Nov 19, 2017

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Hollywood Stars to Support Children of Armenian Fund Gala

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks will be among the stars supporting the COAF gala

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks will be among the stars supporting the COAF gala

NEW YORK—The Children of Armenian Fund (COAF) will hold its 14th annual star-studded gala on December 16.

This year’s event to be held in New York will be supported by a number of celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Ariana Grande, Chloe Kardashian, Connan O’Brien, Tina Fey and others.

Emmy award winning actress Andrea Martini will be the host of the event. Famed Swiss art auctioneer Simon de Pury will host an auction of exceptional works. The silent auction will be attended by celebrated art workers and designers.

The gala will feature more than 400 guests, including Hollywood stars, bloggers and journalists.

Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) works to secure a future for children in Armenia’s impoverished rural villages through improved education, healthcare, community life and economic conditions.

Founded in 2000, COAF launched its own ground operations in 2004, expanding to a cluster of 6 villages by 2006. Over the course of its history, the model has expanded and evolved to meet the needs of more than 28,000 people.


Treacherous Ts

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

What do tobacco (the industry), Turkey (the genocidal state), and Trump (the ConMan-in-Chief) have in common besides the first letter?

It is their expert use of doubt-seeding techniques.

Since the tobacco harvest ends in October, Turkey’s “republic” was declared on October 29, and Donald Trump got elected just over a year ago, it seemed like a good time to point out the commonality of these three terrible Ts.

We can probably fairly credit the tobacco industry with the perfection, if not the invention, of denialism. For decades, the tobacco companies claimed that stinking weed (as described by King James I of England) was not harmful. They hid their own research and documentation to the contrary. They hooked soldiers in service of their country by seeing to it they were well stocked with cancer-sticks. They tricked children into becoming addicts through “cute” advertising. They made a vile habit seem glamorous through what is, I’m guessing, one of the earliest examples of product placement in movies. Also, think of the Marlboro man and alluring women smoking in advertisements for cigarettes. With this deluge of “positive” images, it took roughly two generations, half a century, before the courts of law and public opinion finally caught up with Big Tobacco’s machinations.

Turkey and its denialists probably learned some of their craft from the more depraved sectors of the public relations industry which did the tobacco industry’s dirty work. It would come as no surprise, right? Turkey has been spending millions and millions of dollars (it would be interesting to compile all their expenditures reported in legally required filings from the beginning of when such data is available; a good intern project it seems to me!) hiring that type of vermin to work on its denial and other campaigns in the U.S. and elsewhere. Ankara used the same successive techniques as the cancer-dissemination industry. Outright denial was first, followed by some attenuation – in tobacco’s case advertising was banned on TV and radio, and later to young audiences, while Turkey moved on to saying, in one form or another “yeah, but it wasn’t genocide” – and later, fairly extensive capitulation when confronted with multipronged attacks and exposure of damning documents, a phase we are just starting to enter in the Armenian case against Turkey.

Here, a curious (but irrelevant to this piece) intersection of Turkey and tobacco is fun to convey. Assuming it is true, an article about historical smoking bans reports that the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Mourad IV, ruling 1623-1640, banned tobacco (along with alcohol and coffee). Flouting this prohibition resulted in death! A contemporaneous Russian prohibition was much gentler… only repeat offenders earned a trip to the grave. Interesting imperial overlords we Armenians have had…

Now, on to the third T…

Trump with his lies, diversions, misrepresentations is on the same path as tobacco and Turkey. From lying about his inauguration attendance numbers, to falsely claiming (on his current Asia trip) that his predecessor, Barack Obama, was barred from landing in the Philippines, to claiming that football players, kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner” is tantamount “dissing” the flag and country, or simply fudging every issue with 140-character outbursts, The current occupant of the White House has elevated denialism and obfuscation to unseen heights. He blurs and drags out the issue at hand, ad nauseam, until people forget the original question was or simply get disgusted. We can only hope that time will bring Trump the same tide of truth that it brought to tobacco and is bringing to Turkey.

Armenians have developed a nose for sniffing out this behavior, given our ongoing exposure to it. Be sure to keep your nose cued to the news to recognize future Trumps and alert friends and neighbors to the imminent dangers. It’s the least we can do for humanity.


Armenian Parliament Votes to Impose Hefty Fines on Draft Dodgers

Armenia's parliament chambers

Armenia’s parliament chambers

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—All men who have illegally evaded compulsory military service and will have turned 27 by December 1 may be amnestied provided they pay a hefty sum, according to a new amendment passed by Armenian lawmakers on Friday.

The 105-seat National Assembly voted unanimously for the extension of the already existing legislation, with the amendment expected to provide hundreds of young men with an opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution and legally return to Armenia.

In order to do so, they will need to pay 200,000 drams (about $410) for each conscription period they illegally missed (or a total of 3.6 million drams, or some $7,400, for all draft periods).

Ruling Republican Party member of parliament Karine Achemian, who presented the bill in parliament, clarified that the amended law will be in force until December 31, 2019.

The original law adopted in 2004 has so far been amended eight times. During this period thousands of citizens returned to Armenia benefiting from the amnesty offered by this legislation. The previous term of the legislation expired in May 2015.

Earlier, the Defense Ministry suggested that the parliament provide such an opportunity for the last time and also raise the legal cost of the amnesty to at least 9 million drams (approximately $19,000). But that initiative was rebuffed by the parliamentary committee on defense and security.

The committee’s head Koryun Nahapetian and several other lawmakers affiliated with the Republican Party publicly criticized the amendment last week.

Achemian also argued that the amendment sought by the Defense Ministry would restrict lawmakers’ constitutional right to come up with bills.

Nahapetian said last week that 700 and 800 draft dodgers have been granted such amnesty annually since 2004. He also revealed that almost 9,500 other men remain on the run on draft evasion charges.


10-Year-Old Armenian Chess Player Defeats iPod Designer

Narek Khachatryan plays chess with Tony Fadell, the American tech innovator

Narek Khachatryan plays chess with Tony Fadell, the American tech innovator

YEREVAN—Tony Fadell, the American tech innovator known for being one of the designers of the iPod, who on Thursday received Armenia’s Presidential IT was defeated during a chess match with 10-year-old Narek Khachatryan, according a Facebook post on the Chess Federation of Armenia.

American tech innovator Tony Fadell congratulates Narek Khachatryan after his win

American tech innovator Tony Fadell congratulates Narek Khachatryan after his win

Fadell, who also founded Nest Lab, toured the academy and became acquainted with its activities, as well as met with some of the students.

Synopsys Armenia executive director Hovik Musaelyan, the Founder of Viasfer Technopark Tony Moroyan, accompanied Fadell. Later, the mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan also joined them.

Fadell arrived in Armenia on a two-day visit. He became the eighth winner of the Award for Global Contribution in the Area of Information Technologies that was established back in 2009.


ANCA Working with Senate Appropriator Chris Van Hollen to Strengthen U.S.-Artsakh Ties

 ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian consulting with Senate Appropriations Committee member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Artsakh relationship.

ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian consulting with Senate Appropriations Committee member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Artsakh relationship.

WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America Chairman Raffi Hamparian consulted this week with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a member of the influential Appropriations Committee, about strengthening the U.S.-Artsakh  relationship, including through increased travel and communications among officials as well as artists, educators, students, and other civil society stakeholders. Senator Van Hollen serves on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, which sets funding levels for foreign aid, among other issues.

“The ANCA is proud of our decades-long relationship with Senator Van Hollen,” remarked ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “From our work in 2001 on the Maryland Armenian Genocide resolution with then-State Senator Chris Van Hollen to our work with him as a member of the U.S. House – Chris Van Hollen continues to be a stalwart friend of Armenian Americans, from Baltimore to Bethesda and across the state of Maryland.”

Senator Van Hollen, earlier this year, led efforts on the Senate side to secure continued assistance to Artsakh, a one-of-a-kind aid program, started in Fiscal Year 1998, that has provided maternal health care and clean drinking water and, is, today, funding the HALO Trust’s work clearing mines and unexploded ordnance from across Artsakh’s interior fields and farmlands. The Maryland Senator’s efforts were supported by the Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and fellow appropriator Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

These efforts on the Senate side were matched by Armenian Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), who – with the help of his Caucus colleagues – secured the passage, on September 7th of this year, of the Valadao Amendment to the foreign aid bill, H.R. 3354, appropriating funds for the completion of HALO’s demining mission. Over the past two decades, the U.S. aid program to Artsakh – initiated through ANCA advocacy – has secured over $40 million dollars in life-saving U.S. assistance to the independent republic.

The HALO Trust has successfully demined approximately 97% of Artsakh, destroying over 8,733 anti-personnel mines, 2,584 anti-tank landmines, 180,858 small arms ammunition, 12,423 cluster bombs and 48,572 other explosive items.

The ANCA’s efforts to secure direct U.S. assistance to Artsakh dates back to May of 1997, when Congressman Brad Sherman first offered an authorization amendment, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to the Foreign Policy Reform Act, to authorize direct U.S. funding for Artsakh. This effort lead to subsequent support, later that same year, by appropriators, notably then-senior Congressman Joe Knollenberg of Michigan, who successfully worked to ensure that the House Appropriations Committee approved a Foreign Aid bill (Public Law 105-118) that ultimately led to the allocation of an initial $12 million FY 1998 allocation for Artsakh.

Earlier this year, Senator Van Hollen secured the adoption of an amendment to the foreign aid bill opposing the use of US funds to facilitate the sale of arms to Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail. In the wake of this amendment, the proposed arms sale was withdrawn by the Administration. His support for issues of concern to Maryland’s Armenian American community dates back to his long service in the U.S. House and, prior to that, his tenure in the Maryland state legislature, where he helped lead that state’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Joining ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian in the meeting with Senator Van Hollen were ANCA Eastern Region Board member Armen Sahakyan and ANCA Government Relations Director Raffi Karakashian.


Chamlian Participates in Candy Buyback Program to Benefit Troops

A group of Chamlian students with the collected candy

A group of Chamlian students with the collected candy

GLENDALE—This year, the Vahan and Anoush Chamlian school hosted its first candy collection drive to support the local YMCA association through the organization’s “Healthy Halloween Candy Buyback” program.

This is a great cause-driven program that encourages children to make healthy choices, while at the same time supporting deployed U.S. troops overseas.

From November 1 to 3, Chamlian students collected Halloween candy from the school’s kindergarten to 8th grade students.

Students who collected candy were entered into a raffle whose prize was this bicycle donated by the YMCA

Students who collected candy were entered into a raffle whose prize was this bicycle donated by the YMCA

For every pound of candy donated, students received one raffle ticket for a chance to win a new bicycle provided by the YMCA.

Most important, however, was that all the candy collected was donated to Operation Gratitude, an organization that annually sends care packages for deployed U.S. troops.

As part of Chamlian’s school mission to thrive as productive citizens, the school continues to contribute to local and global communities and fosters individuals of strong integrity. The school indicated that it would participate in this program next year and to “collect sweet treats for our dedicated troops.”


Ferrahian 9th Grade Students Visit Ararat Home

Ferrahian 9th grade students dance at Ararat Home

Ferrahian 9th grade students dance at Ararat Home

BY ALEC MINASSIAN

MISSION HILLS, Calif.—After visiting the Ararat Home and Eskijian Museum, emotions ran high for Ferrahian High School 9th grade students. We were completely mesmerized by not only the rare Armenian cultural artifacts found at the museum, but also the warm, gracious hospitality of the elders at the Ararat home. After touring the grounds in its entirety and carefully admiring the beauty and craftsmanship of the relics in the museum, we, the students, were then escorted into a large, friendly dining hall, where small groups of elderly men and women were already waiting. The moment we walked into the hall, it was evident by the looks on their faces, that the men and women gathered there were genuinely elated to see us, and were patiently waiting for us to introduce ourselves, as the proud, young Armenian students we were.

We performed not just any routine, generic program, but rather, a variation of culturally driven, emotionally charged songs, poems, and dances. Throughout our performance, we saw many of the elderly men and women fighting back tears. Holding back tears was a challenge for many of us as well. At the end of our program, we were showered with heartfelt comments by the elderly residents. They stressed the importance of the youth to the future generations of Armenians. After sharing our thoughts, we were allowed to approach the kind, gracious men and women, and speak to them one on one, about topics such as future aspirations, personal backgrounds, and the protection of the rich Armenian language and culture.

A Ferrahian student with one of the residents at Ararat Home

A Ferrahian student with one of the residents at Ararat Home

Never had we experienced something of that emotional magnitude. My classmates and I were truly touched by the amount of respect and kindness we were granted by the elderly at the Ararat home. We could see in their eyes, how much our performance and mere presence meant to them. I am happy we were able to bring them such joy during these days leading up to the holidays.

Spending time with the sweet, caring people at the Ararat home, gave me a real sense of appreciation for our Armenian elderly community. I’m sure I speak on behalf of the entire 9th grade student body when I say that the men and women at the Ararat home gave us an emotional, loving and memorable experience that will forever be looked upon as something near and dear to our hearts. Some of the most valuable memories anyone can make, belong to the times we spend with people from an older, wiser generation.


iPod Developer Receives Armenia’s Presidential IT Award

President Serzh Sarkisian presents Tony Fadell with the 2017 Presidential IT Award

President Serzh Sarkisian presents Tony Fadell with the 2017 Presidential IT Award

YEREVAN—Tony Fadell, the information technology innovator who was one of the developers of the iPod and the founder of Nest Labs, on Thursday received the 2017 Presidential Award for the Global Contribution in the Area of Information Technologies during a ceremony at the presidential palace.

After awarding Fadell, President Serzh Sarkisian said that the development of the IT industry in Armenia is a commitment that the government has made in advancing the sciences in the country and making Armenia an IT hub in the region.

He expressed hope that during his stay in Armenia, Fadell will impart his story to Armenian students and inspire them to seek careers in the field.

Ahead of the awards ceremony, Sarkisian and Fadell held a one-on-one meeting during which the president explained that the aim of creating the award, was to express the united admiration and gratitude of the Armenian people toward those who propel the civilization to become iconic leaders in the field.

“By bestowing this award we also try to draw the attention of our youth on success cases and successful people, explaining by all the possible means that humans are the greatest wealth with their shortcomings and problems, but also their talent. Our focus on this sphere, I think, gives results. Our youth has great interest towards this sector and we are glad the schoolchildren are also interested”, said Sarkisian.

Fadell informed Sarkisian that during an earlier meeting with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, he was briefed on Armenia’s innovations in the IT sector.

“You should open your country for the outer world, you should tell about your positive developments,” Fadell said, adding that it’s very important that physics and mathematics, and other subjects related to the IT are on a high level in Armenia. He also expressed interest in working with Armenian specialists in the future.

Fadell is the eighth recipient of the Presidential Award for the global contribution to the area of information Technologies. The first award was bestowed on the former President of the Board of Directors of Intel Corporation Greig Barrett in 2010, the second one was given in 2011 to Steve Wozniak – a co-founder of the Apple Computers corporation, the third one – in 2012 went to Federico Faggin – the Honorary President of the Synaptics Company, the fourth award went to Tsugio Makimoto, the President of Semiconductor Industry Association, President of the Techno Vision company, former CEO of the Hitachi Company, the fifth – to Chief Development Officer of Sysco Systems, Inc., Mario Mazzola, the sixth – to Director General of Kaspersky Lab Evgeni Kaspersky.

The Presidential Award for the global contribution to the IT area was founded in 2009 and is aimed at the enhancement of the area’s development. The award is annual and is bestowed on the individuals who have made outstanding contribution to the area and whose input – technological, educational, organizational, financial or other has resulted in significant developments in the area of information technologies. The nomination program is carried out by the award committee designated by the President of Armenia and the international commission. The award represents a medal symbolizing Armenia and high technologies, a diploma and a souvenir.


Minsk Group Co-Chairs Announce Nalbandian, Mammadyarov Meeting

From left to right: Andrzej Kasprzyk, Igor Popov, Edward Nalbandian, Elmar Mammadyarov, Stéphane Visconti, Andrew Schofer after a meeting in New York in September

From left to right: Andrzej Kasprzyk, Igor Popov, Edward Nalbandian, Elmar Mammadyarov, Stéphane Visconti, Andrew Schofer after a meeting in New York in September

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs issued a statement Thursday on the results of their meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, who, the co-chairs say, have agreed to meet next month in Vienna. Below is the text of the statement.

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) met separately on 14 and 16 November with the Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meetings.

The Co-Chairs discussed with the Foreign Ministers concrete steps to implement the agreements reached by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan during the Geneva summit on 16 October 2017 as well as other items raised by the Co-Chairs in Geneva. During the meetings, the Co-Chairs and the Ministers reviewed a number of working proposals currently on the table.

The Ministers agreed to hold a joint meeting on the margins of the December 2017 OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna. The Co-Chairs will prepare the agenda for this meeting, which will include substantive issues of the political settlement, as well as specific measures to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact. Special attention will be paid to finalizing the expansion of the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office.


Memorial Service: Hrach Lukassian

Hrach Lukassian

Hrach Lukassian

Hrach Lukassian
1946-2016

On the one year anniversary of Hrach Lukassian’s passing, there will be a remembrance and celebration of life service on Saturday, December 9, 2017, at 11:30 a.m., at St. Mary’s Armenian Church on Central Avenue, in Glendale, California.

The service will be followed by a reception at the Glendale Youth Center (building adjacent to St. Mary’s Church), at 211 West Chestnut Street, Suite 302. Parking will be available at the church parking lot.

The reception will feature an exhibition of Hrach Lukassian’s watercolor paintings and photographs, as well as the launch of his book, titled Hrach Lukassian: At Home in the World. All proceeds will be donated to ABMDR.

Family:
Wife, Carmen Lukassian
Daughter, Annette and Hratch Postik and children
Daughter, Talin and Rony Mirzaians and children
Sister, Dzaghkoush and Alfred Havan and family
Sister, Zabel Petrosian and family
Sister-in-law, Dr. Frieda Jordan
Sister-in-law, Ilin and Aleko Boghoskhanian and family

And the entire Postik, Mirzaians, Amirkhanian, Jordan, Boghoskhanian, Petrosian, and Ghougasian families, relatives, and friends


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