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Canada to ship Ebola vaccine to WHO

October 19, 2014 Africa, Armenia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Canada is to ship 800 vials of its Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization, the BBC reports.The jab can completely protect animals from a fatal dose of the Ebola virus. However, its safety and effectiveness in humans is unknown.Trials began in the US this week and there will be further tests in Europe and Africa.The Public Health Agency of Canada said the vaccine could be an “important tool in curbing the outbreak”.The recent Ebola outbreak – the largest in history – has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa.By December, up to 10,000 people a week could be being infected by the virus, the WHO says.There is no cure or proven vaccine, but a number of experimental approaches are being rushed through.The Canadian vaccine, developed by the public health agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, combines fragments of Ebola virus with a non-fatal virus.It should be enough to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies to attack Ebola, protecting against future infection.Clinical trials have started at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the US but results are not expected until December.Canada will begin shipping the 800 vials on Monday.They will be sent in three batches as a precautionary measure. The vaccine must be packed in dry ice and kept at -80C in order to remain viable.Further trials will take place in Germany, Switzerland and countries in Africa not hit by the Ebola outbreak.Dr Gregory Taylor, the chief public health officer of Canada, said: “This vaccine, the product of many years of scientific research and innovation, could be an important tool in curbing the outbreak.”We will continue to work closely with the WHO to address some of the ethical and logistical issues around using this experimental vaccine in the fight against Ebola.”Around a third of the total stocks of the vaccine will be kept in Canada for research or “compassionate use”, the Canadian government said.A separate vaccine is already being trialled in the US, UK and Mali.It is being made by GlaxoSmithKline, which has warned the vaccine will “come too late” for the current epidemic.Dr Ripley Ballou, the head of GSK’s Ebola vaccine research, said full safety and effectiveness data would not be ready until late 2015.”At the same time we have to be able to manufacture the vaccine at doses that would be consistent with general use, and that’s going to take well into 2016 to be able to do that,” he added.”I don’t think this can be seen as the primary answer to this particular outbreak.”
 

Armenia’s Membership in the EEU: Raises More Questions Than It Answers

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19:01, October 17, 2014

Babken Der Grigorian

In response to Harut Sassounian’s article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia 

Upon reading Harut Sassounian’s latest article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia”, I have been compelled to write a response addressing its shortcomings and inaccuracies, increasingly common also within the broader narratives regarding Armenia’s accession into the EEU in the Armenian community.

On September 3, 2013, after Armenia completed nearly three years of negotiations with the European Union on an Association Agreement, which included years of European-funded legislative reforms, President Serzh Sargsyan was summoned to Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Obama to discuss Islamic State with European leaders

October 15, 2014 Africa, Armenia, Arts, Turkey, Video No Comments
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US President Barack Obama is to hold a video conference with the leaders of the UK, France, Germany and Italy to discuss combating Islamic State (IS), the BBC reports.Mr Obama told foreign military chiefs on Tuesday to expect a long campaign against the jihadist group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.He also expressed deep concern about the IS offensive on the town of Kobane, on Syria’s border with Turkey.The Ebola epidemic will also be discussed in the video conference.The World Health Organization (WHO) says 4,447 people have died after contracting the virus, most of them in West Africa.On Wednesday morning, the US authorities confirmed that a second health worker in the state of Texas had tested positive for Ebola.A third item on the video conference’s agenda will be efforts to encourage Russia to implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement with Ukraine.The US-led coalition against Islamic State has stepped up its air strikes on the group’s heavily-armed fighters surrounding the town of Kobane, where Kurdish militia have been holding out for almost a month.The jihadists are also said to be advancing on the Iraqi town of Amariya al-Falluja, one of the last still controlled by government forces in Anbar province and only 40km (25 miles) from the capital Baghdad.”Coalition air strikes will continue in both of these areas,” Mr Obama told a meeting of senior military commanders from more than 20 Western and Arab countries at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Tuesday.Mr Obama warned that they were facing a “long-term campaign”.”There are not quick fixes involved. We’re still at the early stages.”"As with any military effort, there will be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback,” he added.

Yerevan Calling: Joint Opposition Rally Attracts Thousands; and More Random Musings

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12:04, October 10, 2014

Oct. 10 – Regime Change Once Again; Opposition Parties Stage Joint Rally Skimpy on Specifics

Thousand packed Liberty Square in Yerevan this evening to hear representatives of three parliamentary opposition parties (ANC, Heritage and Prosperous Armenia) call for regime change in Armenia.

There were few, if any specifics, on how they planned to achieve this.

The demonstration was the largest in recent memory and the crowd appeared ready to storm the presidential palace if given the order from the dais.

I’ll cut through the rhetoric and make this short.

The original justification for the rally was the 12-point list of demands the opposition had filed with the government calling on it to make immediate reforms on a number of socio-economic and political issues. But the rally went far beyond in its scope.

Millionaire dedicates his life to raising gorillas and releases them into the wild

October 9, 2014 Africa, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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Damian Aspinall is a casino-owning millionaire, environmentalist and animal lover who has made it his life’s mission to raise gorillas and release them into the wild.
And in order to make that happen, the self-made businessman set up the Aspinall Foundation, through which he has raised over 60 gorillas in England and released them to secure locations in Africa, reports the Oddity Central.
Aspinall, who was once known for his party lifestyle and for dating supermodels like Naomi Campbell has now devoted his life to deepening the connection he has always shared with the animal kingdom. Apart from the Aspinall Foundation, he also runs Howletts and Port Lympne wildlife parks in Kent. It is his belief that animals should have as much right to happiness as humans do.
His deep-rooted connection with animals goes all the way back to his childhood – his father John, Aspinall, was a gambler and maverick zoo keeper. So he grew up around his father’s exotic pets, developing an all-consuming passion for wildlife as he got older.
“It’s magic crossing the species boundaries, and the greatest thing about being alive,” said the 54-year-old. “You can’t explain it to people who don’t have it.”
Read more on the Oddity Central website.

Armenia’s Deadly Dance with Ebola: Will Government’s Ban on Certain African Animals Be Enforced?

October 6, 2014 Africa, Armenia, Georgia No Comments
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09:00, October 6, 2014

With the deadly Ebola virus running rampant in certain eastern African countries, the Armenian government has said that is taking measures to beef-up security at points of entry into the country.

Surprisingly, official Yerevan doesn’t perceive the threat coming from infected humans entering Armenia, but from animals imported from Africa.

Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, who runs the Veterinary Department at Armenia’s Food Safety Service told Hetq that “we have our hands on the pulse of the problem”, adding that his group is watching the borders day and night.

Armenian officials say that humans are also being subject to examination by specialized equipment monitoring a person’s body temperature. Those suspected of being infested are quarantined and examined in greater detail.

Fighting Ebola: American argument against African travel ban

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In the wake of the revelation that the Dallas man infected with Ebola flew on United Airlines flights from Liberia to Liberia, more than a few people have seized on a blunt response: ban flights from West Africa.Texas Representative Ted Poe, a Republican, has written to the Centers for Disease Control asking it to recommend travel restrictions. Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, has called for a 90-day ban on travel from Ebola-touched countries to the U.S, Bloomberg Businessweekly reported.The White House is resisting those calls, and that’s the right thing to do. Restricting travel to and from the affected region will have little impact on the already minimal risk to Americans from the Ebola virus while further worsening the situation in West Africa. And the history of the global fight against infection has demonstrated that we shouldn’t raise the drawbridge or run away, but fight disease wherever we find it.Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infections. Quarantine was first used against the plague bacillus in 14th-century Europe. The case for plague quarantine was a lot stronger 600 years ago: It was pretty much the only potentially effective public health strategy at the time (neither prayer nor pogroms had the desired impact). The Black Death still exists—there were four casesof human infection in the U.S. in 2012—but we now have a vaccine against the disease. It can be treated with antibiotics, and sanitary and housing conditions in the 21st century are considerably higher than in Europe in the 1300s. The plague bacillus led to the deaths of tens of millions in the 14th century; it kills a few hundred people worldwide each year today. 

Whale who thought he could fly: Amazing moment humpback captured leaping out of water

October 3, 2014 Africa, Diaspora No Comments
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These jaw-dropping images show the moment a humpback whale leapt majestically from the ocean, ‘waving’ to a tourist boat before crashing back down with an almighty splash, the Daily Mail reports.
The photos, taken off the coast of South Africa by marine tour guide Steven Benjamin, captured a sight rarely seen at such close proximity.
The 40 ton humpback put on an incredible aerial display, soaring through the air just yards from a boat as shocked onlookers screamed.
The 31-year-old, who was documenting the migration of more than 1,000 whales from the coast of South Africa to the warmer waters of Mozambique and Madagascar, watched as the whale flopped around in the ocean.
Mr Benjamin thought the humpback’s show was over after 20 minutes hiding deep under water, but it suddenly lifted ts entire body out of the water, extending a fin to onlookers before slamming back down, creating a huge splash.
The giant creature was clearly having a whale of a time as the marine tour guide watched from the safety of a boat off Port St John, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
The spectacular display of strength and agility ‘blew away’ Mr Benjamin, who had never before managed to get so close to a humpback.
Mr Benjamin said: ‘Huge whale breaches like this are common to see quickly from a distance, but it is exceptionally rare to have it occur close to the boat and have the camera ready.
‘I got this shot out of sheer luck. We were focused on this whale whilst it was doing normal tail slapping and half head flops.
‘It took a rest for 20 mins and then without notice or warning, it did a single massive breach.’
He added: ‘I was stunned. I’ve never seen such a huge, front on and high breach like that. The whole boat erupted in screams as it landed.’
Mr Benjamin, from Cape Town, only started taking pictures of marine life six years ago.
The amateur snapper won his camera in a local photography competition, allowing him to capture bigger and better shots.
He added: ‘People can’t believe it’s a real image, everyone always looks twice and are blown away by it.’
The acrobatic animals can grow up to 50ft long, and have a reputation for throwing themselves out of the water despite weighing up to 40 tons.
Humpback whales were almost hunted to extinction during the 1960s, but a ban has allowed their global population to reach approximately 80,000.

Ebola-hit nations may ‘face collapse’

September 24, 2014 Africa, Diaspora No Comments
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The Ebola outbreak threatens to become a political crisis that could unravel years of effort to stabilize West Africa, a think tank has warned, the BBC reports.
“The worst-hit countries now face widespread chaos and, potentially, collapse,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.
The world’s largest outbreak of Ebola has caused 2,811 deaths so far, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The UN has warned that infections could treble to 20,000 by November.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said this could happen if efforts to tackle the outbreak were not stepped up.
Both Liberia and Sierra Leone are recovering from brutal civil wars and Guinea has faced coups and ethnic unrest.
“Adding social breakdown to the epidemic would create disaster perhaps impossible to manage,” the ICG statement said.

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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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Commentary

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.