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Reports: Remains of Jenni Rivera Have Been Recovered, Lupillo Rivera Arrives in Mexico

The remains of singer Jenni Rivera and six others were recovered in Northern Mexico overnight and taken to a Mexican forensics facility, CBS reported authorities said Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is assisting Mexican authorities with the investigation, confirmed Monday that Rivera died in the crash near Iturbide, Nuevo Leon.

The singer’s brother Lupillo Rivera arrived in Mexico Tuesday morning for formal identification of the remains of his sister, Televisa Noticias reports.

Televisa reports:

It is expected that in the course of the next few hours officials will proceed with rigorous DNA samples to formalize the corresponding legal proceedings and move the remains of the Diva of Banda to the state of California, where funeral plans will be made.

The singer’s lawyer, publicist and the plane’s flight crew also perished, CBS News reports.

TAGS: Jenni Rivera

Culture of Sexual Abuse in New Orleans Prison Addressed with Consent Decree

The U.S. Department of Justice has reached agreement with New Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) for a federal consent decree that will hopefully halt a culture of unlawful abusive conditions for prisoners.

“Conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison have been dangerous and unacceptable for far too long,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Arrest for a criminal offense should not subject anyone to a sentence of physical and sexual assaults, inadequate medical care, and risks of suicide and mental health decompensation.”

A 2008 federal investigation into OPP turned up a list of violations against the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) — violations that had not been corrected as of April this year. Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit to compel OPP to improve safety measures for those imprisoned, especially in terms of sexual assault and rape.

“We are hopeful the judge will agree that this settlement is in the best interest of all parties involved,” said Katie Schwartzmann, managing attorney for the SPLC’s New Orleans office and lead attorney on the case. “We also applaud Sheriff Gusman and his office for taking the important first step of acknowledging the problems within the jail. While implementation will be difficult, we are committed to improving conditions, and will work with him to do so. We also need the city to work with us and provide the funding to truly fix this jail.”

The terms of the consent decree include a monitoring plan for prison operations, new policies governing the use of force and restraints on prisoners, proper documenting of excessive force from prison staff, a plan to make sure there is adequate staffing to ensure prisoner safety, a ban on placing teenagers in cells with adult prisoners, guidelines for medical and mental health provisions, and assurance that Spanish-speaking inmates will have better access to medical treatment.

An independent monitor is also called for to monitor progress and submit bi-yearly compliance reports. This announcement follows a federal consent decree that gives DOJ oversight over New Orleans Police Department after a pattern of abuse and corruption was exposed, especially following Hurricane Katrina.

Read a copy of the consent decree here.

Obama: Right-To-Work Laws Mean ‘Right To Work For Less Money’ [Video]

Obama: Right-To-Work Laws Mean 'Right To Work For Less Money' [Video]

President Barack Obama visited the Detroit Diesel Corp. plant Monday to build support for his plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” During his visit he dubbed the state’s “Right to work bill” as the “right to work for less” bill.

Right-to-work laws are “giving you the right to work for less money,” Obama said.

“What we shouldn’t be doing is try to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions,” he said, arguing for the need for high-skilled, well-payed workers. “We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”

Earlier this year, Indiana became a right-to-work state, and in 2011, Wisconsin passed laws restricting union rights for public workers.

Penn State Plans March To Counter Sorority’s Mexican-themed Halloween Photo

Penn State Plans March To Counter Sorority's Mexican-themed Halloween Photo

A photograph of Penn State sorority members donning sombreros and ponchos at a Mexican fiesta-themed Halloween party made national headlines news last week.

In the picture, dozens of young women are seen wearing fake mustaches and sombreros with one woman holding a sign that reads: “Will mow lawn for weed + beer.”

Penn State officials chose not to pursue any disciplinary actions but the student body is planning it’s own action later this week.

“Unfortunately, the Chi Omega incident is just one of many instances of racial insensitivity that has beleaguered the Penn State community in recent years,” a Penn State student group called PSU For All Student Equality said in a news release.

The group said it is denouncing “all forms of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia and seeks to draw attention to social inequality, like those before us.”

The Centre Daily Times interviewed one of the organizers behind the march:

Penn State junior Manuel Figueroa, the Penn State Puerto Rican Association student, is helping to organize the peaceful march and said the route will go from East Halls into the heart of campus with a stop at Old Main.

Figueroa said PSU For All Student Equality includes students from multicultural groups, advocacy groups and students concerned about diversity issues at the university, where Hispanic students make up 5 percent of the 45,351 undergraduate and graduate population.

Asian students make up another 5 percent, and black students are about 4 percent of the population. There are 5,540 international students at Penn State’s main campus.

A letter sent out last week by Penn State president Rodney Erickson didn’t specifically reference the photos or name the Chi Omega sorority but said it became clear in recent days that some students “celebrated Halloween in costumes that offended others” and acted contrary to university values.

Erickson said the school won’t pursue disciplinary action.

Chi Omega’s national governing council placed the Penn State chapter on probation effective last week.

Jenni Rivera’s Kids Say Keep Your Condolences, ‘She is Not Dead’

Jenni Rivera's Kids Say Keep Your Condolences, 'She is Not Dead'

Jenni Rivera’s immediate family has taken to social media to release statements saying they’re still holding on to hope. Rivera’s eldest daughter Chiquis and even 11-year-old Johnny Lopez have regularly updated their Instagram and Twitter feeds to tell fans they need physical confirmation to believe their mother is no longer with us.

“With all my affection and respect I ask you not to send me condolences. I appreciate your affection but I’m not ready to receive any of it until something is confirmed. Thanks - RRF,” tweeted Rivera’s sister Rosie on Monday.

Rivera’s youngest son Johnny Lopez, 11, has had several exchanges on social media with individuals who have identified as psychics and say they’re in touch with Rivera.

“EVERYONE!!!! WE HAVE GOOD NEWS FROM A PHYSIC!!!! [SIC] She is alive,” Lopez tweeted at 1am Monday. He went on to post images grabbed from the Maps application on iPhones and said he was doing his own investigation.

“Doing my own investigation on maps. Good thing they have 3D so I can se [SIC] what and what not is a mountain/clif,” Lopez wrote on Instagram.

Rivera’s eldest daughter, Janney “Chiquis” Marin also uploaded a message of hope to Instagram. She uploaded an image that reads “Let your faith be bigger than your fears.”

Rivera’s brother has also made similar statements in television and print media interviews.

“In our eyes, we still have faith that our sister will be OK,” Rivera’s brother Juan told reporters outside the family’s Long Beach, Calif., home, Reuters reports.

“We thank God for the life that He has given … my sister,” he continued. “For all the triumphs and successes she has had, and we expect that there will be more in the future.”

National Korean American Museum Coming to Los Angeles

National Korean American Museum Coming to Los Angeles

On Oct.1, the Korean American Museum signed a 55-year lease with the City of Los Angeles to open a 45k-square-feet facility. The museum will re-open as a national museum at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Sixth Street in the heart of L.A.’s Koreatown.

KoreAm has more details:

With the new agreement in place, the museum will launch a $5 million fundraising campaign in the spring of 2013 in order to build a 45,000-square- foot, three-story cultural center, according to city documents. The museum has announced such campaigns in the past, but this one seems the most viable, with a site both predetermined and secured. The museum needs to start building within three years, or the land deal terms can change.

Plans include two exhibition halls, a community auditorium, activity rooms for arts education, a museum store, a rooftop garden and café. An open call for architects has been announced, and international inquiries are trickling in, some from Korean firms. A formal kickoff, likely a fundraising dinner, will be held next March, with hopes that this time, the museum will draw nation- wide attention and support. Museum officials say—though it’s unconfirmed and names aren’t being named—that $1 million has already been pledged.

KoreAm notes rumors in the community that the new permanent site for the museum was procured as a “peace token” to the Koreatown community by L.A. Councilman Herb Wesson’s office. “Wesson was, after all, the council president who oversaw (and some say finagled) the redistricting process that deprived Koreatown from being in one Asian-influenced council district,” Katherine Yungmee Kim wrote on KoreAm.

KAM program coordinator Irene Hong dismissed those rumors.

The largest ethnic Korean population in the U.S. is in Southern California (LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties.)

Gabrielle Douglas Interviewed by Melissa Harris Perry’s 10-Year-Old Daughter [Video]

Gabrielle Douglas Interviewed by Melissa Harris Perry's 10-Year-Old Daughter [Video]

Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas was a guest on Melissa Harris Perry’s over the weekend. But Douglas wasn’t interviewed by the regular host.

Watch Melissa Harris Perry’s daughter Parker, 10, interview the first African-American woman to ever win a gold medal in the Olympics all-around gymnastics competition.

At Least Caroline Wozniacki Didn’t Show Up in Black Face to Imitate Serena Williams

At Least Caroline Wozniacki Didn't Show Up in Black Face to Imitate Serena Williams

Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki impersonated Serena Williams during an exhibition match over the weekend. The Danish tennis player stuffed her front and behind using towels.

Maybe if she imitated Serena’s actual tennis moves she’d actually win. The exhibition ended with Wozniacki losing to star Maria Sharapova 6-2 7-6.

Perhaps stunts like this is why college students keep on having those parties where they impersonate other people?

TIME’s Poll: #3 Undocumented Immigrants, #4 Gabby Douglas

TIME's Poll: #3 Undocumented Immigrants, #4 Gabby Douglas

Voting for the TIME’s 2012 person of the year poll closes tomorrow but the winners appear to be set.

Kim Jong Un is currently in first place with 5,451,327 with definitely votes. 

Jon Stewart follows with 2,223,306 definitely votes. 

Undocumented Immigrants come in third place with 1,441,270 definitely votes. 

Gabby Douglas came in 4th.

And the list goes on… that is, to spell out “KJUGASCHAMBERS.”

You see the TIME’s poll was taken over by 4chan, the image-based bulletin board with 18 million visitors a month. 4chan’s mission was to spell out “KJUGASCHAMBERS” with the first letter of every TIME candidate’s name. “KJUGASCHAMBERS” is the name of the concentration camp near the border of Russia and China, used by the North Korean government according to the Guardian.

TIME Magazine will announce the winner of the reader’s poll on Thursday.

Walmart Security Guard Kills Woman Who Had Two Kids in Backseat of Car

Walmart Security Guard Kills Woman Who Had Two Kids in Backseat of Car

Walmart has confirmed that an off-duty officer they hired to patrol a Houston Walmart shot and killed a woman suspected of shoplifting.

The off duty Harris County Sheriff’s deputy killed Shelly Frey, a 27-year-old mother of two as she allegedly sped off in a car. Frey was a passenger in the car.

Frey’s mother tells KHOU that there were also “two small children” in the car at the time of the shooting but they were not Frey’s children.

KHOU-TV spoke with Frey’s family:

“Shelly was the perfect mom, perfect friend, perfect daughter,” said her father, Shelton Frey.

Frey said the 27-year-old mother of two had moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina to start a new life. He said she was limited by how much she could work because of a 2-year-old girl with sickle cell anemia.

After a cousin called to tell them what happened, Frey’s parents drove straight from New Orleans.

The parents said they were never contacted by investigators and that they were not allowed to see their daughter’s body. She was the oldest of three children.

“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep—I just need to know,” her mother Sharon Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said she also needs to know why the deputy took the shot he did.

“Why couldn’t you just shoot the tire, shoot the window?” she asked. “Was it that serious?”

Walmart offered the following statement to local ABC affiliate KTRK:

“This is a tragic situation and we recognize this is a difficult time for all parties involved. We’re committed to working with law enforcement and providing any information we have as they determine the facts of the case. Because this is an active investigation, any specific details of the incident should come from law enforcement.

We hire off duty officers to provide security to some of our stores. While we have policies in place for our associates to disengage from situations that might put them or others in harm’s way, off-duty officers working at a WM store are authorized to act in accordance with their department’s code of conduct.”

Both women who survived the shooting have been charged with crimes. The deputy that shot Frey is on three days paid leave.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit, Office of the Inspector General and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will investigate this incident. The case will be turned over to a grand jury.

LAPD Apologizes to Biggie Smalls’ Family for Autopsy Lapse

LAPD Apologizes to Biggie Smalls' Family for Autopsy Lapse

The LAPD said in a statement Saturday that the department has apologized for releasing a coroner’s report on Christopher Wallace’s death before speaking with the hip hop star’s family.

Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls, was shot and killed after leaving a music industry event in March 1997.

The detectives had intended to notify the rapper’s family, but the report was released prematurely “due to an administrative error,” the department said in a statement.

LA Daily News has more details:

“Our detectives personally spoke with the Wallace family last night, and apologized for not notifying them prior to the release,” said LAPD Capt. Billy Hayes, commanding officer of Robbery-Homicide Division.

“Obviously this has been a challenging case for us to solve. We hope that witnesses or other people with information will come forward and give us the clues we need to solve this case.”

Police said “the decision to release the autopsy report was done as an investigative tool, in the hopes that releasing the report would stimulate additional interest or bring forth witnesses or clues in the case.”

The AP points out the 23-page report revealed the FBI looked into whether any Los Angeles police officers were involved in Wallace’s shooting.

Activists Want Rent Relief For NYC Residents Without Power Post-Sandy

Activists Want Rent Relief For NYC Residents Without Power Post-Sandy

Elderly and special needs residents living in New York City Housing Authority high rises were stuck inside their apartments for weeks after Hurricane Sandy. A New York Times examination published on Sunday found 77,000 public housing residents were without power, heat or running water — some for up to three weeks.

The New York Times found that while the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) moved aggressively to evacuate residents before the storm, they were “woefully unprepared to help its residents deal with Hurricane Sandy’s lingering aftermath.”

An excerpt from the NYT:

The city, which did not enforce its mandatory evacuation order, could not assess the medical needs of residents stuck atop darkened, freezing towers until nearly two weeks after the storm. It relied on ragtag bands of volunteers who quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the task of reaching, comforting and caring for trapped residents. And the seemingly simplest things, like towing portable lighting towers into the Red Hook public housing complex, took 11 days, all because the housing authority had not properly prepared for a major disaster.

Again and again, city officials publicly predicted that the crisis in public housing was on the verge of being resolved, contributing to a perception at City Hall that there was no need to mobilize an extensive effort to provide medical care.

The report included accounts of tenants in wheelchairs who had no way of getting downstairs, diabetics who needed insulin, others who were simply short on food or using stoves to stay warm.

ColorOfChange, the nation’s largest online black civil rights organization has launched a petition urging NYCHA Chairman John Rhea to grant immediate rent relief to storm-impacted public housing residents.

NYCHA Chairman Rhea has pledged to refund rent to storm-impacted residents at least for those days spent without essential services — but not until January 2013.

“35,000 mostly low-income Black and Latino children, families, and elderly and sick residents of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) were left to suffer — in cold, pitch-black apartments without running water — for up to three weeks,” read an email sent to ColorOfChange members on Monday.

“Before Sandy hit, NYCHA residents were already among the lowest-income folks in the five boroughs and, due to lost work hours caused by business closures and massive transit disruptions, many are now coping with even less,” [the email continued.](http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/NYCHA_rent/

The ColorOfChange email ends by pointing members to the petition. “Now that the storm has passed, John Rhea should be working around the clock to abate the needless suffering NYCHA has caused residents — not taking steps to compound it.”

Visit ColorOfChange.org for more information on their campaign.

Jenni Rivera Fought For Women, Immigrants and LGBT Youth

After hours of speculation Mexican officials announced late Sunday that a plane carrying Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera was found and that they believed there were no survivors.

Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s transportation and communications minister, said authorities found what remained of the plane in mountainous terrain in northeastern Mexico, just south of Monterrey, on Sunday night.

Rivera’s makeup artist uploaded a picture to Instagram shortly before the plane took off. Rivera is believed to have boarded the aircraft with her publicist Arturo Rivera; stylist Jorge Sanchez; makeup artist Jacobo Lienares; attorney Mario Macias; and the pilots. “We getting Back To Mexico City…..jenni Rivera ,Arturo , Gigi and Me.. Los Amooo!”

“My son Lupillo told me that effectively it was Jenni’s plane that crashed and that everyone on board died,” her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home. “I believe my daughter’s body is unrecognizable.”

Rivera’s family will travel to Mexico on Tuesday to help identify her remains and they plan on transporting the body to Los Angeles for services, according to Televisa.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rivera was born and raised in Long Beach, California. She was fluent in Spanish, English and Spanglish and had fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

For many Latinos she was a symbol of successfully straddling two cultures. She grew up in a Spanish-speaking home with Mexican traditions and attended Long Beach Unified School District schools that taught in English. And she believed that both the English and Spanish language were equally as important.

Rivera gained notoriety singing a traditional style of music usually reserved for men and was succesful in both Mexico and the United States. She was a judge on Mexico’s version of “The Voice” and most recently signed a deal with ABC to star in her own television show on the U.S. network. Rivera was supposed to star in the show as a “strong, middle-class, single Latina woman working to raise a family” while fighting the cultural perception that she needed a man to do it.

The new show looked promising and included big names behind iconic sitcoms like Designing Women, Full House and Family Matters.

Rivera was someone who stood up for what she believed in. She never held back and oftentimes she found herself in the center of controversies. Most recently a divorce and a very public flight with her oldest daughter made headline news.

But Rivera also stood up for several causes that were close to her heart, most notably the rights of those who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse.

While attending Long Beach Poly High School, Rivera became pregnant with the first of her five children, and eventually married the child’s father, José Trinidad Marín in 2006. Marín was later convicted of raping Rivera’s daughter and a sister-in-law.

That experience lead her to champion the rights of single mothers, young mothers and those who have experienced sexual violence. Her songs became anthems for many women.

On August 6, 2010, Jenni Rivera was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Battered Women and Domestic Violence in Los Angeles. “In her life, Jenni has fought for women’s rights, for protection of children subject to abuse, and had dedicated herself to the empowerment and protection of battered women everywhere,” read a press release announcing Rivera’s appointment.

That same day, the L.A. City Council officially named August 6th Jenni Rivera Day in honor of her work in the community.

Rivera was also outspoken about other political issues.

She was one of the first celebrities to call Arizona’s SB1070 law “racist” and attended marches in Arizona.

“[SB1070] is an injustice, it’s discriminatory, it’s hate, it doesn’t respect humanity and it’s racist,” Rivera told reporters at a 2010 march in Arizona. Rivera marched with immigrant rights groups for five miles in 110 degree heat and would end up in an emergency room that night as a result.

To express her support for LGBT youth and to stand up against bullying Rivera participated in Spirit Day in 2011. GLAAD points out Rivera performed in a purple dress at the Billboard Awards for Mexican music to honor those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.

Rivera is said to have been excited about her new show with ABC because she would travel less.

Univision’s lead entertainment (and gossip) reporter Raul “El Gordo” De Molina said Sunday Rivera had expressed fear that something would happen to her because she was traveling so much. “She told me ‘Raul, I’m putting my life at risk every weekend traveling so much, I don’t want to keep presenting myself at all these places because I don’t know what’s going to happen.’”

The fear of dying was something she had felt years before.

After a 2003 car accident, Rivera wrote a song titled “Cuando Se Muere Una Dama” which translates to “When a Lady Dies.” The song is about how she would like to be remembered. 

An excerpt from “Cuando Se Muere Una Dama” is below:

I want one last celebration at my funeral 

all those who loved me will have to celebrate

remembering my smile and the way I cry


I was a strong guerillera 

I fought hard for my children 

Remember well that in life 

Your mother didn’t break

With my head held high 

With honor say goodbye

Jenni Rivera Was One of First Stars to Call Arizona’s SB1070 Racist

On Sunday morning Mexican officials confirmed a small plane carrying Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera went missing shortly after it took off. The Associated Press reported the plane left Monterrey, Mexico about 3:30 a.m. and went missing 10 minutes later.

Televisa Mexico reported Sunday afternoon officials located Rivera’s plane and no survivors were found. An NBCUniversal spokeswoman confirmed to the LA Times that Rivera was aboard the plane.

The news comes days after Rivera, a mother of five, closed a deal to star in her own sitcom with ABC titled ‘Jenni.’

Rivera, 43, was born and raised in Long Beach, California, is best known for her interpretations of Mexican regional music known as nortena and banda.

Rivera has also spoken about the rights of immigrants and was one of the first celebrities to join activists in Arizona after SB 1070 was introduced.

“While other artists have contributed their names, Jenni has offered to present herself on May 29, 2010, at the Capitol stage at the culmination of the march that will bring thousands of people together to join in Jenni Rivera’s plea to end this vicious attack on the immigrant and Latino community as whole,” read a press release sent out by AltoArizona shortly before a 2010 march.

Below are three clips of Rivera speaking out for immigrants:

“[SB1070] is an injustice, it’s discriminatory, it’s hate, it doesn’t respect humanity and it’s racist,” Rivera told reporters at a 2010 rally in Arizona.

Neat Freak Alfreta Sailor Wants You To Know ‘Bleach is Your Friend’

Neat Freak Alfreta Sailor Wants You To Know 'Bleach is Your Friend'

Alfreta Sailor says she uses three big bottles of bleach a week to clean her apartment. And she wants you to remember one thing: “Bleach is your friend, people!”

Millionaire Marc Paskin’s Billboard for ‘Latina Girlfriend’ is Now Half Gone

Millionaire Marc Paskin's Billboard for 'Latina Girlfriend' is Now Half Gone

San Diego millionaire Marc Paskin, 62, purchased a billboard on the I-5 and 28th Street in Barrio Logan that states, “All I Want for Christmas is a Latina Girlfriend.” But just a day after the billboard was posted half of it disappeared.

And it may not be vandalism. Take a look at San Diego 10news.com’s report:

The lower portion of the billboard has ripped off, which seems strange since it was put up the day before.

10News contacted Paskin, who declined to comment but said he will gladly talk to 10News when he returns from a business trip next week.

At this point, it’s unclear if the sign could be part of another TV show.

So maybe it was all part of a stunt?

Public records show the Barrio Logan neighborhood has a population of about 47,000—about 35,000 residents are Latino.

Undocumented Youth Take Over the National Mall With Kites [Photos]

Undocumented Youth Take Over the National Mall With Kites [Photos]

CultureStrike, the national arts and activism group, teamed up with undocumented youth and NY-based artist Miguel Luciano to hold a kite-based symbolic public art project in Washington D.C.

The kites were flown over the National Mall and the White House by a group of undocumented youth and self-described DREAMers on Friday. Organizers say the kite project embodies a simple statement: “The desire for freedom and dignity is universal, and the natural human need to migrate can’t be suppressed.”

The Puerto Rican-born Luciano worked with a number of undocumented youth to create large-scale kites emblazoned with their life-size self-portraits, to soar symbolically over a political arena where immigration issues have still not been humanely addressed.

“While the kites can physically transcend a fence or border from the sky, they can also address non-physical borders metaphorically,” Luciano told the CultureStrike blog. “It is a symbolic action to raise our own images into the sky and celebrate our dreams, desires, and indeed our right to fly and be free. These are universal desires, and can be applied to community struggles throughout the world.”

Michigan Poised to Become 24th ‘Right-to-Work’ State

Michigan union supporters flooded the state capitol yesterday, outraged over a fast moving and unexpected move by the legislature to pass sweeping anti-union legislation. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he’d sign the the bills into law when it arrives on his desk next week. Once he does, Michigan, the symbolic center of American manufacturing and unions, will become the 24th so-called, right-to-work state. The laws bar unions from collecting mandatory dues directly from workers. New employees get the benefits of union contracts without paying dues and, unions say, as fewer workers join, collective bargaining agreements slacken and wages fall.

The Associated Press reports:

Just hours after they were introduced, both chambers approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. The Senate quickly followed by voting to impose the same requirement on most public unions.

Although rumors had circulated for weeks that right-to-work measures might surface during the session’s waning days, the speed with which the GOP-dominated Legislature acted Thursday caught many onlookers by surprise. Details of the bills weren’t made publicly available until they were read aloud on both floors as debate began.

The chaos drew raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.

Because of rules requiring a five-day delay between votes in the two chambers on the same legislation, final enactment could not take place until Tuesday at the earliest. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously had said repeatedly that right-to-work was “not on my agenda,” told reporters Thursday he would sign the measures.

The Michigan law is just the latest blow to unionized manufacturing work in the United States, which has been losing numbers in general for decades. Nearly 40 percent of private sector manufacturing workers were unionized in the early 1970s. Now, about ten percent of these workers belong to a union.

The news from Michigan comes on the heels of several major union losses in the midwest. Earlier this year, Indiana became a right-to-work state, and in 2011, Wisconsin passed laws restricting union rights for public workers.

George Zimmerman Sues NBC Over Edited 911 Tape

George Zimmerman Sues NBC Over Edited 911 Tape

George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday for broadcasting an edited version of his 911 call to make him sound racist, the lawsuit says. Zimmerman is charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The video above, which includes both the original and edited audio clip, was produced by the conservative media group PJMedia.

The Associated Press reports:

The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money in Seminole County, outside Orlando. Also named in the complaint were three reporters covering the story for NBC or an NBC-owned television station.

The complaint said the airing of the edited call has inflicted emotional distress on Zimmerman, making him fear for his life and causing him to suffer nausea, insomnia and anxiety.

“NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain,” the lawsuit says.

“Because of NBC’s deceptive and exploitative manipulations, the public wrongly believes that Zimmerman ‘use(d) a racial epithet’ while describing Martin during the call to the dispatcher on that fateful night,” the suit says.

NBC Universal disputed the accusations Friday.

“There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly,” the company said in a prepared statement. “We intend to vigorously defend our position in court.”

Prison GEO Group Exec Threatened to Deport Daughter-in-Law

Prison GEO Group Exec Threatened to Deport Daughter-in-Law

Some shocking video footage was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday that claims it shows a high ranking official with the GEO Group testifying that he indeed threatened to deport his daughter-in-law. In the video, Thomas M. Wierdsma, a Senior Vice President for Project Development at GEO confirms he said he would use his position of power to deport his son’s Hungarian wife.

Wierdsma threatened to deport Beatrix Szeremi after she went to the police to report a long history of domestic abuse. Wierdsma’s son, Charles Wierdsma was accused of multiple drunken beatings, almost drowning Szeremi in a bathtub, and an attempted suffocation with a pillow. According to court documents there were 20 incidences in all during the short marriage.

GEO Group is the country’s second largest private prison company. GEO also manages 9 immigration detention centers in the U.S. plus other immigration facilities abroad, including the Migrant Operations Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Wierdsma Sr. was upset Szeremi wouldn’t leave a property he says he owns.

The Daily Camera reports the details obtained through interviews and court documents:

The Hungarian-born Szeremi, who came to the United States six years ago and got permanent legal residency, or a green card, received an email from Thomas Wierdsma, a senior vice president with the GEO Group, that sent chills down her spine. GEO is one of the largest private prison companies in the world — with $1.6 billion in revenues and 20,000 employees across 115 facilities — and the company operates several immigration detention facilities for the federal government, including one in Aurora.

“I understand that you currently have no plans to move out of our home,” the elder Wierdsma wrote on June 21, 2011. “I will be copying the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement with this and other information. As you know, I funded the legal work and processing fees for you to become a citizen but am now disappointed in your actions which now require legal proceedings.”

In July 2012, a Boulder County jury awarded Szeremi $1.2 million after a weeklong civil trial. The jurors found that both men had exhibited “outrageous conduct.”

Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter, wrote about the GEO group in September. He noted “GEO Group’s prisons and immigrant detention centers have a track record of abuse, deaths, sexual violence and medical neglect of inmates and detainees.”

According to the company’s website The GEO Group, Inc. is also the world’s leading provider of correctional detention, and residential treatment services with 108 facilities, approximately 75,000 beds, and 20,000 employees around the globe.

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