Happy Fucking Labor Day

Michael Rubin, one of the lawyers who sued Schneider, disagreed, saying there are many sound wage claims. “The reason there is so much wage theft is many employers think there is little chance of getting caught,” he said.

Commissioner Su of California said wage theft harmed not just low-wage workers. “My agency has found more wages being stolen from workers in California than any time in history,” she said. “This has spread to multiple industries across many sectors. It’s affected not just minimum-wage workers, but also middle-class workers.”

Many other states are seeing wage-theft cases. New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has recovered $17 million in wage claims over the past three years. “I’m amazed at how petty and abusive some of these practices are,” he said. “Cutting corners is increasingly seen as a sign of libertarianism rather than the theft that it really is.”

More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft.’ NYTimes, 8/31/14.

Louisiana, like MS, TN, SC and AL, has no minimum wage law.

In 2012, women in LA earned on average 67 cents to every man’s dollar. LA women earn the most in Rep. Richmond’s district and the least in Rep. Boustany’s district.

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Victor White III: More Links

#justiceforvic defense fund: Donations are still needed to help the White family find out what really happened to their son.

HOW DID VICTOR WHITE III DIE IN THE BACKSEAT OF A COP CAR? Vice, 3/25/14.

Lieutenant Anthony Green, however, was willing to give his take on New Iberia’s response to the shooting, stating, “The community is not really up in arms about this. I don’t sense any large unrest.”

This isn’t the first time the Iberia Sheriff’s Department has been suspected of brutalizing the people of New Iberia. Last year, a group of officers were caught on video beating a handcuffed man at the town’s annual Sugar Cane Festival, an incident that led to a deputy’s firing. And at least a few activists are upset by this history of mistreatment. On March 11, Reverend Raymond Brown, a fast-talking New Orleans preacher, hosted a small rally in New Iberia and called for the US Justice Department and the FBI to investigate Victor’s death.

AUTOPSY CONTRADICTS THE POLICE’S ACCOUNT OF VICTOR WHITE III’S SHOOTING IN THE BACK OF A COP CAR. Vice, 8/21/14.

Handcuffed Black Youth Shot Himself to Death, Says Coroner. NBC News, 8/25/14.

According to Lewis and the manager of the Hop-In, while Lewis and White were inside the store, a fight started outside.

Two men in front of the store began shouting. One told the other he was going to get a gun. White told Lewis they should stay inside. A woman called 911. After the men ran down the street, Lewis and White left.

Around 11:30 p.m. White and Lewis were walking a few blocks down the road when a police cruiser slowed, Lewis said. According to a service report provided to NBC News by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Corp. Justin Ortis asked the men to stop.

Ortis performed a “consented pat-down” of White, according to the report, and “located suspected marijuana in front pants pocket.”

They told the officer, Lewis said, that they could identify the men who were fighting. He said they offered to go to the convenience store with them, to talk to the clerk. “I said, ‘You can still probably catch them,” Lewis said. “You’re just burning time here. Victor said, ‘Why can’t you go back to the store and look at the camera?’ They said they didn’t have time for that.”

According to a public information officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, no one was ever apprehended for that alleged offense.

Lewis said that after finding the marijuana, the officer told them, “I’m going to let y’all go, that’s nothing.”

But after the officer ran the men’s names through a police database, he called for backup. As they waited, White and Lewis sat on the ground in front of the police cruiser, headlights cutting into the dark.

By the time a second officer in a separate cruiser arrived, Lewis said, White had been handcuffed behind his back, and placed in the back of the first car. The police report says White was detained and read his rights.

According to the report, a second search of White produced the cigars and a small amount of cocaine, and White said both the cocaine and marijuana were his. “White was then transported to the patrol center to be questioned by narcotics detectives,” the report concludes.

The officers dismissed Lewis, and he walked back to his father’s house.

But by 5 a.m., Lewis said, detectives were knocking on his door, asking that he come to the station to answer questions about his friend. At no point throughout the course of the subsequent interview, Lewis said, did they tell him that White had died while in the custody of police officers.

Victor White suicide ruling leads to public scrutiny. The Advertiser, 8/27/14.

“Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus (type), the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact wound was found,” the statement said.

Lawyer for White family calls for U.S. Justice Department investigation. The Daily Iberian, 8/27/14.

“He is not Houdini,” [Monroe lawyer Carol] Powell Lexing said. “He is not David Copperfield nor is he a descendant of either.

“There is no way on God’s green Earth that someone handcuffed behind his back can shoot himself through his chest,” she added.

The lawyer claimed she had evidence sheriff’s deputies beat White when they arrested him for possession of narcotics following the report of a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street at 11:22 p.m. March 2. She identified the arresting officer as Justin Ortis and said his Facebook page, which includes a post justifying a photo of an officer slamming a man in a chokehold to the ground, indicates his violent character.

“He has already shown us on his website that he is a badass,” she said.

Powell Lexing said there is a “rat to be smelled” in reference to State Police claims the handgun used was not one used by Iberia deputies. She also accused investigators of taking too long to submit “crucial” evidence such as dash video camera recordings or simply ignoring tests such as those for gunpowder residue on one’s hands or arms.

“Everyone knows, the public knows police officers carry what are called ‘throw-down guns,’” she said.

Powell Lexing said she has been in talks with the U.S. Justice Department and is seeking an independent autopsy by famed New York pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, whose resume includes autopsies on President John F. Kennedy and, most recently, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

She added national media outlets, including MSNBC, also have contacted her and the White family on this story. Following the press conference, Powell Lexing suggested future public response could mirror the protesting in Ferguson following Brown’s killing.

“The country is in an uproar,” she said. “The country wants accountability.”

NY Forensic pathologist to review White’s autopsy. KATC.com, 8/27/14.

Happening now: The attorney for Victor White III’s family held a press conference at the Iberia Parish Courthouse asking for justice after White was shot while in police custody earlier this year. They say New York forensic pathologist Michael Baden has agreed to review the autopsy, and they are in the process of sending him the report.

Baden recently performed an autopsy on Michael Brown, at his family’s request, after he was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Baden, who was also New York City’s Medical Examiner, has also served on the federal committee that re-investigated the deaths of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

White’s family also spoke out in today’s press conference, saying they do not believe White killed himself. They say he was a joyful person who would not have taken his own life. The family attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, says they’re also requesting an investigation from the U.S. Justice Department. A peaceful rally is planned for next month, and details will be forthcoming.

Coroner: Alleged statement White made before he died determined manner of death. KATC.com, 8/28/14.

According to Coroner Carl Ditch’s report, White allegedly said “he was gone” or something similar before he was placed into the patrol car.

Ditch says in the report that the cause of death for White is a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right chest, but notes that “the manner of death is more problematic given it is based on the decedent’s intent, i.e. whether he intended to shoot himself, or the firearm accidentally discharged while he was manipulating it under awkward circumstances.”

New Iberia man’s gunshot death in cruiser was police brutality and not suicide, family says. The Associated Press/nola.com, 8/28/14.

KATC.com Victor White III coverage

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Katrinaversary #9: A Special Bit(ch)

No, “all” of New Orleans is not below sea level.

No, Katrina didn’t flood New Orleans. The levees failed and filled the majority of the city with water that took weeks to pump out. The levees were not bombed to flood black neighborhoods and spare white ones. Lakeview got slammed as badly as the Ninth Ward. The difference in return and rebuilding rates is socioeconomic.

It’s been 9 years. It’s likely some people will never return home.

The French Quarter is not the same as New Orleans. Regardless of what’s happening there, or has been, recovery has been variable, sometimes temporary, and plagued by the same problems as NO had before August 2005: corruption, racism, elitism, selfishness and greed, poor and/or tainted and/or fake and/or absent planning and “planning,” etc.

No, “the storm” didn’t clear the decks for the schools to “get better and better!” Much is still the same. Test scores, the gold standard of reform evaluation, aren’t really that much higher. The top schools before Katrina are still the top schools 9 years post-K. Privatizing the schools did not stop corruption, adult self-centeredness and selfishness, or the devastating effects of a still-too-segregated city with too many low-wage tourist and entertainment jobs and not enough of a safety net to help people up regardless of how hard they try.

New Orleanians will carry the trauma of August 29 and the lingering aftermath forever. The rest of you have the luxury of forgetting. We can’t. And some of us have no intentions of forgiving.

 

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Vox: Where We Donate V. What Kills Us: Graphic

As a rule, he explained, “donating money to the best developing world health charities will reach at least 100 times as many people than if you donate to developed world health causes.” For example, consider the potential public-health impact of your dollars spent, using a measure of disease burden like the quality-adjusted life year. With ALS, he said that $56,000 would provide one quality-adjusted life year to a sufferer. On the other hand, he said, “the same amount of money could provide 500 quality-adjusted life years if you give money to bed nets for malaria.”

“People can get upset when you say some causes are more effective than others. That’s not true, because it’s as tragic for someone to die of ALS as it is for someone to die of malaria. But wanting to respect and honor a particular tragedy is different from trying to help as many people as you can.”

There are also tools that can inform your decisions. Charity Watch, for example, measures the effectiveness of non-profits. They look at the ratio of spending on actual programs to administrative costs. According their website: “Rather than merely repeat charities’ self-reported finances using simplistic or automated formulas, we delve deep to find the real story of how efficiently charities use your donations to fund the programs you want to support.”

Instead of focusing on financials, GiveWell has earned a reputation for scouring the globe to find charities that are most likely to touch the lives of the maximum number of people per dollar spent. As they put it, they conduct “in-depth research aiming to determine how much good a given program accomplishes (in terms of lives saved, lives improved, etc.) per dollar spent.”

Charity Navigator, meanwhile, is another well-respected watchdog that looks at the overhead-to-program spending ratio of various non-profits, though they say they’re moving toward a more robust calculus that will track how well charities are solving the problems they set out to tackle. For now, they offer a list of tips for savvy donors here.

The truth about the Ice Bucket Challenge: Viral memes shouldn’t dictate our charitable giving. Vox, 8/20/14,

[HT: The contrast between diseases that kill the most and diseases that produce the most donations: Jarvis DeBerry, 8/27/14, nola.com]

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“like he got hit in the eye with the butt of a gun”

One of the reasons the coroner determined suicide is mentioned in the autopsy report. He said White allegedly made a statement to police “that ‘he was gone’ or some similar phrasing before being placed in the patrol car.”

Neither [Louisiana attorney Carol Powell] Lexing nor White’s father believe he made any such statement.

As for the weapon used in White’s shooting, Louisiana State Police spokesman Brooks David told HuffPost on Monday that the weapon was not “a weapon used by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.”

According to White Sr., his son was not raised around guns and, to his knowledge, had never owned or handled one.

Lexing has her own theory on where the gun came from.

“If a gun existed, we think that it was a throw-down gun,” she said, insinuating police planted the gun at the scene.

Lexing also said she believes police caused two abrasions to White’s face, which are noted in the autopsy report.

“They told his parents the abrasions were caused when he shot himself,” she said. “That’s not true. I can tell you this boy’s left eye looked like he was beaten, like he got hit in the eye with the butt of a gun.”

Inquiries to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office were directed to the Louisiana State Police.

Contacted by HuffPost on Tuesday, Capt. Doug Cain, head of the state police public affairs unit, declined to address any of Lexing’s specific allegations.

“[The] state police was not involved in the incident at all,” Cain said. “We were brought in at the request of the sheriff to do an independent investigation. Our goal is to gather facts. That’s the only thing we deal with, and we’re getting close to the end of the investigation.”

Victor White’s Family Disputes Claim That Handcuffed Man Killed Himself. HuffPo, 8/27/14.

WHOA! Wait the mother fuck—contact wound?victor white iii contact wound autospy crop

contact wound victor white iii detail “Contact gunshot wound to the right chest” of a left-handed man handcuffed behind his back sitting in the back seat of a police cruiser. CONTACT wound? How the fuck could he put a gun to his own chest handcuffed behind his back? And, somehow, hit himself in the eye with this, or another, gun? All in the part of the parking lot not covered by surveillance cameras.

Really?!?

 

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Bit(ch) 19: “self-directed pursuits of pleasure without shame”

As a feminist who fucks*, I have no problem with “Anaconda.” I find it delightful.

* It isn’t the male gaze, dominant narratives of sexuality, or hegemonic femininity which reigns true throughout Minaj’s work. It’s her own sexual state of being. And when Nicki Minaj struts out in a string bikini or exudes her own sexuality in the middle of something otherwise empowering, it isn’t an inherent contradiction or a cause for debate. It’s simply a reflection of how many women — women who, often, feel comfortable with and empowered in their choices — are living their sexual lives. As sexual beings, we’re allowed to indulge in self-directed pursuits of pleasure without shame. We’re allowed to be frank about our own exploits. We’re feminists who fuck, and a lot of times it looks like both things happening at the exact same time.

“Anaconda” wasn’t an isolated incident, and it wasn’t Minaj’s first time articulating her own identity nor her last. Throughout her feminist declarations, however, has appeared the same specter of doubt. Feminists refuse to take Minaj’s statements seriously, continuously torn between embracing her sexually raw and eccentric persona with her own self-declared girl-power focus. It’s clear that when Minaj is making feminist statements in a language that resembles mainstream feminist discourse, folks are giddy to jump on the bandwagon — but her oversexualized state of being, her sexual aggression and occasional sexual dominance, often worry them.

This is hugely problematic.

It’s the impossibility to ultimately marry the image of a sexually empowered woman to her state of existence which allows for the distorted view of women’s sexuality to prosper. When feminists honor Minaj’s feminist lyrics, as they did with “Anaconda,” and then admonish her for expressing herself with sexually charged images and videos, they are playing into the same dominant narratives about women’s sexualities that perpetuate victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and the subordination of women.

The proof is in the pudding, respectability politics be damned. Nicki Minaj is a feminist, and she expresses that in her work. In the long run, what Minaj has contributed to the existing and ongoing dialogue of women’s oppression is the perspective of someone who refuses to be defined by any categories she doesn’t claim for herself or constrained by the desires of other people.

Today’s feminist blogosphere can get super hung up on who self-identifies as a feminist and who should be allowed to, but what that conversation ignores are both the variances among us as women and the real, lived experiences of women living in those variances. In a universe in which we are still enslaved to the dichotomy of “slut” or “virgin,” Nicki Minaj has chosen to live within her own spectrum of sexual expression — and she’s proven that at no matter where we land on that spectrum ourselves, we’re still whoever we damn well please, feminism and all.

Nicki Minaj’s Feminism Isn’t About Your Comfort Zone: On “Anaconda” and Respectability Politics. Autostraddle, 8/25/14.

A large part of sexist oppression is narrowing women and their sexuality to “respectable” limits that can be approved of by General Audiences. Fuck respectable. Fuck limits not chosen by me or chosen to confine me into something smaller, safer and easier to drown so someone’s dick doesn’t feel small.

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Victor White III

State police investigate in-custody death. The LA Weekly, 3/10/14.

The family is in the process of raising funds to pay for an independent autopsy of Victor White’s remains. Anyone who is interested in making a donation is encouraged to send monies to MidSouth Bank (account number 3428427). The family is also using social media to raise awareness about the case and encouraged anyone with information about the incident to come forward. For more information about the social media campaign, go to #JusticeForVic.

A similar incident occurred in Arkansas in 2012 involving 21-year-old Chavis Carter, who autho­rities say shot himself in the back of the head while handcuffed on the back seat of a police car.

“This doesn’t add up,” the Rev. Raymond Brown, a New Orleans community activist whose pro­tests in Jena several years ago raised national awareness about the plight of the Jena 6, told The Louisiana Weekly. “It just doesn’t make sense.

Man kills himself in backseat of Iberia Parish deputy’s car. The [Baton Rouge] Advocate, 3/10/14.

The Rev. Raymond Brown, president of National Action Now of New Orleans, said Monday night his organization also plans to look into the shooting death. The group also looked into an excessive force complaint against the Iberia Sheriff’s Office following a large street party in September.

“Something is seriously wrong with this picture,” Brown said Monday night of White’s shooting death.

Group wants Department of Justice to investigate suicide.  The [Baton Rouge] Advocate, 3/14/14.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” [Rev. Raymond] Brown [leader of the New Orleans branch of National Action Now] said. “How can you find the drugs and not the gun?”

Lt. Anthony Green, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the agency would not release the name of the arresting deputy nor say whether the deputy had been placed on leave.

Brown said video surveillance equipment at the Sheriff’s Office could shed light on what happened.

“These videos should show what took place,” he said. “A video camera would solve the problem.”

Green said there are no cameras located in the area where White was shot.

Green then said the Sheriff’s Office would remain silent until State Police release its report.

Unanswered Questions Still Haunt Family Of Victor White III. KPEL965.com, 4/4/14.

Rev. [Victor] White disputes the allegation that his son was arrested for participating in a fight. According to Rev. White,

We seen the video (from 300 Lewis Street where the fight occurred) and my son was not in a fight. There was a fight but my son was not involved in the fight. Looked at the video and my son was actually inside the store when they say he was outside when the fight took place.

Reverend White has a number of answered questions concerning the death of his son that he thinks will best answered by an independent autopsy. He has set up a GoFund account called ‘#Justice for Vic’ to raise the needed $15,000. An account has also been set up at Mid-South bank for anyone who would like to help.

State Police say gun used in White shooting death is not one deputies use. KATC.com, 8/22/14.

State Police Master Trooper Brooks David told us that troopers did originally believe the gunshot’s entrance wound came from the back, however following the coroner’s investigation, it was determined the entrance wound was from the front.

David said State Police are still waiting on evidence in the case. He said he cannot comment further on the active investigation.

Lt. Anthony Green, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman at the time of the shooting, said protocol calls for deputies to check suspects for weapons before they are placed into a police unit.

Who’s lying: the Iberia Parish Sheriff or Victor White III’s autopsy report? The IND, 8/22/14.

The autopsy by Christopher Tate, a forensic pathologist with the coroner’s office, reveals a number of glaring holes in the deputies’ account of White’s death, starting with a change in the cause of death from accidental shooting to suicide.

The report also shows that White was killed from a gunshot wound that entered the right side of his chest, tearing through his left lung and heart and exiting through his left armpit, leaving the upper arm with lacerations — a much different scenario than the handcuffed man who shot himself in the back as deputies claimed.

The autopsy further reveals that White suffered from some sort of blow to the face, listed on the report as two upper facial abrasions near his left eye.

In an article posted in the weeks after the shooting, Vice’s Cooper reports on a conversation with White’s father, Victor White Sr. From that conversation, which came way before the autopsy’s release, here’s what White says about his son and the deputies who arrested him: “I know they beat him before he arrived at the station, because those who were with him before he was arrested said he didn’t have a mark on him.”

White’s father also told Cooper that upon learning of Victor’s death, he immediately drove from Alexandria to New Iberia to see his son, but was initially refused by the sheriff’s office. And when he finally did get clearance, the body was covered from the neck down by a sheet, with sheriff’s officials refusing to disclose any details on what happened. It took a post on the sheriff’s Facebook page for White to learn how they were saying his son died, and for him, it didn’t add it up. And he certainly is not buying the coroner’s report that suicide caused his son’s death.

From the start, this case was shrouded in too many questions, but now, with the findings from White’s autopsy released, this situation has worsened for a sheriff’s department with a known history of unfair treatment of black residents in Iberia Parish.

Victor White autopsy findings released. KLFY.com, 8/23/14.

 

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Bit(ch) 18: Suicide? Really? [update]

How does a man handcuffed behind his back produce a gun [from nowhere] and shoot himself in the chest? And how is that a “suicide”? Because it happened in a police cruiser out of view of any surveillance cameras?

Victor White III: The Raw Story, image from Facebook

The Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office has released only the first page of the autopsy report, which contradicts statements initially made by State Police who said White shot himself in the back while handcuffed in the back of a sheriff’s unit.

According to the autopsy, the bullet entered White’s chest, then perforated his left lung and heart before exiting his armpit area and lacerating his upper arm.

The report rules White’s death a suicide.

State Police issued a release in March that said deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White was allegedly in possession of narcotics. Deputies handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff’s Office for processing, but said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back.

Autopsy report: Victor White III shot in the chest, not back. KATC.com, 8/21/14.

Police believe that White had somehow hidden a gun in the backseat of the cruiser and committed suicide by shooting himself. White died shortly after, with police stating there were no surveillance cameras in that area of the parking lot where the car was parked.

Questions were immediately raised as to how White could have smuggled a gun into the cruiser and then managed to shoot himself in the back when left alone.

According to the autopsy report, the bullet entered White’s chest, perforated his left lung and heart before exiting his armpit area and lacerating his upper arm.

The report still lists his death as a suicide.

Admitting that the case is still being investigated, State Police Master Trooper Brooks David said that state troopers originally did believe the gunshot entry wound was in White’s back.

No explanation was given for how White could have shot himself in the chest with his hands cuffed behind him.

Tom Boggioni. Autopsy report shows Louisiana police lied about suspect’s suicide by shooting self in back. The Raw Story, 8/22/14.

[Couldn't find any articles at nola.com but that could be for any number of reasons.]

UPDATE: 8/28/14: nola.com quotes a NBC News story on Victor White III and manages to never state that White was handcuffed behind his back. nola.com just calls it “handcuffed.”

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Bit(ch) 17: A Fucking Plastic Water Bottle?

But as the rally was winding down and most of the protesters were leaving the area, someone among the dozens still in the streets hurled a plastic water bottle at police.

Helmeted officers, some with heavy weapons and dogs, suddenly emerged in force. They ordered the remaining protesters to leave and chased down those who resisted as more bottles were thrown. Police later said they arrested 47 people and seized several loaded firearms, but no gunshots were fired.

Police arrest dozens overnight in Ferguson as prosecutors prepare case for grand jury. Reuters/The Raw Story, 8/20/14.

A plastic bottle is not a weapon, especially if thrown at someone wearing a helmet who’s heavily armed, nor does “more bottles” justify 47 arrests or dogs. This is still disproportionate response. Plastic bottles and rocks are not the same as Molotov cocktails or tear gas or rubber bullets or MRAPs.

Gregory McRae already is imprisoned for burning the body of Henry Glover – who was shot by another officer days after the 2005 storm.

…McRae’s lawyer says in court filings seeking leniency that McRae was suffering emotionally from the storm’s carnage when he burned the body. He also says McRae did not know Glover had been shot by another officer and didn’t realize he might be covering up a crime.

Ex-cop who burned body post-Katrina seeks leniency. KNOE.com, 8/15/14.

And post-Katrina/Floods “stress” is no excuse for burning a body, regardless of whose it was or where it was or when it was. There is no excuse.

Period.

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“But every time you show your face/Somebody dies, man”

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