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Top Twitter Executive Visits Armenia

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Armenia – President Serzh Sarkisian (R) receives Twitter’s Vice-President Raffi Krikorian, Yerevan,17 April 2014.

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An Armenian-American vice-president of Twitter has met with President Serzh Sarkisian and held workshops in Yerevan during a weeklong visit to Armenia aimed at supporting its burgeoning information technology (IT) sector.

New PM promises to actively cooperate with IT sector

April 17, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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Armenia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan promised to actively cooperate with the country’s information technologies (IT) sector as he met with its leading representatives on Wednesday.

According to the government press service, during his meeting with representatives of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises, Abrahamyan said: “I am sure that it is important for our country, economy and civil society. Today is my third working day since the appointment and, as I attach importance to this sector’s future and its cooperation with the government, I intend to intensify our meetings and discussions and I am ready to hear your proposals and recommendations.”

Flights of fancy! Designer paints concept airplanes inspired by dinosaurs, dolphins and even chickens – but could they ever fly?

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From dinosaurs to dolphins and birds, one artist has been inspired by nature to create incredible images of concept airplanes.Alex Brady set out to create aircraft that look streamlined, futuristic and beautiful, but experts are not convinced that machines based on the designs would ever be able to fly.The ‘100 per cent whimsical’ drawings are also influenced by popular sci-fi films as Mr Brady, 31, from Cambridge, wanted to draw ‘instantly recognizable craft’ as iconic as Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise.While he has no background in aircraft design, Mr Brady has drawn jets for films and computer games that look like they could soar though the skies on other planets and in future times.‘They look like they might fly but are strange and silly,’ he told MailOnline.Among the creatures which Mr Brady has based his designs upon, are: Warthogs, zebras and woodlice, marine creatures like manta rays, dolphins and jellyfish, birds such as swifts and swallows as well as the pterodactyl, a new extinct ancient flying reptile.He set out to draw machines that also act as ‘characters’ because of their animalistic qualities and hopes one day to design futuristic transport full-time for films and games.‘I wanted them to look instantly recognizable and to make them look kind of friendly’ despite the fact that many war planes are built to kill people.He admits that he has never grown out of dinosaurs and is ‘stealing from the best’ that nature has to offer.‘You can’t come away from watching a David Attenborough documentary without thinking about how beautiful and interesting nature is. And I’d love cars and planes to be beautiful and sculptural – a little like yachts are. Not just about the function of sailing.’He said that Steve Wheeler particularly inspires him because of his work for film director Peter Jackson, models of sci-fi vehicles and writing as well as films such as Star Wars and author Iain M Banks.Mr Brady creates his amazing drawings by first making 3D models using computer software called 3D Studio Max.He then draws on top of them in Photoshop and said that while the technique allows him great accuracy in his work, there are also ‘happy accidents of the pen’ that gives his work impact and lets them flow.While some of the futuristic aircraft concepts certainly look like they can fly, Professor Ian Poll, of Cranfield Aerospace who is an expert in aerospace engineering and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is doubtful that the ideas would create a real flying machine.‘Birds and dinosaurs are nature’s ultimate evolved flying machines,’ he told MailOnlineHe said that Mr Brady’s art is fanciful and creative, but would probably not make for efficient aircraft built upon engineering knowledge.‘Birds and dinosaurs don’t have jet engines or propellers to accommodate and their propulsion is limited by bone and muscle – meaning that they have to flap – which is not very efficient at all.’Professor Poll explained that if you design an aircraft around a bird, the best thing you could come up with is a copy of a bird.‘If you design one around a jet or propeller you get something appropriate to the power those technologies generate and probably a large wing span for efficiency as well as a blended wing and fuselage (the aircraft’s body that holds the crew, passengers or cargo).He did concede that some of the designs look as if they do have wings and the body of the aircraft, which could help them to fly, but the circular design inspired by a jellyfish, which also looks like many popular visions of UFOs, is ‘out of the question’ in terms of engineering.‘It would be really inefficient and you would need a different kind of propulsion system [than currently used] to make it fly,’ Professor Poll said.However, he said that Nasa’s prototype X-48B craft – which is a blended wing body concept and a cross between a conventional plane and flying wing design – does bear some resemblance to some of Mr Brady’s designs.An expert at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: ‘Most [of the drawings] look pretty unlikely but there is a lot of academic research into bio-inspired designs of many things. There is a lot to be learnt from nature but it is a lot more complex that copying the shape.’

Armenia’s premier promises IT sector proposals on funded pensions

April 16, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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Armenian Premier Hovik Abrahamyan had a meeting with IT specialists on Wednesday.The Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) presented its stance on the “awkward” situation caused by the Constitutional Court’s ruling on funded pensions: if the government decides to take drastic measures, a number of companies will have to leave Armenia.Premier Abrahamyan promised to propose solutions and discuss the “funded pensions” issue” during the “second round,” UITE Executive Director Karen Vardanyan told Tert.am.“We described the situation, and the premier said he had to hold a number of meetings, the government would soon be formed and he would propose solutions.”Asked but the premier’s attitude to the funded pensions system, Vardanyan said, “I think he was quite positive.”“Our meeting was more a get-to-know meeting. We presented out stance, and he promised to think it over.” 

End of the road for ‘dirty’ fuels – UN

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A long awaited UN report on how to curb climate change says the world must rapidly move away from carbon intensive fuels, the BBC reports.
There must be a “massive shift” to renewable energy says the 33-page study released here in Berlin.
It has been finalized after a week of negotiations between scientists and government officials.
Natural gas is seen as a key bridge to move energy production away from oil and coal.
But there have been battles between participants over who will pay for this energy transition.
The Summary for Policymakers on mitigation paints a picture of a world with carbon emissions rising rapidly.
About half of all the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since 1750 has been emitted in the last 40 years.
Rates have been rising fast since 2000, despite the global economic crash.
The report points to an increased use of coal in the decade from the turn of the millennium , “reversing the longstanding trend of decarbonization of the world’s energy supply”.
Driven by a global increase in population and economic activity, global surface temperature increases will be between 3.7C and 4.8C in 2100 if no new action is taken.
This is way above the 2 degree level, regarded as the point beyond which dangerous impacts of climate change will be felt.
However, the scientists involved in the report say this situation can be turned around.
“It needs a big change in the energy sector, that is undoubtedly true,” said Prof Jim Skea, one of the senior authors of the study.
“One of the biggest areas that’s important is getting the carbon out of electricity, so renewable energy, nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, that’s all part of the menu if we are going to make the transition to stay under the 2 degree target.”
It is not a simple task. To be sure of staying below 2 degrees, the amount of carbon in the air needs to be around 450 parts per million by 2100. To get there, emissions in 2050 need to be 40-70% lower than they were in 2010.
The IPCC says that renewables are a critical part of that pathway.
Since the last report in 2007, the scientists say that renewable energy has come on in leaps and bounds.
In 2012, renewables accounted for just over half of the new electricity generation added around the world.
The scientists stress that renewables are becoming economically competitive with fossil fuels and also offer a range of other benefits, including clean air and energy security.
“It certainly is the end for carbon intensive fuels that’s for sure,” said Jennifer Morgan from the World Resources Institute, who was a review editor on one of the chapters of the IPCC report.
“There needs to be a massive shift away from fossil fuels and investment needs to shift to going 100% clean as fast as possible.”
One of the surprising endorsements in the report is natural gas.
“Emissions from energy supply can be reduced significantly by replacing current world average coal-fired power plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle power plants,” says the summary.
The report describes natural gas as a “bridge” technology with deployment increasing before peaking and falling below current levels by 2050.
However many of the scenarios examined by the panel would still involve an “overshoot” of the target range.
To cope with this the world may need to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Combining carbon capture and storage with bioenergy is seen as one potential solution, but the report is lukewarm on these ideas, saying the “methods are uncertain” and are “associated with risks”.
Timing is everything, say the scientists.
“Delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer-term emissions,” says the summary.

Amazon working on 3D smartphone

April 12, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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Amazon has recently been developing a wide-ranging lineup of gadgets—including two smartphones and an audio-only streaming device—to expand its reach beyond its Kindle Fire line of tablet computers, WSJ reported, citing informed sources.One of the devices is a high-end smartphone featuring a screen that allows for three-dimensional images without glasses, these people said. Using retina-tracking technology, images on the smartphone would seem to float above the screen like a hologram and appear three-dimensional at all angles, they said.
Users may be able to navigate through content using just their eyes, two of the people said.
See more here.

Source: TertOriginial Article

USA: H-P To Pay $108 Million In Bribery Case Settlement

April 10, 2014 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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19:10, April 10, 2014

Hewlett-Packard (H-P), the American multinational information technology corporation, has agreed to pay US$ 108 million to resolve a government investigation into possible bribery in some of its foreign units.

HP Headquarters in Palo Alto, California

 The four-year investigation by the United States’ Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) examined events that occurred between 2000 and 2010 in HP units in Russia, Poland and Mexico. 

The company pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to the facts laid out by the government. 

Polish prosecutors accused an HP executive in that country of having paid more than US$ 500,000 in bribes to obtain contracts for computer equipment for Polish police. 

Constitutional Conundrum: Employers in limbo after Court’s decision on pension law

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Armenia’s pension reform that has been designed by the government as a means to ensure decent retirement for senior citizens in a couple of decades has created a headache for many employers in the country today.

Many of them do not know how to behave – should they make five-percent deductions from their employees’ salaries and transfer them to corresponding accounts or meet the requests of their workers not to do so.

This situation stems from last week’s ruling by the Constitutional Court that recognized such deductions as unconstitutional since they violate people’s property rights. On the other hand, the Court effectively suspended the invalidation of the law provisions recognized as unconstitutional, giving the government and the legislature until the end of September to make amendments.

"10 Years Ago, Three Innocent, Bright Kids Were Sentenced": Attorney Wants to Reopen Case

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12:40, April 4, 2014

Almost 10 years ago, three young men, Artur Kocharyan, Avetik Tumanyan, and Suren (Surik) Zobanyan (then 19 years old), charged with the murder of fellow military conscript Artur Mesropyan, were sentenced to prison, where they have been all this time. To this day, they and their parents insist they are innocent and were framed. The evidence is scant, to say the least. Hetq recently begun investigating the case, speaking to the families and the attorneys involved to uncover the details of this story. This is the fourth in a series of articles on this case; the last article can be read here.  

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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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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.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

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Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.