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Sunday, 27 May 2012

May 28, 1918: The first independence day of Armenian Nation

Gates of Sardarabad

May 28: The Struggle for the Fate of a Nation

92 years ago amid the chaos of the First World War and the turmoil of genocide, a small but resilient people drew on their legendary past for strength as they made their last stand for freedom at the gates of Sardarabad.

At stake was their very survival.

For four days in 1918, the Armenian people, volunteers and refugees alike, united to defend the remnants of their nation from total annihilation. The Turkish army was advancing on Yerevan, intent on cleansing the Armenian provinces of the former Russian Empire.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the Armenian volunteers, most of whom were refugees, should have been crushed, sealing the Turks promise of extermination. But this proud people, considered by the legions of Rome to be an unconquerable race of mountain warriors, came together in a moment of supreme crisis.

The call for battle rang throughout Yerevan all day on May 24th as the bells of Etchmiadzin and every church in the province called on men, women and children, young and old, peasant, trader and clergyman alike to join the fighting soldiers in the defense of their common fatherland.

By 1918, only a sliver of Armenian territory in the east had remained unconquered by the Turks who continued to press further, poised for a total purging of Armenians from their ancestral lands.

But the perseverance of an entire people, beaten and battered throughout history was felt across those fields of battle that day as a few thousand people were roused from the brink of famine to hurl back the Turkish tide, saving the eastern heartland of Armenia and paving the way for a declaration of independence.

On May 28, six centuries after the collapse of the last Armenian Kingdom, the Armenian National Council in Tbilisi declared the birth of a democratic republic. Founded on the principles of equality, it was the Armenian people’s first experiment with democratic self-rule. In its first year, the fledgling republic, battling the scourge of typhus and struggling to feed a dying population, conducted its first parliamentary elections.

In this election, the Republic of Armenia, before any other nation, gave all adults, regardless of gender, race or religion the right to an equal and direct vote.

Despite the dire circumstances, an overwhelming majority of the Republic’s voting citizens got out the vote, giving 90% of the vote to the founding party of the Republic, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (and electing three women to the country’s legislature). A month earlier, acting Prime Minister Alexander Khatisian proclaimed the “Act of a United Armenia” creating 12 seats in parliament for deputies from Western Armenia, with which it sought reunification.

The move signaled the government’s commitment to the establishment of a united homeland from the fragments of genocide. The prospect of viable independence compelled hundreds of Armenia’s, dispersed throughout the Diaspora, to journey to the new republic and work toward the revival of the people. Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands of refugees returned to their homes to rebuild their lives.

In the first year of Armenia’s independence almost 200,000 people died of hunger, but hope did not fade as the nascent country continued to push forward against the greatest of odds. By its first anniversary, the Republic’s boundaries had grown beyond the small province of Yerevan to include a total area of about 50,000 to 60,000 kilometers.

The next year ushered in the employment of over 5,000 workers in hundreds of small factories and distilleries. Hundreds of miles of telegraph wire were repaired and extended. Thousands of miles of road were in operation and hundreds of miles of railroad track laid down. By 1920 a state university with a growing student body was established. 420 elementary schools were built to educate over 38,000 young Armenia’s and 22 secondary schools functioned for more than 5,000 students.

In the span of two and a half years, the Democratic Republic of Armenia created the vision of a homeland that would keep the hope of a nation alive during almost a century of exile and Soviet domination. It laid the foundations for the reemergence of Armenian statehood in 1991 and served as a source of inspiration for a new generation of freedom fighters struggling for self-determination against the threat of renewed genocide in Artsakh.

The dimmest moment in our history became our brightest. A nation, growing new roots after centuries of oppression, rose above adversity and forged its own destiny in 1918 by establishing a democratic state far ahead of its time.

I found this great article chronicling the history of Armenia's Independence Day written by Alan Yekikian in Asbarez

Friday, 25 May 2012

Energy healer – Journeys of Discovery

 Mysteries Revealed

Debra Mae White -

We found paradise in the Andes Mountains of Peru. My husband, Dennis and I settled into a slice of heaven at the Sol Y Luna hotel on our way to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Each ancient site in the area tells a story spanning eons in the ether of time. There, in the midst of awe inspiring views, we began our journey of discovery.
High in the Altiplano, we were led to a remote, rocky area by Maria, a 75 year old Shamaness who acts as a priestess or liaison between the physical and spiritual worlds. Our destination was the Amaru Muru Doorway, known to be an inter-dimensional gateway of the universe. Maria and her assistants laid out her mesa, a ceremonial cloth and began preparing a dispacho, the traditional offering made to the guardians of the nearby mountains, known as the Apus. We brought gifts for Pachamama, the Goddess or Mother Earth worshipped by the indigenous people of Peru.

The preparations were carefully carried out as Maria invoked the great spirits and asked for their blessings on our travels. The offerings included cocoa leaves used by the local inhabitants to oxygenate their blood at the 13,000 foot elevation. There were many sweets as we were told Pachamama is a female force that loves to taste sweetness. Every item placed on the multi-colored cloth held a special significance. A holy fire was prepared and many prayers were ushered to the heavens. When the bundle was wrapped and ready to be ceremoniously burned, Dennis and I were instructed to approach the doorway. While we had been busy watching Maria meticulously carry out each step demonstrating love and respect for the spirits, twin sisters in their twenties from India appeared. Their soft voices synchronized in a mellifluous mantra as they began a chanting meditation.

To the left of the doorway there is a vertical indentation in the rock, known as the male polarity. To the right appears the female counterpart. In the center of these two openings lies the doorway itself, complete with a circular carving in the center. We were told the circle represents the third eye and marks the location where many are given a vision beyond the veil of ordinary reality.

When I lifted my forehead to the female side of the rock and felt the cold stone, I saw the sun rising with a bright red heart burning beneath. On the male rock, the image of a Condor in flight took form, teaching the right use of power. Then, as I placed the center of my forehead on the small circular opening for the third eye, awaiting my sacred moment, not one but two cell phones began ringing.

Hah! I gasped…we were in a remote area high in the Altiplano of Peru with only a Shamaness, her two assistants and our guide. What were the chances? Inhaling deeply in the thin, crisp air I steadied myself against the cliff and opened my mind asking for a message. In my mind’s eye, I sensed the celestial watching the scene unfold.

Then, I received my lesson. I knew that one can connect with spirit in any circumstance. In times of chaos and cacophony, in the midst of motion or the mundane, the opportunity to touch the divine is always present.

A hush fell upon me and rendered me humble. I marveled at how mysteries are revealed in the most inauspicious ways. In the next moment, I heard the message of life in a falling leaf, in a dark, smooth stone that settled at the bottom of the nearby lake and singing in the little lupines that lingered along the road we traveled. I experienced a sudden, spontaneous appreciation of everything that was there all along waiting for my attention to notice.

As we watched the dispacho burn and the sacred smoke rise into the intensity of the brilliant Andean sky, one of the Indian girls turned our way and asked “What are you seeking?”

“We are seeking nothing,” I replied, and inquired, “Why are you here?”

“We don’t know why,” she responded.

“Ah…I mused. Now you know why we are all here.”

“We come because we are called,” I continued. “We are drawn to the richness of Pachamama. We are like bridges built to bring the energy back with us to share with others.” My young friend smiled and said, “That’s beautiful.”

“Beautiful, I repeated, just like Peru.”

Journeys of Discovery Travel

Join energy healer
Gene Ang PhD for the next Sacred Journey to
Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, Nazca Lines
Oct. 18 - 28, 2012!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

AROUND TOWN – Another Bizarre News in my hometown. A plane crash on Glenoaks Blvd. in Glendale

                                                                                                                                                                It was a very close call...

Around 9 p.m., I was completing some last minute shopping at the Armenian Golden Farm Market, when I heard over the loudspeaker that the store was going to close in 10 minutes.  I hurried to the cashier's line to pay. Right in front of me, a young man was talking on his cell phone.  I overheard him say something about a plane crash. Curious, I asked him, "Where was the crash?" Laughing, and obviously very amused, he told me a plane had come down just a few blocks away from the market at a residential neighborhood. I thought to myself, "These young men... Nothing is serious to them." 

On my way home, I was distracted by a great deal of commotion – four or five helicopters hovering in the sky, police cars zooming by with sirens on, other emergency vehicles racing to the scene.  Some of the street lights on Glenoaks Blvd., and the traffic lights at some intersections were out. Police had cordoned off streets leading to the crash scene. I turned on my car radio to learn about the crash.  A small airplane had come down on a stretch of Glenwood Road near the old Grandview Cemetery, and it seemed no one was killed – I sighed with relief.  

When I got home and turned on the TV, I learned the plane was a six-seater, single-engine aircraft on its way to Phoenix. The pilot had crashed the plane into the front yard of a home along the 1200 block of Glenwood, between Cleveland and Bruce, knocking down power lines before coming to a rest upside down.  The 55-year-old pilot had extricated himself and walked away from the wreckage safe.  There were eye-witnesses who had seen the plane veering down. 

Luckily, besides hitting the power poles and cutting electricity to more than 1,000 homes and streets in the immediate area, no other damage or injury had been reported.  

The paramedics had taken the pilot to L.A. County - USC Medical Center. He was released this morning, he had minor injuries.  If I'm not wrong I think I heard in one point that when the neighbors went to the rescue, the pilot was laughing.  Indeed, it was a laughing matter.  I bet all the neighbors must be laughing with relief!  

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Embezzlement in Glendale....

A few days ago I posted a breaking news about an elected official in our city that had embezzled money, and he was indicted. A very rare and shameful incident for our town. The following is a column by Gary Huerta a columnist in our local newspaper the News-Press.

By: Gary Huerta
Like many in Glendale, I have been watching former City Councilman John Drayman, wondering how it is that someone goes from a position of esteem to wearing the blue jumpsuit of a jail inmate.

His fall has not been a rapid descent. Last year, when things began to unravel for Drayman, I backed off from making any comment because it felt like I would be dog-piling on an already unfortunate situation. But with a litany of accusations — including embezzlement, filing false tax returns, money laundering, forgery, and more — it's highly unlikely this columnist's opinion is going to be seen as character assassination.

Unfortunately, his tangled tapestry of trouble is not his burden to bear alone. Some of those who supported and trusted Drayman, including those on the City Council, have commented in the press on how they may be viewed as less ethical merely by association. I'd say that none of us should make that a concern for those currently serving the interests of our city. As I've said before, I may not agree with every decision, but I do hold to a belief that our public servants are doing their best.

As far as the alleged embezzlement of as much as $880,000 from the Montrose Harvest Market over the course of roughly seven years is concerned, it seems almost incomprehensible that other administrative members in Montrose Shopping Park Assn. did not figure out sooner that so much money was missing.

Unless you hang around in Warren Buffet's circle of friends, that kind of money seems too substantial to overlook. But if you divide the total amount taken over the many months it allegedly occurred, the market would end up shorted somewhere in the vicinity $3,619 a month, or about $900 a week — assuming the market made the same amount each month and the stolen amount was the more conservative estimate of $304,000. That weekly amount is less conspicuous, and therefore an organization could very well overlook it.

I'm not saying this is what Drayman did; but this is how embezzlers typically get away with their crimes for so long. They take an amount small enough that it goes unnoticed for a while. But eventually, if they don't stop, that small number grows until it cannot go without someone sniffing it out.

I've been directly affected by three people who embezzled money. I even caught one red-handed. Two of them ended up costing me in excess of $100,000 in combined lost wages and bonus money, and the third took a substantial amount of money from my father's design business. They all suffered consequences because a money trail can be tracked.

Unlike running a red light, which can be disputed even with a photograph, the crime of stealing money over a long period of time leaves a lot of evidence, which is not so easy to discredit. If I were Drayman, that might be my biggest concern these days.

But before any of this is taken as a trial and conviction of Drayman, it's important to note that on Wednesday, his attorney, Michael Kraut, pledged to reveal the true story of the missing funds during the trial. He also claimed that others, who he declined to identify, were responsible for the embezzlement.

I agree with Drayman's attorney and likewise believe that the truth does indeed set every man free. Even though it's their right, I'm curious why Drayman and his attorney would want to wait for a trial to start publicly setting the record straight. So I contacted Drayman and let him know he could use this column as an opportunity to address those he had served for so long.

I certainly want to hear his side of the story — I assume there are a number of other people around Glendale bewildered by this case. If the allegations are false, I let him know that this is where he is free to supply facts that might set the record straight.

So far, I've heard nothing.

But my line remains open to Drayman. As does my willingness and desire to report whatever truths exist about the missing money.

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life.

I welcome your comments. Contact me via email,, or leave a comment here on my blog.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Breaking News... Former Glendale City Councilman indicted on embezzlement charges.

Welcome! in case you have stumbled into my blog, you are reading BEYOND THE BLUE DOMES.  I am a "Baby-Boomer" born and raised in Iran and my topics range from my memories growing up in Iran to homeless community in Santa Monica and beyond.  My theme is social realities and preserving the history. I'd like to connect with people around the world that share the same passion. I appreciate your comments; you may contact me by email: or just leave a comment on my blog. (it's easy if you have a gmail account)

My last post on my blog was a little introduction about my hometown Glendale.  Today, unfortunately I have to write about a former Glendale councilman being indicted on embezzlement charges.

It was not long ago, that an elected official was convicted of corruption.  It was December 7, 2011, when former governor of Illinois, Mr Blagojevich, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. The Jury found him guilty of trying to sell or trade President Obama's old Senate seat.  

Although the indictment of our former councilman is not as huge as Blagojevich, however it is so shameful.  I'm sorry to see another corrupt elected official this time so close to home. Here is the news taken from our local newspaper the Glendale News-Press. 

Former Councilman John Drayman was indicted Tuesday on charges that he embezzled at least $304,000 from the weekly farmers market in Montrose.

Drayman, who was arraigned on the felony charges at a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, pleaded not guilty. He is accused of: one count of embezzlement, 10 counts of filing false tax returns, five counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, one count filing a false financial statement and eight counts of perjury by declaration.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz said in court that the evidence shows Drayman deposited funds he collected from the Montrose Harvest Market into his own bank accounts, and the extent of embezzlement may have reached $880,000.

She also alleged that Drayman was uncooperative with authorities during the course of the investigation.

“He has consistently lied to them,” Schwartz said.

Drayman — who faces 10 years in prison if convicted — was silent and reserved during much of the hearing.

His attorney, Michael Kraut, rebuffed Schwartz’ characterization in court.

“Mr. Drayman has been cooperating with this investigation,” said Kraut, who specializes in representing executives accused of white-collar crimes.

The indictment caps a year-long Glendale police investigation into allegations of embezzlement brought by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., which operates the Harvest Market every Sunday.

The event had been logging steady losses as early as 2011, when organizers estimated they would lose $52,000 on the venture.

In the years since he helped create the Harvest Market in 2002, Drayman maintained an active role in the market, even after his election to the City Council in 2007.

But amid steep revenue losses, the association’s board of directors created a “Harvest Market Oversight Committee” in April 2011 and instituted a new procedure for collecting and recording weekly cash payments from vendors. Around the same time, Drayman was removed from his role in helping with the event for which some vendors said he collected cash payments.

According to the indictment, four board members discovered Drayman was submitting far less to the shopping park than what was being collected from vendors at the market.

A month later, news of the embezzlement investigation broke.

A few months after that, the association started reporting a massive market revenue spike — a turnaround Executive Director Dale Dawson called a “wonderful mystery.”

By December of that year, the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. was forecasting an income on the market of roughly $130,000 for 2012 — or nearly half the group’s operating budget.

Schwartz said the shopping park saw a 300% jump in revenues after Drayman was removed from the board.

Drayman was taken into custody in court after Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg ruled that Glendale police would have to investigate the source of the money put up for his bail, which was set at $200,000.

She declined Kraut’s request to allow Drayman to remain free until the terms of his bail were settled.

“I believe all defendants should be treated equally,” Schnegg said. “I treat everybody the same.”

He is scheduled to appear in court today for the bail hearing. Longtime Drayman supporters Sharon and Robert Thompson and Sharon and Bill Weisman had offered to put up funds to post bail using lines of equity and property. Schwartz raised concerns over the funding, which she said came in the form of an Internet printout and an “old grant deed.”

Schnegg also said she would only grant bail so long as Drayman wasn’t involved in any flea and farmers markets that were run by his “life partner,” Jeff Decker.

Decker recently started a new market for antiques and collectibles in La Crescenta, but Drayman’s attorney assured the judge that the former councilman was not involved.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Thomas KInkade Cause of Death Revealed....

LOS ANGELES, May 7 (Reuters) - "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade died of accidental acute intoxication from alcohol and an anti-anxiety medication, according to autopsy report made public on Monday by local NBC Bay Area TV.

The Santa Clara County Coroner's Office reported Kinkade's cause of death as "acute ethanol and Diazepam intoxication" and manner of death as "accident," according to the NBC station. Diazepam is the active ingredient in Valium.

A Santa Clara County Coroner's investigator confirmed to Reuters that the autopsy report on Kinkade had been completed but said he could not release it after business hours.

Kinkade, the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light," whose works captivated millions of Americans despite the scorn of many art critics, died in April at his home in Northern California at the age of 54.

His brother told the San Jose Mercury News newspaper that the painter had battled alcoholism for several years and suffered a relapse before he died.

Patrick Kinkade said his brother had been burdened in recent years by a separation from his wife, financial troubles and the low opinion of his work by critics.

Thomas Kinkade was arrested for drunk driving in 2010, the same year his company filed for bankruptcy. Art galleries reported a surge in sales of Kinkade's paintings following his death.

Welcome! in case you have stumbled into my blog, you are reading BEYOND THE BLUE DOMES.  I am a "Baby-Boomer" born and raised in Iran and my topics range from my memories growing up in Iran to homeless community in Santa Monica and beyond.  My theme is social realities and preserving the history. I'd like to connect with people around the world that share the same passion. I appreciate your comments; (it's easy if you have a gmail account)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

AROUND TOWN – The Story of a mama Bear and her two cubs caught in a residential area of Pasadena

Welcome! in case you have stumbled into my blog, you are reading BEYOND THE BLUE DOMES.  I am a "Baby-Boomer" born and raised in Iran and my topics range from my memories growing up in Iran to homeless community in Santa Monica and beyond.  My theme is social realities and preserving the history. I'd like to connect with people around the world that share the same passion. I appreciate your comments; (it's easy if you have a gmail account)

Mama bear and her two cubs caught on a tree in Pasadena May 3, 2012

My hometown Glendale:

Not long ago my hometown, Glendale, made the headlines when Kim Kardashian announced that she was mulling a run for mayor of Glendale.  I even read a blurb in Time magazine about the news and it made me happy to see Glendale making to the pages of Time magazine.  Thanks Kimmy for putting our town on the map.

Glendale acquired its name by combining two words Glen and Dale.  "Glen" means a narrow valley and "dale" means a broad valley.  As the name indicates, Glendale lies between several sets of hills and mountains, some running north/south and others running east/west. To the east of Glendale lies the city of Pasadena, also bordered by hills and mountains, and featuring its famous "arroyo" which is the stream bed near the famous Rose Bowl. 

Its proximity to the mountains means that all sorts of animals find their way onto the streets of Glendale.  Last year, while I was driving in one hillside neighborhood, I came across a group of stags, four of them. Fortunately I had my camera with me in the car and I took a picture of them. I posted the pictures on my blog: 

A month ago, Glendale was again in the news, this time not because of Kardashian but because a 500-pound bear roaming in the foothills and visiting Glendale residential streets for food.  Finally, after almost a month of bear siting in various Glendale neighborhoods, animal control experts were able to catch and remove the bear while it was looking for food by tranquilizing him and driving him to the forests 25 miles away. 

The Twitter community named the Glendale bear "Glen Bearian." They chose the last to end by "ian" because that is a universal suffix on the last name of Armenians, who comprise almost half of the Glendale population. Glendale is home to one of the largest communities of Armenians in the United States, or I may say outside of Armenia.  Around eighty thousand Armenians live in Glendale.   

A few days ago, the talk of the town again turned into bear siting.  This time a mother bear and her two cubs were wandering into Pasadena's streets. For the whole morning, the mama bear and her two cubs perched on a tree in a north Pasadena residential neighborhood by the foothills.  The Department of Fish and Game was notified; however, they wouldn't tranquilize the animals because the mother appeared to be nursing the cubs.  Eventually the bear family came down from the tree and returned to their mountain habitat.

Follow my Blog to learn more about Glendale

Americana Shopping Center in Glendale

Follow my blog to learn more about Glendale

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The most expensive Painting ever sold at Auction


Edvard Munch's iconic painting, "The Scream," broke a world record (5/2/12), becoming the most expensive painting sold in "an auction." The most expensive work of art ever sold is Cezanne's "The Card Players," which went in a private sale to the country of Qatar for $250 million.  
The estimates for the sale varied from $80 million to $200 million. The painting ended up selling for $119,922,500, surpassing the previous record-holder,Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," which sold for $106.5 million in 2010. 
The text below is an inscription by Edvard Munch for "The Scream":
"I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city.  My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

Almost a year ago on  May 29 of last year, there was another epic sales for a pair of singing-bird pistols sold for $5.8 million at Christie's auction house. The bidding war for the pair of singing-bird pistols had gone for a record of 10 minutes at Christie's International sale in Hong Kong.