Archive for May, 2007

Pregnant Pear Pictured

I was walking in Downtown Denver this Friday when I noticed an outdoors art market on the 16th street. 

One artist’s work depict natural and human objects – fruits, hands, eggs – showing human shapes and actions.  My favorite one was the pregnant pear!  Here are some more photos…


This one was titled “On the Other Hand”‘

A New Era for “Right to Suicide”?

As 79-year-old “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian – a campaigner of assisted suicide – is set to leave prison coming Friday, the question of “right to die” will perhaps become a hot topic as the celebrity pathologist says he will “work to have it legalized.”

But I believe the fight to legalize assisted suicide needs to address the fundamental question first – is there a fundamental right to suicide? At the end of this entry I try to give an answer.

An article by the Associated Press at ABC News says, “as he prepares to leave prison June 1 after serving more than eight years of a 10- to 25-year sentence in the death of a Michigan man, Kevorkian will find that there’s still only one state that has a law allowing physician-assisted suicide Oregon.”

The only son of Armenian Genocide survivors, Kevorkian has been quoted as saying that as an Armenian he knows what pain and suffering is. But, I think, he may not see his struggle succeed during his lifetime because the root of the question – whether somebody has a right to die – has not been established; not even debated much.

This semester I took my first introductory class to law – Constitutional Law II with Denver Attorney Charles Norton who teaches at the University of Colorado at Denver. One of the students initiated a debate on “right to die” and continued arguing – with intuition – that is should be recognized in the Constitution. The debate was quite long but did not seem very academic. The professor discouraged the off topic and I was silent all the time. On my way to home something in me also said that a person should have the right to decide their fait, and I came up with a constitutional argument.

Several weeks after the first debate the topic was again brought up by the same student. After not talking for an hour, I finally presented my thesis and ended up including it in my final paper as a final thought (it was not part of the questions though). I guess if I end up feeling stronger about the issue and take time a PhD thesis could be written on this, but right now I just want to present the thought to those of you who have background in constitutional law. And by the way, please don’t plagiarize my thesis below.

Death is universally inevitable. One cannot have right to something that is already absolutely unavoidable. Yet voluntary conscience decision to end one’s own life is an extreme application of one’s right to pursue happiness (which can be established with the Palko formula of a fundamental right).

In short, there is no right to die but there is right to happiness which, in an extreme situation, may mean to end life.

With the Palko test (a Supreme Court case that established the precedential definition of a fundamental right with the following criteria: 1.”principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental;” 2. liberty and justice would not exist if the fundamental right was sacrificed), the United States Supreme Court will never recognize a right to suicide because it is not rooted in the traditions of the American people.

Quit contrary, America’s major religious [Judeo-Christian] tradition holds it a crime to commit suicide. In addition to the tradition, death is universally inevitable. One, I would think, cannot have a right to something that is already absolutely unavoidable.  

Fifth-century historian Yeghishe has said, “Unconscious death is death, conscious death is immortality.” Voluntary conscious decision to end one’s own life could be an extreme application of one’s right to pursue happiness.

Although a right to “pursue happiness” is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. constitution, it is mentioned in America’s birth certificate – the Declaration of Independence – which is a written document (if not THE written document) of America’s collective conscience.

If the Palko test is impartially applied, I think it would be an objective and valid argument to say that right to pursue happiness is a fundamental one and liberty and justice cannot exist without recognizing it. It may take a long time before the Court, if ever, recognizes such a right and only after its establishment it would be possible to argue that voluntary conscious decision to suicide is part of the fundamental right to pursue happiness.

So Dr. Kevorkian’s struggle may be a long one, and it may be wise to consider the Constitutional issues involved with it. I will charge only $15,000 an hour to present this argument to the United States Supreme Court. 😉

Army Crimes

One of my acquaintances in Armenia – only 19 years old – has been acquitted from the army after having a heart attack. This was after several months of service during which he was apparently tortured. The army has forbidden him from being treated in a hospital perhaps fearing that could initiate a charge against his superiors. I have never heard of a teenager having heart attack, especially that the particular person used to be a hard worker and did everything to support his single mother and two sisters from a young age. Oppressed people are often triple persecuted almost anywhere (this is why you have poor kids from America fighting in Iraq)…

Media violence and real life tragedies – such as the ongoing genocide in Darfur – may have desensitized us all. I remember telling my class earlier this year that I felt horrible for having become desensitized.

I guess stories like the following have “contributed” to my desensitization (after having heard this one, I became “immune” to other stories):

During the genocide in Rwanda, one way of killing women was throwing them down the toilet. How? Well, the “toilets” were actually wells in the rural areas used as restrooms. There was no sanitary or water system at some places. Some Tutsi women, after they saw their family killed, were thrown down these wells. But before that, there fingers were chopped off so that they could not climb up and would drown in the toilet. This particular incident has really stayed in my mind from my 2005 genocide studies course where one of the witnesses to the Genocide shared the story with us.

Yesterday, nevertheless, I was told of another particular crime against humanity that shocked my conscience. An American colleague told me that her step-grandfather had participated in Operation Phoenix in the Vietnam war and used small Vietnamese children as protection. I was not sure what she meant so I had her to explain it to me again. Apparently, the American soldier tied live Vietnamese children to his chest so that when he was shot at the kids would get shot instead and he would survive. I was too disgusted to ask more particulars (such as how many kids he had killed this way), but I managed to find out that he has not been charged for these crimes against humanity.

No wonder why the U.S. did not sign on to the 1948 U.N. genocide convention until the late 1980s. I also remember that America refused to sign it until it was guaranteed that no American would be charged under that! What the…

Anyhow, I had changed my mind and was not planning to share this story at Blogian until a few minutes ago until I heard of a similarly disgusting and largely unreported crime that happened in Armenia a few days ago.

A young soldier of the Armenian army was shot to death on his forehead after laughing at one of his superiors in Karabakh. The teen was from the Republic of Armenia and was transferred to serve in the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh – a de jure part of Azerbaijan and a de facto part of Armenia. In case you didn’t know, largely sons of poor families in the Republic of Armenia get to serve in Karabakh because their parents cannot bribe the officials to have their children assigned to nearby bases.

This particular family is even poorer – to the extent that they cannot travel to Karabakh for the trial. Having left with no choice, now they are saying that their son is not a citizen of Karabakh and he should not have been taken to Karabakh in the first place. This is an argument used by the Azerbaijani government and they will most likely take a note of this incident to their propaganda. Unfortunately, Azerbaijani soldiers are treated no better – if not worse – in their own army to the extent that some of them choose to stay in Armenian prisons (after being captured for crossing the border) than to go back to the Azerbaijani army. One reason is perhaps Azerbaijani soldiers tend to get a long jail time after being turned back to Azerbaijan from Armenia. The xenophobic conspiracy theory says they must have cooperated with Armenians otherwise they wouldn’t be arrested in the first place. An Azerbaijani journalist was similarly placed to jail for traveling Karabakh and talking to Armenians.

I guess the bottom line is that both Azeri and Armenian soldiers are facing torture in their own armies. This is really scary and sad and makes one wondering of the crimes they would commit against each other if the war restarted.

This is a poorly organized entry with few transformations… I guess I just tried to share feelings and thoughts that had been bothering me in the last few days.

Did Soldiers Videotape Their Own Vandalism?

It could be a water bottle or something else, but a video camera is not ruled out either. In fact, the person who holds the object uses it too slow questioning its water bottle possibility.

After a weekend of examining the December 2005 video from the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, I have speculations the vandals videotaped their own “heroism.” The video, taken by an Armenian film crew from the Iranian border, shows Azeri men in uniforms hacking medieval Armenian burial monuments down at the Djulfa (Jugha in Armenian) cemetery. The footage has become pretty popular by now and received over 10,000 hits in and other videos.

Now, after going through some of the footage with examining every frame of that particular portion, I have noticed this object (circled in red) in the hand of a man pointing toward the Iranian border. Surprisingly, some of the men in the area are also looking into the same direction (circled in blue) offering speculation that the Azeri soldiers may have videotaped their destruction of the Armenian cemetery. If true, did they do this to prove to someone they did this or what?

Ku Klux Klan Governor Online

I just noticed that Colorado’s official website features an article on the infamous Ku Klux Klan governor Clarence Morley who was Colorado’s head between 1925 and 1927.

…Morley’s political ascent paralleled an anti-minority, anti-foreign, anti-Jewish, and anti-Catholic sentiment that existed throughout the country during the 1920’s. Proponents of these beliefs found many supporters in the Ku Klux Klan, which in Colorado came under the leadership of the charismatic and persuasive John Galen Locke. Locke focused less on the overt violence and racism that characterized many other Klan groups and more on creating one of the strongest political machines that Colorado had thus far seen. As the Denver Post wrote, “..beyond any doubt the KKK is the largest and most cohesive, most efficiently organized political force in the state…” Under Locke’s control, the Klan secured a variety of political seats and gained advantageous alliances, including one with Ben Stapleton, mayor of Denver. Taking advantage of weak leadership in the Republican Party, the Klan promoted Judge Morley as the party’s choice for governor. The primarily conservative voters of Colorado tended to vote for a straight Republican party ticket, and thus also chose the Klan. The Republicans, top-heavy with Klan members, won the 1924 election by a landslide. The Klan instituted Morley as Governor, obtained a majority in the House and Senate, elected the Secretary of State, and secured a Supreme Court Judgeship as well as seven benches on the Denver District Court. John Galen Locke’s Ku Klux Klan now seemed to be in control of the Colorado political system…

He was finally arrested in 1935… for mail fraud and died in Oklahoma City on November 15, 1948.

A newly opened gallery at the Colorado State Capitol also makes mention of the Klansman with a photo depicting him and his kin.  The legend says during Morley only Klansmen worked at the Capitol.

KKK governor (first from right) and others at his office as seen in a Colorado State Capitol permanent gallery © Blogian 2007

Congress Pornitics

My grandpa used to say politics is the biggest prostitution. Via ANCA.

WASHINGTON, DC – Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, who recently closed a major deal to serve as a foreign agent for the Turkish government, has already begun lobbying on behalf of his new client against the very same Armenian Genocide Resolution that he once vigorously supported while a Member of Congress, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Gephardt’s sharp departure from his principled stand for Armenian Genocide recognition was highlighted this week in a Dear Colleague letter circulated to all Members of Congress by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Co-Chairman of the Armenian Caucus, Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the only Armenian American serving in the U.S. Congress. In their letter, they wrote: “Former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) is now employed by the Turkish government to dissuade Members of Congress from supporting H.Res.106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution. But in 2000, as a Member of Congress, he wrote to Speaker Hastert urging immediate floor consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, claiming ‘this issue requires little if any additional deliberation by the House.’”

The Economist: Clash of civilisations

An article from the English Economist quotes Hasan Zeynalov as saying he doesn’t believe in dialogue. Zeynalov is the one who is working to keep the Turkish-Armenian border closed, as we mentioned several weeks ago. Our “findings” on Zeynalov are at


Clash of civilisations

May 17th 2007 | KARS
From The Economist print edition

Beleaguered Armenians in Turkey—and a closed border with Armenia

FOR a seasoned diplomat, Hasan Sultanoglu Zeynalov, Azerbaijan’s consul-general in Kars, eastern Turkey, is unusually indiscreet. He openly complains about Naif Alibeyoglu, the mayor, who is promoting dialogue between Turkey, Azerbaijan and their common enemy, Armenia, just over the border. “I don’t believe in dialogue,” Mr Zeynalov snorts. He recently ordered his compatriots to boycott an arts festival organised by the mayor after finding that “there were Armenians too.” Like his masters in Baku, Mr Zeynalov is unnerved at the thought of his country’s biggest regional ally suddenly making peace with Armenia.

He will have been cheered by the victory of Serzh Sarkisian, Armenia’s nationalist prime minister, in a general election on May 12th. Mr Sarkisian is said to have engineered a last-minute ban on Turkish observers of the election. “I think it would be unnatural to receive observing representatives from a country that does not even wish to have a civilised official dialogue,” he commented… (see the Economist website for the rest of the article)

Noah’s Ark Replica Is On Its Way

The Denver Post has posted an Associated Press article informing that “[e]nvironmental activists are building a replica of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat—where the biblical vessel is said to have landed after the great flood—in an appeal for action on global warming, Greenpeace said Wednesday.”

In this picture provided by Greenpeace, wooden planks are carried by horses in the Dogubayazit valley to built a replica of Noah’s Ark near mount Ararat in Agri, eastern Turkey, Sunday, May 13, 2007. Greenpeace activists are building a replica of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, the mountain where the original Biblical Ark is said to have landed after the great flood, in an appeal to world leaders to take action against global warming. Turkish and German volunteer carpenters were building the wooden ship on the mountain in eastern Turkey, that sits on the border with Iran. (AP Photo/Manuel Citak, Greenpeace, HO )

The joint Turkish-German project is something to welcome especially the universal message that the involved volunteers are trying to spread.Yet in promoting environmentalism, Greenpeace, I believe, is also unintentionally violating Armenian cultural rights while not inviting Armenians to be part of a project that involves their sacredMount Ararat. Ironically enough, the Mount is not even called Ararat Turkey (it is called “Agri”).

Turkish and German volunteer carpenters are making the wooden ship on the mountain in eastern Turkey, bordering Iran. The ark will be revealed in a ceremony on May 31, a day after Greenpeace activists climb the mountain and call on world leaders to take action to tackle climate change, Greenpeace said.”Climate change is real, it’s happening now and unless world leaders take urgent, decisive and far-reaching action, the next decades will see human misery on a scale not experienced in modern times,” said Greenpeace activist Hilal Atici. “Those leaders have a mandate from the people … to massively cut greenhouse gas emissions and to do it now.”

Benedict the Nazi

Outraged Native American leaders in Brazil say they are offended by Pope Benedict’s “arrogant and disrespectful” comments that the Catholic Church has purified the indigenous people and a revival of their spiritual beliefs would be a backward step, reports Reuters via Washington Post.

The Pope said Christianity was not imposed on the Native people but was welcomed by them.  If I may, I would like to bestow His Holiness with a new title: Benedict the Nazi.  So dear Associated Press and other “objective” agencies that are underplaying Benedict’s Holocaust denial, please report tomorrow morning, “Simon Says Pope is Nazi.”  

I think he deserves it for denying, and actually honoring, the genocide of the Native Americans that took place with the support and participation of the Catholic Church.  No wonder why the previous Pope, John Paul the Second, had spoken of mistakes in the evangelization of Americas’ natives and basically made a semi-acknowledgment of the genocide.

A Critical View on Armenia’s Elections

A reader of Blogian has sent a very critical letter in regards to Armenia’s praised-as-democratic elections suggesting that the reason there was no major outcry against the elections among ordinary Armenians was because people have completely lost their hope toward democracy in Armenia and predicted the exact turnout of the vote – people who are in charge staying in charge – long time ago.

I guess the critic is right in the sense that “everybody knows” who is Armenia’s next president and it doesn’t really talk about democracy.  Anyhow, you read and judge.

Actualy [fair time] media coverage or whatever has nothing to do with European observers opinion.

It was 110% political decision because S. Sargsyan [the current prime minister that “everybody knows” will be the president next year] is much more
American/European supporter than Kocharyan [the current president],thats why they have let one party to get 50+% of whole parliament [actually that’s not the case].
That means that in Karabakh case Armenia will now have much softer
position,the same time both western civilizations want Armenian to scream
about Genocide as loud as possible because they want to weaken Turkey
to make it more manageable.
But the question you should ask is what it has to do with Armenians
living in Armenia ?
That means continue of white genocide. According to officials more than 38% of population depends on transfer from their relatives abroad and none official data says more than half of the population depends on transfers.
Its been three years since USD->AMD [Armenian money] exchange rate is “droping” since Armenian economy is “growing”. It has droped by 45% during last 3 years.
For people who rely on transfers that means they they got poor by half during last three years.
The same time they hold prices in local currency high and wont let them
drop so you have to spend more dollars to live the same way you did three
years ago.
That means about $1,000 for the family of 4 to survive.

Yerevan [Armenia’s capital] is now 18th most expensive city in the world, we are somewhere next to Amsterdam and similar developed cities, but the same time we are on 80th place according to UN reports. Something is wrong, the country with no natural resources and half of population of which depends on transfer has 18th most expensive city accross the planet ?
European observers expressed political decision. In fact this time the “elections” were the worst in out history, there was no fight
between parties at all, everyone knew what will happen many months
before elections.This campaign was so weak that one can tell you that
there was no campaign at all.

Republicans sold their soles to foreigne countries, in exchange west let
them do whatever they want inside Armenia,there has never been less
democracy here as now.

I am, and not only me, deeply disapointed in Europe or whatever Western
civilization “democratic,transparent etc” elections,that was the last hope that they will stop whats happening here now.
Prices are rising by 20% a year, more people will leave Armenia in
coming years so that Serge Sargsyan and company can drive anobe Mybach [Blogian doesn’t know what the last thing is but he thinks it is a new kind of car].

I guess the bottom line of the e-mail is a challenge to the status-quo of neo-liberalism where “free trade” and other forms of governance are hailed as democratic while ordinary people are getting poorer and poorer.  A perfect example of this would be India.

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