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Sunday, 17 May 2015

100 Years Later – A Walk for Justice

Imagine yourself walking in a river where the water is above your waist and the current takes you forward.  That's how I felt when on April 24, I walked along 160,000 other people for justice and to protest the Turkish government's continued denial of the Armenian Genocide. It was a thrilling experience to take part in the six mile walk, and see how people arrived in droves to make history.

I had initially signed up to take one of the free shuttle buses provided all over the Los Angeles area by the Genocide Centennial Committee, which were taking people to the start of the March in Little Armenia. I changed my mind when I found out that a group of my friends had made other plans to get there. This was just as well, because there was an overwhelming demand for the shuttles.

The group of friends and family I joined met around 9 a.m. at the corner of Vermont and Hollywood Blvd. where a Starbucks stands – we were 12.  Six of us decided to take the subway and six of us took a bus ride to the corner of Western and Hollywood Blvd. My sister-in-law told me the subway was crammed with Armenians.

As we boarded Bus #780 which comes from Glendale and Pasadena, we saw a group of our compatriots, all wearing commemoration T-shirts in black or purple. The sight made me emotional, and I had to wipe away a few tears.

Bus #780 took us to the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Western Ave. and from there we walked one block to the starting point which was the intersection of Western Ave and Sunset Blvd in Little Armenia.  Sidewalks were packed with crowds coming from all directions. Some parents were pushing strollers; others had their kids on their shoulders. The crowd was a mixture of young and old, all there to show solidarity in one common cause.

The sight reminded me of a children's picture book about a family going to the beach, and along the way they see so many people from different backgrounds commuting with different modes of transportation.

Although the occasion was somber, the high energy was palpable.  Everybody was jazzed up and so eager to march. We joined the sea of people on Sunset Blvd. heading towards Turkish Consulate. The weather could not have been better. The temperature hovered around the upper 60s, the sky was slightly cloudy and it stayed that way until the end of the march around 4 pm.

At the starting point, I noticed that they were giving away poster signs. I left my home-made sign and picked up a poster which said "End the Cycle." We started the March.  Along the way people were chanting slogans such as "Shame on Turkey" and "We demand justice." A chant that amused me was about Obama not recognizing the Genocide: "Shame on Obama. I'm gonna call your mama."

Participants also held signs that voiced forceful massages. Numerous blue printed signs that thanked various countries for recognizing the Genocide floated in the crowd. Tri-color flags, large and small, were dispersed and being waved all over.

There were so many Kodak moments.  At the beginning, I tried to take a few pictures, but I realized if I continued doing that I would become separated from my group. So after taking a few snapshots, and losing the group once or twice, I put my iPhone in my pocket and didn't attempt to take more pictures.

The procession was beyond my expectation.  Everything went so smooth.  Along the way we came across shopkeepers who stood outside of their businesses and waved Armenian flags in solidarity.  Free water bottles were distributed all along. I had prepared sandwiches which came in handy. There were food trucks and porta-potties, but the lines were too long.

All in all it was an unforgettable experience. However, the most excitement came the following day on Saturday the 25th, when  pictures of the walk were posted on Facebook. The most amazing picture was an arial picture which showed the street packed the with crowds. Today after about two weeks from that day, my heart beats faster whenever I think about the walk.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Jeb Bush for President – a satire by Jack Neworth

And Jeb is the smart one?

On Monday, I was watching Fox News. (Actually, while flipping channels.) Anchor Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush, “On Iraq, if you knew what we now know, would you still have invaded?” His answer left me dumbfounded.
“Yes,” Bush responded, “and so would have Hillary Clinton and almost everybody else who saw the intelligence.” He completely glossed over the fact that 57.5 percent of Democrats voted “no” and 97.5 percent of Republicans voted “yes.”
The following day, Jeb admitted he had misunderstood the question. I assumed Jeb would now say, “I wouldn’t have invaded because the predicate for the war, the WMD intelligence, was faulty.” But Jeb’s “corrected” answer suggests that possibly he’s more like his older brother.
“That’s a hypothetical and I don’t answer hypothetical questions,” Jeb said, looking authoritative and vacant simultaneously. That night, conservative TV political pundit Joe Scarborough blasted Jeb, saying anybody with a brain would answer, “Hell, no!”
But perhaps it was sibling loyalty, or just trying to protect what’s left of the “Bush brand.” Jeb’s answer was basically, “Maybe, maybe not,” and suddenly I had a W flashback. If Jeb’s elected in 2016, like a bad horror movie we could have the Iraq War trilogy: Gulf War, Iraq War I and now Iraq War II. And you thought Godfather III was bad?
Frankly, I always thought Jeb was the intelligent one. For starters, he can pronounce “nuclear” and finish sentences. Even his parents often suggested in not so subtle ways that Jeb was the one they thought would be president, not W with the “youthful indiscretions” until he was 40.
I’ll never forget, in 2001, when W’s twin daughters were cited for underage drinking, Barbara Bush was brusquely approached by an aggressive reporter. I was positive she would justifiably answer, “This is a private family matter, so please respect our privacy.”
Guess what? Almost enthusiastically, Barbara told the reporter, “Well, now George knows what we went through, doesn’t he?” She smiled and walked away. (After eight years of W’s presidency, we all should be able to relate.)
Say this for Jeb: He looks terrific. He’s recently lost 30 pounds on his “paleolithic diet,” also known as the “paleo” or “caveman diet.” It’s based on food humans’ ancient ancestors might likely have eaten such as meat, nuts and berries, but no grains, which means no bread. (And for me, no Subway subs.)
The paleolithic diet lasted about 2.5 million years, which must be a bit of a conundrum for the evangelicals in the GOP who believe the world is only 6,000 years old. (I’d like to ask Jeb what he believes, but he might say it’s “a hypothetical.”) In any event, maybe the paleo has been great for Jeb’s look but perhaps not for above the shoulders.
As for the “faulty” intelligence, it was more like a faulty Bush administration. It’s well documented that W considered that the only great presidents were war-time presidents and wanted to invade Iraq eight months before 9/11. When counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke assured Bush that Iraq had absolutely no connection to the attacks, W put his finger on Clarke’s chest and said forcefully, “Look again.”
The “intelligence” was cherry-picked and even altered. For example, the classified National Intelligence Estimate from 16 different agencies all said Saddam was not an imminent threat to the U.S.  But the de-classified version given to Congress and the public mysteriously had that portion deleted. How convenient.
So when Congress voted on the war authorization, it didn’t have the facts. As for Bush’s big intel source, it was a fellow aptly named “Curveball” whom German intelligence warned us was a schizophrenic alcoholic.
Furthermore, Curveball was personally brought to us by Ahmed Chalabi, a convicted embezzler, inveterate political schemer/con man who we were paying $350,000 a month for a crock of lies. (But he looked so dapper in a $3,000 Armani suit.)
During the build-up to the Iraq War, I reluctantly wrote that an Iraq war would be the worst foreign policy mistake in our history. If anything, I understated it.
Even cursorily, let’s summarize: 4,500 dead Americans; 32,000 wounded; 100,000 dead Iraqis; the creation of ISIS; Iran’s dominance; and $5 trillion for the care of those with missing limbs, or afflicted with PTSD or homeless; not to mention the psychic cost of ex-servicemen and women who commit suicide daily. (What a national scandal.)
I realize Hillary has her issues, but given the ruthless Bush/Cheney cheerleading and lying to promote the invasion, her Iraq vote, which she regrets, shouldn’t be one of them. As for Jeb, it disturbs me greatly that his already hand-picked “foreign policy advisers” are many of the same chickenhawks W employed — and we know how that turned out.
The next time someone asks Jeb about his brother’s war, perhaps he should eat a sandwich instead of his words.
Jack can be reached at and by email at
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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Reflections: The date of the Armenian Genocide centennial and the release of the new Apple product Wrist coincides.

At the end of this Article, read Steve Jobs reaction to Turkish government from the mouth of a tour-guide in Istanbul.

The Daily Beast: Steve Jobs took Armenian Genocide personally
April 23, 2015

Nina Strochlic, a reporter and researcher for The Daily Beast wrote a piece on the coinciding date of the Armenian Genocide centennial and the release of the new Apple product. She speculates that maybe Apple will make an effort to pay tribute to its founder’s Armenian heritage and thus commemorate the centennial. The article reads:

“On Friday, wrists around the world will welcome the most anticipated gadget since the iPad came to our fingertips five years ago. The Apple Watch has stirred breathless speculation, imitation and excitement long before its reveal last September. But the date chosen for its release has caused a too-bizarre-to-be-true historic collision that Apple’s founder would likely never have allowed to happen.

One hundred years after Steve Jobs’ adoptive family escaped the Armenian Genocide, the company he created is releasing its biggest new product on the 100th anniversary of a mass killing that left 1.5 million dead at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

And activists are worried that Apple’s latest masterpiece will distract an audience from an anniversary that they hope will finally force the Turkish government—which has long refused to call the slaughter a genocide—into accepting its bloody past.

Steve Jobs’ birth parents weren’t Armenian, but he was raised in the shadow of that heritage by an adoptive mother whose family escaped the killings for safety in America in the 1910s. And Jobs, though he never spoke publicly about his ties, appeared to feel a deep connection with his family’s heritage and the historic bloodshed they experienced. He even spoke conversational Armenian.

Jobs, though he never spoke publicly about his ties, appeared to feel a deep connection with his family’s heritage. He even spoke conversational Armenian.

In 1955, Clara Hagopian and Paul Jobs, a young couple who spent nearly a decade trying to have children of their own, adopted a Syrian-American baby and named him Steve. Steve Jobs never met his birth father and often spoke about the strong connection he shared with his adoptive family. “They were my parents 1,000 percent,” he told Walter Isaacson for his 2013 biography. “[My biological parents] were my sperm and egg bank. That’s not harsh, it’s just the way it was, a sperm bank thing, nothing more.”

Hagopian’s mother, Victoria Artinian, was born in the port city of Smyrna in the 1890s. Smyrna, an ancient biblical town and possible birthplace of Homer, had enjoyed relative calm until the early 1920s. Filled with diplomats and citizens of high social ranking, the world was shocked when, in 1922, the city was pillaged and burned to the ground. Images of fiery deaths and charred buildings was seared into the historical imagination. Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, which was written three years later, begins with an ode to the fated town: “The strange thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight. I do not know why they screamed at that time.”

Artinian arrived in the United States on the Greek boat Megali Hellas in 1919, and soon after met Louis Hagopian. He had made the same trip seven years earlier, lucky to escape his hometown of Malatya. Mass murders began there in the late 1800s and a few years after Hagopian came to America, nearly the entire population of 20,000 Armenians living in Malatya was wiped out.

“Anybody with family coming from those two places would have been really branded by the genocide,” says Peter Balakian, a humanities and English professor at Colgate University and author of two books on the Armenian Genocide.

As the newlyweds settled down briefly in Newark, New Jersey, tens of thousands of genocide survivors were fleeing the killings and making their way to the United States. A web of Armenian refugees had begun to spread out across the world. They settled in major cities, from Aleppo to Newark, which is where Victoria and Louis Hagopian had a daughter named Clara in 1924.

A few years later the family moved to California. According to the 1930 U.S. Census, Clara was raised by her mother and elderly grandmother in San Francisco, where she met and married Paul Jobs, a freshly decommissioned Coast Guard mechanic, in 1946.

The Armenian refugees were, for the most part, welcomed by Americans, many of whom felt a shared Christian identity with the refugees and were impressed by the newcomers’ entrepreneurial spirit. Indeed, the refugee cause was the most famous of its time.

“It’s the largest NGO relief movement in U.S. history,” Balakian says. “The Armenians were really a celebrated minority group.” Scholars estimate that the American Committee for Relief in the Near East raised the equivalent of $1.5 billion to assist the new refugees. And a film about the genocide grossed a whooping $2 billion in today’s currency.

Future president Herbert Hoover was put in charge of relief efforts for Europe, and was particularly passionate about the Armenians’ plight. “Probably Armenia was known to the school child in 1919 only a little less than England,” Hoover wrote in his memoirs.

Not so much today. When Apple announced it would release its newest product on April 24, leaders of the Armenian community were taken by surprise. It seemed that the watch, which has spurred years of breathless speculation, could easily overshadow news of the genocide commemoration events. Apple did not respond to request for comment for this article.

Jobs was viciously private and didn’t make public his ancestry or engage in the genocide classification debate that Turkey continues to dig its heels into. The Armenian church in Cupertino said that despite multiple invitations, Jobs never got in touch with the area’s expat community. But Jobs’ feelings about the killings became apparent on a tense standoff during a luxurious Turkish vacation, according to the tour guide who led the visit, and who later blogged about the incident.

In 2007, Jobs and his family traveled around Turkey on a private yacht tour and spent 10 days visiting the country’s sites with guide Asil Tuncer. It went smoothly until the last day, Tuncer told The Daily Beast, when the group visited the Hagia Sophia. Once a Byzantine church, it was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire, and is now one of Istanbul’s must-see tourist destinations.

“What happened to all those Christians, suddenly gone like that?” Tuncer recalls Jobs asking him as they gazed at the minarets. Then, he reframed the question: “You, Muslims, what did you do to so many Christians? You subjected 1.5 million Armenians to genocide. Tell us, how did it happen?”

Tuncer says he felt trapped, unsure whether to answer with his opinion or evade an argument in the polite manner he was trained to use as a guide.

“To expect from a Turkish guide to accept that [question], even if true, it’s not very good. For example, it’s like if I come to U.S. and ask, ‘Tell me how, you killed the Indians?’” But he says Jobs insisted he respond.

“First I said, ‘Sir, maybe these are not good things to talk on Istanbul tour. Let’s have fun—this is your real purpose, to learn about the buildings and history.’ He said, ‘No, no, no, I want to hear your answer.”

“I said, ‘People kill each other, of course, this is a war, but it is not deliberately genocide,’” he says he told him. “Then I tried to be nice. So I did my best.”

Tuncer says Jobs’ face fell, and he looked “miserable.” Earlier in the trip Tuncer says Job had described Apple’s vision for a tablet and showed him the new laptops. But now his previously amiable demeanor had changed.

Jobs cut the day short, deciding to return to the boat docked in Istanbul’s port, and not finish out the last day of the visit. “He was not happy with my answer, and maybe he didn’t feel very good after. I can’t exactly say. He didn’t tell me. He just said I want to go back to port.” (Jobs’ family has not publicly responded to Tuncer’s account of the tour.)

Tuncer, who now works for a tour company called Legendary Journeys, says the goodbye was chilly when he put the Jobs family on their plane home. “This person coming from the diaspora, I don’t expect he will say, ‘Oh yes you are right, I am wrong,’” he says. “He was disappointed in my answer.”

“He didn’t have Armenian blood himself, but because of his mother, he felt a great pull and affinity toward the fact she was, for all intents and purposes, a genocide survivor,” says Phil Walotsky, the spokesman for the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of America.

The Apple Watch release has rattled those who’ve spent months planning for a commemoration they hope will finally bring about recognition of the widespread killings by the Turkish government, which has suppressed its ghost against a flood of international condemnation.

“Do we think Apple did this intentionally? Of course not,” says Walotsky. “If Steve was still around or if this was brought to their attention earlier—I’m sure there were folks in leadership who knew about Steve’s background—would they have picked April 24? Probably not.”

But he doesn’t blame Apple for the date overlap. The anniversary date doesn’t carry the same weight as other dates do, and hasn’t sparked any outcry as if the watch was being released on, say, Holocaust Remembrance Day. “It doesn’t have same stickiness in American psyche as other dates do,” says Walotsky.

Not everyone feels so benevolent. Benjamin Abtan, president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, is organizing a weekend of events to commemorate the anniversary. “It cannot be by chance,” he says of the Apple Watch release date. “It doesn’t mean there as an intention to overshadow the Armenian Genocide, but for all people who know even little about the Armenian Genocide, they know it’s a very big day that everybody’s been expecting for a long time. The date is very symbolic of this trauma.”

Abtan doesn’t expect the watch’s release will push out news of his efforts to get the Turkish government to recognize the Genocide, but he’s already been disappointed by the American media’s coverage of the tragedy.

Still, Walotsky says he considers it lucky that Apple decided not to release the watch with its typical line-around-the-block shopping frenzy. “In terms of being the second story that day, at least that gives us a chance of having a little equal footing in terms of being able to educate people about this and ensure the mainstream media is reporting on this,” he says.

Walotsky hopes that tomorrow, Apple will make an effort to pay tribute to its founder’s heritage and the strangely aligned anniversary. With Tim Cook’s advocacy around LGBT issues, and Apple’s environmentally conscious campaigns, he says it’s not difficult to imagine the image-conscious company paying tribute.

“Maybe in a strange way the launch of the watch brings more attention to the anniversary,” he says.

From a previous post on my blog:

When Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011 there was a lot of discussion within the Armenian community, questioning why there was hardly any mention that Jobs’ adoptive mother was an Armenian and that he was raised by an Armenian woman.  

I was personally quite surprised a few years ago as I was reading his bio on Wikipedia and learned it. I asked my son who was and is a staunch follower of Jobs and even he didn’t know about the fact, at the time.

The following is an account told by a Turkish tour guide, when Steve Jobs visited Turkey on a luxury Boat from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to Istanbul where the journey was going to end.  

The following article is taken from
"What Turkish tour guide Asil Tuncer said, with respect to Apple Inc.’s founder, the late Steve Jobs’ visit to Turkey, caused great uproar in the country. The guide claimed that Jobs considered the Turks as enemies, and he did not even shake hands when bidding farewell to the tour guide.    
Tuncer noted that when they had approached the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, and he had told that it was a church at first but then it was turned into a mosque with minarets, Steve Jobs had asked: “You, Muslims, what did you do to so many Christians? You subjected 1.5 million Armenians to genocide. Tell us, how did it happen?”  And the Turkish tour guide’s denials further infuriated Steve Jobs, who left Turkey one day early.

Hagia Sofia mosque in Istanbul
Note: In Steve Jobs’ biographical book written by Walter Isaacson, there is only a short paragraph saying that after the Armenian Genocide, his stepmother, Clara Hagopian, had emigrated from Malatya, Turkey.

I am intrigued that no media reported on the fact that Steve Jobs' had roots in Armenian culture.  A few years ago I was in San Francisco for an Armenia women's.  It was a week after Steve Jobs had died.  I met an administrator from Yerevan Magazine, (an Armenian magazine) she told me that they had scheduled an interview with Steve Jobs, the very day he passed away.  Maybe this reflects a characteristic of Armenians: “Known to be late…” LOL... The legendary founder of Apple Inc. lost his battle to cancer on October 5 of 2011 at the age of 56.

The following link is about a story told by a Turkish tour guide in broken English (Turk-glish):
Here is a paragraph taken from the story told by the tour guide in Turk-glish:

“Jobs Hagia Sophia was the place where most want to see and wonder. We started the tour. Saw that we had yet to happen and eagerly asked the minarets of the Hagia Sophia. In return, I, while the former church converted to a mosque after the conquest, in the south-east corner of a brick minaret was added to the transaction told. Then the questions started to come straight to me: “This is what happened to the Christians?”, “You millions of Muslims in non Muslim, what have you done?” etc.. You open my mouth, “the genocide of Armenians seized 1.5 million. You tell us. How did it happen?” were asked the question, and this was the last straw.”

You can read more about Steve Jobs in my earlier posts. HERE is the link to a previous musing on Steve Jobs,

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Kardashians in Armenia. In front of the Mother Armenia Statue in Yerevan

After a lot of hype, Kardashians, stars of TV reality show, arrived in Yerevan last night – April 8.  This is their first trip to Armenia from where their father's side of the family comes from.  

The morning after their arrival Kim and Khloe Kardashian hit the tourist spots in Yerevan. I found this picture of Khloe and Kim in their high heels visiting a park in Yerevan on Daily Mail.

For Armenians is not an uncommon site to see women walking everywhere on high heels.  It seems every woman in Yerevan wears stilettos – even at the park.

The picture of Khloe and Kim is taken in front of the Mother Armenia statue that symbolizes a woman strength.  The statue is located on a hilltop overlooking Yerevan in Victory Park. 

The statue can also remind viewers of some of the prominent female figures in Armenian history. Who took up arms to help their husbands in their clashes with Turkish troops and Kurdish irregulars. 

Aram Hamparian is the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

WE ARE ALL ARMENIANS (By Aram Hamparian)

With or without an “ian” or “yan” at the end of our names.
Folks with 2 Armenian parents, or 1, or who are 1/4, 1/8, a 1/16, 1/32, or (like the late Princess Diana) 1/64 Armenian.
Kids who’ve been adopted into Armenian families, or husbands and wives who’ve married into our community.
Those in Armenia and from around our global diaspora.
First or 5th (or 15th) generation immigrants.
Armenian speakers or not.
Left, right, or center. Of all types, tastes, and varieties.
Those who serve and sacrifice, and those yet to fully find their place.
Of all faiths, or no faith. Christian (like so many of us) or Muslim (like our Hamshen brothers and sisters).
Part Kurdish, part Assyrian, part anything and everything: You’re 100 percent of every part of your heritage, including 100 percent Armenian!
Armenians by birth, by choice, by citizenship, by spirit, by partnership…or by accident.
We’re all Armenians.
We each—for reasons as myriad and sometimes as mysterious as the stars—bring something unique to the Armenian equation.
And so, it’s with arms open to the world and all its wonder and diversity, that we cherish our special place among the family of nations and treasure our ever-evolving contribution to the rich tapestry of human civilization.
We’re Armenians, and we stand together, as proud sons and daughters of our ancient tribe, in believing in and building a bright and brilliant future for ourselves and all of humanity.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Indiana faces long road to restore image after religious law

LAURYN SCHROEDER  |  Apr 5th 2015 3:40PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana tourism agencies are rolling out campaigns emphasizing that everyone is welcome, but it might not be enough to quickly restore the state's battered image after a backlash over its religious objections law.

An uproar sparked by fears that the law would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians led a few convention organizers and performers to cancel events and some state and local governments to ban travel to the state last week. Revisions to the law's language have eased some of the criticism, but experts say the state could be dealing with a damaged reputation for years to come.
In a sign that Indiana is still under close scrutiny, hundreds of gay rights supporters marched to the site of the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis on Saturday as college basketball fans were arriving for the games. The marches called for the state to go further and enshrine in its civil rights law protection for gays and lesbians.

Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, the lead promoter for Indianapolis, said he has been in "full crisis mode" since the furor erupted after Gov. Mike Pence signed the law late last month.
Gahl said Visit Indy received more than 800 emails from people saying they were canceling trips for events such as the Indianapolis 500 or choosing a different vacation destination. The agency has been scrambling to prevent groups and businesses from either pulling out of negotiations for future conventions or canceling upcoming events altogether.
Two groups, including the public employee union AFSCME, have canceled conventions, and Gahl said two others were on the fence. He put the economic impact of those events at a "healthy eight figures."

"What keeps us up at night is the fact that 75,000 people depend on tourism for a paycheck," Gahl said. "And if we don't fill the city with conventions and visitors, they don't work."
The crisis isn't confined to Indianapolis. Fort Wayne, the state's second-largest city, has had six national conventions express concerns about continuing business in Indiana. If all six pulled out, it would represent about $1.2 million in revenue, said Dan O'Connell, president and CEO of Visit Fort Wayne.
Businesses say they've been inundated with emails from people asking for reassurance that they are welcome in Indiana, or canceling orders or plans. The famed French Lick Resort, a hotel in an historic town in southern Indiana, issued a statement Friday saying it has "always been open and inclusive" and that the new law won't change that.

Traci Bratton, owner of the Hoosier Candle Company in Dayton, about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis, said she's received emails from out-of-state customers who like her products but say they won't be bringing their business to Indiana because of the law.
"Hoosier Hospitality has been thrown out the window," Bratton said.

But the impact is being most keenly felt in Indianapolis, which has earned national praise for its transformation from a place once referred to as "Naptown" and "India-No-Place" to a vibrant, friendly city that used sports and a downtown renaissance to land a Super Bowl and become a popular pit stop in what was once called "flyover country."

Indy Big Data, a tech convention slated for May, has lost nine national sponsors, including Amazon and Cloudera. GenCon, the city's largest convention, has a contract with the city until 2020, but Gahl said negotiations to extend the agreement for another five years could fall through because of the outcry over the law. A departure of GenCon, which brings in about $56 million each year, would be a huge loss, Gahl said.

Even though lawmakers have revised the language of the religious objections law to make clear that it's not intended to discriminate, Indiana still lacks statewide civil-rights protections for the gay and lesbian community. And economic experts said perceptions about the law could prevent companies from attracting and retaining young talent.

Kyle Anderson, a business economics professor at Indiana University said Indiana already had a hard time competing on a national level to bring in top talent. For young professionals who tend to be more progressive about social issues, the law could be another reason for them to avoid jobs within the state.
"The last week will perpetuate the notion that it's not a great place to live," he said. "And I think that will live on for quite a while, unfortunately."

Lawmakers and community leaders acknowledge they have work to do but say the state will recover.
If history is any indication, they're likely right.

Arizona battled a similar public relations crisis in 1987, when former Gov. Evan Mecham sparked an outcry when he rescinded Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday. The fallout, which included losing a bid to host the 1993 Super Bowl and a boycott of tourism and convention sites for much of the late 1980s, severely damaged the state's image for years.

In 1992, an initiative to restore Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Arizona was approved, making it the first state with a voter-approved King holiday. The state has hosted three Super Bowls since then.

A Bill passed by the Indiana Legislature and backed by Evangelical anti-gay supporters.

If divided we fall, watch out below

Just when you think we can’t become more divided as a country, someone finds a way. I’m referring to the controversial “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” recently passed by the Indiana legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Pence, whom I refer to as “Hoosier Daddy.” (Sorry about that.)
Pence was vehement that the legislation did not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. And yet he signed the bill in a private ceremony with evangelical anti-gay supporters. Not exactly inclusive.
On Sunday, Pence appeared in an exclusive interview on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” (Whose last name belongs in a spelling bee.) Six times Stephanopoulos asked Pence, “Yes or no, does this law discriminate against gays and lesbians?” Each time, and painfully evasive, Pence refused to answer.
That was Sunday. On Monday the firestorm of protest began. The CEOs of nine major companies, including Eli Lily, Anthem and Indiana University Health, went on record opposing the bill. Angie’s List, headquartered in Indianapolis, indicated if the bill were not repealed or amended it would abandon a $40-million expansion in Indiana, which had been in the works for years.
Among others speaking out against this type of legislation were Wal-Mart and NACAR, neither generally known for liberalism. Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he likened the bill to “whites only signs on shop doors and water fountains.” Late night talk show host David Letterman, born and raised in Indiana, featured Pence on his Top 10 list. Clearly saddened by the law, Dave lamented, “This is not the Indiana I remember.”
NBA legend Charles Barkley called for the NCAA to cancel the basketball Final Four scheduled for tomorrow and Monday in Indianapolis. This past Tuesday, on the campus of Duke, which is in the Final Four, officials reported the discovery of a noose apparently as a reminder of lynchings. Isn’t that just lovely? I guess the answer to the question, “Can’t we all get along?” is “not very easily.”
Also on Tuesday, Pence held a press conference. Known for his use of dramatic pauses in speeches, Pence began with 22 seconds of silence. But the microphone picked up his labored breathing, the effect of which was less dramatic than just plain weird. Pence tried to blame the furor on the media’s characterization of the legislation but ultimately admitted the bill needed a “fix.” (As a valley girl might say, “Duh.”)
Predictably, Ted Cruz led the charge in applauding Pence. Not to be outdone in reaching out to the religious right, Jeb Bush jumped in, “I think Governor Pence has done the right thing.” (Ouch!)
But, as the backlash mounted, Jeb has backtracked as fast as his little feet can carry him. Actually, all the Republican candidates for president, declared or otherwise, have said they “stand by Governor Pence,” which as it happens was more than Gov. Pence was doing on Tuesday. Presently, it’s not entirely clear where he stands. (Can you say “confused?”)
While the mainstream business Republicans (chambers of commerce etc.) understand diversity, the social conservatives (religious right) apparently don’t get that the country has thankfully evolved on same-sex marriage. It’s hard to believe, but in 1967 interracial marriage was illegal in 17 states. In 1980, some polls revealed that as many as 80 percent of Americans thought marriage between the races was immoral. Today, 4 percent think that.
As for gay marriage, we only have to go back to 2004 when hatred for homosexuals gave George Bush a second term. How so? Karl Rove put anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot in 11 states, which brought out the haters in droves. Today, a move like that would completely backfire.
In fact, here’s a strange circumstance confided to me by my politically conservative friends. (Both.) Many on the right are secretly hoping that, in June, the Supreme Court rules that anti-same sex marriage bans are unconstitutional.
You see, while they won’t admit it publicly, many conservatives realize that on this issue they’re on the wrong side of changing demographics. So if the court decides seemingly against them, right-wing candidates can go to their base and say “Hey, we tried to be intolerant, they wouldn’t let us.” (Just joking, but many on the right are in fact hoping the court takes the issue off the table to take them off the hook.)
The U.S. has had numerous periods of dysfunctional divisiveness. Obviously, the worst resulted in the Civil War. The disastrous Vietnam and Iraq wars also badly divided the country. And now, sadly, the chasm is as wide as ever.
Who knows, maybe the Indiana law, with business-minded Republicans urging tolerance, could lead to a bipartisan thaw? Wishful thinking? Probably. In the meantime, at least it’s been food for thought for one more column. I hope.
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