Tuesday, October 31, 2006


one evening back in a january or february i started to feel sick to my stomach as i watched a music video on mtv. i thought of how many thousands of dollars must have been spent to make that video...so that maybe some young kids would salivate at how hot mariah carey is...so that maybe some of those kids' interest would be peaked enough to listen to the rest of the tracks on the album...and so that maybe a few of them would like what they heard enough to buy an album for $12.99.

i called a friend and complained. i wondered why execs thought such an investment would have enough of a return to make it worth the expense. and further, i wondered why society doesn't think its a worthwhile investment to invest in PEOPLE. even when considered within the framework of a consumerist society - wouldn't giving an underprivelidged person a better life and education make that person employable, make them a tax payer, consumer and contributing member of society. Isn't that a more important return on investment??

and then, this week while i was back home in DC, during a conversation expressing my frustration with selfish motivations of wealth-accumulation with one of my favorite unconventional souls, i brought up this point again. and the response i received from him was one which i am so grateful for. it seems i'm not the only person who thinks this way:

Armenia from Above

Armenie vue du Ciel.

Amazing pictures...


Monday, October 16, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Blood, Sweat and Tears

The fruit of our efforts from last week's ATHGO International Symposium. Out of 200+ international participants, 16 of us were elected to create a "Resolution Committee," which was charged with drafting a concrete and innovative UN resolution proposal which will be distributed to UN missions worldwide, and other governmental and non-governmental bodies for consideration. As the moderator of the resolution committee, I have to say I was extremely impressed with the vision of our group, and truly think we have a remarkable idea to propose to the developing world. I hope you can work your way through the formal language and grasp the ultimate idea we have proposed. Mr. Surbuland Khan, executive Director of the UN GLobal Alliance for ICT and Devleopment (UNGAID) was impressed, so on behalf of my group, I hope you are too.

To Whom it may Concern:

Attached please find the Resolution Committee's final draft of the resolution emergent from the 2006 Symposium in Yerevan, Armenia. We proudly present it to you as a plan of action to bring before all organizations and governments you see fit.

Accompanying this resolution is a supporting document outlining in further detail our vision of the solutions we present. If further clarification is needed, please do not hesitate to ask.

We would like to thank ATHGO International and its distinguished guests for allowing us the opportunity to participate in this symposium. Events such as this allow our voices to be heard with greater impact within the global community, and provide a point of inspiration for further individual action. We would, with pleasure, enjoy presenting our position at any and all future events, including the Cairo Summit in May, as suggested by Mr. Khan.

Thank you once again.

On Behalf of the 2006 ATHGO International Yerevan Symposium, Respectfully Submitted by:

Andranik Ayvazyan
Nina Balayan
Chiara Bortoluzzi
Justine Espiritu
Vadim Gordienko
Gohar Grigorian
Kirsten Hildonen
Amalia Horsepyan
Iman Kamali
Ani Koeharyan
Logan Koffler
Marilisa Lorusso
Stefano Mosso
Arpine Sargsyan
Anoush Tatevossian
Charlotte Von Dewall

ATHGO International
13 October 2006


Recalling the United Nations Millennium Declaration, resolution 55/2 adopted 8 September 2000, and resolution 57/295 of 4 March 2003, in which Member States pledged to financially and technically support the formation of a global partnership for development, and subsequently identified the need to establish a comprehensive United Nations information and communication technology (ICT) strategy, recognized the importance of global networks and stressed the implementation of training programs to ensure maximum use of technology in developing nations,

Guided by the additional challenges extant in Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) due to their geographic orientation, including small domestic markets physically isolated from the world economy, it is understood to be paramount to use ICTs to virtually connect their local markets to global ones, thus establishing a link that will reduce demands on both LLDCs and their transit countries regarding physical access,

Fully aware many LLDCs do not possess the requisite infrastructure to take full advantage of ICT connectivity, it is nevertheless necessary to proceed with ICT development in areas already so equipped to handle it, while acknowledging attention still must be allocated to infrastructure and transit solutions such as outlined in the Almaty Programme of Action,

Emphasizing the mandate for partnerships among public, private and civic sectors within individual states to ensure ICT programs are both appropriate to and cognizant of unique domestic demands,

Believing a state’s own educated youth are a crucial and underutilized resource for advancing ICT presence, and one that can be depleted by a lack of opportunities for employment and career advancement within LLDCs,

Deeply convinced LLDCs should not remain bound by and dependent upon international intervention to maintain ICT program viability, but instead organizations providing ICT assistance should forge partnerships with national institutions and local communities to ensure ICT initiatives will create self-reliant and sustainable development, respectful of national identity, traditions and heritage and in avoidance of harmful cultural imperatives, by focusing on networks among LLDCs and self-perpetuating liberal economic growth,

1. We call for the establishment of a nationally coordinated network involving public, private and civil society under the mentorship and coordination of UNGAID;

a) This body should be sustained by a mixed financial system consisting of international, national and private sector funds;
b) Funding should be structured in a way that all parties have an equal voice in the designated goals for the fund, meaning there should be no connection between the amount of money contributed and voting share;
c) UNGAID should assume mentoring responsibility in incubating these national bodies, grant legitimacy and provide valuable leadership and guidance from the experience of UNGAID’s inclusive, decentralized, multi-stakeholder network;

2. We further recommend the primary operational task of this body should be to implement a national volunteer program utilizing each country’s own youth to educate rural and distant populations in ICTs;

a) Volunteers are students pursuing or possessing higher education, are subject to a rigorous selection process and intensive training program;
b) After comprehensive research, conducted by the parent body, a customized training curriculum is developed that addresses rural and distant populations’ specific needs and offers ICT solutions to be introduced by volunteers

3. We further encourage follow-up actions to ensure future sustainability whereby ICT knowledge augmentation will perpetuate through continued training and certification of qualified individuals within the local population, and through the initiation of an international Business Development Initiative;

a) Individuals showing the most aptitude throughout the training will be given additional instruction by the volunteer, culminating in certification as a local instructor to continue to advance ICT education within the population after the volunteers’ departure;
b) The Business Development Initiative will be an international program for LLDC trained communities wherein individuals within the local population may utilize electronic resources to design and submit business plans for potential start-up grants to establish local businesses;

4. We further support continuous program enhancement through volunteer evaluation and an independent monitor measuring regional progress;

a) Volunteers will be evaluated by both the parent organization and trainees within local populations to ensure effectiveness;
b) An independent monitoring agency or individual will be assigned within each country, subject to the approval of UNGAID, to revisit trained populations at predetermined intervals to assess the permanent impact of ICT training, gather statistical data and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the local economic impact of the program.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

i concur in astonishment at such disconfirmed expectations

“We thought after 9/11, 5 years ago, that there would be a move towards understanding in the region, the adopting of responsible middle-east policy, and realization that in order to put an end to fundamentalism, to extremism, to jihadism, you must resolve the issues from which they stem. Instead we got a politicized simplistic policy of angels versus deamons, with-us or against-us.”

- Palestinian Member of Parliament