BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Jane Harman is back on our radar screens. You remember the ex-Congresswoman who’s now head of the Woodrow Wilson Center who claimed to support passage of a Genocide resolution while secretly lobbying against it. This time, it’s a two-fer. Both of them might be unhelpful to us. She is now a Trustee at the University of Southern California, where we also have a fairly active Armenian Institute. It’s time for the institute along with the undergraduate and graduate Armenian student associations of that school to start a “Harman take a hike” effort to rid that prestigious institution of the taint of such a creature. It’ll be tough, because she brings with her many millions of dollars from her late husband. The other position is on the “Foreign Affairs Policy Board”, a newly created advisory panel to the U.S. Secretary of State. This is Hillary Clinton’s baby (other than Chelsea, of course), so she’s ultimately responsible for Harman’s appointment.
Now, let’s move on to pseudo security by banks. Most people use a credit card, and occasionally have cause to call up the bank issuing it to deal with some issue. Understandably, the bank wants to confirm their representative is actually interacting with the true owner of the card, not some identity, or other kind of, thief. So, the customer is asked for the last four digits of her/his social security number. In my case, if I’m calling from work because it is a “normal business hours” matter, giving my SSN is a problem since anyone could overhear it if they’ve entered the office. So I’d be exposing myself needlessly to identity theft. As a solution, I’ve come up with this: I have the bank rep count up (0-1-2-3…) or down (9-8-7…) and stop them when they get to the correct digit. Sometimes, they’ll refuse to do this. Other times, they’ll be too dumb to understand what I’m saying. And still others (are you ready for this) will, instead, ask for my home phone number and address! That’s about the most publicly available information about anyone. So accessing that account becomes easy for a crook! Please, tell me, how are we supposed to take the banks “efforts” to “protect” us seriously?
Let’s move from banks to courts. You’ll remember the Movsesian case in which a German insurance company alleges California’s Genocide era insurance policy law is unconstitutional because it purportedly steps into the range of powers granted to the federal government, not the states. Basically, that law governs insurance, something the states do all the time. The matter was settled, or so we thought. But, for some reason, the Ninth Circuit Court decided to review it “en banc” (i.e. the whole court, instead of the 3 judge panel which made the decision, a very typical situation). What this means is somebody, somewhere, thinks the current decision might be wrong. That’s irritating, and worrisome. What’s more irritating, is that the hearing was held on December 14 and based on a report I received about the hearing, the Armenian side did not handle its arguments in such a way as to optimize the 30 minutes allocated to it. It seems egos got in the way. The questions asked by the judges were both favorable, and not, to our side. Let’s see what their verdict is.
From courts we’ll move to department stores and more attempted usurpation of individuals’ privacy and security by corporate interests. Some time ago, I bought four pairs of pants, one of which I expected to shrink into. Believe it or not, I actually did lose the weight necessary to fit into those pants. Yet, they were very far from getting buckled, try as I might, over many months. Finally, I laid them atop another pair of pants of the same size. Guess what! They were two-three inches narrower at the waist. They had been mis-sized. So, I went back to the store to swap them with a correctly sized pair. I was told they don’t exchange items of that brand without a receipt (mine being long buried). So the clerk called a superior while I went and got the replacement. Some accommodation had been arranged, but it still required a “transaction”. Finally, I was asked for my name and address, which I gave grudgingly. Then came the kicker, I was asked for my driver’s license. I drew the line at this much graver intrusion of privacy. Again, a call to the superior who said I must provide it. Then another call so I could speak directly to this person resulted in her deciding to come in person. She started giving me the “it’s policy” lecture, and would not listen to reason—it was after all, and “even exchange” so I would receive what I actually paid for. At long last, I said I was leaving with my pants. As I walked to the door, I saw the phone picked up and (I’m pretty sure I heard) security being called. What nerve!
Here’s one you would never have believed possible. A fellow member (non-Armenian) of an organization (also non-Armenian) related this story. It seems he was called to court to testify because someone in their office (an LA County agency) had sued, claiming that Armenians were being promoted in large numbers, unfairly resulting in the this person’s being passed over. The disgruntled employee did not prevail in court. Can you imagine? We’re being presented as some kind of abusive group. We, the same people who were not allowed to own property within the Fresno city limits, the same people who get biased treatment by some police departments even today, the same people who get vilified by earlier immigrant’s progeny.
While we’re on attitudes, I’ve got to ask, what is this antipathy towards bikes and their riders that seems to be present in the strangest places? Just this week, at a Burbank City Council meeting, a citizen, during the public comment period, went off on bicycles, bike lanes, and cyclists themselves. I had not planned to speak that night, but the level of insult was too much and I got up to respond. Very annoying!
“It seems the United States has an unnatural love for Armenia.” So spake Novruz Mammadov, head of Azerbaijan’s president’s foreign relations department. This woman criticized the U.S. for having a double standard on human rights. She ought to know, considering how lightly her country gets off despite their horrendous record when it comes to ANY rights. This was in light of what seems to have been a passing reference to that “bastion” of human decency called Azerbaijan in a press statement issued by Hillary Clinton (back to her again, though this time, she may have done something right) on the occasion of Human Rights Day. The Lady Novruz doth protest too much, methinks.