Peninsula native vying for centipede mark at Bay to Breakers

Peninsula native vying for centipede mark at Bay to Breakers

By: Mike Aldax
May 11, 2010

Poignant experiences: Armen Vartanian says he was inspired as a kid when he
would watch the elite runners in Bay to Breakers races.

(Mike Koozmin/Special to The Examiner)

Armen Vartanian has been gathering co-workers and other Bay Area runners to
participate in breaking the world record for the longest centipede, but he
won’t be participating personally. That’s because Vartanian, an elite runner
and 2012 Olympic hopeful marathoner, will be attempting to set a record for
fastest centipede.

Centipede racing is a huge deal among the elite athletes running in the ING
Bay to Breakers, which simultaneously is host to the World Centipede Running

The elite centipede competition involves 13 runners who must stay connected
from start to finish. Vartanian said he’s gathering his ringers to break the
course record of 37 minutes, 39 seconds set in 1990.

His team includes several marathoners who have qualified for the Olympic
trials, along with college stars and a Dipsea Race champion.
The Peninsula-raised Vartanian said watching the elite runners at Bay to
Breakers as a child inspired him. In 2001, the same year he began training
for triathlons, Vartanian became the youngest to qualify for Ironman Hawaii.
Several years later, after recovering from injuries that sidelined him for
months, he placed 33rd at the Boston Marathon after only three months of

At the Chicago Marathon in October, he said he’s gunning to best the Olympic
trials qualifying mark of 2 hours, 19 minutes.

But at Sunday’s Bay to Breakers, Vartanian said he hopes that he and his
teammates can inspire young people in the way he was inspired.
"It’s definitely the hometown race," he said. "Whether you are in the
running community or not, you know of the Bay to Breakers."

ANKARA: Sikorsky considers investing in Turkey to produce helicopter

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
May 22 2010

Sikorsky considers investing in Turkey to produce helicopters

Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Ã?aÄ?layan said Friday in the US capital of
Washington that the United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a US
company that invests in fields from aerospace to air conditioning,
said they have considered investing in Turkey in the aircraft supply
industry along with helicopter manufacturing. United Technologies is
the owner of aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky.

Ã?aÄ?layan was in the US to participate in a series of meetings which
were arranged following the establishment of a working group made up
of two ministers from each country during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
ErdoÄ?an’s recent visit to the US. `For example, they told us they were
expecting to manufacture jet engines in Turkey; they are also keen to
establish an aerospace infrastructure.’ Ã?aÄ?layan said UTC could
manufacture Sikorsky helicopters in Turkey and then export them to the
surrounding markets.

Turkey to foster trade ties with US via Native Americans

Meanwhile, the government expects to strengthen economic relations
with the US with new investment projects to be jointly carried out
with Native American entrepreneurs. The government’s brand new
initiative, which was brought to the agenda during Ã?aÄ?layan’s recent
visit to the US capital, foresees joint projects with Native American
businesspeople, particularly in the fields of mining and
infrastructure, in locations with large Native American populations,
such as Arizona. Native American students will be provided with
bursaries for Turkish schools as a first step to branching out further
in the world’s number one market.

The project is being promoted by the Turkish Coalition of America
(TCA), a Washington-based civil society organization. Turkish
entrepreneurs in the US will also encourage Native American students
to study in Turkey. The project also envisages sending
Armenian-Americans to Turkey for educational purposes as part of
efforts to normalize relations. Turkey and Armenia have remained at
odds over claims of a so-called Armenian genocide at the hands of the
Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Minister Ã?aÄ?layan told Today’s Zaman he has assigned officials from
the ministry to work on the Native American project to seek possible
joint investment opportunities. `We have learned that these people are
active particularly in the fields of mining, construction and
infrastructure in the US. Such potential is worth focusing on,’ he
said. Ã?aÄ?layan said the project will provide the opportunity for
Native American students `to learn more about Turkey, be educated in
Turkey, speak Turkish and lay the groundwork for future ties.’

22 May 2010, Saturday

IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement With Armenia On Three-Year Extende


Targeted News Service
May 19, 2010 Wednesday 11:57 PM EST

The International Monetary Fund issued the following news release:

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Mr. Mark Lewis,
visited Yerevan during May 6-19. At the end of the mission, Mr. Lewis
issued the following statement:

"The mission reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities on
a program supported by arrangements under the Extended Fund Facility
(EFF) and the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The staff level agreement
is subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board. A
discussion of the program request at the Executive Board is planned
for late June. Access under the program (290 percent of quota) would
total SDR 267 million (US$392 million), covering the period through
June 2013. Board approval of the program would enable Armenia to draw
about US$52 million.

"While economic conditions remain difficult, the Armenian economy is
gradually recovering. Growth is expected to rebound in 2010, external
inflows are picking up, and public finances have improved. Inflation
has remained high due to various supply shocks, but should come down
gradually over the course of 2010.

"Nevertheless, while the crisis has passed, important medium-term
challenges have emerged: boosting growth while reducing poverty,
reversing the debt build-up, and maintaining financial stability.

"In support of these objectives, the authorities have committed to
a strong set of macroeconomic policies under the proposed EFF/ECF
program. Fiscal policy will continue to support economic activity,
but, as the recovery takes hold, budget deficits will gradually fall
to keep public debt on a sustainable path. The authorities intend to
widen the tax base through improvements in the tax administration.

They will also further improve the targeting and efficiency of
spending, while ensuring sufficient allocations for social and capital
spending, and taking further steps to protect the poor by enhancing the
social safety net. Maintaining low inflation will continue to be a key
objective of monetary policy. With supply pressures falling back during
the course of the year, inflation will likely continue to fall as well.

"On structural reforms, the program includes a strong set of tax
administration reforms aimed at boosting taxpayer rights, while
ultimately contributing to sound public finances and improvement of the
business environment. Regarding the financial sector, the Armenian
banking system has proven its resilience during the crisis. The
authorities intend to continue promoting financial intermediation to
support economic activity.

"The new EFF/ECF program should allow Armenia to meet its medium-term
challenges, helping to sustain the economic recovery, strengthen
the balance of payments, and lead to continued progress in poverty

"The mission would like to express its gratitude to the authorities
for their hospitality and fruitful cooperation."

20 Membres Du Congrès Pressent Les Etats-Unis A Financer Le Repeuple

par Stephane

vendredi21 mai 2010

Les Etats-Unis doivent prevoir des fonds complementaires pour le
repeuplement des refugies armeniens d’Irak en Armenie ont affirme
vingt membres de Congrès le 14 mai dans une lettre adressee a la
Secretaire d’Etat Hillary Clinton.

La lettre a ete initiee par les representants. Betty McCollum (D-Minn)
et Frank Pallone (D-N.J)., avec les representants. Tim Walz (D-Minn).

et Adam Schiff ( D-Californie) comme co-signataires originaux.

La lettre a propose qu’une partie des 150 millions de dollars de
l’Administration Obama prevus en reponse a l’appel global 2010 des
Nations unies pour l’Irak soit mis de côte pour aider les armeniens
d’Irakiens, actuellement deplaces en Syrie et en Jordanie a s’installer
en Armenie.

En 2008, le Departement d’Etat a alloue 1 million de $ au bureau a
Erevan du Haut commissariat de l’ONU pour les Refugies (UNHCR) pour
qu’il travaille avec le gouvernement armenien pour aider a installer
environ 1000 armeniens d’Irak en Armenie.

La lettre a aussi note que le gouvernement armenien reste fidèle a sa
proposition " d’offrir la citoyennete a tous les refugies armeniens
d’Irak ; de participer formellement au programme de repeuplement
irakien de l’UNHCR ; et de faciliter l’accès a la terre et aux
equipements disponibles pour les refugies de l’Irak afin qu’ils
puissent reconstruire leurs vies ".

Ross Vartian du Comite Public des Affaires Etats-Unis-Armenie (USAPAC)
a loue la lettre du congrès.

Depuis sa creation en 2006, l’USAPAC a travaille pour s’occuper des
besoins des armeniens affectes par la guerre en Irak et la crise
humanitaire en resultant.

Children Must Get Education In Their Mother Tongue"


"Foreign-la nguage education should be realized only in private and
high schools at the same time preserving the Armenian language,
Literature and History," says Heritage MP Anahit Bakhshyan.

"Armenian children must get education in their mother tongue,"
said Heritage MP Larisa Alaverdyan adding that she had "suffered"
a lot because of Russian in her life.

"A national issue must be settled through consensuses not to harm
the country and its people. To address the issue one needn’t turn it
into a show. I think that the Minister of Education and Science will
be prudent enough not to shift the issue to the political sphere and
will give up the decision he has taken," said ARF-Dashnaktsutyun MP
Artsvik Minasyan.

Vladik Karapetyan Wins European Youth Weightlifting Championships Go


May 20, 2010 – 12:20 AMT 07:20 GMT

Armenia’s Vladik Karapetyan (w.c. 62kg) won gold at the European
Youth Weightlifting Championships, which kicked off in Valencia,
Spain on May 17.

Karapetyan lifted 253kg in the snatch, clean and jerk combination,
taking the lead over the Azerbaijani and Turkish weightlifters –
Firudin Guliyev and Emre Buyukunlu.

Vardan Militosyan came 6th, lifting 235kg in the snatch, clean and
jerk combination.

Clean Country Ecological Program To Kick Off In Armenia


May 20, 2010 – 13:06 AMT 08:06 GMT

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan has said that Clean Country
national ecological program will kick off in Armenia on May 29.

The Prime Minister noted that Miasin NGO applied to the government,
asking to take action "to clean Armenia." "A special working group
with participation of NGOs was established to develop events within
the program submitted by Miasin NGO," Mr. Sargsyan said.

On May 20, Armenia’s Minister of Nature Protection reported that the
program is developed and agreed with NGOs.

"Clean Country national ecological program will kick off on May 29,
and I call on all relevant state agencies should participate in it,"
Mr. Sargsyan said.

Shavarsh Kocharyan: Azerbaijan Is Distorting The Essence Of The Kara

19.05.2010 10:44

"There is an impression that Baku negotiates with itself, arrives at
solutions beneficial to itself and tries to present its wishes as an
outcome of negotiations. This is a clear distortion of the essence
of the talks," Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan
said in an interview with Public TV.

"It’s well-known that today there is only one document on the
bargaining table, which the parties take as a basis for talks. It’s
the Madrid Principles of 2007. There have been a number of proposals
by the Co-Chairs ever since, which have been in most part rejected by
Azerbaijan. The last proposal was the withdrawal of snipers from the
line of contact, which was categorically rejected by the Azerbaijani
side. The Madrid Principles clearly state that the issue should
be solved on the basis of the three norms of international law:
self-determination of peoples, territorial integrity and non-use of
force. What Azerbaijan declares, contradicts the Madrid Principles,"
Shavarsh Kocharyan said.

"The essence of the issue is clear to everyone: it’s the
self-determination of the people of Karabakh. Which is the reason
of the conflict? It’s the power politics of Azerbaijan – Armenian
massacres, ethnic cleansings, large-scale aggression. Who is
responsible for the consequences? Naturally, it’s Azerbaijan, which
launched military aggression against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

This is the core," Shavarsh Kocharyan said.

"The conflict is being solved within the framework of the OSCE Minsk
Group. Turkey has been clearly told that it has nothing to do there,"
the Deputy Foreign Minister stated.

BAKU: Armenia Would Better To Estimate Loss From Fiasco Of "Football


May 19 2010

Armenians would better be estimating losses from the "football
diplomacy" rather than dividends.

The "Football diplomacy", initiated by Armenia and their patrons
last year which led to the signing of the Zurich protocols, in fact,
aimed to undermine the Azerbaijani-Turkish strategic alliance. No
matter how ingenious Armenians considered themselves, this political
game was a failure due to also sharp reaction of Baku and Turkish
public’s rejection of policies that could harm interests of fraternal

After a little hesitation Gul-Erdogan government took a principled
stand and, despite the insistent "advice" of Washington, Brussels and
Moscow not to link these two issues, it announced that it will not
normalize relations and reopen border with Armenia without progress in
the Karabakh conflict settlement. Statements claiming that the United
States will recognize "genocide of 1915" proved to be a bluff, nothing
more. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s move to remove the Zurich
protocols from the agenda of the Parliament testified to failure of
his policies and an attempt to mitigate internal criticism.

Moreover, instead of dividends, Serzh Sargsyan would better estimate
extent of losses from the process. For starters, thanks to competent
diplomatic game, Ankara gained a voice in the process of peaceful
settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yerevan’s refusing to recognize Turkey in this role makes little
difference. Unlike other members of the Minsk Group, Ankara has been
actively engaged in dialogue on this issue with the U.S., France and
Russia. President Dmitry Medvedev, the leader of the country, which is
the priority partner and ally of Armenia, has publicly acknowledged
Turkey’s role in the Karabakh conflict during his recent visit to
the country.

The time-tested strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Turkey
has become more stable. Complicated issues related to gas prices and
transit tariffs through Turkey’s territory have almost been addressed.

The Turkish government also demonstrably strengthens political and
military cooperation with Azerbaijan. The two countries will also
cooperate in defense industry to manufacture many types of military
equipment, as well as to ensure free supplies of Turkish modern
weapons, including helicopter gunships.

Yerevan’s attempt to strengthen its stance in talks by raising the
issue of Nakhchivan in the media in a provocative way met with a
response from Azerbaijan and Turkey. Chairman of the Supreme Majlis
of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Vasif Talibov was invited on
an official visit to Turkey, where he was received by top officials
like President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
as well as by Bashbug, Chief of Staffs of the Armed Forces of Turkey.

Simultaneously, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu publicly reminded that
Ankara’s obligations in respect of Nakhchivan are fully in force in
accordance with the Treaty of Kars. So, it is possible that Turkish
military brigade will be deployed in Nakhchivan at some point in
response to a policy of Armenian claims to Azerbaijani lands.

Obviously, impressive development of Russian-Turkish relations, which
reached the level of strategic partnership as a result of intensive
political dialogue in recent years, also promises nothing pleasant
for Yerevan. By their excessive claims and aggressive behaviour,
Armenians do not only isolate themselves from the regional projects,
but also pose risks for large-scale projects identified by the recent
agreements between Ankara and Moscow. Azerbaijan, by contrast, may
well enter these agreements as a third party.

Ongoing events in Yerevan create an atmosphere close to shock. It
realizes that it will be difficult to persistently decline Moscow’s
"advice" to be more constructive in Karabakh talks. Mutually exclusive
tactical games that suggest alliance with Iran and gaining support
from the United States as suggested by Armenian media in defiance of
Russia and Turkey are nothing but political science fiction.

The most that Armenians can achieve is to replace 5 +2 scheme of
the liberation of occupied Azerbaijani with even a fractional scheme
like 2 +3 +2. Sargsyan still has an opportunity to ask for external
political support to maintain his power and additional financial
investments in moribund Armenian economy.

But all this will happen provided that the authorities will not be
stubborn too long. Otherwise, someone will certainly replace them.

Ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosian paid two-day visit to the U.S. to
explore atmosphere in the influential Armenian diaspora and authorities
in Washington. The Russian position will be made clear for ruling elite
in Armenia during the expected visit of President Dmitry Medvedev.

Eternal historic moaning and excessive territorial claims begins to
irritate great powers. It is one thing to use Armenia and its ambitions
as a tool for its foreign policy. It is quite another thing when
this "outpost" tries to impose its own vision and interests on its
patrons. Armenians need to be explained diplomatically, but clearly
that continued disruptive stubbornness only increase bitterness
of disappointment and loss. It will become clear whether they will
understand it at a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Russia,
Armenia and Azerbaijan in early June.

Controversy As Turkey Jails Children


Sofia Echo
May 19 2010

The plight of hundreds of children currently languishing in adult
jails in Turkey has become the center of a major political debate.

The children, most of whom are Kurds convicted of taking part in
illegal demonstrations, has also raised concerns by the European Union.

According to local human rights groups there are more than 300
children in adult jails in Turkey, many of whom are serving decade-long

Most are Kurdish children convicted under Turkey’s anti-terror laws
for throwing stones at Turkish security forces or participating in
demonstrations in support of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party ,
or PKK, which is fighting the state for greater Kurdish rights.

Sixteen-year-old Hasan Dundar is currently out on bail but is facing
10 years in jail for taking part in such a protest. He explained what
happened to him after he was detained.

"First we were taken to prison, and immediately paramilitary officers
came and beat us for two to three hours," said Hasan Dundar. "Then
the guards took us inside and they started beating us. We were there
for four days and during all that time we were beaten. Every morning,
they came and beat us."

Human rights groups say what happened to Dundar is all too common.

They say more than 1,000 Kurdish children are facing time in jail.

Last month, 15 minors were sentenced to three to five years in prison
for participating in illegal pro-PKK protests. Last March, a group
of child inmates went on a hunger strike over their conditions and
sentences. Their lawyers claim that some have been beaten by the
guards, a charge denied by the authorities.

The plight of the children has led the leader of the opposition
National Action Party to propose an amnesty for all children in jail.

It was a surprise move, as the party has been one of the harshest
critics of what it describes as Kurdish terrorists. The proposal
has been met with a cautious response, even from the country’s main
pro-Kurdish party the BDP. Hasip Kaplan is a BDP member of parliament.

"An idea that is abruptly put forward without any preparatory work,
without involving the other party groups, may bring disadvantages as
well as the proposed advantages," said Hasip Kaplan.

That is because there are fears the amnesty call is an attempt to
release juveniles convicted of murdering a Turkish-Armenian journalist
and an Italian priest. Both juveniles have links to extreme nationalist

But resolving the issue of jailed children remains a pressing issue
for the ruling AK party. It is pushing for contentious reforms to
the constitution, which are opposed by all the main opposition parties.

Observers say any hope of passing the reforms depends on the backing of
the pro-Kurdish BDP, which has not ruled out supporting the government
– for a price.

In a bid to secure the pro-Kurdish party’s support, Minister of
Justice Sadullah Ergin is offering reform.

"We have important work to do when it comes to the justice system
for children," said Sadullah Ergin. "We are working both in terms of
bringing children’s prisons up to modern standards and introducing
legal reforms. We will soon make our plans public, as soon as we have
finished our constitutional reforms".

According to Ergin, the reforms being considered include the building
of new premises solely for juvenile inmates, the employing of child
psychiatrists, and making courts more informal. But there are no
specific details about reforming the anti-terror law, which is
responsible for sending children to jail for long periods.

The European Union is also putting pressure on Ankara to end the
practice of putting children in adult jails.

Richard Howitt is the spokesman for the European Parliament’s committee
on Turkey:

"There is no doubt we oppose such moves, that we make clear to our
Turkish friends and colleagues that as part of the continuing reforms
in the country it has to stop happening," said Richard Howitt.

Such mounting pressure from all sides is now giving to hundreds of
children languishing in adult jails and many more facing a similar
prospect. But observers point out that despite such consensus, the
wheels of reform in Turkey can move painfully slowly.