Pentagon: North Korea Could Launch Nuclear Missile

WASHINGTON – A U.S. intelligence report concludes that North Korea has advanced its nuclear knowhow to the point that it could arm a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead, a jarring revelation in the midst of bellicose threats from the unpredictable communist regime.

President Barack Obama urged calm, calling on Pyongyang to end its saber-rattling while sternly warning that he would “take all necessary steps” to protect American citizens.

The new American intelligence analysis, disclosed Thursday at a hearing on Capitol Hill, says the Pentagon’s intelligence wing has “moderate confidence” that North Korea has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles but that the weapon was unreliable.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., read aloud what he said was an unclassified paragraph from a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report that was supplied to some members of Congress.  The reading seemed to take Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by surprise, who said he hadn’t seen the report and declined to answer questions about it.

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Muhlenberg’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ Brings Beaumarchais’s 18th Century Comedy To A Modern Audience

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, Pa – “The Marriage of Figaro” is known worldwide to opera aficionados and Bugs Bunny fans from the opera composed by W.A. Mozart. Less well-known to modern audiences is the 1784 comedy by French playwright Beaumarchais, upon which Mozart based his opera.

The Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department will present the Beaumarchais play as the finale to its 2012-13 Mainstage Series, April 25-28. Directed by Francine Roussel, the production will feature an original score by composer and musician Mike Krisukas, known to Lehigh Valley audiences as the guitarist and lead songwriter for the band Zen For Primates.

“‘The Marriage of Figaro’ is so well built, the characters so real, and the spirit of the play so uplifting that it deserves exposure to an American audience,” Roussel says. “Opera buffs may know the Mozart classic, but less often the play on which it is based. On Beaumarchais’ behalf, we hope to rectify that inequity.”

Writing a few years before the French Revolution, Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais pours his rage at the aristocracy into “The Marriage of Figaro,” which manages equal parts hilarity and outrage. First produced in 1784, the play was a sequel to “The Barber of Seville,” picking up three years after the wedding of the Count and Countess that concludes that play. Now Figaro, the Count’s valet, plans to marry, but the Count has tired of his lovely Countess and lusts for Figaro’s bride-to-be, Suzanne. He determines to revive the ancient “droit du seigneur” — the lord of the manor’s right to bed any new bride on her wedding night.

Figaro, Suzanne and the Countess concoct a counter-plot, but the Count’s page, Cherubin, makes hash of it through his passionate crush on the Countess. The multiple layers of misunderstanding yield what Roussel calls “one of the most perfect farce scenes of all time,” in one of the most scathing critiques of aristocratic privilege ever written.

“Le droit du seigneur — while anathema to modern sensibilities — was the ‘natural order’ for the aristocracy in much of 18th century Europe,” Roussel says. “Beaumarchais had the temerity to write a comedy about this shocking practice, subtly undermining class privilege, exposing gender inequalities, and revolutionizing the condition of women. Danton claimed that ‘Figaro killed off the nobility.’ Perhaps — but with laughter, not the guillotine.”

Krisukas says his starting point for the show’s original score was his and Roussel’s mutual interest in Spanish flamenco styles.

“Part of the excitement in entering a new artistic project is the opportunity to be quickly thrust into a new world,” Krisukas says. “It’s like going on a journey and immersing yourself in some new land with its own culture, language, history and artistic perspective.”

The production also features original choreography by Nina Pongratz, scenic and lighting design by Curtis Dretsch, and costume design by Liz Covey.

“All Will End with Joyful Songs: A Panel Discussion” will be held Thursday, April 25, at 12:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Baker Center for the Arts. This discussion will provide unique perspectives on the content and context of “The Marriage of Figaro.” Theatre professor James Peck and French professor Kathy Wixon will moderate the discussion. The panel will include Roussel, Krisukas, Pongratz, and students of Wixon’s French Theatre of the Resistance course.

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Muhlenberg’s production program in the top ten in the nation, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.

Performances of “The Marriage of Figaro” are April 25-28: Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for LVAIC students, faculty and staff and for patrons 17 and under.

Performances are in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Performance information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 or

Amtrak Reports Increase In Ridership On Keystone Line, Says Lancaster Is Third-Busiest Station In State

Ridership on Amtrak’s Keystone line through Lancaster County grew by 5.2 percent in the last six months, the nation’s passenger railroad corporation announced Tuesday.

Amtrak has 13 trains each weekday stopping at the Lancaster, Mount Joy and Elizabethtown stations on the Keystone line and nine weekend trains.  The Keystone line carries passengers between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The Keystone carried 723,461 passengers in the first half of the fiscal year, compared to 687,860 during the same period last year.

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Police Search for Man Accused of Pottstown Murder

POTTSTOWN — A Pottstown man is the subject of a police manhunt for his alleged role in “a deliberate plot to execute” another man, with whom he was involved in an ongoing feud, in a hail of bullets outside a borough bar, according to authorities.

An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Maurice Laverne “Reece” Andrews Jr., 19, whose last known address was in the first block of North Charlotte Street, in connection with the 2:17 a.m. March 22 slaying of Victor Enrique Bonilla Baez outside Brian’s Café in the 300 block of Jefferson Avenue.

Attempts to apprehend Andrews have been unsuccessful and authorities are seeking the public’s assistance. Authorities said Andrews has ties to Pottstown, Norristown and Philadelphia.

“I would encourage anyone not to try to stop him themselves.  He should be considered armed and dangerous,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, urging anyone with information about Andrews’ whereabouts to immediately contact police or county detectives.  “Our biggest concern is this individual is armed and dangerous and he could pose a threat to someone else.  This is someone that we need to capture safely for the safety of the community and to bring justice to this case.”

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