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US tightens sanctions against Russia

September 13, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Technology No Comments
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The US government has imposed new sanctions on major Russian banks, defence and energy companies, BBC News reported.
The measures are part of a joint effort with the European Union aimed at punishing Russia for what they say is its military intervention in Ukraine.
They come despite a fragile ceasefire holding in the east of the country.
The Russian foreign ministry denounced the new sanctions as “another hostile step in line with the confrontational course” taken by the US .
“Of course, our retaliatory measures will not keep you waiting,” it said.
The sanctions announced on Friday mean that US citizens will not be able to provide loans lasting longer than 30 days to Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank.
They will also affect Rostec, a major technology and defence firm, and technology for Russia’s oil industry.
Read more on the BBC website.

Nicole Kidman’s father ‘collapsed and died in Singapore hotel restaurant’ in front of shocked guests minutes after his exercise

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Nicole Kidman’s father died of a heart attack inside a Singapore hotel restaurant shortly after completing his morning exercise, the Daily Mail reports.The Sydney psychologist is believed to have collapsed when he was inside the Wheelhouse restaurant at the Tanglin Club – a private hotel he had been staying at while visiting his daughter Antonia and six grandchildren.A doctor and guests at the hotel who were present tried to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived and he was taken to hospital, The Straits Times reported.Police confirmed that a man in his 80s died at Tan Tock Seng Hospital about 10am and were now investigating the exact cause of death.A friend of the family earlier confirmed that he had suffered a fall, but did not know any other details.Nicole’s publicist and long-time friend of the Kidmans, Wendy Day, told Daily Mail Australia that the ‘family is in shock and is grieving’ and is yet to make any statement regarding the well-respected Sydney psychologist’s death.Dr Kidman was visiting his daughter, Antonia, and his grandchildren who live in Singapore and suffered the fall after eating breakfast.’The family is in shock and is grieving…I think that some time and privacy is needed to deal with this shock and tragedy,’ she said.She confirmed that Dr Kidman suffered a fall in a hotel room in Singapore, but that was all the information she had at hand.A hospital source was reeling from the shock of the news. ‘We don’t know how to deal with this at the moment or how to digest the fact he’s gone,’ the source told News Corp Australia.Dr Kidman was a clinical psychologist at Royal North Shore Hospital and a director of health psychology at the University of Technology Sydney.UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said in a statement that Dr Kidman contributed a lot as a colleague and a researcher during his 43 years of service.’It is with great sadness that we learn of Dr Tony Kidman’s sudden passing. During his 43 years at the University of Technology, Sydney, Tony has contributed greatly – as a colleague, as a researcher, and as a health practitioner,’ he said in a statement.’Tony will be missed by all at UTS. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.’The Royal North Shore Hospital was not immediately commenting on Dr Kidman’s death, while a woman at the Kidmans’ home declined to comment when approached by Daily Mail Australia.She said she didn’t feel ‘comfortable’ saying anything to the media yet.A Sydney business owner known to the family, said: ‘The Kidman family are regular customers for our shop.”With respects to the family, we are not really comfortable with commenting on what has happened to Antony.’A police spokesperson told Reuters they were investigating the death as ‘unnatural.’He declined to give details, but the term ‘unnatural death’ in Singapore often refers to falls or other accidents.Network Ten reported earlier that Dr Kidman was visiting Nicole’s younger sister Antonia who lives in Singapore with her husband Craig Marran and her six children.As well as his work as a clinical psychologist, he has done research into the psycho-social impact of diseases, including breast cancer.He also ran community service seminars on aspects of mental health, was a regular speaker on radio and television and wrote for academic journals and the general public.He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2005 for his contributions to clinical psychology.The family was last seen together in Sydney back in January for Dr Kidman and his wife, Janelle’s 50th wedding anniversary.In June this year, a beaming Nicole Kidman, 46 walked the red carpet with her father and husband Keith Urban at the Swisse Celebrate Life Ball in Melbourne.In one of his last public statements, Dr Kidman wrote of the pointless pursuit of happiness.In the article titled ‘Forget happiness, search for meaning’, Dr Kidman wrote about the importance of striving for achievable goals in life, with a focus on being contented with what you have rather than on a life of material wealth. 

SanDisk SD memory card ‘largest ever’

September 12, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Film, Technology, Video No Comments
Armenian News

Memory specialist SanDisk has created an SD card with 512 gigabytes (512GB) of storage space – the highest capacity ever released, the BBC reports.
The card, which is the size of a postage stamp, will go on sale for $800 (490).
The launch comes a decade after the firm released a 512-megabyte (MB) SD card with one-thousandth of the space.
Experts believe SD cards could eventually hold up to 2 terabytes (TB) of data, about 2,000GB.
The new card is aimed at film-makers shooting in the high-quality 4K format.
The 4K format – which is four times the resolution of HD – requires large file storage. Depending on compression, a single minute of 4K shooting will typically take around 5GB of storage space.
“4K Ultra HD is an example of a technology that is pushing us to develop new storage solutions capable of handling massive file sizes,” said Dinesh Bahal, vice-president of product marketing at SanDisk.
The SD card format is one of the most widely used standards of flash storage, popular with digital cameras, camcorders and other mobile devices.
While camera types, resolutions and settings vary – a 512GB card could potentially hold around 30 hours of HD video.
John Delaney, a senior mobile analyst from IDC, said innovation in physical storage was critical to the future of our devices – even if a lot of people are turning to cloud storage instead.
“The thing that is driving cloud storage is multiple devices usage – which solves the, ‘Where’s my stuff?’ problem: if you use cloud storage for everything, whatever device you have with you can be used to access your content.”
But he added: “So far there’s still a strong preference for local storage.
“People just feel more in control and more able to rely on being able to access the content when they literally know where it is.
“Storing in the cloud means you literally don’t know where it is.”
Mr Delaney added that recent high-profile security issues around cloud storage – such as the celebrity picture leak last week – would play on the minds of consumers.

Repair Work on Yerevan to Dilijan Tunnel Road Nearly Complete

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14:04, August 26, 2014

Repair work on the Yerevan to the Dilijan tunnel section of the M4 (the main road running from Yerevan to Sevan to Ijevan to the Azerbaijan border) that commenced on July 16 is near completion, reports the Armenian Ministry of Transport and Communication. The work is expected to be completed by the end of August as planned.

Construction work on 6 kilometers of the 7-km and 480-m section of the road has already been completed. The road repair work is conducted using new technology, the ministry reports [AM], as a result of which the new road will be more lasting and of better quality.

Also being carried out is repair and restoration work on the water drainage system, exit ramps, retaining walls, and bridges.

World’s first ‘smartphone’ celebrates 20 years

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Never judge a phone by its cover. This chunky, black box was in fact the world’s first ‘smartphone’.The IBM Simon went on sale to the public on 16 August 1994 and combined mobile phone technology with a wide range of computing features, the BBC reports. To mark the 20th anniversary, London’s Science Museum is putting it on display in its new Information Age gallery.”The Simon wasn’t called a smartphone back then,” said curator Charlotte Connelly.”But it had a lot of the features we see today. It had a calendar, it could take notes and send emails and messages and combined all of this with a cell phone.”Weighing in at 500g (1.1lb), the Simon was not exactly pocket-sized. However, Ms Connelly insisted the design was ahead of its time.”It looks like a grey block but it’s not as big as you’d imagine,” she said. “It had a stylus and a green LCD screen, which is similar in size to the iPhone 4. In fact, it’s not a bad looking thing.”IBM’s pioneering product was also the first mobile phone to feature software apps and could be linked up to a fax machine.It was only available to customers in the United States, operating within a 15 state network and sold around 50,000 models.The device was particularly popular with members of the business community, who craved a transportable phone that doubled up as a mini-computer.However, a hefty price tag and limited battery life contributed to its eventual disappearance from the market around two years after its launch.”It only had an hour’s battery, it was $899 and there was no mobile internet at the time. So it wasn’t very successful,” said Ms Connelly.The Simon will go on display this October as part of the Information Age exhibition – the first permanent gallery in the UK dedicated to the history of communication and information technology.More than 800 objects will be on display, illustrating how far communication has come over the past 200 years.Ms Connelly said the exhibition also acts as a reminder of a different era, free from constant connectivity.”It does remind us of that time. I definitely enjoy getting away from things and deliberately disconnecting myself,” she said.”There’s something quite nice about that.”

Public Hearings Scheduled on Controversial Syunik Mine: Company Partially Owned by Adviser to Armenian Prime Minister

August 14, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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14:40, August 14, 2014

Public hearings are scheduled for August 21 regarding plans to operate an open pit gold and silver mine in the country’s southern Syunik Province.

The hearings will take place at the 4pm at the Tashtoun Village Municipality.

Hetq has learnt that Hamlet Hovsepyan, currently employed as an adviser to Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, owns a sizeable portion of shares in AT Metals Ltd., the company that is planning to operate the mine

The planned mine is a mere five kilometers from the villages of Litchk and Tashtoun. It will encompass some 73 hectares, 33.5 of which will be used to dump wastes, and will operate for seven and a half years.

BP sees profits rise but warns of Russia sanctions risk

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BP has warned that further sanctions against Russia could affect its business as it posted a rise in second quarter profits, the BBC reports.BP said that sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis have not affected the oil giant so far, but could do so in the future.The warning came as European ministers were due to meet to discuss bolstered measures against Russia.Sanctions “could adversely impact our business”, BP said.BP has around a 20% stake in Russian energy giant Rosneft.”Any future erosion of our relationship with Rosneft, or the impact of further economic sanctions, could adversely impact our business and strategic objectives in Russia, the level of our income, production and reserves, our investment in Rosneft and our reputation,” BP said.The company’s second quarter replacement cost profits, which strip out volatility in oil prices, were $3.2bn (£1.9bn), up from $2.4bn in the same period last year.”I think in the short term they’ll be looking in particular at the effect [sanctions are] going to have on technology transfer to Russia,” said Russian oil economy expert John Lough.”But I think, more broadly, this is of course a cloud on the horizon for BP, because the crisis in Ukraine seems to be escalating rather than de-escalating,” he told the BBC. 

Armenia Develops Solutions To Prevent Cross-Border ‘Saboteur Raids’

Armenia has been putting in place ‘engineering facilities’ along with other measures to prevent attempts by Azerbaijani sabotage groups to infiltrate into its territory, according to Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday Ohanian acknowledged, however, that advanced systems are not available at all sections of the border with Azerbaijan, especially in the areas where they would be exposed to enemy fire.

Installing such expensive security equipment at sections exposed to constant ceasefire violations is simply not expedient, the minister explained.

But there is an opportunity to install security systems “where there is no immediate aggressiveness of the enemy and where the positions of the sides are far apart” so as to also ensure the expensive equipment does not get damaged or destroyed, he added.

OCCRP And Google Ideas Host Inaugural London “Investigathon”

July 23, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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18:08, July 23, 2014

The power of technology and journalism were put on display on July 14 in London. OCCRP, in partnership with Google Ideas, brought together nearly one hundred journalists, programmers, researchers and others in a day-long “Investigathon.”  The event was both a seminar in new investigative research tools and a group investigation into UK-based company’s potential involvement in billions of dollars in money laundering activities. Scott Carpenter, deputy director of Google Ideas, opened the event.

Dan Russell, a research scientist at Google, taught attendees how to use Google’s lesser known advanced search tools in investigations. In a simple example, he combined a photo he took of a caterpillar with a text-based search to discover in a matter of moments whether the larva was dangerous.

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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

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.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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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.