A current or former U.S. president had never faced criminal charges until this week. While Trump's indictment is big news, it's not the only thing you should know. For example, Israel is seeing unprecedented protests again the far-right government's attempted power grab, and Starbucks' CEO was grilled before Congress over the company's brutal union-busting. But first, here's what we published this week at OptOut.
This Week at OptOut
We kicked off this week with a Walker Bragman original, co-published with Important Context, breaking the news that in 2021, Peter Thiel funneled over $4 million into a rightwing dark money fund that is the biggest known funder of U.S. white nationalism.
Next week look out for OptOut Climate, OptOut LGBTQ+, a new OptOutcast, and some more original reporting!
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After what seems like a century of attempts, Donald Trump has finally been indicted. The Manhattan District Attorney's investigation into hush-money payments to pornstar Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election resulted in charges against the former president.
The right quickly devolved into antisemitic conspiracy theories about DA Alvin Bragg and the indictment. But back on Earth 1, The New Republic explains how this is a good start to finally holding Trump accountable for his prolific wrongdoing.
Jordan Uhl of The Insurgents and The Lever joins Jared Holt on his Posting Through It podcast to analyze the "the orange man's" latest woes.
And if you'd like to watch some takes on the Trump indictment, here's journalist Mehdi Hasan on The Majority Report reminding us that a grand jury, not Bragg, made this decision to charge Trump.
The Protests in Israel
This week we welcomed +972 Magazine, an independent, nonprofit magazine run by Palestinian and Israeli journalists with a commitment to equity, justice, and freedom of information, to the OptOut network!
This addition to our network comes at a good time. A recent piece explains the historic anti-government protests in Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government attempted to take over the court system.
In the U.S., progressive members of Congress are responding to Israel's far-right regime by urging the State Department to investigate whether Israel is using U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians, in violation of United States law, reports Jewish Currents.
Meanwhile, Israel's apartheid regime rolls on, according to this deep dive from The Intercept.
Starbucks in the Hot Seat
Coffee titan Howard Schultz was grilled by U.S. senators this week about his company's illegal union-busting campaign. The billioniare CEO initially refused to appear, but after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) threated a subpoena, Schultz dragged himself in front of Congress.
Starbucks violated labor law 130 times since organizers began unionizing in fall 2021, according to the NLRB.
While Schultz denied that Starbucks is a union-buster, the money doesn't lie; the company hired Littler Mendelson, "the country’s largest employment and labor law firm devoted exclusively to representing management," according to Capital & Main.
Among the many wrongs perpetrated by Starbucks is the illegal withholding of raises and tips from union workers, More Perfect Union reports.
The latest in Elon Musk's rapid destruction of Twitter is a new policy that will fully transform Twitter into a pay-to-pay operation by removing the blue checkmarks, which previously verified the identities of notable people and organizations, and giving the checkmarks only to paying subscribers, notable or not. Paris Marx of Disconnect explains.
Recent research shows that half of all Blue subscribers have fewer than 1,000 followers, suggesting the quality of the tweets in that feed probably aren’t going to be very high. Who wants a feed filled with white nationalists, hustle bros, and Tesla fanboys? I can’t imagine it’s many people, and will result in a series of swelling block lists across Twitter or a further shift to the “Following” tab. Musk needs people to sign up in significant numbers, but that seems highly unlikely.
OptOut Network News
Congratulations to The Lever and Carlos Ballesteros of Injustice Watch for both winning the 2023 Izzy Award "for outstanding achievement in independent media!" Here are the winners.
The Lever won for its series that followed the money behind the architect of the conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court, Leonard Leo. "No news outlet is as thorough and relentless as The Lever in exposing the corrupting influence of corporate power on government and both major parties," said the judges.
Ballesteros exposed how the Chicago Police department issued inordinate and arbitrary denials of U visas. "Ballesteros’s dogged reporting for Injustice Watch does exactly what investigative journalism in the spirit of I.F. Stone is supposed to do," said the judges. "It uncovers systemic corruption and helps galvanize movement toward structural solutions."
Congrats also go to The Marshall Project, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, Special Interest for its investigative reporting on criminal justice issues.
More great news: the board of the nonprofit behind The Texas Observer planned to kill the outlet, but the staff organized a crowdfunder that raised almost $350,000 and saved the outlet (and resulted in six board resignations)! Read all about it.
TransLash launched Season Two of its fantastic investigative podcast, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine. Give the first episode a listen.
And we welcome The Narwhal, an investigative publication that dives deep to tell stories about the natural world in Canada you can’t find anywhere else, to the OptOut network! Here's its latest on a newly declared Indigenous protected area in British Columbia.
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.