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Between the Kyle Rittenhouse "not guilty" verdicts coming down and the oil and gas sales in the Gulf of Mexico, it's been a rough week.

COVID-19 is making a comeback stateside and abroad. Despite Joe Biden’s campaign promise to shut the virus down, we appear to be headed into another wave. In fact, the president is on track to surpass his predecessor in terms of COVID deaths. Parts of Europe are already locking down—a step we surely will not take given Biden's insistence on exclusively pharmaceutical interventions.

But in these dark times, staying informed is key to fighting back against despair and the direction the U.S. appears to be headed. To that end, we have prepared our top independent news picks of the week. Thank you for reading!

Your Weekly Corporate Narrative-Free News Roundup

The Climate Crisis

The Daily Poster has a new story about a coal ally Joe Biden just appointed to a key role within the Energy Department. The president’s posturing on climate change, claiming to follow the science, tells one story, but his actions tell another.

Biden Just Nominated Joe Manchin-Lite
The president has quietly nominated an energy consultant who has long championed carbon capture incentives as a way to sustain the fossil fuel industry in a burning world.
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Our friends at The American Prospect have a new article discussing the limitations of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. Without spoiling the piece, do not count on meaningful progress on climate change any time soon.

At U.N. Climate Talks, What Mattered Most Went Unsaid
A Wall Street–led energy transition; punitive credit conditions for developing countries; sustained oil and gas drilling
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Francesca Fiorentini has a good breakdown of the Biden administration’s decision to move ahead with lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel exploration the day after the COP26 conference.

Climate reporter Dharna Noor joins Pod Damn America to talk about "COP26, doomism, and America's largest-ever oil lease sale."

Listen on Soundcloud.

U.S. Politics

Jacobin addresses one of our favorite topics: redistricting—this time at the city level. Redistricting has the same potential locally as it does nationally to skew politics and stymie progress. And you’d better believe entrenched power in cities across the country intends to make full use of the process for that purpose.

In Cities Around the US, Redistricting Is a Major Threat to Progressive Politics
Cities have long been the sites of major advancement for progressive and socialist politics. But for over a century, city leaders have tried to halt those advancements with a potent tool: redistricting.
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Ben Tumin explains the origins of today's GOP voter suppression laws to wrap up this season of Skipped History.

Read the transcript.

Sludge had a story this week about our two favorite corporate Democrats: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who are both responsible for the collapse of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. As it turns out, the pair are receiving donations from Republican billionaires who gave gobs of money to the premier pro-Trump super PAC last year.

Republican Billionaires Are Donating to Manchin and Sinema
Some GOP megadonors made their first and only Democratic donations as the two senators worked to undermine the reconciliation bill.
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In Other News

Our pals at Discourse Blog have a good explainer of the union battle over at The New York Times where employees at Wirecutter are planning to strike over Black Friday weekend. Solidarity forever! (You need to subscribe to read the article; if you'd like to read a full article, check out this one on the latest stumbles at Bari Weiss' fake university. Then subscribe!)

The New York Times’ War On Its Newest Unions Is Heating Up - Discourse Blog
Wirecutter employees are threatening a strike over Black Friday weekend, the site’s busiest time of the year.
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In These Times writes about the Heritage Foundation's lobbying to protect weapons contractors from emissions regulations.

Think Tank Funded by the Weapons Industry Pressures Biden Not To Regulate Military Contractors’ Emissions
The Heritage Foundation has received considerable donations from the arms industry. And now it’s trying to shield that industry from climate regulations targeting military contractors.
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Also in rightwing donor networks, Exposed by CMD had a big scoop on Friday. DonorsTrust, “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” that's used heavily by GOP megadonors such as Charles Koch and the Mercers, gave an unprecedented $600,000 to infamous white nationalist Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance in 2020. While it's known for funding rightwing causes, DonorsTrust only began donating to white nationalist hate groups in 2019, which tracks pretty well with the U.S. right's more and more radical shift.

“You don’t exactly need a PhD to understand why Jared Taylor is a white nationalist,” said Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter and spokesperson for the SPLC. “He believes that Black people are less intelligent, less empathetic, and less human than white people. He will tell you that with his own words and does so every day on his website, which is so grotesquely and openly racist I sometimes feel nauseated reading it.”
DonorsTrust Gives $600k Donation to White Nationalist Hate Group - EXPOSEDbyCMD
DonorsTrust, “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement,” gave an unprecedented $600,000 to infamous white nationalist Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance in 2020.
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Part 6 of The War on Cuba is out. Watch Belly of the Beast's latest, in which Liz Oliva Fernández "exposes the striking disconnect between U.S. policy and Cuba’s reality" and "reveals the absurdity of Biden’s offers to 'help' the Cuban people with donations of vaccines, internet access, and remittances that bypass local financial institutions."

Making Contact's latest episode concerns a new model for juvenile detention.

There’s a place in rural St. Johns, Arizona, where teens who have encounters with officers of the law can play pool, make music, and get mentored instead of going to jail. It’s called The Loft, and it’s the brainchild of a judge who wanted to save the county hundreds of millions of dollars and divert young people towards the support many were not getting at home.

Listen to the episode.

On the same subject, let's end with some genuinely good news: The Marshall Project is launching a criminal justice news operation in Cleveland. According to their press release, the new operation “will serve local audiences—including those directly affected by the criminal justice system—who are often neglected or mischaracterized in media coverage.”

The Marshall Project to Launch Criminal Justice News Operation in Cleveland
New support from the Gund Foundation to drive expansion of local investigative reporting
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Thanks as always for following the great work of OptOut's numerous independent news outlets! See you soon.