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Apologies for the late newsletter, folks! Better late than never, right? Today we'll get to know two new independent news outlets in the OptOut network and survey other publications' work on fascism, policing, marriage equality, and even cheerleading and MMA!

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And don't miss out on our climate newsletter, which Cristian Salazar is sending out this Wednesday morning. Sign up here: click Manage and toggle "OptOut Climate."

Welcome, New Outlets!

We are pleased to announce that two excellent news outlets have joined the OptOut network!

Reporting by DOCUMENTED, a nonprofit news site devoted solely to covering New York City’s immigrants and the policies that affect their lives, will now appear in your news feed. I've been following Documented's important work since its founding. The publication has an innovative What'sApp program and regularly publishes articles in Spanish.

Check out DOCUMENTED's impressive, 18-month investigation into the Church of Scientology's massive alleged visa fraud, which involved importing thousands of foreign workers to the U.S.

These workers were brought in under the pretense of religious work but instead they cleaned dumpsters, cooked, and performed a variety of tasks...Over the past 30 years, Scientology and its exploitation of thousands of foreign workers has saved the church potentially more than $1 billion.
Scientology’s Secret Immigrant Workforce Exposes Decades of Exploitation - Documented
How the Church of Scientology abuses religious visas to lure thousands to do hard manual labor
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You will also see stories by THE TRACE, a nonprofit newsroom investigating gun violence in America, in the OptOut app! The only newsroom dedicated to reporting on gun violence, THE TRACE is essential to any news consumer's media diet.

A recent article analyzes provisional CDC gun death data from last year, finding that nearly 49,000 Americans were shot and killed in 2021, "the highest single-year tally on record, up 8 percent from the previous record in 2020." Both suicides and homicides saw similar increases, and people of color accounted for a disproportionate share of the victims.

Gun Deaths Hit an All-Time High (Again) in 2021
Provisional CDC data shows the pandemic surge in firearms deaths isn’t dropping.
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Stay tuned for this week's OptOut Climate newsletter, where we'll announce more new additions to the network!

Your Weekly Independent News Roundup

The Right's Attack on Democracy

Last month, THE LEVER and ProPublica broke a giant story about an unprecendented $1.6 billion donation from secretive rightwing donor and electronics billionaire Barry Seid to rightwing "judge whisperer" Leonard Leo's huge political operation. Now they describe Seid's strategy of "attack philanthropy," which includes his funding of notorious climate change denial shop the Heartland Institute.

Barre Seid’s “Attack Philanthropy”
Leonard Leo’s billionaire benefactor has for years quietly financed efforts to attack climate science and shape the higher education system.
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At least there's some temporary good news. BOLTS reports that Michigan conspiracy theorists botched their dry run to overturn elections, failing to prevent two voter referenda on abortion rights and voting access from appearing on the November ballot.

Once again, GOP canvassers weaponized their role in the long chain of custody over election processes, and this time they stayed unified long enough to halt routine procedures. But a majority on the high court did not blink, signaling that they are willing to act as a backstop—and could again in the future.
Michigan Republicans Stumble in Dress Rehearsal for Overturning Future Elections - Bolts
Ever since allies of Donald Trump in Michigan failed to stall the certification of Joe Biden’s win in 2020, they have pursued a methodical purge of election officials who affirmed... Read More
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SKIPPED HISTORY speaks with Elizabeth Hinton, a leading historian of American inequality and mass criminalization, about Biden's approach to crime, which echoes that of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Across my work, I’ve attempted to show the sets of decisions that got us to this point; that the disproportionate numbers of people of color who are behind bars are not just the result of “the natural order of things” but rather the outcome of decisions made at the highest levels of government over time.
Professor Elizabeth Hinton on Funding the Police
And how we’re “caught in this cycle of over-policing and rebellion”
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THE MARSHALL PROJECT analyzes the costly federal oversight of Cleveland's police department.

Kareem Henton of Black Lives Matter-Cleveland has mixed feelings about the consent decree’s progress but said it increased public support for police reform, and he does believe the police department is changing.
The consent decree has forced officers to “at least listen and play nice,” Henton said.
Federal Oversight of Police Has Cost Cleveland Millions. What’s Changed?
Consent decrees force cities to change abusive police tactics. But Cleveland still has work to do.
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SCALAWAG reviews HBO show The White Lotus, arguing that the show's erasure of Indigenous characters and depiction of policing undermine any efforts to critique white privilege.

The White(washing) Lotus
Even if The White Lotus tries to be an indictment of white privilege and settler colonialism, its use of policing and stereotypes make a mockery of existing systemic harm.
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Welcome back to LGBTQ+ with Liana DeMasi!

Mike Figueredo of THE HUMANIST REPORT examines the “witch hunt” against trans children in Texas, and how the state's discriminatory policies might also end up harming cis children. He delves into a recent statement from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which showed how these anti-trans policies are preventing the DFPS from doing its job. Instead, DFPS employees are being forced to investigate loving, non-abusive families who are just supporting their trans children, while other children are left to suffer in abusive households as a result of resource and case saturation.

Jennifer Shutt of STATES NEWSROOM reminds us that the U.S. Senate is getting ready to vote on a bill codifying marriage equality as soon as next week. While Congress seems confident that it’ll pass, it might only be able to do so by including Republicans' proposed “religious liberty protections for people with sincerely held beliefs opposing same-sex marriages.” GOP lawmakers are also ensuring that marriage can exist between two individuals only, a blow to the polyamorous community.

Bill codifying same-sex marriage nears critical vote in U.S. Senate • Missouri Independent
The U.S. Senate is on track to vote on a bill codifying marriage equality as soon as next week with negotiators confident it could become law.
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The folks over at QANON ANONYMOUS investigate some anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and panic present at a protest in Norwich, England, and how these baseless, misinformed ideas are effectively recruiting people into far-right movements.

Listen to "Episode 202: Grooming Panic" on the OptOut app, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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In Other News

A Bain Capital-owned cheerleading giant is ailing due to sexual assault allegations and antitrust inquiries, reports Matt Stoller for his blog, BIG.

The kingpin of cheerleading has lost its power, and the sport of cheerleading is gradually being cleaned up.
Antitrust and the Fall of a Cheerleading Giant
The reputation and market power of cheerleading monopolist Varsity Brands is falling apart under a deluge of sexual abuse scandals. The result is both ugly and empowering.
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Here's some mixed martial arts news? Yes, I did it. I'm posting a story about MMA by DEFECTOR. It's become a pretty massive sport.

Nate Diaz Leaves The UFC On His Own Terms | Defector
A face can only sustain so much punching. As such, there is perhaps no sport less conducive to happy endings than MMA.
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As the leftist Lula leads in Brazil's presidential polls, THE REAL NEWS has a fascinating podcast series about the country's descent toward fascism under President Jair Bolsonaro. Check out the first and subsequent episodes.

Brazil on Fire Episode 1: Violence and the Culture War
Bolsonaro’s rise to the presidency was marked by a wave of political violence perpetrated by his followers. Here’s how the hallmarks of the culture war, manufactured in the United States, came to define a virulent right-wing movement in Brazil that paved the way for Bolsonaro’s ascendance.
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Speaking of fascism, fascists' favorite cable news host talks with fascist Peter Thiel protegé Blake Masters, the GOP nominee for Arizona Senate, spewing their typical anti-woke grievance politics and discrimination, claiming that Masters will somehow attract Latino voters with his nativist platform and anti-trans rhetoric. As Sam Seder points out on THE MAJORITY REPORT, the segment wasn't intended for Latinos; it's "for the elderly white people in Arizona who watch Fox."

Ok, let's end on a happier note. THE RED NATION PODCAST crossed two million downloads! Listen to the latest episode on the OptOut app, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks as always for staying tuned to the OptOut independent media network. See you tomorrow for OptOut Climate!

The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.

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