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MC&A Newsletter
Volume XXV  :: September 2012 

 

Mdiwin Charles

 

In The Spotlight

Lance Armstrong: From Hero to Zero

Armstrong On August 23, 2012, Lance Armstrong ended his legal battle against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The battle began on June 29, 2012, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) filed doping charges against Armstrong and five of his former teammates. Armstrong decided not to contest the charges, though he still denies using performance-enhancing drugs. As a result, the USADA banned Armstrong for life and stripped him of all his cycling wins since 1998, which includes his seven Tour de France victories.

Armstrong has captivated Americans for years. In 1996 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and after publicly fighting the disease, he came back to win the Tour de France in 1999. He continued winning the Tour year after year, building a larger and larger fan base. In addition, he has been a champion in the fight against cancer, founding the Lance Armstrong Foundation, known best by its LiveSTRONG wristbands that aided in raising money to help cancer victims and survivors.

However, even as an American hero, Armstrong has battled allegations of drug use since as early as 1999 when he tested positive for banned steroids. In 2004, the book "L.A. Confidential" was released. In it were claims that Armstrong had asked his former massage therapist for makeup to cover needle track marks on his arms and that in 2005 a former personal assistant claimed to have found steroids in Armstrong's medicine cabinet. Floyd Landis, a teammate of Armstrong's and winner of the 2006 Tour de France accused Armstrong in 2010 of using drugs and being involved in a drug scheme. Armstrong consistently denied all allegations.

In sum, the USADA accused Armstrong of using Erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusions, testosterone, cortisone and HGH during his career to enhance his performance. The accusations are based upon statements from witnesses who claim that Armstrong "encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005." The USADA refuses to reveal the names of the witnesses.

Armstrong claims that the charges are unfair. "If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA's process I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and - once and for all - put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair," he said in a statement released on August 23, 2012. He also said that his decision not to fight the charges does not mean he accepts the imposed sanctions. Armstrong's attorney, Tim Herman, wrote a letter threatening to file a lawsuit if the USADA sanctions Armstrong before first resolving a dispute with the International Cycling Union over whether the case should be pursued at all, claiming that USADA lacks jurisdiction. They imposed the sanctions nonetheless.

The International Cycling Union, who claims to have jurisdiction over the anti-doping actions, stated on August 24 that it would withhold comment on the USADA's sanctions until it reads "a reasoned decision" explaining its position. Until that time, Armstrong will have to stand on the sidelines.

 

Sources: "Anti-Doping Agency files charges against Lance Armstrong," by Scott Thompson & Dana Ford, June 29, 2012, CNN.com; "Lance Armstrong banned for life, stripped of 7 tour wins," by Brent Schrotenboer, August 24, 2012, USAToday; "Lance Armstrong facing lifetime ban, loss of titles," by Chelsea J. Carter, August 24, 2012, CNN.com

 

Todd Akin's Legitimate Blunder

Aien Missouri's Republican Senate nominee, Representative Todd Akin, created a national outrage on August 19, 2012 with a statement he made on national television regarding his views on abortion. His statement not only sparked a media storm, but it may also prove to be political suicide in his race for Senate.

When questioned on the topic of abortions for rape victims who become impregnated as a result of the rape, Akin stated, "[i]t seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."

Immediately after Akin's interview aired, women's rights organizations and Democrats across the country voiced their outrage. Included in those voices was that of Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat running against Akin for the Senate seat. McCaskill took her comments to Twitter. "As a woman and former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM."

Only hours after the interview aired, Akin released a statement apologizing for his comments, saying he misspoke in the interview. He stated, "I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion, and I understand I may not have their support in this election."

Senator McCaskill is not the only political figure that publicly stated her disagreement with Akin's statement. Mitt Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, released a statement that they would not oppose abortion in instances of rape. President Obama also commented on Akin's words, noting that such remarks are an example of why politicians should not make healthcare decisions for women. Politicians from both parties are appalled and many have called for Akin to withdraw himself from the race for Senate. Akin has refused to do so. Akin was the GOP's best option for defeating a Democratic senator, but unless he steps out of the race in time for party leaders to nominate another candidate, analysts now say he will likely not be able to recover from his blunder.

 

Sources: "Senate Candidate Provokes Ire With 'Legitimate Rape' Comment," by John Eligon & Michael Schwirtz, August 19, 2012, The NY Times; "Todd Akin's comments become a fundraising issue for both sides," by Lisa Mascaro, August 24, 2012, The LA Times; "Rep. Todd Akin: The Statement and the Reaction," by Lori Moore, August 20, 2012, The NY Times

 

Immigration Agents Feel Alienated Over New Obama Initiative

immigration On August 23, 2012, ten U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents filed suit challenging President Obama's new immigration initiative. The initiative, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which went into effect on August 16, defers the deportation of young illegal immigrants with clean criminal records, allowing those people who grew up in the United States, albeit illegally, to remain in the country.

President Obama announced the initiative in June after his Dream Act failed to pass in Congress. The initiative allows illegal immigrants under 31 years of age with clean criminal records to apply to the Homeland Security Department for "deferred action." Deferred action is an official notice from the Department stating that the applicant is not to be deported and granting him or her a work permit to remain in the U.S. and obtain a job legally. The reasoning behind the initiative is for ICE to focus their efforts on targeting those immigrants with criminal records. Matt Chandler, spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, stated that "[the initiative] is a continuation of the department's focus on these priorities, and ensures that responsible young people, who are Americans in every way but on paper, have an opportunity to remain in the country and make their fullest contribution."

The ICE agents who filed the lawsuit claim that the initiative forces them to break federal law in letting young illegal immigrants go. If they listen to their superiors in adhering to the parameters of President Obama's initiative, they break a 1996 law that requires ICE agents to place illegal immigrants into deportation proceedings. Kris Kobach, attorney for the agents, said about the agents that "[t]hey have sworn an oath to uphold the law if they follow federal law, they end up disobeying the orders of their superiors. If they disobey the orders of their supervisor, they're disciplined."

The agents filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Texas on the basis that the initiative's policies infringe on Congress' right to set immigration policies, force agents to disobey the 1996 law, and the Homeland Security Department failed to follow the federal Administrative Procedure Act requiring an agency to write regulations and place them for public comment prior to making major changes. In response to the lawsuit, Chandler claims that the initiative complies with the Homeland Security Agency's prosecutorial discretion to focus efforts on arresting and deporting criminal immigrants. University of Virginia School of Law professor David A. Martin pointed out that the intent behind the initiative was not to tie the ICE agents' hands, but to make their jobs easier by carving out groups of people that ICE does not need to worry about, enabling them to focus their energy on the higher priority cases.

While young immigrants who qualify for the initiative are excited to be exempt from deportation, a backlash against the initiative has begun in many states. Arizona, Mississippi and Nebraska are all refusing to provide benefits to the immigrants even if they obtain "deferred action." It appears this is just the tip of the legal iceberg for President Obama's initiative - surely there will be even more lawsuits to come.

 

Sources: "Kris Kobach files lawsuit over Obama's immigration policy change," by Brad Cooper, August 24, 2012, The Kansas City Star; "Immigration agents sue to stop Obama's non-deportation policy," by Stephen Dinan, August 23, 2012, The Washington Times.

 

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Midwin Charles was a panelist at The Haitian Roundtable's Speaker Series:  The Art of Reinvention Your Career on May 14, 2012 in New York.  Other Panelists included:

 

Fabrice Armand

 

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Faride Precil
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Midwin Charles receives 2012 Entrepreneurship Award from Black Street Online Magazine!  Other awardees included New York State Senator Kevin Parker, CEO & Founder of Black Girls Rock Beverly Bond and President of 100 Black Men of Long Island Phil Andrews.  For more info, go to www.blackstreetonline.com
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