Sunday, January 31, 2016

In An Iowa School Gym, Hillary Clinton Talks About Climate, Equality And The Economy

Garret Reich /

The crowd in Council Bluffs, Iowa, before former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived.
By Garret Reich
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa, U.S.A. – What would it mean for the United States of America to have its first woman president?
Less than a century ago, the United States granted women the right to vote for president. Though a few women have run for president, the country still hasn’t sent a woman to the White House.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president – a job that also includes the role of commander-in-chief – hopes to be the one to break through.  
“The stakes in this election could not be higher,” Clinton told an overflow crowd at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  
Chelsea Clinton, 35-year-old daughter of Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, sounded excited as she introduced her mother. She said she was happy to have the opportunity to vote for her mother as well as vote for the first time as a new mother herself.
In her speech, Hillary Clinton stressed importance of equal pay for women doing the same job as men.
“We have to finally guarantee equal pay for women,” said Clinton, who is endorsed by Lilly Ledbetter, a woman whose sex discrimination lawsuit against an employer helped change federal law.
Ledbetter, said Clinton, was the “only woman supervisor at her company when she learned that she was earning less money than the men supervisors.”
But Clinton didn’t limit her talk to equal pay. She touched on the economy, climate change and more.
Garret Reich /

The crowd in the Abraham Lincoln High School
in Council Bluffs waits for Hillary Clinton on
Sunday afternoon.
“I want America to start setting these big goals again,” she said. “It is time for us to think big about what we can do together.”
Clinton praised Iowa for its efforts to use clean energy.
“I have to thank you,” she told the audience. “You are already getting one third of your energy from clean sources.”
Clinton, who is also endorsed by billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett, said America does best with a Democratic president.
“Our economy is better when we have a Democrat in office,” she said. “You are four times more likely to have a recession when a Republican is in the White House.”
The event, just one day before Iowans head to caucuses on Monday, Feb. 1, drew about 350 people into the school gymnasium. More than 200 others stood outside, unable to get inside.
In her quest to be America’s first woman president, Clinton spoke about what the nation could achieve under her leadership, but didn’t make a lot of lofty promises.
“I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver,” said Clinton. “I would rather under-promise and over-deliver.”
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In Iowa, Cruz Outlines Presidential Goals

Garret Reich /
Republican Ted Cruz talks with people who attended a rally Saturday night in Sioux City, Iowa.
By Garret Reich
Youth Journalism International
SIOUX CITY, Iowa, U.S.A. – If he is elected president of the United States, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz told supporters Saturday, he’s got a busy first day planned - including “rip to shreds” the recent nuclear deal with Iran and ordering a federal investigation of Planned Parenthood, among other things.
Speaking to a crowd at Western Iowa Tech Community College, the Texas Republican said also plans to repeal “every word” of Obamacare and crack down on illegal immigration.
When asked about what Cruz would do concerning the borders, Cruz answered, “If I am elected president, there will be no amnesty. We will secure the borders and keep this country safe.”
Before Day One in the White House, however, there’s a long road for any candidate, and it starts with the Iowa Caucuses on Monday, Feb. 1. That’s when both Republican and Democratic voters will make their preferences known in their party’s primary race.
Iowa Congressman Steve King, conservative commentator Glenn Beck and Phil Robertson, a star on the “Duck Dynasty” television show as well as Tea Party activists took part in the Saturday night rally in Sioux City in support of Cruz.
“We are here for the principles of the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Beck. “I’m here because, there are times where I know we all feel this way, where we are beaten down.”
Garret Reich /
The Sioux City crowd waits for Ted Cruz.
Robertson, an avid hunter, said he sat in the duck blind Saturday morning and asked himself, “What is the only thing that could move me to Iowa?”
In listing his five goals for his first day as president, Cruz also promised to “rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action that has happened under Obama” and to “instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS and every other federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends today.”
Cruz said the support he’s seeing “reflects the passion, the passion for the Constitution, the love for freedom, of activists across this country who want our country back.”
Supporter Ryan Gill said he believes in Cruz because he is “steadfast, reliable” and because he knows where Cruz is going to be tomorrow.
“I know that I can count on Ted Cruz,” said Gill, who said he is part of a conservative political action committee that supported Cruz in Texas.

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Snow Sparkles In Northern Lebanon

Leen Othman /
The snow sparkles Saturday morning under the bright sun in the Arz Mountains in Lebanon, near the town of Ehden and the Forest of Cedars. Click on photo to enlarge.

Leen Othman /
Under bright sun, a roadway winds through the snowy Arz Mountains in Lebanon.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Colorful Cheer On Punjab Campus

Arooj Khalid /
A bright spot in the business administration department at the University of the Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan.
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Friday, January 29, 2016

Like Its Star, 'Dark Horse' Is A Winner

By Noah Kidron-Style
AUSTIN, Texas, U.S.A. – The former mining village of Cefn Fforest in south Wales is not the sort of place that usually attracts much attention. It is small, economically stagnant and in many ways unremarkable.
In Cefn Fforest, as in hundreds of similar towns and villages across the UK, the closure of the coalmines caused not just an economic crisis, but also a crisis of identity. What does a mining community do when there are no mines?
For Jan Vokes, a supermarket cleaner and part time barmaid, the answer was obvious.
Breed a thoroughbred racehorse.
Filmmaker Louise Osmond’s documentary Dark Horse tells the extraordinary story about how Vokes, and a syndicate of friends and neighbours, teamed together to do just that. The world of horseracing is typically dominated by aristocratic owners, Qatari emirs and members of the British Royal Family.
The most promising thoroughbreds trade for millions of pounds, and their upkeep costs alone would dwarf the cost of a mortgage in Cefn Fforest. Members of the 23-strong Alliance Partnership syndicate on the other hand, contributed just £10 a week.
Their horse, Dream Alliance, was born to unpromising parentage, and raised on an allotment. In other words, they shouldn’t have stood a chance.
And yet in 2009, in true Hollywood style, Dream Alliance, the “working class horse,” defied both its upbringing and a life-threatening injury to win the prestigious Welsh National.
For Vokes, it was a dream come true, and for Cefn Fforest it was a unifying moment and 15 minutes of fame.
As a straightforward underdog sports movie, Dark Horse is a success. It has a traditional narrative arc of a hero overcoming adversity, a charismatic supporting cast of syndicate members and – where many sports movies are let down by their sports scenes – the documentary Dark Horse has real and exciting race footage.
But what makes Dark Horse stand out is that it is more than just another sports movie. Osmond is also concerned with the crucial roles played by class in Britain and money in sport.
Although she avoids being overtly political, both themes run throughout the film, in particular through the interviews with Johnson White, Dream Alliance’s somewhat slimy assistant trainer, whose visible shock at having ended up employed by working class clients has a tragicomic quality.
Dark Horse is not a perfect film. In particular, the lack of footage of the early days of the syndicate means that Osmond had little choice but to rely almost exclusively on after-the-fact recollections for the first quarter of an hour.
As a result, watching the beginning of Dark Horse is an experience not unlike that of accidentally wandering into a pub in Caerphilly and being cornered by a particularly talkative local.
It is not the most promising of starts. But if Dark Horse teaches us anything, it is that great things can come from inauspicious beginnings, and thankfully the film itself is no exception.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ben & Jerry Sweeten Presidential Race With An Ice Cream Flavor For Bernie Sanders

Garret Reich /
Jerry Greenfield, holding the microphone, and Ben Cohen to his right, bring their signature ice cream flavors to towns across Iowa in advance of the Iowa Caucuses. Co-founders of Vermont-based Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, the pair support U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in the Democratic primary.
By Garret Reich

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa, U.S.A. – What is the ice cream flavor of the United States?  A chocolate infused democracy or a rainbow sherbet for the states?  If the United States was voting for a taste that would characterize laws and political campaigns, what would it be?
Vermont ice cream makers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield – the founders of Ben & Jerry’s – are traveling across the frozen plains of Iowa with their iconic cold treats.
On Monday, Feb. 1, Iowans attending their local caucuses will be the first Americans to make known their preferences in the primary races for U.S. president.
Cohen and Greenfield are sharing their signature sweets in hopes of influencing the presidential race. The partners are supporting their longtime friend Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic nomination.
Garret Reich /
People gather around a table with caucus information and supplies.
More than 80 people crowded into a small, one-man coffee shop called (drips) on Tuesday night, joining Cohen and Greenfield to caucus for ice cream. Staying true to a general Democratic caucus, the groups split up into four groups depending on their favorite flavor of ice cream: vanilla, chocolate, Peanut Buttah and Americone Dream – a vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl.
Garret Reich /
Ben Cohen, a founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, speaks to a crowd at (drips) coffee shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday.
For any group to be viable, the flavor had to have a minimum of eight people supporting it.
Garret Reich /
Before the Ben & Jerry's founders arrived,
people talked about the caucuses.
While people practiced for caucus night by pledging allegiance to their chosen flavor, each supporter got rewarded with samples of the ice creams and the opportunity to meet the Vermont ice cream makers.
“We are here because we have been constituents of Bernie for the last 30 years,” said Cohen.
“Anytime the campaign wants anything from us, our answer is yes,” Greenfield said.
Cohen announced last week that he had developed “Bernie’s Yearning,” a new ice cream flavor based on Sanders.
“Bernie’s Yearning” is what Cohen calls a “participatory flavor.”  When opening up a container of the new flavor, you’ll find a huge disk of chocolate that Cohen said represents the “majority of the wealth that was generated since the end of the Recession.”
Garret Reich /
Jerry Greenfield, on the left holding a coffee cup and
a lighted "Bernie" sign, caucuses with supporters of
Americone Dream, one of his favorite flavors.
You have to chip away at the disk of chocolate on top to get to the mint ice cream underneath. But when mixed all together, the container of ice cream represents what Cohen believes to be Sanders’ ideal for the country – a more equal distribution of the chocolate, or wealth.
In Council Bluffs, vanilla, the perennial favorite, did not attract enough supporters to be viable. So just like in a political caucus, supporters of other flavors got the opportunity to rally up the vanillas and try to get them to join a different group.
After re-assembling, organizers tallied the number of people in each group to determine the winning flavor.
Americone Dream, of course, won.
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Monday, January 25, 2016

Journalism Contest Open To Teen Writers, Photographers, Artists; Deadline Is Feb. 6

The trophies engraved for the 2015 winners. Click on any image to enlarge.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Young writers, artists and photographers – and their teachers – are urged to submit their work in Youth Journalism International’s seventh annual Excellence in Journalism Contest. The deadline is Saturday, Feb. 6.
“This year, everything is online,” said Jackie Majerus, Youth Journalism International’s executive director. “Entering is easy and our judges are looking forward to seeing the best of what young people did in 2015.”

The contest honors work by teen journalists published in English. It is open to youth anywhere in the world.
More than two dozen categories offer youth a chance for recognition in news, sports, commentary, reviews and feature writing. Other categories are for cartoons, illustration and photography.
Student journalists who are 19 and under are eligible to enter work published in newspapers, magazines, blogs or websites, or produced in a multi-media format between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015. Independent work is welcome.
A special category – Journalism Educator of the Year – celebrates journalism teachers and advisors.
“This a wonderful opportunity for students to honor beloved teachers,” said Steve Collins, a co-founder of YJI.

That winning teacher, along with winners of other special categories – Student Journalist of the Year, Courage in Journalism and top awards for the best news story and best commentary, receives a beautiful, engraved crystal trophy.
All winners in every category get custom-made certificates, Majerus said.
In 2015, the contest – the largest anywhere for student journalists – awarded well over 100 prizes to student journalists from North America, Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.
With the exception of the category for teachers, the contest is open only to unpaid, non-professionals.
Entries are submitted electronically and reviewed by an experienced group of judges made up of media professionals, experts and educators.
Details on how to enter the contest, a list of categories and bios of the judges are all available under the Contests link at
Youth Journalism International is 501(c)(3) educational public charity.  It depends on donations to continue its important work training the next generation of journalists. To contribute, go to

Confused And Joyless At The Cinema

Official photo from the movie Joy's Facebook page
Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano in the 2015 film Joy.
By Noah Kidron-Style
AUSTIN, Texas, U.S.A. – Director David O. Russell’s Joy is anything but a joy to watch.
It is as if he chose to smash together the worst parts of his last two films, combining the Lifetime movie aesthetic of Silver Linings Playbook with the cartoonish approach to characterization of American Hustle.
The result is a confused mess in which various accomplished actors dial it up to 11 but fail to cohere with each other’s performances, and at times feel like they are each appearing in completely different movies.
Like many of Russell’s films, the 2015 release Joy is a true story about which the director has taken substantial artistic liberties. Jennifer Lawrence, whose performance is good if – by her standards – unspectacular, plays Joy Mangano, the inventor of the miracle mop, a self-wringing mop that made her fortune after it became a hit on the QVC home shopping channel. 
At the start of the film, Joy is a divorced mother of two who works as a booking clerk for an airline whilst trying to look after her dysfunctional extended family. Her divorced mother Terri (Virginia Madsen) is a shut-in who spends all day in bed watching soap operas. Her father Rudy, in yet another bad later career performance from Robert De Niro, is an emotionally unstable serial womanizer who is dating Joy’s financier Trudy (Isabella Rossellini.)
Rudy lives in the basement along with Joy’s ex-husband and small-time singer Tony (Edgar Ramirez.) Joy’s grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) appears periodically to tell Joy not to give up on her dreams of being an inventor, while her half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm) appears periodically to tell her the opposite. Joy’s best friend Jackie (Dascha Polanco) appears periodically to say very little and do even less.
If this all sounds a bit messy that’s because it is. In fact it’s enough to make you want to skip the rest of the film, get on the next flight to LA and invite Russell round for dinner. For his sake, not yours. Someone who could think that this cacophony of characters bears any resemblance to real life desperately needs to be exposed to people who are more than just a collection of over-exaggerated tropes.
In the real world, people who see a mop head full of large shards of glass and decide to vigorously wring it out with their bare hands end up severing an artery, but in Russell’s world they invent a product that makes them millions. Go figure.
The film does momentarily spark into life when Joy goes to the QVC headquarters to pitch her new mop to executive Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper.)
In the artificial environs of a QVC studio, Russell’s style finally begins to make sense. It doesn’t matter if the dialogue feels forced because QVC is the home of obviously scripted dialogue. Nor can the characters feel too big in a studio where Joan Rivers was a regular star. For about 15 minutes, Joy is about television, capitalism and the American Dream; artifice, individual enterprise and a huge digital scoreboard ticking off hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of sales.
It is not enough to save the film. When Joy returns home from QVC, she has to continue her somewhat banal struggle to overcome her family, her corrupt business partner and above all to overcome Russell’s muddled plotting.
Ultimately, Joy is just too confused to work. De Niro plays his part as if he’s still in Meet the Fockers, Cooper as if he’s in an Aaron Sorkin film, and the rest of the supporting cast as if they’re the comic relief on a network TV drama.
If Jennifer Lawrence is expected to clean this mess up, then she’s going to need a bigger mop. 
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

After The Blizzard, People Are Digging Out

Tamar Gorgadze /
Footprints in the snow Sunday morning after a blizzard hit Lorton, Virginia, where this photo was taken, and other East Coast communities on Saturday.
Mirwais Kakar /
Saturday afternoon, the blizzard the U.S. East Coast was in full swing in Alexandria, Virginia.
Tamar Gorgadze /
Walkers traverse a neighborhood in Lorton, Virginia, where this photo was taken, on Sunday morning.
Tamar Gorgadze /
Snowplows have cleared the street, but residents have yet begun to shovel out in this photo, taken Sunday morning in Lorton, Virginia.

Tamar Gorgadze /
Snow piles up in Lorton, Virginia as residents begin to shovel out on Sunday after Saturday's blizzard.
Mirwais Kakar /
On Saturday afternoon, the snow was piling up around cars parked at an Alexandria, Virginia apartment complex.

Tamar Gorgadze /
The morning after the storm, a wooded area next to a Lorton, Virginia neighborhood is bright and crisp with fresh snow.
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trump Tells Iowa Crowd He Could 'Shoot Somebody' And Not Lose Votes

Garret Reich /
Donald Trump addresses a crowd at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa on Saturday afternoon.

By Garret Reich

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa, U.S.A. – Bragging about his own popularity with supporters, Republican Donald Trump told an Iowa crowd Saturday, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose votes.”
That boast from the presidential candidate – met with cheering from the audience –came after a long string of insults Trump hurled against the many Republican primary opponents he is trying to beat at the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.
He also belittled Democratic candidates, conservative commentators like Glenn Beck who oppose him and others, while exalting himself and his candidacy.
“His show is failing, he is failing,” Trump said about Beck. “He’s always crying. I like cries a little bit but not that much. Wouldn’t I look bad if I was crying? How would you guys feel about Trump with crying? How would China feel if I walked in because I couldn’t make the right deal? Yeah, I cried when I was one years old. I was a baby.”
In his remarks, Trump skipped around, sometimes in a confusing manner.
“Weak ... weak pathetic people. Low energy is a better word. Right? Low,” Trump said about fellow candidates, then added, “The Chinese aren’t low energy. They come in my office rearing to go."
He rambled on with a series of contemptuous put-downs.
Garret Reich /
People wait in the overflow room to hear from
Republican candidate Donald Trump in Sioux
Center, Iowa. Click on photo to enlarge.
"And we listen to these people, these are people that are not smart. They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t understand. I watch [U.S. Sen.] Lindsey Graham and everyone says he is an expert on war. He’s an expert on war? If I had a fight with him right now, he would be out of there in seconds.”
In kicking off his speech at Dordt College Saturday afternoon, Trump invoked praise he said he got earlier from Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas church in Dallas, Texas.
Jeffress led the audience in prayer before Trump spoke.
"I just want to thank the pastor,” said Trump. “He is a great guy and a great man."
According to Trump, when the pastor spoke about him in the past, Jeffress said,“He’s going to be the best leader, he’s going to be the best in the economy, he’s going to be the best on ISIS, and he’s going to take care of the border, and he’s going to get rid of Obamacare and give us great healthcare."
Afterwards, Trump led right into a topic he considered a problem within the United States.
"Christianity is under siege, whether we want to talk about it or we don't want to talk about it,” said Trump.
Trump, who claims to be a Christian, said Christians "are getting less and less and less powerful in terms of a religion and in terms of a force."
Christians "don't use their power," Trump said, but also said they "don't get the power” that they should have.
The candidate ripped into the statewide newspaper, The Des Moines Register, calling it a “totally crooked paper.”
Trump, a billionaire real estate tycoon, complimented his audience, made up of middle class families, older men wearing military hats and pins and college students.
“You know this is a wealthy room.  There is a lot of wealth in this room. That means you worked your asses off. Is that right?”
Later, he suggested he would use his own experience if elected president.
“I was very greedy,” said Trump. “Now I’m going to be greedy for the country.”
Garret Reich /

A panorama shot of the overflow room at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, when the crowd was waiting for Republican Donald Trump to speak. Click on the image to enlarge.
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A New View Of Veterans Memorials In Washington, D.C. Blizzard

Allison Hall /
A blizzard swirls around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Allison Hall /
The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Saturday in the early hours of the blizzard.

Allison Hall /
A view of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in the blizzard Saturday.
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Students, Citizens In Glenwood, Iowa Are Happy To Hear From Dr. Ben Carson

Garret Reich /
Dr. Ben Carson, who is running to get the Republican nomination for U.S. president, on the stage talking about his childhood on Thursday at Glenwood High School in Glenwood, Iowa.
By Garret Reich
GLENWOOD, Iowa, U.S.A. – A visit from Dr. Ben Carson, one of the Republicans hoping to be the party’s nominee for president, excited many students here Thursday.
"I like his values as a Republican," said sophomore Jessica Williams.
Brianna Leonard, a sophomore at the school, said after the debate that she liked what Carson said about guns.
"One thing that resonated with me was that it would be good to have mandatory gun safety classes to own any firearms instead of taking guns away from people," said Leonard.
Carson made a campaign stop at Glenwood Senior High School, in Mills County, Iowa during the school day.
"It is really up to us to make the change because we are so fortunate to live in this country," Carson told his audience.
Both students and members of the community were allowed to attend the town meeting and listen to Carson. 
"Ben Carson is my homie,” senior Zach Brauch teased.
But Leonard had a different reason for coming to see the candidate.
"I am opposed to his lack of experience in politics," said Leonard.
Carson began his speech speaking of the recent loss of one of his campaign workers in a car accident.  Braden Joplin, a 25-year-old volunteer, was a kind and considerate young man, according to Carson.
“He was such an amazing young man who cared so much about what was going to happen to our nation, what was going to happen to the next generation,” Carson said.
Garret Reich /

Dr. Ben Carson addresses an audience of
students and community members at
Glenwood High School in Glenwood,
Iowa on Thursday.
Carson discussed what it was like growing up in an impoverished home with his mother working two jobs and often not seeing her for a week.  He delved into stories of America’s founding fathers and their intentions for the future when writing the Constitution. 
"Benjamin Franklin, in particular, talked about the fact that our freedoms and our system are dependent upon a well informed and educated” populace, Carson said.
In his remarks, Carson highlighted an issue facing youth of the United States.
"This generation is the first generation in the history of America not expected to do better than their parents," he said.
Afterwards, Carson took a couple questions from the audience.
One member of the community asked what Carson would do to defeat ISIS.
“We have to take their oil,” Carson said. “ISIS is the wealthiest terrorist organization in the world because they have oil. They shouldn't have oil."
At the conclusion of the debate, the auditorium welcomed Carson down before the stage to talk to and meet the candidate personally.
Iowans will be the first Americans to cast ballots in the presidential primary and will do it by caucusing on Feb. 1.
Garret Reich /

Students sit in front with members of the community behind them at Glenwood High School, all waiting to hear from Dr. Ben Carson.
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