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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Obama in N. Ireland; speech, G-8, Putin on tap

Monday, 17 June 2013 02:39 Published in National News

   BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — President Barack Obama will appeal to Northern Ireland's youth to sustain their peace in his first opportunity to highlight the role the United States has played helping bring about reconciliation in the country.

   Obama arrived at Belfast on Monday morning. After his Belfast speech he will attend a two-day summit of the Group of Eight industrial economies.

   Later Monday he was to meet on the sidelines of the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Topics for the two leaders range from Syria to arms control. Russia has criticized Obama's decision to arm Syrian rebels and has dismissed U.S. claims that President Bashar Assad's regime has used chemical weapons against Syrians.

   Russia is a member of the G-8. So are Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Italy and Germany.

East St. Louis program celebrates grads, college

Monday, 17 June 2013 02:35 Published in Local News

   EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - An East St. Louis program aimed at helping at-risk students is celebrating after every high school senior enrolled in the program graduated and was accepted to college.

   Pathways began in 2011, working with students in sixth grade through high school. There are 168 participants, including this year's six graduates.

   The program at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis focuses on academics. Director Angela Whitlow tells the Belleville News-Democrat she'll continue to work with the graduates to help them navigate paperwork, registration and financial aid issues.

   Seventeen year old Paul Graham will be a first-generation college student when he begins studying in a pre-veterinary program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this fall.

   He says his mom is proud.

   Less than two-thirds of East St. Louis students graduate from high school.

 

   CHICAGO (AP) -- Bernard "Bernie" Sahlins, who co-founded Chicago's Second City theater and who nurtured the early careers of many of the earliest stars of "Saturday Night Live," died Sunday. He was 90.

   Andrew Alexander, one of Second City's current owners and its CEO, told The Associated Press that Sahlins died peacefully at his Chicago home with his family nearby. He is survived by his wife, Jane Nicholl Sahlins.

   Sahlins and business partners Howard Alk and Paul Sills opened The Second City in December 1959, and it quickly gained national attention and helped establish Chicago as a vibrant comedy town, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

   The Second City wasn't Sahlins' first attempt at running a theater. He was a producer-investor in a theater troupe in the early 1950s that was comprised of many fellow University of Chicago graduates, and he and several business partners produced plays at the Studebaker Theater from October 1956 until the following year, when it had to close due to a lack of funding.

   In his 2002 memoir, "Days and Nights at the Second City," Sahlins wrote that he, Alk and Sills hadn't set out to build another theater.

   "We had been burned enough times doing that. This was still the Beat generation, and we started out to found a coffee house where we idlers, including the actors whom we had with for years, could loll around and put the world in its proper place."

   But The Second City caught on within months of opening, despite some early money problems and other issues, and it became instrumental in the growth and development of improvisational and sketch comedy.

   Sahlins had an eye for talent, and he hired and nurtured the early careers of such future stars as John and Jim Belushi, Joan Rivers, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis, among others.

   Shortly after "Saturday Night Live" began airing in the fall of 1975, Second City became a breeding ground for the show. According to Second City producer emeritus Joyce Sloane, who died in 2011, Sahlins once half-jokingly commanded her to lock "SNL" creator and producer Lorne Michaels out of the building, the Sun-Times reported.

   Alexander, who along with business partner Len Stuart bought The Second City from Sahlins in 1985, according to the theater's website, told the AP that Sahlins will be remembered for always urging performers to work at the top of their intellect, and that this is still preached at the theater today.

   "You think about that theater, and think of all the stars that came out of it ... from Belushi to Aykroyd to Allan Arkin. It's extraordinary, the amount of talented people that came out of it," Alexander said.

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