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Sandra Bullock: America’s sweetheart at 50

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If there were ever a contest for “America’s sweetheart,” Sandra Bullock would be tough to beat, according to the CNN.
The daughter of an Army employee and a German vocal coach, Bullock has continually struck a chord with fans over her nearly 30-year career. At turns charming and relatable, she comes across as extremely genuine in a field that makes its magic through pretending.
As the actress celebrates her 50th birthday on July 26, her stock as the long-standing favorite is as solid as ever.
Examine the evidence: She is firmly in the top 10 list of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses, and her films tend to make money. Her 2013 sci-fi thriller “Gravity,” which starred Bullock as an astronaut lost in space, earned $716 million worldwide.
And in her personal life, Bullock has managed to remain pretty scandal-proof. At the height of a devastating marital breakup from Jesse James in 2010, when lurid tabloid headlines appeared about his alleged affairs, Bullock shocked the world with news that she had secretly adopted an African-American son from New Orleans.
Not only was it surprising that the Oscar-winning actress had such a tight circle that she was able to conceal a monumental personal moment, but unlike some other celebs who had been criticized in the black community for transracial adoptions, Bullock and her decision were mostly embraced.
Even other celebrities adore her. “Avengers” star Chris Evans has been quoted as saying Bullock was his first celebrity crush.”I saw ‘Speed’ when I was in seventh grade, and I was like, that’s my lady,” Evans said. “I literally had a big poster (of her).”
It’s easy to see why a preteen Evans fell for Bullock. In interviews Bullock can be funny, self-deprecating and just downright cool.
During an appearance on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” to promote her 2013 buddy cop comedy, “The Heat,” she and the host good-naturedly took verbal swipes at each other. When Ferguson mentioned the film “Dumb and Dumber” (in an apparent reference to the way their interview was going), Bullock volleyed back about that movie.
“Poop humor is fun,” she said jokingly. “If you do the toilet scenes well and commit to them they can be really, really powerful.”
Not many Academy Award winners would tackle such a subject, but it’s not surprising from Bullock, who proudly told Us Weekly that her now-3-year-old son, Louis, is fully potty-trained. While the actress has almost always been tagged as more girl next door than vixen, motherhood has clearly helped settle her even more.
She’s been very outspoken about the fact that she would give it all up, the career and the fame, if it wasn’t good for her son in any way.”I don’t want him to have pressures brought on by what I do. I will quit. I will leave,” she told Vogue last year. “If I see whatever I’m doing affecting him negatively, I will pack up and move to Alaska.”
That probably helps explain why the self-professed homebody would much rather be spending time with her kid than working the press. Eschewing the Hollywood scene, the “Blind Side” star has made paparazzi literally chase her outside the usual city limits, choosing to build her life in cities like Austin, Texas, and New Orleans.
Being on the red carpet, she told CNN at a 2013 premiere of “Gravity,” is extreme enough for her.
“Being in front of a camera, in a nice dress, getting all dressed up is extreme,” Bullock said. “There’s a lot of other extreme situations, you know, just getting out of bed sometimes is extreme — but I do it. Just got to do it, just got to get up. Put your sweatpants on, brush off the dog hair and just get out of the house!”
Part of what Bullock does when she gets “out of the house” is give back to the city of New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Bullock “adopted” Warren Easton Charter High School, and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the institution.
In May 2014, she surprised the graduating class with a commencement speech.
“They’re infections, they inspire me,” Bullock said of the students. “They make me get off my butt and try to do better. … I’ve been taking and taking from (the city of New Orleans), and when everything happened with Katrina, that’s when you realize you have to put back.”

Jailed Businessman Denies Corruption Claims Against Ex-PM


A businessman arrested on charges of defrauding a partner insisted through a lawyer on Monday that former Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian was not involved in the alleged scam despite what some media present as evidence to the contrary.

Ashot Sukiasian was extradited from Georgia to Armenia last month to face three counts of fraud and money laundering that carry up to 12 years’ imprisonment. His former partner, Paylak Hayrapetian, claims that Sukiasian misappropriated most of a $10.7 million loan which he borrowed from an Armenian commercial bank. The money was supposed to be invested in diamond mining in Sierra Leone.

Pistorius murder trial set tor resume

June 30, 2014 Africa, Diaspora No Comments
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The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius is set to resume in South Africa on Monday after a break to evaluate the athlete’s mental health, BBC News reported.His defence team earlier argued he was suffering from an anxiety disorder when he killed his girlfriend.A report by experts will help the judge decide how significant this is.The athlete denies deliberately killing Reeva Steenkamp. He says he shot her accidentally in a state of panic after mistaking her for an intruder.The defence is expected to finish presenting its evidence in the next few days – calling perhaps three more witnesses.Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, was shot through a toilet door at Oscar Pistorius’s house in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day last year.The couple had been dating for three months.

World Cup: Neymar inspires Brazil to victory

June 25, 2014 Africa, Armenia No Comments
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Was there ever any doubt?When it mattered most, the man who this Brazilian team’s quest may depend on, delivered once again, the CNN reports.Neymar, the face of this World Cup, scored his fourth goal in three games to book his country a date with destiny and Chile in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.The 22-year-old, for so long hailed as the savior of Brazilian football, has not disappointed at a time where the likes of Portugal’s World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo have flattered to deceive.While Lionel Messi has rescued Argentina, Neymar’s 35th goal in 52 international appearances gives an insight into how crucial his role is likely to be in the next few weeks should Brazil go all the way.His two goals and further strikes from the much maligned Fred and substitute Fernandinho ensured Brazil claimed a 4-1 win over Cameroon and secured top spot in Group A.Mexico, which defeated Croatia 3-1, took second place and will now face the Netherlands in Fortaleza on Sunday.But the night belonged to Neymar — the man who scored the 100th goal of this tournament in his country’s 100th match World Cup match.Brazil will need its talisman to provide his magic once again when it meets Chile, a team which it knocked out of the tournament four years ago in South Africa.Jorge Sampaoli’s men will represent a far more difficult proposition than a Cameroon side which briefly threatened to cause embarrassment by drawing level at 1-1.But Neymar, having already netted the opener, then took charge by scoring his side’s second and guiding Brazil home.Cameroon, thrashed 4-0 in its previous game by Croatia and already out of the tournament, was hardly supposed to represent the most difficult of challenges.Leading through Neymar’s 17th minute strike, Brazil allowed Cameroon back into the contest as its cumbersome defending was once again exposed.Just minutes after Joel Matip’s header had been deflected onto the crossbar, Cameroon leveled to silence those packed inside the Arena Pernambuco.Allan Nyom escaped down the right and after beating the non-existent challenge of Dani Alves, crossed for Matip to tap home from close range.Suddenly, from a carnival of color and celebration, a dark cloud hung over Brazil’s World Cup dream.But any negativity was soon washed away by a rampant yellow swagger which ripped through the very heart of the Cameroon defense.Neymar, the chief tormentor, was afforded far too much room and after leading the defenders a samba-like dance, he unleashed a fine effort which wrongfooted the goalkeeper.Suddenly Brazil was rampant. Neymar threatened a third when his powerful effort was tipped away by Charles Itandje, while Hulk failed to hit the target after a wonderful flowing move.The interval offered little respite for Cameroon and within five minutes it fell further behind when the previously luckless Fred converted David Luiz’s cross to net his first goal of the tournament.Fernandinho, the Manchester City midfielder, added a fourth with six minutes remaining to ensure Brazil finished top on goal difference from Mexico.”Maybe we tried to hurry things a bit too much early on, when we scored our first goal and let anxiety get to us,” Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the match.”We need to show more calm and composure. Fortunately we ironed out some flaws at half-time and after the break we used the ball better again.” 

That’s what you call body art! Amazing UV pictures painted onto naked women

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In a project which marries the beauty of the female form with spectacular scenes from nature, an artist has created stunning UV images on women’s backs, the Daily Mail reports. John Poppleton, from California, creates incredible works of art painted directly onto human skin using fluorescent shades of lilac, orange and green and then photographs them with stunning results.His project, called Under Black Light, consists of ‘bodyscapes’ of spectacular natural phenomena such as African sunsets, tropical oceans during rainstorm, and mountain ranges under moonlight.In more otherworldly, eerie designs the artist depicts cosmic scenes of stars, galaxies and shimmering auroras.His gorgeous painterly scenes are photographed under black light to produce the seemingly glowing images.John incorporates the curves and shapes of the models into his paintings, and in some the canvas is stretches beyond the back of the model onto the background behind.The artist dabbled in photography as a hobby until several friends convinced him to photograph their weddings in 1993. He then became a professional portrait photographer as has flourished in the industry for more than 20 years.It has always been John’s goal to create something original and different but fantasy portraits were never part of the plan. ‘I wasn’t looking for it, it found me’, he says.’Around 2003 Photoshop introduced a new tool called liquify and just to show what it could do I stretched a brides ears and turned her into an elf. (‘Lord of the Rings’ was in theatres about this time.) It turned out so nice I put a copy in my portfolio and it just evolved from there.’But things really took off when the owner of a faerie collectable store asked me to create 12 images for a calendar. That’s what gave me the biggest push.’In 2010, while suffering from a sleepless night in a hotel room bed, John received his inspiration for using black light and he was off on what has become the biggest adventure of his career.John has received numerous awards for his wedding and fantasy portraits through Wedding & Portrait Photographers International, and his work has been featured in many acclaimed photography books.He now lives in the quiet little town of Wellsville in Northern Utah, with his wife Becky and their three children. 

South Africa: MPs say parliament canteen ‘makes us fat’

June 11, 2014 Africa, Armenia No Comments
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South African MPs have complained the meals served in the restaurant at Parliament are too fattening, it seems, the BBC reports.In fact, they say the meals on offer are so unhealthy they’re causing obesity among parliamentary ranks, the Times Live website reports. Members are apparently “nice and slim” when they are elected to office, but “they all go out obese”, says Sheila Sithole, an MP for the ruling African National Congress (ANC).Fellow ANC member Zukile Luyenge agrees: “Every food item has fats and too much protein.” If politicians’ meetings run into lunchtime, they can snack on dishes such as lamb chops, samosas or spicy sausages. Or they could have a three-course meal at the restaurant, the website says.The food is so notorious one MP reportedly started boycotting the meals entirely, shunning the canteen in favor of healthier options available off site, Sithole says. And in 2012 the country’s health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, said an expanding waistline was an occupational hazard for politicians. “The problem as a public representative is that there is food everywhere – that is the danger of this profession.” But Luyenge says he has just the antidote – colleagues should try sweating it out in the official gym to keep the excess pounds at bay. 

Cypriot Consulting Company v Armenia’s Control Chamber: ‘Your inaccuracies are potentially damaging to our company’s reputation’

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11:19, June 10, 2014

The Cyprus registered company Four Assist Development Consulting Ltd (4Assist) has taken the Control Chamber of Armenia to task for publishing a number of inaccuracies regarding 4Assist that appeared in its “2013 Annual Report”, demanding that corrections be made.

In a May 21, 2014 letter penned by 4Assist Authorised Representative Maria Tasioula to Control Chamber Chairman Ishkhan Zakaryan, she writes that the report contained “certain inaccuracies regarding the project “Implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards Strategy 2” that we [4Assist] implemented from June 2012 to June 2013 on behalf of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Armenia.”

Qatar 2022: Sepp Blatter says corruption claims are racist

Armenian News

Fifa president Sepp Blatter claims allegations surrounding the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid are motivated by racism, the BBC reports.
Qatar was chosen as host in December 2010 but corruption claims have prompted Fifa to begin an inquiry.
“There is a sort of storm against Fifa relating to the Qatar World Cup,” Blatter said. “Sadly there’s a great deal of discrimination and racism.”
Fifa will rule on the validity of the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in September or October.
At that point, the president of football’s world governing body said, the “matter will be closed”.
Speaking to African football officials in Sao Paulo, Blatter confirmed that the latest allegations would be discussed at the Fifa Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.
He said Fifa needed to combat “anything that smacks of discrimination and racism”, adding: “It really makes me sad.”
At its general assembly in Sao Paulo, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) condemned “the repeated, deliberately hateful, defamatory and degrading attacks by some media, notably British, on the image and the integrity” of Caf, its members and the “entire African continent”.
Caf added that it would urge the executive committee “to file a law suit, if necessary, so that the authors of this smearing and defamatory campaign against African football leaders are brought to book”.
Qatar overcame competition from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to be named as 2022 hosts.
But the bidding process has been hit by a series of corruption claims.
American lawyer Michael Garcia is currently involved in an independent investigation into the bidding process and is due to deliver his report to Fifa in mid-July.
Blatter, 78, told delegates from the Asian Football Conference that Garcia would also speak at Fifa’s congress to update delegates on his inquiry.
Garcia is investigating everyone connected with the bidding process for both the 2018 World Cup, to be staged in Russia, and the 2022 event.
Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee continues to reject claims of wrongdoing and says it is confident the vote was won fairly.

Armenia’s Mineral Waters Now Exported Around the World

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16:27, May 22, 2014

Around the world, 124 billion liters of mineral water are consumed annually — that’s 24 liters per capita. At 7–8% annually, this is one of the fastest growing markets. 

Armenia has huge reserves of mineral water — in Jermuk, Bjni, Arzni, Hankavan, and Dilijan. About 7 companies are engaged in mineral water production, but this sector has great potential to develop. There have been positive shifts in recent years. There was a record high of mineral water production in 2013 — 43.2 million liters, of which 11.8 million liters were exported. Thus, the industry succeeded in restoring and even exceeding its pre-crisis volumes (35.8 million liters were produced in 2008, of which 9.7 million was exported). Note, in the crisis year of 2009, mineral water production in Armenia dropped by about 30%. 

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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.