This is the weekly newsletter of OptOut, a news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's under development. We plan to launch a beta version of the app for iPhone this fall and the full iPhone app in January. By subscribing to this newsletter, you'll have a chance to be a beta tester! Find out more about the app at optout.news.
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The OptOut news aggregation app for exclusively independent media is almost ready for submission to Apple! After more than a year of development, our iPhone app is nearly there. In a matter days we'll be sending in the app for approval from Apple, and then we'll begin the beta testing phase.
I can't thank enough the many developers from the Progressive Coders Network who have spent countless volunteer hours creating a slick and innovative news app for the public. I pitched ProgCode on this project in summer 2020, and since then, our nights and weekends have been filled with Zoom meetings, developing the software, recruiting news outlets, planning marketing and communications strategy, and working with lawyers.
We are thrilled to share the app with the public very soon. To start, we'll offer a beta version to roughly 100 people, and as we publish new versions, we'll increase the number of users. Access to the beta will be on a first-come-first-served basis, so make sure to open these Sunday emails quickly! Thanks so much in advance for giving us feedback that will improve the app before the full launch early next year.
This week's newsletter will focus on the U.S.'s disastrous health care system, corporate Democrats' corruption regarding pharmaceuticals and fossil fuels, the Haitian migrant crisis, and Facebook.
Welcome, Making Contact!
Today we welcome the newest addition to the OptOut network, Making Contact.
Making Contact, which is part of a nonprofit organization, is a weekly documentary-style public affairs program heard on over 150 radio stations and numerous podcast platforms. The show features in-depth reports on political and social issues, trends and events, ordinary people talking about how public policy affects them, and speeches by social activists and advocates who share a vision of a better world.
The latest Making Contact episode is titled "Black Women in History."
While Black women have played a critical role in the development of the nation, their stories have been mostly overlooked. In the new book, A Black Women’s History of the United States, historians Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross honor the many significant contributions of Black women who have worked tirelessly to build this country and fight for social justice in the face of racism and sexism.
Welcome aboard, Making Contact. We're excited to promote your important work.
The Latest in Corporate Narrative-Free News
Now let's hear more from our growing network of financially independent, truth-telling news outlets!
The American Health Care Debacle
There's a lot to dislike about the United States' expensive yet underperforming for-profit health care system. This failed system that still leaves millions uninsured is enabled by politicians who lack the empathy or political will to create a single-payer system.
Hospital chains, insurance companies, and Big Pharma use their obedient members of Congress to stand in the way of a national health system, something that every other similar country has.
Two of those subservient federal politicians are House Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader (Ore.) and Scott Peters (Calif.), two of the biggest recipients of Big Pharma campaign donations who recently voted down an overwhelmingly popular budget provision allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower-cost prescription drugs.
Peters and Schrader faced tough questions from local media over their votes. Peters, who is worth $60 million and is the House’s top recipient of pharmaceutical industry donations in the 2022 election cycle, said the quiet part loud:
In a contentious Zoom meeting last Friday with health care reform advocates who live in his district, Peters refused to stop taking pharma money, according to a recording of the meeting provided by a Daily Poster subscriber.
“I'm not going to unilaterally disarm and defund my campaign so that Republicans can win, I just think that's a dumb thing to do,” said the congressman, who represents a solidly blue district.
For Sick Note, Ryan Cooper discusses the drug pricing issue in the context of America's failed checks and balances.
A ruthless dictator might have an accurate enough perception of the fragility of his power, and the value of a quiescent population, to keep drug price-gouging within certain limits. The titanic self-regard and duplicity of American politicians immunizes them from such considerations. Sinema, Rice, Peters, and Schrader all campaigned on drug price reform, along with the rest of their party. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices polls at 88 percent approval — probably the most popular policy that could possibly be assembled at this moment in history.
"This whole country is a scam," writes Luke O'Neil in Welcome To Hell World.
On the Covid-19 front, Scalawag writes about a Black pastor, barber, teacher, and vaccine evangelist who is trying to keep his Arkansas community safe.
Thomas recognizes that schools, barber shops, beauty salons, and places of worship function as both safe havens and information centers in many Black communities. He also knows that everyone who sits in his church pew or in his barber shop chair isn't vaccinated, so he uses each encounter as a teaching moment.
The approval rating of one of America's most right-wing governors, Greg Abbott of Texas, has sunk by 14 points since the pandemic began. His aggressive policies against protective measures like masks and the huge numbers of Covid cases and deaths this month are driving his popularity slump, as Farron Cousins explains on Ring of Fire, but it's also his party's obsession with social issues like the teaching of "critical race theory" that's turning Texans against him.
Joe Manchin's Remarkable Corruption
Two OptOut participants collaborate: FAIR had Sludge's David Moore on its Counterspin podcast to discuss his outlet's reporting on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's massively conflicted role as coal millionaire, chair of the Senate Energy Resources Committee, and the Biden climate agenda's primary roadblock.
Not only does Manchin personally profit from policies he champions, but he recently slashed all government ethics provisions from the Democrat's landmark voting rights bill, as Sludge/Brick House report. Some provisions directly apply to him.
Other ethics reforms that Manchin snuffed out would have targeted Congress: banning U.S. representatives from serving on private company boards, and barring representatives and senators from working on legislation with the primary purpose of furthering their own financial interests.
What Led to the Haitian Migrant Crisis?
Nando Villa of Jacobin Weekends demonstrates why the U.S. is responsible.
Yes, it's because of the Biden administration's inhumane policy—created by white nationalist Stephen Miller—of deporting immigrants seeking asylum without hearings. Biden is applying this policy to Haitian migrants after the assassination of their president, a number of devastating earthquakes, and a dearth of Covid-19 vaccines in their country. But the crisis has also been in the making for decades due to U.S. intervention in the nation.
Counterpunch has more about the Biden administration's cruel immigration policies.
In Discourse Blog, Jack Mirkinson recounts the horrors that Haitian migrants are facing and more on the U.S.'s historical role.
Government agents on horseback using whips to round up Black people fleeing disaster—you could be forgiven for thinking that this was an event from 1861 rather than 2021, but some horrors stick around, and, as the Biden administration is proving, some things—such as treating migrants like invasive lepers rather than human beings—transcend partisan boundaries.
OptOut is getting ready to launch the app very soon, but we need your donations to help us cover the costs of beta testing so we can improve and maintain this free app. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the OptOut Media Foundation today! Thank you so much.
On this topic, there's some good news and some bad news. I know you're dying for some good news. So, here it is:
It’s been a bad few weeks for Facebook.
The bad news is that the reason it's been a rough couple weeks for the social media giant is because of its awful practices and their effects. I'll let Matt Stoller summarize these in his blog, BIG, and explain how top executives Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and others likely violated insider trading laws, and they're facing a lawsuit about it.
The first part is that Zuckerberg knew he was violating the law, and in particular the Federal Trade Commission order barring Facebook from deceiving users. And he did it anyway, with the tacit acquiescence of board members like Zients and auditing firms like PwC, which assessed the firm’s compliance with the various FTC consent decrees. The second part, and this is where it gets interesting, is that when he realized his lawbreaking would be exposed via reporting on Cambridge Analytica, he sold huge blocs of stock.
And Zuck is planning to complete his takeover of your life with a Facebook "Metaverse" to make much of your existence fully virtual (and enable even more extensive data collection—or, profits—than the company already employs). In Jacobin:
Thanks as always for following the OptOut network! See you next week.