Ex-LA councilman gets prison in City Hall corruption case

first_imgLOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for lying to federal investigators about his dealings with a businessman who provided him $15,000 in secret cash payments. The judge said Englander “totally lost his moral compass.” Englander was fined $15,000 — the amount contained in envelopes Englander accepted in Las Vegas casino restrooms. Englander, is the first person to be sentenced in a wide-ranging federal investigation into corruption at Los Angeles City Hall. He pleaded guilty last year to scheming to falsify material facts, a felony.last_img read more

After floods swell French rivers, government promises help

first_imgPARIS (AP) — Rivers across France broke their banks this week amid heavy flooding. The prime minister promised support Friday for farmers and residents whose land was devastated. In Paris, several embankments were submerged under the Seine River for a fourth straight day, and the national weather service forecast that waters would stay high through the weekend. In southern France, waters are starting to recede after the worst flooding in 40 years swelled the Garonne River between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Vineyards and orchards turned into lakes, and rescue boats floated along small-town streets.last_img read more

Summit addresses off campus safety

first_img Hechlinski said efforts to keep residents informed are aided by both the neighborhood watch program and the distribution of information regarding incidents with students as victims by student government. After a brief introduction by Tim Sexton, associate vice president for Public Affairs at the University, student body president Catherine Soler spoke about what student government has been doing to deal with off-campus issues and how students have responded. Also citing the forum with ResLife and the presentation by attorney C.L. Lindsay, Soler said things have improved with regards to students and off-campus problems since the implementation of the recent programming. “Our focus … has been off-campus safety and community relations,” Soler said.  Next, Sgt. Pat Hechlinski spoke about what police are offering citizens both in traditional law enforcement as well as spreading information and taking advantage of both civilian and interdepartmental cooperative efforts. Members of the South Bend community gathered with leaders from the University, student government, the Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement at the Robinson Community Learning Center. Tuesday for the second annual Northeast Neighborhood Safety Summit.  Dvorak said while he understands the relatively minor nature of alcohol offenses, he feels that students need to recognize that the consequences are still serious. He said it was important that all groups involved in the issue continue to collaborate.  After an update on the case of the carjacking of Holy Cross students, Dvorak spoke about the crackdown on underage drinking at the beginning of the year. While the previous speakers concentrated on how crime can be prevented, County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak next spoke about what his office has been doing to deal with offenders once prevention has failed and where students can reduce problems with police. “I think they’ve dialed down on underage drinking,” he said. “It’s still a crime, and they’ll use their discretion.” “In our updates with police … we’ve been getting good reports about students being good neighbors,” she said. Soler said they have a good neighbor guide, have been meeting with campus and South Bend police and have a website, offcampus@nd.edu Shibata said residents should avoid giving potential criminals access to unsecured entrances to homes or clear views of expensive items in cars.  “Make your property a harder target,” she said. “Keeping an open dialogue is a great problem-solver for us,” he said. “Be aware of crime problems and other neighborhood concerns [and] communicate concerns to police,” she said. “One thing we like to do is make you aware of the crime statistics so the residents can see what’s going on,” he said.  “[Police and prosecutor work] is all pretty reactive, the damage has been done,” he said. “We try to hold people accountable.” “Claim the neighborhood as your own. It’s ours, not the criminals’ ,” she said. “I’m not unsympathetic,” he said. “It’s a crime, and I don’t think students understand it’s not just an infraction.” “This has been a very significant issues,” he said. “It has less to do with people under 21 consuming alcoholic beverages than it does about safety.”  Dvorak said he believed student cooperation has helped cause a shift back from arrests to ticketing and reminded students to cooperate with law enforcement during an incident. Shibata also reminded residents to be cautious of people they do not know, to be proactive about possible threats, become acquainted and work with neighbors and taking greater ownership and involvement in the community. Offering advice on how students and South Bend residents alike can improve their personal security, Notre Dame Security Police Officer Keri Kei Shibata was next to speak. Shibata said a lot of things people can do seem like common sense but are often looked over.last_img read more

Notre Dame works to be green

first_img For example, she said the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) exchange during which students are offered free CFL light bulbs to replace their incandescent bulbs. According to Christopherson, sustainability is now a part of the Contemporary Topics curriculum for Notre Dame students. Notre Dame’s director of Sustainability discussed the University’s current efforts and future plans to be green during a lecture Monday to kick off the Mendoza College of Business Ethics Week. Heather Christopherson, a Notre Dame graduate, said sustainability is part of Catholic social teaching. She said Vatican City has become carbon neutral, and she referenced statements by Pope Benedict XVI about the need to use resources properly. According to Christopherson, the University saves money. “When the University replaced inefficient lights in older buildings around campus, the return on investment was estimated to take four to five years. In the end it only took about a year and a half,” Christopherson said. Christopherson said the three goals of the Sustainability Department are reducing the University’s carbon footprint, reducing waste — including energy, water and trash — and increasing outreach. The University requires new buildings on campus to be built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications rating for green buildings, Christopherson said. The University works with companies like Office Depot to make deliveries to campus more sustainable as well. Supplies from the company now come in green, reusable totes and then delivered to individual professors and departments in brown paper bags, Christopherson said. “We have worked with Office Depot to reduce waste in ordering office supplies,” she said. “In the past, office supplies arrived in cardboard boxes with a lot of unnecessary packaging.” Another example is the effort to get “tailgaters” to recycle, she said. This involved volunteers walking through the parking lots and collecting recyclables from the fans. According to Christopherson, these efforts were very successful and resulted in Notre Dame winning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenge for the Midwest, beating Michigan, Michigan State and other universities. In the area of transportation the University has incorporated the Zipcar program and uses some hybrid vehicles. According to Christopherson there are plans to make use of electric vehicles in the foreseeable future. Christopherson said there is also a program to make laboratories more sustainable. “There was a lab that used four large, inefficient ovens to clean glassware,” she said. “It only took about an hour to clean the glassware, but the ovens were left on 24/7 and only some of the space in each was used. We replaced these four ovens with one new, efficient oven.” A major concern for sustainability is communication. There are various programs in place to try and educate the Notre Dame community about recycling, limiting energy consumption and other concerns, Christopherson said.last_img read more

Midwestern squash teams unite

first_imgNotre Dame hosted representatives from various Midwest squash organizations Saturday afternoon to collaboratively address organizational needs that will define the future of their sport.   Mickan said he sees a lot of potential for the sport’s expansion in the Midwest, particularly with Notre Dame leading the effort. “We get this big group that literally packs the room during the first week of school,” McCuen said. “But [eventually] interest wanes and then falls off.” Sophomore Paul Mickan said he signed up because he played tennis in high school and wanted to be part of a team at Notre Dame. “By having a regional calendar, if I go on there I might not even be looking for events for my particular team,” McCuen said.  “[For example], a lot of junior programs don’t know that college events are happening, but this calendar would let them see [those events] and become aware of them.” The “2012 Mid-America Squash Summit,” designed by Irish squash club coach Geoff McCuen, aimed to connect squash teams to help the sport continue expanding in the region.   This question became all the more pressing when squash’s governing body, the College Squash Association (CSA) requested that McCuen, the Midwest club representative, chastise two Midwest club teams for dropping out soon before a tournament at the Naval Academy. “I like feel like Notre Dame’s a major player in the Midwest,” Mickan said.  “There’s a ton of opportunity… a lot of energy in the region, it would be great to focus it and channel it through here.” McCuen, volunteer coach for the Notre Dame men’s and women’s club squash teams, said he organized the event because of the need for greater communication between squash programs in the area. McCuen said the group is also planning on forming a Facebook group, a Twitter handle and a group-Google calendar. He said the latter will be particularly key to increasing awareness of regional squash activity. “With varsity sports, there are contracts that are entered into that they’ll provide a certain number of games,” McCuen said.  “The Naval Academy had been contractually obligated to provide a certain number of games for the leagues, and because these two teams dropped out, technically there was a [breach] of contract.” “There’s a pretty quick learning curve, especially for tennis players,” Mickan said.  “Once you pick it up it’s great… You’re learning, and every time you get on the court, you’re getting better.” “I think college is the time where people like to branch out and explore things that they didn’t have access to beforehand,” Grabowski said. “People who want to stay in shape, and do that in a fun way, end up playing squash.” “U.S. Squash oversees squash at the individual level outside of the CSA, and has a list of courts online that is horribly outdated,” he said.  “An updated list would help people find courts to play.” This increased communication would also lessen frustrations driven by the lack of available court space, McCuen said. McCuen said he organized the summit to improve the piecemeal knowledge of CSA rules, but it has since moved beyond that initial goal. Senior Dennis Grabowski, president of the squash club, said the sport is a perfect activity for people who want to stay in shape. This lack of available squash courts limits the number of participants on his Notre Dame teams, McCuen said.   “The summit started out to just be college coaches, so that we could get everyone on the same page and educated about the things we didn’t know about,” McCuen said. “Then it moved towards an event where we got everyone together… to build a way to create a central repository for information.” Attendees drew two primary conclusions, McCuen said. The group decided regional inter-team communication must be improved and the number of available courts must be increased. “I reached out to people and said, ‘If you don’t know everyone on this list, there are probably other people that you know that I don’t know,’” McCuen said. “Basically the question is that [squash programs] are all in our own areas, so how do we connect?”last_img read more

Phishing scam targets ND network

first_imgA malicious phishing email recently appeared in the inboxes of an unknown number of Notre Dame students, faculty and staff, asking them to reset their NetID password. Instead of linking to password.nd.edu, the link led to a Google documents spreadsheet. Jason Williams, an Information Security Professional with the Office of Information Technology (OIT), defined a phishing email as a message that “attempts to impersonate an email from a legitimate website with the intent to gain your login credentials.” A phishing email will have a link asking for credentials, but this link leads to an imposter website, Williams said.  Hackers utilize newly acquired email accounts to send spam and other malware to other computer users. “They’re not necessarily looking for credit card data or highly sensitive information; sometimes they’re just looking for access,” Williams said. These emails vary in terms of sophistication, with some mimicking graphics and terms that companies use when sending out emails. “This recent email was fairly legitimate,” Williams said. “It had some terminology that Notre Dame would use.” However, Williams said that the email had obvious grammatical errors that led potential victims to realize that the email was not from OIT. Hackers rely on certain visual elements to trick users into believing that a website is legitimate, but Williams said damage can be prevented by paying attention to the details. “Most people tend to scan emails rather than actually reading them,” Williams said. “This is what a phishing email depends on.” Although it is difficult to pinpoint a specific perpetrator, OIT usually blocks the email server’s access to the network, but Williams said they were unable to block Google docs because it has legitimate use on the network. Williams said hackers target schools and other large institutions because the student populations are an easy demographic to victimize with phishing scams. Lenette Votava, a marketing professional with OIT, said one person falling for the scam can have major consequences across the network.  “It only takes one person giving up sensitive information to inevitably shut down the whole nd.edu email service,” Votava said. In such occurrences, the network may not be up and running for a couple of days. Steps can be taken to avoid being a victim of a phishing email, and the most important is to carefully read emails before following the instructions within. “If I think an email is a phishing email, and it asks me to reset my password, I will go directly to the actual website instead of using the link in the email,” Williams said. Anyone who suspects they have received a phishing email is instructed to contact the OIT help desk. Anyone that answered a suspected malicious email should reset his or her password at password.nd.edu.last_img read more

Alumni serve displaced Hispanics in Chicago

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Su Casa Class of 2012 graduates Adam Cowden (left) and Kyla Wargel wrap Christmas gifts for guests at Su Casa, a Chicago shelter that serves Hispanic women and children who are victims of domestic violence.Cowden, with another 2012 graduate Kyla Wargel live and work among the guests at Su Casa. Their responsibilities include cooking, cleaning, daily house upkeep, tutoring, information technology/administrative services and communications support.Su Casa’s volunteer work also includes a soup kitchen that serves the larger community three times a week and an outreach program that seeks to educate others on issues that affect the Latino population, such as homelessness, domestic violence and immigration reform. “Workers also help provide … fundraising support, volunteer coordination, house management, food and donation pickup and processing, maintenance services and occasional childcare,” Cowden said. “Most of my responsibilities fall within case management support, tutoring, IT support and communications.”Cowden first became involved with Su Casa when he participated in an Urban Plunge trip through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns in the winter of 2010, he said. “The experience left a lasting impression on me,” Cowden said. “After a year of living and working in Nashville, Tenn., following graduation, I wanted to spend a year doing service while figuring out my next steps, including where I wanted to apply for grad school. Su Casa was the first place I thought of, and they happened to be looking for volunteers at the time I inquired.”Cowden said the education he received at Notre Dame influenced his decision to come to Su Casa. “Studying Political Science and PPE [Philosophy, Politics and Economics] with a focus on development at Notre Dame and writing a senior thesis related to international development allowed me to explore my interest in development and working in developmentally disadvantaged areas and helped prepare me to examine some of the challenges that our guests face with a critical eye,” Cowden said.Tags: Class of 2012, Su Casa Two Notre Dame alumni currently reside as live-in workers at Su Casa, a house of hospitality in South Chicago, as part of a ministry class of 2012 graduate Adam Cowden said is three-fold.“We provide hospitality and a healing environment for displaced Hispanic people who are poor, homeless, and oppressed; we partner with our neighbors to make our community a better place to live, and we engage in educational and social action activities concerning social justice issues related to our ministry,” Cowden said.Located in an old Franciscan friary, Su Casa provides an environment of healing and hope to displaced Latino families. It primarily serves Latino women and children who have left domestic violence situations, and workers live among the guests. last_img read more

PrismND to host second annual LGBT retreat

first_imgErin Rice | The Observer This weekend, PrismND will host its second annual retreat — one it hopes will foster reflection and a feeling of fellowship within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community at Notre Dame, PrismND spirituality commissioner Shannon Connolly said.Connolly said the retreat looks to serve LGBT students whose spiritual needs may not be entirely met by what is provided on campus.“There are not many venues on campus that are, understandably, willing to create a space that addresses LGBT student needs in terms of spirituality,” Connolly said. “ … And that’s understandable because that’s not serving the needs of the majority. That’s definitely not the majority here. So, there are conversations that happen on campus around the theology of [LGBT issues], which is great, there are a lot of fellowship opportunities in general and resources in general, but we feel really called to offer that space where orientation or gender identity isn’t going to come up as an issue.”Sophomore and PrismND secretary Jennifer Cha said the club established the retreat to give LGBT students the chance to engage with the faith life “so integral to Notre Dame’s identity.”“Spirituality and LGBTQ life are sometimes portrayed in opposition to each other, and we wanted to challenge that idea by creating a space where the two can be not only in conversation with but intimately connected to each other,” Cha said.Connolly said she hopes the retreat, which will feature LGBT student speakers in addition to other basic retreat activities, will foster internal reflection.“I’d like to think that [the retreat] will invite people to look at a process that they don’t have time to look at,” Connolly said. “Journeying with your orientation or your gender identity is something that’s very difficult, and it’s part of who you are. … Not only is [the retreat] an invitation to take that time [to explore that], it’s an invitation to be with people who understand it, to be in a place where you can reach out to people.”Campus response to the retreat has been mixed, Connolly said.“Notre Dame itself, the administration, has been incredibly supportive,” she said. “Campus ministry, rectors, there are too many people to name who have been supportive. The student body has mixed reviews a lot of the time. It’s hilarious how many people think we’re actually trying to ‘pray the gay away.’ Some people I don’t think understand how this is kosher, but we definitely do keep it in line with Catholic teaching.”The question of PrismND’s involvement with student allies is one that has come up during the planning of the retreat, which is open to all students regardless of sexual orientation, Connolly said.“The question of how much room do we make for allies is a big one,” she said. “Is [PrismND] an organization that serves as an ambassador from the community to allies, trying to say ‘this is what we’re about, welcome?’ Or is it more of an inward-facing organization, as a space for [LGBT] to communicate? Ideally both. And the retreat is one of the most inward-facing places we have. I think last year we had one or two allies, and they were people who had already been deeply involved in the LBGT community …“So this is not necessarily something that I would encourage allies to go on as their first foray into being better allies. Because I think it would just be a lot. This is a really personal and intimate retreat. I think the experience of the allies we had come last year was positive, and I think they already understood a lot about what it means to be LGBT. So if someone didn’t understand that, it would be kind of difficult.”But overall, the retreat’s focus on LGBT issues will be less alien to allies than they might think, Connolly said.“I’d say the LGBT ‘lens’ doesn’t change things as much as people would think it does,” she said. “So, while all of our speakers are speaking on LGBT issues, coming from an LGBT perspective, there are other activities that don’t have any orientation. … I think a lot of the time, you think you’re coming from an LGBT perspective, and you are, but an LGBT perspective includes the same questions anyone else is going through. Am I doing the right thing? Am I hurting the people I love? How do I forgive myself for who and what I’ve been? How do other people forgive me? How do people see me? It’s all the same questions.”The PrismND retreat will take place Friday and Saturday.Tags: Jenn Cha, LGBTQ retreat, PrismND, Shannon Connollylast_img read more

Poet reads reflections from “American Urn”

first_imgThe Saint Mary’s English Department hosted poet Mark Irwin for a reading and book signing Tuesday. Irwin read from his newest book of poems, “American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987-2013),” a collection of what he said he considers to be his best work.Assistant Professor of English Aaron Moe introduced Irwin, whose poems and essays have been published in numerous literary magazines, including The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic and The Kenyon Review. Irwin holds a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Case Western Reserve. He has also taught at various colleges and universities across the country.Irwin’s collections include “Against the Meanwhile” (1989), “Quick, Now, Always” (1996), “White City” (2000), “Bright Hunger” (2004), “Tall If” (2008), “Large White House Speaking” (2013) and “American Urn” (2014). “Just as there are endangered species, there are endangered forms of thought,” Moe said. “Reading through ‘American Urn,’ one quickly recognizes how Irwin has revived and created his own forms of thought and gives us, as readers, the opportunities to dwell and linger within those forms, and as those several distinct forms recur throughout the collection, one can settle into those forms and wander in them and discover a new largeness.”Irwin read a number of his poems from “American Urn” and from his next, unpublished book. Among the poems he read were “Go,” “Poem Beginning with a Line by Milosz,” “My Father’s Hats” and “Lucky Boy.” “I never really plan a reading,” Irwin said. “I kind of listen to what people are saying and compose it around the moment. I was talking to [Moe] and he said, ‘I think Big Bang is still going on at this moment. That we are moving out and that’s actually what the present is. That we’re one with the Big Bang which is continuous.’ So a lot of my poems are about the present tense.”After reading his poem “Ars Poetica,” meaning the art of poetry, Irwin said, “I’m just realizing that there are all these advertisements in Los Angeles all on the freeways. Everything is reduced to a stock phrase. We have to fight against the pollution of language. That woke me.” Irwin said he draws inspiration for his poems from everything around him. When he taught Humanities for Veterinary students at Colorado State, he witnessed a professor perform a spay on a labrador retriever, which he used in one of his poems, titled “The Death.” His poem “My Father’s Hats” was written in part when Irwin’s father was alive and finished in a matter of minutes after his father’s death.Irwin said he was able to draw inspiration from the most mundane aspects of life. He said he named one of his books “Bright Hunger” after waking up to the bright sun and realizing he was hungry. His poem “Tomato Soup” depicts life in the suburbs, which he found in a can of tomato soup.“The gift of poetry is the gift of wakefulness,” Moe said after the reading. “Thank you [Irwin] for your gift to help us be more awake.” Tags: American Urn, Mark Irwinlast_img read more

University launches Grotto Network to engage millennials

first_imgGrotto Network, Notre Dame’s new media platform encouraging millennials to reinvigorate their faith lives and gain inspiration from others’ stories, launched on Nov. 26.Social media manager and 2014 alumna Emily Mae Mentock said the network’s home base is grottonetwork.com, but the operation also relies heavily on social media to deliver its message and attract an audience.“It’s not another social media platform,” Mentock said. “We’re trying to meet people where they are in their media consumption as well as in their faith.” Mentock said the network aims to produce meaningful content and to encourage sharing of quality content. Director of the Grotto Network Sarah Yaklic said the group hopes to inspire viewers and readers through written and visual content.“I understand how sometimes digital platforms can draw us away from what’s important, but I’ve also seen it affect positive change,” Yaklic said. She said she led the digital outreach for the Pope Francis’s 2015 visit and saw firsthand how digital media can be a means to invite people to and encounter with Jesus.  Mentock said planning the project has taken several years, but only recently have team members been hired.  Although both Mentock and Yaklic came from diocesan work, Mentock said most of the team came from secular career fields and were looking for an opportunity to be a force for good in the world.“One of the great things about having Notre Dame’s support in this project is that they have is resources to hire talented people who are experts in their field,” she said. Yaklic said the success of the first week serves as a testament to the team’s diverse areas of expertise.“We recognize that there are limitations in the digital realm, so we anticipate that Grotto’s outreach will extend to everyday encounters,” she said. “We’re looking to provide a little more hope to the world.”Grotto Network is based out of Corbett Family Hall in the Rex and Alice A. Martin media center. Although it’s being launched and funded by Notre Dame, Grotto Network is not exclusive to the Notre Dame community and hopes to expand to Catholic young adults around the world, Yaklic said. “Being a part of the [Campus Crossroads] experience reinforces the integration of academics, faith and athletics,” Yaklic said. “It shows the University’s desire to tell students we are holistic beings.”“This upcoming semester we’ll be students of our own outreach,” she said. “I’m most excited to learn from students and walk more closely with them on this journey.”Mentock said she and her co-workers emphasize how various components of faith can merge to improve people’s lives.“We want to be a bridge for people to recognize how social justice, well being, and relationships all connect to the Catholic faith,” Mentock said.Yaklic said Grotto Network’s ultimate goal would be to collaborate with other universities and young adult groups. “We hope to use newly established partnerships with parishes, archdiocese and young adult groups across the countries, as well as an enhanced media strategy, to further our mission,” Yaklic said. Tags: Campus Crosswords, force for good, Grotto, grotto network, Pope Francis, social medialast_img read more