Tuberculosis in Tumanyan Region

A1 Plus | 21:46:39 | 25-03-2004 | Regions |

TUBERCULOSIS IN TUMANYAN REGION

265 consumptives are registered in Tumanyan region. 65 of them are
virus-carriers and dangerous for the surrounding.

According to “Alaverdi Polyclinics” CJSC tuberculosis cabinet doctor Mrs.
Meliqsetyan, in 2003 23 consumptive patients were found in the region and 15
of them were virus-carriers.

http://www.a1plus.am

Gambler Ban List Raising Some Questions

LexisONE

Headline Legal News

Gambler Ban List Raising Some Questions

by Adam Goldman
Associated Press
Feb. 26, 2004

Virginia Ormanian burned through most of her retirement savings
playing slot machines in Detroit casinos last year – something she
should not have been allowed to do.

The 49-year-old gambling addict had voluntarily banned herself in
August 2002 from the casinos through a state program that was supposed
to keep her out.

“I was counting on the casinos to honor their contract,” Ormanian
said. “I had to get my life back together.”

Now Ormanian and Norma Astourian are suing the casinos for breach of
contract. They claim the gambling companies didn’t enforce the rules
of the “dissociated persons” list on which they placed themselves.

As gambling spreads across the country, a handful of states have
created self-exclusion lists that bar people from entering
casinos. Problem gamblers who have blacklisted themselves are supposed
to forfeit jackpots and face arrest if caught inside.

The lists have raised questions in the gambling industry and given
rise to studies about their effectiveness. They’ve come under legal
assault from gambling addicts who believe it’s up to casinos to ensure
they stop frittering away their money.

“It was a vehicle to allow the gambler to help himself. It’s through
the genius of our legal system that this has metamorphasized into a
potential risk for casinos,” said David O. Stewart, a Washington,
D.C., lawyer, who has defended gambling companies in self-exclusion
and similar lawsuits, and advises the American Gaming Association.

Missouri, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey have
self-exclusion lists with more than 8,600 names. Indiana has passed
laws to enact a list.

Nevada, the nation’s largest gambling state, doesn’t fund a
self-exclusion list, though casinos will bar patrons on request.

Carol O’Hare, executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem
Gambling, said it would be a logistical nightmare in a state in which
slot machines are also found in bars, gas stations and supermarkets.

“You’d have to police every 7-Eleven and restaurant,” she said. “We
need to be providing treatment.”

Missouri was one of the first states to introduce the exclusion
program in 1997 and counts more than 6,400 people on its list.

Kevin Mullally, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission,
said the list was conceived as a tool to help people shake their
addiction.

“It’s not a panacea or a quick fix,” he said.

Like other states, Missouri’s exclusion list shields people from
direct marketing, and when casinos violate the policy, they can be
fined or lose their gambling license.

Judy Patterson, the AGA’s executive director and senior vice
president, said there’s no uniform self-exclusion policy among states.

“I think the industry is definitely supportive of this self-exclusion
program, but they would also like to know that it works,” she said.

Harvard Medical School’s Institute for Research on Pathological
Gambling and Related Disorders was awarded a grant to study the
effectiveness of Missouri’s program.

Robert Ladouceur, a professor of psychology at Laval University in
Quebec, said his new study involving three casinos and about 200
compulsive gamblers shows “there is some usefulness” to self-exclusion
programs.

One casino operator isn’t waiting for definitive data.

Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment intends to create a database of
problem gamblers who would be barred for life from its 19 properties
in the United States.

People can be placed on the company’s “Responsible Gaming List”
voluntarily – or involuntarily if casino employees determine patrons
are problem gamblers.

Lurking behind such lists is a question about the legality of the
contracts people sign with the states and casinos, and whether the
pacts are enforceable.

A suit filed by Ormanian and Astourian against the Michigan Gaming
Control Board was dismissed.

Stewart said no plaintiff has yet to win such a lawsuit, but a verdict
against the casinos could have repercussions.

The case of Daniel Santangelo has garnered attention in the industry
and could be seen as a legal bellwether.

Santangelo had voluntarily banned himself from New Jersey casinos but
later violated the self-imposed order. He won $64,160 at Bally’s
Atlantic City over a 10-week period in 2002, breaking the agreement
that said he couldn’t collect winnings. He kept the money but
authorities have ordered him to forfeit it.

Linda Kassekert, chairwoman of the New Jersey Casino Control
Commission, said the state intends to recover the money.

“These are untested waters,” she said. “I think we are going to be
pretty emphatic. We want to make sure that when people sign up for
this program they know we are serious about it.”

Copyright 2004 Associated Press

ABC News interview with Norma Astourian

Courtesy: Good Morning America, ABC News
March 25, 2004

>> now to the compulsive gambler suing three detroit casinos. she
argues the casinos are liable for failing to prevent her from gambling
after she signed a contract requiring the casino to keep her
away. we’re joined this morning by that woman, norma astourian and her
attorney, blaise repasky. david stewart, an attorney who frequently
defends the casino industry against claims like norma’s but not
involved in this case, joins us from washington. norma, i want to
start with you.

>> how bad a gambler were you?

astourian: bad. very bad. consumed — three, four times a week.

>> and how much did you lose?

astourian: overall?

>> overall.

astourian: oh, $300,000, $400,000 total.

>> $300,000 or $400,000. over what time period?

astourian: i would say over 10 years.

>> did you try to get help first before taking this action?

astourian: you don’t know that you’re addicted. you think you can quit
any time. but, of course, the withdrawals are terrible. you just have
to go. and you think you’re going to recoup. and just condition on
with life, but it’s impossible.

>> but at some point, did you go to gamblers anonymous or try to

seek some counseling?

astourian: i did go to gamblers anonymous. actually, i was thrown out
of one gamblers’ anonymous meeting.

>> why is that?

astourian: i said my first and last name and they thought i was a
reporter. they were very offended by my presence and asked me to
leave.

>> you eventually decided to register at the casinos as a
disassociated person.

astourian: that’s correct.

>> which means you’re asking the casinos to bar you from entering
and gambling.

astourian: yes.

>> were you aware of the fact that you could be arrested if
you did continue to try and enter the casinos and gamble?

astourian: yes, i did, but it was a desperate measure. there was no
alternative. i mean, i needed to be stopped. and they said, sign this
and we’ll take care of you. we’ll make sure you don’t get in
there. well, i did get in there, many times.

>> blaise, what have you found normally happens after gamblers
register with these casinos? what is supposed to happen?

blaise: what’s supposed to happen is, when they sign up this
disassociated persons form they’re supposed to be kept out of the
casinos. it says they are supposed to be removed. they can be
prosecuted criminally if they’re there. winnings can be confiscated
from them. the casinos ignored that. they’ve let the people come in
and continue to gamble. we believe they know these people were ithere
because they’ve got their pictures there. they have their social
security numbers. we know some people who have actually been paid
jackpots and have to give their social security number to get the
jackpot and pay them knowing they should not be there.

>> isn’t it the duty —

blaise: when we sign this disassociated persons form we believe it’s a
contract and we believe the casinos never intended to enforce the
contracts to begin with. misrepresentation and fraud by the casinos.

the’re doing nothing to stop these people from coming in. they should.

>> but drunk drivers, for example, don’t get to blame liquor companies
for their crimes. why do you think that compulsive gamblers —

blaise: consider, for instance, someone drinking in a bar. we all know
a bartender has an obligation, if he sees somebody becoming
intoxicated to stop serving them so they don’t drive and kill
somebody. these people, too, said we’ve reached rock bottom. they beg
for help. sign the form. the casinos have done nothing to enforce that
contract.

>> why do casinos offer this disassociated persons program if

they are not going to enforce it?

stewart: the purpose of the program and the programs were
designed,really, by people who are experts in the field. treatment
professionals who work with problem gamblers, behavioral scientists
who study it, and former problem gamblers. and they have real
troubles. you can’t hear about their problems without realizing
they’re fighting with a real problem. these people came up with the
notion of self-exclusion because the central issue here is to have the
person take responsibility, to take control of their gambling. and
when you go through a self-exclusion program, you fill out an official
form, you say i acknowledge i’ve got this problem, i want to fight
this problem, i don’t want to get any mail from the casino. i don’t
want to get credit from the casino. and if you find me in the casino,
i want you to show me the door. takes some courage to do that. and the
casino industry has supported that. the problem is, it’s not a police
state. it’s not possible to, you know, control everybody who comes
there. there’s thousands of people on the casino floor.

>> norma, what do you say to people who say you have to take
responsibility for your own behavior. you can’t blame the casino. you
should be bearing that responsibility.

astourian: responsibility? there is no responsibility once you’ve been
addicted by this product. i mean, i entered believing i was having
fun. i never knew there was a line to cross and no turning back. would
one willingly give away their life and their future? i don’t think so.

>> norma astourian, blaise repasky, david stewart, thank you all for
being here this morning. a difficult and controversial issue.

thank you.

Annan summons UN council on probe into Iraq scandal

The Jordan Times
Friday-Saturday, March 26-27, 2004

Annan summons UN council on probe into Iraq scandal

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan summoned Security
Council members on Thursday to get firm backing for an independent inquiry
into charges of corruption in the UN-run Iraq oil-for-food programme.
In a letter to council members obtained by Reuters, Annan defined terms of
the probe, saying it would look into allegations of corruption among UN
officials and outside firms dealing with Iraq under the now-defunct $65
billion humanitarian plan.

Evidence in the media from documents found in Iraq – but not given to the
United Nations – alleges payoffs, smuggling and bribes under the programme.
The worst allegation for the world body is a bribe said to have been paid to
the plan’s head, Benon Sevan, who has vigorously denied it.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said Annan was looking for a `nod’ from the
council, perhaps in a statement or a letter, after his meeting late on
Thursday.

`Without the full cooperation of governments and companies, the
investigation is not likely to succeed,’ Eckhard said.

Diplomats said a resolution mandating that all UN members cooperate with an
investigation would probably fail. Many of the firms and individuals charged
with wrongdoing were from the 15 Security Council member states.

Annan has not asked for council approval for the probe, which he said would
go ahead one way or another.

The oil-for-food plan, which began in late 1996, was intended to ease the
impact of 1991 Gulf War sanctions on ordinary Iraqis by allowing Baghdad to
sell oil to pay for humanitarian goods. Iraq selected the buyers of its oil
and vendors of goods.

Annan’s letter said the inquiry would be authorised to approach and seek
cooperation of member states and `their relevant authorities.’

He did not say how much the probe would cost or who would head it. Eckhard
said names were expected to be announced within a week.

Terms of inquiry

Annan in the letter said the probe also would determine:

– whether procedures established by the Security Council and UN secretariat
for monitoring and approving contracts were violated.

– whether any UN officials, personnel and agents or outside contractors
engaged in `any illicit or corrupt activities,’ including bribery, imposing
surcharges and other illicit payments.

– whether UN accounts were in order.

Annan said the independent commission could engage professional
investigators, auditors, accountants, forensic experts and others and issue
a report within three months after the start of the probe.

The burgeoning scandal is one of the worst to hit the world body, giving
fodder to its long-time critics. It also comes as the Bush administration
wants the United Nations to help Iraqis form an interim government

The US General Accounting Office, an interagency body headed by the treasury
department, says Iraqi elites raised $4.4 billion by imposing illegal
surcharges. Ousted Iraq President Saddam Hussein is estimated to have
smuggled another $5.7 billion in oil outside the UN programme through Syria,
Jordan and Turkey.

Many of the programme’s contracts, as well as previous allegations of
wrongdoing, were reviewed by the Security Council’s sanctions committee,
composed of all 15 council nations.

Some were brought to the panel’s attention by Sevan, others by the United
States and Britain over the years. But members, sharply divided over Iraq,
often took no action.

The Iraqi Governing Council has also launched an investigation and several
have been announced in Washington, by Congress, the Pentagon and others.
Britain is probing its own firms.

Friday-Saturday, March 26-27, 2004

There is no former spirit

There is no former spirit

Karabakh war to suit both Armenia and Azerbaijan, politician says

Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan
26 Mar 04

“Talks on the Karabakh settlement have reached a deadlock. Moreover,
they have created a pre-war situation in Armenian-Azerbaijani
relations, which is unfortunately advantageous to the authorities of
both Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the leader of the Democratic Motherland
Party, Petros Makeyan, said during a discussion organized at Hotel
Congress yesterday.

He believes that war is advantageous to the Armenian authorities since
given the current domestic political situation, it is the only means
to prolong and preserve their power in case of a positive
result. According to Petros Makeyan, war is advantageous to Azerbaijan
not because its army is much stronger, but because of the moral and
psychological atmosphere that exists in Armenia today.

“Azerbaijan is sure that today our people will not fight as they did
in 1990-94 when people voluntarily went to Karabakh to protect their
families. Today nobody will go and protect [President] Robert
Kocharyan’s, [Defence Minister] Serzh Sarkisyan’s and their criminal
administration’s property,” the leader of the Democratic Motherland
Party said.

CENN Daily Digest – 03/26/2004

CENN – MARCH 26, 2004 DAILY DIGEST
Table of Contents:
1. Become a Member of the `Caucasus Environment Society’
2. Toxic waste threatens Caspian Sea
3. Information and Training Center Opens at the Ministry of Agriculture
4. An Online Advice in Obtaining Funding for Forestry Related Projects
5. NGO Financial Management

1. BECOME A MEMBER OF THE `CAUCASUS ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY’
Dear users of CENN services!

This is to inform you that due to necessity of financial sustainability
of CENN activities in the long run, we are introducing a number of
innovations in CENN services (Internet services and online products of
CENN – daily digests, bulletins` archive, full online versions of
magazines, GIS database of nature resources of the Caucasus region,
environmental legislation of the South Caucasus States in national
English and Russian languages, etc.) for different types of members to
set force from March 25, 2004.

Only the members of the `Caucasus Environment Society’ will enjoy the
full range of our services. They will receive free of charge our
magazine `Caucasus Environment’, get free legal and environmental
consultancy, free access to CENN databases, maps, resources, etc.

All membership fees support the CENN magazine’s mission of expanding
environmental knowledge on the Caucasus and are considered as charitable

contribution to the production of the regional magazine.

We welcome you to become a Member of the `Caucasus Environment Society’
by registering online:

Annual membership fee for Caucasus citizens/organizations $19, for
international members – $39. Shipment cost included.

For any questions or queries regarding membership and future usage of
online services:

Contact person: Catherine Nakashidze
Tel: +995 32 92 39 46
Fax: +995 32 92 39 47
E-mail: [email protected]
URL:

2. TOXIC WASTE THREATENS CASPIAN SEA

Vast quantities of radioactive and toxic wastes stored not far from the
Caspian Sea threaten a nearby city and could infiltrate into the world’s

largest inland body of water, Kazakh scientists said.

The environmental deterioration in Kazakhstan’s Mangistau region began
in the 1960s when the Soviet Union started extracting and processing
uranium there. The ore was processed at a chemical hydro-metallurgical
plant located not far from Aktau, the administrative center of the
region. The Prikaspiiskii mining and chemical enterprise, as it was
called, also included sulfuric acid and nitrogen fertilizer plants.

A uranium tailings dump was created in the drain-free settling pool at
Koshkar-Ata, 3 miles north of Aktau and 4.5 miles east of the Caspian.
Since 1965, liquid radioactive, toxic and industrial wastes and
unpurified ordinary domestic drains have been discharged into the
42-yard deep Koshkar-Ata repository, which has an area of 52 square
miles.

“Koshkar-Ata is filled with brine, containing an extended quantity of
contaminants and heavy metals,” said Kairat Kuterbekov, the scientific
secretary of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s
capital.

Kuterbekov is the manager of the project called the “Overall Examination

of Ecological Situation at the Toxic Wastes Storage ‘Koshkar-Ata’ and
Development of Rehabilitation Actions.”

The brine at Koshkar-Ata contains up to 0.18 ounces of salts per a cubic

foot, Kuterbekov told United Press International.

The production process stopped in the early 1990s and Koshkar-Ata
started to dry up. So far, some 13.8 square miles have dried up,
creating toxic dust that is blown into the atmosphere.

In 1991, the International Commission on Radiological Protection issued
recommendations that included limiting radiation dosages to members of
the public to less than 0.1 rem per year.

A rem measures the amount of damage to human tissue from a dose of
ionizing radiation. Across most of Koshkar-Ata, the exposure dose, as
recorded by sensors, is 0.4 rems. In some of the area, the exposure is
1,500 micro-roentgens per hour –equivalent to 13.0 rems per year.

When the dump was active, in addition to liquid wastes, the Soviets
buried 115 million tons of solid wastes, including 57 million tons of
radioactive wastes, Kuterbekov said. The radiation exposure on those
plots of land — 5,000 micro-roentgens per hour — exceeds the limiting
dose by more than 400 times.

“The radioactive wastes are represented by a natural series of
uranium-238; the most toxic among them are uranium-235, radium-226 and
thorium-230,” Kuterbekov explained.

Uranium and its decay products, including thorium, radium and radon — a

radioactive gas — can be dangerous substances if not properly stored or

isolated. Yet local residents have been digging out the radioactive
metal trying to sell it to scrap dealers. The dealers refuse to buy it
because of its radioactivity, so the frustrated sellers discard it
anywhere, Kuterbekov said.

“A large quantity of heavy metals — copper, zinc, nickel — and
rare-earth elements have been found in the bottom sediment,” he added.

Heavy metals can damage living creatures at low concentrations and tend
to accumulate in the food chain.

Last year, the effects of the radioactive and toxic dust were not as
damaging to Aktau, a city with a population of 185,000 on the coast of
the Caspian. However, 2003 was atypical because of a relatively large
amount of precipitation and because the prevailing winds blew away from
the city, Kuterbekov said.

Underground water is another worry because there is the potential to
contaminate the Caspian, he said. About 17 square miles of the tailing
dump are still covered with water, and five countries surround the
Caspian — Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.

A specialist, who did not want to be identified, told UPI those
concentrations some elements — including iron, molybdenum, manganese,
cadmium, selenium, ammonium and fluorine — have been found to exceed
maximum permissible levels within 1.8 to 2.25 miles of the tailing dump
in the Caspian direction.

The repository represents “a huge and immediate threat to the Caspian
ecosystem,” Boris Golubov, a Russian scientist wrote in his article “The

Caspian: Receptacle for Radiation” published in the quarterly “Give &
Take” in 2001.

Moreover, “in addition to “man-made” sources of radiation, the Caspian
ecosystem collects and stores high levels of natural radioactive
nuclides,” Golubov wrote. “Caspian waters, bottom sediments, and living
organisms contain levels of uranium five to seven times higher than
those in other seas.”

“(The) situation of nuclear wastes in Kazakhstan is disastrous for the
local people and the Caspian Sea in general,” said Bahman Aghai Diba, a
consultant on international law for the World Resources Company in
McLean, Va.

The nuclear wastes are kept in substandard conditions and there is
possibility of infiltration into the sea, Aghai Diba told UPI.

Scientists intend to supply soil to the former bottom to stimulate plant

growth, Kuterbekov said, adding this way to solve the problem had been
chosen because of it was relatively cheap.
United Press International, March 25, 2004

3. INFORMATION AND TRAINING CENTER OPENS AT THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE

On March 24, 2004 the Government of Armenia and the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) opened the Information and Training Center at

the Ministry of Agriculture and signed a Memorandum of Understanding
outlining the support that UNDP will provide for the “First Agro-Forum”
International Conference. Mr. Samvel Avetisyan, Deputy Minister of
Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia and Ms. Lise Grande, UN Resident
Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative presided over the event.

By supporting the Information and Training Center, UNDP is assisting the

Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen its capacity in information
management. Internet services will be provided at the Information
Center, helping the Ministry access the most up-to-date and important
information on agricultural issues from around the world, and training
will be conducted to ensure that Ministry staff has advanced information

skills.

In addition to supporting the establishment of the new Center, UNDP is
also supporting the country’s “First Agro-Forum” International
Conference, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture. The aim of this
important conference is to promote agricultural development in Armenia
by introducing the most progressive and innovative agricultural methods
from around the world. An official website is being developed for the
Conference and an information campaign will be conducted. The fourth
“AgroProdExpo” International Exhibition will be held at the same time as

the Conference. According to Ms. Grande: “The development of agriculture

in Armenia cannot be underestimated. A large part of the population
lives in rural communities and agriculture is the main source of income
for many Armenian families. By strengthening the capacities of the
Ministry of Agriculture and helping to promote agricultural development,

we are helping to reduce poverty and inequality in Armenia. We hope that

the Ministry staff will use this new Information Center to successfully
communicate with the general public, including the mass media.”

Mr. Avetisian noted: “Our cooperation with UNDP has a long history, and
we are grateful that resolution of the problems raised by the Ministry
is always supported by our counterpart. The Information Center, the
network and the website will promote the Ministry of Agriculture
worldwide, and we are confident that this will help us forge effective
partnerships with international and local organizations, bilateral
donors, foreign governments and private companies.”

The “First Agro-Forum” International Conference and the fourth
“AgroProdExpo” International Exhibition will be held in Yerevan on
October 28-29, 2004.
ArmenPress, March 24 2004

4. AN ONLINE ADVICE IN OBTAINING FUNDING FOR FORESTRY RELATED PROJECTS

Dear Colleagues,

The National Forest Program Facility and the Collaborative Partnership
on Forests (CPF) have the pleasure to announce a new web-initiative
called: “Advice in obtaining funding for forestry related
projects” .

The new site with the database and the forums has been set-up to support

you in your search for funds for your forestry related projects
(forestry in general, sustainable forest management, forest
conservation, forest products, training and scholarships in forestry and

natural resources, etc.). The forums and the on-line moderator can help
you with your enquiries for specific funding, show you the website of
sources of funding, and increase your skills on how to apply for funds
more effectively. In return, you can contribute to the forums by posting

your information on available funding sources, ideas and experiences.

If you are interested in joining the forums please subscribe by clicking

the following link

The website to search for funds is available in 3 languages (English,
French and Spanish), but the forums themselves are for the time being
only operational in English language. French and Spanish messages to the

forums can be sent to the following e-mail address:
[email protected]

5. NGO FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

What is financial management? How can you measure the quality of
financial management in your organization? This week Alex Jacobs
describes the building blocks of good money management and provides a
method for measurement to help you.

Do you have any “lessons learned” to exchange with other aid workers?
E-mail [email protected] or join the discussions online at

This article is available online at:


*******************************************
CENN INFO
Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN)

Tel: ++995 32 92 39 46
Fax: ++995 32 92 39 47
E-mail: [email protected]
URL:

http://www.cenn.org/Environment_Society_Member.html
http://www.fao.org/forestry/site/17261/en
http://forum.aidworkers.net
http://www.aidworkers.net/exchange/20040324.html
www.cenn.org
www.cenn.org

Interfaith Program brings Armenian and Jewish Communities Closer

PRESS OFFICE
ARMENIAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA WESTERN DIOCESE
3325 North Glenoaks Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91504
Tel: (818) 558-7474
Fax: (818) 558-6333
E-Mail: [email protected]
Website:

Dear Friends,

We are so grateful for Archbishop Hovnan Derderian’s visit on
Wednesday. As promised, here are my reflections on the program.

Thank you for sharing your gifted and inspiring spiritual leader with
the Jewish community.

With God’s blessings of peace,

Rabbi Mark S. Diamond
Executive Vice President

The Board of Rabbis of Southern California
6505 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 415
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323-761-8600
323-761-8603 (fax)
[email protected]

Torat Malakhim
(Torah from the City of Angels)

March 27, 2004 5 Nisan 5764
Rabbi Mark S. Diamond
Executive Vice President

The Board of Rabbis of Southern California

Torah Portion: Vayikra (“The Eternal One called …”)

Leviticus 1:1-5:26

Haftarah Portion: Isaiah 43:21-44:23

The weekly Torah portion details a elaborate set of mandated sacrifices
through which our ancestors worshiped God. The Hebrew word for
sacrifice, korban, bears the connotation of “drawing near” or “coming
into close contact” with the Holy One. In his masterful Torah
translation, The Five Books of Moses (Schocken Press), Dr. Everett Fox
renders the second verse of the parashah, “When one among you
brings-near (yakriv) a near-offering (korban) for YHWH…”

Nearly two thousand years after the cessation of formal animal
sacrifice, we demonstrate devotion to God in alternative ways. Prayer,
Torah learning and mitzvot have supplanted sacrificial rites in the
Jewish tradition. Furthermore, we are bidden to demonstrate our love of
God by manifesting love and respect for our fellow men and women, the
highest forms of Divine creation.

The more I travel throughout our community, the more I realize how
little we really know about the religious beliefs and practices of our
neighbors. Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure to bring a
cherished friend and colleague to speak at the Milken Community High
School of Stephen S. Wise Temple. Our special guest was Archbishop
Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church
of North America. As Primate, Archbishop Derderian oversees a region
with more than 600,000 Armenians and dozens of congregations and
church-affiliated schools. Two-thirds of the Armenian community lives
here in greater Los Angeles.

The Archbishop was warmly welcomed in private meetings with Rabbi Eli
Herscher and Head of School Dr. Rennie Wrubel, and enthusiastically
received by students and faculty at an open forum. We noted several
fascinating points of commonality between the Jewish and Armenian
communities–a burgeoning day school movement, pressing issues facing
new immigrants to this country, and the special challenge of maintaining
religious, ethnic and national identity among second and third
generation Jewish and Armenian Americans. Archbishop Derderian
spearheads a project to bring young people on trips to Armenia, a
program that reminds me of our own acclaimed Birthright Israel.

I watched and listened with pride and joy as the Milken students and
staff peppered the Archbishop with questions. What was the religious
significance of the robe and necklace he wore during his visit? Did he
believe that the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death? How does
Armenian Orthodoxy differ from Roman Catholicism? Do Armenian priests
have to take vows of celibacy? What happened during the Armenian
genocide, and what parallels can we draw with the Nazi Holocaust? How
does the Archbishop feel about Israel? Muslim-Armenian relations? A
return of Armenians to their homeland?

As we prepared to leave the campus, Archbishop Derderian was surrounded
by a crowd of inquisitive students who greeted him with more questions.
As before, the Archbishop responded to each query with warmth, love and
respect. The Milken students did not want to let this distinguished and
dynamic spiritual leader leave their campus. Their enthusiasm and
hospitality were matched by the Archbishop’s keen interest in prolonging
his first visit to a Jewish school.

I’m uncertain who enjoyed and appreciated this interfaith program the
most–the hosts or the guest. One thing I do know–on that day, the
Jewish and Armenian communities took a small step closer to God, and to
one another.

* Shabbat Shalom *

www.armenianchurchwd.com
www.boardofrabbis.org

Downtown center proposed

Downtown center proposed

Major developer wants to build south of stadium.

By Jim Davis
The Fresno Bee
Updated Friday, March 26, 2004, 7:21 AM

A major developer wants to create a $350 million to $400 million development
with retail, entertainment and housing in downtown Fresno south of Grizzlies
Stadium, city officials announced Thursday.

The project could include a lake, river walk or series of fountains.

Forest City Enterprises will ask the Fresno City Council on Tuesday for an
exclusive agreement to develop 85 acres south of the stadium.

City Council Member Tom Boyajian called it a “defining moment” in moving
downtown Fresno forward.

“When we voted for this baseball stadium, we really hoped something like
this would happen,” Boyajian said. The project would be in an area generally
bounded by Union Pacific Railroad, Van Ness Avenue, Tulare Street and
Freeway 41.

Forest City Enterprises, a real estate company based in Ohio, is a property
owner and partner in the River Park shopping center in north Fresno. The
company has also developed urban centers throughout the country, said Dan
Fitzpatrick, executive director of the city’s Redevelopment Agency.

“What’s very important about this project is drawing a major developer —
they’re listed on the New York Stock Exchange — to make a commitment of
hundreds of millions [of dollars] in downtown,” Fitzpatrick said.

Council Member Cynthia Sterling said the proposal dovetails with other
projects in downtown and the Regional Jobs Initiative to create jobs for the
community.

“With this push, this will open up an opportunity to put people back to
work,” said Sterling, who represents downtown.

Known as the South Stadium project, it will be sandwiched between two other
major downtown developments.

To the west, a development group has proposed building hundreds of homes and
adding retail and commercial shopping to the historic Chinatown district.

To the east, Gunner-Andros Investments is planning to build Old Armenian
Town, a series of high-rise office buildings anchored by a state appellate
courthouse.

Marlene Murphy, the city’s redevelopment administrator, said the City
Council will be asked Tuesday whether to allow the agency to negotiate an
exclusive agreement with Forest City.

The project would be built in four or five phases over 10 years.

“This is not a small project,” Murphy said. “It’s the size of … Universal
Studios.”

Forest City, its partners and the city of Fresno have been studying the area
south of the stadium for the past 18 months.

Forest City’s partners are The Legaspi Co., Streetscape Equities and Johnson
Fain Architects.

Forest City has assets of about $5 billion. Fitzpatrick praised it as one of
the top four or five companies in the country that redevelop urban areas.

“They don’t have to worry about getting financing,” Fitzpatrick said.
“They’re self-financing.”

Fitzpatrick said council members and Mayor Alan Autry have played key roles
in persuading the company to consider investing in downtown Fresno.

Boyajian said he’s been questioned constantly about voting for the $46
million baseball stadium. He said the stadium was an investment and that the
payoff is finally occurring with this proposed development.

“The investors really see an opportunity here,” Boyajian said.

Forest City is looking at a mixed-use development including restaurants, a
multiplex theater and other commercial uses combined with downtown housing.
It could include big-box and department stores.

The company expects that the project will draw people within 30 miles of
downtown as well as people driving on the freeways to Yosemite and Kings
Canyon national parks.

The company also expects to draw traffic from the baseball stadium, the
Convention Center, the IRS building and downtown government agencies.

While the project is expected to bring in national retailers and chains,
Boyajian and Fitzpatrick said, Forest City also will seek local businesses
and small entrepreneurs.

Fitzpatrick said landmarks such as Coney Island restaurant — which has been
downtown for 80 years — “will obviously stay.”

The company in its exclusive agreement will seek the city’s help in aiding
the development including, if necessary, eminent domain to consolidate land.

Pat Cody has owned Wilson’s Motorcycles at 443 Broadway for 15 years, and
the business has been in the same location for 85 years. He had not heard
about the proposal and will withhold judgment until he sees details.

But he believes the city should have talked with businesses “who are
employing people, generating tax dollars and have been here.”

“They keep talking about bringing business in downtown Fresno, but nobody
talks to us, who have been doing business in downtown,” he said.

The reporter can be reached
at [email protected]
or 441-6171.

British-Libyan Rapprochement, NATO Priorities In South Caucasus

Radio Free Europe, Czech Republic
March 26 2004

Western Press Review: British-Libyan Rapprochement, NATO Priorities
In South Caucasus

By Khatya Chhor

Prague, 26 March 2004 (RFE/RL) — Some of the topics at issue in the
press today include NATO priorities in the Black Sea-South Caucuses
region; British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s visit to Libya; shifting
U.S. interests in Central Asia; and the ongoing testimony in the
United States regarding intelligence failures that may have
contributed to the failure to prevent the attacks of 11 September
2001.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Two items in the New York-based daily discuss the defensiveness with
which the White House has responded to criticisms that it did not
take the threat of terrorism seriously before the 11 September
attacks on the United States.

Former presidential counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke alleges
in a new book (“Against All Enemies”) that not only was Al-Qaeda not
a focus of the administration’s threat assessments, but that even
after the 2001 attacks, the White House sought to focus on Iraq.

Bob Herbert of “The New York Times” says the administration focused
on the wrong war. “The president wanted war with Iraq, and ultimately
he would have his war. The drumbeat for an invasion of Iraq in the
aftermath of the [Al-]Qaeda attack was as incessant as it was
bizarre,” he writes. The United States “never pursued Al-Qaeda with
the focus, tenacity and resources it would expend — and continues to
expend — on Iraq. The war against Iraq was sold [as] something that
was good for us. The administration and its apologists went out of
their way to create the false impression that Saddam [Hussein] and
Iraq were somehow involved in the September 11 attacks, and that he
was an imminent threat to the U.S.”

Herbert says former adviser Clarke “has been consistently right on
the facts, and the White House and its apologists consistently wrong.
Which is why the White House is waging such a ferocious and
unconscionable campaign of character assassination against Mr.
Clarke.”

In an editorial today, “The New York Times” also comments on the
defensive campaign the U.S. administration is waging against Clarke.
It says U.S. President George W. Bush and his aides are “so
preoccupied with defending his image as a can-do commander in chief
that it has no energy left to engage the legitimate questions that
have been raised by Mr. Clarke and by others who have appeared before
the independent 9/11 commission.”

The administration is “so thin-skinned and defensive” that it is
unable to take part in any serious discussion of how to confront the
threat of terrorism. The paper compares the White House reaction to
childish “name-calling,” adding that Bush appears “far more
interested in undermining Mr. Clarke’s credibility than in addressing
the heart of his critique” — intelligence failures that preceded the
11 September attacks.

THE INDEPENDENT

A commentary in the London-based “The Independent” discusses British
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s meeting yesterday with Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi, whom the paper calls “the Arab world’s most
eccentric and unpredictable leader.”

The prime minister is correct in his assertion that “there is real
cause for rejoicing” in Libya’s decision to relinquish its quest for
banned arms and join in Western-led antiterrorism efforts, it says.
“However distasteful to the families of those murdered, an engagement
and reconciliation with Libya that leads to the admission of guilt
and compensation is better than continued isolation of the North
African country.”

However, “The Independent” also acknowledges the symbolism of Blair’s
decision to meet with a dictator with “so much blood on his hands.”
Gadhafi, it says, “still locks up his opponents and pursues close
relations with some of the most unpleasant and destructive regimes in
Africa. For a small country with a low population, the number of
citizens locked up and tortured puts [Gadhafi] pretty near the top of
repressive regimes.”

Ultimately, Britain is right to pursue relations with Libya, for
engagement “is more productive than invasion.” Nevertheless, the
message this meeting may send to the Middle East could be that, “in
the new world of terror, we are abandoning the ethical concerns which
the prime minister so proudly proclaimed when he came to power.”

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE

In a contribution to the European edition of “The Wall Street
Journal,” Vladimir Socor of the Washington-based Institute for
Advanced Strategic and Political Studies says NATO must renew its
focus on the Black Sea-South Caucasus region.

The countries of the Euro-Atlantic community’s “eastern doorstep,”
from Ukraine and Moldova to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are “weak
and vulnerable states. Most of them are riven by local armed
conflicts, undermined by corruption and organized crime, and have
been targeted by the Kremlin for reincorporation in its sphere of
dominance.”

The Black Sea-South Caucasus vicinity must therefore be “anchored” to
the Euro-Atlantic system by ensuring regional security.

Socor writes: “Turning this region into a Euro-Atlantic priority
makes sense geopolitically, economically, and strategically.” The
Black Sea and the South Caucasus will soon form the boundaries of
Europe. Azerbaijan and Georgia provide a transit route for Caspian
energy to Western markets, as well as an access corridor for Western
forces into Central Asia and the Middle East.

To ensure a “secure and stable” neighborhood in the South Caucasus,
Socor says “a proactive, coordinated Euro-Atlantic approach to
peace-support missions and conflict-resolution” is called for.

And a new debate on wider NATO priorities is necessary, for the
alliance today “seems to have relegated the Black Sea-South Caucasus
region to the bottom of peace-support priorities or even to have
excluded it altogether.”

EURASIA VIEW

In a commentary in “Eurasia View,” Stephen Blank of the U.S. Army War
College discusses the evolving U.S. military strategy in Central
Asia.

It is looking increasingly likely that Washington will seek to
establish a permanent presence in the region, he says. And this could
cause friction with regional powers Russia — which views Central
Asia as its sphere of influence — as well as China.

Bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were established in the wake of
the 11 September 2001 attacks to support U.S. operations in
Afghanistan. To assuage the fears of Moscow and Beijing, “U.S.
political and military leaders indicated that American forces would
stay only as long as the regional terrorism threat remained.”

But it now appears that the United States is looking “to be prepared
for future strategic contingencies in Asia,” says Blank. Washington
has been strengthening military ties with Japan, the Southeast Asian
nations and Australia, and there has been talk of a regional
organization for collective security — an “Asian NATO.”

But Blank says it may be difficult to establish a new U.S. military
posture in Asia: “Even if U.S. military planners can overcome Chinese
and Russian opposition, it is no sure thing that U.S. taxpayers will
be willing to sustain the financial burden of maintaining operating
sites.”

LE FIGARO

In a comment in “Le Figaro,” Alexandrine Bouilhet, writing from
Brussels, says Europe is hard-pressed to show any originality in its
own war on terrorism.

The heads of state of the 25 EU current and accession members meeting
in the Belgian capital adopted a resolution on 25 March declaring a
coordinated, EU-wide campaign against terrorism.

The declaration “carefully avoids employing the warlike terms of the
American administration,” she says. But in the details of the
measures it envisions, the issue of security is primary.

While the document does not attempt to compete with the measures set
up by the United States in the wake of the 11 September attacks,
Europe nevertheless cannot escape from a certain replication,
Bouilhet says.

The “solidarity clause” of the declaration — that in the event of an
attack on one state, all EU members will come to the common defense
— directly mirrors NATO’s Article 5.

The ministers also designated their own counterterrorism chief, a
European “Mr. Terrorism” who Bouilhet says is a “pale imitation” of
Washington’s own Tom Ridge, head of the Department of Homeland
Security.

But little progress was made on the controversial idea of creating a
“European CIA” (Central Intelligence Agency), she says. In spite of
persistent calls from some nations, the bloc decided to continue to
work bilaterally when it comes to sharing sensitive information.

Lost in America

Christianity Today
March 26 2004

Lost in America
Arab Christians in the U.S. have a rich heritage and a shaky future.
by Elesha Coffman |

The very Rev. Mouris Amsih spent more than 300 hours flying on
Continental Airlines last year, traveling between Syriac Orthodox
churches in Villa Park, Illinois; Indianapolis; and Corpus Christi,
Texas. Airline personnel came to recognize him, but they never quite
figured him out. “They would say to me, Shalom!” Mouris says. “They
think I am a rabbi. Usually, I just say Shalom back to them. I do
speak the language of Jesus, Aramaic.”

Continental employees are not the only people to mistake the Syrian
native’s identity. He was studying at a Catholic college in the
United States during the 9/11 terrorist strikes. “The next day,” he
recalls, “students started asking me, ‘Father, are you Muslim?’ They
called me father and asked if I was Muslim! I wear a big cross every
day. I told them, ‘Muslims don’t believe in the Cross. If I am
Muslim, I don’t wear a cross.’ Students don’t have a big vision of
the differences between Christianity and Islam.”

As the differences between these two religions grow sharper in many
Americans’ minds, the existence of Christians with Arab faces remains
mysterious. Yet 70 percent of Arab immigrants to the United States
are Christians. Even those of us who have heard this statistic once,
twice, or 10 times struggle to comprehend it. Arab American
Christians never appear on the news, have no voice in the academy,
never figure in the plotlines of The West Wing or Law & Order. Who
are these Christians, why have they come here, and how do they
experience America?

How many?
Identifying and counting Arab Christians is difficult. The religions
of immigrants to this country, even those who cite persecution as a
reason for their immigration, have not been recorded consistently or
reliably. The U.S. Bureau of the Census only collected information on
religion from 1900 to 1936, and it relied on information from
religious bodies themselves.

It is difficult to find even ballpark estimates of Arabs in America.
Recent estimates range from 2 to 3 million, of whom 1.4 to 2.1
million would be Christians. In lieu of hard immigration or census
data, membership statistics for the American branches of Middle
Eastern churches seem to be the next best option. But these numbers
are tricky as well, for three reasons.

First, not all Arab Christian immigrants hail from historically
Middle Eastern churches. Naim S. Aweida of Boulder, Colorado,
exemplifies this complication. When he was born, in Haifa in 1928,
his family had been Anglican for two generations, converted by
19th-century missionaries. When he married Aida, a Greek Orthodox
girl from Nablus, she became Anglican, too. The couple has lived in
the United States since 1967.

Second, many Arab Christians switch churches when they come to
America. For example, when several hundred Lebanese Maronite
Christians settled in North Carolina in the early 20th century, they
found no Maronite church to attend. Instead, because the Maronite
Church is in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, the immigrants
joined Catholic congregations. Now there are two Maronite churches in
North Carolina, but many Lebanese believers choose to remain
Catholic – to the chagrin of others in their ethnic community.

Third, Middle Eastern churches that establish themselves in the
United States attract non-Arab members. The Antiochian Orthodox
Church leads this trend. Says Father Bill Caldaroni, pastor of Holy
Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois, “My
parish is made up almost entirely of converts to Orthodoxy with names
like Caldaroni, Adams, Morrison, Jager, Thiel. We have only one Arab
in our midst.” Ethnic shifts have affected other churches, too,
though not so dramatically.

Despite these complications, looking at Middle Eastern churches in
the United States is a good way to begin to understand Arab American
Christians. The investigation also opens many forgotten chapters in
church history.

Foreign names, forgotten roots
Antiochian Orthodox, Assyrian, Chaldean, Coptic, Maronite, Melkite,
Syriac Orthodox – these names sound foreign and ancient. They are.
These Middle Eastern churches all trace their origins to the earliest
years of Christianity. Copts claim that the Apostle Mark began their
church in Egypt, while Syriac Orthodox believe they possess records
of correspondence between King Abgar of Edessa and Jesus himself.
Though these traditions may sound exaggerated to Protestants, they
convey the deep sense of rootedness at the heart of Arab
Christianity.

Strong roots have enabled Arab Christians to hold fast through a
remarkably turbulent history. First came persecution under the Roman
Empire. Then came major church councils, at which some Middle Eastern
churches (notably the Assyrian, Coptic, and Syriac Orthodox) broke
with what would become the Roman and Eastern Orthodox mainstream.
Believers whose representatives sparred over doctrine at councils
sometimes fought each other afterward, usually with economic and
social pressure but sometimes with weapons.

In the seventh and eighth centuries, Islam swept across two-thirds of
what had been the Christian world. Initially, some Christians were
not concerned. Being treated like second-class citizens in Muslim
society had advantages over being treated like heretics by mainstream
overlords. Churches generally stood unmolested, and select Christians
gained prestige as physicians, scholars, and government ministers.

Eventually, though, Islam exacted a steep toll. Middle Eastern
churches grew more isolated from the Christian mainstream and from
each other. Their worship languages, mainly Coptic and Syriac, were
smothered by Arabic. Christians were not allowed to evangelize, and
their numbers dropped through conversion, attrition, and sporadic
persecution.

The 20th century, though, probably saw more disruption of the
religious balance in the Middle East than any preceding century.
Persistent violence, among Arab nations as well as between them and
Israel, has destabilized the region politically, socially,
economically, and religiously. Destabilization has hit those in the
most precarious position – Christians – hardest.

Ten to twelve million Copts remain in Egypt, where they have some
political power and legal protection. In all other Arab nations (and
the area of Palestine), far more Christians have left than have
stayed. Lebanon, for example, has retained 1.5 million of its
Christians, while 6 million Christians of Lebanese descent live
elsewhere. Even 1.5 million Christians is a larger population than
can be found in the rest of the Arab world. Of course, as late as the
1960s, Lebanon had a Christian majority.

The first wave of Arab emigration occured from 1880 to 1920. Most of
these people left their homes to find better educational or economic
opportunities. Others sought religious freedom, or to escape
persecution.

During World War I, Arab Christians in what was then known as Syria
were attacked on all sides as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. Nearby,
millions of Armenians, mostly Christians, perished in the century’s
first genocide.

Extra Scrutiny
More recently, persecution has again become the main reason for
leaving the Middle East.

Arab Christians undoubtedly enjoy more freedom and economic
opportunity in America than in the Middle East. But just as the
situation back home is not as unremittingly bad as one might expect,
the situation here is not as overwhelmingly good.

Like all immigrants, Arab Christians struggle to get all of their
paperwork in order, to find jobs and housing, to communicate in a
second language, and to establish social connections. They face extra
scrutiny because they are Arab, which for some Americans means Muslim
and potential terrorist. Yet in another sense they are invisible,
because they are not Muslim. The American Arab Anti-Defamation League
does not speak for them, and neither, it seems, does anyone else.

Occasionally Arab American churches try to speak for themselves. One
of the more vocal is the Assyrian Church of the East, which can
afford to make pronouncements because its patriarch, Mar Dinkha IV,
resides far outside the reach of Muslim authorities – in Morton Grove,
Illinois. He temporarily moved his headquarters there, from the
ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon, in 1980.

The Assyrian Church would like to play an active role in
reconstructing its homeland, Iraq, and instituting protections for
ethnic and religious minorities. To this end, Dinkha called a meeting
of Chicago-area Assyrians on May 15, 2003. The meeting included
delegates from the Assyrian National Congress, the Assyrian
Democratic Party, the Assyrian American League, and many other
organizations, but its press release prompted no reporting.

At the opposite end of the outspokenness spectrum are American Copts.
Their leader, Pope Shenouda III, resides in Cairo, and he strongly
discourages members of his flock in the “lands of migration” from
making political statements. If Copts abroad disparage Egypt’s
Muslim-dominated government, the Copts back home might pay.

The government has cracked down before. Egyptian president Anwar
Sadat placed Shenouda under house arrest for four years in the 1980s
to quell local hostilities between Muslims and Christians. Westerners
scarcely noticed the incarceration. Shenouda has cultivated stronger
ties outside Egypt since then, but he remains anxious about conflict
with authorities.

Separation from the homeland is spiritually wrenching. The Maronites,
who are among the most acculturated Arab American Christians, feel
this tension acutely. Many Maronites today are second-, third-, or
even fourth-generation Americans. Maronite churches have been
established here long enough to develop an identity separate from the
church in Lebanon.

Rosanne Solomon, who attended the summer 2003 Maronite Patriarchal
Synod in Lebanon as a lay delegate, likens the American Maronite
church to a time capsule. She feels that Americans have kept beliefs
and practices that Christians in Lebanon have abandoned. “We’re more
Maronite than they are,” she told a November 2003 meeting of the
National Apostolate of Maronites in Durham, North Carolina.

America: Two Views
How Maronite, or Coptic, or Chaldean, or otherwise traditional Arab
American Christians remain is one question. How American they become
is another. Father Mouris raves about “this blessed country.” He
extols the freedom for Christians, clergy and lay, to participate in
government and influence society. He likewise appreciates America’s
technological and educational resources, as well as the people who
have made them possible.

Such blessings “came from the hard-working of the people,” he says.
“All of them, they work like the bees, working hard to make honey.
Now we see America is good honey.”

Father Joseph Thomas, an American-born priest of the Basilian
Salvatorian Order who is working to establish a Maronite parish in
Raleigh, North Carolina, sees America differently. He worries that
the country’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks is eroding democracy and
taking an unseen toll on Arab Americans.

“A lot of people just go along with whatever developments take place
in our legal system, but meanwhile, people who don’t look right are
really suffering from a very truncated vision of democracy,” he says.
“My [Lebanese] grandfather owned a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia.
If he were living today, he might be very much fearful of what might
be done to him or said to him. But in World War II, he used to feed
any serviceman who came in with his army uniform on the house.

“People don’t realize that when Muslims or Arabic Christians – just on
the basis of ethnicity, name, or looks – are being tagged by government
officials, even though we ourselves don’t experience it, our American
identity, everything we knew to be American, is poisoned.”

Arab Christians remain a small minority in America, but their numbers
continue to rise. The Antiochian Orthodox, Assyrian, Chaldean,
Coptic, Maronite, Melkite, and Syriac Orthodox traditions already
encompass more than 400 churches in America, spread across nearly
every state. Penetrating the American state of mind regarding all
matters Middle Eastern will take considerably more time.

Elesha Coffman is the former managing editor of Christian History and
a doctoral student at Duke University.