Where are the theater lovers?

A few weeks ago, I read a letter in the Anvil Chorus extolling the virtues of the fine production of “Cabaret” at the Dunes Summer Theater. The writer was dismayed with the lack of audience members there to witness such an artistic show.

Recently, I was in attendance for opening night of the Indiana premiere of a wonderful comedy, “The Savannah Sipping Society,” at the Footlight Players Theater. There was an abundance of laughter and applause, but only by 19 viewers. The four actresses — Laura Meyer, Vickie Cash, Diana Hirsch and Sharon Stefankiewicz — were delightful as the four accidental friends that, in a year, learn how to regenerate their lives after divorce, death of a spouse, losing a career and wandering across the country with no direction.

The direction by Jan Rice as well as the fantastic lighting and sound design were spot on. The beautiful set made you feel as if you were on a verandah in Savannah. How sad that all this work to put on a professional type of a production that is right in our own back yard is not seen by our community.

Is community theater dead in Michigan City? With the many different theatrical venues besides Footlight Players in our city, you would think that our shows would be standing room only. The Footlight Theater is a small intimate venue that seats only 80 people. Without sell-out crowds, I have to wonder what has happened to all the theater lovers?

Robert W. Komendera

Michigan City

 

Syrian refugees are vetted thoroughly

There are many ways unfriendly folks could find their way into the United States. Coming in as a Syrian Refugee is not one of them. The vetting of Syrian Refugees for resettlement in our country couldn’t be tougher. This is the way it works:

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) first goes through their own vetting process, after which they refer families to us. So far, out of almost 4 1/2 million refugees, they have referred only about 22,500 cases to the United States.

Before accepting any of those 22,500 into the country, we subject them to an intensive vetting process. Our federal agencies involved in reviewing the applications are the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Defense and Interpol. Applicant data is screened through the DHS Automated Biometric Identification System, the Immigration Violator File, Fugitive File, Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization file, the integrated Automated Fingerprint ID system, the Automated Biometric ID system and Next Generation ID. Representatives from nine federal agencies meet weekly to consult and review each case.

On top of that, a process called the “Syria Enhanced Review” is applied exclusively to Syrian Refugees.

This most intensive screening is done by a unit of the Dept. of Homeland Security, The Refugee Corps, which is based in the Middle East. Prior to doing their own personal interviews, primarily in Aman, Jordan, and Istanbul ,Turkey, their highly-trained members conduct elaborate verification of each refugee story, and even if all the evidence checks out positive, the security officers still have the option of denying admission, just based on “gut feeling.”

The entire vetting process takes between a year and a half and two years. The number of Syrian Refugees admitted to the United States in FY2016 through the end of this past May was only 2,773. Half are typically children.

There are plenty of dangers in this world of ours, but they don’t include the trickle of needy Syrian families that come into the United States as refugees.

Nancy Philippi

Michigan City  

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