Palestinian election officials have invited the European Union to send observers to monitor upcoming elections planned for the Palestinian legislature and presidency. The elections are seen as an important step toward ending a rift that has left the Palestinians divided between rival governments since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007. Past attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed. But Sunday’s invitation to the European Union was a sign that the Palestinians are serious about holding what will be their first elections in over 15 years. An EU official confirmed the bloc’s readiness to “provide everything possible for the success of the electoral process.”
NEW YORK (AP) — A British socialite criminally charged with aiding Jeffrey Epstein in his sexual abuse of teenage girls testified in 2016 that she had no memory of anything amiss on his properties, but eventually had a falling out with him. That’s according to the public portion of a heavily redacted transcript of the deposition of Ghislaine Maxwell taken for a defamation lawsuit by one of Epstein’s accusers. The transcript was released Wednesday along with other documents pursued by the Miami Herald after the lawsuit was settled. Maxwell has been held without bail since pleading not guilty in July to recruiting girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Killings rose dramatically across the U.S. last year, and a study suggests that the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice unrest were factors. The study released Monday by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, along with Arnold Ventures, looked at crime rates in 34 cities. It found a 30% spike in homicides in 2020 compared to 2019. Study leaders called for urgent action to improve relations with police and expand anti-violence initiatives. A study author says many officers were forced to quarantine last year, and maintaining social distancing kept them from the sort of community outreach needed to help stop violence before it happens.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Crews are working to determine when they can rebuild a section of scenic roadway near Big Sur, California, after it collapsed in torrential rain last week. But officials say the damage isn’t as bad as from a 2017 landslide that cut off the tourist destination for over a year. Crews are clearing debris piles and stabilizing damaged sections of roadway. The winding highway is a popular driving route renowned for its ocean views. The head of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce says the damage will force those traveling from Southern California to take a two-hour detour. But he said the majority of visitors come from Northern California.
BERLIN (AP) — A commission in Germany has ruled that a painting by expressionist Erich Heckel that is in a German art museum was likely unlawfully obtained under the Nazis and should be returned to the heirs of a Jewish historian who once owned it. The commission said Heckel’s “Geschwister,” or “Siblings,” was owned by Jewish historian Max Fischer until 1934, the year before he fled Germany. The 1913 painting ended up back with Heckel, and the artist donated it to the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe museum in 1967. The commission said Tuesday that it had to assume Fischer lost possession of the painting due to Nazi persecution. His heirs have said they plan on donating the piece to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The fifth annual Arabic Culture Night this evening offers the Notre Dame community an opportunity to explore foreign cultures through student performances entirely in Arabic. Ghada Bualuan, director of the Undergraduate Studies of the Department of Classics and Program of Arabic Languages, said the event offers an important dimension to the study of Arabic beyond learning in the classroom. “We do teach culture in classrooms, but this is a small cultural experience to engage [students] with the culture so they can connect,” she said. “Culture is not only history and civilizations that they read in class, but it’s also the language they speak, the songs they sing, the poetry they recite.” This years’ program offers a special focus on the Arab Spring protests, she said. Senior Joe Dufour, president of Arabic Club, said multiple performances address this significant international development. “This year the biggest influence has been the Arab Spring,” he said. “We incorporated this major political, cultural and social event.” Dufour said his contribution, “The Dictator,” is a ten-minute play that addresses the revolutions of last year in a lighthearted manner. “The Arab Spring was very big this year, and we thought it would be relevant to do a satirical play on life under dictatorship,” he said. “It has a powerful message in addition to being comedic.” Bualuan said the poetry readings selected for tonight will also address the Arab Spring with controversial Syrian poetry. “It’s the poetry of revolution,” she said. One poem was banned in Syria because it spoke against the dictator, a harsh regime, and a lack of freedom of speech and expression,” she said. “The other poem is a cry calling Arabs to unite together.” Students participating in the event have taken leadership in writing, choreographing and film editing, involving themselves with the event more than ever before, Dufour said. Dufour also said solo and duet vocal performances will showcase the advanced language ability of students. “To have three students singing in Arabic, which is hard enough to speak, but to sing and do it well, is amazing,” he said. Bualuan said she hopes both students and families enjoy the event. “We try to reach out to the community because there is a large community of native Arabs in Michiana,” she said. Even those who do not speak Arabic or study the Middle East can appreciate tonight’s performances, Bualuan said. “Anyone who has any interest in the Middle East, is intrigued by the culture and politics of the Arab World or just wants to get a better sense of what it means to be Arab should come,” she said. “Arabs never cease to produce music, literature and other forms of culture infused with life experiences in time of prosperity and in hardship.” She said the interconnectedness of societies is best learned from immersion in another culture. “We all share the same humanity. We all seek happiness, peace and fulfillment,” Bualuan said. “We want people to connect with … what they’re feeling, facing and what challenges they have.” The Arabic Culture Night will begin tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Jordan Auditorium at Mendoza. Admission is free.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg disclosed orders to deploy to Afghanistan at a press conference Thursday, which will mark his first time in active duty. Buttigieg, a Lieutenant, Junior Grade (Lieutenant JG) in the United States Navy Reserve, said he received the orders on Aug. 28. At Thursday’s press conference, Buttigieg said he expects to be mobilized from Feb. 24, 2014, to approximately Sept. 20, 2014. Buttigieg named City Controller Mark Neal to serve as his deputy mayor while he is on active duty. Indiana Code 5-6-2 holds that if an elected official is called into active duty during their time in office, he or she may appoint a deputy. Buttigieg said Neal will vacate his post as City Controller at the conclusion of 2013 and then return to the private sector when Buttigieg returns to South Bend. Buttigieg stated at Thursday’s press conference that he could not share details about his assignment for reasons “including operational security, personal safety and military policy.” However, he said his selection was based upon his qualifications and military background. “There’s not a lot that I’m in a position to talk about now; what I can say is that this is work that I’ve been trained to do,” Buttigieg said. “It’s work that my command thought would be a good match based on my background, my rank, specialty training and so forth. I have some colleagues who have done similar work and I’m looking forward to applying my training and getting the job done.” Buttigieg, 31, commissioned as a Lieutenant JG in 2009. Because next month marks his fourth year of service in the Navy Reserve, Buttigieg said he will then be promoted to the rank of full Lieutenant. “I’m a junior officer, so my responsibilities include work on the intelligence side that I can’t say very much about and then work on the unit side like organizing the fitness tests: running, push-ups, that sort of thing,” Buttigieg said. “It’s not glamorous, but it’s work that I enjoy and that I believe in and I’ve always been glad that I do it.” Buttigieg said he joined the Navy Reserve after working on the Barack Obama presidential campaign during the 2008 primary election season. “I was working [at McKinsey and Company] at the time but took a week off, rounded up some buddies and we flew to Omaha, rented a car and were sent to some of the poorest counties in South-central Iowa,” Buttigieg said. “We were in these small, mostly rural communities knocking on doors, and so many times I was knocking on doors and would have an interaction with a young man preparing for basic training, on his way to either the [Army National Guard] or the full-time military. “You knew that these kids were on their way to Iraq pretty fast, and to me they looked like children. … And it started me having a conversation with myself about why if all these kids [are serving], if this small town in Iowa is emptying its youth out, what my reasons are for not serving.” After reflection, Buttigieg said he felt compelled to serve in solidarity with the kids he met in Iowa, and others like them. “Suddenly all of these other things – that I was traveling a lot, that I was too busy, that I had another kind of career – for me they began to feel like excuses,” Buttigieg said. “It became harder and harder for me to explain why I was not serving, and I was especially concerned by the fact that it seemed like there was a bit of a divide between the people who served and the people who didn’t, and that it had to do with class and background. “If you compare that to my grandfather’s generation, for them, service was something that brought people together. People from different backgrounds, people from different races often got to know each other for the first time in the context of their service. And I think we ought to get back to that.” Buttigieg said he decided to join the Reserve by the end of 2008, and took his oath one year later in September 2009. To remain prepared for active duty, most members of the Reserve and the Guard devote one weekend each month to training. Reservists and Guard members also complete a two-week tour of duty known as Annual Training each year. Though reservists do not complete this training with a definitive tour of active duty in mind, Buttigieg said they know they will likely be called to active duty at some point. “This is something I’ve been training to do for years,” Buttigieg said. “All of the activity that reservists do on the weekends every month and then on the two-week annual training periods are designed to make sure that you’re ready for any kind of recall to active duty.” Buttigieg said he will continue this weekend training until he reports to the Navy Operational Support Center Chicago on Feb. 28, when he will begin training more specifically tailored to his mission in Afghanistan. “I’ll be going through a sequence of training that everyone who deploys to Afghanistan goes through,” Buttigieg said. “I’m not completely sure what to expect because I haven’t done it before.” Buttigieg said he will deploy as a Navy “Individual Augmentee,” which means he will mobilize separately from the unit he has trained with during his time in the Reserve. He said this type of deployment is usual for people in his unit, though Guard members typically mobilize as a unit and know of their assignments further in advance. While Buttigieg serves his tour of duty in Afghanistan, deputy mayor Neal will make executive decisions in his absence, but Buttigieg said he plans to remain in close contact with his administration while in Afghanistan. “My priority, knowing I was going to be away, was continuity of government and making sure that residents of the city continue to feel that the government is serving them, and that our key initiatives continue to move forward,” Buttigieg said. “There are really three principles that will allow the administration to operate while I’m away. One of them is that department heads will continue to have a lot of autonomy to make decisions for their departments as they see fit. The second is that I’ll be involved as much as possible to make sure that my preferences and intentions are known. The third is that the deputy mayor will have all my authority while I’m away, so if there’s a need to get a decision or answer especially if I’m not reachable, that’s why we have somebody in that position and why there’s only one person in that position. That [person] will be Mark Neal. “I really feel that there will be total continuity and terrific competence while I’m away.” Neal’s administrative experience gained as city controller prepare him well to assume mayoral duties, Buttigieg said. “He’s not a politician – he is mostly from the business community – but he understands government, and the role he’s in now … is one of the most pivotal roles in the administration,” Buttigieg said. “The Controller is responsible not only for the finances of the city, but also oversees HR [human resources] and technology. So, it’s a broad portfolio, which means he already understands what we’re doing as an administration in a cross-cutting way.” Buttigieg said Neal’s experience within his administration strengthened his ability to serve as deputy mayor. “I think [Neal] is completely in tune with the overall vision of my administration, that’s one of the reasons I asked him to serve,” Buttigieg said. “He’s been with us from day one, so he understands and in many ways helped to shape the priorities of this administration.” The relationships Neal developed during his work in the current administration also will help him as he begins work as deputy mayor, Buttigieg said. “I think he has the right kind of perspective on how to get things done … he understands complexity and he understands people,” Buttigieg said. “So much of his job [as Controller] is working with people to get stuff done and he has built great working relationships with members of the Common Council, with the business community and with employees of the city.” When he returns to office next fall, Buttigieg said he will be excited to return to working for the people of South Bend. Neal likely will return to the private sector, Buttigieg said. “I think before, during and after my deployment we will have the same vision and the same goals for our city,” Buttigieg said. “Mark will be ready to move on, and will have richly deserved our thanks at that point, because he’s not somebody who is interested in publicity or ego, he just wants to serve the city. “He’s agreed to do this at considerable sacrifice, and I’m sure that once this tour of duty is over for him he’ll resume his private sector life – which he’s been eager to do – but South Bend will owe him a big debt of gratitude.”
“May I have your attention please? This is Tim McCarthy with the Indiana State Police.” A thunderous cheer roars up from the student section, followed by a chorus of shushes raining down upon the crowd of more than 80,000. Through the open window of the Public Announcement (PA) box at Notre Dame Stadium, Sergeant Tim McCarthy hears it all. After 53 years of delivering a safety tip in between the third and fourth quarter at Notre Dame football games, McCarthy has seen it all too. “I always got a kick out of the crowd noise. In the old press box, I used to stand on what I’ll call the outside balcony with all the television cameras and so forth just to get the crowd noise,” McCarthy said. “I used to look and watch the students and that was always a lot of fun.” McCarthy said his superiors at the police department were the first ones to encourage him to deliver a safety message to fans during a home football game. “1960 … There were two games left in the season when I got the assignment, and so I gave the safety announcement very formal like a state trooper should, I guess,” he said. “I was very nervous about it. It went over pretty decently, but nobody listened to it with the crowd noise and all.” McCarthy said he decided after the 1960 season to try a different approach that might make the crowd listen to his safety message. “I told [my superiors] … I’m going to start using a quip at the end and see what happens, and the following season – that was in 1961 – in the very first game there was a discussion among the referees for something and the crowd was unusually quiet. “So I gave the thing. The message gave a pitch on drinking and driving. And I said, ‘Remember, the automobile replaced the horse, but the driver should stay on the wagon.’ And I got a lot of groans and boos and things like that.” The next game McCarthy said he tried to focus on driver attitude and said, “Remember, some drivers are like steel – no good when they lose their temper.” McCarthy said more boos followed this announcement, but over time the crowd began to look forward to his sayings. “About the end of the season I noticed a kind of quieting down because everybody’s waiting to see how corny the quip line was going to be. And I just started it off from there; got to be fairly popular at the games,” McCarthy said. McCarthy said he now gathers ideas and listens for plays on words during the offseason. As games resume, he organizes them into quips that vary from season to season, although some lines do get repeated. “Last season … there was an awful lot of construction around the South Bend area and we focused a little bit on that for a couple games,” McCarthy said. “Generally, I have one on the site in case of rainfall … I have one for snow too, but we haven’t had snowfall for a long, long, long time … This is my 54th year of doing it, so I have run into repeats from time to time.” McCarthy said he carefully prepares to deliver the quips because he fears making a mistake in front of a crowd of 80,000. “I do get nervous, I’m always nervous,” he said. “I have three-by-five cards and I just write the whole message I’m going to give on the three-by-five card. It’s everything, you know, I even write my name on it so I don’t mess up. You never know what’s going to happen.” The students not only support his puns but also maintain the energy of the stadium as a whole, McCarthy said. “They’re the ones that kind of keep the excitement of the game going, I think, students,” he said. “In my opinion they’re No. 1 every season. They really do a good job for Notre Dame in cheering the team.” McCarthy said he used to direct traffic with the police during home football weekends in addition to speaking during the games. He said he retired from the police department in 1979 and served two terms as Porter County sheriff. “[Now] I’m just kind of retired, and the Notre Dame thing is kind of a hobby,” McCarthy said. “I sure enjoyed my career with the state police, and it makes me feel a little bit a part of it again.” When asked how long he wants to continue delivering safety messages, McCarthy said he has plans for the long run. “I wish forever! Because I love it,” McCarthy said. “It’s a lot of fun, I’ll tell you.” Contact Lesley Stevenson at email@example.com
Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) will host “The Church and Immigration” conference next week in McKenna Hall Conference Center, which will focus on the role of the Catholic Church in immigration reform. Keri O’Mara | The Observer Rev. Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C, associate professor of theology and director of the Immigration Initiative at the ILS, said the conference aims to promote the increasing importance of immigration reform, highlight the ethical issues involved and make connections to the gospel of Jesus Christ.“235,000,000 people are migrating around the world today, and in the United States alone 10 to 12 million of those are undocumented,” Groody said. “If Notre Dame as a Catholic university had nothing to say about this, how would it be credible as a university or a Catholic institution?”The conference will explore what roles the Catholic Church can play in redefining immigration policies and practices, Groody said.“Part of what has made America the great country that it is are the immigrants who have helped make it what it is today,” Groody said. “The focus of this conference is on what the Church has done, is doing and can better do in response to this challenging and important issue.”The ILS will host various speakers, including several bishops and University President Fr. John Jenkins, and will hold workshops such as “Human Trafficking” and “Immigrant Voters and the Changing American Electorate.”Groody said the United States can do more to aid immigration reform.“People migrate because of economic need, the violation of human rights, weak juridical structures, environmental disasters and many other reasons,” he said. “While the United States cannot accept every migrant in need, there is much more it can do.”Groody said the conference is born of out of principles of Catholic Social Teaching, which are based directly with the dignity of the human person.“However one identifies oneself in liberal or conservative terms, the heart of Catholic Social Teaching deals with justice in the world and building a peaceful society,” Groody said. “Catholic universities should have a role in that process. Notre Dame is involved in this issue because this is both a national and global issue of significant importance.”Colleen Cross, project coordinator of the conference, said the initiative critically engages the issue of immigration in the United States.“Building on Notre Dame’s long-standing commitment to a faith that does justice, as well as the significance of immigration in Latino communities, the Immigration Initiative seeks to highlight the Church’s commitment to immigrants and immigration reform in the United States,” she said.The conference will run from March 2 through 5.Tags: Church and Immigration, Immigration, immigration reform, reform
Who are they: Neil Joseph, the presidential candidate, is a sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, living in Stanford Hall. He studies political science and economics with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. Currently, Joseph serves as treasurer of the sophomore class and sits on the financial management board, which oversees spending for all campus clubs and student organizations.Noemi Ventilla hails from New York City and resides in Pasquerilla East Hall. The sophomore majors in political science and peace studies and serves as the current sophomore class president.Michael Yu I The Observer First priority: Continuing conversations with students, administrators and faculty. “If we were elected, from Wednesday until April 1 we would continue to meet with students directly because we realize that’s the best way to get good ideas and see what students want and need from student government,” Joseph said. Top priority: Joesph/Ventilla said their biggest overall goal would be ensuring that students have a say in big University decisions in the future. They hope to establish communciation lines that will last beyond a single year and include more student voices in conversations about topics from Campus Crossroads to the P.E. program. Best idea: As sophomores, Joseph and Ventilla said they would leverage the two years they have left on campus to leave a long-term impact. Ventilla said she believes past administrations would have benefitted from the chance to serve two terms or at least remain on campus after the first term to accomplish long-term goals. After the 2015-16 term, they said they would consider either running for re-election or providing consultation to the next administration. Worst idea: When asked about plans for big issues facing campus such as sexual assault or diversity and inclusion, Joseph/Ventilla repeatedly brought up the new P.E. program as an opportunity to address these concerns in a classroom setting. While it’s true that the new structure of P.E. provides an opporunity to broaden the scope of required sexual assault prevention education for students, that alone cannot suffice as a plan to deal with the broader question of how to prevent and respond to incidents on campus.Most feasible: Joseph/Ventilla’s suggestions for improving the quad markets that began this year are specific and relatively simple. They would like to give student vendors a chance to sell items alongside the South Bend representatives, and their suggestion to use the markets as an opportunity for networking and engagement with South Bend businesses seems like a good step toward improving relations between Notre Dame and the community beyond.Least feasible: The pair admitted they “have heard from the administration that it’s not feasible” to change the dining hall setup, and yet they emphasized it as a major part of their platform. Adding take-out boxes to carry out dining hall food would be detrimental to the communal meal-sharing experience that is a hallmark of life on campus. Furthermore, the suggestion that leftover meal swipes be transformed into flex points seems highly unlikely. Notable quote: “Although we both come from a programming background, we have both been on the administrative and policy side of things too. That really informed our decision to run, because as much as we love the programming side, the changes we wanted to see and do were only possible on the policy side.” — VentillaFun facts: Joseph has visited the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Ventilla was born in Hungary before she moved to New York City as a child. Bottom line: Joseph and Ventilla have worked closely together on two class councils, and they make a very charismatic and compelling team. However, their proposals seem largely shortsighted and fail to take into account the bigger cultural and social issues that students have come to expect action on. They have a keen sense of the potential for change on campus in the coming year but do not seem to have fully developed their big picture plans.