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‘Holy Grail’ of timepieces: Gold pocket watch so complex it features stars above Manhattan is set to sell for over £10m

October 21, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Technology No Comments
Armenian News

A watch said to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of timepieces and one of the most complicated ever made is set to go under the hammer for £10million next month.The Henry Graves Supercomplication timepiece, made by famed watchmaker Patek Philippe, is the most complex ever produced without the use of computer technology.The gold pocket watch was first commissioned in 1925 by banker Henry Graves Junior, who is considered the greatest watch collector of the 20th century, and was eventually delivered to him in 1933.The watch was also calibrated so that Mr Graves could tell the time based on the exact position of the sun at his New York home.The watch features 24 horological complications – or features. They include a perpetual calendar, moon phases, a power reserve and an exact replica of the night sky as seen from Central Park in Manhattan, showing the exact position and magnitude of stars across the Milky Way.Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Watches, and Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s Watch Division, said of the watch: ‘The list of superlatives which can be attached to this icon of the 20th century is truly extraordinary.’Indisputably the ‘Holy Grail’ of watches, The Henry Graves Supercomplication combines the Renaissance ideal of the unity of beauty and craftsmanship with the apogee of science.’The Graves watch retained the title of the world’s most complicated watch for 56 years and even then was only surpassed by technicians working with the aid of computer-assisted machines.In 1999 Sotheby’s sold the Graves watch for £6.8 million, breaking the record for the most expensive timepiece ever sold at auction.Next month, to coincide with Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary, the watch is again being auctioned in Geneva by Sotheby’s, who expect it to sell for over £10 million.A number of other Patek Philippe and Rolex watches will also be sold.Henry Graves was the son of Henry Graves Senior, a founder and partner in the Maxwell & Graves baking firm, and made millions of dollars in banking and the rail roads.As well as being an avid art collector, Mr Graves had a passion for fine watches, and was a patron of Patek Philippe.It was a competition with car manufacturer James Ward Packard, that saw him commission the Supercomplication pocket watch.In 1927 Mr Packard commissioned what he thought was going to be the most complicated watch ever made only be trumped by Mr Graves who spent almost five times as much having his own custom watch created.After Mr Graves death in 1953, the watch was held in the Museum of Time near Chicago from 1968 until December 1999 when it was sold by Sotheby’s to anonymous bidder in New York.Until Sotheby’s again announced it had the famed timepiece for sale, it had been on display at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. 
 
 
 

Many dead in collapse at South Korea 4Minute concert

October 18, 2014 Diaspora, Technology No Comments
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At least 16 people have been killed and 11 injured in an accident at a pop concert in Seongnam, south of Seoul in South Korea, the BBC reports, quoting officials as saying.
They say a ventilation grate collapsed and a group of concert-goers fell 10 metres (33ft) into an underground parking area.
The crowds had been watching an outdoor performance by the popular Korean girl band 4Minute and other bands.
The victims climbed on top of the grate to get a better view of the show.
Rescue workers warn that the death toll may rise.
“Twelve people were killed at the scene, two others died while they were being rushed to the hospital. Others are assumed to have passed away while receiving medical treatment,” a local fire official was quoted as saying by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
About 700 people were at the concert, part of a local festival being held at Pangyo Techno Valley, a multi-purpose complex for technology firms.
In the dense crowd, 20-30 people climbed on a grate over the deep ventilation shaft. Under their weight the grate gave way and the group fell through.
“I’m a bit shaken up but I’m OK. I was literally 20 ft away from where it happened. None of us knew what had happened. I was queuing up at the beer tent at the time. The concert had just started,” Ross Gibson, who lives in Seoul, told the BBC.
Another eyewitness told YTN news channel: “There was a sudden, loud screaming, and when I turned it looked as if people were being sucked down into a hole.”
The BBC’s Steve Evans in Seoul says the immediate task was to save the lives of the injured but that the accident may intensify a debate in South Korea about safety standards.
After the Sewol ferry sank six months ago, with the loss of more than 300 lives, many alleged that the country’s regulations had not kept pace with its rapid economic development.

World’s thinnest iPad: Apple unveils 0.2inch thick iPad Air 2 and retina iMac

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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Apple has unveiled a new ultrathin version of its iPad Air which the firm claims is the world’s thinnest tablet at 6.1mm, the Daily Mail reports.
It also revealed its Apple Pay system to turn the iPhone 6 into a credit card will launch on Monday.
The firm also unveiled a new iMac with the worlds highest resolution screen, and announced a new version of its Mac OS software, called Yosemite, will be made available for free today.
However, in an unusual gaffe, the firm leaked details of its two new iPads – the iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 – in an iOS 8.1 iPad user guide for iBooks on iTunes hours before the event.”It’s been an incredible year … but we’ve got a few more things to share with you,’ said Cook.
“The iPad is a simple and magical device, but while it has been beautifully simple on the outside, it has advanced technology jam packed on the inside,” he said.
“We have sold over 225 million iPads around the world,” Cook revealed, before announcing the iPad Air 2, which the firm claims isthe world’s thinnest tablet at 6.1mm thick.
It has a new chip, the A8X, 64-bit Processor – a new generation chip that is like the one in the iPhone 6 which is 40 per cent faster.
The gadget has a ten hour battery life, and a laminated screen with an anti-reflective coating, reduces reflections by 56 per cent. 
Read more on the Daily Mail website.

Polish Defense Firm Inaugurates Joint Venture In Armenia

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In a further boost to Polish-Armenian military cooperation, the Armenian Defense Ministry and a Polish defense company inaugurated on Thursday a joint venture in Armenia manufacturing protective equipment for armed forces.

The Lubawa-Armenia enterprise was officially launched in Charentsavan, a small town 40 kilometers north of Yerevan, in the presence of Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, his former Polish counterpart Bodgan Klich and senior defense industry executives from the two states.

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Armenia – Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian inspects a flak jacket manufactured by a Polish-Armenian joint venture in Charentsavan, 16Oct2014.

The company will use the technology and expertise of Poland’s Lubawa SA group to produce a range of protective gear such as army helmets, flak jackets, big and inflatable tents, camouflage netting and decoys. Ohanian was reported to say that these items will be supplied to the armed forces of not only Armenia but also other nations, possibly including members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

Bionic eye lets blind man see wife for the first time in 30 years

October 11, 2014 Diaspora, Technology No Comments
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As a large light is wheeled into the room, 66 year old Larry Hester’s face suddenly lights up and a huge smile spreads across his face.
The patient at Duke Eye Center in North Carolina is one of the first in the world to be given a bionic eye – and cameras were there to capture the moment he saw for the first time in 30 years, reports the Daily Mail.
As his wife rushed over to hug him, he told surgeons the good news, telling them ‘Yes! Oh my goodness, yes!’ moments after surgeon’s pressed a button, activating Hester’s newly implanted bionic eye.
On Oct. 1, 2014, Hester became only the seventh person in the United States to have a so-called bionic eye – an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device – activated as a visual aid to send light signals to his brain.
Paul Hahn, MD, a retinal surgeon at the Duke Eye Center, counted backward from three and pressed a button, activating Hester’s newly implanted bionic eye.
The device incorporates technology initially developed by researchers then at the Duke Eye Center; its sophisticated features were further enhanced and marketed by a company called Second Sight Medical Products.
Using wireless technology, a sensor is implanted in the eye to pick up light signals sent from a camera mounted on special eyeglasses.
Hahn implanted the sensor on Sept. 10, and activated the device on three weeks later – to the sheer delight of Hester and his family.

Global shares drop further on economy fears

October 11, 2014 Diaspora, Europe, Technology No Comments
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European and US stock markets have seen sharp falls as fears have deepened over prospects for the global economy, BBC News reported.London’s FTSE 100 share index fell 1.4% to 6,339.97, a 12-month low, as did Germany’s Dax. France’s Cac-40 fell to it lowest level in 2014.In the US, the Dow Jones erased its gains for the year, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbling more than 2%.Poor economic data from Germany this week has stoked fears that the eurozone could be heading for another recession.Oil prices also saw sharp falls, with the Brent crude price hitting its lowest level for nearly four years.After recording its biggest one-day fall of the year on Thursday, the Dow Jones dropped another 0.7% on Friday to close at16,659.25, losing all the gains it has made this year.The tech-heavy Nasdaq index slumped 2.3% to 4,276.24, led lower by semiconductor makers. Microchip Technology, which cut its sales forecast for the quarter and warned that declines could be expected across the industry, saw its share price fall by 12%.The broader S&P 500 index fell 1% to 1,906.13.
Read more on the BBC website. 

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.

Garlic injection could tackle tree diseases

October 8, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Technology No Comments
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Injecting trees with a concentrated form of garlic might help save trees in the UK from deadly diseases, the BBC reports.
Operating under an experimental government license, a prototype piece of technology to administer the solution is being trialled on a woodland estate in Northamptonshire.
Widespread use of the injection process is impractical and expensive.
But it could potentially help save trees of historic or sentimental value.
Garlic is one of nature’s most powerful antibacterial and antifungal agents.
It contains a compound called allicin, which scientists are interested in harnessing.
The experimental injection device is made up of a pressurized chamber and eight “octopus” tubes.
The pressure punches the solution through the tubes and through special injection units in to the tree’s sap system. The needles are positioned in a way to get allicin evenly around the tree.
The moment the active agent starts to encounter the disease, it destroys it. The poison is organic and isn’t rejected by the tree.
It is pulled up the trunk out along the branches and in to the leaves by the process of transpiration – the flow of water through a plant.
Tree consultant Jonathan Cocking is involved with the development and deployment of the treatment.
“Over the last four years we have treated 60 trees suffering badly with bleeding canker of horse chestnut. All of the trees were cured.
This result has been broadly backed up by 350 trees we have treated all over the country where we have had a 95% success rate.”
Oak trees with acute oak decline – which eventually kills the tree – have improved after being treated. In laboratory conditions allicin kills the pathogen chalara which is responsible for ash dieback.
The solution is made by a company in Wales. “Organic cloves of garlic are crushed,” said Mr Cocking, “and a patented method is used to amplify the volume of allicin and improve the quality of it so it is stable for up to one year. Allicin in the natural world only lasts for about 5-10 minutes.
If you go back to the tree the day after, and crush a leaf that is in the extremity of the crown, you can often smell the garlic.”
The goal is to get a commercial licence by the beginning of next year.
According to Prof Stephen Woodward, a tree expert at Aberdeen University: “The antibacterial properties of allicin are well-known in the laboratory. I have not heard of it being used in trees before, but yes this is interesting. It could work.”
However Mr Woodward cautioned about such methods of “biological control”. “Despite being plant-based that doesn’t mean it can’t harm an ecosystem. For example cyanide is plant-based.”
Many conservationists also caution against such drastic intervention. Dr Anne Edwards from the John Innes Centre was one of the first to identify ash dieback in a coppice wood in Norfolk.
She said that this treatment would not be effective for ash dieback: “In a woodland setting we really have to let nature take its course. It’s very depressing,” she explained.
The Woodland Trust also favours a different approach. The organization is investing 1.5m in a seed bank. The idea is to grow trees that are fully traceable and therefore free from foreign disease.
Austin Brady, director of conservation and external affairs, said: “Our native woodland needs to build its resilience to disease and pests. By starting from the beginning of the supply chain we can ensure that millions of trees will have the best possible chance of survival in the long term.”
In recognition of the threat posed by current and future tree and plant biosecurity, Defra recently appointed a Chief Plant Health Officer, and has earmarked 4 million for research in to treatments.

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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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.