Thursday, 8 November 2018

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 796 8 November 18 EFFIGY BURNING



BURNING PEOPLE ALIVE IS OUT OF FASHION. EFFIGY BURNING IS NOT. THOSE WHO REJOICED OVER THE BURNING OF A MODEL OF GRENFELL TOWER CONVEY AN UGLY TRUTH.
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‘To witness suffering is pleasant. To inflict it, even more, so…there is no festivity without cruelty…Even in punishment there is something so very festive.’ Thus wrote Nietzsche in the ‘Genealogy of Morals’. I guess the eminent philosopher might have enjoyed the sight of the burning of the London block of flats named Grenfell Tower, in which 72 people died. (‘Punished’ only for being there.) Like the men who guffawed and rejoiced in setting fire to a large flammable model of the Tower – little paper figures shown trapped inside – on Guy Fawkes Night. Though universally blamed, they demonstrated the bit of uncomfortable truth in Nietzsche’s callous remarks. No wonder he loathed Christianity, the religion of a better truth: brotherly love.

Burning people’s images. Nasty thing. Yet a fate suffered for centuries by Guy Fawkes. The only man who entered Parliament with the right intention, as he wanted to blow it up. For centuries his ragged effigy burned on bonfires amidst public rejoicing, up and down England pleasant and green. Bit offensive to Catholics? Papists had to grit their teeth and take it. Staunchly Protestant England had to have her bit of fun. The historical Fawkes had been tortured and hideously executed but that wasn’t enough. Condemned forever to have his puppet figure a butt of baiting and then burnt amidst fireworks. Indelicate but quite festive, eh?

The archetypal bad guy of Christian tradition is Judas. One of Jesus’ twelve apostles. He who betrayed his Master for thirty pieces of silver. His very name being synonymous with treason. Many nations, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, like Greece, still burn Judas’ effigy before Easter amidst popular rejoicing. It might be offensive to Jews but, remember, Jesus and his followers were all Jews, Semites. How can Semites be guilty of antisemitism? Besides, though Judas’ crime was the foulest possible, he was an unwitting, necessary instrument of Providence. Without the Cross, no redemption of man. Overcome with remorse, he took his own life. A traitor who realised the extent of his enormity and paid for it with his life, whatever his punishment in the next world.

More modestly, the English town of Lewes still burns the Pope – England’s perennial foreign foe. Enemy nations were politically feared but the Pope was more insidious: he, like a hideous alien from outer space, invaded and took over Englishmen’s inner life: their consciences. With the general eclipse of religion in personal and public life, the Bishop of Rome is no longer a bogey but lingering prejudice dies hard. An effigy of Pope Paul V still goes up in flame. Though largely Lewes sets fire to ‘negative’ characters like Kim Jong-un, President Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Katie Hopkins and Boris Johnson. Part of me wishes I was deemed dangerous enough to join the club…

In magic the destruction of an image intends a physical attack on the person whose effigy it is. There is more to magic than mere superstition but you will not be harmed by a wizard who sets fire to a caricature of you. (Pace the fate of Steven Segal in the movie ‘Belly of the Beast’.) Rather, the practice expresses the impotent spite of those who are unable to hurt the real person. Trump is beyond the reach of his mockers – scores of gorilla-like FBI agents see to that - so burning his image is an act against the impression he makes on the minds of his admirers. Similarly with the public burning of the American flag by angry demonstrators. No one expects America to go up in flames as a result. It is an insult aimed at US patriots and nationalists, no more.

For Nietzsche that brings out the crucial difference between the weak and the strong, key categories of his philosophy. The strong, the superior men, have the power to discharge their aggressiveness. They can do whatever they like and can genuinely hurt whoever they wish. The weak, the bungled and the botched, cannot. They are impotent. In consequence they must find devious, subtler ways of manifesting their hatred. Of course, Nietzsche also believed the weaklings’ greatest revenge on the strong had been to get them to accept a ‘slave ethics’, a morality based on inferior values, such as pity and compassion. Via the agency of Christianity, he claimed.

The yobs who celebrated Guy Fawkes Day by burning the Grenfell Tower effigy betrayed their weak characters. They hated immigrants, especially illegal ones, Muslims and coloured people. However, they had not the power or courage to really attack the objects of their hatred. All they could do was to release their hostility by making a simulacrum of it and setting it on fire. Xenophobia, the dark side of England, dare not show itself and fight openly. (Brexit apart…) It prefers to lurk, to dwell in the shadows. The media spread deep layers of obfuscation on this unpleasant national reality – they piously squawk about compassion, inclusion, care, community, the plethora of liberal clichés and pretend all is well. In fact, the inner beast has yet to die.

When Tony Blair joined Bush in the invasion of Iraq, I contemplated nothing as futile as burning his image but something theological. Standing in Whitehall, just outside Downing Street and cursing Phoney Tony. Using the Book of Common Prayer Service of Commination for that purpose. (Check it out: interesting stuff.) In the end my spiritual director dissuaded me. Pity. Surely cursing a tyrant is pleasing to God? And, God willing, of some effect?

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

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Dr Dikran Abrahamian - Keghart.com

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Invitation to Membership Meeting - Open to the Community

 
Toronto, 7 November 2018
 
Dear Faithful,

The Pastor and the Parish Council of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church invite you to a special Membership Meeting that will have a broad impact on the entire Armenian community. This meeting will take place on Sunday November 11, 2018 at 2:00pm in the "Magaros Artinian" Hall, presided by His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimian, Primate of the Armenian Church Canadian Diocese.

Considering the importance and urgency of this meeting we strongly encourage all members of the community to attend.
AGENDA

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SMALL Investment for a BIG Positive Change 


«Գնեցէք Հայաստանէն – Shop In Armenia» 

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Dr. Dikran Abrahamian · 15 Bridle Rd. · Penetanguishene, On L9M 1J5 · Canada

ARMENIAN CHURCH Latest E-Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 32 07 November 2018

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["Armenian Diocese of the UK"]
 
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Marking The 19th Anniversary Of The Enthronement of His Holiness KAREKIN II In London
 
 
 

“When I speak of the 19 years of service of the pontificate of His Holiness KAREKIN II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, I am thinking of thousands of children from the ages of 5-16 years old attending extra curriculum studies in the youth centres in Armenia; hundreds of Churches, monasteries and shrines that have been erected anew in the cities; and villages in Armenia and the diaspora, renovated from the ruins. We think of the establishment of new dioceses, training and ordination of hundreds of clergy, the inauguration of the new theological centres, TV stations and church-related media outlets and enormous social and humanitarian works, as well as active ecumenical and inter-religious activities. I could continue to enumerate all of the Church's successes, in her mission during recent years. However, these have all have been possible due to the dream and vision of one person, who has enormous drive and passion which he has shared with us, gives Armenian clergy incentives to continue to serve with unwavering resilience” said the Primate while delivering his sermon at St. Yeghiche Church in London on Sunday 4th November to mark the 19th anniversary of the enthronement of His Holiness KAREKIN II. As part of the celebration, he presided over a special prayer at the end of the service for the longevity of the Armenian Pontiff (Հայրապետական մաղթանք). In his sermon, he also reflected on the epistle of St. Paul to Hebrews and called upon the faithful “to have confidence in leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watching over them as those who must give an account.” (Hebrew 13:17).
At the end of the liturgy the Bishop, clergy and congregation moved outside and had a special memorial service for the soul of Charles Aznavour, marking the 40th day of his passing
 
 

The Primate attended the Gala Dinner to Honour Henrikh Mkhitaryan
 
 
 
On 3rd of November, by the invitation of the AGBU London Trust and Mr. Joseph Oughourlian, Primate attended and blessed the Gala Dinner to honour Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Arsenal attacking midfielder and captain of the Armenian national team. Henrikh was thanked for his continued humanitarian efforts for the youth of Armenia and throughout the world. French-Armenian World Cup champion Youri Djorkaeff was present at the Gala Dinner along with Berge Setrakian the President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Lord Ara Darzi and other dignitaries. The Gala raised funds for the TUMOxAGBU after-school centres in Armenia.
 
 
 
TitleMarking 110th anniversary of “Jamank” Armenian Newspaper
 
Members of the Armenian community visited Bishop's House on November 2 to mark the 110 anniversary of the Armenian newspaper “Jamank ,” which has been published uninterruptedly in Istanbul since 1908. The special guest was Mr Ara Kocunyan, the editor-in-chief of “Jamank” newspaper, who visited London by the invitation of the Primate. Bishop greeted the guests with a brief introductory speech. Ara Kocunyan talked about, “Jamanak” newspapers history, achievements and challenges they have faced all through its publication.
 
 
 
 
 
Bishops of West London met at Bishop's House
 
The Bishops of West London and particularly of Kensington gathered at the Armenian Bishop's House on Tuesday 6th of November to discuss pastoral, ecumenical and global questions related to the mission of their respective Churches. Please read more in the newsletter.
 
Spritual Journey's through Bible
 
Bible study group continues to meet on every Wednesday at 7.30 pm at Bishop's House. The group is studying the Gospel of Mark. Sessions are led by the Primate and the clergy of the diocese. Address (27 Haven Green, Ealing London W5 2NZ at 7.30 pm (The entrance is on Woodville Road)
 
 
 
 
Armenian Children's Club- ԼՈՅՍ ՄԱՆԿԱՆՑ
 
Armenian Children's Club Լույս Մանկանց met in Bishop's House. The classes are led by experienced and beloved teacher Mrs Anna Henden. Miss Vanouhi Petrosyan a young and talented alumnus of the Armenian Sunday school helps her introducing children to Armenian language and Church through colouring of papers, watching short cartoons, speaking in Armenian (Western and Eastern).
 
 
UPCOMING EVENTS
 
Armenian Boat Party on 10th November @7:00 PM

Bible Studies at Bishop's House @7:30 PM Every Wednesday

Armenian Children's Club November 17th @2pm

Liturgy at Birmingham Mission Parish at St. Peter's Church November 18th, @1pm, Venue: St. Peter's Church, 208 High St, Walsall, WS3 3LA

ACT UK AGM at Navasartian centre, November 28, @ 7:30 pm
 
 
 
Read about these topics in detail, learn about upcoming events and more in our newsletter
 
 
The Church News objectives are:
 
To inform the wider public and its constituency members about activities of the Primate, organisations under the auspices of the Primate: ACT UK, ACYO, Ladies Committee
Worldwide Armenian Church
Parishes
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Armenian News... A Topalian... Maps for Hikers, Dilijan National Park

Dilijan National Park.
Maps for Hikers

Panorama, Armenia
Nov 3 2018
Armenian president signs amnesty bill into law

President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian has signed the parliament-adopted amnesty bill into law, the presidential office told Panorama.am.

The Armenian National Assembly unanimously adopted the amnesty bill on November 1.

The measure is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia and the 2,800th anniversary of the capital, Yerevan.

It will affect a total of 6,500 people in one way or another, including people under investigation or in pre-trial detention, with 660 due to be released from prisons.


Panorama, Armenia
Nov 3 2018
Minsk Group: Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders confirm reduction in frontline violence since Dushanbe meeting

The OSCE Minsk Group mediators promoting a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have issued a joint statement to sum up their visit to the South Caucasus region last week.

The statement, published on the OSCE official website, reads:
“The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stéphane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America), together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk, visited the region from 29 October to 2 November. 

The main purpose of the visit was to discuss the results of the conversation between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the margins of the CIS summit in Dushanbe in September, outline next steps in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, and review the overall evolution of the situation on the ground.

The Co-Chairs met with Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan on 29 October and with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on 1 November.  In both capitals, they held consultations with the respective foreign ministers and defense ministers.  On October 30-31, Co-Chairs met with the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and visited the districts of Kelbajar and Agdam.  On October 31, they participated in an OSCE ceasefire monitoring mission along the Line of Contact near Agdam.  In Baku, the Co-Chairs met with representatives of Azerbaijani communities affected by the conflict.  While in the region, the Co-Chairs discussed the situation with representatives from the ICRC and UNHCR.

In their meetings with the Co-Chairs, the leaders in both capitals confirmed that the level of violence has fallen significantly since they reaffirmed in Dushanbe their commitment to reduce tensions.  In their consultations, the Co-Chairs received additional details about the implementation of the Dushanbe understanding, including with regard to the establishment of direct communication links.  The Co-Chairs welcomed these developments, commended the sides for implementing constructive measures in good faith, and expressed support for the leaders’ readiness to continue their dialogue.

The Co-Chairs stressed the importance of sustaining a climate of trust for intensive negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

The Foreign Ministers agreed to meet again before the end of the year.

The Co-Chairs will soon travel to Vienna to brief the OSCE Permanent Council and the members of the Minsk Group.” 

PanArmenian, Armenia
Nov 3 2018
800 shots fired by Azerbaijan in past week 

More than 100 ceasefire violations - some 800 shots in total - by Azerbaijani army were registered on the contact line with Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) in the period of October 28 to November 3, the Karabakh Defense Army said in a statement.

The Karabakh frontline units continue controlling the situation on the contact line and protecting their positions.

The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group received additional details about the implementation of the Dushanbe understanding between Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents during a recent visit to Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan.


Vestnik Kavkaza
Nov 3 2018
Pashinian between USA and Iran

Acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian says he made clear to U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton last week that Armenia will pursue its national interests and maintain "special relations" with its neighbor Iran.

Finchannel reports in its article Pashinian Says He Made 'Clear' to U.S. that Armenia Will Maintain Ties with Iran that addressing the Armenian parliament on November 1, Pashinian said he told Bolton when he visited Yerevan last week that Armenia is a landlocked nation that does not have diplomatic relations with either neighboring Turkey or Azerbaijan, so it must retain "special relations" with its other two neighbors -- Iran and Georgia -- which he said are Armenia's only "gateways" to the outside world.

Bolton visited the Caucasus nations of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan last week in part to push for compliance with the sanctions that the United States is reimposing on Iran's oil and financial sectors on November 5 after withdrawing from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in April.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on October 25, Bolton said he told Pashinian that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump will enforce sanctions against Iran “very vigorously.” For that reason, he said, the Armenian-Iranian border is “going to be a significant issue.”

Pashinian told the parliament that his response to Bolton was: “We respect any country’s statement and respect the national interests of any country, but the Republic of Armenia has its own national and state interests, which do not always coincide with the interests and ideas of other countries, any other country.

Pashinian made his remarks in response to a lawmaker's question about what effect the U.S. sanctions on Iran would have on Armenia.

Days after his talks with Pashinian and other foreign leaders, Bolton conceded that the White House is unlikely to achieve its stated goal of reducing Iran's oil exports to "zero" under the sanctions.

A hard-liner who has pushed for the toughest possible sanctions on Iran, Bolton's remarks suggested for the first time that the White House may be preparing to grant waivers from the sanctions to some countries like India, Turkey, and South Korea that have requested them.

Still, Bolton insisted that the sanctions already are having a powerful effect on Iran's economy, in particular helping to cause a collapse in Iran's currency, the rial, this year.


News.am, Armenia
Nov 3 2018
Budget of Armenian president’s staff will be cut by 61% 
                  
The budget of Armenian president’s staff will be cut by 61 percent or by 741 million drams, head of staff Emil Tarasyan said during the budget hearings in the Armenian parliament’s standing committees.

The budget of presidential administration will total 1.183 billion drams.

One of the reasons for cutting expenditures is that the Airbus jet that was used by the president will no longer be available for the president as the presidency is now meant to become largely ceremonial according to new Constitution.


News.am, Armenia
Nov 3 2018
German law enforcers concerned over activities of Armenian mafia 
                  
Criminals from the Caucasus have built a powerful network in Germany, DW reported quoting an article published by Der Spiegel.

During three years German law enforcers tried to detain and arrest representatives of the Armenian mafia, but they hardly succeeded. A top-secret operation titled “Fight against thieves in law” was conducted by Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) together with the six Criminal Police Offices throughout the country.

The materials acquired by Der Spiegel describe “thieves in law” as senior criminal authorities from the Russian and Eurasian organized crime. The reports suggest that they maintain control over Armenian mafia groups in Germany.

The so-called starting point was a shootout between two crime clans that occurred in July 2014 in the town of Erfurt. Fourteen criminal cases were opened against 42 people who were suspected of financial fraud. According to law enforcers, Armenian mafia “really exists” in Germany. Together with other Russian and Eurasian gangs, the Armenian mafia has sufficient financial resources and may “threaten the foundations of the legal state”. Due to the lack of evidence, investigations have not lead to accusations and criminal cases so far.

According to information acquired by Der Spiegel and MDR, Armenian ambassador to Germany Ashot Smbatyan offered German investigators his assistance in the fight against Armenian mafia. However, BKA recommended not to accept help, noting that investigators do not rule out a possibility that thieves in law are linked to the representatives of the Armenian state agencies.


Agence France Presse 
November 4, 2018 Sunday 7:19 PM GMT
Churchmen seek repeal of Israel's Jewish nation law

Senior Catholic clerics in Jerusalem called Sunday for Israel to repeal a controversial law giving Jews a "unique" right to self-determination in the country.
 
"We must draw the attention of the authorities to a simple fact," bishops and archbishops of the Roman Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic and Greek Melkite churches said in a joint statement.
 
"Our faithful, the Christians, our fellow citizens, Muslim, Druze and Baha'i, all of us who are Arabs, are no less citizens of this country than our Jewish brothers and sisters."
 
The nation-state act was passed by parliament in July and forms part of Israel's basic laws -- a de facto constitution.
 
It speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and demotes Arabic from its former status as an official language.
 
Because it omits any reference to equality or the country's democratic nature, Israeli Arabs say it will legalise discrimination.
 
There were widespread Arab protests after it passed into law and some Jewish politicians said it should be amended.
 
President Reuven Rivlin said the act "in its current version is bad for the state of Israel and bad for the Jews".
 
Arabs account for some 17.5 percent of Israel's nearly nine million population.
 
"Christians, Muslims, Druze, Baha'i and Jews demand to be treated as equal citizens," said the letter which was also signed by the Maronite archbishop of Cyprus and the Greek Melkite archbishop of Petra, in Jordan.
 
"We, as the religious leaders of the Catholic Churches, call on the authorities to rescind this basic law and assure one and all that the state of Israel seeks to promote and protect the welfare and the safety of all its citizens."
 

Arminfo, Armenia
Nov 2 2018
Armenia improved its position on electricity connection by 44 points in WB Doing Business ranking
Alexander Avanesov. 

Armenia has improved its position in the World Bank Doing Business ranking in terms of electricity connection. Currently, the republic has risen to 17th place compared to 66th place in the previous report.

According to the press service of Electric Networks of Armenia CJSC, the Doing Business report qualifies countries in various categories, based on the creation of business and the availability of approved procedures. 

One of these procedures is the indicator of the availability of connection to the electric network. A sharp jump in the ranking is unprecedented for the entire region. Such countries as Germany, France, Sweden, Singapore, China are in the top ten countries. To note for comparison, that in 2017, Armenia was at the 66th position among such countries as Cyprus, Qatar, Vietnam, and in 2016 among Kazakhstan, Colombia and Malta.

In 2015, when the Tashir Group of Companies acquired electric networks, Armenia was at 99th place among Bulgaria, Ecuador and Paraguay. Thus, over the past three years, the indicators of connection to the Armenian power networks have improved by 82 points. 

In recent years, the company, together with the Public Services Regulatory Commission, Yerevan Municipality and other state structures, has improved the procedures for connecting to the power grids. The whole business process is digitized. According to the Doing Business 2018 report, "Armenia made getting electricity faster by imposing new deadlines for procedures to obtain a new electrical connection". The stipulated electricity connection terms are reduced by 50%. In 2015, more than 3,700 subscribers were connected to the network, who performed 7-8 steps, and in 2018, more than 4,700 subscribers completed 3 steps.

The ranking considers important such areas as the system of "automatic restoration of outages" and "regulator's control". A system for monitoring outages and restoration of power supply has been established. At the expense of automating processes, today the meters send a signal (where and when electricity is turned off) without any phone call.

"Electric Networks of Armenia" Company continues to improve network connectivity indicators, trying to occupy a higher position in the rating, providing understandable conditions and short terms. A new package of changes has already been approved, according to which the three connection steps will be reduced to two (in one case, when submitting an application and in two, ensuring security when connecting)

Regardless of the indicators set by Doing Business, "Electric Networks of Armenia" strives to improve the quality of services provided and provide convenient conditions for its subscribers.

To note among the 190 countries covered by the World Bank (WB) Doing Business ranking - 2019, Armenia rose from 47th place to 41st, improving its positions by 6 steps.

Earlier, at a press conference in Yerevan, responding to a question from ArmInfo, General Director of "Electric Networks of Armenia" CJSC Karen Harutyunyan reported that the company intends to attract from the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development a total of $ 160 million to implement its investment program, planned to 2020. 

According to him, preliminary documents have already been signed with the financial structures. The final agreements will be signed at least a month later. The loan funds will be directed to the company's implementation of its five-year investment program at a cost of $ 200 million. As Karen Harutyunyan noted, the funds will be attracted to a private company without state guarantees, which is an unprecedented practice. The attracted funds will not affect the company's credit burden.

In his turn, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of "Electric Networks of Armenia" CJSC Karen Darbinyan stressed that, in parallel with the investment program until 2020, a new program is being developed for 2018-2028 worth $ 500 million. Discussions on the program are already underway, documents are being prepared for submission to the Commission on Regulation of Public Services. The implementation of the 10-year program will provide an opportunity to reconstruct and modernize electrical equipment, which has been used for 50 years or more. It is also planned to modernize electric substations, reconstruct distribution points, completely replace air and cable lines, and introduce the ASKO electric power accounting system throughout the country.

''Electric Networks of Armenia'' CJSC was established in May 2002 as a result of the merge of four state regional electricity distribution and sale companies: Yerevan Electric Networks, Northern Electric Networks, Southern Electric Networks and Central Electric Networks. The main activity of the company is the regulated distribution and sale of electricity. The total length of the networks is 36 thousand km. The company serves about 985 000 consumers. CJSC "Electric Networks of Armenia" has an exclusive license for transmission and distribution of electricity in the territory of the Republic of Armenia at guaranteed tariffs, calculated on the basis of the company's costs and a regulated rate of return on investment.-l


European Gaming Industry News
Nov 5 2018
Armenian government refuses proposal to ban gambling
By Niji Ng         
 
The gambling ban saga in Armenia too new turn, as the government refused to evaluate the proposal. 

Atomjughazyan, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Armenia, agreed with the provisions of the proposal, but he categorically stated that such a ban would harm the economy. He also added that the measure would lead to corruption risks and new problems.

In short, the gambling business of Armenia will continue. The gambling industry of Armenia generates up to $ 22 million in taxes annually and creates over 2000 jobs.

In September, Armenian government has approved new amendments to the law on gambling, according to which the gambling business will be restricted to special zones of Tsakhkadzor, Sevan, Jermuk and Meghri. It was suggested that only local gambling operator will be allowed to advertise in Armenia. 


Panorama, Armenia
Nov 5 2018
Mkhitaryan awarded at AGBU gala dinner for ‘humanitarian efforts’

Armenian national football team and Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan was awarded at a charity gala dinner organized by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) in London on Saturday, November 3, for his consistent humanitarian efforts for the youth of Armenia and throughout the world.

Mkhitaryan was joined by his mother, Marina Tashchyan, and sister, Monika Mkhitaryan, during the event. Businessman Michael Vardanyan’s daughter, Betty Vardanyan, and French football legend of Armenian descent Youri Djorkaeff also joined them for the charity dinner.

The London gala raised funds for the TUMOxAGBU school centers in Armenia.


The Daily Telegraph (London)
Telegraph Obituaries
November 2, 2018 Friday
Ara Güler: Photographer whose pictures of Istanbul evoked the sadness of the loss of the Ottoman Empire

ARA GÜLER, who has died aged 90, was a photojournalist who became known as the "eye of Istanbul" for his atmospheric black and white photographs of the city, taken over more than 60 years, which seemed to evoke what the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk described as "the cloud of gloom and loss that the fall of the Ottoman Empire had spread over Istanbul".
 
As a member of the Magnum photographic agency, Güler travelled the world, taking colour photographs of scenes in India, Bangladesh, Burma, the Philippines, Kenya, Senegal and many more, and making portraits of such figures as Churchill, Bertrand Russell, Maria Callas, Alfred Hitchcock, Picasso and Tennessee Williams. Yet he was most proud of his work in his native Turkey and especially in Istanbul, where he lived all his life and whose crumbling charms are increasingly being lost to slick commercialisation.
 
Güler's photographs featured views of abandoned wooden houses, fog-wreathed minarets, ice on the Bosporus - and the people of the city: a grubby child peering from behind decaying tombstones inscribed with ornate Arabic script; labourers unloading hulking freighters; fishermen in coffee shops mending their nets, couples walking down foggy streets; old men gazing out over their drinks; horses pulling carts up snowy hillsides, and Muslim worshippers bowing in prayer. Orhan Pamuk used some to illustrate his nostalgic memoir Istanbul: Memories of a City, helping him to evoke his "huzun" - sense of desolation - at what had happened to his beloved city since his childhood.
 
The Turkish writer Yasar Kemal, who compared Güler's talents to those of Cezanne, Turner and Gauguin, observed that he delved deeply "into both nature and man … For years perhaps he carries within him a certain face, a certain smile, a certain _expression_ of pain or sadness. And then, when the time is ripe, he presses the button.'' Güler acknowledged having learned his technique through studying great painters. But he dismissed the idea that he was an artist, insisting that he was a mere "press photographer": "Photography looks like art, but art has to have some kind of depth. Painting is art. Music is art … Photography is interpretation. I hate the idea of becoming an artist. My job is to travel and record what I see.'' 

He was born Ara Derderyan to Armenian parents on August 16 1928 in Beyoglu, Istanbul. In 1935 a law compelled them to take a Turkish surname. His father owned a pharmacy in the Galatasaray neighbourhood and sold many of the powders and chemicals used by Turkish filmmakers to develop their film, inspiring Ara to pursue a career in cinema.
 
While at the Getronagan Armenian High School, he did odd jobs in film studios and attended drama courses. One day, however, there was a huge fire in the studio where he was working and he had to climb on to the roof to be rescued. The building eventually collapsed. "My father decided that enough was enough, and he got me a job in a newspaper. There, I learned that writing an article takes a long time. I liked photography better. You got faster results."
 
He joined the newspaper Yeni Istanbul in 1950 and studied Economics at the University of Istanbul at the same time. He moved to another paper, Hürriyet, before joining the Turkish magazine Hayat as head of the photographic department. In 1958 he was hired by the American magazine group Time Life, which had opened an office in Istanbul. Henri Cartier-Bresson and Marc Riboud recruited him for the Magnum agency; later on he left to work freelance.
 


 
Though of Armenian ancestry, Güler claimed that he considered himself "just a Turkish person like any Ahmet or Mehmet". Yet Orhan Pamuk recently recalled in the New York Times how Guler walked into his office in 2005 after he (Pamuk) had received death threats from Turkish nationalists. Pamuk had given an interview complaining that it was still impossible to talk in Turkey about the terrible things that were done to the Ottoman Armenians 90 years before. Guler "was out of breath and cursing everything and everyone, in his characteristic manner. Then he embraced me with his huge frame and started to cry. Those who knew Ara … will understand my amazement at seeing him cry like that. He kept on swearing and telling me, 'They can't touch you, those people!' "After crying for a very long time, Ara finally calmed down, and then, as if this had been the whole purpose of his visit to my office, he drank a glass of water and left." In their previous conversations, Pamuk had never felt able to touch upon the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians, but now, "I no longer felt the urge to ask him about his grandfathers and grandmothers. The great photographer had already told me everything through his tears."
 
Güler felt that the young of Istanbul no longer knew or appreciated the history of their city: "What they know is the junk of Istanbul. The poetic, romantic, aesthetic aspect of the city is lost. I understand the smell of Istanbul … But the great culture I knew is gone.'' Güler's first marriage, to Perihan Sariöz, was dissolved. His second wife, Suna Taskiran, died in 2010.
 
Ara Güler, born August 16 1928, died October 17 2018