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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Sosé Thomassian & Allen Yekikian their lives were cut short but their spirit will stay alive...

Sosé Thomassian & Allen Yekikian

I read the following story on line and couldn't help myself not to post it on my blog. In a previous post I've told the story of Sosse and Allen's tragic  accident. 

Last year during my stay in Armenia, I visited Proshyan village and was present at the opening of the day camp in that village.  Later I learned that the camp was organized for the endeavors of Sosé and Allen. After reading their story read my story.
The AYF Youth Corps program has a long and distinguished story that began in 1994, following the Bishkek protocol that set up a ceasefire in Artsakh.  The purpose was to take direct aid to the newly liberated villages and help repair the damage of years of war.  The program took young volunteers from abroad to rural regions to do rebuilding work hand-in-hand with locals…brick by brick.
The generation of AYF members that had the vision and foresight to create the Youth Corps program in 1994 understood the need to overcome the Iron Curtain and tangibly reconnect with our homeland.
Years later, the program was completely renovated with a renewed purpose.  In 2008, Youth Corps established its first day camp in Gyumri.  The purpose was to give kids in Armenia a fun, educational, and exciting summer, and at the same time introduce diasporan youth to more than just a superficial picture of Armenia.  The new concept has since grown to 7 cities, bringing dozens of volunteers to Armenia each summer, interacting with thousands of kids.
Among those who led the way in the establishment of Youth Corps 2.0 were Sosé Thomassian & Allen Yekikian.  Sosé & Allen wanted to engage young diasporans in Armenia’s future development, but first wanted them to understand Armenia’s realities.  They envisioned having young people from the diaspora teach and learn from youngsters in different regions of Armenia and Artsakh in order to build ties, build understanding and truly build a bridge home.
Sosé served as the Chairperson of the Youth Corps committee for several years beginning in 2008, and Allen served as the Youth Corps group leader in 2010.  The couple continued to be involved in the planning of the program even after they moved to Armenia earlier this year.  They Skyped into meetings each week, provided logistical support on the ground in Yerevan, and were ready to welcome our 2013 group with open arms.  They are sadly unable to greet this year’s group at Zvartnots because their lives were tragically cut short following a car accident on May 10th.
Sosé & Allen, you are not here, but your spirit remains with us.  So, with your spirit we continue.
With your spirit that views Armenia as a home to be explored, rather than a tourist destination, we continue.
With your spirit that sees opportunity where others see despair, we continue.
With your spirit that believes in connecting young people from the diaspora to young people in Armenia, we continue.
With your spirit that believes in thoughtful solutions, rather than blind criticism, we continue.
With your spirit that that knows that real results come from real effort, we continue.
With your spirit that has love for your people and love for your country, we continue.
You put your hearts in this program because you believe in our nation’s future.  Thank you for your guidance and we promise you our generation will continue.
With Love,

A day camp at Proshyan village
Last year I had the pleasure of being at the opening ceremony of a day-camp at Proshyan village about 12 km outside of Yerevan. We arrived at around 11:30 a.m. at the village. Our driver took us directly to the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) center where boys and girls were playing in front of the two story building.
This was the second year that AYF Youth Corps had put together a week-long day-camp for kids ages 6 to 15 at the village. The camp was in the memory of Karot Mkrtchian, a Proshyan son, who had sacrificed his life in the war 20 years ago.
Kevork Parseghian, the director of the center, welcomed us and told us we were right on time. They were just about to start the opening ceremony by taking the kids to the main square of the village where Karot’s bust was erected.
The leaders and counselors of the camp gathered the kids in rows according to their heights and together we all proceeded on foot towards the square which was right at the corner.
Just before entering the square, I had a chance to chat with Nareh Kupelian, one of the camp counselors.  She explained that all 14 counselors, between the ages of 20 to 27, were college graduates from the United States and had come to Armenia as volunteers for AYF youth corps program to help coordinate day camps in villages throughout Armenia and Artsakh.
The group had arrived a month earlier from the US and had already organized two-week long day camps in four different villages.  This was the last camp that they were going to coordinate.  Before assembling all in Proshyan they worked  in groups of seven.
As we entered the square I was pleasantly surprised to see how tastefully it was landscaped, with a lawn in the center and white rose bushes surrounding it.  Karot’s bust was visibly placed in the middle

With the kids lining up in front of Karot’s bust, the counselors began to recite patriotic passages to heighten the energy level and encourage the kids to respond.  Watching the scene, with the colorful flags waving in the background and kids chanting, stirred up my patriotic emotions.
The kids each received a long-stemmed white carnation, to place at the foot of Karot’s monument.  But before flower dedication, they sang the Armenian National anthem, which integrates the theme of sacrificing one’s life to free the homeland.
We all grew up with the reverberation of the words of our national anthem, but the meaning of the words had never been so striking to me than at that moment when I stood there in Proshyan square at the foot of Karot’s bust, and listened to the kids sing in Armenian: “Everywhere death is the same.  Everyone dies only ones.  But lucky is the one who is sacrificed for his nation.”
Karot is one of an estimated 4000 soldiers missing in action.  The last time Karot was seen was June 13, 1992, when he was fighting in mountains of Artsakh at the age of 28.  Karot was the commander of his troop and his friends and subordinates remember that he refused to retreat in that intense fight in the mountains…  Nobody has heard from him since then.
Every year on June 13, Proshyan village comes together to remember him and to make sure he is not forgotten, hoping that one day he will return.  He, alongside other Karots, sacrificed his life to fulfill our dream of a unified Armenia and Artsakh.
I should admit that I was very impressed by the whole affair.  I had not expected to see such an orderly procession and such neat buildings and landscaping in a village.  Later, I learned that Armenians from the Diaspora have been responsible for rejuvenating the village.
The building that houses AYF has been there since the Soviet time.  The two-story center was renovated recently and has a gym/recreation room with showers.  The center provides weight lifting, boxing and marshal arts training as well as a folk dance classes.
It was gratifying to see how the Proshyan AYF center, under the tutelage of Parseghian, is working hard to build future leaders with strong patriotic dispositions.  Parseghian has moved from Pasadena, California to live in Armenia to fulfill his father’s dream who was an Armenian Genocide survivor.
I’m so glad I had the pleasure of being there and meeting the leaders, who work day and night for the Armenian cause.  This was another layer of our homeland that I was not aware.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Michael Jackson's Fans turn out to remember him at the fourth anniversary of his death

They came back.  The fourth anniversary of Michael Jackson's death brought again throngs of people to Glendale Forest Lawn his resting place.  I read in the paper that a woman came from Finland.  I went to Forest Lawn.  And again the lawn in front of the Mausoleum was covered with all sorts of memorabilia.  Here is my musing on MJ and his talent.

Flash back:
 October 28, 2009 – I made sure that my calendar was clear, because I wanted to be among the first, to watch the silver screening of “This is it”, the documentary movie of Michael Jackson’s rehearsal footage of his failed concert in London at 02 arena.  My son and I chose to go to the showing of 7:30p.m. Did I like it?  I can only say that the world has missed an uttermost concert. The critics described it as a “feverish grip of pure creativity.” I say it was magical – a mélange of dizzying dances and powerful stage techniques with Michael Jackson in total control of every move on the stage.  Sitting there watching the movie with wet eyes, a thought was swirling in my mind, “What a shame that he couldn’t make a comeback.” In my eyes, he was still the sweet kid, the soft-spoken MJ. I could not see a fifty-year old man.  There was no hint of his failing health, something that I was expecting to see. Instead I saw him as agile as 20 or 30 years ago. The movie, definitely re-established the value of his music and proved that he was genuinely a thriller.

Flash back: Sunday October 26, 2008 – just five days before Halloween.  We are in San Diego having dinner at an outside café in Gas-Lamp district.  As we sit there I notice groups of young adults wearing shabby clothing with frayed hair. Some have bandaged their heads.  Some have wrapped themselves as mummies, with blood-like stains all over, and some are wearing misfit clothes.  The groups are parading at the sidewalks with unusual strides, some limping, some moving their arms slow, in zombie-like motions.  Curious me – I ask an approaching kid.  “ What is this all about?” the kid answers, “It is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s the Thriller.”   “Oh! Michael Jackson,” I think to myself, “he has been absent for so many years. Has it already been 25 years?  Hmm, most of these kids were not even born, then.”  A nostalgic sense envelops me.  Why is it that the talent of most geniuses is overshadowed by their enigmatic lives?  That day, I was happy to be there and watch the re-incarnation of the “Thriller” but deep in my heart there was a black spot, a question mark about his legal issues with young boys.  The parade was a great tribute to a genius, an eccentric performer, who took pop music to the never-traveled heights.  

Flash back:  1979 – We have just moved from Iran to the United States.  I am watching on TV, a documentary about Michael Jackson’s life starting when he was a kid dancing with his brothers in their group – Jackson 5.  Until that moment I had not even heard his name. Watching MJ sing, dance and moonwalk in his white bodysuit was awe-inspiring. The seven-year old Michael, with a big Afro leading his older brothers in a group dancing and singing, won my heart instantly – I thought he was so cute.  And then years succeeded… the boy became 25, 30 and 50.  His life shrouded with enigma with litigations and odd relationships, made the electrifying MJ to disappear.  And then on June 25, 2009, we learned that the ultimate Peter Pan passed away.  And then there was the barrage of clips from his life and his previous shows on TV.  Thirty years later, I sat down again in front of the TV, and watched his twirling and chirping, this time with a heavy heart.  Maybe through the eyes of my mind I was watching my own life go by so fast.  When on July 7, his poignant memorial service was aired on TV, I thought to myself, “why did we have to loose him to recognize his genius?”  How sad, that his death brought him back. Unfortunately all too often it happens, to all of us at one point in our lives, when we don’t recognize our blessings until it is too late. 

June 29, 2010 – Four days after the anniversary of his death, and when the dust had settled, I went to Forest Lawn to visit the King of Pop’s burial place and to see for myself the outpouring of grief from around the world.  I had read in the paper that fans had come as far as Spain and Japan to pay respect and to commemorate the first anniversary of his death.  And I living in Glendale, California where the cemetery is situated had missed the opportunity to be with his fans on the day of the anniversary.  Michael Jackson’s body is interred inside a mausoleum.  One cannot see the tomb because it is enclosed behind walls.  But outside of the Mausoleum for about 40 feet along the walls, there were all kinds of memorabilia from white gloves to flowers, poems, flags of different nations, all laid down.  When I arrived it was around 4:30 in the afternoon.  There were a few groups of people, a middle aged husband and a wife, a mother with her kids, a young couple, all paying the last tribute to a singer that they had loved.  I am glad that I could make it there, even few days late, to witness the sadness in the eyes of the people who were still hanging there. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Prince William's DNA TEST reveals that he is 1/128th Armenian.

Princess Di is 1/64th Armenian, So Prince William is 1/128th Armenian

“From the writings about Princess Diana I perceived, some years ago, maybe chauvinistically, the remnants of her Armenian genes, even though she was only 1/64th Armenian,” writes Levon K. Topouzian in an Armeniapedia entry on the late Princess Diana.
Topouzian says that Lady Diana’s Armenian ancestry is traced to an Armenian woman from India named Eliza Kewark or Kework which is an Armenian name. 

The story goes when “Some years ago letters with ‘funny writing’ were found in the ancestral home of the late Princess Di. After investigation they realized that it was Armenian and that they were written by grandmother Eliza…

“Eliza Kewark married the Scottish merchant Theodore Forbes. From this union was born Kathleen Scott Forbes who married James Crombie from Aberdeen. They had a daughter Jane who married David Littlejohn and their daughter Ruth [Littlejohn] married William Gill. [Their daughter] Ruth Sylvia Gill, the grandmother of Lady Diana, married Lord Fermoy and their daughter, Frances Ruth Burke Roach married the 8th Earl of Spencer who is the father of Lady Diana.

“It is noteworthy that Eliza Kewark was also referred to as ‘Mrs. Forbesian,’ concludes Topouzian. In short, Eliza Kewark was Lady Di’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother, which makes her 1/64th Armenian, which makes Prince William (and naturally, Prince Harry), 1/128th Armenian.

LONDON (june 15 2013): The future king of England has Indian blood in him and is a direct descendent of an Indian woman who was a housekeeper. 

DNA tests on saliva samples from Prince William's relatives have revealed a direct link between him and a woman who was part-Indian named Eliza Newark. William, the duke of Cambridge, is second in line to the British throne after his father Prince Charles 

Britains DNA, a genetic ancestry testing company in London, said William was carrying Eliza's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) — a small piece of DNA inherited mostly unchanged from mother to child. 

Eliza was a housekeeper for his great-great-great-great-great grandfather Theodore Forbes, a Scottish merchant who worked for the East India Company in Surat. They had a daughter called Katherine — and it is through an unbroken maternal line to the prince's mother,Princess Diana, that the young royal and his brother Prince Harry have inherited the Indian DNA

Born in 1790, Eliza lived in India when it was governed by the East India Company, and is thought to have had Armenian blood because her surname is rather like the Armenian name Kevork. 

Dr Jim Wilson, a genetics expert at the University of Edinburgh and chief scientist at BritainsDNA, who carried out the scientific research, said it was the fact that she was an Armenian living in Bombay that intrigued him. "I was wondering if it was possible she was Indian," he said. "What was an Armenian doing in Bombay? That's what got me interested." 

Using birth, marriage and death records, the scientist said researchers traced two of Eliza's living direct descendants, who are both third cousins of Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, and tested samples of their saliva. Using other genetic tests to corroborate the findings, they also discovered that the two direct descendants were around 0.3% and 0.8% South Asian. The rest of their DNA was of European origin. 

"This was independent evidence that there was Indian ancestry," Dr Wilson said. "For me, it corroborated the findings from the mtDNA. We've got two different kinds of genetic evidence that are independent from one another and they both corroborate the story. So it really seems that our future king has a little bit of Indian blood." 

Letters from Eliza to Forbes have also been found which contain Armenian script. This also suggests a degree of Armenian cultural heritage and the possibility that her father may have been of Armenian descent. "But we believe that all the evidence we have gathered shows that her genetic heritage through her motherline is Indian," scientists said. 

Scientists said it was "very likely" that William's heirs will also carry a small proportion of Indian DNA from the housekeeper. William and his wife Kate are expecting the birth of their first child in July. 

University of Edinburgh genetics expert Jim Wilson, who carried out the tests, said the proof of William's Indian roots was "unassailable".

Mary Roach, Princess Diana's maternal-aunt, told The Times, "I always assumed that I was part-Armenian so I am delighted that I also have an Indian background."

I hope you enjoyed the story.

A story about the only survivor of the Genocide. Once there were about 10,000 Armenian in that village.

Asya the only surviving Armenian in the village 

By Chris BohjalianPublished: June 6

Chris Bohjalian is the author of 16 books. His new novel, “The Light in the Ruins,” comes out on July 9.
A woman I met last month in southeastern Turkey is going to die, probably sometime soon. Asiya’s death will not be covered by any news service, and for all but a few people in her small village of Chunkush, she will not be missed. Even the relatives who love her will probably think to themselves, well, she was 98 years old. Or 99. Or, if she survives until 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of a century. She will have lived a long life.

When I met Asiya in May, her daughter brought me strong Kurdish tea and fresh strawberries from their yard, and when I return to her village someday and find that she has indeed passed away, I suspect I’m going to weep.
Why cry for a woman I met but once, who lived a long life and who couldn’t understand a word I said? Who spoke only Turkish, a language in which I know how to say only “please” and “thank you”?
Because Asiya is what some people call a hidden Armenian, and she is the last surviving Armenian in Chunkush.
I met her when I was traveling with six Armenian American friends through a part of Turkey that many Armenians (including me) refer to as Historic Armenia. We were in a region that today is largely Kurdish but as recently as 98 years ago was a mixture of Kurds, Turks, Assyrians and Armenians. We were making a pilgrimage to view the ruins of Armenian churches and monasteries, the remnants of a culture obliterated from this corner of the Earth in the Armenian genocide. During the First World War, 1.5 million Armenians were systematically annihilated — three out of every four living in the Ottoman Empire.
On our fifth day, we visited Chunkush, where until 1915 there was a thriving community of 10,000 Armenians. The ruins of the church loom over you. The town was almost entirely Armenian. Over a few nightmarish days that summer, Turkish gendarmes and Kurdish chetes — killing parties — descended on the village and marched almost every Armenian two hours away to a ravine called Dudan, where they shot, bayoneted or simply threw them into a chasm of several hundred feet. One of the gendarmes pulled Asiya’s mother from the line at the edge of the ravine, however, because he thought she was pretty. He decided he’d marry her. And so she was spared — one of the very few Armenians who were saved that summer day in 1915.
My companions and I hadn’t expected to find Asiya when we journeyed to Chunkush. We simply wanted to see the ruins of the church. Most of the villagers acknowledged that once upon a time Armenians had lived in Chunkush, but they were quick to add — whenever we asked what had happened to them — that at some point they had all “moved away.”
The truth was, they were still there, whatever remained of their bones deteriorating at the bottom of the Dudan chasm. We didn’t think there were any living Armenians in the town.
But as we were leaving, a thin fellow in his 60s, with a deeply weathered face and a ball cap, raced up to our van and banged on the door. We had been there an hour, and word had spread that Americans were in town. We had to meet his mother-in-law, he said.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

benefits of dark chocolate

Each morning I mix a teaspoonful of cocoa with my coffee.  I love my morning coffee with cocoa better.  I really do.

Researchers have some news for chocolate lovers: it may be good for you. Scientists reported preliminary evidence recently that cocoa and other chocolates may keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing and your heart healthy.

One study found that a substance in cocoa helps the body process nitric oxide (NO), a compound critical for healthy blood flow and blood pressure.  Another study showed that flavonols in cocoa prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, and make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots. Flavonoids are plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties; so far, scientists have found more than 4,000 kinds. Cocoa beans contain large quantities of flavonoids, and so do red wine, tea, cranberries, peanuts, strawberries, apples and many other fruits and vegetables.(2) The flavonoids in chocolate are called flavonols.

Generally, science has found that dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids
than milk chocolate.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Alfred Rosenberg Diary's Found -- He was a Nazi Leader and Hitler Aide

I found the following story compelling.  So I thought to share with my readers.
Alfred Rosenberg - a Nazi leader and Hitler Aide

By John Shiffman

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has recovered 400 pages from the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a confidant of Adolf Hitler who played a central role in the extermination of millions of Jews and others during World War Two.

A preliminary U.S. government assessment reviewed by Reuters asserts the diary could offer new insight into meetings Rosenberg had with Hitler and other top Nazi leaders, including Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering. It also includes details about the German occupation of the Soviet Union, including plans for mass killings of Jews and other Eastern Europeans.

"The documentation is of considerable importance for the study of the Nazi era, including the history of the Holocaust," according to the assessment, prepared by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. "A cursory content analysis indicates that the material sheds new light on a number of important issues relating to the Third Reich's policy. The diary will be an important source of information to historians that compliments, and in part contradicts, already known documentation."

How the writings of Rosenberg, a Nazi Reich minister who was convicted at Nuremberg and hanged in 1946, might contradict what historians believe to be true is unclear. Further details about the diary's contents could not be learned, and a U.S. government official stressed that the museum's analysis remains preliminary.

But the diary does include details about tensions within the German high-command - in particular, the crisis caused by the flight of Rudolf Hess to Britain in 1941, and the looting of art throughout Europe, according to the preliminary analysis.

The recovery is expected to be announced this week at a news conference in Delaware held jointly by officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Justice and Holocaust museum.

The diary offers a loose collection of Rosenberg's recollections from spring 1936 to winter 1944, according to the museum's analysis. Most entries are written in Rosenberg's looping cursive, some on paper torn from a ledger book and others on the back of official Nazi stationary, the analysis said.

Rosenberg was an early and powerful Nazi ideologue, particularly on racial issues. He directed the Nazi party's foreign affairs department and edited the Nazi newspaper. Several of his memos to Hitler were cited as evidence during the post-war Nuremberg trials.

Rosenberg also directed the systematic Nazi looting of Jewish art, cultural and religious property throughout Europe. The Nazi unit created to seize such artifacts was called Task Force Reichsleiter Rosenberg.

He was convicted of crimes against humanity and was one of a dozen senior Nazi officials executed in October 1946. His diary, once held by Nuremberg prosecutors as evidence, vanished after the trial.

A Nuremberg prosecutor, Robert Kempner, was long suspected by U.S. officials of smuggling the diary back to the United States.

Born in Germany, Kempner had fled to America in the 1930s to escape the Nazis, only to return for post-war trials. He is credited with helping reveal the existence of the Wannsee Protocol, the 1942 conference during which Nazi officials met to coordinate the genocide against the Jews, which they termed "The Final Solution."

Kempner cited a few Rosenberg diary excerpts in his memoir, and in 1956 a German historian published entries from 1939 and 1940. But the bulk of the diary never surfaced.

When Kempner died in 1993 at age 93, legal disputes about his papers raged for nearly a decade between his children, his former secretary, a local debris removal contractor and the Holocaust museum. The children agreed to give their father's papers to the Holocaust museum, but when officials arrived to retrieve them from his home in 1999, they discovered that many thousands of pages were missing.

After the 1999 incident, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the missing documents. No charges were filed in the case.

But the Holocaust museum has gone on to recover more than 150,000 documents, including a trove held by Kempner's former secretary, who by then had moved into the New York state home of an academic named Herbert Richardson.

The Rosenberg diary, however, remained missing.

Early this year, the Holocaust museum and an agent from Homeland Security Investigation tried to locate the missing diary pages. They tracked the diary to Richardson, who was living near Buffalo.

Richardson declined to comment. A government official said more details will be announced at the news conference. (Reporting by John Shiffmann in Washington and Kristina R. Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Blake Morrison and Leslie Gevirtz)

What is the truest definition of Globalization?
Princess  Diana's death.
Question:How come?
Answer :
English princess

with an
Egyptian boyfriend
in a French tunnel,

riding in a German
car with a
Dutch engine,
by a Belgian
who was drunk
Scottish whisky,
(check the bottle before you
change the spelling),
followed closely by
Japanese motorcycles,
by an American doctor,

This is
sent to you by
a Canadian,
Bill Gates' technology,
you're probably reading
this on your computer,
uses Taiwanese chips,

and a
Korean monitor,
Bangladeshi workers
in a
Singapore plant,

by Indian truck drivers,
by Indonesians,
unloaded by
Sicilian longshoremen,
trucked to you by Mexican illegals.....

That, my friends,
is Globalization

Friday, 7 June 2013

Amazing Nelson Mandela Sculpture

In honor of South African politician Nelson Mandela and to mark the 50th anniversary of his arrest by the apartheid police, artist Marco Cianfanelli was commissioned to produce a sculpture to stand in Howick, South Africa, on the exact unassuming spot that he was captured. The installation consists of 50 steel columns which symbolise the prison bars that held him for 27 years. When viewed from the right angle, the quietly powerful sculpture forms a profile portrait of Mandela.

It consists of 50 ten meter high laser cut steel plates set into the landscape, representing the 50 year anniversary of when and where Nelson Mandela was captured and arrested, on August 6, 1962 prior to his 27 years of incarceration
When you stand at a particular point the columns come into focus and the image of Nelson Mandela can be seen...

The sculptor is Marco Cianfanelli, of Johannesburg , who studied Fine Art at Wits...

If it is for this statue I'd like to visit South Africa.  What a genius.  I think it is phenomenal.  

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Transkei, South Africa. Becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, non-violent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies.