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Mystery of Turkish siblings who move on all fours leaves scientists baffled

July 23, 2014 Asia, Diaspora, Film No Comments
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Walking on all fours might be fun for some, but for the members of one Turkish family, it’s the only way to move around, reports the Oddity Central.Five siblings of the 19-member Ulas family, from Hatay Province, suffer from a rare disability – they lack the balance and stability required to stand up straight, forcing them to move on all four limbs. The family was discovered in 2005 – 14 of them appeared to be completely normal, while five suffered a quadrupedal gait. Scientists have been baffled by the condition ever since.The Ulas siblings were featured in a BBC documentary film, The Family That Walks On All Fours, in 2006. The film revealed that of the five siblings, two sisters and a brother have only walked on all fours since birth. Another brother and sister sometimes manage to walk upright. “It’s amazing as an example of a strange, strange aberration of human development,” said Professor Nicholas Humphrey, who visited the family twice during the documentary. “But their interest is how they can live in the modern world.”According to the film, a popular explanation for their unusual walk – similar to the movement of primates – was ‘reverse evolution’. Many scientists believed that the siblings were living proof that it is possible for humans to devolve. “I do not think they were destined to be quadrupeds by their genes, but their unique genetic make-up allowed them to be.” said Professor Humphrey.“It has produced an extraordinary window on our past. It is physically possible, which no one would have guessed from the modern human skeleton. However they arrived at this point, we have adult human beings walking like ancestors several million years ago.” Recent studies, however, have disproved this theory. American scientists have now concluded that the walk is only an adaptation to a rare disorder.A report published in the scientific journal PLOS One suggested that the siblings move laterally, unlike primates who walk in a diagonal sequence by repeatedly placing a hand on one side and a foot on the other. The siblings’ walk, on the other hand, is lateral and involves putting weight on the wrists instead of the knuckles. This is a clear sign of adaptation to cope with a loss of balance.So scientists now believe that the gait could be a byproduct of a hereditary condition that causes cerebellar hypoplasia, which disturbs their sense of balance. The siblings may have developed quadrupedalism in order to adapt to the rare condition known as Uner Tan syndrome, named after the Turkish evolutionary biologist who first studied them.“I was determined to set the record straight, because these erroneous claims about the nature and cause of quadrupedalism have been published over and over again, without any actual analysis of the biomechanics of their gait, and by researchers who are not experts in primate locomotion,” said lead researcher Liza Shapiro, from the University of Texas. “We have shown that the quadrupedalism resembles that of healthy human adults asked to walk quadrupedally in an experimental setting.”Previously, biologist Uner Tan had suggested that people affected by this syndrome walk with a quadrupedal locomotion, and are also affected by primitive speech and severe mental retardation. During his first study, when he asked the siblings what year it was, each of them had five different responses: “80,” “90,” “animals,” “July,” and “house.” This, according to Tan, indicated reverse evolution. 

Whitney Houston mother speaks out against lifetime biopic

July 23, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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Whitney Houston’s family has a very simple message to her fans: “please let her rest.”That’s the plea Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, made Tuesday (July 22) while condemning Lifetime’s upcoming biopic about her daughter, “I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story”, Mtv.com reports.“Lifetime has chosen to go ahead with the movie about Whitney in spite of my family’s objections, Cissy said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. “No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with Bobby [Brown].”While the late icon’s fans have been eagerly anticipating the Angela Bassett-directed film, her family has not been happy about it. Whitney and Bobby’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, has already voiced her disapproval via comments on Twitter that have since been deleted.Former America’s Next Top Model contestant Yaya DaCosta will play the role of Whitney, while Arien Escarpeta will play Bobby.Although Bassett co-starred with Houston in “Waiting to Exhale,” the family feels as though the film won’t be an authentic account of their beloved Whitney.“In the two years since Whitney’s death, many people have stepped forward to speak about their close relationship with her,” Cissy continued. “I find it difficult to believe people who knew and supposedly loved her would participate in a movie about her done by folks who didn’t know her. We are exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments offered by people who did not know her. Please, please let her rest.” 

Disrobing for the Sake of Art is Not Shameful, Says Belarusian Actor About Her Breakout Role

July 21, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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14:16, July 21, 2014
Though she initially objected, Yana Novikova (pictured) agreed to disrobe for her breakout role as Anya in Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe (Plemya). 

When she agreed to be in the film, Yana wasn’t yet completely familiar with the script. When she discovered that she has some nude scenes, she argued with the director. Initially, Slaboshpytskiy said she either she follows the script as is or leaves the production; however, later, the director and actor reached a compromise. Now the actor believes that disrobing for the sake of art is not shameful. 

“When I saw the films that win in film festivals, I understood that I don’t have to spare any effort for our film also to achieve success. I was surprised that we participated in the Cannes film festival,” she says.

Award-Winning Armenian Director Makes Films in Moscow Influenced by Childhood in Yerevan

July 21, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
Armenian News

11:59, July 17, 2014

Writer and director Anna Melikyan was born in Baku but raised in Yerevan.

After graduating from school, she moved to Moscow, where she lives to this day. She recalls her years as a student, when she was shooting her first short films, her mentor, Sergei Solovyov, always said, aha, we must watch the next Armenian film.

At the time, Anna was offended by this remark: she thought she was making a Russian film — with Russian actors and in a Russian environment. Now she understands that Solovyov was right because she bears the influence of childhood to this day. And she spent her childhood in Yerevan.

“Tendency to Watch Films Alone is Dangerous”: Filmmaker Jia Zhangke in Yerevan

July 19, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
Armenian News

12:08, July 18, 2014

Film director and screenwriterJia Zhangke, in Yerevan for the 11th Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival, believes that the tendency to watch films alone is dangerous.

He finds that in this period of technological development, people begin to live in two worlds: the real and the imaginary. At the same time, these technologies made people solitary: an example of this is that people have begun watching films alone — on their phones, with their computers — in that case when film aims to unite people.

Considered one of the key figures of the “Sixth Generation” movement of Chinese cinema, Jia depicts the modern life of China in his films. Through his work, the world sees an image of China that is not fabricated.

United States: Judge Rejects Motion For Dismissal In Online Drug Market Case

July 13, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
Armenian News

13:28, July 13, 2014

A U.S. judge denied a motion Wednesday for dismissal of all criminal charges submitted by the suspected founder of Silk Road, an anonymous online marketplace.

Ross William Ulbricht, known by the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a reference to The Princess Bride, a 1973 novel and 1987 film, was arrested last October by the FBI. Accused of founding and operating Silk Road, a website primarily for users to buy and sell drugs but also other products such as erotica, fake IDs, and malicious software, Ulbricht was indicted on four counts of participation in a narcotics trafficking conspiracy, a continuing criminal enterprise (also known as the “kingpin” statute), a computer hacking conspiracy, and a money laundering conspiracy.

Strong British showing at Emmys

July 10, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Film No Comments
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A host of British stars have been nominated at this year’s Primetime Emmy awards, the BBC reports.Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Chiwitel Ejiofor were among the nominees announced in Los Angeles.Fantasy drama Game of Thrones led the way with 19 nods including best drama series, followed by the TV version of 1996 film Fargo with 18 nominations.The awards will be handed out at a Los Angeles ceremony on 25 August 2014.Sitcom Modern Family will be hoping for a fifth consecutive best comedy series prize, facing competition from The Big Bang Theory, Louie, Orange is the New Black, Silicon Valley and Veep.Matthew McConaughey landed a nomination for his role in TV crime drama True Detective.The star, who won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club in February, is nominated for best actor in a drama series, alongside his co-star Woody Harrelson. 

Harry Potter’s Leavesden Warner Bros studios expanding its site

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The Hertfordshire film studios where the Harry Potter films were made is expanding its site, the BBC reports.Warner Bros has started building three new sound stages at the site at Leavesden, near Watford.The studios are currently home to the new Tarzan film, starring Margot Robbie and Samuel L Jackson, which started production work this week.They were used for filming Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and are also home to the Harry Potter Studio Tour.Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros, said: “Warner Bros has produced some of our most popular and successful films in the UK, working with British talent.”The expansion of Warner Bros Studios Leavesden will allow us to further tap into the world-class creativity and innovation available here to continue this tradition of filmmaking excellence.”Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “For years the UK has been at the cutting edge of the creative industries – and we want that to be the case for decades to come. This comes back to two things – and the two things that I see being as the most important in my job.”One: Promoting our culture. Music, film and television help inspire young kids and bring our country together – so I will always back those industries. And two: Our long-term economic plan.”Warner Bros president Josh Berger said the announcement confirmed its “commitment to the UK creative industries”. 

Ukraine crisis: Military plane shot down in Luhansk

June 14, 2014 Diaspora, Film No Comments
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Several Ukrainian troops have been killed after pro-Russian rebels shot down a military plane, the BBC reports quoting officials.Ukraine’s defense ministry said the Il-76 transport plane crashed after coming under heavy anti-aircraft fire over the eastern city of Luhansk.It said several people had died but did not give a figure. As many as 49 are thought to have been on board.The plane was carrying troops and military equipment and was about to land at the city’s airport.A statement from the ministry said that “terrorists” had “cynically and treacherously” fired on the aircraft as it came into land at Luhansk airport.The ministry offered its condolences to the families of the “killed soldiers”, but did not say how many had died.The incident came less than a week after pro-Russia rebels launched a series of attacks on Ukrainian forces at Luhansk International Airport.The airport has been under the control of government forces but the rebels hold most of the rest of the city.Luhansk is the main city of one of two eastern regions where pro-Russia separatists have declared independence from Kiev.An “anti-terrorist operation” by Ukraine government forces has left at least 270 people dead over the past two months.Meanwhile, the US said it was confident that tanks being used by separatists in eastern Ukraine came from Russia.”Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces, but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area,” a US state department official spokeswoman said.”We are confident that these tanks came from Russia,” she added.The appearance of the tanks, filmed in various towns in the Donetsk region, sparked a row between Kiev and Moscow.Russia has denied allegations that the tanks had entered Ukraine from its territory. 

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Featured Books

Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

Armenians often wish for a tale about the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath that would make a blockbuster film and draw attention to their cause. John Balian’s new book, Gray Wolves and White Doves (CreateSpace/Amazon.com), may be that tale.

 Largely autobiographical, this atmospheric novel is presented through the eyes of an innocent young boy trying to make sense of the world as he grows up amid repressive conditions in Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey during the 1960s and 70s.

 This fast-paced, multi-layered narrative takes readers from Hanna Ibelin’s (a.k.a. Jonah Ibelinian’s) close-knit family life in the perilous Asia Minor region of Palu to terror and tragedy while en route to Syria’s Kamishli, to a bleak existence on the mean streets of Istanbul.

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

Teaneck, N.J. and Belmont, Mass. –  An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian-American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country.  The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

Turkish writer and publicist Ahmet Insel labels the initiative of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party to pray namaz on the ruins of Ani as provocation.

In an interview with “A1+,” the publicist said the initiative was supported only by a small percentage of Turks.

“They offered namaz in Ani in protest against Christian rites carried out in Trabzon and Akhtamar. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli said if Christians are allowed to pray inside museums, similarly he can pray namaz in Armenian churches,” said Ahmet Insel.

The Turkish writer arrived in Armenia to participate in a book festival. Presentation of Armenian version of Dialogue sur le tabou arménien (Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou) co-authored by Ahmet Insel and Michel Marian was held during the festival.

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA –  KFI 640, a popular news/talk radio station hosted by Bill Handel on September 23 aired a live interview with Michael Bobelian, the writer of a new book titled  Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice

The book chronicles the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recounts a people’s struggle for justice in the face of a century of silence and denial.

During the interview, which was aired during the prime morning time slot, Bill Handel addressed both the efforts within the United States to ensure that the US government appropriately acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s ongoing denial.

Handel, a well known and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, has discussed the Armenian Genocide during past shows.

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Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests


The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments


2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.