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 optout.news.
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Another week has passed, and the big news is still Covid-19—Omicron, to be specific. On Friday, the White House released a statement from its coronavirus response team. To call it abysmal would be an understatement. It’s clear that despite months of failure and repeated warnings from many epidemiologists, Joe Biden is determined to stay the course, relying exclusively on masks and vaccines to end the pandemic no matter how bad things get. In other words, encourage vaccinations while letting the virus rip through communities.
“We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this,” the administration declared. “For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.”
It is an unacceptable public health response for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Covid mutates through spread, so controlling the infection rate is essential. Then the statement acknowledges that official policy will allow hospitals to get overrun—presumably because they’re afraid of the political ramifications of non-pharmaceutical interventions like lockdowns.
Already, more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus since Biden took office, meaning he has surpassed his predecessor’s death toll. The CDC, meanwhile, is projecting a wave of cases, hospitalization, and death that will rival last winter.
So, it seems as though we are in for darker times ahead. Keep masking, avoid crowds, work remotely if you can, and get vaccinated and boosted. But the news isn’t all bad, as you'll see with our picks for the week from our OptOut participating outlets!
Your Corporate Narrative Free-News Roundup From OptOut
Defector has a wonderful story about the Wirecutter union, which recently won pay increases and a host of other benefits in its contract negotiations with The New York Times management. The union previously went on strike from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday to counter the NYT's union busting efforts. We celebrate this victory!
Eoin Higgins at The Flashpoint has a great breakdown of Joe Biden’s refusal to do anything meaningful to tackle the student debt crisis and what it means for the Democrats’ future political prospects.
Staying with the White House, The Real News Network exposes the Biden administration's cruel immigration policies.
Executive Producer Eddie Conway speaks with organizer Selinda Guerrero about an upcoming protest action at an ICE detention facility in New Mexico and about the need for people to hold Democratic and Republican administrations accountable for their inhumane immigration policies.
Sludge reports that not only is Sen. Joe Manchin a coal profiteer, but he is the father-in-law of an asset optimization manager at oil and gas pipeline company Enterprise Products Partners, which just happens to be the biggest corporate donor to his campaign this election cycle. Partially on account of environmental provisions that would reduce his family’s coal and possibly oil profits, Manchin has blocked the Democratic Party’s agenda, the Build Back Better plan.
Our friends at The Daily Poster have an excellent scoop about how Amazon helped kill a worker protection bill that would have allowed employees to flee unsafe workplaces. The bill is particularly relevant following deadly tornadoes in the midwest that killed workers—including Amazon warehouse workers—who were told they would lose their jobs if they left the warehouse.
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The American Prospect has a great story about how Punchbowl News wined and dined a bunch of influential D.C. lobbyists in an apparent violation of journalist ethics.
Jacobin published the transcript of an interview by Laura Flanders with important leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky and key leftist U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the way forward for people, politics, and the planet. Definitely worth checking out!
Listen and watch the interview from The Laura Flanders Show:
Africa Is A Country has a great read about the current discourse surrounding restitution of African cultural artifacts. The piece discusses a forthcoming book by art historian Bénédicte Savoy and how it builds on a previous work by journalist Barnaby Phillips.
Counterpunch Radio interviews journalist and author Jacqueline Keeler, a 2022 OptOut app curator, about “a range of critical issues affecting Native people in the U.S. and Canada, including the ongoing struggle against pipelines and extractive industries, the impact of Covid on Native communities, the fight against native mascotry, and more."
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That's it for this week. Thanks as always for following the excellent journalism of OptOut's 115 independent news outlets. See you soon!