Notes of a Spurkahye Finally Come Home

A day after President Sarkisian responded to his letter, artist and human rights activist Serj Tankian has, in turn, responded to Sarkisian, urging him to not use notions of security to distract people from injustices taking place inside Armenia. Below is Tankian’s second letter.

1x1.trans Tankian to Sarkisian: Dont Use Security to Distract Us from Domestic Injustices

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Dear Mr. President,

I am honored that you have responded to my letter.

I actually wasn’t expecting a response, given the harsh criticism I conveyed.

The fact that you have done so is encouraging.

But with respect, you have not answered any of my questions nor addressed any of the issues I brought up in my letter directly.

I think you have done a great job at securing Armenia’s borders and dealing with the extremely sensitive and difficult situation presented by the realities after the Karabakh war.

If you remember, I told you that in person and commended your efforts in that regard.

That…

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ANC Will Never Join People

Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s statement that the Armenian Pan-National Movement is dead is the truth and a belated confession because the APNM died as soon as it transformed from a popular movement to a group holding on to power using any means. The ANC (Congress) is also dead which failed to assume a pan-national role because its leader was unable to step across his ambitions and appreciate people and their rights. Meanwhile, this team used to have strong individuals who were weakened by the APNM leader and the first RA president. He successfully ousted the leaders and potential of other parties which had joined the Congress.

 

  Now the Congress is trying to reanimate itself be renaming itself a political party. It’s their problem. The problem is what this agonizing organization wants. Power, nothing else. It will not tolerate people recognizing Raffi Hovannisian’s charismatic image, as it did not tolerate Vazgen Manukyan, Vano Siradeghyan, Karen Demirchyan, Stepan Demirchyan, Aram Sargsyan. The fact is that it is all alone now and wants to rise as the only “victim”. In 2008 it pronounced Yeghisheh Charents’s famous poem “let there be no other victim except me” which was later perceived “don’t touch me, I am the selected one” and escaped home while people were shot dead on the square, the people who had come to take him to the president’s office on their hands.

 

  A few years ago this was his only act which it did publicly apart from dancing. Today it does not want to look at Raffi Hovannisian’s act. Well, it’s clear because it is not used to seeing others, even those thousands of people leading Raffi Hovannisian and their righteous demands. Today some ANC members are trying to tap a wedge at the center of the popular movement by means of their destructive behavior, pronouncement and the so-called plans. They are offended that Raffi Hovannisian does not pronounce Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s name on the stage.

 

  Is Raffi awarding prizes to people to read out names of people? He is criticized for not having a plan of actions and is suggested to form a shadow government. Again he is called to act in their style and pronounce names and see who their friend in this shadow government is. In other words, they want to lead to destruction the idea which has mobilized people.

 

  Today people do not want to help someone come to power but to crush the institutions which are against people, build a new system of government, see new people in this system. Today, I think, people must demand elimination of the club called the Constitutional Court and its immortal mandate because years showed that this institution established by Levon Ter-Petrosyan serves the interests of the government, never the state or national interests. It is necessary to express lack of confidence in the café table called the CEC and create a flexible body instead which will be independent from the authorities and political parties, will be elected by popular vote and people will have the right to disband it any time.

 

  Similarly, the judicial system, the police, the army, the government must be reconstructed. Every system must act in accordance with their powers and not interfere with the establishment and reestablishment of governmental ambitions. In other words, it is time to return to people the right to protect their rights, while the shadow government remains shadow, as a lot of other things in Armenia. The only advice to Raffi Hovannisian and people (and I am one of them so please let me advise you) is to look at each other and we will not make a mistake. –

RPA And NA Centers Of Political Corruption

RPA And NA Centers Of Political Corruption
Interview with Sona Ayvazyan, Chairwoman of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center

 

How come members of parliament accumulate so much wealth with their low salaries?

 

  We know that the parliament is composed of businessmen who are rich and their presence there completely guarantees their immunity. I mean they are not held responsible, though the RoA Constitution stipulates that a member of parliament cannot engage in business activities. Most probably, they don’t pay taxes so they get richer.

 

Do they get richer after entering parliament?

 

  Since everything has become more transparent only now, we have no data from previous years relating to some parliamentarians and we cannot compare. It will be possible to say in a few years.

 

Do the NA activities help parliamentarians avoid taxes?

 

  They get political levers, they get the possibility to influence adoption of laws which secure their business. This is a kind of political corruption.

 

According to our research, the richest members of parliament are Republicans except the PAP leader Gagik Tsarukyan. 

 

  The Republican Party seems to be a union of businesses, it can hardly be considered a party, it is criminal group which has appeared in the NA and is now forming a political agenda based on the interests of a handful of people.

 

MPs submit annual property declarations to the Ethics Commission. Are their declarations sincere?

 

  We can’t know that. Only investigative journalists can. But it will be difficult anyway because it is confidential: the names of relatives of high-ranking officials feature in registration documents of their property. The relatives of MPs do not have to submit declarations of property, so they are not held responsible.

 

Are there no supervision mechanisms?

 

  First, the Ethics Commission’s mandate is technical and it does not study data. They don’t check whether the property of a certain figure could be obtained on their salaries. Several years ago we requested the relevant bodies to study Tigran Arzaqantsyan’s case since he has shares in some companies. Relevant bodies affirmed that if a person is not a CEO, he or she cannot be considered involved in a business. But it is their interpretation.

 

Has any MP been held responsible for doing business?

 

  No. When investigative articles appear, we turn to the Ethics Commission but, as a rule, the law enforcement bodies see no corpus delicti. They don’t fulfill their duties, they sponsor them.

 

Many declare their properties as real estate, and very often, it is impossible to find out their real value. Do you think they conceal anything?

 

  The full declarations and the published parts are different. The data are not fully published as this data is confidential, so some important figures are left out, such as the series of cars, the annual turnover etc. But this is a legislative gap.

 

What solutions do you propose?

 

  First, the legislation gaps need to be eliminated. The ethics commission of high ranking officials should not be adjunct to the president. Illegal enrichment is not penalized. Armenia has signed the UN convention on fight against corruption but has signed the provision on illegal enrichment with reservations. People should be held responsible for illegal enrichment. –

 

Former Apple Ad Guru Thinks Samsung Is Gaining in Marketing War

The man who coined the name “iMac” and created Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign believes Samsung is gaining momentum in the ad war against Apple.

“While you can still argue that Macs and i-devices have a ton of appeal, you can’t argue that Apple is still untouchable when it comes to advertising,” Ken Segall, a former creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day who worked with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs for more than a decade, wrote on his blog Monday. “The fact is, it is being touched — often and effectively — by none other than Samsung.”

Samsung, as Segall points out in his post, spends significantly more on advertising than Apple and has proven to be quite successful at shaping the public’s perception through a mix of creative and aggressive ads, many of which criticize Apple’s products directly. Apple, meanwhile, has yet to really change up its own advertising strategy to adapt to Samsung’s growing marketing success.

In an interview with Mashable, Segall expanded on this point by noting that Apple seems to be suffering from the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality that affects many businesses. Ever since the iPhone came out, the company has mainly relied on simple ads that demonstrate a product’s features, rather than the kind of elaborate plot or character-driven spots that Samsung uses. “They were selling so many iPhones and I think Steve was happy with the ads and the results, so why change really?” Segall told Mashable.

I think Apple has this sense of simplicity and elegance that has gotten them to where they are and it’s kind of hard for them to move away from that.”

“I think Apple has this sense of simplicity and elegance that has gotten them to where they are and it’s kind of hard for them to move away from that.”

It wasn’t always this way. Apple unabashedly went after Microsoft and PC makers with its clever, character-driven Mac vs. PC ads and found great success doing so, but as Segall points out, Apple chose to be aggressive in part because it was the underdog in the PC market at the time.

“When Apple attacked Microsoft in Mac vs. PC, they were the underdog and having fun with it — just like Samsung is now,” he said. Given that Apple is still ahead of Samsung in the tablet and smartphone markets (at least in the U.S.), it’s unlikely that Apple will choose to attack Samsung in the same way. “When you attack someone, you acknowledge them and give them more publicity than they should have,” he says. “Apple is still king of the hill when it comes to that stuff so attacking Samsung wouldn’t be right.”

Rather than attack Samsung directly, Segall believes Apple’s ad team needs to focus once again on producing the kind of creative commercials that become fodder for watercooler talk and shape the conversation around the product and the company.

“Just becoming part of the converation is a victory. Samsung has successfuly done that: they are getting talked about and getting compared [to Apple], which in many ways isn’t fair because Apple created this category [of products],” Segall says. “But, very quickly, people forget and an average shopper walks into Best Buy and doesn’t care about who invented what.”

Segall believes the Genius commercials that aired during the summer Olympics last year were meant to be a step in this direction of moving beyond the product itself to “create a lovable character” that would get the product talked about. “They thought they were onto something there,” he says. Unfortunately, the execution wasn’t great and the ads were quickly pulled.

Even so, the status quo is no longer the best option for Apple’s marketing efforts, not just because of Samsung’s success, but because of a larger shift in the public’s perception. “Somehow the momentum has switched and people are criticizing Apple for things that they shouldn’t be — that they aren’t innovating anymore,” he says. “It’s a perception thing, but perception becomes reality if you don’t do anything about it.”

Segall, for his part, believes Apple is well aware of the situation and planning what to do next. “I suspect… that they are monitoring the situation and gauging what they need to do. They may well have something up their sleeve,” he says. “They can’t just have quiet advertising when Samsung is bashing them away.”