Beijing (AP) — China is building a coronavirus quarantine center with more than 4,000 rooms in a northern city at a speed that’s rarely seen in other countries. Each room is equipped with an air conditioner, television and Wi-Fi. China has sent construction workers and materials from all over the country to help build the project, as the government often does when it is dealing with natural disasters or other crises. China has largely curbed the domestic spread of the coronavirus, but is battling outbreaks this winter in its frigid north. The National Health Commission reported 145 new cases on Monday.
TOKYO (AP) — The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee says he will not resign despite pressure on him to do so after making derogatory comments earlier in the week about women. The controversy surrounding gaffe-prone former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori is one more problem the postponed Olympics really don’t need as organizers and the IOC try to pull off the games in the midst of a pandemic. They are scheduled to open on July 23. Mori says “I have been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years. I will not be stepping down.” The International Olympic Committee says it will not urge Mori to resign.
Editor’s Note: This article was edited on April 24 to correct the incorrect portrayal of the restrictions on SAGA’s programming during visits by the Board of Trustees. As the University’s decision approaches on whether to approve AllianceND as an official student club, the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) hosted a panel discussion Monday about the work of the Saint Mary’s College Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) in combating prejudice since its recognition in spring 2005. Sarah Medina Steimer, a 2006 alumna of the College who served as SAGA’s first president, said lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LBTQ) issues were addressed by a somewhat “underground” group of students prior to SAGA’s recognition as an official student group. “Before [SAGA was recognized], we would only hear about things on the National Day of Silence and National Coming Out Day, when students would draw with sidewalk chalk, wear ribbons or present a slip of paper to their professors about the day of silence,” Steimer said. Initially, the College administration did not strongly oppose the recognition of SAGA as an official club, Steimer said, though the proposed club’s intentions were sometimes misrepresented. “There was some worry that having a gay-straight alliance would turn into a sex club that would promote homosexual behavior, which we had to keep in mind when planning events and fundraisers,” she said. “In trying to get approved, we were showing the need for awareness, not trying to get a group of women together to start dating each other.” Steimer said the student body’s support helped the club achieve official recognition. “We had a lot of student support and not a lot of backlash. There wasn’t much opposition in student government either,” she said. “We had a lot of support from the Student Diversity Board, which had a position for a SAGA member, so that really helped.” During SAGA’s first year, the club worked to increase its visibility on campus and make its mission known to the Saint Mary’s community, Steimer said. “We tried to make a name for ourselves so people would see that we were there to promote diversity and a safe space for lesbian, bisexual and questioning students to come together without making them vulnerable,” she said. “It was very important to have this inclusion and show that a gay-straight alliance is really important on a college campus, especially one that’s faith-based.” Steimer said she and her fellow SAGA members emphasized how the club’s mission coincided with that of Saint Mary’s as a Catholic institution. “We tried to show how much this group supported the school’s mission and would make Saint Mary’s a better place for its students,” she said. Above all, the founding of SAGA provided students with a more informal arena for peer-to-peer interaction and conversation about LBTQ issues on campus outside of the counseling services available to students, Steimer said. “The members of SAGA found it important that students knew we were there as a resource to use. You need multiple areas of support, and by having a recognized group, you know there are people you can talk to,” she said. “Not all students feel comfortable going to the Counseling Center because of the power dynamic it creates, whereas having a peer-to-peer group allows students to talk to others going through the same situations and creates a better place to talk to someone in the same age group about their experiences.” Although its operational structure has evolved in recent years, the mission of SAGA in providing a safe space for peer support and discussion on campus has remained constant since the group’s inception, senior and vice president of SAGA Rebecca Jones said. “The focus was originally on having a peer support group for students who had faced issues on campus, but it didn’t do much in terms of campus programming or outreach,” she said. “Then a new group of officers came in, and they had a vision for totally hybridizing the group into a support group that does something about the things they talk about.” Jones said SAGA focuses on incorporating its concerns into academic issues on campus and works to promote its ally outreach program at Saint Mary’s and outside the College. “Last year, it came to our attention that we were the only campus of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross that had a gay-straight alliance. We didn’t figure it out until Holy Cross students started coming to our meetings, so we tried to help them get conversations going on their campus,” she said. “This year, we got in touch with PSA to work on outreach at Notre Dame to see what we could do to help get AllianceND approved.” Although reception of the club has been generally favorable on campus, Jones said SAGA faces certain restrictions in its programming because of the College’s Catholic character. “In planning our events, we’re not allowed to raise money for or promote things that go against the Catholic mission of the College, such as same-sex marriage,” she said. Despite these restrictions, Bueno said SAGA strives to create programming that brings more students into the conversations the group has on a regular basis through awareness events like Ally Week and Pride Week. “It’s great to have big events to get other students interested in SAGA events, and we gear a lot of events towards allies,” Bueno said. “We really try to have speakers who can educate, be inspiring and get people involved. The question and answer sessions afterwards show that students are interested in these issues, so we’re glad we can provide that for them.” Mary Rose D’Angelo, associate professor of theology at Notre Dame, said the role SAGA plays at Saint Mary’s could be filled by an approved gay-straight alliance at Notre Dame without posing a threat to Catholic teaching or injuring the Catholic character of the University, as opponents of the proposed AllianceND often argue. “Any group that helps make campus a more welcoming place should be considered an advocacy group, and it’s clear that the Saint Mary’s group has been effective,” D’Angelo said. “Catholic teaching and Catholic character are far from simple, but the catechism affirms that people must be treated with respect, compassion and dignity.” The catechism states every sign of “unjust discrimination” should be avoided, and refusing approval for AllianceND is a prime example of unjust discrimination, D’Angelo said. “[AllianceND] looks like a really good means of carrying out the mandate of acceptance articulated in the catechism in that it would be a place where LGBTQ students and allies can work to create a sense of human solidarity,” she said. “The focus of the group would be to provide social support, but because it’s explicitly an alliance, it isn’t a dating service for gay students. It’s a venue for student relief where students are treated with compassion and sensitivity.”
This Sunday, 82 students and faculty from Notre Dame’s Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Letters, as well as the Robinson Community Learning Center, will celebrate the fourth annual National Robotics Week by displaying their robots in an open exhibition at the Stepan Center. Laurel Riek, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, is organizing the second annual Notre Dame event. Riek also organized Notre Dame’s first National Robotics Week exhibition last year. Riek said the expectation last year was to have a very simple event, but the attendance was much higher than anticipated. “Last year, the plan was to have the event be a one-day, robot-themed science museum to get the public excited about it,” Riek said. “We ended up having over 600 people come to see the robots, and we got an overwhelmingly positive response from the community.” Riek said the event grew out of an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort she implemented in her computer science and engineering course, Autonomous Mobile Robots. “In 2012 I worked with Krista Hoefle, an associate professor of art over at Saint Mary’s. Her art students and my computer science students created robots for the event together,” Riek said. “I realized from that collaboration how art is a great way of engaging the public with robotics. We can design all these fantastic algorithms for our robots, but by enhancing them a little bit with art and making them be interactive, people can start to appreciate all the great engineering going on under the hood.” Jay Brockman, the Associate Dean of Engineering for Educational Programs, said the robotics event is a key initiative in fostering community engagement. “It fits into a grand vision of where we would like to see the college of engineering and the University be in five or so years, and that is to see a much better partnership between the University and the South Bend community,” Brockman said. Brockman also said the upcoming exhibition is important for engendering interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. “A high school student often says, ‘I do okay at math and science but I want to do something that interests people, so I’m not going to major in engineering or science,’” Brockman said. “But by seeing things like Dr. Riek’s work with robots applied to medicine, as well as all the entertaining robots that will be at the event, it shows how interesting engineering is in a way that the community can really relate to.” A variety of robots will be on display and interacting with visitors at the event. For example, graduate students Mike Gonzales and Tariq Iqbal have designed a disk jockey robot. “One of the robots that we are building is a DJ that will not only be playing music but will also sense and then judge how expressive and engaged participants are,” Gonzales said. In addition to the robots themselves, students will discuss some of the underlying mathematics. Graduate student Maryam Moosaei will be demonstrating the facial tracking and pain detection algorithms she and other students in Riek’s lab are using to create more realistic patient mannequins for training doctors and nurses. There will also be robotics-themed prizes raffled off at the event and T-shirts will be sold with all proceeds going to the Donors Choose fund to benefit local Saint Joseph County school teachers, Riek said. Two of the graduate students in Riek’s lab, Maria O’Connor and Cory Hayes, plan to make even the raffle robotics-related, Hayes said. Hayes said the raffle tickets will be accepted by a small robot designed to look like R2-D2 from the Star Wars movies. “We’re going to have a little R2-D2 robot that will wheel around beeping and accepting passports for the raffle, stopping to tell jokes every time someone submits one,” Hayes said. The exhibition will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
The winning tickets for the Notre Dame student body class councils were announced at midnight in the third floor of the LaFortune Student Center.The winning senior class council ticket, which ran unopposed, consists of president Martin Walsh, vice president Briggs Hoyt, secretary Robert Reed and treasurer Devin Nagendran.Senior class president-elect Walsh said he and his running mates, all from Keenan Hall, devised a peculiar strategy to come up with ideas for class events.“Briggs and I will get our best ideas right before we go to sleep, ideas tend to just flow, so we’ve found that’s the time to best come up with ideas to serve our class,” Walsh said. “Barn dance, for one, was a product of [late-night discussion], as was the idea to have a concert featuring local South Bend talent.”Senior class secretary-elect Reed said seniors can expect other new events as well.“We’re looking forward to planning a 24-hour dance marathon, a charity event common at other universities,” Reed said.The winning junior class ticket also ran uncontested, with Zachary Waterson as president, Michael Fliotsos as vice president, Miranda Herrara as secretary and Andrew Stoker as treasurer.Junior class president-elect Waterson said he looks forward to collaborating with groups around campus.“I think that there’s a lot of opportunity given that the junior class is in a special position because there are fewer juniors on campus,” Waterson said. “The official program of each student body council is to bring together their respective class through activities like dances, study breaks and class apparel. We want to focus on co-programming between multiple clubs and dorms.“No ticket won a majority of the vote in the sophomore class council election, which will result in a runoff election on Friday, Feb. 21.Out of four original tickets, the two tickets remaining tickets will be that of Noemi Ventilla, Michael Markel, Neil Joseph and Eva Niklinska, which received 43.03 percent of the votes and that of Andrew Galo, Michaela McInerney, Vincent Vangaever and Daniel Barabasi, which received 24.49 precent of the votes.Ventilla, presidential candidate of the leading ticket said she and her running mates plan to simply wait and see.“At this point, both tickets would do a great job, so we’re just going to wait to see what will happen,” Ventilla said.Galo, presidential candidate of the second-place ticket, said he and his running mates were glad to be part of the run-off.“We’re excited to move on,” Galo said. “Obviously, either one of us will do a great job.”Tags: Class Council, elections
Hedrick Smith, former New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was the featured speaker at the 2014 Red Smith Lecture in Journalism at the auditorium of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies on Wednesday night.Smith, a member of the team responsible for the publication of the Pentagon Papers, promoted his book, “Who Stole the American Dream?” and spoke about the problems plaguing American politics and the American news media.“I wish I could be really positive and upbeat about both the country and about journalism,” Smith said. “But the truth of the matter is that this is a troubling time for both the country and journalism.”Smith said there is extreme distrust toward both the government and news media as a result of economic strife and American unhappiness and dissatisfaction.“We know that public attitudes toward our major institutions–including the press–are poor,” Smith said. “Confidence in our political system as a whole is at one of its lowest points in the last 40 years.“One of the polls I read recently said that 63 percent of the people responding to that poll said that America was in decline. We also, unfortunately, know that the public has a low opinion of us in the media as well. There was a Gallup poll in 2012 where … 60 percent had little or no confidence in the press to report the news fully, fairly and accurately.”Smith said experts in the field of journalism attribute the negative opinion of the press to a decline in the quality of news media.“If you go inside the news media itself, the assessment is not good by the top editors,” Smith said. “Their conclusion — this is by news executives all across the country — is that news standards in the industry have declined and factual errors in reporting are on the rise.”Smith said this decline in quality, including increasing bias and increasing pressure to integrate marketability in reporting, have grim political implications.A successful democracy requires a good educational system,” Smith said. “It requires good quality journalism to keep them informed, and then it requires an effective political system so the people get the kind of policies they want. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, most Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq, was linked to Al Qaeda, so most Americans were misinformed.“When it came to the economic bailout … many Americans believed it did not help [the economy]. Very few economists, business leaders and very few governmental leaders on both sides would share that opinion, so the public’s opinion is at odds with what most experts would believe.”Smith said that, in order to the media’s image, journalism needs deeper coverage, more specialized journalists in law and the sciences and most of all a deeper drive to uncover underlying causes behind events.“Recovering history on the fly, we’re not going to get it right, you know that,” Smith said. “But that does not excuse us from trying to get the best obtainable version of the truth.“Now, [it] is not dots. We’ve got to connect the dots and say, ‘What does it mean? What is it telling us about the way America is working and how well is it working, for who?’”Tags: New York Times, Pulitzer Prize, Red Smith Lecture
For the 13th consecutive year, the Princeton Review has named Saint Mary’s among the best colleges in the Midwest.The educational services company released its list of ratings in its annual survey, 2016 Best Colleges: Region-by-Region, on Thursday, according to a College press release.“We chose Saint Mary’s College and the other outstanding institutions on this list primarily for their excellent academics,” Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s senior vice president and publisher said in the press release.According to the press release, The Princeton Review editors made their selections based on data the company collected from its survey of administrators at several hundred colleges in each region, as well as through staff visits to schools and the perspectives of college counselors and advisors.College President Carol Ann Mooney said the college is honored to once again be included among the “Best in the Midwest.”“Our commitment to an excellent intellectual and academic experience for our students is unwavering,” Mooney said in the press release. “Our graduates are our best recruiters. Their accomplishments speak volumes about the quality of the educational experience they received here.”Tags: 2015, Best in Midwest, Princeton Review, saint mary’s
As part of Energy Week at Notre Dame, the “Policy for a New Energy Future” forum was held in Washington Hall on Thursday night. This forum focused on both public and private solutions to energy problems and putting these problems in the context of a governmental framework.Bruce Huber, associate professor of law at Notre Dame, began the forum with a discussion of the legal context of energy policy. Huber said energy policy is not an easily-defined topic.“It is really hard to talk about energy policy because we don’t have anything resembling a unified energy policy in the United States,” Huber said. “’Policy’ conveys the idea of some sense of governmental control. It would be far more accurate to talk about energy ‘policies.’”According to Huber, this lack of a coherent policy is a result of the institution of private property, which is ingrained in our governmental and legal system.“There are these background principles of law that delve even as deep as our constitutional text,” Huber said. “[The principles] establish certain defaults on energy policy.”After Huber’s discussion, James Mueller, chief of staff for the City of South Bend, talked about energy policy from the public sector’s perspective.Mueller said there is little debate over the necessity of energy policy.“The central question of tonight is whether policy is needed,” Mueller said. “I would say fundamentally that policy is absolutely needed.”In discussing the successes of energy policy, Mueller pointed to the national energy bills of 2005 and 2007. These bills were passed with bipartisan support and introduced renewable fuel and energy efficiency standards.According to Mueller, “the policies that have traditionally driven energy policy are tax policies.” These policies, which include production tax credits for wind and investment tax credits for solar and wind power, provide the basis for governmental action relating to energy policy and limiting the carbon footprint of the United States, he said.The final speaker at the forum, vice president and treasurer of ExxonMobil Corporation Robert N. Schleckser, presented the private sector’s view on matters relating to energy policy.Schleckser stressed the middle ground that could be reached between government and private goals in achieving effective energy policy.“While [Mueller’s] description of the problem and mine will feel like they’re coming from two different angles, the objectives of the process are the same from his side of the picture and mine,” Schleckser said.Schleckser said market-based solutions are the most effective way to implement an energy policy which limits the carbon footprint yet still produces an efficient outcome. Schleckser said he supported a revenue-neutral carbon tax.“The point of a carbon tax should not be to raise additional government revenue.” Schleckser said. “[It is necessary to] offset other taxes from what you raise with the carbon tax.”According to Schleckser, “technology and market forces will cause the right choices to be made.”Despite the fact that “there is no silver bullet in energy policy,” Huber said there is optimism from both the public and private perspective that given time, the United States can create a coherent economic policy which benefits both parties.Tags: energy policy, energy policy forum, Energy Week
Five new and two returning department heads will complete The Observer’s 2017-2018 Editorial Board, incoming Editor-in-Chief Ben Padanilam announced Wednesday night. The new department editors will join Padanilam, incoming Managing Editor Katie Galioto, and Assistant Managing Editors Marek Mazurek, Rachel O’Grady and Megan Valley in running the paper’s editorial operations.Juniors Chris Collins, Adam Ramos and Martha Reilly and sophomores Courtney Becker, Mary Freeman, Elizabeth Greason and Lauren Weldon will take over their respective departments March 19.Collins hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has been working in the Photo department since his freshman year. Collins will now run the department for a second stint, after previously having done so in the fall before leaving to study abroad in Dublin this semester. He is junior pursuing a degree in marketing with a supplemental major in applied and computational mathematics and statistics. Chris’ favorite thing to photograph is football, specifically games played during a hurricane.Ramos, a native of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, will assume the role of Scene Editor after returning in the fall from his semester abroad in Santiago, Chile. A Scene contributor since his freshman year, he is currently pursuing a degree in international economics with a minor in the program of philosophy, religion and literature.Reilly, the incoming Saint Mary’s Editor, began writing for The Observer her freshman year and has covered topics such as student government and energy conservation. She is pursuing degrees in English literature and political science. She is from Libertyville, Illinois, but currently resides in Le Mans Hall.Becker, a resident of Pasquerilla West Hall, will head the News department. She began her work with The Observer in fall 2015 and has since covered a variety of topics, including the student government entrepreneurship and innovation initiative and the Football Friday features. Becker hails from New York City and is pursuing a degree in film, television and theatre.Freeman will be taking on the position of Viewpoint Editor. She began working for The Observer this fall as a copy editor for the department and is a current member of the Walsh community living in Pangborn Hall. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Freeman is a program of liberal studies major and secondary education minor. Greason has been writing for The Observer since her freshman year and will take over as Sports Editor. She is currently covering Notre Dame women’s basketball and women’s lacrosse and has previously covered volleyball and men’s golf. She is a native of New York City currently living in McGlinn Hall and pursuing a degree in civil engineering.Weldon, originally from Los Altos, California, will continue in the role of Graphics Editor, which she has held since the start of this semester. A resident of Breen-Phillips Hall, she has been a graphic designer for The Observer for two years. She is a business analytics and visual communication design double-major and also works for the Alumni Association and the Gender Relations Center.Tags: department editors, Editorial Board, Observer editorial board
By the start of her freshman year at Saint Mary’s, Elise deSomer (’17) said she knew she would be a professional photographer. DeSomer started her Michiana photography business, Elise Imagery, as a high school blog and has since transformed it into a full-fledged career specializing in portraits and unique artwork. Having graduated from the College as the co-valedictorian of the class of 2017 and having been the recipient of departmental awards in art and English literature, Elise said she attributes much of her confidence to her Saint Mary’s education. “I’m definitely not the same person I was before Saint Mary’s. I was very timid and non-assertive, which simply doesn’t work for photographing people. Saint Mary’s helped me gain the leadership skills necessary for directing clients during photo shoots,” deSomer said in an email. “The intensity of art classes at SMC prepped me well for the fast turnaround clients expect for photography in the digital age. … Being an art major taught me how to conceptualize an idea in my head and then form it into reality.” Like many other successful Belles, she said, deSomer received some help along the way. “I never met a [Saint Mary’s] faculty member who didn’t change my life for the better in one way or another,” she said. DeSomer credits Professor Krista Hoefle’s SISTAR grant creative research project in Object-Oriented Ontology, as well as advice from Aaron Moe of the English department and Douglas Tyler in the art department as integral influencers on her “direction in life as an artist and a person.”DeSomer’s work week is split between shooting and editing days, the latter taking about one to 30 days, depending on the scope of the project. “On shooting days, I wake up, sort and pack gear, and go wherever the client requests. My favorite part about shooting days is the spontaneity, the break from routine,” deSomer said. She edits her work at home, starting the day at 8 a.m. with a cup of calming chamomile tea for focus and a brief meditation. Daily migraines from a minor traumatic brain injury last fall keep deSomer from working on the computer for more than 40 minutes at time, so she manages this obstacle by interspersing her editing with housework and relaxation exercises.DeSomer said she works to create an environment that celebrates the intricacies of the human person. She finds inspiration for portrait shoots from her clients, as well as from the landscape of the shooting space.“Many clients know exactly what they want, so we’ll make a collaborative Pinterest board to help us keep a clear creative vision,” deSomer said. “We might have poses planned out carefully and then scrap them all in favor of spontaneous poses that fit better with the vibe of a location.”In the future, deSomer said she hopes to buy her own house, complete with lots of acreage for outdoor portraits. She also said she hopes to branch out from portrait photography, and tackle more conceptual fine art photography and digital art for exhibitions. Elise Imagery is expecting the launch of an entirely new website and online booking system, as well as hand-bound books for clients.Although deSomer graduated this past summer, she said she still feels very tied to the Saint Mary’s community. “I never truly comprehended the reality of the ‘once a Belle, always a Belle’ mantra until after graduation. … As an alumna, I still turn to my fellow Belles when I need strong confident women to model for photographic projects,” she said. DeSomer said she feels cautious using the word “sisterhood” to define the unique bond that Saint Mary’s students cultivate over their four years on campus, as she maintains that it can sound unwelcoming towards the LGBT members of the community. “Semantics aside, I don’t think I would have found such a supportive network of soul sisters at a co-ed educational institution,” deSomer said. “I love how Belles look out for each other, and I love looking out for other Belles, even more so now as an alumna.” In making her love for photography and art marketable, deSomer said she has found a career path that combines her natural skills with her true passions.“Even if you don’t feel like you are good at anything, you absolutely are. You just might need to do some soul searching and hard work to find and develop the skills that will fulfill you professionally and personally,” deSomer said. “You’re going to do amazing things no matter what. Don’t worry about the future too much. Sometimes you will feel like you are falling instead of flying, but falling is necessary for all the pieces that will fall into place with time, persistence and resilience.”Tags: Elise imagery, photography, SMC alumna