$1.8 million anonymous donation for humanitarian projects in Armenia

Asbarez – An anonymous benefactor recently donated nearly $1.8 million to three nonprofit organizations that operate in Armenia: Armenia Tree Project (ATP), Armenian American Wellness Center (AAWC), and Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP). Each organization received one-third of the generous gift.

“Too few help Armenia,” the anonymous donor said when explaining the rationale for his donation.

He spoke at length about his deceased family members, whose memory he said he wanted to honor with his generous donation, especially during the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide.

“This is not from me, but from my father, my mother, and my sister,” he explained.

His last surviving family member was his older sister, Siona, who died last year, in September, in their unassuming California home. His mother, Elmas, passed away in 1982, and his father, Harry, in 1984.

Harry immigrated to the United States from Kharpert, Armenia around 1912, prior to the Armenian Genocide, and settled in Worcester, Mass. “He always sent money to his father back in Kharpert,” the donor said of his father. “Then, one day, the money came back and he never heard from his family again.”

Elmas, his mother, was also born in Kharpert, in 1905. Along with her sister Varter, she spent approximately five years in a Lutheran orphanage in Kharpert, becoming proficient in three languages and learning to embroider. “My mother came to the United States and within a year she began attending school,” he said.

Elmas and her sister were brought to Massachusetts in 1920 after their aunt, who lived in the United States, discovered that they were alive after the Genocide.

When Harry asked for Elmas’s hand in marriage, he repaid Elmas’s aunt “every penny” of her travel costs to America, the donor said. Those pennies had come at a huge cost to his dad, who worked in the Worcester nickel plating factory: “At the time of my father’s death, his lungs had almost disintegrated,” he said.

In telling the story, he tears up, recalling that his father would give his mother only the best—the first refrigerator, the first television set, all the yarn and string she wanted to use for her embroidery—yet his mother would always mumble, in Armenian, “Yes inchou chem grnar ourakh ellal?” (Why am I unable to be happy?)

Born in Worcester, the donor was the couple’s second child; Siona was two years older. While in Worcester, Siona worked for a title company. She was also a Sunday school teacher there.

He, meanwhile, served in the armed forces during World War II and was stationed in Japan. “That was the only time I left the USA. Interestingly, people are the same everywhere,” he said. He attended Clark University, in Worcester, and became an accountant.

In 1972, to escape the harsh East Coast winters, the family relocated from Massachusetts to California.

After their move, Siona could not work; her brother, the anonymous donor, took care of his sister until her death. The siblings had been living in what was essentially a glorified trailer community ever since they had moved to California. “We spent every day together,” he recalls.

The donor was not involved in the Armenian community, yet he knew about the Diaspora’s efforts made to assist Armenia. He had read about the three nonprofits—ATP, AAWC, and AECP—and their humanitarian projects in Armenia.

As his health began deteriorating, he made the decision to distribute his family’s savings to the three organizations.

Explaining his donation, he cited the Bible about giving to those in need, and added: “I have everything I need: shelter, food, and a warm bed. Now, I want to help my nation, the people of Armenia.”

Stockholm to host 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

This morning, SVT revealed Stockholm as the Host City for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. The capital city’s Globe Arena will stage the contest for the second time in its history. The Semi-Finals will be held on 10 and 12 May, the Grand Final on 14 May 2016, according to Eurovision’s official website.

The process of finding a Host City for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest began directly after Måns Zelmerlöw’s victory in Vienna just over a month ago. “Stockholm has delivered a thorough offer which guarantees that the event once again is taken to the next level, says Martin Österdahl, Executive Producer for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of SVT. Österdahl also lead the production of the 2013 contest in Malmö, Sweden.

“Stockholm is music. Our city seethes with activity revolving music. Creativity is close to our hearts and is something that we want to emphasise and be noticed even more clearly in the city,” says Karin Wanngård, Mayor of Stockholm. “To be the Host City for the Eurovision Song Contest gives us the opportunity to reinforce and stimulate the involvement which the music creates for people in Stockholm and all that will travel here to take part of the Swedish musical wonder,” the proud Mayor added.

The Globe Arena, which was completed in 1989, already hosted the Eurovision Song Contest before, back in 2000. The venue’s regular capacity is between 14,000 and 16,000 spectators, set design and camera plans will determine the final seating capacity for the three live shows.

The surrounding buildings of the Globe Arena complex will also be used. A press centre for more than 1,500 journalists will be located at the Hovet venue, delegations will house in Annex. “The crowning glory is that we can do the Eurovision Song Contest even more powerful during the Grand Final by incorporating the Tele2 Arena in the event,” said Österdahl.

Greece says ‘no’ to austerity

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said Greeks made a “brave choice” in voting to reject the terms of an international bailout in Sunday’s referendum, the BBC reports.

Thousands celebrated in the streets after hearing the final result was 61.3% “No”, against 38.7% “Yes”.

But European officials warned that it could see the country ejected from the eurozone and the euro fell across the board in Asian markets on Monday.

Greece’s finance minister, who often clashed with creditors, has resigned.

IMF reiterates commitment to help Armenia

Mr. Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department visited Armenia on June 28-July 1, for meetings with the authorities and other stakeholders. At the conclusion of his visit, Mr. Ahmed made the following statement:

“It has been a great pleasure to visit Armenia and to meet President Sargsyan, Prime Minister Abrahamyan, other senior officials, and representatives of the private sector, civil society, the international community, and students. We exchanged views on the impacts of the slowdown in Russia, lower remittances and copper prices, and sluggish growth in Europe and globally. We focused on how to improve growth and employment prospects over the medium term.

“Conditions and prospects in the Caucasus and Central Asia region are challenging, with an impact on Armenia. Growth is likely to remain at a moderate level over the next several years, which will make it challenging to create jobs and improve living standards. While Armenia has a track record of sound macroeconomic management, macroeconomic buffers are lower now, and higher levels of external debt and financial dollarization make the country more sensitive to adverse external economic developments. On the positive side, an important economic transformation has been underway over the past five years, with agriculture, mining, tourism, and services receiving investment and contributing to growth.

“Decisive action is needed to support higher growth going forward. While macroeconomic management has been good, efforts should now be made to increase growth-enhancing capital and social expenditures and reduce public debt. Further progress in tax administration and in improving the efficiency and equity of the tax system would provide additional resources to meet these objectives. Further bolstering Armenia’s foreign exchange reserves, maintaining a strong and resilient banking sector, and addressing weaknesses in the energy sector will also be important.

“These actions should be complemented by decisive implementation of bold structural reforms. Continued efforts are needed to improve the business environment, making the economy more open, competitive, and integrated regionally and globally. The IMF is aware that conditions are difficult and implementing these actions is not easy. We have had fruitful cooperation with Armenia over the past two decades and will continue our commitment to help Armenia and its people. I am grateful to the authorities for their hospitality and constructive dialogue during my visit.”


New documentary on Armenian Genocide screened in Montevideo

As part of the events taking place in Uruguay in commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide “The dawn of the twenty” documentary focusing on the murder of 20 leaders of the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party in Istanbul in 1915 was screened in Montevideo on June 22, reports.

The leaders were arrested, tried and sentenced to death. They were hung in the Sultan Bayazid Square in Istanbul on June 15, 1915.

“Uruguay was the first country to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and we have held a number of events to mark its centennial this year,” the mayor of Montevideo, Ana Olivera, said.

She stressed that Uruguay has “maintains close ties with the entire Armenian community.”

The secreening of the documentary at Teatro Solis in Montevideo was attended by the Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church Hakob Kellendjian, representatives of the Central Committee of the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party and the Armenian Consulate.

Manchester United named football’s most valuable brand

Manchester United have beaten Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to reclaim their position as the biggest brand in world football, becoming the first club to pass the $1billion mark, the Daily Mail reports.

Despite another season without silverware, United have overcome Europe’s big-hitters at the top of The Brand Finance Football 50, according to a study released on Monday.

The Red Devils are now worth just over $1.2billion (£787.5million), almost $300million more than second-placed Bayern. Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea round out the top five.

Barcelona’s Champions League final victory over Juventus on Saturday alone added $28million to their brand value, but could not stop them falling two places to sixth below Man City and Chelsea- although their second treble triumph in six years will probably ease their pain.

Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said: ‘Manchester United’s success has been masterminded by Ed Woodward, the Cristiano Ronaldo of football’s commercial sphere.

‘As Sir Alex Ferguson developed United’s world-beating reputation, Woodward (and United’s owners the Glazers) capitalised on the brand’s growing power to establish a worldwide fan-base and a range of sponsorship deals unrivalled in their number and value.’

United also received another boost to their financial potency thanks to the record-breaking new UK broadcast deal for Premier League rights commencing from the 2016-17 season worth $7.8billion (£5.1billion).

Southampton, thanks in part to their recent successes under Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman, are this year’s fastest growing brand. The Saints’ brand value is up 89% to $183million (£120million).


Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Armenia trip to feature in Season 10 – Video

Season 10 of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is taking a midseason break. After a drama-filled season so far – including a special documentary on Bruce Jenner’s transition – the Kardashian-Jenner clan will be away until the fall. But a preview trailer gives a sneak peek on what to expect, according to the

Armenia Trip

Khloe and Kim Kardashian are joined by Kim’s husband Kanye West and their daughter North on a trip to Armenia. The sisters are descended from Armenian immigrants on their father’s side and have always wanted to visit their ancestral lands. They finally made the trip earlier this year. The warm welcome they received and their emotional homecoming will be shown when the season returns.

Caitlyn Jenner’s Debut

Bruce Jenner has undergone facial feminization surgery. In the trailer, Kim tells Khloe that she has seen their stepfather as his female self. Vanity Fair has just revealed that she is now to be called Caitlyn Jenner. “She’s really, really pretty,” says Kim. Khloe could be seen with her mouth open and completely speechless. It remains to be seen if Caitlyn will now take the place of Bruce in the reality show.

Growing Up Jenner

In the trailer, Khloe and youngest sister Kylie are discussing birth control pills. When their mom Kris walks in, she inquires about what they are doing. Khloe explains that they are switching up Kylie’s birth control. Kris asks if Kylie is taking the pills for her skin and Khloe simply asks if Kris thinks that Kylie is knitting sweaters all day. Kris looks at the girls and is clearly lost for words.

Khloe And Lamar

Kim catches Khloe flirting on the phone and asks her if she’s talking to Lamar Odom. Khloe filed for divorce from Lamar in December 2013 but they still haven’t finalized the documents. Khloe admits that it’s her ex-husband on the phone and Kim asks if she’s calling off her divorce. Kim says that she can’t take it and Khloe simply says, “Good, you don’t have to.” It remains unclear what she means by that and if she is actually trying to get back together with her ex.

Kim Kardashian’s Pregnancy

The first half of the season dealt with Kim’s struggle with infertility. She has been going through various treatments just to get pregnant. Earlier in the season she revealed how exhausted she is from trying to get pregnant. She even had a minor surgery to correct a small problem with her uterus. At the end of the trailer, Kim is shown talking to her sister Khloe. “I just got the blood test back and I am pregnant,” she says. Khloe is ecstatic. The next half of the season is set to reveal more about Kim’s second pregnancy and all the other changes in the family’s life.

Season 10 of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is set to return this fall only on E!. The new spin-off series “DASH Dolls” is also set to air this fall.

Eurovision 2015: Montengro and Macedonia’s voting results disqualified

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 was hit by a voting scandal, when two countries’ votes were discounted.

The reported that Montengro and Macedonia’s voting results have been disqualified after it was discovered the two countries used votes from the televoting to account for 100% of the country’s votes, rather than 50% with 50% coming from a jury, as is required.

The Eurovision Song Contest press office released the information in a statement after Sweden’s victory was confirmed.

The statement reads: “The jury results of FYR Macedonia and Montenegro for the grand final have been excluded after consultation of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the contest’s independent voting observer, and upon the decision of the executive supervisor and the chairman of the reference group.

“In both countries, televoting applied for 100%. The exclusion of two juries will be further discussed in the next reference group meeting in June.”

The results will not affect Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2015.

Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death

A jury has sentenced Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty, the BBC reports.

After 14 hours of deliberation, the jury of five men and seven women came to its decision.

Three people were killed and 260 were injured when Tsarnaev and his brother placed bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.

Jurors made findings on 12 factors that would support the death penalty and 21 mitigating factors his defence said support the decision of life in prison.

Seven of 30 charges Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted of allow the possibility of the death penalty.

Australia tells Johnny Depp: It’s time your dogs ‘buggered off’

Australian officials have told actor Johnny Depp that he has until Saturday to get his pet dogs out of Australia — and if they haven’t “buggered off” by then they will be put down, the reports.

Depp’s two dogs are on a deportation countdown after the actor violated Australia’s famously strict biosecurity laws by bringing them in on a private flight and without the proper documentation.

The star, who is in Australia filming the latest installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, was told that he had to get his pets, Yorkshire terriers named Pistol and Boo, out of the country, Australia’s Minister of Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said in a televised statement.

Joyce said that a 51-year-old man, Jonathan Christopher Depp, decided to bring two dogs to “our nation, despite not getting the proper certification and the proper permits required. Basically it looked like he snuck them in.”

He started a countdown to a deadline for which Depp, and his wife, Amber Heard, who is traveling with him, need to comply — or risk the authorities putting Pistol and Boo to sleep.

“Now Mr. Depp needs to take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them. He’s now got about 50 hours (out of a 72-hour notice period).”

Joyce made his statement Thursday morning local time, meaning the count will expire on Saturday morning.

The minister said that the Department needed to crack down on this high-profile case to make a point about Australia’s stringent animal import laws.