Official Statement of Nicholas Alahverdian | October 31, 2018

About: Nicholas Alahverdian is a victim of torture perpetrated upon him by group homes and shelters who contracted with the Rhode Island State Government to provide services for children in the care of the Department of Children Youth and Families. Nicholas simultaneously worked for the Rhode Island General Assembly as a legislative aide.

After exposing widespread abuse and neglect within the DCYF night-to-night program, Alahverdian was sent hundreds of miles from home to two facilities in Nebraska and Florida that had records of torture where he was allowed to contact no one. The facilities were closed by their own states following Alahverdian’s discharge when the abuse was discovered. Nicholas later recovered from the abuse, sued his abusers in federal court, was admitted to and studied at Harvard University, and became a vocal critic of DCYF.


October 31, 2018

As a 14-year-old legislative aide, I was sodomized and raped by a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. That person now wields formidable power. In light of the recent facts illuminated by the sexual harassment perpetrated by Cale Keable upon Katie Kazarian, I felt prompted to do what I never thought I would: bring the facts of this vicious and embarrassing assault upon me to the public eye. 

I was degraded and humiliated by a person in power — and this culture of corruption in Rhode Island politics needs to stop. Katie Kazarian is leading the charge in exposing the moral attrition at the State House, and for that she deserves the utmost praise. But for myself, I go on and tell my story to those whom will listen. The most deplorable action we can take to address these endemic issues is none at all. I will be releasing details of the rape upon my person after the election. That way, no one can say ‘Nicholas Alahverdian did this for political advantage.’ 

Nicholas Alahverdian
nalahverdian@gmail.com | nicholasalahverdian.com

Can You Spare Some Change? The Moral Argument of the Beggar

By Nicholas Alahverdian
When a beggar asks a passerby for money, a litany of thoughts may congregate in one’s head. Indeed, it is up to the passerby to act in the right way, or in a way that tends to promote happiness, or in the wrong way, or in a way that promotes the antithesis of happiness. But whose happiness matters? To the passerby, it may be their own or it may be that of the beggar.
On the contrary, one could “reject all established morality while believing to be an objective truth that it was evil or corrupt”. At what point does the practice of freely giving money upon request with no effort on the part of the beggar become evil and/or corrupt? What does the beggar have to lose?
Through the lens of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, especially considering the existence of pleasure and the absence of pain, the foundation of morality would suggest that a passerby giving money to a beggar on the street is actually the right thing to do. Objectively, it may be the right thing to do and may cause a pleasurable and altruistic experience. But what of the approach which considers the moral framework that strives for pleasure and pain whilst eliminating the devastating impact of animalistic tendencies, specifically ridding one’s community of panhandling and squalor?
If a person uses his or her higher faculties, it is completely within reason to suggest that Mill would reject the idea that succumbing to the requests and/or demands of a panhandler is the right, moral, or ethical thing to do in every single case. Consider the circumstantial and/or prima facie evidence which may or may not be apparent upon being asked for money… Does the beggar have marks on his arm from injecting himself with heroin? Does his breath sting one’s face with the pungent scent of cheap alcohol? Does the beggar have any stated intention of what he or she will do with the money? All of these questions are essential and imperative when considering whether or not catering to the request of the beggar for a bit of money is actually catering to his higher faculties or his lower faculties.
So would Utilitarianism endorse the general act of panhandling? Perhaps, but not before considering the aforementioned. Now, looking through the concept of Cultural Relativism advocated by philosopher John Leslie Mackie, we are presented with the quandary that standpoints are equally privileged and no standpoint is uniquely privileged over any other. Mackie advocates the viewpoint that all moral claims are false since they assert characteristics that are “ontologically queer” cannot be perceived by normal empirical means.
The characteristics of goodness and altruism can indeed be attributed to the act of one giving his or her money to the beggar, but when viewed through the lens of the argument of cultural (or moral) relativism, the giver becomes trapped in a moral dilemma since there is no hierarchy of what should take precedence. The same with the beggar, who stands at a crossroads of ethics: is his financial dilemma, whether it be due to lack of work, a drug habit, or gambling, significant enough to jeopardize the happiness of others to the point of soliciting donations from unsuspecting passersby.
Thus, we arrive at a crossroads ourselves: how would Mill respond to the appeals of the beggar? And what about the notoriously blunt Mackie?
Mill, as an advocate for seeking for pleasurable experiences throughout one’s life by exercising a variance of faculties, both higher and lower, would adamantly advocate that there is no uniform approach to approaching a begging panhandler. One must contemplate the subject’s situation, demeanor, plea, and other characteristics; proceed to analyze the facts in accordance with the begging panhandler’s statements; and finally use his or her higher faculties to come to a complete and wise determination of how he or she will respond – all in a matter of seconds. “Can you spare some change?” never seemed so complicated.
Mackie, alternatively, would prefer a comparably self-serving result wherein the begging panhandler is ignored, or worse, interrogated. The dialogue that would ensue would be a microscopic analysis of the history of haggling as opposed to inventorying the needs of the begging panhandler since, again, the “ontologically queer” characteristics that seemingly advocate for moral righteousness (i.e. goodness, care, altruism, etc.) cannot be perceived by normal empirical needs.
Mackie’s argument depends upon the stance that no one situation is more important than any other. In fact, the argument would be so convoluted that he would walk away with an extreme sense of frustration that he was held up for far too long.
In conclusion, the best way to address the situation, or, rather, the ideal way to deal with the situation is to employ the analytic and rational foundation of establishing the needs of the person in question.
Mill allows for flexibility in one’s thinking in his Utilitarianism philosophical approach, whereas Mackie would exact a nihilistic blow to the panhandling beggar. Mackie’s approach does not go over so well ethically and morally because there is no grading system or analytical approach that would allow a passerby to shift the mirrors to see where the smoke was coming from.
Put another way, the passerby has literally seconds to establish the history, background, factual synopsis, and prima facie evidence that needs to be assessed in order to allow a solid moral framework to be established. At that point, it is unquestionably a more robust approach to figuring out whether or not giving a begging panhandler money is the right thing to do according to one’s higher faculties.
Mackie’s philosophical approach is rigid, invariable, and irrationally stringent. The ethical and moral approach to understanding the needs of a fellow human being are better suited by Mill’s intelligible and compassionate, yet practical, approach. It is only through this practical approach that a reasonable resolution can be reached.
Works Cited and Referenced
Rachels, James. The Right Thing to Do.
New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.
Moral Relativism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/moral-re/
Date Accessed: 24 August 2016.

Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" (Der fliegende Holländer)


Renowned composer Richard Wagner initially averred that he was influenced to compose this The Flying Dutchman after he endured a tempestuously thunderous voyage to London in 1839, yet in 1843 he confirmed that the actual source of inspiration for Dutchman was Heinrich Heine’s novel The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski. Continue reading Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" (Der fliegende Holländer)

Harvard Hypocrisy: Profs Who Advocated for Obamacare Now Outraged

How the MRM Gets it So Right/Wrong on Nicholas Alahverdian Harvard Student MRM Modern Rights Movement
For years, some professors at Harvard University lobbied for and presented studies conducive to the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Now, members of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) are expressing their outrage over what some say is tantamount to a pay cut.
This is hilarious in a very sad way. Political manipulation at its finest. Obama’s healthcare legacy isn’t shaping up to what he or Ted Kennedy purported it would be during the campaigns. For an omnibus bill with varying levels of potential for good throughout its massively complex legislative and judicial history, it is sure to be kept in focus as a primary issue during the 2016 presidential campaigns.
The ever left-leaning New York Times adequately captured the fury with which these rising costs have been welcomed:

For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.
Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.

What do you think? Comment in the box below.
Disclaimer: Nicholas Alahverdian was educated at Harvard and was a student whose department was under the auspices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

Hearty Winter Stew

Winter Beef Stew
1-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast (cut the pieces into 1-1/4-inches each)
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. of canola oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1-1/2 pounds small red potato chunks
3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, divided into quarters
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, cut into halves
1 can beef broth
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
1/2 tsp. of pepper
1 bacon strip, crumbled
Cook the meat and chopped onion, in oil, over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until the meat is browned on all sides. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Drain the mixture and then add the potatoes, carrots, quartered onions, and mushrooms. In a separate bowl, combine the broth, apple juice, tomato paste, parsley, bay leaves, salt, thyme, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the meat.
Cover the stew and bake it at 325°F for two hours. Stir it occasionally. Continue to bake the stew, except this time uncovered, for 30-45 more minutes, until the stew becomes thick. Throw away the bay leaves, and sprinkle the stew with bacon.
Make large batches of hearty winter stew recipes, and share some with friends, or store the leftovers in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.

Food: Thanksgiving Turkey Burger With Cranberry-Mayo

Ingredients:

Directions:
1: In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, prepared stuffing, cheese, dried cranberries, and egg (add salt and pepper, if needed). Mix thoroughly.
2: Divide into four equal portions, and shape into four patties.
3: Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
4: Cook the patties until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
5: In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.
6: Spread some cranberry mayonnaise mixture on the inside of the warmed buns.
7: Assemble your burgers with the lettuce and top patties with additional cran-mayo, as desired.
8: Enjoy! Goes nicely with a side salad or veggies and sweet-potato fries.

thanksgiving burger nicholas alahverdian
nom!

Buddy Cianci Runs Again

BY ANDREW MARANTZ
Hollybeth Runco, a blond woman in her forties, lives in a two-story Craftsman-style house on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island. On a recent Sunday afternoon, she and her husband, Tom, sat at their dining-room table with a few friends, drinking Cabernet and waiting for their guest of honor, Vincent Cianci, Jr., who is known by his nickname, Buddy.
“When we moved here, ten years ago, all I heard was Buddy jokes,” Tom said.
Susan Teeden-Cielo, a friend from the neighborhood, said, “When Hollybeth announced this, she got a lot of hate just for giving Buddy the time of day.” (Responding to Runco’s invitation, one neighbor wrote, “This waste of skin is a cancer to Providence.”)
“People think he’s a stain on the city, and they are worried that he’s slick enough to make people forget what he’s done,” Tom said.
Cianci was the mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984, and again from 1991 to 2002. (Philip Gourevitch wrote about Cianci for The New Yorker in 2002.) He is the most influential figure in the city’s modern history, and many people credit him with bringing economic life to what was once a post-industrial backwater. He is also a convicted felon who is something of a local joke. Though he left prison seven years ago, stores still sell T-shirts that say “Free Buddy”; his face is on the label of a popular brand of pasta sauce, Mayor’s Own Marinara. He also hosts a call-in radio show, which he describes as “lucrative.” Improbably, he is running for a seventh term, as an independent. Even more improbably, he has a decent chance of winning: a recent poll has him six points in the lead. He seems to belong to a special class of zombie politicians—Marion Barry, Eliot Spitzer—who can be embarrassed by scandal but not shamed into silence.
Runco, a former engineer, is now a homemaker. She has two children, one of whom has special needs. A few weeks ago, she heard a rumor that the public schools would be cutting back on special-education services. She called the school board and met with the current mayor, but their answers were not satisfactory. “Finally, I found the name of Buddy’s campaign manager and cold-called her. She was on my couch the next day,” Runco said. Cianci offered to attend an informal meeting about the issue, and Runco invited a dozen friends. “Some are skeptical, some are haters, some are agnostic,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is ready to say they’re a supporter, including myself.”
A Lincoln Town Car pulled up, and Cianci climbed the stairs to the house, a bit unsteadily. He was once cannonball-shaped, with a charging gait and a voluminous toupee. Now, at seventy-three, he is thinner, slower, and openly bald. He wore khakis, a buttoned blazer, and thick glasses that magnified puppy-dog eyes. “I’m mostly here to listen,” he said, before talking for fifteen minutes.
“The city has changed, but not really,” he said, sitting at the dining-room table. “The biggest thing this time around is the technology. We hired a company that breaks down voters and their behavior—you know, people who like baseball are more likely to vote for me, that kind of thing. It’s remarkable how much privacy we’ve given up in this country.” Noticing that he had his back to some of the guests, he turned and said, “My apologies, ladies. I’m not used to doing theatre in the round.”
Runco, seated across from Cianci, said, “I’m going to sit right here, because I’m partially deaf and I read lips. It’s not that I want to make out with you.”
“Good,” Cianci said. “I’ve got enough problems.”
In 1984, Cianci’s first term was interrupted when he was found guilty of assaulting a man who was dating his ex-wife. In 2002, after undercover federal agents recorded hundreds of conversations in City Hall, Cianci was indicted on twenty-nine charges of corruption. He told the group at Runco’s house, “I was found not guilty of the RICO”—crimes defined by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—“but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit RICO. Go figure.” He served a four-and-a-half-year prison term but still professes his innocence, preferring to speak vaguely of “regrets.” “I gave a speech at Brown, and some kid sits in the front row and says, ‘What would you have changed in your life?’ Being a smart-ass, I said, ‘The verdict.’ ”
Runco and her guests voiced their concerns. Kirsten Murphy said, “My son can see our elementary school from his window, but the city told us that they would allocate funds to bus him to another school.”
“That’s just stupid!” Cianci said.
“What’s your plan for busing?” Runco asked.

“Look, I was mayor when we were going through voluntary desegregation,” he said. “I know I don’t look that old, but I am. But now you have to revert to neighborhood autonomy.” He added, “My good friend Richie Daley, in Chicago, he’s done a pretty decent job with the schools out there.” (Daley, Chicago’s former mayor, survived several scandals.)
Cianci took a call on his iPhone—it had something to do with an upcoming city-council vote. As he talked, he took a bite of one of the meatballs Teeden-Cielo had put out, and made an A-O.K. hand gesture.
He hung up the phone. “I want to talk about the story of American cities,” he said. “I made a decision years ago not to knock down our historic buildings. That was the big thing back then—knock ’em down, build something new. I don’t want to name names, but New Haven and Hartford did that.” He continued, “People ask other questions—whether we should invade Iraq and all that. That’s not me. I pick the garbage up.”
“I don’t know if this is too personal, but I have to ask,” Kira Greene said. “In the past, obviously, things didn’t always go the way you wanted them to go. I don’t know how to phrase it, but—could you be a better mayor because you made mistakes?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Cianci said. “In hindsight, if I want to be honest, I wouldn’t have voted for myself in 1974. It took a few years to get running. But I had a lot of vitality and devotion to the city, and that hasn’t diminished at all. They ask me, ‘Isn’t it a shame for you to run again?’ I’m not the problem. The city is in debt, failing schools—that’s the shame.”
He stood up. “Hey, listen, I talked too much—that’s been my trouble my whole life—but I really enjoyed it.”
After showing him out, Runco said, “I think it was less about deciding ‘I’m definitely voting for him’ and more just about getting comfortable with the idea.”
“It’s harder to hate someone when they’re sitting right in front of you,” Tom said. He had been in the anyone-but-Buddy camp, but he was reconsidering. “Our friends warned us not to get taken in: ‘He puts on a good show, but don’t believe a word he says.’ Well, unless you hook him up to a polygraph, I guess it’s impossible to know.”

Poem: Anything Can Happen

By Seamus Heaney
Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses
Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest towers
Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,
Setting it down bleeding on the next.
Ground gives. The heaven’s weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.
Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.