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Toyota raises full-year profit forecast

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Japan’s biggest car manufacturer, Toyota, has raised its full-year profit forecast by 12.4%, citing a weaker yen and cost cutting efforts, the BBC reports.It has also raised its sales forecast for its key market of North America, where it has been enjoying a strong performance.The firm said net profit may reach as much as 2tn Japanese yen ($17.5bn; £10.96bn) for the year to March 2015.The carmaker’s earlier forecast was for a net profit of 1.78tn yen.Toyota’s executive vice president, Nobuyori Kodaira, said the firm had also raised its forecasts for operating profit and revenue for the period.”We are revising our operating income forecast upwards by 200bn yen to 2.5tn yen,” he said.He said this reflected the progress made on marketing and in reducing costs, and also the change in foreign exchange rates.Toyota also reported results for the six months to September, with net profit up 12.6% to 1.12tn yen.The carmaker said its vehicle sales for the period had fallen in Asia, including in Japan, but had increased in North America and Europe.The net profit figure includes profits made with the firm’s joint venture partners in China: China FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group.The Japanese firm said its vehicle sales in North America had come to 1,395,105, up from 97,061 a year ago, but that in Japan, vehicle sales had decreased by 70,977 to 1,030,229.The news follows results from Toyota’s rival Nissan, which reported on Tuesday a 25% increase in half-year profits.Like Toyota, Nissan said strong sales in its key market of North America had helped to offset weaker demand in some other markets. 

Harrods Wendy house that costs the same as real home in blackburn: £85,000 ‘room for princess’ comes with satin curtains

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The turrets are made from hand-beaten copper and the fleurs-de-lis finials on the roof have been expertly carved from the finest tulipwood, the Daily Mail reports.Clearly no expense has been spared to create this luxury home, designed for a little girl with big dreams – and indulgent parents.For, the ‘Room for a Princess’ is not your average property. It’s actually a children’s playhouse on sale at Harrods – and at £85,000, it costs the same as a real house elsewhere in the country.Currently available for £85,000 is a two-bedroom semi-detached house in Blackburn, a two-bedroom flat in Plymouth and a three-bedroom cottage in south Lanarkshire.The playhouse is designed as a dressing-up room and has been made by Northamptonshire-based firm The Master Wishmakers. It took a team of six craftsmen ten weeks.The playhouse’s main structure is tulipwood – a lightweight wood from North America – but the floor is decorated with marquetry, painstakingly put together using American walnut, maple and oak. Inside, there’s a heavy satin curtain with gold braiding.Harrods says the dressing room has attracted numerous expressions of interest from clients in the Middle East, as well as celebrities and royals, since going on sale a month ago, although it refused to say how many – if any – have actually been sold.Nino Rosella, of The Master Wishmakers, said: ‘We specialise in the outrageous and the fantastical.‘Nothing is too unusual for us to take a stab at making – as long as it’s scientifically possible, we’ll build it. And we guarantee never to make the same item more than once.‘We have built three-storey treehouses which are insulated, with heating, running water and one even had a cinema room.’The company’s most ambitious project to date is Challis Island, a pirate-themed Caribbean island with a lagoon nestling in a lake within 60 acres of English countryside. 
 
 
 
 
 

Genocide conference in Romania held despite Turkish protests

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By Harut Sassounianwww.TheCaliforniaCourier.comI just returned home from two hectic weeks of travel. First, I participated in the Armenia-Diaspora Conference in Yerevan, where I co-chaired a panel on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, and spoke in two other panels proposing the formation of a democratically elected Diaspora-wide structure to represent the seven million Armenians residing outside of Armenia and Artsakh.I then flew to Bucharest, Romania, to join scholars, activists, journalists and clergy from a dozen countries in the first-ever international Armenian Genocide conference.The always vigilant Turkish Ambassador to Romania went to great lengths to undermine not only the Armenian Genocide conference, organized by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Romania, but also the inauguration of a Khachkar or Cross Stone dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.Turkish Ambassador’s efforts failed miserably as the Khachkar was inaugurated as scheduled on Sept. 26, and both the Vice Mayor of Pitesht and Governor of Arjesh attended the ceremony along with other Romanian dignitaries and Genocide conference participants. In fact, when the Ambassador objected to the inauguration of the Khachkar, the Mayor of Pitesht sharply rebuked him by telling him that he has no right to interfere in the internal decisions of a Romanian city!The Turkish Ambassador next tried to block the international Armenian Genocide conference. Turkey has a major influence over Romania due to a large amount of trade between the two countries. The Ambassador must have been particularly upset by the fact that the Romanian government was funding the Genocide conference. Fortunately, the Ambassador could not disrupt the conference which was held as planned. It was attended by specialists from Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Iran, Lebanon, Romania, Syria, and the United States.The only surprise was the location where the conference participants were staying. As I walked into the Tempo Hotel lobby, I noticed that there were several Turkish newspapers, including Zaman (in Romanian!), on a rack next to the front door. Upon further inspection, I discovered a brochure that described the hotel as being owned by Muslim Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gulen! Even though the hotel was conveniently located just one block from the Armenian Church headquarters in Bucharest, where the conference was being held, some of the Armenian participants felt uncomfortable staying in a Turkish hotel. We wondered how the Turkish hotel owners felt, after discovering that they housed scores of Armenian genocide specialists from around the world!Curious as to what was being discussed at the conference, the Turkish Embassy had sent two of its employees to take notes which the Turkish Ambassador must have dutifully forwarded to Ankara. Fortunately, there were no unpleasant incidents. The two Turkish diplomats kept a low profile and did not attempt to disrupt the conference. Likewise, none of the Armenian participants attempted to interfere in the work of the Turkish Embassy officials.In addition to the lecture I delivered at the conference on the subject of “Genocide Recognition or Quest for Justice,” I had the pleasant task of introducing two of my books on the Armenian Genocide in Romanian translation, which were just published by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Romania. The first book is a collection of one hundred of my columns published in recent years in The California Courier and other newspapers. The 400-page book is titled, “One hundred columns on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.” My second book, “The Armenian Genocide, Documents and Declarations, the World Speaks Out, 1915-2015,” was also published by the Armenian Diocese in Romanian translation.Both the Diocese and the Armenian community leaders have an active publication program, having translated into Romanian many important books on the Armenian Genocide, despite the dwindling of the Armenian community due to waves of exodus to Western Europe and North America.There are two prominent Varujans in the local Armenian community. The first is Senator Varujan Vosganian, President of the Armenian Union of Romania, and Vice President of the Writers Union of Romania. He is a former Minister of Economy and Trade and author of a widely read autobiographical novel on the Armenian Genocide. The second is Varujan Pambuccian, Parliament member and President of National Minorities represented in the Romanian Parliament.Many of the scholars were in Romania for the first time. They pledged to support the local community’s efforts, particularly on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. 

Ford recalls cars with airbag fault

September 28, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, North America No Comments
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US car giant Ford has said that it is recalling about 850,000 cars in North America over a “potential issue” with airbags, BBC News reported.The carmaker said a glitch could cause a short circuit that may mean airbags do not deploy properly in the event of a crash.The vehicles affected include some 2013-14 C-MAX, Fusion, Escape and Lincoln MKZ models.
Ford said it was not aware of any injuries caused by the problem, adding that dealers would fix it for free.About 745,000 of the recalled vehicles are in the US, 82,000 are in Canada and 20,000 in Mexico.
Last weekend, rival General Motors recalled more than 220,000 cars over a brake defect, bringing the number of cars it has recalled this year to more than 15 million

US: 27 Years Prison Sentence For ‘King Of Pot’

August 26, 2014 Armenia, North America No Comments
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22:10, August 26, 2014

A New York federal court has sentenced Jimmy Cournoyer, a 34-year-old Canadian citizen known as the “King of Pot”, to 27 years in prison. Prosecutors said that Cournoyer’s criminal network distributed at least $1 billion in illegal drugs over his 14-year career.

The CanadianNational Postreports that throughout that career, Cournoyer smuggled an estimated 109 tons of marijuana into the United States.

Cournoyer was sentenced on Aug. 20. He pled guilty to leading a criminal enterprise; conspiracies to manufacture, import and distribute marijuana; conspiracies to export and distribute cocaine; substantive cocaine distribution and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of narcotics trafficking, according to theUS Department of Justice.

His Montreal-based drug distribution organization had ties with the Rizutto and Bonanno crime

Dinosaurs’ extinction attributed to ‘bad luck’

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Dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact when they were at their most vulnerable, BBC News reports, citing a new study.Dr Steve Brusatte, of Edinburgh University, said sea level rises and volcanic activity had made many species more susceptible to extinction.
They might have survived if the asteroid had hit the Earth a few million years later or earlier, he said, calling it “colossal bad luck”.
The assessment has been published in the journal, Biological Reviews.
“It was a perfect storm of events that occurred when dinosaurs were at their most vulnerable,” Dr Brusatte told BBC News.
The study brought together 11 leading dinosaur experts from the UK, US and Canada to assess the latest research on the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
There is evidence that some species of dinosaur were dying off shortly before an asteroid hit the Earth.
One of the key questions was whether this gradual decline would have led to the extinction of these animals even if the asteroid had not hit.
The experts concluded that although some species of plant eaters in North America were dying out in the period leading up to the asteroid impact there was no evidence of a long-term decline.
However, the experts believe that rises in sea level and increased volcanic activity made many species more susceptible to extinction just at the point that the asteroid struck.

Global private wealth hits $152tn

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The amount of private wealth held by households globally surged more than 14% to $152 trillion (90tn) last year, boosted mainly by rising stock markets, the BBC reports.
Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, led the surge with a 31% jump to $37tn.
The number of millionaire households also rose sharply, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.
The report takes into account cash, deposits, shares and other assets held by households. But businesses, real estate and luxury goods are excluded.
“In nearly all countries, the growth of private wealth was driven by the strong rebound in equity markets that began in the second half of 2012,”the firm said in its report.
“This performance was spurred by relative economic stability in Europe and the US and signs of recovery in some European countries, such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal.”
The amount of wealth held in equities globally grew by 28% during the year, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said.
Economies in Asia have been key drivers of global growth in the recent years. And households in the region have benefitted from this growth.
Within the region, China has been the biggest driver – with private wealth in the country surging more than 49% in 2013.
High saving rates in countries such as China and India has also been a key contributing factor to this surge.
The wealth held in the region is expected to rise further, to nearly $61tn by the end of 2018.
“At this pace, the region is expected to overtake Western Europe as the second-wealthiest region in 2014, and North America as the wealthiest in 2018,” BCG said.
The pace of wealth creation in China was also evident in the growth in the number of millionaire households – in US dollar terms – in the country, rising to 2.4 million in 2013, from 1.5 million a year ago.
Overall, the total number of millionaire households in the world rose to 16.3 million in 2013, from 13.7 million in 2012.
According to the report, private wealth in:
• North America rose by 15.6% to $50.3tn
• Western Europe, which includes UK, Germany and France, rose by 5.2% to $37.9tn
• Eastern Europe, which includes Russia, Poland and Czech Republic, jumped by 17.2% to $2.7tn
• Latin America rose by 11.1% to $3.9tn
• Middle East region increased by 11.6% to reach $5.2tn

Invention of ‘pizza cake’ signals new dawn for mankind

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A North American pizza chain has asked its customers to vote for their favorite from a catalogue of wacky pizza innovations, the Metro reported.The long list of entries includes a pizza-shaped shirt pocket, a pneumatic pizza cutter and of course the aforementioned seven-layered phenomenon of bread, tomato and melted cheese.But as much as we’d all love to see this fantastical pizza of wonder take shape, there do seem to be a few practical issues.See more here. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

US: Cartels In Mexico Partner With California Street Gangs

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11:21, March 26, 2014

Drug cartels in Mexico are working with California street gangs to sell drugs and settle scores, according to a new report that highlights an increasing trend of cooperation among violent criminal groups.

The report issued by California’s Attorney General, entitled Gangs Beyond Borders (pdf), lists several examples of cooperation, including a 2011 case in which La Familia Michoacana, a brutal cartel that has since splintered, contracted a US-based prison gang called the Mexican Mafia to distribute and sell methamphetamines in Southern California under an agreement dubbed “The Project.”

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

According to the report, alliances between cartels and street gangs are mutually beneficial: the cartels coordinate the movement and sale of drugs in the United States without ever stepping foot on US soil, and the street gangs bypass mid-level wholesale dealers and gain a higher percentage of the profits.

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CNN International Explores the Secrets of Armenia’s Stone Henge

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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

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

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.