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Pope Francis to meet autistic kids to end stigma

November 18, 2014 Diaspora, Music No Comments
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Pope Francis will meet with autistic children and their families in a bid to help raise awareness and end the stigma and isolation of people living with autism spectrum disorders, the AP reported.The Saturday audience will cap an international conference on autism being hosted this week by the Vatican’s health care office. Organizers said Tuesday it was the biggest medical conference of its kind on autism, gathering more than 650 experts from 57 countries.
The Rev. P. Augusto Chendi of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers told reporters the aim of the conference and the papal audience is to “help break the isolation, and in many cases the stigma, that surrounds people affected by autistic spectrum disorders.”
While autism is increasingly diagnosed in places like the United States, where about 1 in 68 children are said to be on the spectrum, it is still largely unknown and undiagnosed elsewhere, including in the Vatican’s own backyard of Italy, said Dr. Stefano Vicari, head of pediatric neuropsychiatry at the Vatican-owned Bambin Gesu hospital in Rome.
Francis, who has shown great ease around children with special needs, will deliver a speech to the hundreds gathered in the Vatican audience hall. The session will be punctuated by music and movement for the children.

Strictly Come Dancing: BBC apologizes for judge swearing

November 16, 2014 Diaspora, Music No Comments
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The BBC apologized after Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman swore during Saturday’s live show.The head judge appeared to mutter a curse word while praising the performance of Blue star Simon Webbe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff.Strictly presenter Zoe Ball said: “Len got a little bit carried away with the excitement of the dance and I’m very sorry for the bad language.”The BBC One show was broadcast live from Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom.Webbe scored 38 points out of a possible 40 for an Argentine Tango and received plaudits from all four judges.His score was later matched by pop star Pixie Lott who took on the Paso Doble with her dance partner Trent Whiddon.There are nine celebrities left on the show, including television presenter Caroline Flack, reality TV star Mark Wright and Judy Murray, mother of British tennis star Andy Murray.Murray’s performances have been popular with audiences but not the judges.On Saturday’s show, Murray and her partner Anton du Beke danced the Viennese Waltz to Let’s Go Fly a Kite from the musical Mary Poppins. They scored the lowest points of the night.Judge Craig Revel Horwood told her she had “appalling” posture and there was only “a good 15 seconds” in the whole routine.Another contestant will be eliminated following a dance-off on Sunday night’s show.

Nigol Bezjian’s Ceaseless Search for Truth and Discovery — An Interview

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17:52, November 14, 2014

By Christian Garbis

Filmmaker Nigol Bezjian is a master storyteller who conveys pathos and lust for life, introspection and emotional extremes of joy and sorrow in one sweep.

Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1955, Bezjian immigrated with his family to Boston in 1974. He earned a BFA in Cinema Studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and then further pursued his passion for filmmaking at the UCLA School of Film, Theatre and Television where he graduated with a MFA in Film Producing, Writing and Directing. 

Hasmik Harutyunyan: World Renowned Folk Singer Believes in the Power of Pure Music

November 12, 2014 Armenia, Business, Culture, Music No Comments
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00:42, November 11, 2014

Despite the international accolades, the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble doesn’t register on the Armenian government’s cultural radar

Hetq recently spoke to Hasmik Harutyunyan, an Armenian folk singer and the leading member of the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, about the state of music in Armenia, her travels worldwide, and other interesting bits and pieces of her long and illustrious career to promote the true national music of Armenia.

Shoghaken’s Armenian Lullabies was recognized by the New York Times as an outstanding world music CD in 2004.

Hasmik, what is the plight of folk singers in Armenia today and what are the challenges they face?

Prima Ballerina Jacqueline Sarkhoshyan Seeks New Challenges Abroad but Promises to Return

November 7, 2014 Armenia, Music No Comments
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14:34, November 7, 2014

Jacqueline Sarkhoshyan, a prima ballerina at Armenia’s National Academic Theater of Opera andBallet for twenty years, has left the country to explore new artistic possibilities overseas.

Sarkhoshyan, who left with her husband Karen Makinyan (a soloist with the Barekamutyun Armenian State Dance Troupe), is now in Lebanon after accepting work as a dance instructor and director.

“We decided to go away for a while. It’s no surprise that I get paid to dance, and thus I couldn’t refuse such an offer,” Sarkhoshyan noted in an interview after leaving.

The prima ballerina, who has received the RA Meritorious Artist Award, has overcome many difficulties throughout her illustrious twenty year career on the Armenian stage.

Aznavour in the Crosshairs: Did Armenia’s Ambassador Actually Say Those Things in Paris?

November 6, 2014 Armenia, Georgia, Music, Turkey No Comments
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19:10, November 6, 2014

Political Scientist Hayk A. Martirosyan: “The phenomenon of Aznavour is greater than Aznavour the diplomat, the man, or the citizen”

Did Charles Aznavour, Armenia’s Ambassador to Switzerland, give an interview to the Turkish newspaper Posta on November 2 and say the following?

“I don’t act according to the instructions of Armenia”; “Turks have a conscience”; “It’s futile to dredge up past events that took place during the Ottoman period”

Did Aznavour, in an earlier meet in Paris with Turkish producer Erkan zerman and Turkey’s Ambassador to France Hakkı Akil, accept an award called the Golden Maple?

Well it all seems to depend on whom you ask.

Impressions of Armenia – The Moscow Times (photo set)

October 18, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Europe, Film, Music No Comments
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A photo set published by The Moscow Times has fixed episodes featuring recent developments in Armenia.
The pictures, taken in different parts of the country, are presented below:

A police officer walks along central Yerevan’s Victory Bridge — named after the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany — that crosses the Armenian capital Yerevan’s Hrazdan River.

A young man shows his support for Armenia’s national football team in central Yerevan before a European Championship qualifying match against Serbia.
A musician looks out the window of a bus carrying the members of a brass band to their next destination.

Young boys gratefully drink from the water fountains on Yerevan’s central Republic Square.A woman is seen preparing dolmas (stuffed cabbage rolls)
Khorovats (the Armenian word for barbecue ) prepared on large skewers for meat, vegetable and even fruit dishes

World Famous Soprano Montserrat Caballe Back in Artsakh for Concert

October 13, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Culture, Music No Comments
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15:45, October 13, 2014

World famous soprano Montserrat Caballe will give an exclusive concert at Stepanakert’s Renaissance square, tomorrow dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the cease-fire in Artsakh. 

Caballe arrived yesterday in Artsakh with family members, a Spanish tenor and an accompanist.

 She will hold master-classes for young opera singers from Artsakh at Stepanakert Sayat-Nova musical college. During the visit she is to meet President Bako Sahakyan and Artsakh’s spiritual leader Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan. 

The visit is organized jointly by the Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs of NKR and “Starmus” company.


The general sponsor of the concert is “Converse Bank”and is co-sponsored by “Athenas Pallas”.

It’s about time! £110 smartwatch needs charging just once a year and connects to any iPhone or Android mobile

October 2, 2014 Diaspora, Music, Technology No Comments
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Battery life is consistently listed as a major feature customers want from their gadgets – and it’s such a major sticking point, Apple is even said to have delayed launching its smartwatch to get it right, the Daily Mail reports.
And while many smartwatches boast a two to seven-day battery life, an Illinois-based site is selling a design that is said to last for an entire year.
It is also almost half the price of Apple’s device, at $179.95 (110), and connects to any Android or iPhone device.
The No-Charge watch is available from online retailer Hammacher Schlemer.
According to the gadget’s product page, the watch uses one set of batteries for an entire year.
It connects to a range of smartphones using Bluetooth Smart technology.
This uses a fraction of the energy required by older versions of Bluetooth, claims the firm, ‘allowing the batteries to last up to one year and eliminating tedious recharging’.
When someone calls the connected phone, the watch displays the caller ID, and will also reveal the number of missed calls.
Elsewhere, the No-Charge watch shows incoming texts, emails, social media posts, calendar invites and appointments, and the phone’s battery status.
And buttons on the side of the bezel let wearers play or pause music playing on the phone, or take a picture.
The watch has a stainless-steel bezel, scratch-resistant mineral glass, and a rubber strap. It is also water resistant.
Apple is said to be unhappy with its own watch’s battery life, and, as a result, the $349 (216) device is not expected to ship before February.
Most existing smartwatches on the market, such as the Pebble, tend to last up to a week on a single charge.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear 2 Neo claims to have a six-day battery life, but, in reality, this is closer to four days.
The closest Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook came to talking about the battery life for the watch, during a launch event last month, was saying that users would ‘charge it at night.’
He did, however, spend some time talking about the watch’s charging system, which combines Apple’s MagSafe technology with inductive charging.
Smartwatches have grown in popularity this year.
Samsung recently unveiled its Gear S device, the Moto 360 is set to launch later this month, and O2 has announced it is the only
UK mobile network to stock the newly-launched Pebble and Pebble Steel Smartwatches.
The Pebble Smartwatch costs 99 ($99), and the Pebble Steel costs 179.00 ($199).
Both models are also available from retailer Firebox.

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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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Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

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.