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Women's Rights, Local News, Remembering Jake Varghese

Women's Rights, Local News, Remembering Jake Varghese

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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.

Rest in Power, Jake Varghese

We begin this edition with some very sad news: Jake Varghese, a talented developer, gifted policy wonk, and passionate activist, passed away in late December. As a volunteer with the Progressive Coders Network, Jake designed the backend of our independent news app, OptOut.

We are heartbroken by the loss of our friend and colleague Jake. His presence was a cornerstone of OptOut and the broader Progressive Coders Network to which we belong. Jake was incredibly dedicated; I'm struggling to remember a time when I messaged him on Slack about something and he didn't almost immediately respond.

We miss Jake enormously and hope to honor him and his legacy by launching and expanding our app and distributing important, independent news coverage of the issues he cared about most, including universal health care, affordable housing, and fighting political corruption.

Read more about Jake's life here.

OptOut Updates

Thanks to the hard work of our Progressive Coders Network volunteers, the OptOut independent news aggregation app is nearly ready for its Apple Store launch. Plus, more great news: The Android version is in preliminary testing! Here's what one tester had to say about it.

Yes, our app integrates video (and audio) better than any other news aggregator we're aware of. We can't wait for everyone to check it out.

The week's news roundup features content from our 115+ financially independent media outlets about women's issues and a whole lot of state and local coverage.

Your Roundup of News From Voices the Corporate Media Neglects

Women's Rights

"After a war is won, history builds monuments to men, vaulting the contribution of the male soldier onto a pedestal as the most valued work and the key to victory," writes Ricci Shryock in Africa Is a Country as she documents how women were key to Guinea-Bissau's independence.

There is no fight without the women
During Guinea-Bissau’s war of liberation, women filled key positions on the frontline. That is often forgotten in the mythology of the struggle for independence.

The Laura Flanders Show's latest interviews two veterans of the U.S. women's rights movement about what they've learned from decades of activism.

Today’s guests argue that things could have been very different if the white dominated “choice” movement had paid closer attention to all women’s choices, or lack thereof; if anti-violence advocates had rejected criminalization and incarceration as a solution to the violence in women’s lives.

True North Research investigates the Independent Women's Forum, a rightwing activist group that fights women's rights and is funded by the Charles Koch Foundation.

The “Independent” Women Who Oppose Women’s Rights to Make Independent Choices About Abortion
By Ansev Demirhan, Evan Vorpahl, and Alyssa Bowen January 22 marks 49 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade, which recognized the fundamental right of women to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

Check out Femme Friday from The Nomiki Show featuring conversations with Jennifer Butler about the right-wing's manipulation of religion, The Daily Poster's Julia Rock on her Jacobin article, "The Bernie Left Is Taking on Machine Politics — and Each Other," and Esperanza Fonseca, a member of the transnational feminist organization AF3IRM.

Scalawag reminds us that abortion funds, especially in the South, need your help. See this list of organizations you can assist.

As we await the summer Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case out of Mississippi seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, the best way to support reproductive justice is by giving our time and resources to on-the-ground providers and mutual-aid organizations across the South.
Abortion funds to support in the South
On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the best way to support reproductive justice is by giving our time and resources to providers and mutual-aid organizations across the South.

OptOut needs your help to power our independent media network in 2022!

Your donations will fund news curation of the app, tech development to enhance it, and marketing to get this vital content in front of as many people as possible. We have high hopes for this year, but we can't work towards our goals without your support.

We have a goal of raising $20,000 in the first quarter of 2022 to launch and market the OptOut app!

Please make a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more to the OptOut Media Foundation to fund our official launch! We really appreciate your generosity.

Local News Around the U.S.

This year, OptOut is focused on expanding our roster of state and local news outlets. With corporate giants gobbling up local papers and social media outlets hoarding ad revenue, local news needs our help more than ever. In conjunction with our state and local news recruitment, we're working on adding a categories function to the app so you can follow outlets that cover your area and topics that most interest you.

Here's some state and local news of the week from our current participating outlets!


In the Bay Area, transit workers are demanding hazard pay, Labor Notes reports.

The demand for hazard pay united Local 192 with Local 265—representing workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), where nine union members lost their lives last May in a tragic mass shooting—and Transport Workers (TWU) Local 250A, which represents San Francisco transit workers.
Bay Area Transit Workers Organize for Hazard Pay, Build toward Contract Campaigns
Oakland transit worker Connie McFarland drove home after a long shift last July 28 and logged onto Zoom for a board meeting of her employer, AC Transit. She joined a chorus of 40 workers and riders who held up the start of the agenda with nearly two hours of public comment. Their demand: hazard pay…

Related from Doug Henwood of LBO News: Despite an encouraging strike wave in the U.S., union membership fell by almost 2% in 2021.

Density rose in 2020 because more nonunion workers lost their jobs in the covid crisis than their unionized counterparts, but 2021’s return to employment undid that.

In Los Angeles, the mayor has nominated the first woman to head the city fire department, reports Knock LA.

After complaints of sexism in LAFD, Kristen Crowley is first female chief
Kristen Crowley was nominated as the Los Angeles Fire Department’s first female chief following allegations of harassment and discrimination.

During the omicron surge, high school students are protesting unsafe conditions in the Bay Area and Los Angeles suburbs, as well as in other states, writes Capital & Main.

As Omicron Surges, California Students Demand More From Adults
An ‘onslaught’ of school protest aims to do what California’s government has struggled to achieve: keep students safe.


Fortunately, Connecticut's positive Covid-19 testing rate has declined from its peak less than two weeks ago. However, access to testing has been challenging, and the state government needs to replace its testing contractor, Sema4. Read more in the CT Mirror.

As COVID-19 surge slows, Lamont addresses challenges
COVID-19 activity in CT continues to decline: Connecticut’s daily test positivity rate was at 13.69% on Friday.


Janine Jackson interviews Status Coup's Jordan Chariton for FAIR's podcast, Counterspin, about Status Coup's extensive coverage of the Flint water crisis. Jordan's latest piece reveals how the former criminal prosecution team investigating the crisis was building a racketeering case against its architects—and was then dismantled.

Jordan Chariton on Flint Water Crisis, Maurice Carney on Lumumba Assassination - FAIR
While corporate media have largely let the water crisis in Flint go, the story isn’t over, nor has justice been served.

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Returning to Mississippi: Progressives Everywhere has a story about an organization, Mississippi Votes, that is working to create a new generation of political activists and engaged citizens in the deeply red state.

Organizing against history in the Deep South
The fight to make democracy possible in Mississippi

New York

The Appeal reports that New York's jail populations, which decreased during the early pandemic, are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The rise in the state’s jail populations...have instead been driven by judges choosing to incarcerate people instead of turning to other alternatives after the state rolled back its landmark bail reform law.
Why New York Jail Populations Are Returning to Pre-Pandemic Levels
After the state rolled back a progressive bail law, data from the Vera Institute of Justice suggests judges are ordering more people be held in jails, amid continued worry over COVID-19.

A deadly fire, sparked by a malfunctioning space heater, engulfed a Bronx public housing building this month. THE CITY shows how energy efficiency could have prevented this tragedy.

Bronx Fire Highlights How Energy-Efficiency Push Could Save Lives Beyond Climate Change
Newly mandated improvements to building energy efficiency in New York aren’t just ways to mitigate climate change and get off of fossil fuels, but could lead to immediate quality of life benefits for people living in affordable housing.

Rhode Island

One of OptOut's most recent additions, Uprise RI, details the inequality that's been part of Rhode Island's coastal resources policies and argues that reforms must address environmental racism.

Why Coastal Resource reforms must focus on environmental racism
During the hearings held by the special Commission, environmental justice and the overt racism of the CRMC and the Raimondo Administration were never brought up, until UpriseRI brought it to the attention of the Commission on Wednesday...

About OptOut

OptOut is an independent news aggregation app developed by the OptOut Media Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to assisting independent news outlets (EIN: 852348079). The app will launch in the Apple App Store in early 2022, and an Android version will follow. See the links below for more information.

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