AP analysis: Federal executions likely a COVID superspreader

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — The executions at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, completed in short windows over a few weeks, likely acted as a superspreader event. That’s according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. It was something health experts had warned could happen when the Justice Department insisted on resuming executions during a pandemic. By the end of 2020, 70% of death row inmates were sick with COVID-19. Guards were ill. Traveling prisons staff on the execution team had the virus. So did media witnesses, who may have unknowingly infected others when they returned home because they were never told about the spreading cases.last_img

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Students travel to Super Bowl

first_imgThe sports world’s eyes will turn to Indianapolis this Sunday for the Super Bowl XLVI, which will feature a rematch between prominent East Coast teams the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Several students plan to make the short trip to Indianapolis and participate in Super Bowl festivities before the game begins Sunday evening. Freshman Kayla Polcari said she and her sister, senior Annie Polcari, decided to spend the weekend in Indianapolis after they received tickets to the Super Bowl as a surprise gift. “The best dad in the world surprised me with them,” she said. Seniors Christina Carson and Michael Oliver said they are also driving to Indianapolis with a group of friends to experience the events in Super Bowl Village, though they do not have tickets to the game. “We’re going downtown for the concerts in Super Bowl village, like Darius Rucker, LMFAO and O.A.R., and they’re all free,” Carson said. The concerts begin Thursday evening and continue through Sunday. Carson and Oliver said they expect Saturday night’s CMT Crossroads Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam concert to be the highlight of their weekend. “We also somehow won tickets to the Crossroads concert at the Pepsi Coliseum with Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood, so I’m really excited for that,” Oliver said. Though they plan to visit Super Bowl village, Carson and Oliver said they will come back to South Bend in time to watch the game with other students. Oliver, a Patriots fan, will be set against students like Polcari who will cheer for the Giants. “I’m so excited for the Giants win,” she said. Freshman Rachel Miceli, of Queens, New York, said her decision to cheer for the Giants was painful since her true loyalties lie with the New York Jets during the regular season. “I usually hate the Giants, but not as much as I hate the Patriots,” Miceli said. “I guess it comes down to the Giants being a New York team, so I’m supporting them.”last_img read more

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Fitness test undergoes changes, improvements

first_imgThe Class of 2016 will experience a new wave of fitness testing during the next academic year. The Physical Education and Wellness Department recently implemented an additional fitness test, called a post-test, to occur in April of students’ freshman years, in addition to the swim test and pre-test in August. Steve Bender, a visiting faculty instructor to the department, said the staff conducted a successful trial run of the post-test at the Loftus Center on members of the current freshman class last week. “The feedback that we’ve gotten has been incredible and the test exceeded our expectations,” Bender said. “We had probably 90 to 95 percent of the students actually ‘go for it’ by pushing themselves and not blowing it off.” The new test will consist of pushups, sit-ups, a 1.5-mile run, and sit-and-reach flexibility, Bender said. He said instructors used to administer the fitness test during the Contemporary Topics course, and the test’s components were at the discretion of the instructor. “We decided to make it consistent and thought we’d get better results in a larger group,” Bender said. “Sometimes if you had 30 people in your Contemporary Topics class and walked during the test, it was obvious and you stood out.” “We thought that if there were 200 people on the track at the same time, nobody cared and nobody would notice at all,” he added. Bender said the primary benefit of the new system would be the instant feedback on levels of muscular fitness and cardiovascular endurance. “The student will be able to log in online and know right off the bat where their results fit in nationally,” he said. “They’ll also be able to see where they are in comparison to males and females at Notre Dame.” A goal of the department is to show that physical education is a part of a student’s academic experience, Bender said. “The more fit you are, the better student you’ll be as fiscal and physical go hand-in-hand,” Bender said. “We’re trying to show that fitness is a lifestyle, so if we can extend it throughout your freshman year, then you’ll have a better chance the next three years of keeping with it … Instead of a one-shot deal, we’re trying to set the tone and hopefully the it stays with you throughout your whole life.” Overall, Bender said he was pleased with the results from the trial run and is ready for the fall. “We always knew Notre Dame students were ultra-competitive in the classroom. That carried over to the test, too,” he said. The fitness training learned during freshman year physical education should apply to finals week and the days leading up to it, Bender said. “I recommend 30 minutes of some kind of cardiovascular exercise each day to get you away from the monotony of sitting in front of that computer or reading that book,” Bender said. “Sometimes you don’t think you have that 30 minutes, but when you come back, it’s just like taking a 5-Hour Energy, as you’ve got that energy and it stays with you longer.”last_img read more

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Musical group earns award

first_imgArt changes lives. The success of Venezuelan conductor Jose Antonio Abreu and his children’s musical group El Sistema in demonstrating this principle has earned him this year’s Notre Dame Prize for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Founded 37 years ago, El Sistema’s nationwide network of orchestras and education centers within Venezuela provides children with the self-esteem and character needed to break out of the cycle of poverty, according to a press release from the Kellogg Institute. Although he emerged from University with an economics degree, Abreu stated in the release his artistic interests and national concerns inspired him to develop the organization, an alternative means for rescuing his community. In the release, Abreau cited music’s unique capacity for uniting unstable, struggling communities. “Music is an agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values – solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. It has the ability to unite an entire community,” Abreu stated in the press prelease. Steve Reifenberg, Executive Director of the Kellogg Institute, said Abreu’s unique approach to social stabilization was a significant reason for recognizing his contributions in Venezuela. “It’s really a movement that’s making its way across the globe. I teach international development, so these types of stories, where someone approaches development from a different angle rather than economic or educational development, stand out as truly transformative,” Reifenberg said. “I think it’s such an absolutely inspiring and compelling project.” The Kellogg Institute said El Sistema has benefited individual participants in the program and the greater Venezuelan society, a fact demonstrated by the ongoing support of eight successive governments. Currently, 300,000 children across the country currently participate in Abreu’s arts education programs, and his model has spread to 25 other nations. While the Kellogg Institute’s annual award has typically recognized distinguished individuals serving Latin America through political, economic, educational or religious actions, Reifenberg said Abreu’s unique approach deserves recognition. “We hope that even more people will learn about Maestro Abreu and his project by giving him the award,” Reifenberg said. Every year, the Institute solicits hundreds of people for nominations, ultimately narrowing the group to 40 or 50 individuals, Reifenberg said. “I think if you look at the past recipients, it’s a really remarkable group of people,” Reifenberg said. The award consists of a $15,000 cash prize and a matching amount donated to a charitable organization recommended by the winner. It is funded by a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation. Rodrigo Calderon, Kellogg Advisory Board member and president of the Coca-Cola Foundation Mexico stated in the press release that the award is a great honor. “The Notre Dame Prize for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America is recognized as the most prestigious prize in its category,” Calderon stated. “The University of Notre Dame is to be commended for leading this effort which is both a distinction for these outstanding individuals and an inspiration for the younger generation. Reifenberg said Maestro Abreu will officially receive the award this upcoming spring at a ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela, during which one of the El Sistema youth orchestras will perform.last_img read more

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Fr. Scully wins award for work in education

first_imgFr. Timothy R. Scully, the Hackett Family Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives and a professor of political science at Notre Dame, received the William E. Simon Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship on Tuesday at a ceremony in New York.  The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a public policy think tank, awarded Scully the prize for his work in founding and leading the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).  According to the program’s website, ACE sends recent college graduates from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and selected other Catholic universities to more than 100 Catholic parochial schools across the country to teach for two years. Scully said he credits the teachers and benefactors of the ACE program for its success.   “Talk about feeling humbled and delighted,” Scully said. “Obviously, I mean, [the prize] isn’t for me. It’s for the whole team of people who over the years … [has] built an amazing, amazing institution.”  Scully said the Manhattan Institute first recognized ACE last year when the program was nominated for the Institute’s Richard Corunelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a $25,000 prize for outstanding social change organizations. ACE did not receive the Corunelle Award, so Scully said he was surprised to receive the news that ACE had been awarded the Simon Prize.  “It was a funny experience,” Scully said. “Maybe two months ago, I got a phone call out of the blue from [the] Manhattan [Institute], and they said, ‘Well, we didn’t tell you the whole thing last year … We want you to get the Simon Prize.’” Scully received the Simon Prize before 160 people at the University Club in New York.  “The room was just full of foundations and social entrepreneurs and others who are very actively engaged in trying to improve the lives of ordinary citizens – a true volunteer effort,” Scully said. “It made me feel so humbled and honored to be among their company.”  Scully, who is chair of the Education Commission of the Congregation of Holy Cross, said the $100,000 prize will help fund Holy Cross missions in South Asia.  Scully is on a countrywide bus tour celebrating ACE’s 20th anniversary until the end of May. The tour, which Scully said would pass through almost 50 cities, began in Dallas on Oct. 5 at the Shamrock Series football game against Arizona State and will end in Seattle in spring 2014.  “We’ve simply decided to hit the road in order to celebrate and thank our many hundreds of partners across the country who are doing the hard daily work of keeping these wonderful little miracle schools alive and vibrant,” Scully said.  As for the next 20 years of ACE, Scully said he hopes to “see more kids in more great schools.”  “I just hope to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit as we’ve tried to be over the last 20 years, and just to respond with boldness to the invitation to strengthen and sustain Catholic schools across this wonderful land,” he said.  Contact Nicole McAlee at nmcalee@nd.edulast_img read more

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Nobel Prize winner speaks at ND Forum event

first_img“We need all students, whatever their future careers are going to be, to be able to think about science more like scientists do,” Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman said as he urged Notre Dame to take a second look at education during Monday’s Notre Dame Forum event.Wieman’s presentation, “Taking a Scientific Approach to Science Education,” is the first in a series of discussions that asks, “What do Notre Dame Graduates Need to Know?” In his lecture, Wieman offered an answer that stressed the learning experience as opposed to the learned material itself.By the time a person becomes an authority in their field, they have developed a certain way of thinking about their discipline that gives them expertise, Wieman said. Students can begin to gain this expertise in a subject if they are exposed to a classroom environment that promotes discussion and interaction, rather than the standard lecture format most classes currently use, he said.“It’s not that the knowledge [of a subject] is absolutely important, but what really matters is to have knowledge integrated with these broader underlying aspects of expert thinking,” Wieman said. “Because that’s really when the knowledge is useful, rather than a bunch of memorized facts that you can’t do anything with.”While field experts are preferred to teach undergraduate courses, they may not initially understand the importance of this approach because of their own expertise, Wieman said.“One of the challenges of actually being a good teacher if you’re an expert, particularly of introductory students, is that the way you think your brain worked when it was at their level is fundamentally wrong, because there’s no way for the brain to know it’s changing … your brain is just plain different than [it] was when you were a beginning student,” he said.Wieman said the focus on research in many universities could also impact education.“We developed a system at research universities where really the only thing that’s measured — and it’s measured very carefully — is research productivity,” Wieman said. “And that’s what gets measured and rewarded. And so, as a person who’s done lots of science research I appreciate that. … It’s created the wonderfully productive research university system we have.”Wieman said universities’ obsession with efficiency may decrease the quality of research.“The problem is that because it’s the only thing that’s measured – it’s so effective at what it does – the collateral damage is that diverting even a small amount of time to pay attention to teaching and doing it more effectively penalizes a person and penalizes a department,” Wieman said. “So we have to fix that basic system.”Notre Dame physics professor Michael Hildreth said Wieman’s contribution to the Notre Dame Forum addressed an important topic that the University itself hopes to address.“The forum is supposed to address what Notre Dame students should know when they graduate, or I would rather phrase it, what Notre Dame students should learn while they’re here,” he said. “Too often we get bogged down in what students should know, which is really focused on topics. … I would rather turn that around to look at process. I would like to think that we would teach the students how to think.”Tags: Carl Wieman, Notre Dame Forum, Science Education, Scientific approachlast_img read more

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SMC club sponsors bone marrow registry drive

first_imgSaint Mary’s Stand Up To Cancer student club will host a bone marrow registry drive for students and the Michiana community Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Reignbeaux Lounge of Le Mans Hall.Junior Allison Lukomski said the event is a special way for students to help make a life-changing difference in the lives of cancer patients everywhere. Lukomski said she matched with a cancer patient this past summer and recently donated blood stem cells to her match.“I registered to become a possible match because it was an event that the Saint Mary’s College Stand Up To Cancer club was running,” Lukomski said. “Never once did I question doing this. I just felt that there was no reason not to join. In my head, I just thought to myself ‘this could save a life, why shouldn’t I join?’”When Lukomski donated at last year’s drive, she said she never thought she would be matched with anyone.“Never did I think I would be matched in a million years,” she said. “Little to my disgrace, it was the perfect timing. Being a junior in college, I tend to get caught up in the hype of having good grades, getting ready to apply to grad schools, etc., but by being matched, I had to realize how important things in my life really are.”Less than six months after joining the list, Lukomski said she learned she had been matched with a 60-year-old female recipient with myelodysplastic syndrome.“Since the majority of matches are from the patient’s family members, I realized when I was matched that I was her only chance because no one in her family was her match,” she said. “It is a lot to emotionally take on at once, but I had my family supporting me, and they reminded me that this was something that God had planned for my recipient and me.”Lukomski currently does not know how her recipient is recovering, but she said she will be notified around Nov. 23 as to how her recipient’s body responded to her stem cells.A note, written by Lukomski, was delivered to her match along with the donated stem cells, but Lukomski said she was not allowed to include any personal information in the note.“I will have the chance to write her only through [the national marrow donor program] Be The Match if my recipient is willing,” she said. “The same goes for meeting her. Through the rules of the organization, we cannot meet until a full year has passed from her receiving the donation. I would love to meet her at that point, and I hope she feels the same.”Lukomski said she is encouraging fellow students to join the list of possible donors this Friday at the drive.“Why wouldn’t you want to potentially have the ability to save a life?” she said. “At any time throughout the process, you have the choice to say that you no longer wish to continue. It is your choice to even agree to start the process. So I would encourage everyone to just join the list. The swab of your check does not hurt. If you get selected for the donation process, you as the donor can stop the process and decline it at anytime. You are in full control of what happens to you.”The donation itself did not hurt at all, as Lukomski said she was given injections of filgrastim five days prior to her donation day.“My body was achey, but that is expected,” she said. “Filgrastim is a drug that increases the number of blood-forming cells, bone marrow cells in my bloodstream. That was the only thing that caused me pain, the constant ache I had from the drug doings its job. It was nothing horrible, just a constant ache. Other than that, I did not experience any pain.”By joining the registration list, Lukomski said students provide hope to people fighting for their lives and may even change their futures.“That is why I love this organization,” she said. “They are saving lives through the strength and help of strangers. It never hurts to try something, and this is a chance to do something that is bigger than yourself and to feel like you made a difference. Join because you want to make a difference and save a life.”Lukomski is extremely grateful for the support she has received from her family, boyfriend and his family throughout the entire process, she said.“Without them being there for me, the process of donating would not have been as wonderful,” she said. “I wanted my family with me throughout everything I did, and I was lucky that they were there. But the most important thing that I am grateful for throughout this experience is that I was selected to save a life.”Even without meeting her recipient or having any knowledge of her identity, Lukomski said she considers her match a part of her family.“I cannot imagine what my recipient and her family have gone through,” she said. “Without meeting her or knowing anything about her, she is now a part of my family, and that is what made this whole experience so rewarding.“It is the ability to save a life. Sure there will be fears and some pain, but in the long run the outcome makes every fear and pain worth it. As college students, I think we sometimes get caught up in our lives of planning for grad schools and getting a job after graduation. I believe that by me being matched was my way of realizing that I need to start looking at the really important things in life, like life itself.”Tags: Bone Marrow Donor, bone marrow registry, cancer, Stand Up to Cancerlast_img read more

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ND students participate in #hackINvTX Challenge

first_imgAlthough the name may give the initial impression of computer crime, Notre Dame students participating in the three-week #hackINvTX Challenge are working for the good of the Indiana and Texas governments. Each state has presented its residents with two challenges in the hackathon, which comes to a close next Monday.In the case of Indiana, participants are required to either “create a centralized, streamlined and secure platform for receiving, tracking and collaborating on permit applications” for the Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) or to “develop a method to register and create a checklist of available/needed services for [residents] visiting a One Stop Shop after a disaster” for the Department of Homeland Security, according to a government press release.The ongoing hackathon will allow “residents of both states to create applications that support and inspire entrepreneurship and digital government innovation, encourage government transparency and open data and promote interstate collaboration and competition,” the press release stated.Junior Liam Chan is part of a three-student team working on the permit application platform.“Currently, people submit permits, documents, updates and such through the IDEM. It’s basically a paper-based system, quite inefficient,” said Chan, an IT management major. “Our team is trying to streamline that process so that it’s no longer paper-based, so people can submit digital copies and such.”“For example, an application for a landfill that we saw at the office is seven binders full of paper. And that’s for one landfill. So you can imagine if you’re trying to build a factory downtown or even if you’re a farmer, and you get about 600 cattle that create waste. That’s something you need a permit for as well,” Chan said.The students are “working a lot on their own,” according to Don Ginocchio, who is SAP’s University Alliances Director assigned to Notre Dame. Ginocchio pointed out there are 10 faculty and staff mentors who have volunteered their time to help with the hackathon.One of the mentors, Matt Willmore, mobileND program manager, said, “It’s easy to look at a problem and just start coding and not really have an idea about where you’re going to end. But [mentors are] helping them to understand what’s the scope … and zero in on what to spend our time on.”However, Ginocchio admitted that the length of the hackathon is not entirely ideal for full-time students.“There’s always a challenge at Notre Dame, particularly something of this nature that’s spread out over three or four weeks, that other things like classwork and other priorities get in the way,” he said. “That’s true of any three-week effort, and I don’t think it’s unique to our situation. And actually, this is part of a series of hackathons. In the future, they’re going to try to do it over a shorter time frame — a day or two — so that people can really focus.”Chan mentioned his involvement in Bengal Bouts this month and Junior Parents Weekend starting Friday.“We’re definitely feeling the time constraint,” he said.Nonetheless, there was a general consensus the effort put into the hackathon was well worth it.“We hope that whether we take this project to the next stage, or a different team does or if the state finds a company to expand our solution, we wish them the best of luck and hope there are people who would benefit from this,” Chan said.Tags: Don Ginocchio, Government, hackathon, hacking, hackINvTX, indiana, innovation, Liam Chan, technologylast_img read more

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Notre Dame names Laetare Medal recipient

first_imgThe University will award Grammy-winning singer Aaron Neville the Laetare Medal at its 2015 Commencement, Director of Media Relations Sue Lister announced Sunday.The Laetare Medal is the oldest award given to American Catholics, having originated in 1883, according to the press release. The University awards the medal each year to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”University President Fr. John Jenkins described Neville as a man who uses his own strengths to express his faith.“Aaron Neville proudly embraces and honors his faith through his God-given musical talents,” Jenkins said in the press release. “Through tumultuous times in his life, Aaron turned to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Jude for strength, forgiveness and salvation.“His example of repentance and devotion shine bright for all who see him perform.”In his prolific career as a musician, Neville released four albums that achieved platinum status, created four top 20 hits in the United States, won the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and was named a 2015 Grammy Hall of Fame Recording Inductee.The 74-year-old attended Catholic school in New Orleans as a child and dedicated each of his albums to the apostle St. Jude, patron saint of hope and impossible causes, the press release stated.In winning the Laetare Medal, Neville joins the ranks of other American Catholics including President John F. Kennedy, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, Martin Sheen and many others.The University’s 170th Commencement Ceremony will be held May 17 in Notre Dame Stadium.Tags: Aaron Neville, Commencement, Laetare Medallast_img read more

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Presidential task force on sexual assault releases report

first_imgLast spring, Saint Mary’s College President Carol Ann Mooney created a task force on sexual assault, which spent the 2015-2016 school year examining current practices regarding sexual assault. The task force — which was separated into three subcommittees and included six faculty members, six students, three administrators, the Vice President for Student Affairs, the College’s counsel and Mooney — released a report on their findings Friday. The report was emailed to the Saint Mary’s community and included a letter from Mooney, who is retiring after this academic year.The three committees focused on education and training, support and college processes, Mooney said in the letter. They examined the College’s efforts to prevent sexual assault, handle accusations of sexual violence and support survivors of sexual assault.The task force found that having the College’s legal counsel hold the position of Title IX Coordinator is a conflict of interest. The report recommended that the Coordinator should be the Director of Human Resources — the position at other small colleges that also holds the Title IX Coordinator position. According to the report, this change in structure should occur no later than the next academic year. It also suggested there be three Deputy Coordinators who specialize in complaints by students against students, complaints by students against faculty members and complaints by students against a staff member or administrator.To continue the work done by the task force, the report recommends establishing a Standing Committee on Sexual Violence.This committee is to meet regularly and make further recommendations to the President “for programming, education and training related to sexual violence, for improving support systems for survivors and for refining procedures for reporting, investigating and hearing Title IX cases.”The committee will also coordinate specific training for faculty and staff dealing with LGBTQ harassment and discrimination prevention, as well as institute policies and procedures to coordinate with local law enforcement and rape crisis services and victim advocacy programs.According to the report, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) should be implemented between the College, the University and Holy Cross College. The report defines a MOU as “a formal agreement between two or more parties that is not intended to be legally binding but carries a degree of seriousness and mutual respect.”The report recommends the creation of a MOU to address “issues of adjudication when sexual violence involves students from two or more of the campuses and that clearly identifies procedures and potential sanctions.”The report suggests improved training for all individuals on campus, including Campus Ministry staff, Health and Counseling staff, all people involved in Residence Life, security dispatchers and officers, Critical Incident Board Members, Title IX Coordinator and deputy coordinators and all overnight employees. The report calls for an annual review of the training process. It also recommends that there be transparency will all parties involved in Title IX cases, and that all parties be held accountable.The report recommended “that Saint Mary’s College publish a clear statement that the College community does not tolerate sexual violence and recognizes the importance of fostering a survivor’s agency following any incident of sexual violence.”The task force also recommended information regarding resources and support available to all survivors be made easily and readily accessible. According to the report, this can be done through use of media and fliers around campus. It recommended there be a “one stop shop” in the College’s internal portal for students to have all information regarding policies, resources and support in one place.According to the report, resource advocates should be appointed by the College to help guide survivors through the available information and process.The report also recommends establishing ongoing support to “truly support the ‘whole person.’” To do so, it recommended the establishment of a healing ritual through Campus Ministry, the creation of support groups facilitated by the Counseling Center or Campus Ministry, a 24-hour on-campus support protocol and trained faculty and staff to support underrepresented groups on campus — including the establishment of “information hubs” for these underrepresented groups.According to the report, there should be periodic efforts to survey the climate on campus. It recommends a survey, such as the Sexual Violence Climate Survey — which was administered during the spring semester — should be interpreted by the Standing Committee on Sexual Violence, the Office of Institutional Research and students who have gone through the Title IX process.Tags: campus climate survey, President Mooney, presidential task force, Saint Mary’s College, sexual assault, sexual violence, title IX coordinatorlast_img read more

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