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Welk’s ‘Footloose’ is high energy entertainment

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

ESCONDIDO, California–One might wonder if  Footloose-The Musical would go over big at The Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido. If you were sitting where I was on a matinee performance a short time ago, you would say, “Bring it on!” Heads were bobbing, swaying and sometimes shoulders lifting to the beats of the very high-energy production (of the same name) directed and choreographed by Dan Mojica. Most in the audience that day (myself included) had, well mostly silver hair!

 The musical based on the movie, has something for everyone. There’s God and church, rebellious teenagers, caring parents, goofy kids and even some back street fighting.

 The stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford (additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Logins and Jim Steinman) gives us a pretty stock book.

Ren McCormack, (Luke Yellin) a high school senior and his Mom Ethel (Eileen Bowman) are forced to move from their home in Chicago because their father/husband abandoned them and financially they couldn’t stay where they were. We find them in the small town called Bomont (taken in by his kindly aunt) where Ren finds himself the outsider in a town where insiders are in and outsiders are well shunned, and to this big city boy, pretty backward.

It seems some time ago there was a tragic auto accident in the town of Bomont and four of their teenagers were killed after the senior prom. One of those killed was the Reverend’s (Gary Lee Reed) son. The council, headed by the good Reverend decided to ban all dancing, records and booze in Bomont and senior prom time was just around the corner.

That meant a dry, danceless senior prom night. That just didn’t sit right with Ren. He moves ahead, much to the chagrin of the council, and organizes the kids and Ariel to plead for a high school dance.

Making matters worse for Ren, he’s smitten with the Rev’s rebellious daughter Ariel (Marci Anne Wuebben) who’s creeping around meeting up with one of the town’s rebel and delinquent, Chuck Cranston (Joey Elrose) unbeknownst to her dad. Yup!

She sneaks out of the house every chance she gets to meet up with big Chuck who also happens to be a big bully. Why it takes her so long to hook up with Ren, baffled my sense of justice, but I’m just a silly old romantic.

In the 1984 movie version Kevin Bacon played the displaced Ren with John Lithgow as the Reverend and Sarah Jessica Parker as Rusty one of the female support actors and Ariel’s best friend. Shanna Marie Palmer is Welk’s Rusty.

For a show over twenty-five years old, it doesn’t feel that way. Several of the story lines are as relevant and predictable today as they were in 1984; teens vs. parents, to rebel or not, insider/outsider conflicts and growing up is hard to do. 

Musical director Justin Gray keeps the pace lively and the show moves at a pretty fast clip especially where it shines and that’s with the great dancing of all the cast members.

Overall the voices are strong with sound performances turned in by Yellin, Bowman, Reed, Cynthia Ferrer as Vi Moore, Ariel’s mother and Allen Everman (great performance) as their hayseed friend, Willard Hewitt. It was good seeing john Grzesiak on the stage again (long time no see), except for the fact that he was a priss as the High School principal who refused to let the kids have any fun. 

In case you were wondering, “Let’s hear it for the Boy” and  “Almost Paradise” are the two musical numbers most recognizable but all are pretty lively and catchy. Sharell Martin’s costumes represent any time period, Patrick Hoyny designed the sound, is just right, Mike Buckley does his usual wonders with the set design showing off the many locations and Jennifer Edwards-Northover’s lighting shines positively on this high-energy production. 

 “Footloose” is pretty footloose and deserves a look-see.

See you at the theatre.

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Dates: May 6th– June 27th

Organization: Welk Resorts Theatre

Phone: 888-802-7469 or 760-749-3448

Production Type: Musical

Where: 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido, California

Ticket Prices: 

Web: welktheatresandiego.com

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Theatre critic Davis is based in San Diego

ZOA calls for investigation of Turkey’s role in Gaza flotilla violence

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the media and foreign government attacks, including from China, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey, on Israeli defensive actions against the Gaza terror ship. This ship, part of the ‘Gaza flotilla’ which was organized by a Turkish Islamist group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (Islan Haklary Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi – IHH),  deliberately attempted to breach the lawful Israeli blockade of Gaza, a territory at war with Israel, run by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist regime whose Charter calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the world-wide murder of Jews (Article 7) and which has fired thousands of missiles into Israel in recent years.

The violence of the Hamas supporters on one of the six ships in the Gaza flotilla, including the use of knives, axes, bats, firebombs and metal rods, as well as seizing and using of Israeli personnel’s side-arms, led to clashes and exchanges of fire that has resulted in the reported deaths of 15 people onboard the flotilla. Seven members of the Israeli boarding party, whose non-aggressive intent was evident from being armed principally with paint-ball guns (usually used in crowd control situations, not armed confrontations) were also wounded and injured, some seriously.

The ZOA calls for an investigation of Turkey, the country in which the organization assisting Islamist terrorists and responsible for the flotilla is based; from which the flotilla set sail; and whose government wrongly assured that the flotilla cargo had been duly inspected and found to consist purely of humanitarian supplies and had found no weapons. Yet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged no Turkish responsibility, condemned Israel and demanded punishing Israel for the calling it a “bloody massacre.”

To call the deaths of the 15 on board, as Erdogan did, a “massacre” when shooting did not occur until half an hour after Israeli personnel boarded the vessel and were assaulted by Hamas supporters in the manner already described is an obscene and absurd charge. It was only when the lives of Israeli personnel were in serious jeopardy that the Israelis begin to defend themselves. If those on board had not brutally assaulted the Israeli soldiers, not one Israeli shot would have been fired and no one would have been harmed.

The ZOA also rejects international criticism of the lawful Israeli action to board and inspect the vessels of the Hamas-supporting Gaza flotilla and contrasts this criticism with the relative silence and lack of interest in North Korea’s recent, unprovoked torpedoing of a South Korean vessel, resulting in the deaths of 45 South Korean servicemen. That the United Nations and the world said virtually nothing over North Korea’s unjustified and unprovoked action exposes the hypocrisy of the hue and cry against Israel for a lawful boarding of the Gaza flotilla that encountered unnecessary, unjustifiable and deliberate assault from the Hamas supporters ion the flotilla.

The bad faith and violence of the flotilla has passed without serious condemnation from the United Nations and the world, thereby assisting the cause of the terrorists who organized this propaganda event.

The IHH is not a peaceable, charitable institution – it is a Muslim Brotherhood-connected, Islamist organization, outlawed by Israel in 2008 for involvement in Hamas’ global fund-raising machinery. It has been similarly involved in assisting violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies demonstrated the IHH’s connections to al-Qaeda. The IHH belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella organization known to finance terrorism called the Union of Good (Ittilaf al-Kheir in Arabic), chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known best for his religious ruling that encourages suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. In November 2008, the U.S. Treasury designated the Union’s leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) “created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.”’

According to the French magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere, testifying at the Seattle trial of would-be al Qaeda Millenium bomber Ahmed Ressamin, the IHH had played “[a]n important role” in the al Qaeda Millenium bomb plot targeting Los Angeles airport.  The IHH has also been involved in weapons trafficking, and played in addition a key role in galvanizing anti-Western sentiment among Turkish Muslims in the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq.

The Gaza flotilla is also the brainchild of prominent members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), including ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf, who has described suicide bombings as “noble” and argued that Palestinian so-called resistance “must”’ include violence.

The ZOA condemns those journalists and media outlets that grossly mislead the public by falsely identifying the Hamas-supporting Gaza flotilla members as “peace activists” (for example, Charles Levinson in the Wall Street Journal) and the armed clashes aboard the ship initiated by the Hamas supporters as a “massacre” (The Scotsman). It also condemns Associated Press (AP) reporters Selcan Hacaoglu and Lee Keath, who virtually eliminated from their account any reference to the violence initiated against the Israeli boarding party and who were silent about the video evidence showing the initiation of violence by the flotilla members against the Israeli boarding party.

These inexcusable omissions and distortions enabled them to mislead the public by writing of “Israel’s deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.” Such reports have given aid and comfort to the terrorists by helping produce condemnation and anti-Israeli demonstrations in Europe and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Prior to sailing, the flotilla members were filmed chanting songs glorifying violence and killing, including one about ‘Khaybar’ – the iconic slaughter of Jews by Muslims in the 7th century which is used as a rallying cry to kill the Jews today by Islamist terrorists. Some of these supporters spoke keenly of ‘martyrdom’ – achieving their own death through launching violence against others.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is appalled at the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the international criticism of Israel to the deaths on board the Gaza flotilla and the corresponding relative absence of international condemnation of the deliberate and violent assault of the Hamas-supporting Gaza flotilla members to a lawful Israeli boarding party….”

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Preceding provided by Zionist Organization of America

Obama names seven to Bethlehem conference on Palestinian investment

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Bethlehem to attend the Palestine Investment Conference from June 2-4, 2010. 

The Honorable George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Neal Wolin, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Mr. Daniel Rubinstein, American Consul General in Jerusalem
Mr. Alonzo Fulgham, USAID Chief Operating Officer
Ms. Mara Rudman, Deputy Special Envoy for Middle East Peace
Dr. Ziad Asali, President and Founder of the American Task Force on Palestine
Mr. Saed Nashef, General Partner, Middle East Venture Capital Fund

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Preceding provided by the White House

The celestial Jerusalem versus the concrete Jerusalem

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

Rabbi Dow Marmur

TORONTO, Canada–Elie Wiesel, social activist, celebrated exponent of Judaism and Nobel Peace Prize winner, published a letter in leading American newspapers last month stating that “Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital.” It was a reaction to tensions between the United States and Israel, urging the U.S. administration to support Jewish expansion in all parts of Israel’s capital, even though it may harm its Arab population and impede a peace settlement.

Arguing that as Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible and not even once in the Koran, Wiesel maintained that it shouldn’t be judged by political categories but as “a homecoming” for every Jew. “The anguish over Jerusalem,” he wrote, “is not about real estate but about memory.”

A hundred Jewish public figures and intellectuals, all residents of Jerusalem, reacted sharply against Wiesel’s initiative. In an open letter in the New York Review of Books, they challenged him: “We cannot recognize our city in the sentimental abstraction you call by its name . . . Our Jerusalem is concrete,” they wrote. Alluding to an oft-cited distinction in Jewish sources, they added: “You speak of the celestial Jerusalem; we live in the earthly one.”

They were troubled by Wiesel’s statement because “it upholds an attachment to the other-worldly city which purports to supersede the interests of those who live in the this-worldly one.” They wished to make homecoming available to Jews and Arabs alike: “We prefer the hardship of realizing citizenship in this city to the convenience of merely yearning for it.”

The writers list some of what they see as injustices committed against the Arab population of Jerusalem because it’s “being used as a springboard for crafty politicians and sentimental populists.” Their vision of Jerusalem makes room for all.

As I divide my time between Toronto and Jerusalem, I find myself uncomfortably astride both sides of the argument. As a Jew rooted in my tradition, I know of the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish consciousness. But as a resident of the earthly Jerusalem, I identify with the concluding affirmation of the critics that “only a shared city will live up to the prophet’s vision: ‘Zion shall be redeemed with justice.’ ” And I agree with their assertion that “nothing can be holy in an occupied city!”

My commitment to Jerusalem would in no way be diminished if in a comprehensive peace settlement part of it would become the capital of a Palestinian state and the rest remain the capital of the sovereign State of Israel. Precisely because Jerusalem “is not about real estate but about memory,” it must make room for both Jewish and Arab memory.

Canada is more than an interested observer in this debate. The Jerusalem Old City Initiative based at the University of Windsor is largely funded by the Canadian government. It has published a lengthy paper on how to deal with one of the most contentious issues in the pursuit of peace: the governance of the area where most of the holy places of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are situated.

The authors seek a workable way of sharing space and overcoming divisions. Therefore, their proposals are bound to raise objections from all sides, because each is adamant about exclusive control. But the fact that a third party is trying to find a solution is indicative of how important the issue is for the international community. The argument between Wiesel and his critics reflects the drama. Perhaps outside experts can help bring it to a happy end.

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Dow Marmur is rabbi emeritus at Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple. This column appeared previously in The Star of Toronto

Clinton backs impartial, credible investigation into flotilla violence

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) — During a joint press conference on Tuesday with Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about the aftermath of the Gaza Flotilla violence.   Here is the exchange:

REPORTER: Madam Secretary, I’d like to ask you a couple things about the Israeli situation which, as you know, is getting more and more serious by the day. I know there are many unknowns at this point, but do you accept Israel’s argument of self-defense? And do you think that the investigation should be done by Israel or by a third independent party, as other Security Council members have said?

And more broadly, we all know there are so many moving pieces to this. There’s Turkey, there’s Israel and in the Palestinians, there’s Iran, there’s Syria. What are the implications in your mind of this situation to the peace process and in the larger issues in the Middle East? Thanks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nick (Kralev of Washington Times), on your last day, you’ve asked a very complicated set of interrelated questions. And let me put it into context as I respond. First, let me say how deeply we regret the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident aboard the Gaza-bound ships, and we offer our condolences to the families of the deceased and the wounded.

Turkey and Israel are both good friends of the United States, and we are working with both to deal with the aftermath of this tragic incident.
The United States supports the Security Council’s condemnation of the acts leading to this tragedy. And we urge Israel to permit full consular access to the individuals involved and to allow the countries concerned to retrieve their deceased and wounded immediately. We urge all concerned countries to work together to resolve the status of those who were part of this incident as soon as possible.
We support in the strongest terms the Security Council’s call for a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. We support an Israeli investigation that meets those criteria. We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation, and we will continue to discuss these ideas with the Israelis and our international partners in the days ahead.

The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable. Israel’s legitimate security needs must be met, just as the Palestinians’ legitimate needs for sustained humanitarian assistance and regular access for reconstruction materials must also be assured.

We will continue to work closely with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority along with international NGOs and the United Nations to ensure adequate access for humanitarian goods, including reconstruction and building supplies. And we welcome efforts to promote the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate and internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.
Ultimately, the solution to this conflict must be found through an agreement based on a two-state solution negotiated between the parties. This incident underscores the urgency of reaching this goal and we remain committed to working with both sides to move forward these negotiations.
I think the situation from our perspective is very difficult and requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned. But we fully support the Security Council’s action last night in issuing a presidential statement and we will work to implement the intention that this presidential statement represents.

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Preceding provided by U.S. State Department.  (The United Nations presidential statement called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.” IThe statement  did not mention Israel specifically, but condemned acts that led to death and injury.)

Cantor urges Obama to veto any biased U.N. resolution against Israel

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) – House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Republican-Virginia) on Tuesday issued the following statement in the aftermath of events involving a Turkish-sponsored flotilla and the Israeli Defense Forces:

“The events of the last 48 hours are tragic and serve as the latest warning sign that all is not well in the Middle East. As information continues to filter in, I urge the President and his administration to continue to gather all the facts, and if necessary, to veto any biased U.N. resolutions reining in Israel’s right to defend itself.

“Israel remains a critical strategic ally and the only democracy in the Middle East. The United States stands with Jerusalem in its effort to ensure the safety and security of its citizenry. We can’t forget why the blockade exists in the first place: to deny Hamas the weaponry and raw materials it needs to continue its rocket attacks in Israel, killing innocent people.

“Before predictably rushing to level hyperbolic accusations at Israel, it’s important for the United Nations to consider all the facts surrounding this incident. The reality is that the so-called “humanitarian aid” flotilla steered into an internationally recognized Israeli-Egyptian military blockade of Gaza in an effort to provoke Israel. The flotilla’s own spokeswoman announced that her organization is not a humanitarian group, rather a mission intended to break the blockade of Gaza, and that’s exactly why the ships rejected Israel’s instructions to dock. The truth is that where humanitarian needs exist, the Israelis ensure that food and medicine are brought into Gaza.

“There’s a reason why seven of the eight ships were boarded peacefully and without any injuries, while the Mavi Marmara ship descended into violence. The question that should be asked is, ‘what is that reason?’”

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Preceding provided by Congressman Eric Cantor

Napolitano meets with Arab ministers on aviation security

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Press Release)—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday visited Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), at the invitation of UAE Minister of the Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, to meet with her counterparts from the Middle East region and officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to discuss ways to bolster global aviation security.

“The attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25 demonstrated that international terrorist threats must be countered with a coordinated, global response,” said Secretary Napolitano. “My meetings today with partners from nations throughout the Middle East underscore our shared commitment to strengthening global aviation security to better protect the traveling public.”

In Abu Dhabi, Secretary Napolitano addressed UAE ministers and representatives from numerous Middle Eastern countries who attended the conference, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, and met with officials from ICAO—stressing the need for collaborative international action to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.

Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening information sharing with international partners about terrorists and other dangerous individuals and emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation on technological development and deployment; stronger aviation security measures and standards; and coordinated international technical assistance.

This meeting marked the fifth in a series of major international summits—coordinated with ICAO—intended to build consensus around the world to strengthen global aviation security.  These meetings have resulted in joint declarations on aviation security with partners in Africa, the Asia/Pacific region, the Western Hemisphere, and Europe. 

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Preceding provided by U.S. Department of Homeland Security

While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, Secretary Napolitano is committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect the integrity of the global aviation network. Since April, TSA has utilized new enhanced threat and risk-based security protocols—tailored to reflect the most current information available to the U.S. government—for all air carriers with international flights to the United States to strengthen the safety and security of all passengers.