Endless Versions of You in Endless Parallel Universes? Physicist Sean Carroll Says It’s Possible.

The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics holds that reality is constantly splitting, creating many versions of physicist Sean Carroll–and everything else. (Credit: Bill Youngblood/Corey S. Powell) Conventionally speaking, there is a single physicist named Sean Carroll at Caltech, busily puzzling over the nature of the quantum world. In the theoretical sense, though, he may […]

7-Year-Old Girl Is Shot in Chicago While Trick-or-Treating, Police Say

A 7-year-old girl was shot in the neck while trick-or-treating with her family on Chicago’s West Side on Thursday evening, leaving her in critical condition, the police said. The shooting, which happened around 5:30 p.m. in the Little Village neighborhood, occurred when at least one person in a group of at least three men opened […]

Open thread for night owls: Zuckerberg’s defense of politicians’ paid lies is greedy rubbish

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Simon Jenkins at The Guardian writes—Ignore Zuckerberg’s self-serving rubbish. Facebook must be regulated:

Let us be grateful for small mercies. Thank you Twitter for banning political advertising. Given that such advertising is by its nature biased, tendentious and hard to check, Twitter is behaving as a good publisher should. Politicians may make full use of its outlet. That is democracy. But as the organisation’s chief, Jack Dorsey, points out, with social media awash in “micro-targeting, deepfakes, manipulated videos and misinformation”, those who control it should keep it as clean as possible. Money may not buy truth, but it should not drown fairness.

Facebook disagrees. Its boss, Mark Zuckerberg, declares it “not right for private companies to censor politicians or the news”. He subscribes to the romantic view of social media as the yellow brick road of digital’s global village. The road should not dictate who travels along it, it should just collect the tolls. That includes advertisers, the sustenance of Zuckerberg’s $500bn empire. This argument reruns the celebrated – or notorious – US supreme court ruling on Citizens United in 2010, which overturned restrictions on campaign finance as being an offence against free speech. From then on, lobbyists, corporations, tycoons, anyone with money, could spend what they liked during an election. It declared open season for fake news, targeted ads and dark money “Super Pacs”. That season gave us Donald Trump, and has yet to close.

There was some argument for the 2010 decision, as there is in Zuckerberg’s opposition to curbs on advertising. If an ad is mendacious, let the reader judge it as such. Don’t censor the web. If you suppress one form of debate, you shift power to another – in this case editors of the “elitist media”. The democracy of the web should be free to air, come poor and rich. This might have cut ice in digital’s golden age, the nineties and noughties. If you let everything hang out, was the line, global peace would emerge as if from a celestial algorithm. It has not turned out that way. […]

We can all see benefits in the digital revolution. We can also see bad driving out good. As catalogued in Shoshana Zuboff’s tome of our times, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, we get intrusion, bullying, obscenity and extremism in a thousand devious guises.

Zuckerberg’s oft-repeated claim that he is not a “publisher” is self-serving rubbish.

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“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
~~Bill Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act IV, Scene I (1605)

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At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—Suppressing the vote:

The late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist cut his political teeth suppressing the vote in Arizona. It was an issue at his confirmation hearings, but it didn’t prevent his being seated.

One of the more under-reported stories about the stolen Florida presidential election of 2000 was the racist and partisan purging of legitimate voters, to suppress the Democratic vote count. And in Florida, it didn’t end there. […]

We later found out that the Bush White House had been replacing U.S. attorneys for refusing to play along with their attempts to intimidate voters.

In 2007, the Republican Secretary of State of Louisiana purged tens of thousands of mostly minority voters, without going through proper procedures.

This year, groups tied to Koch Industries are continuing their efforts to suppress the vote in Wisconsin, where a champion of campaign reform may lose his Senate seat to a climate denierand enabler of pederasts.

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LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Nats lock it up! Greg Dworkin has impeachment news & the vote on ground rules. Igor (not a Halloween Twitter name) Fruman wants looser bail terms, despite his airport arrest. Exploding gender reveals? Bad idea. Bannon’s back, with Team Falun Gong

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Report: Detained immigrants say they were forced to clean detention facility for $1 a day

Immigrant detainees say they have been forced to work for as low as one dollar per day in detention facilities—and some say they never got paid at all, as reported by Jerry Iannelli at Miami New Times. Now, newly revealed internal staff emails seriously strengthen those claims.

The story behind this lawsuit goes back a few years to Raul Novoa, a man originally from Mexico who had been living in Los Angeles on a green card before being held at Adelanto Detention Center in California. In 2017, after being held at the center from 2012 to 2015, Novoa sued GEO Group, alleging that detainees were forced to work for a mere dollar per day. What is the GEO Group, by the way? As covered previously at Daily Kos, it’s an enormous for-profit detention company. GEO makes a ton off of the government each year, to boot.

Novoa’s complaint alleged that in addition to working as janitors, detainees were forced to do laundry, work in kitchens, cut each other’s hair in facility barbershops, and, bizarrely, even do clerical work for the company. If these allegations are true, detainees were basically doing the upkeep of the facility they were being held in. Nina DiSalvo, executive director of Towards Justice, spoke to that idea, telling Mother Jones, “If GEO was absorbing all of the labor costs, its profit would be less.”

Novoa also alleges he was served “moldy bread” and “rotten meat,” making the dollar daily wage basically a requirement if he wanted to get his own food. Novoa isn’t alone in these accusations—five other detainees; Abdiaziz Karim, Gagandeep Marhwaha, Ramon Mancia, Jamie Campos Fuentes, and Fernando Munoz Aguilera, have come forward and offered similar statements to the court. Their allegations? Equally horrifying.

One person claims he had to clean maggots and worms out of shower drains. Another stated that he did kitchen work for about 18 cents per hour. The common factor in these new allegations is that these detainees were forced to work at these unethical wages in order to afford necessary hygiene items, like toothpaste, or food. Many say they were never paid for their labor in the end, anyway.

One detail that’s getting a particular amount of attention? As reported by Miami New Times, internal emails from staffers which include complaints that detainees were not scrubbing the facility to their liking. After receiving an email of this nature in May, for example, subordinates reportedly made detainees wax floors, mop, and sweep wings of the detention center. 

Ethics aside, why, if true, is this a problem? Immigration detainees are held on civil charges instead of criminal ones. Detainees have not been convicted of crimes. On a basic level, this is what (theoretically) separates the treatment of immigration detainees and incarcerated people. Voluntary work programs, however, are authorized by the federal government. Provided they’re actually voluntary, they’re technically legal.

Novoa, however, says he was coerced into working as a janitor at the facility. He said that if he refused to clean in the facility, his refusal to work would have landed him in solitary confinement. Another detainee claims he was threatened with being transferred to another housing unit at the facility. So even removing the pay factor from the equation, these claims paint a picture where “choice” is essentially a fever-dream.

“If given a meaningful choice, Mr. Novoa would not have worked for $1 per day,” the suit stated. When people are systemically disenfranchised of power and autonomy, choices they’re “offered” are choices only in language, not in the practical world. 

What does the company have to say about all of this? GEO passed the buck to ICE. GEO explained that it doesn’t employ the immigrants in question, and thusly doesn’t need to adhere to minimum-wage laws. If GEO doesn’t employ these people, who does? ICE.

“This is not and has never been a program implemented unilaterally by service providers like GEO, and the wage rates associated with this federal government program are stipulated under long-established guidelines set by the United States Congress,” a GEO spokesperson explained to Capital & Main.

And while according to ICE, detainees only need to keep their immediate space clean (no clutter, beds made, and so on), this all circles back to the idea that this “work program” is voluntary. But as discussed above, a work program isn’t “voluntary” if you’re threatened with solitary confinement if you refuse to participate.

‘Arrogant, lazy, ideologue’ Trump nominee cries crocodile tears in confirmation hearing

The American Bar Association, a nonpartisan professional organization that has for decades provided advice to the Senate on the qualifications of judicial nominees, made one such nominee cry. That’s because it rated him unqualified because, basically, he’s a horrible human being.

The committee providing these assessments rates candidates “on a review of integrity,
professional competence, and judicial temperament,” and, based on those things, it found Lawrence J.C. VanDyke not qualified to serve on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. They conducted 60 interviews with lawyers and judges and another individual who have all worked directly with him or faced him and are familiar with him professionally. And, damn. While they find he is “highly educated” and has “nearly 14 years of experience” in appellate law, they write, “Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules. There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” Which makes him a perfect Trump nominee. The committee’s evaluator raised these concerns with VanDyke, including that he was unlikely to be fair particularly to LGBTQ litigants. “Mr. VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”

Apparently figuring that over-the-top emoting in a hearing worked for Brett Kavanaugh, VanDyke tried that in his confirmation hearing, breaking into crocodile tears at the suggestion he was an antigay bigot. He did not say that he would be unfair, he warbled. Then he paused, as The Washington Post put it, “apparently too overcome to speak.” His eyes glistening with righteous tears, he continued, “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God and they should all be treated with dignity and respect.” Not if 60 people who know him best professionally are to be considered. Or his history. Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted that, as Nevada’s solicitor general, he had supported a marriage equality ban, and Sen. Patrick Leahy brought up a 2004 op-ed in which VanDyke wrote that same-sex marriage would “hurt families, and consequentially children and society.”

Here’s another one for Susan Collins to decide to take a stand against, when her vote isn’t necessary anyway.

Memphis Clerk Sentenced to 22 Years for Killing Teenager Who Stole Beer

A Memphis store clerk was sentenced Thursday to 22 years in prison for fatally shooting a 17-year-old who had shoplifted a beer, the authorities said. The clerk, Anwar Ghazali, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder in August after a four-day trial. Prosecutors said the teenager, Dorian Harris, grabbed the beer from a cooler around 10 […]

Chicago teachers reach tentative agreement but one key thing is missing to end strike

The Chicago Teachers Union reported a tentative agreement with schools management Wednesday night, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot is holding up the end of the strike in a disagreement over make-up instructional days. In previous strikes, the schools have added make-up days to the end of the school year—but Lightfoot doesn’t want to do that.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey spoke highly of the tentative agreement, saying in a statement that “This deal will move us closer to ensuring that our most vulnerable students receive the instruction, resources and wraparound services they need to thrive. No educator wants to leave their classroom, but our 10-day struggle was the only option we had to enshrine, ensure and enforce real change for our students and school communities. This contract will put a nurse in every school, a social worker in every school and provide a real solution for thousands of homeless students in Chicago.” But, he said, “By not restoring days of instruction to our students lost during the strike, the mayor is making it clear that she is more concerned about politics than the well-being of students.”

Lightfoot objects to the make-up days because teachers would be paid for those days, saying “I’m not compensating them for days that they were out on strike.” Which is … not what would be happening since they would be working those days, but way to try to score a cheap political hit on your way out!

Lightfoot and schools management had supposedly been very concerned about instructional time (at the expense of the prep time teachers pressed for), but apparently that wasn’t really such a concern. The teachers also expressed frustration at Lightfoot’s admission that “There’s a lot of work that we could have done sooner, but we didn’t start to do really until the strike”—making her own lack of preparation in large part responsible for the length of the strike.

The teachers report that the agreement includes 209 additional social workers, 250 additional nurses, investments in staff education and recruitment, $35 million a year to reduce class size, and added funding for sports coaches and equipment. 

The agreement has been accepted by the union’s House of Delegates, which would allow the strike to end if an agreement can be reached on make-up days. The CTU’s full membership would then vote on ratifying it. On Wednesday, school staffers in SEIU 73, who went out on strike with the teachers, voted to ratify their own contract.

Trump, Lifelong New Yorker, Declares Himself a Resident of Florida

He came of age in Queens, built Trump Tower, starred in “The Apprentice,” bankrupted his businesses six times, and drew cheering crowds and angry protesters to Fifth Avenue after his election. Through it all, President Trump — rich, bombastic and to many Americans the epitome of a New Yorker — was intertwined with the city […]

New Threats Put Wildfire Fighters’ Health on the Line

[Sign up for our daily newsletter about news from California here.] SANTA ROSA, Calif. — As fires spread across Northern California last year, Capt. Matt Alba and Strike Team 2253A found themselves wading through a smoldering jungle of plastic and metal in search of bodies. As they worked through charred auto shops and trailers, Mr. […]