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Dear OptersOut,

Hope everyone is ok!

It's been another crazy news week, as the poorly planned withdrawal from Afghanistan continues (and the corporate media offers incredibly biased coverage of it), the Delta variant keeps wreaking havoc in the U.S., and extreme weather persists.

Here in New York, Tropical Storm Henri dropped a record amount of rain on Central Park, beating the previous record from 1888. Yes, that's a 133-year-old record. More extreme weather—no big deal, right?

This newsletter introduces three new additions to the OptOut roster and provides your weekly independent news roundup, focusing on Afghanistan, climate, and Covid.

More new "OptOutlets"

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OptOut welcomes TransLash, The Marshall Project, and Working People to our network.

We do have more good OptOut news, however. This week we added three more independent news outlets to the network!


TransLash Media is a "nonprofit organization and digital community made up of conversation starters, documentarians, artists, technologists, activists, and allies who are committed to supporting trans/non-binary/intersex/two-spirit people through trans stories to save trans lives. We do so without censorship and erasure from mainstream media."

OptOut is thrilled to have such an important project in our network.

In addition to its blog and videos, TransLash produces two great podcasts, the more recent of which The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, hosted by TransLash creator and producer Imara Jones. The four-part series "takes us behind the curtain of the dark money, right wing organizations, radical figures, and extreme ideology driving the anti-trans backlash across the country." (I spoke with Imara for Episode 4 and can't wait to hear it.)

Episode 3 explores how rightwing think tank the Heritage Foundation infused anti-trans ideology into the government during Trump’s presidency.

‎The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality: Transphobia In A Suit on Apple Podcasts
‎Show The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality, Ep Transphobia In A Suit - Jul 22, 2021
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Also don't miss TransLash's acclaimed documentary, The Future of Trans.

The Marshall Project

OptOut is pleased to announce that The Marshall Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system, has joined the OptOut family.

Here's a recent feature from The Marshall Project about Kentucky state police, who shot and killed dozens of people last year.

No Kentucky trooper was prosecuted for any of the 41 deaths we examined. About a quarter of those killed were not armed with a gun when state police shot them, and a majority were suffering from addiction or mental health problems.
Where Lots of Police Shootings Draw Little Scrutiny
The Kentucky State Police fatally shot 41 people from 2015 through 2020, more than any other law enforcement agency in the state.
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Working People

And one more great addition to the network: Working People, a podcast about working-class lives in 21st-century America.

Maximillian Alvarez publishes Working People in partnership with The Real News Network and In These Times, two other OptOut participating outlets. You simply love to see it, folks.

"We here at Working People are thrilled to be part of the OptOut news network," says Maximillian. "I started this show years ago in large part to fill what I saw as an inexcusable (and not accidental) void in corporate media when it comes to lifting up the lives, voices, and struggles of working people. I'm excited to join the other independent media outlets and operations in the OptOut network that are committed to this kind of work, and I'm even more excited to work collaboratively with them to amplify these stories.

Together we can create a genuine alternative to the once-dominant, consent-manufacturing machine of corporate media.

We couldn't agree more!

Working People's latest episode discusses how "40 window cleaners have walked off the job, demanding pay increases, reduced health care costs, and a state-recognized apprenticeship program that would guarantee better training and safety measures for workers in their trade."

‎Working People: End Unfair Practices against Window Cleaners (w/ Eric Crone) on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Working People, Ep End Unfair Practices against Window Cleaners (w/ Eric Crone) - Aug 19, 2021
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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.

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Things are pretty horrific in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military mostly pulled out and seemingly did not prepare to evacuate some Americans and the many Afghans who helped the U.S. for the last 20 years, who, if they're still alive, are targets of the Taliban, which now controls nearly all of Afghanistan.

Eoin Higgins of The Flashpoint co-published a piece with The Daily Poster in classic OptOut synergy.

“My impression when I got there was that the war effectively had no real purpose, because in my experience, the foreign troop presence was the single largest driver of the insurgency,” Bethea told me.
“How Could They Not Hate You Forever?”
As U.S. forces leave Afghanistan, veterans reflect on two decades of failure
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Also check out Eoin on The Insurgents, another OptOut participant, taking about the pullout. Subscribe to The Insurgents for access.

Ep. 75: Afghan Pullout ft. Eoin Higgins
Listen now (57 min) | Eoin Higgins joins us to discuss the Afghan withdrawal, fall of Kabul & Afghan gov’t, Biden’s speech shifting the blame on the Afghan army and more.
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Leave it to corporate media editorial boards to "consistently [trivialize] South Asian lives, [erase] U.S. responsibility for lethal violence, and [make] untenable assertions about Washington’s supposedly righteous motives in the war," according to FAIR's analysis.

As Kabul Is Retaken, Papers Look Back in Erasure - FAIR
Editorial boards trivialized South Asian lives, erased US responsibility and made untenable assertions about Washington’s motives.
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Discourse Blog has something to say to the corporate media as well.

The Media Is In a World of Its Own on Afghanistan - Discourse Blog
Americans overwhelmingly don’t support the war in Afghanistan—but you’d never know that from the media coverage this past week.
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Watch Empire Files' 2020 documentary about this 20-year imperialist project.

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With the Delta variant's dominance, the pandemic is worsening in the U.S., and it's increasingly clear that the Biden administration's decisions are part of the reason.

Walker Bragman takes us through Biden and the CDC's failures. The resistance to vaccine mandates, efforts to get kids back in school too soon, and the hasty loosening of mask recommendations are part why variants have strengthened, Covid rates are rising, and sick children are filling up hospitals.

Biden’s Mounting Pandemic Failures
As Hot Vax Summer fades to the sounds of the Delta blues, experts call for federal action.
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Meanwhile, as more and more kids get the virus, "the nation’s second-largest school district will only tell parents if their kids are considered 'close contacts' of infected classmates," reports Capital & Main.

Some L.A. County Parents Won’t Be Told of COVID Infections in Their Kids’ Classroom
The nation’s second-largest school district will only tell parents if their kids are considered “close contacts” of infected classmates.
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The Majority Report discusses the dangers of the Delta variant.

Climate change(d)

The YEARS Project had me on to discuss my op-ed about Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.V.) massive financial conflict of interest. He's chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee—in charge of fossil fuel and climate legislation—and he makes half a million or more per year from his family coal business. It's hard to be more conflicted than that. Oh, and he just happens to be trying to remove climate change mitigation provisions from the federal budget.

David Doel of The Rational National explains how corporate House Dems are, like Manchin, trying to hold the federal budget hostage in order to squash vital measures such as efforts to combat climate change.

Here's some relevant intel from David Dayen of The American Prospect.

Speaking of The Prospect, here's Harold Meyerson on the most conservative Dems in the House.

The Democrats’ Right-Wing Fringe
Gottheimer and Galston, yanking the Democrats back to their Reagan-age timidity
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The Not Safe For Wonks podcast this week discusses issues such as dealing with climate anxiety.

Episode 127: Living in a World That’s Bigger Than You (with Greenhouse Gaslighting) – Not Safe Media
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In Sick Note, Libby Watson has an important story about a Trump-era change to how deductibles work that's rough for people using medications. Drug companies often subsidize the exorbitant cost of their medications to increase market share. Previously, those subsidized costs counted towards patients' deductibles. Trump changed that, so once the subsidy runs out, you have to pay your full deductible before your insurance kicks in.

Welp, the Biden administration is sticking with the change.

In fact, in its rule, Biden’s CMS actively “encourage[d]” insurers to consider not letting copay assistance count towards a deductible."
The policy that costs sick patients thousands
A Trump policy that harms patients remains in place.
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In Connecticut, the prospect of a public option seems dim. The CT Mirror reports.

Despite success in other states, hopes dim for a public option in Connecticut
Colorado, Nevada have approved public option plans this year.
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The cult classic film Donnie Darko came out in January 2001, the year that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. This episode of Champagne Sharks analyzes the film.

Working thru the mysteries of the movie while paralleling the time period to their own childhoods, the Sharks and guests parse out the weird only to discover everything they thought the movie was about is not what its creator had in mind... One thing they DO all agree on though is, the soundtrack rips.

Listen on Soundcloud.

More great indy content

This newsletter is pretty long, so here's a list of some more good stuff you should check out from this week:

True North Research: How One Rich Dude Targeted Colleges to Mold America to Suit His Views

WhoWhatWhy: America Is No Longer a Serious Nation

Progressives Everywhere: What Biden is doing very right

Discontents: The Road Out of Kabul

Gravel Institute: The Murderous Police Gangs of Los Angeles

The Katie Halper Show: 'Impeach Cuomo' With NY Assemblyman Ron Kim Who Cuomo Threatened to 'Destroy'

That's it for this weekend. Thanks as always for following OptOut and the 110+ independent news outlets in our network! See you next weekend.