Saint Mary’s alumna serves the U.S. Virgin Islands

first_imgEditor’s Note: This is the fifth story in a series featuring Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s graduates serving as members of Congress. This series, titled “Trading Golden Dome for Capitol Dome,” will run on Fridays.  As the federal government shutdown reaches its 11th day, Congresswoman Donna Christensen (D-U.S. Virgin Islands) said she is concerned for the almost 700 federal employees in the territory who are being furloughed or facing reduced pay.  Christensen, who graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree, is one of six non-voting members of Congress. The Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa all send delegates who are asked to weigh in on issues under legislation to Congress. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo of Guam also attended Saint Mary’s, but her office declined repeated requests from The Observer for interviews. Christensen said the current shutdown of the federal government could have a dramatic effect on the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  “We are a community that has been facing some severe economic lows with the closing of our largest private industry, government insurance falls and the impact of the recession which generally comes a little later than [when the impact hits the] mainland but stays longer and has a great impact,” Christensen said. “This is just making a bad situation far worse for us as we try to recover from our economic issues and challenges.” Her constituents began flooding her office with phone calls immediately after the shutdown, she said. “The first complaint I began getting was from the national park in St. John,” Christensen said. “St. John is a small island and two-thirds of it is a national park, so everything in St. John depends on the national park. … The calls came from taxi drivers, small business owners whose businesses are being impacted, the wedding planners who have people coming in to get married in one of the beautiful sites … our national parks cannot utilize that venue anymore, this has been a big issue.  “I traveled on Tuesday [September 1] and the customs board of protection was there and of course TSA [Transportation Security Administration] [workers] were there, but nobody was sure when they were going to get another paycheck. That is not a good environment in which to work.” No limitations Christensen, who was the first female physician to be elected to Congress, said she treasures the time she spent at Saint Mary’s. She credits the College as one of the key factors in the development of the confidence she now uses as a member of Congress, she said.  “Going to an all-women’s college … gave me confidence and I think that it prepared me well,” Christensen said. When she first came to Saint Mary’s, Christensen said she was planning on going into medical technology, but after reading an article published by the National Negro College Fund, she said she decided to changer her career plans and become a doctor.  “When I had doubts about whether I was capable of being a doctor, my biology chair, Dr. Clarence Dinnen, was there for support and encouragement,” Christensen said. “I thought that was very important.” This positive support helped her when others expressed concern about her ability to enter a “man’s field,” she said. “I remember one time a family member of a schoolmate said to me, ‘I don’t think you should do that, that’s not a good idea, going to medical school,’” Christensen said. “I remember being really taken aback by that, but then I dismissed it. The kind of confidence I gained, the education I received and the support I had from the faculty made it something that I didn’t think twice about. After Professor Divine sat me down and said ‘I could do whatever I wanted to do,’ I never worried.” After graduating from Saint Mary’s, Christensen said she received a Doctor of Medicine in 1970 from George Washington University School of Medicine and completed her residency in 1974. Coming home The day after she finished her residency, Christensen said she came home to the U.S. Virgin Islands. “I began working in a small emergency room in 1975, and after being home and hearing some of the issues that were of concern to my community I decided to become active in the community,” Christensen said. “It is home and there were things that were happening that I thought individuals needed to be more proactive about, so I decided to involve myself in different issues like the appointment of local judges, sale of land ⎯ that was important to my community and the private industry. But, I was doing it as an organizer myself, organizing different coalitions and different groups to advocate or oppose an issue.” At the time, Christensen said maintaining a private practice in family medicine and while adapting to life as a new mother drove her to find a formal way to participate in community organizing. “At this point I had a young baby and was working, so I decided to join the Democratic Party,” Christensen said. ” I joined by running for a seat on my local territorial committee. I won and became an officer. I did that because I thought the Democratic Party would be a good vehicle for me to do some of the things I wanted to do and I wouldn’t have to be doing it by myself.” After serving for 12 years as a Democratic National Committeewoman, Christensen said she was urged to run for national office in 1994. After losing her first primary race in 1994, Christensen said she ran again in 1996 and won the Virgin Islands seat.  “I had been practicing [medicine] and [working] in politics at the same time, so it wasn’t an abrupt transition, it was more of shifting the balance,” Christensen said. “In my practice you always find that there are a lot of social and other issues that impact the health of your patients. Many times people would come in just to talk about whatever problems they were having, and so I kind of looked at it as bringing my office work from a local level to a larger, national level. I did promise my patients that I would remain active in healthcare, even if I was not their private physician anymore.” Territorial interests Christensen said being a delegate of a territory is more challenging than being a woman or being a minority in Congress.  “Territories are not states, so in many instances the Constitution does not explicitly provide territories with the same rights and privileges as it does states,” Christensen said. “Therefore, I don’t get to vote in final passage [of bills] or to even voting in committee of the whole is a matter of contention because while the Democrats feel we should vote, the Republicans don’t. So when Democrats are in the majority we vote in the committee of the whole and when they are not, we don’t.” Christensen, who currently serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, is the first delegate from a territory to sit on an exclusive committee. Due to the expansive list of policy concerns that fall in the Committee’s jurisdiction, members who serve on one of the four exclusive committees – the other three being Appropriations, Ways and Means and House Financial Services – are not allowed to serve on other House committees.  She said she the support of the Congressional Black Caucus pushed her not only to sit on the at-large committee, but also on the Subcommittee on Health.  “Just getting on those committees were a big milestone for me,” Christensen said. “I was there when we wrote the Affordable Care Act, and that is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and feel proud to be a part of it. I consider that a major event in my life.” Now, Christensen sits on the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. She said she not only works for members of her district, but also strives to push legislation through Congress for all of the territories. “I was also on the Committee [on Energy and Commerce] when we did the American Reinvestment Act ⎯ that was very important to help us recover from recession,” Christensen said. “My presence on that helped my territory to get a significant amount of funding, as well as the other territories. As a delegate from a territory, one of my responsibilities is to look out not only for my own, but for all of the territories.” A desire to serve  Christensen said her time as a part of the larger Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and South Bend communities during this the Civil Rights Movement instilled in her a desire to serve. “After the summer where all of the riots, the bombings and all of that happened there was a change to me in Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame,” Christensen said. “We did become more socially conscious, and I think it was at that point that we started going into the South Bend community, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students together. We would go into South Bend and help kids with homework and we developed Big Brothers, Big Sisters for some of the poorer kids in town.  ” … Even though we were farther away and we were not involved in the protests or the marches, I think the Civil Rights Movement had a profound impact on us and I think it elevated our social justice awareness and efforts.” Christensen said she was also at Saint Mary’s when she found out about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and President John F. Kennedy’s death in 1963. “I was [at Saint Mary’s] during some very important times in our nation’s history,” she said. “I am sure the dialogue and how we dealt with those issues had a lot to do with why I am here [in Congress serving others] as well.”  Christensen said she feels proud to be an alumna of Saint Mary’s.  “When I first came here [to Congress] there were four Saint Mary’s women,” Christensen said. “Imagine that a small college like ours could have four members of Congress serving at the same time. I thought that was amazing and it is to Saint Mary’s credit [as an educational institution]. Now three of us are still here.  “I do treasure the time I spent at Saint Mary’s and I do count it as being responsible in part for the successes I have achieved through my lifetime.” Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edulast_img read more

Neymar cleared in tax evasion case

first_imgSAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) – Barcelona striker Neymar has been cleared of any criminal charges in a long-running tax evasion case in Brazil, a Brazilian court said yesterday.A judge in Sao Paulo said there was a “lack of just cause” in the case that alleged he underpaid income tax between 2011 and 2014.Neymar’s father and agent said yesterday’s decision was a major victory.“It is with great happiness that we received the news of the shelving of the Public Ministry’s case of tax evasion,” Neymar Sr. said in a statement sent to Reuters.“The process is officially closed (and) that proves the legality of all our acts.”Neymar could still, however, have to pay substantial sums to Brazil’s tax office.Brazil’s federal tax office charged Neymar in 2015 with evading 63 million reais ($19.94 million) in taxes due on income earned from the Santos and Barcelona soccer clubs and sponsors between 2011 and 2014.Neymar appealed last year and a court ruling in his favour in March halved the penalty of 200 million reais in fines, back-taxes and interest that Brazil’s tax office had slapped on the player.This was separate to the criminal prosecution brought by federal prosecutors, which has now been shelved.“These were four years of unfounded accusations that me, my family and the employees of my companies suffered through, in every possible way,” Neymar’s father said in his statement.“Although many people doubted it, there is justice in our country. Charge by charge, one after the other, they were knocked down by our defence, leaving it explicitly clear that we did not avoid paying one cent of tax.“I hope we can now concentrate on our work and that my family has the peace it deserves.”Neymar’s future on the pitch is the subject of speculation, with the player linked in Spanish, French and Brazilian media with a transfer to Paris St Germain.Neymar, an idol in Brazil who led the Olympic team to glory at the 2016 Rio Games, said last week he was happy at Barcelona but he has yet to state definitively where he will play next season.Widely considered the outstanding player of his generation in Brazil, Neymar led Santos to the Libertadores Cup for the first time since Pele played for the club.He then moved to Barcelona in 2013 where he has formed one of the most deadly forward lines in football alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.He is currently on a pre-season tour with Barcelona, where he has won two La Liga titles and a Champions League, in the United States and is expected to play in Wednesday’s match against Manchester United in Maryland.last_img read more

Overwatch League eyes expansion into Europe, Oceania, and Middle East

first_imgIt was previously reported that the Overwatch League was eyeing an expansion once its inaugural season had finished, and now in an interview, Nate Nanzer, Commissioner, Overwatch League has listed some of the destinations that may be included in the future.The first season of the Overwatch League isn’t too far off of completion, but as Nanzer, reveals, Blizzard has some ambitious plans about where it plans to bring the competition to next. The main region it is targeting is Europe, the home of many endemic sports clubs – it’s been revealed that Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard gave “a speech on esports at the European Club Association General Assembly,” where “all the European football clubs come together.”Specific countries that are being targeted include France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Benelux, and the Nordic region according to the interview. “We want teams in the big great cities across Europe like Paris, Berlin,” explained Nanzer. The potential list of destinations doesn’t end there, though.Perhaps surprisingly, Brazil is “a market that’s particularly interesting” to the Overwatch League. Nanzer also listed countries within the Asia Pacific region such as New Zealand and Australia. “There’s been lots of activity in Australia with AFL teams getting involved with esports, so there could be something interesting there,” added the Commissioner.Nate Nanzer, Overwatch LeagueThe Middle East is also an area that could well home Overwatch League franchises, as Nanzer explained that “gaming is huge in countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia.” There’s no word on whether any of the aforementioned locations will be embedded into the League from Season 2, or whether it’ll see the inclusion of more North American and Asian teams. One thing’s for sure though: there will be more teams included next season.It’s also unknown as to exactly when teams will host games from their respective namesakes (London Spitfire, Houston Outlaws, and Seoul Dynasty, for example). Nanzer said that they “haven’t made the decision yet, but we want it as soon as possible. If it doesn’t happen in Season 2, it’ll happen very quickly after that.”Esports Insider says: While we’re glad to see that there will be other regions represented in the League beyond North America and Asia, we’ve been caught by surprise by the potential of Middle Eastern franchises being formed so soon. Looking to European sports clubs makes complete sense though, considering the amount of North American sports clubs that have been involved thus far.last_img read more