Saturday, 29 November 2008
The main impediment to her return was an incident during Obama’s pre-election campaign, when Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a “monster”. She then resigned from Obama’s presidential campaign team.
However, according to the reports coming out from the US, Samantha Power is back on board of Obama’s foreign policy team. The Huffington Post reports:
“WASHINGTON — An adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign who was forced to resign earlier this year after calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Cllinton a "monster" is now working on the transition team for the agency Clinton is expected to lead.
State Department officials said Friday that Samantha Power is among a group of foreign policy experts that the president-elect's office selected to help the incoming administration prepare for Clinton's anticipated nomination as secretary of state. The Obama transition team's Web site includes Power's name as one of 14 members of the "Agency Review Team" for the State Department.
Clinton's role at State is expected to be announced after the Thanksgiving weekend. Power's apparent rehabilitation is another sign of that impending move.
Clinton's office declined to comment on Power's inclusion in the State Department transition, but an official close to the Obama transition team said Power had "made a gesture to bury the hatchet" with Clinton and that it had been well-received.
Power has been given an official State Department e-mail address and has been seen in the building, said the State officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the transition. A State Department spokesman referred questions to Obama's transition team, which later declined to comment.”
*photo - via Mail Online
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Here are some relevant world news headlines:
Lycos Europe admits defeat in search for investor
Lycos Europe Cries “Uncle!”
Lycos Europe to close portal, end Web hosting
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Monday, 24 November 2008
Taking into consideration that at the beginning of 2006 Armenia was included in the list of medium-income countries, and the assistance policy of the UK Department of International Development is mainly targeted at the implementation of programs in low-income countries, the UK Government has decided to suspend the assistance program to Armenia at the end of 2008.
“This was a joint humanitarian effort by an elite group of musicians who gathered at Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, London on July 8, 1989 for a project to raise money to help those affected by the Leninakan [Gyumri] Earthquake of 1988 that struck Armenia. Bryan Adams, Ritchie Blackmore, Bruce Dickinson, Keith Emerson, Ian Gillan, David Gilmour, John Paul Jones, Tony Iommi, Alex Lifeson, Jon Lord, Brian May, Adrian Smith, Paul Rodgers, Chris Squire and Roger Taylor.”
Saturday, 22 November 2008
On the other hand, Georgian entry was fun and very enjoyable. They were my favourites to win. They were simply brilliant. Congrats to them for well deserved win!! Everything was right with their entry, like it was with Armenian one a year ago when for the first time we participated in Junior Eurovision. I also liked Macedonian entry. Ukraine was not bad too. Btw, I loved that Armenia gave the highest 12 points to Georgia. Again, it was well deserved. Nice to see Russia’s 12 points to Georgia too.
Last year’s Armenian entry - Arevik band with Erazanq song, was a perfect Junior Eurovision entry. Only luck made Belarus win that year ahead of Armenia with only 1 point! Arevik’s song became big hit afterwards, and deservedly so.
With Monika Manucharova, it was a mistake, to put it mildly. Sorry, Monika, you are lovely girl, and I wholeheartedly wish you have successful career in whatever you choose to do, but this was not (and should not have been) your day. It’s not really her fault. I blame organisers and whoever was responsible for Armenian entry this year (Nadezhda Sargsyan & co?).
*photo - via Junior Eurovision Song Contest
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Writer Hrant Dink was the first victim, killed last year because some in Turkey could not tolerate what he stood for. To nationalists, he was a traitor.
In a country where every citizen is defined as a Turk, Hrant Dink defined himself as ethnic Armenian. That was already subversive to some. But Mr Dink went further.
He wrote about the expulsion and killing of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians from eastern Turkey in 1915. To Armenians, and others, that was genocide - a claim Ankara vigorously denies. [...]
In that battle for democracy, Hrant Dink was on the frontline. Now there is another sign the fight will be fierce.
Eighty ultra-nationalists are currently on trial just outside Istanbul, accused of plotting to overthrow the government and block democratic reforms.
The prosecutor claims the group - known as Ergenekon - planned a campaign of murder and violence. It was meant to create chaos - and force the military to step in and take control.
Hrant Dink believed Turkey could change. His vision was of a truly democratic republic and the EU accession process was a vital part of that.
To his widow, such change now looks a long way off.
"[Turkey] doesn't want people to express their ethnic identity, or live freely. That doesn't fit the founding ideas of this country,” Rakel says.
"Turkey needs time to adjust. The EU process may help, but my husband's death is their biggest loss."
*photo - AP, via BBC
Monday, 17 November 2008
New (old) kind of 'freedom' is establishing itself in Armenia - freedom from punishment for assaulting journalists. Impunity rules!
*news via A1+ and Hetq Online; video - via A1+
Thursday, 13 November 2008
I’ve been long in favour of a ‘shadow cabinet’ system (similar to the one operated in the UK by opposition parties) or something along the same line by its essence. It’s been a while that opposition hinted on the idea, and with this announcement on forming “specialised committees” it seems to me they are moving towards that direction, and aim to use the declared hiatus for organisational reforms and developments.
I’d like to see clear policy alternatives for all the important fields of life in Armenia, be that internal or external. I’d like to see people/teams responsible for those fields. These will be the policies and people who – in case of opposition coming to the power – will replace existing policies and people. This will help establishing new culture of transparency of political parties, minimise populism, and contribute to informed decisions made by the electorate, things which are lacking in current Armenia. Assuming, of course, that the policy recommendations (and specialised team members) will not remain ‘for internal consumption only’ but rather result in publicised policy formulations. Providing, of course, that the electorate will be able to exercise its election right which is lacking in current Armenia.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Women’s Resource Centre in Armenia organises march against violence against women on 25 November 2008.
For details - see Unzipped: Gay Armenia
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Keith Olbermann (American sportscaster, news anchor, and political commentator) delivers an amazing emotional Special Comment on the outcome of California's voting of "Proposition 8" which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry:
"This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives. [...]
I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.
If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry...black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are... gay. [...]
You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.
You don't have to help it, you don't have to applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too." More...
For more on this topic - see Unzipped: Gay Armenia
Sunday, 9 November 2008
BBC reports: Israeli police have had to restore order at one of Christianity's holiest sites after a mass brawl broke out between monks in Jerusalem's Old City.
Fighting erupted between Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Christ's crucifixion.
Two monks from each side were detained as dozens of worshippers traded kicks and punches at the shrine, said police.
Trouble flared as Armenians prepared to mark the annual Feast of the Cross.
Shocked pilgrims looked on as decorations and tapestries were toppled during Sunday's clash.
Dressed in the vestments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations, rival monks threw punches and anything they could lay their hands on.
The Greeks blamed the Armenians for not recognising their rights inside the holy site, while the Armenians said the Greeks had violated one of their traditional ceremonies. More...
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Among potential candidates for Obama’s foreign policy team is Samantha Power (i.e. her return after the resignation during the pre-election campaign when she called Hillary Clinton a “monster”).
Samantha Power is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and renowned anti-genocide and human rights activist. In 2004, Power was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 top scientists and thinkers of that year. She is pretty influential and considered as “pro-Armenian”. Turkey will certainly prefer to see her out of the team. In February 2008, Samantha Power has taped a “powerful 5-minute video reviewing presidential hopeful Barack Obama's support for Armenian issues, and encouraging Armenian Americans to vote for him in the upcoming primaries”, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
According to British sources, the Irish-born professor “was a key member of Obama's foreign policy team and one of his closest aides.” “If Obama makes it to the White House, Miss Power - who was cited by Men's Vogue as one of the most beautiful women in the world - was expected to take a crucial role in redefining the Anglo-American relationship.”
*photo - via Mail Online
Friday, 7 November 2008
Famous for both his honesty and his short temper, Isakhan Ashurov handles controversial cases that other lawyers either can't -- or won't.
BAKU -- Isakhan Ashurov is one of the most prominent defense lawyers in Azerbaijan, yet he has very few successful cases in his portfolio.
In fact, most of his clients are serving prison terms.
"The number of cases I have lost in Azerbaijani courts is not important to me," Ashurov says, "since I know the verdicts are decided before the cases have been launched."
What matters, he says, is “whether I am able to defeat the propaganda machine of the government and save the reputation of the person [I am defending], who is facing not only a corrupt court but also a mostly government-controlled media, which tries to justify the unfair court decisions. It is much more important to win the process, no matter what the sentence is." […]
Ashurov, 53, routinely receives death threats due to his choice of clients and his willingness to speak out.
A former police chief famous both for his honesty and his short temper, Ashurov has also become known as a critic of corruption in law enforcement, a stance also unlikely to win him many friends.
“Who likes Ashurov?" asks political analyst Hikmet Hajizadeh, director of the pro-democracy FAR Center. "Almost everyone does, except those who have heard from him the truth to their face. He is unlikely to compromise his principles. These days, there is a deficit of these type of people. But if we have too many Ashurovs, the system may collapse." […]
Angered Muslims, 'Betrayed' The Motherland
Ashurov recently took on two controversial, and challenging, cases.
In April 2007, he defended two Azerbaijani journalists, Rafiq Tagi and his editor, Samir Sadagatogulu, who were accused of insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad in an article titled "Europe and Us.” An Iranian ayatollah issued a fatwah against him. […]
In another media-freedom case, in May 2007, Ashurov defended Eynulla Fatullayev, editor of the Russian-language weekly "Realniy Azerbaijan." Fatullayev was accused of insulting the country's military forces by publishing an interview with an Armenian military officer, who accused Azerbaijani forces of responsibility for a 1992 massacre of hundreds of ethnic Azerbaijani civilians in the settlement of Khojaly during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Fatullayev was found guilty and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
He was subsequently sentenced by another court to eight years in jail on charges he incited terrorism by noting that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline could be targeted if Iran was attacked by the United States.
"April and May  were difficult," Ashurov recalls. "In one case, I had to face angry Muslims calling me a kafer [infidel] and accusing me of defending kafers. In another, a group of refugees, orchestrated by the government, called me a betrayer of the motherland for defending Eynulla Fatullayev."
A Man Of Integrity
Such insults against Ashurov amuse Chingiz Tanriverdiyev.
Tanriverdiyev served in the Azerbaijani police force for more than 20 years and first met Ashurov in 1978 when Ashurov was a police investigator in the district of Qazax, on the border with Georgia. Tanriverdiyev served under Ashurov when the latter became Qazax police chief in 1992, just as the war over Nagorno-Karabakh was escalating and many villages in the district were coming under fire.
Tanriverdiyev says Ashurov made it clear to his officers that he would not tolerate violence against civilians, regardless of their ethnicity.
"I remember his first conversation with us as police chief in 1992, when he said he wanted us to help restore the image of the police force," Tanriverdiyev says. "After the war started, he said he would punish anyone who harmed Armenian civilians. He would say, 'You fight against those who have arms.' "
Ashurov remembers the case in 1992 when one OMON special police officer brought him a "gift."
“It was a human ear in a cigarette pack," Ashurov says. "I found out that the officer had cut off the ear of an Armenian peasant and had brought the person, with his bleeding head, as a prisoner. He explained that this was the least he could do in return for what Armenian soldiers had done to Azerbaijani villagers. That was awful.
"I apologized to the peasant in front of the whole police staff. The person who did that was arrested, so no one would ever dare to think about harming civilians in retaliation for what the armed forces had done."
Even today, many citizens in Qasax say Ashurov's tenure as chief was the only period when they really respected the police.
"I remember that when we'd ask our children who they would like to be in the future, they would answer, 'I will be Ashurov,' " says Qazax resident Ilaha Gadimova. "Not the police, [but] Ashurov.” […]
photo - via RFE/RL
Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.
Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.
The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion. More...
Via E-channel: On November 5, early in the morning the US ambassador to Armenia was watching the results of the US presidential elections with her Armenian colleagues, political and public figures, and journalists. Ambassador Marie Jovanovitch expressed her congratulations to her fellow countrymen in relation with the election of the new president. Almost all the representatives of Armenian parties were pleased with the choice of Americans. According to them, the election of a black president is a good lesson of democracy and tolerance for the other countries. [Hopefully, they meant Armenia too]
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Today’s Zaman reports:
Democrat Barack Obama's landslide victory in the US election is a dream come true for most ordinary Turks, but it could mean more pressure on the government to speed up reforms for a better state of human rights in the country.
It is also likely to spell a definite end for the long-held Turkish policy of dealing with Armenian claims of genocide through counter-measures to suppress pro-genocide resolutions in Congress. [...]
Turkey has managed for decades to block Armenian efforts to win US recognition for genocide claims, but with the White House readying for an Obama era, it is high time for Ankara to promote a more comprehensive policy that goes far beyond addressing immediate challenges at the US Congress, experts say. Many fear that Obama’s use of the G-word in his next message for April 24 -- a traditional occasion when US presidents commemorate Armenians who perished in Anatolia in the last century -- could shatter Turkey-US ties and that following up on a recent drive for dialogue with Armenia might be the only way to save relations from a catastrophe.
“There is nothing to be afraid of; Turkey should trust itself. What needs to be done is further improving the relations with Yerevan and marginalizing the Armenian diaspora in the United States,” said Ömer Taşpınar, an expert on Turkey with the Washington-based Brookings Institution and a Today’s Zaman columnist. “By opening borders with Armenia and taking other appropriate steps, Turkey will have the trump card in its hands.”
President Abdullah Gül paid a landmark visit to Armenia in September, and officials of the two countries, which currently have no formal ties, have been having talks since then on normalizing relations.
Marc Grossman, a former US ambassador to Turkey, advised the Turkish government to keep improving ties with Armenia during a teleconference at the US Embassy in Ankara early on Wednesday. Dialogue and open borders with Armenia will give Turkey an advantage in discussing the issue with the Obama administration, he said.
Nimet Cubukcu, minister for women and family, claimed the programme's "smudge campaign" was timed to coincide with a report on Turkey's bid to join the EU. [...]
ITV spokeswoman Julia Fields said the documentary was justified.
"This is a valid area of public interest at a time when the UK government is endorsing the accession of Turkey into the EU, a process which is conditional in part on Turkey improving its human rights record with children."
Pictures from the ITV1 programme Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission, which were released earlier this week, showed Princess Eugenie crying after seeing the plight of abandoned youngsters at a centre in Istanbul.
Afterwards the princess said the experience had made her "so angry", and her "eyes had been opened".
She wore a disguise of a black wig and headscarf to visit a second home, the Saray institution near the Turkish capital, Ankara, where more than 700 disabled children are housed.
Inside, she and the reporting team found children tied to their beds or left in cots all day.
One child, who was not allowed outside, was discovered crawling along the corridor to feel the sun on his face.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The UK is aware of the human rights situation in Turkey and works bilaterally and together with EU partners to encourage key reforms in this area."
Also - here and here here
*In photo (via BBC) - The duchess disguised in a wig and headscarf
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Over the last decade, and especially last years, US reputation fell down below the lowest possible denominator. It became a bad tone to say "I am American". No longer. At least for now, for me it sounds more like a compliment. Now they may proudly say: "I am American".
I knew that November is going to be a special month for me. It indeed turned out to be very special for personal/professional reasons. It's now very special for the 4th November too, double, triple special. It feels great, inspirational.
Expectations are so high of him that chances to get disappointed are very high too. Beginning of new era, or so I hope.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Crazy as it sounds, losing the Armenian vote just might cost McCain the election.
*source: The Stiletto blog
(This political blog supports John McCain! As they explained, "The point of this post was to let the Repubs know that the actions they took a year ago came at a political cost, even though Armenians seemed small enough a group to screw over without any serious consequences.")
**via Armenians for Obama Facebook group
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Full text of the “Declaration” (in Russian)
I am afraid I do not share excitement of number of news agencies which specifically mention that for the first time in 14-15 years, Armenian and Azeri presidents signed under the “Declaration”. So what? There were always meetings and discussions on various levels, including presidents, over the past decade but nothing came out of the negotiations, for real. The only reason that today Armenian and Azeri presidents signed under the “Declaration” is because this was a meeting initiated by Russia, and (taking into account current geopolitical situation in the region) Russia had to show that it achieved some kind of ‘breakthrough’ even if there is none.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Personnel policy was one of the weakest sides of Ter-Petrosyan administration during his presidency. That was one of the reasons of subsequent disappointment of many of his supporters. I thought that they learned from their own mistakes, and professionalism will be put forward in any further considerations. I know less and cannot comment about Seda Safaryan (parliamentarian opposition Heritage party nominee). However, appointment of Andranik Kocharyan as opposition Armenian National Congress’s nominee for fact finding mission is a troubling sign. Is this the alternative to the current authorities that the opposition promises us?
Andranik Kocharyan was never famous neither for his professional qualities nor personal qualities while serving at various governmental levels in past. If he is the opposition’s choice for fact finding mission to investigate 1 March events, then there is something very wrong with that opposition. They should not then put the blame solely on the authorities for the possible failure of that mission. Disappointing altogether.