Friday, March 24, 2006

Turkish Defense Minister Protest

So today there was a protest at the Beverley Hills Hotel, who under the Los Angeles World Affairs Council invited the Turkish defense minister, Vecdi Gonul. The protest was put on by the AYF, and there were up to 150 people outside. Protests don't appeal to me too much, I rather find a better way of being productive, so I decided to purchase a ticket and see the guy speak. The Beverley Hills Hotel was very nice, the food interesting, but most of all the people were really worth shoving the 55 bucks to get in. There are a lot of professionals that attend these events, and I ended up schmoozing on behalf of my fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Omega (Armenian fraternity). However, there were a lot of Turks in the crowd, including our table.

The minister was a so-so speaker, his english wasn't too good and his style was dull. He talked about Turkey's position in Eurasia and it's relationship with the United States, European Union, etc.. He outlined major points of Turkish policy that mirror American foreign policy (coincidence?). So anyways, on to the good part.. the question and answer session. The first person to ask a quesiton on the Genocide was actually an American lady (I had a brief but pleasant conversation withe her outside, really impressed me about how much she knew about the denial). The defense minister replied in the usual Turkish propaganda about denying the genocide and eventually one Armenian in the crowd yelled out "liar" and walked out. On the after the speech.. the protest..

Ok, so when I arrived there were about 100-150 protesters but when I came out the number dropped to around 30-50. I was talking with them, briefing them on what happened, and a thought occured to me, why weren't these protesters inside? In fact, why weren't a lot of Armenians inside? There only by my count 7 Armenians hearing the minister speak, while 100 of them outside. Wouldn't it have been more productive for the AYF to have purchased tickets and take people inside? I was a bit disappointed by the low number of Armenians inside the building, but this disappointment grew to a bit of frustration when I realized that so many Armenians came to just.... yell outside? Instead, they could have stared denial right in the face and hammered the minister with questions.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Back from San Francisco

I arrived today from my 4 day San Francisco trip; it was a really good getaway. The city itself is quite small when compared to LA, but the transportation is so much more convenient. I spent some time in Oakland as well, even the ghetto of Oakland. I saw some pretty interesting (and shady) things there. I'm glad I got out that situation, but I'm also glad that I saw it, that I wasn't sheltered away from it. There's a lot of shadiness in the Bay Area, from Oakland, to Berkeley, and in SF (bums walking the streets). I am not in any way deriding the Bay Area by pointing out its faults, there's a lot of that garbage in LA too. However, it was a sort of reality check that I saw those aspects. I hate to limit myself to only one side of anything; I'd rather immerse myself with whatever I am dealing with, and I see it being reflected in my travelling. With that said, I am interested in how I will approach New York. I'm bound to run into the not so nice areas of the city, and I hope I can appreciate it while not denouncing it.

I didn't see any remnants of the Armenian community in the Bay area, but then again that may have been because I wasn't looking to hard for it. However, I did see a testament to Armenia joining the United Nations (The UN was pretty much drafted in SF in 1945). It's nice to see traces of Armenia around you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Spring Break and the News

A premature Spring break has begun for me as I finished my first and last final exam today (spanish test). I merely had to turn in papers for my other classes, so now I'm free to do whatever I want (aka boredom). I watched Do the Right Thing today, which was a birthday gift from a good friend of mine. Really good movie, I'll spare you the review though. I spent my birthday yesterday eating out with another good friend and afterwards went to see Brokeback Mountain (again.. not movie review.. sorry). So until this weekend I'll take it easy, I fly out to Berkeley on Saturday and will return next Tuesday.

Interesting thing happened today at school. After my final I decided to kill some time on campus in order to avoid the traffic going home (didn't do anything, there was still traffic on the way back), so I went into the campus bookstore to check out my books for next quarter. I walked across a discount bookstand and saw a copy of The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misrepresents US Foreign Policy. My sister refered me to the book, and I was pleased to see it on sale in a campus bookstore (I am not particularly fond of the NY times, LA times, or any other mainstream American media for that matter). But what surprised me was the price tag on the book, it was marked down to 92 cents.... that's right... a book for 92 cents!!!!! I became quite upset that a book of that magnitude would reduced to less than a dollar, a sign that people, students in fact, aren't interested. Of course I bought the book, took it home, and gave it to my sister, who was also surprised to see the price tag. Such a shame that news is twisted in the mainstream media. There are independent sources of media, however. One of my favorites is Link TV, they offer a wide range of news, documentaries, and presentations on various world issues. So I'll take my time here to urge everybody to take a break from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, CBS, and take a look at what Link TV has to offer:

Russia's Shadow Empire

By Ana Palacio and Daniel TwiningSaturday, March 11, 2006; Page A19

Since 2003, democratic revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia have dealt strategic blows to the ambition of Russia's leaders to reconstitute the former Soviet empire by retaining political and military suzerainty over their weaker neighbors. But Russia's imperial pretensions along its periphery linger.
Calls from the elected presidents of Georgia and Ukraine for a united Europe stretching "from the Atlantic to the Caspian" should embolden Europe and the United States to help people aspiring to freedom in other post-Soviet states end Russia's continuing dominion over them by rolling back the corrupting influence of Russian power in regions beyond its borders. This task is especially urgent in countries where Russian troops and political support sustain secessionist conflicts that threaten aspiring new democracies and the security of the West.

Since the Cold War ended, Russian leaders have built a shadow empire on the territories of Russia's sovereign neighbors, extending Russian power where it is unwarranted and unwelcome by sponsoring "frozen conflicts" in southeastern Europe and the South Caucasus. This behavior, designed to maintain political and economic influence beyond Russia's borders, impedes democratic development in states that aspire to join the West. It exports instability, criminality and insecurity into Europe. It threatens regional military conflict that could draw in the United States and other powers. It also bolsters anti-democratic forces within Russia who believe Russia's traditional approach of subverting its neighbors' independence is a surer path to security than the democratic peace enjoyed by the nations of Europe.
The frozen conflicts in the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and in the Moldovan territory of Transdniestria, share many characteristics. Russian troops fought on the side of local armies when these regions broke away from their mother countries as the Cold War ended. Russian officers continue to help train and command the breakaway territories' Russian-armed militias. The secessionist leaders are all Russian citizens, some sent directly from Moscow, who are maintained in power by the continuing presence of members of the Russian military and security services. Secessionist political leaders also enjoy the sponsorship of powerful criminal elites in Russia, which profit from the unregulated smuggling trade -- in consumer goods, drugs, weapons and women -- in the conflict zones.
Moscow has granted the people of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transdniestria Russian citizenship, including Russian passports and the right to vote in Russian elections. This effective annexation of sovereign peoples is expressly designed to undermine the authority of pro-Western governments in Georgia and Moldova.
Russian political and military influence also looms in the shadows of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Opposing armies that fought a bloody war over the disputed enclave in the 1990s now shoot at each other from trenches across a "no-man's land" more reminiscent of Flanders in 1916 than the European neighborhood in 2005. This barely frozen conflict threatens a hot war that would devastate the region.
It is also the place where a breakthrough is perhaps most likely. Western governments could support a settlement there in which Armenia returned to Azerbaijan the occupied provinces surrounding the disputed territory and allowed Azerbaijani refugees to resettle there. Nagorno-Karabakh could enjoy full autonomy until its ultimate status was decided by democratic referendum at some future date. In return for Azerbaijan's cooperation in ending a conflict that threatens its growing prosperity, the West should welcome closer partnership with that country as it moves forward with reform, end residual sanctions against Azerbaijan dating from the 1991-94 war, require closure of the Russian bases on Armenian territory that threaten Azerbaijan, offer a mini-Marshall Plan for the entire South Caucasus and put these countries on a path to Europe.
In South Ossetia, Europe and the United States should support Georgian calls to internationalize the Russian-dominated "peacekeeping" force, which now functions chiefly to obstruct changes to the secessionist status quo. The United States and the European Union should join Georgia, Russia and South Ossetia in a new negotiating framework designed to achieve a lasting political settlement consistent with international law.
In Abkhazia, the Atlantic democracies should push to transform the U.N. observer mission into an armed peacekeeping force, hold Russia to its 1999 promise on troop withdrawal and pledge assistance to rehabilitate Abkhazia's war-torn economy as part of a federation agreement with Georgia. With the West, Ukraine can help bring change to neighboring Transdniestria by continuing its recent crackdown on cross-border smuggling, reinforcing Moldovan demands for a Russian military withdrawal and supporting a political settlement upholding Moldova's sovereignty and the democratic rights of all its people.
Russia holds the key to any resolution of the frozen conflicts, and the Western democracies are surely not powerless to foster a change of Russian behavior in Europe's back yard. President Vladimir Putin must understand that his country cannot enjoy partnership with the West -- including membership in the G-8 club of Western democracies and the chance to host their summits -- as long as his policies in the European neighborhood, and at home, look less like those of a modern European statesman than of a czar.
Ana Palacio is the former foreign minister of Spain. Daniel Twining is an Oxford-based consultant to the German Marshall Fund of the United States. These are their personal views.

Helping Armenia

First I want to welcome the new member of our little group, Christian; it is great to have you post about the East coast life.

Now I want to address the issue of helping Armenia. In my personal opinion, which if anybody asks I can try to back up with historical facts, Diaspora (all around the world) should have one prime goal MAKING SURE THAT ARMENIA THRIVES.

I know it is hard to work with a corrupt government of Armenia, but there are still ways to work around their incompetence and corruption. One very good example is the aforementioned trip to Armenia of our fellow brothers. They will provide all of the financial and material help DIRECTLY. I believe that this is the best way to circumvent the corrupt government bureaucracy and get things done the right way.

I am sure some of you know this lady (I forgot her name...shame), she is a wealthy Armenian-American who EVERY year COLLECTS money and other funds from her own pocket, Armenian businesses, wealthy Armenians, and any other sponsors in USA, and takes that money DIRECTLY to Armenian orphanages and to the families of fallen fedayis and soldiers ( in other words the levels of Armenian society that are most vulnerable, and are usually the poorest).

What I am trying to say is that, Armenians in the Diaspora, especially the wealthy ones, should make helping Armenia not a hobby (like it is today unfortunately for the MOST of them), but one of their primary concerns. I know quite a few rich Armenian in Russia, US, Argentina, and Europe that could do more for our country. Because if Armenia is gone, then the Diaspora is also gone since Diaspora needs a mother country to be considered a Diaspora, otherwise we would be just like Gypsies, just a group of people living here an there.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Helping children in Hayasdan

Parev Tsez! I am a friend of Levon (we met in Hayasdan) and I currently live in New Jersey, where I am going to school. While Levon and Arman keep you abreast of West-Coast Armenian life, I hope to provide information and insights about happenings in the East-Coast Armenian community (since not everyone can live in LA). I will also share my thoughts and opinions about Armenian issues and I hope you will comment and give us feedback.

So, on the topic of children in Armenia, there is a French-Armenian organization, DA-Connexion, which has now spread to the United Kingdom whose mission is to help the children of Hayasdan. I became aware of this association through a French-Armenian, Raffi Sarafian, who worked with us in Hayasdan last summer (2005). Raffi is very involved in this organization (in fact, he is now the president of the student branch) and he and his sister, Anouch, were there to rebuild schools and organize week-long summer camps for rural children. Raffi and others have worked hard to create a new website for the association, which may be found at: (don't worry, there is an english version and also an armenian one). If you are at all interested (and you should be) in the plight of children, especially rural children, in Hayastan, I would urge to to check out their site, if only to look at the photos.


So if you guys haven't figured it out by now, I'm in an Armenian fraternity (Alpha Epsilon Omega). I joined during the Fall 2005 quarter along with my best buddy Arman (how we survived I don't even know).

Anyways, the chapter from Cal State Los Angeles is going to Armenia this summer and donating much needed supplies to a kindergarten in Armavir. Here are some pics:

Reminds me of the villages that I visited this past summer when I was in Armenia. I'm confident that the brothers will do a good job in Armenia. It's hard for me to see them go and not join them, but I do have my own plans this summer that I need to take care of anyways. Arman can relate, he hasn't been back ever since he left. It would be nice one day to reunite with all of my friends in our homeland.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


So it's my birthday on Monday, going to celebrate it with a couple of friends. I hope to celebrate in New York as well, it would be great since I would be reuiniting with my friends from Armenia. I haven't really celebrated birthdays before with my friends.. ok so there was this one time when I turned 10 I had a birthday party at a bowling alley (hey.. I was ten). Had the whole birthday cake, gifts, etc..
I'm not planning on celebrating my birthday like that any time soon, now it's the typical going out for dinner type of thing. The best part about it is going to be, again, my friends.

Other news, school is going extremely easy all of a sudden, I only have one final to take, which is so odd. I think this may have been the easiest quarter in my undergraduate career, which is nice, I think I need an easy quarter for a change. Arman, on the other hand, is completely swamped with finals, presentations, and programming work, so he is on hiatus for a while. I went to bug him anyways today at the computer lab, watched online videos of russian special forces, exchanged some arguments, shook hands, then left.

My lone final is a day after my birthday, and the Saturday after that I'm taking off to good old San Francisco (actually Berkeley). I'm only going to spend 3 days there, but I am still looking forward to it. That would be about two weeks prior to my New York trip, so altogether I'll have close to a month of taking it easy (not a bad deal huh?).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Andy & Tata

I am not particularly fond of Andy's music, but he has this one song, "Ameneh," which I can't get out of my head. Not to dismiss Andy or his fans, but the song is so wacky that it's hilarious. I remember he was having a concert in Yerevan when I was there last summer, but I didn't go. His posters were everywhere, with the classic Andy pose. You know, his hands on his hips, wearing all white for some reason, with ANDY in huge letters printed right above his head. I think they even had fireworks at his concert, but I'm not sure.

On to another Armenian singer, the great Tata. Ok, I'm not that much of a Tata fan either, but when I heard that he is having a concert in LA in late April, I decided that I had to go. Imagine, all the Armenians from Glendale flocking toward one place, it would be quite an experience. I wonder, would Arman consider going? He isn't in to the Armenian music; New Age is more of his thing, I bet if Yanni was having a concert he would run there and get his autograph (not to say Yanni is bad, either). Anyways, I'm sure Tata would feel right at home in LA, he should even stay at the Glendale Hilton and walk (or better yet, drive) on the streets of Glenoaks, Broadway, and Brand. What a sight that would be.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I am Happy-Kinda

Yeah Levon,
I was not happy that Crash won, but I was happy that Brokeback lost. You can call me whatever you want, but Crash is YET ANOTHER RACISM MOVIE (please stop making them) and Brokeback is a nice way to show how normal gay love is. Which I think is not, its not normal, period.

They can love each other as much as they want to and they can present it as nice as they want to, I don't want that kind of propaganda spread around, but I think its kind of too late since a gay person can make fun of me at school of how hairy I am but when I come back with a gay joke, I am threatened by a disciplinary action. After this film, Mr. Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon gets a whole another meaning.

I think Munich was the movie that deserved an Oscar. Yes it was kind of one sided, and the sex scenes were used out of context, but it had a much more useful and a realistic message, how governments operate.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Ok so a night after the Oscars, I started to rethink what happened, and I have to say, the Academy has really disappointed me with its pick of Crash instead of Brokeback Mountain as Best Picture. It just goes to show you that the Academy is homophobic. Yes, I said it. They didn't want to give it to a gay movie so they gave it to crash. Up until the Academy Awards, brokeback was without a doubt the frontrunner; it won all the pre cursor awards, it made the most money, loved by critics (while Crash received more mixed reviews), it was one of the more recent movies to come out (while crash came out in last summer/early fall).

Hollywood went the safe way and gave it to a movie about racism, but they were 17 years too late. In 1989 Spike Lee made a movie about racism, "Do the Right Thing." While I haven't seen the movie, this film was hailed by critics, but got completely snubbed at the oscars. Not only did it not win, anything, it was only nominated for two oscars, best supporting actor and best original screenplay. No director, no motion picture.

Now, 15 years later, they give it to a film about racism and the director is white, the writers are white, while they snubbed a black director (not too many of them when compared to white directors). Granted there were black actors, and Terrence Howard was nominated for hustle and flow (three six mafia even won for their song) but I'm sorry, if Hollywood truly wanted to make a statement, they would have given it to Brokeback, just like they would have given it to Spike Lee. Yes I'm playing the race card, but when was the last time a black director was nominated for the academy awards?

George Clooney, when he was giving his acceptance speech, talked about how glad he is to be "out of touch" by being in Hollywood, that is; stressing how only celebrities talk about important social issues. After what happened with best picture, I'm sorry, but Clooney's praise of Hollywood is unfounded.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I'm sitting at home watching the Academy Awards right now, and I have to say, this year's selection of movies is pretty good. It was quite an upset when Crash won, since everybody thought Brokeback would win. However, the movie that caught my interest the most is Capote, I must see it soon. However, the Awards are full of montages of past movies that have been catching my interest now too. Then there are the lesser known foreign movies that I've been wanting to see for a while (City of God, Paradise Now).

Living in Los Angeles I suppose I'm naturally inclined to have an interest in not only movies, but in Hollywood in general. Movies can be a double edged sword for me. There are always the poor ones, that are pretty much a waste of time. Then there are the blockbusters, that may a lot of money but are seldom thought provoking. Then there are the good movies, ones that have a message, good plots, acting, and score. These are the movies that get the audience to think, and ones I highly value.

Seven Samurai is perhaps my favorite movie. Directed by Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa. Of the more recent films, Motorcycle Diaries is a special one for me; particularly the focus on Latin America. Then there are the Armenian movies that I have yet to see, like the Mehr Baks. I have to get my hands on these (it's a trilogy), and the Karabagh war videos. These examples of why movies are made, and I'm glad there is an institution such as the Academy to recognize these movies in the face of blockbuster hits (though I'm not always a fan of the Academy) and though we all have differences, if the public would take the time to see more of these good movies, the film industry would greatly benefit.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Missiles Aimed At Azeri Oil Facilities

Assa-Irada, Azerbaijan
March 3 2006

Baku, March 2, AssA-Irada -- A foreign expert has said
there are
missiles in Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh, Azeri region
under Armenian
occupation, that target oil facilities in Azerbaijan.

"The SCAD-B type rockets aim at oil fields, pipelines
and refineries
in Azerbaijan, which could bring about a disaster,"
Austrian Strategic
Research Center's military expert Martin Marek has
told Swedish press.

Marek said the weaponry was sold to Armenia by Russia
in 1993-1996.

He did not rule out that Armenian military forces are
in Upper Garabagh.

The analyst went on to say that the current "de-facto
status of Upper Garabagh" is actually reinforced by
every dollar
invested in Azerbaijan by Western companies. "Official
Baku is also
aware that if the war resumes, these companies will
freeze their
investments in the country." Marek noted, however,
that Azerbaijan
is directing its oil revenues to bolstering its
military power, and
is thus seeking to solve the long-standing dispute
through military

Dear visitors this is nothing new. Azerbaijan will not attack Armenia since the second it does, the Baku-Jehran pipeline will be destroyed by the Armenian armed forces. This is not permissible to BP which put its millions to build the pipeline. That is why Azeris can threaten as much as they want to, the "big boys" (US, Europe, Russia, and Iran) don't want this conflict to resume, and Azerbaijan is not strong enough and never will be to go against these powers' wishes. Yes they can buy new weaponry more easily with their oil dollars, but new weapons are not the only thing that they need. They also need a dedicated and motivated fighting force, which they lack.
This does not mean that we, Armenians should sit on our hands and wait. We need to work our buts off to get our economy up and running and get as much investments as possible. This not only will raise our populations backing of their government, but also will help us purchase better weaponry.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Laptop and Fisk

In preparation for my future travelling, I purchased a laptop today. Going high tech after falling out of the technology loop for years has been interesting, there are so many new features that I just found out about (Arman on the other hand is a computer nerd). I'm glad I got it though, I can practically take my whole life with me (pics, movies, wireless internet) wherever I go.

Ever since committing to the model UN team at my school, I have been very attentive to international news. In addition to the various sources I read online, I recently started in on Robert Fisk's latest book, The Great War for Civilization. For those who don't know, Fisk is the preeminent journalist in the Middle East. He has covered the region for over 30 years, including the Iranian Revolution, The Lebanese Civil War, Afganistan, Iraq. He even interviewed Osama Bin Laden three times. His new book is around 1000 pages, and full of information as he chronicles his journeys throughout the Middle East. It also includes a chapter on the Armenian Genocide, which I have yet to reach (I barely put a dent into it, not even 100 pages in). Fisk also talks about the poor state of journalism, how the mainstream media does not provide adequate coverage on the world (sort of on the lines of Noam Chomsky). Fisk is straight shooter, I'm sure even Arman would like him, even though Arman has no faith in western media... or the west in general. I'll keep reading my book and post updates.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New York and a joke...

Early on in April I will be going to New York for 9 days. My university has a model united nations team and the annual conference is going to take place in the big apple. I have been looking forward to this for a long time, I have a good group of friends on the east coast who will be meeting me there.
Last time I was on the east coast was when I was about 10 years old; my family went to D.C. for a week. I will be returning to D.C. this summer for two months, and combined with this trip to New York I hope to get at least a hint of how the east coast Armenians run things. I have to admit I'll be missing my hayastantsi and parskahayes (I'm under the assumption that the only place in the western hemisphere that contains the three branches of Armos is LA), but I'm sure the east coast will have its unique taste.

Anyways, while we are on the topic of Armenians in LA, I heard this joke that I can't get out of my head for a week now:

So an Armenian is driving his pimped/rabized out mercedes on Glenoaks and he pulls over when he pulls over to park on the street so he can go buy some cigarettes. He opens his door and all of a sudden a huge big rig comes and slams into his car, tearing off the door. He calls the police and starts complaining on how the car will never be the same again, and the cop says: "You Armenians are so materialistic, you don't even realize that the truck that took of your door also took off your entire arm." The Armenian quickly turns to where his arm was and says in astonishment: "Oh Shit, my ROLEX!"
That's all for now