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President Obama Issues a Proclamation Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy at Fort Hood

Posted by Audiegrl

President Obama Speaks in the Rose Garden

This morning the President gave some brief remarks in the Rose Garden, and before discussing the news on job numbers that also concern all Americans, gave an update on his response to the tragic incident at Fort Hood yesterday:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to begin by offering an update on the tragedy that took place yesterday at Fort Hood. This morning I met with FBI Director Mueller and the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow servicemen and women. We don’t know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.

What we do know is that there are families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base. So from now until Veterans Day I’ve ordered the flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff.

This is a modest tribute to those who lost their lives even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country. And it’s also recognition of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our safety and uphold our values. We honor their service, we stand in awe of their sacrifice, and we pray for the safety of those who fight and for the families of those who have fallen. And as we continue to learn more about what happened at Fort Hood, this administration will continue to provide you updates in the coming days and weeks.

The President has just issued the following proclamation:

Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas
– – – – – – –
By The President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Our Nation’s thoughts and prayers are with the service members, civilians, and families affected by the tragic events at Fort Hood, Texas. The brave victims, who risked their lives to protect their fellow countrymen, serve as a constant source of strength and inspiration to all Americans. We ask God to watch over the fallen, the wounded, and all those who are suffering at this difficult hour.

As a mark of respect honoring the victims of the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, Tuesday, November 10, 2009. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

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The History Channel: Death Masks

Posted by Audiegrl

New York circa 1908. Making a plaster death mask

New York circa 1908. Making a plaster death mask

The making of a death mask is a messy business – literally. They are difficult to make and the best position for the corpse is not lying down but sat up (as you can see in the picture). The shift from sculpture to masks came about in the Middle Ages when the art of waxwork and plaster casting became more sophisticated. The tradition evolved from royalty to eminent people and continues to this day.

abraham-lincoln-life-mask-2By using these masks, forensic-science and anthropology experts will delve into the real person behind the famous faces.

Every facial line, wrinkle and expression tells a story.

According to the “History Channel’s” website, using high-tech facial-reconstruction techniques and 3D imprint will render an exact replica of features. This will produce an intimate look at how their characteristics affected their lives.

deathmask2The show will attempt to solve some of the persistent mysteries surrounding historic figures such as; Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon and George Washington.

Faces…and facts…fleshed out from the grave. Unprecedented technology brings to life extraordinary mirror images and powerful last impressions of history’s most powerful men. Every line, every wrinkle, every expression tells a story. Forensic-science and anthropology experts have identified that history’s most relevant figures left behind highly-detailed casts of their faces, created at their moment of death, to preserve their souls and physical memory for eternity.

George Washington life mask, from the original Houdon statue, 1785

George Washington life mask, from the original Houdon statue, 1785

Using advanced facial-reconstruction techniques and 3-D imprint detailing, these death masks render an exact replica of every feature, and an intimate look at how their characteristics affected their lives. Includes startling new insights into the persistent mysteries surrounding these historic icons like Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon and George Washington, and just may reveal some secrets these men preferred to conceal.

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More @ historychannellogo

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More Information on Life or Death Masks

Undying Faces® Death Masks – Life Masks

Curiouse Expeditions, Death Masks – Kegyeleti Museum, Hungary

Death Mask Tuesdays

Laurence Hutton Collection of Death Masks

Wikipedia “Death Mask” Entry

AbbeyCarr Blog: President Lincoln

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Filed under Art, Culture, History, Media and Entertainment, TV Shows, Uncategorized

The Symbols of Halloween

jack-o-lantern2
When the Irish immigrants arrived in America, they brought with them the tradition of carving-out turnips (or, sometimes, a potato or rutabaga) and placing coals or a small candle inside the hollow. These were then displayed on doorsteps at Halloween to ward off evil spirits. However, the Irish quickly discovered that Jack O’Lanterns were much easier to carve out of the pumpkin which was a fruit native to their newly-adopted home…something of a blessing since turnips where nowhere near as plentiful or easy to find as they had been in Ireland. (The belief behind the Irish tradition of such carving is based upon the myth about a man called “Stingy Jack,” whose story may be accessed via the link below.) This practice spread swiftly among the general population in America and was soon an integral tradition of the Halloween festivities. The Jack O’Lantern is quite possibly the most well-known symbol of modern day Halloween.
The pumpkin (which is a fruit) has been growing on the earth for several thousand years. A type of squash, it is a member of the gourd family which also includes cucumbers, gherkins and melons. The pumpkin is indigenous to the Western Hemisphere and originated in Central America. It was used in olden times (and is still used today) as a food crop. Over the course of centuries, pumpkins spread their vines across the entire North and South America. When European immigrants arrived in the New World, they found the pumpkin to be in plentiful supply and used by Native Americans for culinary purposes. The seeds were later transported back to Europe where the pumpkin quickly became popular as a food source.

The origin of the custom of “trick or treating” is a controversial one. Some believe that the practice originated with the Druids who threatened dire consequences to residents who failed to respond generously to the demand for free goods or money. Since a similar tale stems from various historical roots among the countries which comprise the British Isles, it is probably safe to assume that the practice is ancient, even if its precise origin cannot be ascertained with any certainty. Another theory is that the Irish began the tradition of “trick or treating.” In preparation for All Hallow’s Eve, Irish townsfolk would visit neighbors and ask for contributions of food for a feast to be held in the village. Yet another possible origin is that the custom dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades which were held in England. During such festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for the promise to pray for the wealthier family’s departed relatives. Distribution of such “soul cakes” was encouraged by the Church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The custom was referred to as “going a-souling” and was eventually practiced only by the children who would visit the houses in their neighborhoods and be given gifts of ale, food and money.

Yet one more possible explanation for the present day custom of begging candy and other “treats” from neighbors on Halloween involves a Celtic figure by the name of Muck Olla. According to Irish custom, it is traditional to solicit contributions from others in the name of Muck Olla, who would be sure to punish those too greedy to disoblige.

No matter the exact origin of the custom, it is a commonly accepted concept that it was once believed the spirits of the departed returned to visit their old homes during Halloween and, in ancient times, people left food out for such spirits and arranged chairs so that they would be able to rest. For this reason, it has been suggested that it was this olden day custom which eventually evolved into the tradition of people masquerading as departed spirits and journeying from door-to-door in order to beg for treats.

The tradition of wearing costumes at Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. In ancient times, Winter was an uncertain and frightening season when food supplies often ran low. For many people who feared the dark, the short days of Winter were filled with constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that spirits returned to the earthly world, people would wear masks when they left their homes during the night hours. In this way, they would avoid being recognized by the ghosts and be mistaken merely for fellow spirits. During Samhain, Celtic villagers would don costumes to represent the souls of the dead and dance out of town, in the hope of leading the dead along with them. Similarly, in Christian religions, parishioners would dress as their favorite Saints and display relics of these departed souls.


The use of witches and cats (together with ghosts) in the celebration of Halloween originates with the Druids, who believed that ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, elves and all manner of supernatural manifestation emerged on Halloween night to possibly harm the living. It was a common Celtic belief that cats (particularly black ones) had once been human beings who had been transformed into felines as punishment for their evil deeds or through coming in contact with bad magick. Black cats were often tied with silver ropes because it was thought such creatures possessed the ability to protect sacred treasures. Catholic traditions blended with the Celtic beliefs and eventually turned the cat into a witch’s familiar, along with the theory that the witch herself had the mystical knowledge to transform herself into the form of a cat. The British once believed that elves rode upon the backs of villagers’ cats and would lock up the animals in order that the elves might not catch them. At one time, the British believed that it was the white cat who brought bad luck and not a black once, which was considered to be lucky.

Christianity painted the image of a witch as an ugly old hag, often sporting a wart on her nose. Considered by the Church as cohorts of the devil, witches were said to employ spells and charms in order to bring harm to good men and women. Aside from the association with cats, they were said to be assisted by bats or spiders or other creepy-crawly creatures while carrying out their wicked deeds, possessed of the demonic ability to adopt the form of such animals. It was also implied that witches often had need of baby fat in order to attain full power. However, this evil witch character is pure fiction. Witches may be traced back to at least the Celts…and possibly even further. In ancient times, the men and women who were designated as “witches” were considered to be wise people initiated in the mysteries if the spiritual world. They were also healers and experts in the art of medicines. Modern day witches are revivers of these old Pagan religions and related rituals.


In ancient times, Celtic priestesses would roam the countryside, chanting in order to frighten away the evil spirits thought to be abroad on Halloween night. It is believed that this old custom may be the origin of the Halloween Parade.


Apples have long been associated with female deities and with immortality, resurrection and knowledge. One reason being that if an apple is cut through its equator, it reveals a five-pointed star outlined at the center of each hemisphere, also known as a pentagram. The pentagram was a Goddess symbol to many cultures, including the Roma (gypsies), the Celts and the Egyptians.

With the coming of the Roman invasion into Celtic lands, came the Roman festival which honored Pomona and which was merged with the Druid celebration of Samhain. Pomona was the Roman Goddess who presided over Fruits and Gardens. She was invariably portrayed as a beautiful maiden whose arms were filled with fruit and who wore a crown of apples upon her head. It is generally accepted that it is from Pomono that the association of apples became aligned with Halloween, along with the custom of “bobbing” for this particular fruit and its close link to the Autumn harvests.

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Halle, Whoopi, Grier In New ‘Divas On Screen‘ Book

Posted by Audiegrl

Grier, Dandridge and Oprah also featured in examination of ‘Black Women in American Film’

Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film by Mia Mask

Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film by Mia Mask

Oscar pioneers Dorothy Dandridge and Halle Berry join Pam Grier, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey as subjects of the new book “Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film.”

Author Mia Mask, who teaches film and drama at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said she was inspired to write the book after noticing the huge amount of attention given to black male stars, while their female counterparts were often looked over.

These women have pushed the racial boundaries for audiences, setting new standards for beauty and body type,” Mask told the Associated Press.

Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge

Dandridge received an Academy Award nomination for her lead role in the 1954 classic “Carmen Jones,” alongside Harry Belafonte. Berry won an Oscar in 2000 for playing the wife of an executed murderer in “Monster’s Ball.” She also had portrayed Dandridge as a stunning femme fatale in a 1999 HBO film about Dandridge’s life.

When Dandridge became a star, “she was working in an environment in which there were almost no women of color (in leading roles),” said Mask, and Dandridge “had to fit into the mold of shapely and svelte.”

Grier was chosen for her ability in the early 70s to break that mold with her forceful but hip physical presence as an action heroine. As for Winfrey, Mask said she chose her because the talk-show host’s television presence catapulted her film appearances to the level of global stardom, transcending any category.

In spite of vast changes, Mask said, sore points persist in casting black women for star roles: a paucity of quality parts, and a new trend of pairing black lead actors with female leads who are not.

Studio heads don’t think two black characters will appeal to general audiences,” said Mask.

Oscar winner, Halle Berry

Oscar winner, Halle Berry

She chose Dandridge and Berry “as bookends” for the time span that transformed black women in commercial films.

We’ve gone from the trope of the tragic (mulatto) to biracial beauty,” said Mask, who is taping a five-part series for National Public Radio to air in late October — each on one of the women in the book.

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge starring Halle Berry

'Introducing Dorothy Dandridge' movie poster

'Introducing Dorothy Dandridge' movie poster

This bio-pic of Dorothy Dandridge follows her career through early days on the club circuit with her sister to her turn in movies, including becoming the first black actress to win a Best Actress Nomination in 1954 for “Carmen Jones“, to her final demise to prescription drugs, which was debated whether it was suicide or accidental. Brent Spiner plays her faithful manager who stood beside her through all of the roller coaster of her career. The film also examines her love affair with director Otto Preminger, which is shown to have probably initially helped her career, but later probably led her to some wrong decisions.~~John Sacksteder

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