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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.

Environment Minister Tours Lori; Promises to Get Tough on Violators

July 23, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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10:38, July 23, 2014

Yesterday, Armenian Minister of Nature Environment Aramayis Grigoryan toured Lori Province on a fact-finding mission. He visited the Tchotchkan tailings dam owned by Metal Prince Ltd. Hetq caught up with the minister and asked him some questions.

The recirculation system at the Tchotchkan tailings dam has been out of service for several years. Thus, toxic wastes are periodically flowing into the Debed River. What will your ministry do to resolve this matter?

We have conversed with management and they will be fulfilling their obligations in full in the future. Such problems will not occur. Toxic wastes will no longer flow into the river. We will apply tough penalties to remove any such risks. That’s the reason for us being here today; to see for ourselves and understand the situation. Area residents and environmentalists have expressed their concerns and the problem must be fixed.

Meet HIVE, the Armenian LinkedIn with a Powerful Twist

Armenian News

11:23, July 12, 2014

No Armenian online project in recent memory has generated as much global buzz as HIVE, a website launched earlier this year.

HIVE is the first virtual network designed specifically to accelerate the inception and growth of Armenian (and even part-Armenian) Internet startups. It enables them to pitch their ideas; matches them with advisors, mentors, and investors; and gives them opportunities to secure major funding.

Microwave helmet ‘can spot a stroke’

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Scientists say they have devised a helmet that can quickly determine whether a patient has had a stroke, the BBC reports.It could speed diagnosis and treatment of stroke to boost chances of recovery, the scientists say.The wearable cap bounces microwaves off the brain to determine whether there has been a bleed or clot deep inside.The Swedish scientists who made the device plan to give it to ambulance crews to test after successful results in early studies with 45 patients.When a person has a stroke, doctors must work quickly to limit any brain damage.If it takes more than four hours to get to hospital and start treatment, parts of their brain tissue may already be dying.But to give the best treatment, doctors first need to find out if the stroke is caused by a leaky blood vessel or one blocked by a clot.A computerized tomography (CT) scan will show this, but it can take some time to organize one for a patient, even if they have been admitted as an emergency to a hospital that has one of these scanners.Any delay in this “golden hour” of treatment opportunity could hamper recovery.To speed up the process, researchers in Sweden, from Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, have come up with a mobile device that could be used on the way to hospital.The helmet uses microwave signals – the same as the ones emitted by microwave ovens and mobile phones but much weaker – to build a picture of what is going on throughout the brain.Tests with an early prototype – a refashioned bicycle helmet – found it could accurately distinguish between bleeds (haemorrhagic stroke) and clots (ischaemic stroke), although not 100% of the time.They have since built and tested a custom-made helmet to better fits skulls of different shapes and sizes, and they have tested it out with the help of nurses and patients at a local hospital ward.Ultimately, they want to fit it into the pillow the patient rests their head on.The researchers say their device needs more testing, but could be a useful aid in the future.Doctors would probably still need to use other diagnostic methods too, they told Transactions on Biomedical Engineering journal.Investigator Prof Mikael Persson said: “The possibility to rule out bleeding already in the ambulance is a major achievement that will be of great benefit in acute stroke care.”Dr Shamim Quadir, of the UK’s Stroke Association, said: “When a stroke strikes, the brain is starved of oxygen, and brain cells in the affected area die. Diagnosing and treating stroke as quickly as possible is crucial.”While this research is at an early stage, it suggests that microwave-based systems may become a portable, affordable, technology that could help rapidly identify the type of stroke a patient has had, and get them treated faster.”By diagnosing and treating stroke as early as possible, we can minimize the devastating impact of stroke, secure better outcomes for patients and, ultimately, save lives. Time lost is brain lost.” 

Nasa reveals latest designs for Star Trek-style spacecraft that could make interstellar travel a reality

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Last month, Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan unveiled his next science-fiction blockbuster.Called Interstellar, it envisages a future where travel to other stars is not only a possibility but a necessity, and tasks actor Matthew McConaughey with leading the main mission.But a Nasa scientist claims such a mission isn’t necessarily just something reserved for science fiction – and has revealed a Star Trek-style ship that could make interstellar travel a reality.Dr Harold White is famous for suggesting that faster than light (FTL) travel is possible.Using something known as an Alcubierre drive, named after a Mexican theoretical physicist of the same name, Dr White said it is possible to ‘bend’ space-time, and cover large distances almost instantly.This, in essence, would allow a spaceship to travel almost anywhere in a tiny fraction of the time it would take a conventional spacecraft.The ship in Nolan’s Interstellar movie, as well as those in Star Trek, employ a warp engine.And, in a series of new renders, Dr White reveals how a real spacecraft dubbed the IXS Enterprise could do the same thing.
The images are based on the artist who created the original look for the famous USS Enterprise ship from Star Trek – Matthew Jeffries.To make the latest renders Dr White employed the help of artist Mark Rademaker and graphic designer Mike Okuda.Despite the speed of light being seen as an absolute, Dr White was inspired by Miguel Alcubierre, who postulated a theory that allowed for faster-than-light but without contradicting Einstein.Alcubierre’s theory was published in 1994 and involved enormous amounts of energy being used to expand and contract space itself – thereby generating a ‘warp bubble’ in which a spacecraft would travel.Allowing space and time to act as the propellant by pulling the craft through the bubble would be like stepping on an escalator.Despite Dr Alcubierre stating his theory was simply conjecture, Dr White thinks he and his team are edging towards making the realm of warp speed attainable.According to Gizmodo, their engine could get to Alpha Centauri in two weeks as measured by clocks on Earth.The process of going to warp is also one that is smooth, rather than using a massive amount of acceleration in a short amount of time.’When you turn the field on, everybody doesn’t go slamming against the bulkhead, which would be a very short and sad trip,’ Dr White said.However, Dr White admits his research is still small-scale and is light years away from any type of engine that could be constructed into a spaceship like the USS Enterprise.He has, however, laid out a road map with important milestones that will need to be met along the way to achieving true interstellar travel.This begins with tests on Earth to prove the technology is possible.These initial experiments are very crude and very basic – but, if proved, there is, in theory, no limit to how it can be applied.The next step will be to use the warp technology on a spacecraft and complete a short trip to the moon, followed by a trip to Mars.This would ultimately test the technologies that would be necessary to complete ‘jumps’ beyond the solar system and reach destinations in a matter of months, weeks or even days.The main limitation is energy – previously it was thought mass equivalent to a planet would be necessary to provide the energy required for a warp jump.But revised suggestions suggest mass similar in size to a car might be more realistic.The research has done enough to pique the interest of Nasa and other agencies.The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), for instance, is currently carrying out the 100-year-starship project with a view to sending humans outside the solar system at the turn of the next century. 

‘World’s smallest’ pacemaker fitted for first time in England

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The world’s smallest pacemaker has been fitted inside the heart of a UK patient, the BBC reports quoting medics as saying.
The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System was fitted for the first time in England at Southampton General Hospital.
Consultant cardiologist Prof John Morgan said the procedure was a “landmark moment”.
He said the device was “not much larger than an antibiotic pill” and was one tenth the size of traditional models.
Currently, pacemakers, which use electrical impulses to regulate the beating of the heart, are inserted under the skin and connected to the heart via a lead.
The lead carries electrical signals to correct slow or irregular heartbeats, but they can require replacement due to broken or dislodged wires.
The new device can be implanted directly in the heart and delivers electrical impulses from an electrode, removing the need for a lead.
Prof Morgan said: “In addition to the advantages of the device’s size and wireless technology, the procedure reduces the risk of infection and extended recovery time associated with traditional, more invasive surgical pacemaker implants.
“This a big step forward in patient treatment and a milestone for cardiac rhythm management in the UK.”

Computer AI passes Turing test in ‘world first’

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A computer program called Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, is said to have passed the Turing test at an event organized by the University of Reading.The test investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans.The experiment is based on Alan Turing’s question-and-answer game Can Machines Think?No computer has passed the test before under these conditions, it is reported.The 65-year-old Turing Test is successfully passed if a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.On 7 June Eugene convinced 33% of the judges at the Royal Society in London that it was human.Other artificial intelligence (AI) systems also competed, including Cleverbot, Elbot and Ultra Hal.Judges included actor Robert Llewellyn, who played an intelligent robot in BBC Two’s science-fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, and Lord Sharkey, who led the successful campaign for Alan Turing’s posthumous pardon, over a conviction for homosexual activity, in 2013.Eugene was created by Vladimir Veselov, who was born in Russia and now lives in the United States, and Ukrainian-born Eugene Demchenko, who now lives in Russia.Transcripts of the conversations are currently unavailable, but may appear in a future academic paper.The judges and hidden human control groups were kept apart throughout the test.The event was organized by Reading University’s School of Systems Engineering in partnership with RoboLaw, an EU-funded organization examining the regulation of emerging robotic technologies.Alan Turing was an English mathematician, wartime code-breaker and pioneer of computer science.The event has been labeled as “historic” by the organizers, who claim no computer has passed the test before.”Some will claim that the Test has already been passed,” said Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading and deputy vice-chancellor for research at Coventry University.”The words Turing test have been applied to similar competitions around the world. However, this event involved the most simultaneous comparison tests than ever before, was independently verified and, crucially, the conversations were unrestricted.”A true Turing test does not set the questions or topics prior to the conversations. We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing’s test was passed for the first time on Saturday.”Lord Sharkey, a leading expert in robotic technology and artificial intelligence, said: “It is indeed a great achievement for Eugene. It was very clever ruse to pretend to be a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, which would constrain the conversation. But these competitions are really great to push developments.” 

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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

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.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.