ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan’s autocratic leader has established a national holiday to honor the local dog breed. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the holiday praising the Alabai, the Central Asian shepherd dog, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of April when the ex-Soviet nation also marks the day of the local horse breed, according to Tuesday’s report in the daily Neutral Turkmenistan. The Central Asian nation of 6 million prides itself in horses and dogs, honoring its centuries-old herding traditions. Berdymukhamedov has ruled the gas-rich desert country since 2006 through an all-encompassing personality cult that styles him as Turkmenistan’s “arkadaq,’ or protector.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A judge has ruled that information about George Floyd’s prior arrests can’t be used at the trials of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in his death. However, Judge Peter Cahill also ruled in a decision made public Tuesday that the jury can hear about two prior cases involving Derek Chauvin, the former officer accused of kneeling on handcuffed Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s pleas for air. In one case, Chauvin knelt on the neck of a woman who was prone on the ground. In the other, Chauvin saw two other officers place a man in a side recovery position. The judge says he will explain his reasoning at a later date.
BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says its fighters have shot down an Israeli drone over a southern village near the border with Israel. The Israeli military did not confirm Hezbollah’s claim but said a drone has crashed on Lebanese territory. It says there’s no risk of breach of information. Monday’s downing comes after months of rising tensions amid Israeli airstrikes on Iran-backed fighters in neighboring Syria. Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV claims the drone was shot down after it entered Lebanon’s air space. It says the drone crashed in the village of Blida, near the border with Israel, and that Hezbollah fighters now have the unmanned aircraft.
NEW YORK (AP) — Christopher Plummer, the dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award winner in history, has died. He was 91. Plummer enjoyed varied roles ranging from the film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” to the voice of the villain in 2009′s “Up” and as a canny lawyer in Broadway’s “Inherit the Wind.” But it was opposite Julie Andrews as von Trapp that made him a star. He was given Canada’s highest civilian honor when he was invested as Companion of the Order of Canada in 1968.
The Biden administration says it will soon begin collecting data from thousands of U.S. schools to find out how they have been affected by the pandemic. Led by the Education Department, the effort will collect monthly data from 7,000 schools on a range of topics related to COVID-19. It’s the first federal effort to gather data on the pandemic’s impact on education. President Joe Biden called for the data in a Jan. 21 executive order on school reopening. The Trump administration declined to collect data on the subject. The data will provide a national look at schools’ operating status, including how many are offering remote learning.
MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency has arrested two men on suspicion of links to an international child pornography ring. Saturday’s early-morning raid followed a tip from Italy through Interpol. Pakistani authorities say it’s the first time Interpol has given the country information about the presence of a criminal operation involving child pornography there. A top FIA official in the eastern Punjab province says incriminating material was retrieved from a computer allegedly belonging to one of the men. It showed he was in contact with an international gang and was posting child pornography videos on the dark web. Two other suspects remain at large.
Stephanie Mola graduated from Notre Dame in 2009 and moved to Florida to work for Johnson & Johnson, but a “Notre Dame itch” brought her back to South Bend a year later. “Along the way there just seemed to be a big part of me missing and a lot of it pointed me back here,” she said. “And this just kind of fell in my lap and seemed like the perfect fit.” Now, as the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s young alumni programs manager, Mola is one of many young graduates to work for her alma mater. While Mola said she is happy to be back at Notre Dame, there are differences between being a student on campus and being an employee. For example, she said students are not necessarily aware of the number of people who work on campus as full-time University employees. “Now I walk around and see all these people I work with that I didn’t really know existed before,” she said. One difficult part of returning to Notre Dame as an employee, Mola said, is separating herself from student life because she has friends who are still undergraduates. As a former Notre Dame softball player, it is especially difficult for her to be on campus but no longer playing with the rest of the team. “It’s hard to seem them. It’s hard to go by the field and hear about them going to practice, and I’m not going with them,” she said. Because Mola graduated recently, however, she said she is better able to do her job at the Alumni Association, where she organizes programs for both for current students and alumni who graduated within the past 10 years. Mola said she has also learned since she began working at the Alumni Association that people who work for the University, even if they are not alumni, are just as enthusiastic about Notre Dame as the student body. “I guess an easy parallel from both perspectives is Notre Dame’s pretty well-known for having great people,” she said. “Everybody here is so welcoming and wants you to do well, just like when you were a student.” Mola said she does not know what she will do in the future, especially since her current position is best filled by a young alum. She said she would be open, however, to other positions at the University. “I’ll tell you, I left this place once and it’s going to be hard to do it again,” she said. “So I can definitely see myself staying here for a long time.” John Whitty, a 2010 Notre Dame graduate who now works for the athletic department’s Joyce Grants-in-Aid Program, said he also experienced a transition from being a student to being a University employee. Unlike Mola, Whitty began working for Notre Dame immediately following graduation. “I think it’s definitely a different experience working for a university than attending a university, but it’s been a good opportunity to see the different sides of the University as a whole,” Whitty said. “And I’m bummed that my card doesn’t work at the dining hall anymore.” He currently works with donors who give enough to the Athletic Department each year to fund one student athlete’s scholarship. Whitty did not plan to stay at Notre Dame following graduation, but he began working in the athletic department during the second semester of his senior year. “As the semester progressed, I talked to my superiors and they expressed interest in keeping me,” he said. “It was pretty much too good of an opportunity to pass up. So I decided to stay here and it’s actually worked out pretty well.” Because he works for the athletic department, Whitty said the contrast between his life and that of undergraduate students is perhaps best exemplified on home football weekends. “I get to see a lot of insider stuff from places we take the donors, but it’s definitely not … the student weekend football experience,” he said. “I’m pretty busy on football weekends, but I definitely don’t get to tailgate.” Although he would like to go to graduate school for business or sports administration in the future, Whitty said he is happy in his current role at the University. “I like where I’m at right now, but I’m always open to options other places as well,” he said. “There’s no question that if there were positions available … I would stay at Notre Dame.” Sarah Rodts, also a 2009 Notre Dame graduate, began working for the University’s athletics media relations office following graduation. Rodts had planned to go to law school following graduation, but said she realized last spring she was not passionate about it. During the final semester of her senior year, she cancelled her plans to work at a law firm in Chicago and decided to work toward her dream of being a sports broadcast reporter. Now, she splits her time between two jobs: one at Notre Dame, and one at WNDU, a local television station. “In terms of whether or not I thought I would end up doing it last year at this time, absolutely not, … but as it’s all falling into place, it could not be more perfect,” Rodts said. “I’m learning a lot about athletics and how it is to work in the media, but then I’m on the other side of it, too.” Rodts said one of the highlights of working for athletics media relations thus far was serving as the University liaison to an Adidas production crew that came to campus on a football weekend to shoot a commercial. While it is difficult to transition from student life to working 13-hour days, seven days a week, Rodts was prepared for the change. “I was going to have to separate my undergrad life from the post-grad life,” she said. In addition, she said her busy work schedule does not allow her much time to miss being a student. Even though she was prepared to face this transition, Rodts said it is hard when she does not have time to see her friends who are still undergraduates. But her current positions are perfect for her planned career path, and she is happy to remain at Notre Dame. “I’m still so much a part of the University, and I don’t feel like graduation has made me any less a part of it,” she said.
A snow removal ordinance recently passed in of South Bend may penalize off-campus students who do not clear their sidewalks in front of their houses within 24 hours of snow accumulation. Student body president Catherine Soler said the new ordinance reinforces a policy that was already in place in South Bend. “It’s been a long conversation in community meetings about people not shoveling their sidewalks, not just students but everyone,” Soler said. The new ordinance will impose a fine of $15 to start and $25 for noncompliance if a sidewalk is not cleared within 24 hours after snowfall, according to The South Bend Tribune. Soler said student government believes off-campus students choose to be a part of the South Bend community and therefore assume all the responsibilities of a regular resident. “We are members of the community,” Soler said. “If we want to be respected in other ways we have to participate as a normal citizen would.” Although students will be responsible for their sidewalks while school is in session, student government is in the midst of figuring out how to help students over breaks, Soler said. “We want to make sure that students who are away over break aren’t penalized,” Soler said. “Hopefully we can work out a system and provide volunteers.” Soler said the University hopes to create a volunteer system to help both off-campus students and those in the local community who are not able to shovel outside their homes. This project was still in planning stages, but Soler said Notre Dame and other local colleges want to set up a database of students willing to be contacted after snowfall in the area. The various leasing companies around Notre Dame have different policies regarding shoveling. Mark Kramer, owner of Kramer Properties, said his policy is to shovel snow for students over breaks and after the heaviest snowfalls, but his tenants are responsible for clearing their sidewalks after light snowfall. “If it’s just a light snow then it’s in their lease that students will take care of that part themselves,” Kramer said. Senior Elise Gerspach leased her off-campus house through Kramer Properties. She said she agrees Kramer should be responsible for shoveling over breaks and the students should be accountable for their sidewalks while they are at school. However, some companies will shovel for their tenants after any amount of snowfall. “It’s definitely an annoyance especially considering our next-door neighbor’s landlord did shovel for them last time it snowed,” Gerspach said. “Their sidewalk was literally shoveled right up to the borderline between our houses.” One such landlord is Campus Housing, a leasing company managed by Campus Apartments. Property manager Sean Conley said his company shovels for its residents throughout the winter. “We make sure everything’s cleaned for our students,” Conley said. “We’re constantly removing snow from sidewalks and if they have driveways then clearing the driveways.” Conley said Campus Houses takes pride in the fact that their maintenance staff and landscapers keep their sidewalks clean. “We don’t want to make it our students’ responsibilities,” Conley said. “We just want people to feel safe walking out their doors.” Driving on snowy roads is also a concern for many students. Gerspach said she would like to see the city become more efficient in their own removal of snow on the streets. “Maybe if my car didn’t slide out of control on my way to campus every time it snows I’d be more willing to shovel my sidewalk,” Gerspach said.
Welsh Family Hall will bring together dance groups ranging in style from swing to hip-hop this weekend in its annual signature event, DanceFest 2012. Junior Anna Gorman said the goal of DanceFest is to highlight the performing arts culture at Notre Dame. “The DanceFest started as a way to showcase dance groups on campus because not too many are aware they exist or find them interesting,” Gorman said. “We have dancers on campus who are absolutely phenomenal and deserve more attention than they currently receive.” DanceFest will take place Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall. The show will feature numbers from Dance Company, TransPose, Project Fresh, the Pom Squad, Troop ND, the Irish Dance Team and Swing Club, along with a few group performances choreographed specifically for the show. Gorman said she hopes the DanceFest’s collaborative nature will entice students to attend one of this weekend’s performances. “People don’t necessarily want to go to all the different dance shows, but this gives them a taste of the different companies in one sitting,” Gorman said. “Hopefully, attending one show will spark their interest, and they will recognize the impressiveness of dance.” Gorman said though all the performers share an enthusiasm for dance, each group participating in DanceFest brings its own unique style to the show. “When you see the dancers on stage, you can see their passion, and you can tell their having a great time dancing under the lights and having an audience to enjoy their performance,” Gorman said. Sophomore Katie Fusco, a member of the TransPose modern dance company, said DanceFest builds a stronger campus arts culture for students. “The chance to collaborate with all of the dance groups on campus is an opportunity invaluable to fostering a supportive performing arts community at Notre Dame,” Fusco said. Gorman said proceeds from the DanceFest will benefit the Robinson Community Center’s Summer Shakespeare Program in support of the performing arts. “We hope our efforts will give more kids the opportunity to express themselves artistically through the Shakespeare program,” Gorman said.
As part of Love Your Body Week at Saint Mary’s, Emily Raleigh, founder of the online magazine “Smart Girls Group,” shared how the magazine began and why it is important for all girls to be smart girls. Raleigh, a freshman at Fordham University, brainstormed “Smart Girls Group” one year ago when she wrote her younger sister a guide to getting through high school. The guide discussed fashion, peer pressure, classes and social life. “When I was younger, I used to dress up and say, ‘Mommy, do I look like a smart girl?’” Raleigh said. “So, when I was thinking of my sister’s Christmas present my senior year of high school, I really wanted to give her something meaningful and I decided to pull from this idea of being a smart girl. My family then really pushed me to get it published and pursue it.” After Raleigh decided to develop the concept as a magazine, she contacted girls from her community and elsewhere, she said. The group expanded from there. Today, “Smart Girls Group” is published once a month. The organization started college chapters, runs daily blogs and now has more than 150 contributors from 10 countries. “‘Smart Girls Group’ is all about connecting and inspiring girls from all over to be smart girls,” Raleigh said. “We offer a supporting environment that cultivates empowerment within girls.” She said the magazine and overall organization use blogs, articles and personal stories of high school and college women to provide girls with a healthy support network. “What is unique about our group is that all the girls who are writing or contributing to the group are high school- or college-aged,” Raleigh said. “You will not find anyone our moms’ age writing for the magazine and I think that is very important. When girls go on our website and read our magazine, they are hearing from girls going through many of the same experiences as they are.” The magazine covers an array of topics from politics to fashion to relationships, Raleigh said. It also offers advice on how to be a smart girl. She said being a smart girl starts with finding your “I am’s” and using positive language as an essential tool for breaking down barriers. “I think that being a leader and being a smart girl starts with how we speak,” Raleigh said. “When we say things like ‘I can’t,’ we are unconsciously putting up barriers for ourselves. Saying ‘I am’ and using positive language is the first step in being a smart girl.” The next step is finding your smarts, Raleigh said. “‘The Smart Girls Group’ helps you grab your passions,” Raleigh said. “We help you find things that interest you. I always had an interest in girl power and technology, and founding this group has allowed me to bridge those two passions. That is what we would like to do for our smart girls.” Raleigh said once a girl finds her passion, she should determine her goals and make plans. “Ask yourself what can I start doing today? Make sure these goals are something you can control,” Raleigh said. “You do not want to leave your destiny up to somebody else.” Raleigh stressed the importance of independent leadership and surrounding yourself with positive people. “You want to surround yourself by people that lift you up higher,” she said. “This means your friends, boyfriends, whatever. Find people that lift you up.” Raleigh encouraged those in the audience to find their own inner smart girls and set the world on fire. “Take your smarts and your passions to help change a part of the world,” she said. “There are so many ways we can all impact others’ lives in some way. Find your smart girl and set the world on fire.”