Monday, August 29, 2011

Femicide: The Greatest Human Rights Violation for Women in Honduras

The femicide epidemic continues unabated in Honduras, with the discovery in the past week of the bodies of 12 women nationwide murdered by relatives or unknown assailants. According to Human Rights Commissioner Ramón Custodio, approximately 2,400 women have died violently in Honduras since 2002, including a total of 351 in 2010, compared to 407 in 2009 and 252 in 2008, based on data from the country's National Institute for Women (INAM). One femicide case is registered every 48 hours in Honduras. "One of the findings, up to now, is that 70 percent of the victims ranged in age from 15 to 40 years, although those most exposed to dying violently are women between 20 and 24," said Mr. Custodio. Of that figure, "83 percent were the victims of firearms, 14 percent of sharp instruments, while the rest died from suffocation, strangling and from other violent causes."

Mr. Custodio noted that femicide is "the greatest violation of human rights and the most serious crime of violence against women for the cruelty of the perpetrator in mutilating, dismembering or leaving marks on the body of the victim."

Femicide is defined as "the systematic killing of women for various reasons, usually cultural". While the word "femicide" is relatively new in Honduras, volence and sexual abuse of women in the country has a long history, made worse by the fact that many of these crimes go unsolved or unpunished due to biases dominated by the culture of "machismo" that severely diminish the rights and status of women.

Elizabeth I - Virgin Queen? She was a right royal minx!

The England that the first Queen Elizabeth reigned over so gloriously for 45 years was obsessed with sex and awash with promiscuity. This unrestrained bawdiness was surprising for a nation that worshipped its head of state as an unblemished virgin.

By the standards of later ages — and even today — society then was especially open in its use of sexual language. Shakespeare’s plays are full of nudge-nudge references to rutting, scrambling, sluicing, ravening and lock-picking.

The playwright’s work mirrored and fed the erotic obsessions of the age. This was a land where prostitutes were known as Winchester geese because the Bishop of Winchester owned much of the property that housed London’s dens of vice.

Monogamy, chastity and celibacy must have been practised by some Elizabethans, but they were hardly the norm. And yet, at the helm of this vibrant and exciting nation — growing, getting richer, reaching out to new worlds — was a woman who suppressed her own desires.

She would not marry or have children, and remained for the 45 years of her reign the unassailable Virgin Queen.

An Anglo-Indian Tale

From IBN Live:
During the earlier period of the East India Company in India, it was a common practice for British men to take Indian women as wives, for the lack of British women in the country. The children of such inter-racial marriages were known as Eurasians. But as the 19th century progressed, British women began arriving at the sub continent, and the trend of inter-cultural marriages came to an abrupt halt. As a result, such Eurasians, also known as Anglo Indians, were neglected by both Indians and British.

This was among the interesting information that contoured the lecture on Anglo Indians as part of the Madras Week Celebration, held at the GRT Grand Days. Harry Mclure and Richard O Connor from Anglos in the Wind, a national Anglo Indian magazine, read out articles published in the magazine over the last 10 years, that capture the history and essence of Anglo Indians in Madras, especially in areas of Santhome, Royapuram, Perambur, Pallavaram. The lecture was an insight as to how a new community evolved and marginalised later with unfriendly environment.

The Family, Koseki, and the Individual

On 14 February, Kayama Emi and Watanabe Tsuguo filed an administrative appeal to have the rejection of their marriage application by Arakawa Ward, Tokyo rescinded.1 Ms. Kayama wanted to keep her surname after marriage, as did Mr. Watanabe. The court rejected the appeal after only ten days without hearing arguments. “I’ve never had a gate closed in my face so quickly,” said Ms. Kayama.

They are now demanding damages on the basis of sexual discrimination, a case that is expected to take two years in the Tokyo High Court. Their appeal is based on Article 24 of the Constitution, which guarantees gender equality and respect of individual rights in marriage, and Article 13, which guarantees the right to pursue personal happiness. In contrast, current law requiring married couples to have a single surname, either the husband or wife’s, is based solely on an “agreement” (goi) between the parties involved.

It is not only women in the workplace who are inconvenienced by misunderstandings around names. Men wanting to adopt their wife’s name also run into barriers, whether due to confusion involving names at the workplace, to opposition from the husband’s family if he is the oldest son inheriting property and tasked with carrying on the family name, or to social prejudice and jabs about being “adopted” by the wife’s family.

In Search of Cleopatra

From CBS News:
She has been celebrated in film, immortalized in paintings and sculpture. And more than 2,000 years after she lived, Queen Cleopatra VII, who ruled the sprawling kingdom of Egypt for 22 years, is still a mesmerizing force.

"I just think it's hard to name another woman in history who is this commanding, and for that matter this enduring," said author Stacy Schiff.

So enduring that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Schiff's recent biography of Cleopatra became a bestseller.

Seems we can't get enough of a Queen who had liaisons and children with two Roman legends - Julius Caesar and his loyal general Mark Antony - and was the wealthiest person of her time.

Shiff said her riches equaled that of all the hedge fund managers of yesteryear, rolled into one.

You might be surprised to learn that Cleopatra didn't come from a long line of Egyptians. She was descended from the Greek General Ptolemy, who served under Alexander the Great.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Victims of Mennonite “Old Colonies” in Bolivia

In a trial that ended with eight convictions Aug. 25 in a Bolivian court, prosecutors said that in 2005 a veterinarian in the isolated community altered a substance that sedates cows for use on humans. He and a gang of eight, the suit claimed, spent the next four years terrorizing the community by spraying the concoction through bedroom windows at night, drugging entire families and raping any females inside.

It would be a shocking accusation for any community to handle, but it has threatened to divide one of the world’s few remaining Mennonite “Old Colonies”: 130 women and girls from ages 8 to 60 have come forward as victims, affecting about one third of the community’s families. And the crime, the way the community has responded to it, and the trial itself point to much deeper troubles for women in such reclusive sects.

An Old Colony woman’s place is in the home. Her schooling ends at age 12, and while many of the men eventually learn Spanish through their inevitable contact with the outside world, few women learn to speak anything but Low German.

Deeply entrenched patriarchy pervades this scandal. The victims told their husbands or fathers of foggy memories and pains, but the men didn’t believe them, and no investigations were ordered, allowing crimes to flourish for years. The scandal did not finally blow open until June 2009, when one woman caught two of the defendants entering her house.

Anniversary of 19th Amendment

Today is the 91st anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution taking effect, giving women the right to vote. It's a milestone in the Women's Suffrage Movement in the United States and one that still resonates with modern women.

Christine Cole Catley

I was told she was a publisher and writer, but it would have been more accurate to say she was a general force in New Zealand letters and society over 60-odd years. She was a down-to-earth doyenne, and most recently, a North Shore nexus. She knew everybody over three or four generations - and approved enthusiastically of most - from Douglas Lilburn to Rena Owen ("a most determined woman, very funny. I like Rena a great deal"); Janet Frame to "lovely, lovely" Ranginui Walker; Denis Glover to Kevin Milne to James K. Baxter (and his mother).

She's done too much to even start listing here but, after her death at age 88 last Sunday (writing and publishing to the last), many of her achievements have been listed elsewhere. For Cole Catley belongs to a certain category of people whom I admire enormously, and facetiously canonise into a "Renaissance Pantheon": people who have the talent, but more importantly, the curiosity and the energy to be Of-All-Trades.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Archaic Laws Regarding Women Repealled

From RedBank:
When governing bodies enact legislation in any era, it’s done with the expressed interest, one can only hope, in being not only fair and just, but representative of an entire citizenry.

Well, about that. Sure, men, namely white men, have acted in what they believe have been the country’s best interest since, um, forever, but that’s a difficult notion to honestly believe considering just how unequal representation has been since, um, forever.

On Monday, State Sen. Jen Beck (R-12) announced that several obsolete statutes concerning the status of women, enacted well before women had the right to vote, have been repealed from New Jersey State Law.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Queen Hatshepsut's Flacon

The corpus delicti is a plain flacon from among the possessions of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who lived around 1450 B.C., which is on exhibit in the permanent collection of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn. For three and a half millennia, the vessel may have held a deadly secret. This is what the Head of the collection, Michael Höveler-Müller and Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld from the university's Pharmacology Institute just discovered. After two years of research it is now clear that the flacon did not hold a perfume; instead, it was a kind of skin care lotion or even medication for a monarch suffering from eczema. In addition, the pharmacologists found a strongly carcinogenic substance. Was Hatshepsut killed by her medicine?

When Michael Höveler-Müller became the curator of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn in 2009, it occurred to him to examine the interior of the vessel that, according to an inscription, belonged to Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Its neck had been blocked with what was generally considered "dirt," but Höveler-Müller suspected that it might also be the original clay stopper. So possibly, some of the original contents might still be inside. In Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld from the Pharmacy Institute, he found just the right partner, to get to the bottom of this question and of the flacon.

At the Radiology Clinic of the Bonn Universitätsklinikum, the flacon was subjected to a CAT scan. Here, the Egyptologist's suspicion was confirmed – not only was the closure intact, but the vessel also held residue of a dried-up liquid. In the summer of 2009, Professor Dr. Friedrich Bootz from the Klinik und Poliklinik für Hals-, Nasen- und Ohrenheilkunde (laryngology, rhinology and otology) of the University of Bonn took samples, using an endoscope.

Pictish History at Fortingall

Excavations have begun at Fortingall village in Highland Perthshire, where the remains of an ancient Pictish monastery are believed to rest.

The dig will be led by renowned archaeologist Dr Oliver O'Grady, best known for excavations at Scone Palace that revealed medieval burials and evidence of the lost abbey of Scone.

Dr O'Grady carried out extensive geophysical surveys of the site last year and found signs of the monastic building, one section of which appears to enclose the cairn known as Carn na Marbh or Cairn of the Dead.

He has joined forces with members of the Breadalbane Heritage Society to discover more about Fortingall's history and in particular its place as a centre of Pictish worship.

The project will begin with the excavation of two trenches in the fields surrounding Fortingall village, where the monastery is thought to have stood.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bothaina Kamel - Next Egyptian President?

From Ynetnews:
The first female presidential candidate in Egypt’s history is a big-mouthed celebrity who comes from the media world. She intensively tours the large cities and towns, meeting with Muslims, Copts and Sinai’s Bedouins and doing everything to secure the sought-after job. While doing so she is active on Facebook and Twitter, calling herself “Basboussa” (a traditional Egyptian cake.) The campaign slogan, “I am Egypt,” is catchy and promises to bring “justice, freedom and social equality.” 

Women look up to her admiringly and bombard her with letters asking for her help in addressing their problems and complaints. “One can go through life complaining that we have no rights,” she reprimands them,” yet we can also seize these rights, even by force.”

New Turkish Governor - Esengül Civelek

A female governor has been appointed for just the second time in the history of the Turkish Republic following a decision signed by President Abdullah Gül that was announced in the Official Gazette on Wednesday.

Esengül Civelek, who also happens to be the first female to be appointed as an undersecretary at the Education Ministry, is the new governor of the Marmara province of Yalova.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Pendle Witch Child

From BBC News:
In recent years children as young as three have given evidence in court cases, but in the past children under 14 were seen as unreliable witnesses. A notorious 17th Century witch trial changed that.

Nine-year-old Jennet Device was an illegitimate beggar and would have been lost to history but for her role in one of the most disturbing trials on record.

Jennet's evidence in the 1612 Pendle witch trial in Lancashire led to the execution of 10 people, including all of her own family.

In England at that time paranoia was endemic. James l was on the throne, living in fear of a Catholic rebellion in the aftermath of Guy Fawkes' gun powder plot. The king had a reputation as an avid witch-hunter and wrote a book called Demonology.

For more on the Pendle Witches, see my post "Lancashire Witches" and visit Mary Sharratt's website.

Sheilah Coley - Newark's New Police Chief

Last week, on Tuesday morning at Newark’s communication headquarters, Mayor Cory Booker formally announced Chief Coley as Newark’s first chief of police and the next African American woman to join the ranks of distinguished female accomplishments — in Essex County and the Garden State.

Chief Coley said that she is honored to join this lineage of women, and admits there have been distinct changes in the Newark police department since she became an officer in 1989.

“When I came to the Newark police department there were approximately 15 women, no female supervisors,” says Chief Coley. “Now we have 202 female officers, and we hold every rank, except deputy chief.”

Chief Coley assured those present at the gathering, however, that her appointment was not based on her gender or race.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories

From the World News:
It is perhaps an inevitable irony that a recent spate of anti-Nakba polemic in Israel has placed the topic firmly on the public agenda, stimulating not only press and media coverage but also renewed interest in the more serious histories of the period. Dr Fatmeh Kassem’s book is therefore most timely. This book does not deal with the macro-history of ‘who hit who back first, and harder’. Rather it focuses on the micro, on the lives of elderly Palestinian women who survived the emptying of the Palestinian towns of Lyd(Lod) and Ramleh (Ramla) in 1948 by the Israeli forces, towns now incorporated into the Israeli state.

These oral histories come from women who are multi-marginalized: as Palestinian second-class citizens living in Jewish-Arab so-called mixed towns; as working-class, often illiterate, subjects and, not least, as women silenced by the male dominated discourse of their own, and the wider society. In her readable and moving book, Kassem has not only salvaged important memories of painful personal and collective histories, she has empowered her interviewees to speak , perhaps for the first time, in their own voices and given them a place on the public stage. At the same time, this is a work of theoretical substance and a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on the Nakba as well as to feminist discourse analysis.

Women In & Beyond the Pakistan Movement

From the Express Tribune:
Partaking in the Pakistan Movement was of a great historical significance for Muslim women of the subcontinent who had never participated in such a great number in any political movement. It was a befitting culmination of the reformist trends of the late nineteenth century for emancipation of Muslim women finally becoming a tangible reality.

Much before than that, the Khilafat Movement of the 1920s had been the first instance when Muslim women had made their presence felt in the political arena. With Maulana Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali Johar in jail, their mother Bi Amman, had taken up the cudgels against British imperialism with assistance from her daughter-in-law. She addressed large meetings from behind the curtains and traveled to various parts of India to garner support.

Pakistan Movement, when born, followed a similar trend. Women came to symbolize the struggle for a separate homeland and made immense contributions to the effort through their enthusiasm for social uplift and by demonstrating qualities of leadership, sincerity, intellect, courage and resolve.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Notorious Australian Women

Australians have made heroes of bushranger Ned Kelly, mutineer Fletcher Christian and cricketer Shane Warne but their female equivalents have failed to imprint themselves on the national psyche in the same way.

The 20 subjects of Notorious Australian Women were well known to their contemporaries but few are still household names. Some were justifiably notorious, others attracted attention simply for breaching social mores and some don't really deserve to be labelled notorious at all.

Kay Saunders has picked her subjects from early settlement (prisoner Mary Bryant, bushranger Mary Cockerill, freedom fighter Walyer), through the 19th century (shipwreck survivor Eliza Fraser, good-time girl Lola Montez, transvestite Ellen Tremayne) to the 20th century (including author Pamela Travers, designer Florence Broadhurst, crime boss Tilly Devine and journalist Lillian Roxon) and they are a diverse bunch.

First Ladies of Rome

As Anneliese Freisenbruch admits in this excellent history, most of the Ancient Roman women discussed in her book "would never have come to historical notice if it were not for the men they married or the sons they gave birth to", such was the patriarchal society in which they existed.

There is hardly anything written by women of the era, and too many contrasting versions from male playwrights for Freisenbruch to be definitive. But these more sceptical portraits of women, often either vilified or venerated, are very welcome.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ukraine: Yulia Tymoshenko Arrested

France on Thursday said it had summoned the Ukrainian ambassador in Paris to express its "serious concern" over the arrest of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The envoy was told that France would continue to follow very closely the developments in the case that saw Tymoshenko's arrest on Friday for contempt of court in her abuse of power trial, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

He was told of "the serious concern generated by the detention of Mrs. Yulia Tymoshenko and more generally of the progress of (her) trial," spokeswoman Christine Fages told reporters.

Tymoshenko risks being jailed for up to 10 years if convicted for abuse of power over gas deals she signed with Russia in 2009.

The European Union and the United States have been sharply critical of her arrest, saying it raised concerns about the rule of law in Ukraine.

Tymoshenko on Wednesday bitterly accused her prosecutors of being agents of a "machine of repression" against opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych.

Underbelly Razor - When Women Ruled Crime

It is 1927 and feared vice queens Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh are battling for control of the underworld in a crime war that will scar Australia.Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh are the undisputed crime queens of Sydney. 


Australian Dictionary of Biography - Tilly Devine
Australian Dictionary of Biography - Kate Leigh
Sydney Morning Herald - Let's Kiss & Make Up

Monday, August 8, 2011

Three Female Conservationalists

In the beginning, there was only water as far as the eye could see, according to the Chemehuevi Indians, who once traversed the rocky peaks and steep slopes of what is now Joshua Tree National Park. Ocean Woman, afloat on a woven boat with wolf, mountain lion and coyote, created the land by rubbing dead skin from her body and sprinkling it over the primeval sea.

In this ancient story, a woman creates the desert land that is protected by Joshua Tree National Park from her own body. In contemporary times, three women worked tirelessly to understand and protect what is now Joshua Tree National Park. This year, Joshua Tree National Park will celebrate its 75th Anniversary. I'd like to commemorate that history by honoring the contributions of three women who are key to its preservation.

Farewell White Mouse

Nancy Wake biographer Peter FitzSimons knew Australia's 'force of nature' better than most.

"I've dealt with many strong personalities in both football and journalism and writing books, I've never dealt with a stronger pure personality than Nancy" he remarked fondly in an interview with Louise Maher on 666.

Wake's heroism is well documented, but through writing her biography Peter FitzSimons grew to know her as a friend visiting her regularly at her home in London.

"I would bring her bottles of of her great passions was gin!"

But it was, as with the rest of the world her bravery during conflict that FitzSimons was intrigued by.  "She had anger inside her, a volcano that was its best and most useful in wartime launching ambushes on German soldiers" he described.

And it seems that Nancy Wake was as much of a force to be reckoned with in her later years as she was during her time with the Resistance.

"We had many blues until we both came to the conclusion that she was ten times the man I would ever be" recalled her biographer.

See also: The West
The war dead buried in and around Montlucon will be joined by one of their bravest comrades next spring.  Nancy Wake, the fearless Resistance fighter and leader who relished killing Germans as much as she enjoyed a gin and tonic, will have her ashes scattered in the central French town she helped rid of Nazis in 1944.  During the celebrations following the German evacuation of Montlucon, some Spanish Resistance fighters wrapped some local wildflowers in their national flag and presented it to her.  She will now be scattered among the wildflowers on Montlucon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Truth About The Picts

The Picts have long been regarded as enigmatic savages who fought off Rome's legions before mysteriously disappearing from history, wild tribesmen who refused to sacrifice their freedom in exchange for the benefits of civilisation. But far from the primitive warriors of popular imagination, they actually built a highly sophisticated culture in northern Scotland in the latter half of the first millennium AD, which surpassed their Anglo-Saxon rivals in many respects.  

A study of one the most important archaeological discoveries in Scotland for 30 years, a Pictish monastery at Portmahomack on the Tarbat peninsula in Easter Ross, has found that they were capable of great art, learning and the use of complex architectural principles.The monastery – an enclosure centred on a church thought to have housed about 150 monks and workers – was similar to St Columba's religious centre at Iona and there is evidence they would have made gospel books similar to the Book of Kells and religious artefacts such as chalices to supply numerous "daughter monasteries". 

Venetian Lazzaretto

A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. Between 1348 and 1359 the Black Death wiped out an estimated 30% of Europe's population, as well as a significant percentage of Asia's population. The original document from 1377, which is kept in the Archives of Dubrovnik, states that before entering the city, newcomers had to spend 30 days (a trentine) in a restricted location (originally nearby islands) waiting to see whether the symptoms of plague would develop. Later on, isolation was prolonged to 40 days and was called quarantine.

Venice took the lead in measures to check the spread of plague, having appointed three guardians of the public health in the first years of the Black Death (1348). The first lazaret was founded by Venice in 1403, on a small island adjoining the city – the island of Santa Maria di Nazareth (also known as Lazaretum or Nazaretum).  Today this island is known as the Lazzaretto Vecchio.

Originally, the “Lazzaretto Vecchio” was home to hermits who had erected a church dedicated to St. Mary of Nazareth and a shelter for pilgrims going or returning from the Holy Land (c.1240s).  When the monks and novices died out, and on the advice of San Bernardino of Siena, the Senate voted to allocate the island as a shelter for people and goods from infected countries.

The Lazzaretto even then consisted of two islands joined by a bridge to the smallest housed the garrison whilst the larger housed the hospital which incorporated the original monastic buildings.  Originally built of timber, these would be later rebuilt in stone.  In 1468, the Lazzaretto Nuovo or new settlement was established.  The Lazzaretto was enlarged with the adjacent lagoon being reclaimed in 1580s; and a boathouse entrance was built from the canal (1586).

In November, 1631, the plague was definitively eradicated, but at a terrible cost: almost 47,000 died in the city (more than a quarter of the population) and 95,000 in the area comprising Murano, Malamocco and Chioggia.

I was inspired to find out more from this article that appeared in the Independent in 2007:
Archaeologists are now exploring "the graves of Lazzaretto, an island in the Venetian lagoon which became the world's first isolation hospital."

The Independent reports that: "Following an outbreak of the plague in 1348, the Doge and his advisers put their minds to thinking up a way to prevent a recurrence. The upshot, at the beginning of the 15th century, was the world's first isolation hospital occupying the entire small island."

" .. archaeologists have uncovered more than 1,500 skeletons of Lazzaretto patients. Luigi Fozzatti, who is in charge of excavations, said: "It wasn't difficult to imagine that some people would have been buried on the island but we had no idea we would find so many." "

Research is continuing.

Women's Status & Life In Iran

Article in the Kurdish Globe by Sara Saye:
Iran has thousands years of civilization, and the country played a great role in social, political and economic transformation until the rise of Islam and Arab occupation.

Ancient Iran was one of the most powerful political entities and an empire with a multi-ethnic society. At times its borders extended from China to Egypt and from Yemen to central Asia. In analyzing the past traditions and norms of this society we find that beside the great male political and social figures of this land, the role of women was also remarkable. For example, a top admiral of the Persian Empire's navy 2,300 years ago was a woman and before that, women played an important role in building and leading the political establishment.

Many historical documents indicated that in the various dynasties of ancient Iran, with its multi-ethnic structure, the social status of woman was respected. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the relatively liberal atmosphere and economic strength of those regimes resulted in some progress and improvements for both men and women.

Pakistan's First Female Foreign Minister

On July 20th, Pakistan's first female Foreign Minister was sworn in. The Political inheritance and feudalism in Southern Punjab, pushed Rabbani to enter politics in 2002, when she was 25 years old, by default as she is the daughters of a politician.

She was known for her good relations with former President, General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shawkat Aziz.

She worked as a financial affairs’ consultant in the government and when Musharraf’s rule ended in 2008, she moved from losers to winners’ ranks, and became a member of the People's Party.

She continued to work as a financial consultant for the new Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani and then became the first female minister for financial affairs in 2009.

In February 2011, Hina rose to the rank of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, after the former Pakistani foreign minister resigned, protesting against his country's stance to give diplomatic immunity to U.S. intelligence agent accused of killing Pakistanis.

Les Enfants X - The Sous X Law

From the Independent:
The rights of a child to know its parents are written into international law, but in France that doesn't mean very much.

Here is one of the few countries in Europe where children can be born without officially having any parents. The result is generations of Les Enfants X, and enough sorrow to fill the Seine.

The roots of the tradition of women having the right to give birth in secret lie deep in French history. The practice was codified during the Revolution, which introduced the principle that abandoned infants would become charges of the state, or pupilles de l'état.

For most of its history, the law has been aimed at shielding the mothers of illegitimate children, and at discouraging infanticide, abortion and the use of any sort of contraceptive practice.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Farewell Cha Cha

Annette Charles, best known for her role as Cha Cha DiGregorio in “Grease,” has died at the age of 63. Her death comes just two months after “Grease” star Jeff Conaway died of an overdose at the age of 60.

Charles’s character Cha Cha was girlfriend of the T-Birds rival gang The Scorpions. Conaway’s character Kenickie was second in command to leader of the T-Birds Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta.

In a move to spark jealousy, Conaway’s character Kenicki takes Charles’s character Cha Cha to Rydell High’s school dance. Charles most memorable scene, however, was her sultry dance with co-star Travolta.

In addition to her role in “Grease,” Charles appeared on various television shows throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, including “The Mod Squad”, “Bonanza”, “Magnum P.I.”, “Baranby Jones”, “The Incredible Hulk”, and "The Bionic Woman.”

Real Downton Abbey

From the Mail Online:
To the young men who lay in their hospital beds, badly wounded, burned and traumatised by the horror of the trenches, she appeared almost like an angel.

Dressed in nurse’s whites, petite and strikingly beautiful, Almina tenderly cared for the Army officers and pilots, solicitously smoothing their bed covers, cleaning and dressing their wounds, and giving orders to the nurses under her command.

But this was no ordinary military hospital — and she was no ordinary matron. In fact, she had no medical training at all.

But Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon and chatelaine of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, was not one to be deflected by such details...

But even Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes would be hard-pressed to surpass the familial intrigues and suppressed scandals of the Carnarvons, the castle’s actual inhabitants, at the time that the new series is set.

At the heart of these events was the beautiful, charismatic — but mercurial — Almina, whose immense wealth subsidised the castle’s upkeep. It had been her idea to turn Highclere into a wartime hospital, but sadly Almina’s extravagance was ultimately to be her undoing.