This is the weekly newsletter of OptOut, a news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's currently in beta testing for iOS (download it now!). Find out more about the app at

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We're back to our regular schedule of Weekend Picks from the 100% independent OptOut news network!

So far, we've recruited 115 digital news sites, podcasts, and video channels for the network and our OptOut app. We're excited to share their work with you in the iPhone/iPad app, which is now in public beta testing! Please download it here and send us your thoughts.

Sincere thanks to all who donated to the OptOut Media Foundation last week for Giving Tuesday. We didn't quite hit our goal, but we get a good boost. Your contributions, however large or small, all make a huge difference for us. Plus, a few generous checks came in the mail that will allow us to hire more news curators and help us market the app.

That said, we still need to raise a lot more money to get us through 2022. With an all-volunteer development team, we've put together a sophisticated news aggregation app that hundreds of people are currently testing out. We're a charity, and we want to keep everything free—all features of the app, this newsletter, and what's to come—but in order to do this, we need more recurring donors. Apologies for the frequent requests; we wouldn't ask if we didn't really need your help.

The more money we raise, the better we'll be able to achieve our goals of widely distributing vital content about the people and issues that matter from so many independent news outlets and, over time, advancing racial, social, environmental, and economic justice.

Please make a tax-deductible donation today to take on the corporate media and ethically inform the public about what really matters.

Before we get into our weekly independent news roundup, I want to draw your attention to a remarkable video by musician Benn Jordan (AKA The Flashbulb). Over 20 minutes that are well worth your time, Benn explains how (now "former") New York Times investigative reporter Ian Urbina got hundreds of composers to write music—for free—inspired by his journalism, promised them big promotional deals with Netflix and other companies—which didn't happen—saying they would surely provide them income, and has been collecting royalties on thousands of songs he didn't write. There are a lot more damning details that you'll find out about as you watch. It's clear that Urbina and his wife have conducted themselves highly unethically, despite Urbina's current attempts to rewrite history and dispute the video. I'm simply amazed this man would exploit so many people so blatantly.

Your Corporate Narrative-Free News Roundup


At Friday's policy summit of rightwing business lobbying group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), state legislative and corporate members unanimously approved a model bill that would penalize companies that stop investing in or financing fossil fuels, Exposed by CMD reports.

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What this means: In many red states, banks and investment firms that have divested from oil, gas, and coal won't be allowed to manage pension funds or receive other government contracts. At a time when climate change is rapidly accelerating and environmental disasters are proliferating, the political right has decided not only to continue denying climate change, but to penalize private companies that have decided to acknowledge and do something about it.

ALEC Launches Attack on Banks That Divest From Fossil Fuels - EXPOSEDbyCMD
At today’s policy summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), state legislative and corporate members unanimously approved a model bill that would penalize companies that stop investing in or financing fossil fuels.
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A legacy media giant's most popular podcast ran a highly misleading Exxon ad during the United Nations Climate Change Conference last month. Despite The New York Times disallowing fossil fuel sponsorship, it's apparently ok for corporate Earth destroyers to purchase spots on the paper's podcasts. Emily Atkin explains this in HEATED.

How Exxon duped “The Daily”
The New York Times’ popular podcast aired a misleading climate ad during COP26, despite policies designed to prevent misinformation.
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The Drilled podcast's latest episode covers Australia's disappointing plan to boost fracking and plastic. The country is aiming the drill for gas in basins on Indigenous land.

Listen on Spotify.

The effects of climate change will likely cause more trash debacles like the one in New Orleans in cities around the U.S., reports Scalawag.

Trash sculptures, climate change, and a festering problem
Some neighborhoods went without sanitation services for over a month after Hurricane Ida.
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The Pandemic

On this week's WhoWhatWhy podcast, Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, explains how the U.S.—where people spend almost 40 percent more on medical care than any other industrial nation and die younger—was a sitting duck for Covid-19.

If we had been a healthier nation to start with, he says, we would have had a very different pandemic. We are overinvested in treating conditions of aging in those over 70, and underinvested in the forces that keep us healthy from a young age.
Our Failed Public Health System Dared COVID to Attack Us - WhoWhatWhy
Along with bats and lab leaks, we need to think about how a failed public health system contributed to the spread of COVID-19.
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Conspiracy theorist, "force the vote" crusader, and Tucker Carlson guest Jimmy Dore continues his bizarre and nonsensical Covid-19 misinformation. One one segment, which included fellow pandemic conspiracist Max Blumenthal, Dore was up in arms about journalist Ryan Grim getting a booster before spending Thanksgiving with his family in order to reduce the chance he infects them with Covid-19. Because the vaccines definitely reduce the likelihood that you'll contract Covid, getting a jab obviously decreases the likelihood that you'll infect others with Covid, but that's a little too complicated for Dore and Blumenthal to wrap their heads around. This would be funny if it wasn't incredibly dangerous, as Dore has a big following and clearly enjoys misinforming people for money.

Matt Binder has more on this shitshow.

Check out OptOut co-founder Walker Bragman's report for The Daily Poster on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's questionable, real estate-backed Covid-19 decisions...

“It’s Time To Get Back To The Office”
Facing a primary challenger and courting real estate interests, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to end remote work.
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...and his appearance on Breaking Points!


The American Prospect has what I consider a pretty humorous piece about ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's philanthropic habits. Apparently, nonprofit professionals are outraged that the billionaire hasn't hired enough nonprofit professionals to help him vet potential grantees. While Democratic megadonor Jim Simons has a staff of 400 at his family foundation, Jack's got...two employees.

Jack, You’re Doing Amazing Sweetie
Critics say the ex-head of Twitter hasn’t hired enough nonprofit professionals, so his charity has been driven by arbitrary personal whims. Maybe there is a bigger problem here.
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On the Tech Won't Save Us podcast, Morgan State University professor Fred Scharmen breaks down Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ visions for space colonization, the inspiration they draw from the work of Wernher von Braun and Gerard O’Neill, and what’s wrong with basing our future on those ideas.

Who Inspired Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ Space Visions? w/ Fred Scharmen - Tech Won’t Save Us
Paris Marx is joined by Fred Scharmen to discuss Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ visions for space colonization, the inspiration they draw from the work of Wernher von Braun and Gerard O’Neill, and what’s wrong with basing our future on those ideas.Fred...
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Yours truly appeared on The Rational National to discuss my reporting for Exposed by CMD on Bari Weiss' "fiercely independent" aspiring university, which is led by a cohort of jilted writers, canceled professors, and Koch-funded think tankers.

Try Out the App!

The first few weeks of beta testing of our Apple app have gone well, and we've opened up a lot more slots for beta testing! If you'd like to help us improve the app before our public launch in early 2022, please download the iOS app right now. We really appreciate your help!


In Other News

You Love To See It: OptOut participants The Appeal and New York Focus collaborated on a story about a 58-year-old man who is in prison for stealing cold medicine. Reginald Randolph's health is deteriorating, and progressive state senators are trying get him adequate treatment and prevent him from dying in jail by asking the New York governor to commute his sentence.

Read it at The Appeal or at New York Focus:

State Senators Ask Gov. Hochul to Commute Sentence of Man Who Spent Over 800 Days in Rikers - New York Focus
Reginald Randolph is currently serving a two to four year sentence in state prison for stealing cold medicine.
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Thanks to GOP presidents and Mitch McConnell, extreme rightwingers have a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court. Few issues animate the far right more than a woman's ability to make her own health decisions, and it looks like the Court will weaken, if not throw out entirely, Roe v. Wade. Thus, we've entered scary territory, where abortion could be banned, effectively or entirely, in many red states quite soon.

In Prism, Ashton Lattimore takes down religious zealot and Justice Amy Coney Barrett's absurd argument that because of adoption, a pregnancy is merely a "narrow burden" on women.

For far too many pregnant people in the U.S., especially Black women and other women of color, carrying a fetus to term results in the most permanent and final body change of all: death.
Pregnancy is no temporary burden - Prism
Despite the arguments of Amy Coney Barrett and other anti-abortion advocates, the physical and financial impacts of pregnancy and childbirth can be permanent regardless of adoption—especially for Black women
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The Markup details the huge racial bias of crime prediction software used by police. Check out the article and it's very cool interactive graphics.

Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them – The Markup
Millions of crime predictions left on an unsecured server show PredPol mostly avoided Whiter neighborhoods, targeted Black and Latino neighborhoods
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Tim Black says, "The Democratic Party needs us, but they don't respect us. The Republican Party hates us and they show it."

OptOut is getting ready to launch the public app very soon, and we could use your help. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the OptOut Media Foundation today! Thank you so much.

Thanks as always for following the great work of OptOut's numerous independent news outlets! See you soon.