 years. He is a dictator who belongs with the likes of Hitler and Stalin.
He’s left his people in the dark and has an attitude that made even the most intelligent and sophisticated analysts call him a lunatic.
During his speech Tuesday night he explained to the world how it is legal to kill his own people and that he is free to do so.
It’s been reported that he paid mercenaries from Niger and Chad $2,000 dollars a day to come and kill the protesters. He cursed at his people for revolting time and time again. He called them rats and claimed that they were merely children who took hallucination pills from Egyptians and Tunisians.
I think everyone knows who is truly hallucinating.
Using air strikes, tanks and army ships, he killed and injured 3,000 people in three days, all while he waves around his “Green Book” which he claims to contain the basis for all democracy that every country should embrace.
He even created a crematory for his armed forces if they were to disobey his orders to kill and believes that anyone on the streets will be legally sentenced to death.
He has created an illusion for himself that he is all mighty and glorious and that without him, Libya will be colonized by the oil-thirsty West or will turn into another Afghanistan by separating into independent Islamic states run by Osama Bin Laden.
Those who do not obey him, even families in homes, are hungry and thirsty.
The people consider those who were injured as dead because there are no medical supplies.
Libya’s main cities have no internet, no phones, no electricity and no water, all while he claims that he has not yet began using “violence.”
The youth of Egypt have managed with difficulty to send daily trucks filled with medicine and aid across the Libyan borders.
The people of Egypt are also standing in solidarity in front of Libyan embassies.
More importantly, they are using our sources of communication to call on the international community, on the United Nations and on every peace-loving nation, to take action immediately.
There are now also protests in Yemen, Bahrain and Morocco. Some countries, like Algeria have even taken early steps to reform before any serious action is taken in the streets.
Then there is of course Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are trembling on their thrones, watching carefully as the world changes around them.
No one knows for sure who will be next to claim freedom in the Middle East, but the fight, as heartbreaking and difficult as it is, continues.

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Gulliver's Travels A Flawed Film

By Evangeline Han
Junior reporter

MELAKA, Malaysia -- Gulliver’s Travels, a feature comedy film released on Christmas Day, is Lilliputian.
The modern-day version of Jonathan Swift’s famous book features Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) working in the mailroom of a newspaper office.
After a series of incidents, Gulliver is sent to the Bermuda Triangle on a writing assignment – and, not surprisingly, winds up lost in a storm.
He washes up on the island of Lilliput, where the people are tiny.
Later, he lands on another island, Brobdingnag, where giants live.
Readers of Swift’s book will notice that Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, Japan and Houyhnhnms are never even mentioned.
It was as if the producers had cut out three-quarters of the original story.
That might have been fine except the filmmakers sought to cram the story into 85 minutes, badly slaughtering the original story.
Despite some interesting comedy scenes, parts of the tale were ambiguous and the ending unsatisfactory.
The movie gave too much attention to Lilliput and too little to Brobdingnag, let alone the parts of the story that simply vanished.
Let’s hope that a more complete Gulliver’s Travels film will be made that can take the place of this disappointing, tiny version.
Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway.
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Egyptian Youth Reclaim Their Streets

Youth in Alexandria, Egypt, took to the streets this week to clean up.
YJI Senior Reporter Jessica Elsayed is in the front, the third from the left. Photo provided.
By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – The youth of Egypt took to the streets again this week, to clean up this time, not to protest.
Now that former President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and we’ve celebrated our victorious revolution, what might seem like the end of our fight for freedom is merely just beginning.
What many may not know about the two weeks after the revolution is that it is still a constant battle to maintain the revolution’s achievements and guarantee future reform.
It is without a doubt a new era for Egypt and the sun is shining brighter than in any year past, but there are still the remains of an old regime which people, even in Egypt, sometimes neglect.
For example the prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, who was hired by Mubarak before he stepped down, has not yet resigned.
There are opposing views when it comes to Shafik. Some believe we should give him a chance to prove that he is a man of change and wait for his newly assigned government, just sworn in Tuesday, to work before we judge him.
Others see that they cannot trust a man of two faces, one for Mubarak when the old regime stood and, once it fell, another face for the people.
There is also a feeling that there is still a hidden hand from the old regime working in what people call “the opposing revolution,” which seems to be trying to take away the purity and success of the revolution.
This feeling is a result of Shafik not removing corrupt ministers such as Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit from office. Who is this person and what favor does it do him to keep the faces of the dictatorship in office? There are also reports that Shafik traveled to Sharm El Sheikh, where Mubarak is said to be staying, and spent time with the old dictator.
These reports may or may not be true. There are opposing reports saying Mubarak is in Saudi Arabia for treatment of pancreatic cancer.
It seems that no one knows for sure what is happening exactly, but there are things that are certain and that brings us back to the youth in the streets.
Since February 12 – the first day of our new, free Egypt – youth from all walks of life gathered in their neighborhoods to fix their newly reclaimed country.
Students from elementary school to college spent hours a day, every day, painting walls, picking up garbage and fixing the streets.
I joined other youth in an amazing effort in Alexandria, where we painted the sidewalks of the entire Corniche Road along the Mediterranean and cleaned the alleys and streets, making Egypt look like the paradise we’ve always wanted.
Why do we do it?
We feel these streets are now actually ours and we love our country.
For us, it’s the least we can do.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

YJI Welcomes Contest Entries Worldwide

Now is not the time for shyness. Now is the time to be bold. This is the moment of recognition for student journalists the world over. It is the Youth Journalism International 2011 Excellence in Journalism contest and we want you to enter.

There are five top awards. The Frank Keegan "Take No Prisoners" Award for News, the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary, Student Journalist of the Year, Journalism Educator of the Year and our newest award for Courage in Journalism.

There are many other categories as well, in newswriting, enterprise reporting, opinion, sports, photography, cartoons and more. This is a contest that has something for everyone. All young journalists who were not paid professionals and who were age 19 or under at the time their work was published are eligible.

Students, teachers, parents, check this out for yourselves or the young writer, photographer or artist in your life. You can't win unless you enter and the rewards are sweet.
Everything can be done online, and all the rules and links and the contest entry forms are all at our website, Go to the link for "Contest" at the top of the homepage and you'll be all set. The deadline is March 8.
If you have questions, comments or concerns, send them to
There is no contest like this in the world. Don't miss out.

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'A New Epoch Of Hope' In Egypt

A crowd in Cairo, Egypt the night of Feb. 11, 2011
YJI Photo

By Lama Tawakkol
Junior Reporter
CAIRO, Egypt – By all standards, February 11, 2011 was glorious.
The air was cool, it was slightly windy and the sun was mostly shining – the kind of weather I like.
But that day was so much more.
It was the day we learned that President Hosni Mubarak was abdicating his position and leaving the country in the hands of the trustworthy Armed Forces High Council.
We had not dared hope before that it could happen, but at 6 p.m. that day, he was suddenly the EX-president!

The moment Vice President Omar Suleiman finished his statement, people were in their balconies cheering, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is Great” in Arabic, and yelling congratulations at neighbors and passersby.
The streets were packed in no time with men, women and children of all ages and shapes conveying their joy over the news.
For 17 days, the people demanded Mubarak’s resignation and it was finally there. It gave Egyptians a sense of unprecedented freedom and an aura of victory.

That night, Tahrir Square was the place to be – if you could reach it amidst the crowds who were cramming the streets.
Mohamed Tawakkol in Cairo, Egypt on Feb. 11, 2011
YJI Photo
Those who couldn’t get there headed to famous gathering spots across the country where the scene was always the same. Happy voices loudly sang the national anthem and other patriotic songs while the younger people set off fireworks in celebration.
National colors of red, white and black were everywhere, from the flags the people were holding to the clothes they wore.
Chants filled the air: “Raise your head up high, you’re Egyptian,” “Egypt is free, Mubarak is out,” and “The people have overthrown the regime.”

In this atmosphere of pride and hope, people regained confidence that Egypt was their country and they would rebuild it and restore its glory. Those who were celebrating also raised pictures of the martyrs killed during the revolution and collectively prayed for them in loud voices.

No street in Egypt was empty that night as people celebrated, celebrated and then celebrated some more.
It was not over, they knew, but it was a start and a pretty good one.
The military had stood by their side and would continue to do so. People trusted them, so they posed for pictures with the soldiers on the street, and repeatedly recited that the “army and the people were one hand.”
Ten days have passed since that historic day the whole world will forever remember, and a lot of progress has been made since.

Young Egyptians have organized multitudinous campaigns to clean the streets and frankly, they’ve never been cleaner. They’ve handed out flyers, put up posters and sent text messages asking that people be more positive now and stop littering, breaking traffic laws or giving bribes.
They’re calling for a new Egypt, one that we build with the same values and principles that allowed the revolution to triumph. They’ve also arranged several marches aimed at welcoming back the tourists and assuring them that we are waiting for all of them with open arms, eager and ready to start our new era of change alongside them.

Jubilant crowd in Cairo, Feb. 11, 2011
YJI Photo

Besides the social change on Egypt’s streets, there have also been various political alterations.
The Armed Forces High Council dissolved both divisions of the parliament because of doubts about their legitimacy and put a committee in charge of making the needed constitutional changes to ensure fair and clean presidential and parliamentary elections.
The committee is supposed to be done in a matter of days so that the changes will be ready for a public survey in a month or two.
The Armed Forces High Council also made some changes to the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, eliminating all figures that had been surrounded with any corruption or exploitation related to the previous regime.
This has considerably comforted a lot of people, but others still maintain that as a symbol of the previous system, Shafik should also be excluded and a whole new cabinet formed.

Trust in the army is elevating day by day. Three ex-ministers and a prominent businessman who had been an important figure of the National Democratic Party, have been arrested pending investigations concerning exploitation and embezzlement charges, and two of them have already been referred to criminal court.
Other businessmen and ministers have had their accounts frozen and their names put on a ‘forbidden to travel’ list.
Egyptians wave flags and celebrate in Cairo on Feb. 11, 2011
after the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak
YJI Photo

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has also sent international requests to various European countries to freeze and hold any accounts belonging to a number of people, including Mubarak and his immediate family. Such actions have raised the level of confidence that the army is not helping anyone or maintaining any ties, as some people had earlier feared.

I believe that the country is in good hands, especially after three of the High Council’s members appeared on an Egyptian talk show last night and answered all the people’s inquiries.
They were very transparent, reassuring and straightforward, calming fears and silencing any doubts. The changes made to the cabinet appear sound and they are doing their best to return the country to a state of security and normalcy. They are aware of the extreme level of corruption the country had reached in Mubarak’s last few years and they are slowly taking steps toward fixing it.
I, for one, have faith in their decisions. I also believe they will stand by their promise that in six months’ time they will be ready to hand over the country to a civil government.

Egypt is on the track to recovery from a severe and long-term illness, but in no time, it will be able to get back on its feet and redeem its name.
Today, I’m prouder than ever to be an Egyptian and I’m ready to take my place alongside my friends, neighbors and fellow Egyptians to restore our beloved nation.
We’ve heard what the world thinks and we’re pleased and glad the revolution conveyed such a true and positive impression of Egyptians.
I’m sure I speak for every Egyptian when I invite each one of you to the land of the pyramids.
I promise you a time you’ll never forget – during a new beginning and a new epoch of hope.
Patriotism on Feb. 11, 2011, Cairo, Egypt
YJI Photo

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Loads Of Laughs In 'Chaos Theory'

By Talon Bronson
Youth Journalism International
PORTLAND, Oregon, U.S.A. – I haven’t gotten out to see a new movie in quite a while, for life, it has seemed, is working against my love of free time. I have been so busy lately that even when the new Harry Potter came out, a set of films that it has been a tradition for me and my family to go see together, I could not go, wrapped up in work, my personal writing, and a rock band that I just can’t seem to stop giving my only real free hours over to.
So, in the midst of exhaustion one night, very early in the evening, just in between the time when I have finally gotten off work and the moment where I pass out in my bed, to wake up to my buzzing alarm clock and make a repeat of the same day over again, I decided to search through Netflix.
I decided on Chaos Theory after a little trepidation. It did star Ryan Reynolds, after all, and I cannot say with a straight face that I am exactly a fan.
Lying in bed, sure I would probably fall asleep half way through the movie, I took a sip of tea and waited to see if I had somehow found a gem of entertainment among the sludge of Netflix entries, or if I was really just wasting another couple hours of my life on some sappy comedy.
Lucky for me, I’ve always had a strange skill for reading a book (or movie) very well by its cover, and whatever it was in my head that cued me in that 2008’s Chaos Theory might be good, was right.
Chaos Theory follows the tale of Frank Allen, a successful motivational speaker and loving husband and father. He lives his life by a set of rules, timelines, and lists, and he does not deviate, knowing that if he strays from his plans, there could be catastrophe.
And there is, when his wife, in a move to try to help him out, sets the clocks forward so that he will have an extra 10 minutes in real time. Unfortunately, she accidentally sets them 10 minutes back, making him late for his entire day, and, in a bizarre set of occurrences – some humorous, some a little heartbreaking – Frank Allen’s life spirals out of control.
Reynolds plays the character well, going from a stuffy, play-by-the-rules, never late, and rather humorless man to an out-of-control, spiraling ever downward maniac, and no matter which one he happens to be playing at the moment, it is almost always funny.
Through his lateness on the first day, he finds himself propositioned by a sexy woman at one of his self-help seminars. Then later that night he has to rush a pregnant woman to the hospital after hitting her car with his. His wife finds out about the events and mistakenly assumes he has been unfaithful to her with both women. In the confusion, Frank is kicked out of his house and turns on the system that he once lived by, believing it to be the reason his life is falling apart.
Developing a new plan for how he will live his life, he gives himself over to chaos, going streaking, getting into bar fights, and sleeping with random women – everything that old, organized Frank wouldn’t have done.
The great thing about the movie is that the plot keeps escalating until the very end and rarely ceases to be funny, even when it is quite sad. The acting is good, though there aren’t really many characters on which to judge it, since the movie stays pretty close to Frank and all his endeavors.
The story, though sometimes marred by awkward dialogue, is fairly original, and fun.
So, without spoiling anything very important, I’d say if you have Netflix, you might want to check this one out.
Chaos Theory has good pacing and is funny without being slapstick. There really isn’t much bad to say. It won’t change your life, and you most probably won’t be thinking too much about it after you watch it, but if you are looking to kill some spare time and don’t want to spend forever picking out something worthwhile, give it a go.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really do finally need to go to bed ….

Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway.
See for details.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ugandans Head To The Polls

By Bwette Daniel Gilbert
Junior reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda – The presidential election got off to a slow start Saturday but drew long lines of voters in some places.
Seven challengers were running against President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has held office since 1986.
Election observers were on hand from local and regional organizations such as the European Union, the Democracy Monitoring Group and others to keep an eye on every step of the election process.
Watching the polling places, however, it was clear the Electoral Commission didn’t do enough to educate people about how to vote. In some areas of the country, people didn’t even know an election was underway.
In the Gulu region, which has suffered a civil war for more than a quarter of a century, the election was the first in which residents could cast a ballot.
Despite the preparation, there were glitches here and there that kept some from voting, including missing names in the registers, transferring some voters to new polling stations without telling them and some violence in the eastern part of Uganda.
Some candidates expressed concern about irregularities having an impact on the outcome.
Whether Uganda is ready for a change won’t be known until Badiru Kigundu, who chairs the Electoral Commission, releases the results Sunday night.
People are worried violence may erupt if there is unfairness in the numbers.
Youth Journalism International's Bwette Daniel Gilbert also took photographs of the voting today at St. Jude's Primary School in Kampala, the nation's capital. A sampling of them are show below and the slideshow at the end shows many more.

Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway. See for details.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Artist And YJI Alum Joe Keo Makes A 'Modest Gesture' With A New Exhibit

Joe Bun Keo, a YJI Connecticut alum who delighted our readers for many years with his prolific writing and art, created the hilarious and provocative cartoon series called "The Daily Sketch." (You can see those at this link.) He's maintained strong ties to YJI since then and is a fiercely loyal supporter.

Lately, Joe has been making a name for himself as a professional artist. A graduate of The University of Hartford art school, Joe is a vigorous advocate for the arts in his hometown of Bristol, Conn. and beyond.

His upcoming show, Modest Gesture and the Grand Scale: Selected Works by Joe Bun Keo, opens Saturday, March 12 at the CaRo Art Gallery and Studio, 290 Pratt St., Meriden, Connecticut.

There's a free opening reception from 6-10 p.m., but making art isn't free, so I hope most who attend will at least kick in the modest $5 suggested donation to support this young artist and his work.
Joe's show runs through March 20.

Artist Statement:

It's like coming midway into a conversation; finding yourself in that awkward silence with a soundtrack of crickets chirping, and blank faces asking "um...okay...what now?"

You're stuck trying to find a resolution; whether it's by attempting to catch up to speed with everyone else or interjecting with a hasty subject change or an offbeat icebreaker. Things may go awry, fail miserably or they can just move on without consequence.

I flip my misunderstandings and shortcomings in language to turn them into experiments with wordplay.There will be clichés, punch lines, pop culture references and contemporary youth vernacular involved.

I also enjoy the reexamination of what people take for granted.The most mundane of utilitarian objects or overlooked situations can be taken out of the comfort of their given context and shown in a new light.

The end result could be clean, quick, clever, dry, sarcastic, but nevertheless accessible and relevant . The dialogue between the work and audience may seem short, but remnants resonate.
I believe in modest gestures, minor miracles, small victories and second chances... as should you.

-Joe Bun Keo, 2010

Joe's website is and the gallery's website is
For more information, call the gallery at (203) 886-6809. Find Joe on Twitter:
and Facebook:

Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway.
See for details.

The Dalia Lama Speaks To Youth Journalism International

Youth Journalism International reporter Pushkal Shivam spoke today with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and a world-renowned man of peace. That's his picture above, taken by Pushkal.
We'll bring you his entire report as soon as we can so check back with YJI later.

Meanwhile, let us just say that we're proud of Pushkal today. He's been pushing to get this story for weeks and he made it happen with his determination and skill.

Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway. See for details.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Putting Packages In The Mail

YJI President Steve Collins lugging boxes through the snow in Connecticut.

Youth Journalism International sent out packages to students all over the world today. Each of them contained an individualized YJI Press Pass and more. Boxes went Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon, Georgia and Maryland in the United States and to England, Malaysia, Scotland Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Armenia. It's just one more way we're bringing the world's most talented teens together.
Your tax-deductible donations help make all of this possible. They are greatly appreciated.
By the way, we're committed to recycling at YJI so we try our best to reuse boxes wherever possible. We know it looks a little shabby, but it saves a tree or two.

YJI's executive director, Jackie Majerus, at the post office with many packages.

Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway. See for details.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Award For Journalistic Courage Offered in YJI's Annual Contest

Megan Mizuto, 2010's Student Journalist of the Year

New Award for Journalistic Courage Featured in Worldwide Teen Journalism Contest

WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – Youth Journalism International, a Connecticut-based nonprofit, is seeking nominations for courage by young reporters or others in the field of youth journalism.

The new award will be one of many handed out to the world’s most talented young reporters, photographers and cartoonists in the largest journalism contest for young people.

“We’re looking to showcase the great work done by so many young people all over the world,” said Steve Collins, Youth Journalism International’s president.

Winners in major categories receive crystal trophies and other prize winners receive custom-made certificates.

The new Courage in Journalism award aims to honor an individual youth journalist, journalism educator or a student newspaper that showed particular courage in pursuing a story despite danger, official roadblocks or other unusual obstacles.

There are a number of categories for entries, including Student Journalist of the Year, Journalism Educator of the Year, The Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary and The Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News.

“Young journalists play an important role telling stories that adults often overlook,” said Jackie Majerus, executive director at YJI. “These awards are a way to celebrate their best work.”

Entries, which must be in English and published between Jan. 1, 2010 and Feb. 1, 2011, are due no later than March 8. Awards will be handed out in May.

Details on how to enter the contest are available under the Contests link at the top of Youth Journalism International’s website at

A complete list of last year’s winners, who hailed from eight countries on four continents, is also available on the website.

Youth Journalism International is a recognized 501(c)(3) public educational charity by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. A non-governmental organization, YJI depends on donations from supporters to continue its important work training the next generation of journalists.

Its students’ work has been featured by The Huffington Post, National Geographic, PBS NewsHour, The Tattoo teen newspaper, Radio Pacifica, Connecticut Public Radio and other news organizations.

For more information, contact Jackie Majerus, YJI’s executive director, or Steve Collins, YJI’s president, at (860) 523-9632 or

Monday, February 14, 2011

Long Distance Valentines Stay Close

Cresonia Hsieh, upper left, and Tak, her
long distance Valentine, chat Sunday night on Skype

By Cresonia Hsieh
Youth Journalism International
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, U.S.A. – This year, I’ll be fortunate enough to celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone perfectly suited for me – even if we have to do it 1,000 miles apart.
The most frequent question I receive from people about him is, “How did you guys meet?”
The inquiry always makes me laugh inside because it’s kind of a funny story.
I met my sweetheart the summer of freshman year while visiting my best friend in New Jersey. My friend and I had plans to spend a week together, and then attend a Christian camp in New Hampshire.
At camp, even before learning all my cabin mates’ names, a slender brunette with square framed glasses boldly proclaimed, “Oh! Tak’s checking you out!”
The girls around me had all begun to giggle and gossip, when I nonchalantly glanced in his direction and was met with a set of thin, dark brown eyes staring back at me.
In an effort to remain a state of sangfroid, I boastfully squealed, “Ummm… ewh!”
My childish comment sent all the girls into another round of laughter before anyone could catch me blushing.
Even as the week progressed, our relationship had not. Within four days, he had successfully criticized my lip synching skills, kicked my thumb, and pegged a ball at my head.
It’s safe to say that he wasn’t exactly my knight in shining armor, but he did make me laugh and I was always having fun when I was with him.
He was goofy and silly, and had a quick, clever rebuttal to all my ill-thought-out remarks.
As the end of the week approached, I returned to my cozy home in East Tennessee and he to his small town in Massachusetts. Leaving camp, I had still only thought of him as possibly just a fun guy to keep in touch with.
Fate seemed to have other plans.
We began sending innocent text messages, then progressing to page long IMs, and before I knew it, we were on the phone for hours or Skyping the night away on the weekends.
My brain kept reminding me that my behavior was irrational: “Is there any hope of seeing him? What would people think? Does he think we’re just friends? How long do I expect this to last?”
Day after day, it became like a war raging between my mind and my heart. I yearned to be sensible, to be a normal teenager, have a high school sweetheart, go on dates on the weekends, let the guy escort me to my classes and live a normal life like the rest of my friends.
But the longer I talked to him, the harder it became to let him go. After months of this kind of thinking, my mind had become a battlefield and I eventually had to surrender to the facts: I’m hopelessly in love with a guy I’ll never see.
It took everything in me to build the confidence to tell him the truth, but I’ll never regret the day I did.
It’s been about a year and a half and we still talk on the phone every night, make an effort to video chat every now and then, and even try to celebrate birthdays and special occasions by sending letters and items through the mail.
It’s not easy, and finding time has become an obstacle, but we work at it every day. Together, we solve problems as they come, and it’s comforting knowing that I don’t have to deal with it alone.
If there ever was a reasonable explanation to why this works, the answer lies in Tak. I’ve always had the habit of running away when things get too difficult or doubting our relationship when things aren’t working out, but he never fails to remind me why I chose him the first place.
I know that he’d never keep me back if I wanted to leave, that he’d understand whole heartedly, given the circumstances.
Yet, living without him is simply too arduous to imagine now. Tak’s the guy I turn to when I’m overwhelmed and feeling defeated.
He’s the first one I call him when anything exciting or unexpected occurs, and it’s comforting knowing that I don’t have to be someone I’m not.
I’ve been blessed to have a guy who’s not only my beau, but one of my best friends as well. Through this experience, I learned that I don’t have to have everything figured out. Consequently, I may not know how long this will last, when or if I’ll see him again, or where we’ll be in the next three months, six months, or a year from now, but honestly, I don’t care.
What I do know is that I’m happy right now, and that’s just enough for me.

Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway.
See for details.