This was a big week for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is poised to announce his 2024 candidacy for president.

For months, DeSantis has been priming the pump, antagonizing liberals  and serving up red meat to Republican base voters, no matter how unconstitutional or cruel the policies.

This week, for example, NEW REPUBLIC reported on two pieces of legislation DeSantis signed targeting LGBTQIA+ Americans. One law is aimed at drag performances. The language is incredibly broad, making it a misdemeanor for government entities or employees to issue permits to groups that might hold “adult live performances” in the presence of children. The new law has already resulted in the cancelation of a Pride event.

Ron DeSantis Signs Drag Ban So Extreme It Could Cancel All Pride Parades in the State
The bill is so vaguely worded that Pride in Florida this year is sure to look different.
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The other allowed the state to take transgender children away from their parents.

Ron DeSantis Signs Law Allowing Trans Kids to Be Taken From Their Families
The state can now kidnap kids in Florida.
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DeSantis also signed legislation expanding his notorious "Don't Say Gay" bill. For more on Florida's legislative war on LGBTQIA+ Americans, check out this segment from HUMANIST REPORT.

These legislative gambits appear to be paying off, at least for now. As THE FLORIDA PHOENIX reported, DeSantis’ GOP support is rock solid within his own state.

DeSantis piles up endorsements from GOP state lawmakers in U.S. - and this time from FL - Florida Phoenix
As the official announcement of his campaign for president draws near, Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to pile up endorsements from legislative Republicans around the country. On Wednesday the big reveal was that 99 of the 112 Republicans currently serving in the 160-member Florida Legislature announced…
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But DeSantis' posturing constitutes an assault on the First Amendment and human rights. Thus far, this assault has gone unanswered by the federal government. Should inaction remain the approach to rogue governors like DeSantis, it will surely further embolden such demagoguery. OptOut will continue to monitor the situation in Florida with great concern.

With that, please enjoy these other stories you may have missed this week from OptOut’s participating outlets!

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OptOut News

In case you missed it, this was a big week for OptOut. Together with IMPORTANT CONTEXT we broke a big story about indicted Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. We reported that operatives working on behalf of Guo were secretly recruiting prominent conservatives to byline pieces painting him as a persecuted dissident. Those pieces were then published by high-traffic conservative outlets.

Check out the story.

Chinese Dissident Secretly Recruited Rightwing Writers to Publish Flattering Articles
The fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui found prominent conservatives to launder his image.
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Media Failures

THE AMERICAN PROSPECT had an important piece last week about how Punchbowl News is helping GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy normalize Republican brinkmanship in the debt ceiling fight to secure spending caps and other measures to limit government spending.

The Access Journalism–House Republican Mind Meld
On today’s X-Date, how the relationship between Punchbowl News and Kevin McCarthy is driving a bad resolution to the debt ceiling crisis
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FAIR published an article documenting the media’s treatment of slain New York subway rider Jordan Neely, noting how it had been dehumanizing.

Dehumanization Killed Jordan Neely—and Dominated Coverage of His Death - FAIR
Much of the corporate press refrained from framing Neely as a victim, and far-right media outlets went even further to excuse the killing.
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Debt Ceiling Woes

Last week, Republicans held firm, demanding steep spending cuts in ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. They were met with opposition of uncertain strength from the Biden administration, which caved to GOP demands to expel Senate and House Democratic leaders from the negotiating table. Failure to reach a deal could result in a catastrophic default by the U.S. on its debts, undermining the nation’s credibility and credit.

THE INTERCEPT offered up a solid breakdown of the debt ceiling tradition.

The Debt Limit Is Just One of America’s Six Worst Traditions
Believe it or not, the debt ceiling is an improvement on what the United States used to do.
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STATES NEWSROOM published an explainer of the consequences of a default by the U.S.  

A default on the U.S. debt would be far worse than a government shutdown. Here’s how. - Iowa Capital Dispatch
A default on the U.S. debt would be much worse than a government shutdown and affect all kinds of government payments.
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Meanwhile, progressives have been calling on the administration to take bolder action for the sake of the country. IN THESE TIMES published a compelling argument for the U.S. Treasury to mint a $1 trillion coin as a potential path out of the debacle.

The Left Case for the Trillion Dollar Coin
Gimmick? Maybe. Path out of the debt ceiling mess? Absolutely.
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Another potential out for the administration would be invoking the 14th Amendment, which states that "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." THE AMERICAN PROSPECT wrote about how this tactic to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional is already being fought in court, but not in a way that will deliver results in a timely manner.

The Vanishing 14th Amendment Case
Plaintiffs claiming that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional didn’t file a motion for immediate relief. Therefore, the case has sat dormant.
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Little noticed last week were the GOP-controlled House efforts to defund poultry regulations opposed by a Republican mega-donor. SLUDGE reported the story.  

House GOP Attempts to Defund Poultry Regulation Opposed by Their Megadonor
Republican megadonor Ron Cameron owns a massive chicken company that has been working to kill the regulation.
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NEW REPUBLIC, meanwhile, published a must-read piece warning about the devastating impact of neoliberal policies.

When Milton Friedman Met Pinochet
Chicago economists had free rein in Chile. The country is still recovering.
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Writers On Strike

The Writers Guild of America strike continued last week, gaining public support. Studios, however, aren’t willing to meet their demands. AI presents a challenge for the union. JACOBIN had a good rundown.

As the Writers’ Strike Enters Its Third Week, the Studios Aren’t Budging
The Writers Guild of America is now in week three of its nationwide strike. Two key sticking points in negotiations: residual payments and the use of artificial intelligence.
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DISCONNECT also wrote about how Hollywood was weaponizing the “digital transition” against workers.

How Hollywood used the digital transition against workers
The challenge facing striking workers goes much deeper than streaming and AI
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COUNTERPUNCH published a solid explainer about why you should care about the WGU strike.

Why the Hollywood Writers Strike Matters
Every television series or film begins and ends with writers. They pen the iconic lines that actors deliver, like “Just one more thing,” “There’s no
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