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SNAP Benefits, Environmental Protests, and Police Shootings

Top stories for the week ending February 24, 2023
SNAP Benefits, Environmental Protests, and Police Shootings

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This is the newsletter of OptOut, a free news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's available for Apple and Android devices. Find out more about the app at optout.news.

Two weeks ago, OptOut and the Important Context newsletter published a report on a new scientist group behind an 80-page blueprint for a congressional inquiry into the government's pandemic response. We revealed that the so-called "Norfolk Group" had arisen out of a right-wing dark money COVID disinformation nonprofit called the Brownstone Institute.

In our report, we noted that the new group was likely to be highly influential with Republicans in control of the House. Well, this week, the House Oversight Committee announced a roundtable discussion with three Norfolk Group scientists about the pandemic response. Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff should be familiar names to OptOut readers–two of the scientists behind the Great Barrington Declaration, an influential open letter calling on governments to reject broad public health measures in favor of limited protection for only the vulnerable and natural immunity for the masses. The pair–neither of whom has a Ph.D. in epidemiology–have been favorites of the political right and prolific spreaders of COVID-related misinformation, advising both the Trump administration and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

They will participate in the roundtable along with Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and COVID minimizer who advised Gov. Glenn Younkin.

New OptOut participating outlet MISINFORMATION KILLS had more details about the upcoming event, which promises to be a prelude for an upcoming investigation into the government’s pandemic response.

The Koch Network gets their show trials
Bhattacharya, Kulldorff, and Makary headed to Congress

OptOut is holding it first-ever public event next month! On Feb. 27, we are hosting a 2023 kickoff party and fundraiser in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We hope to meet you there! Please RSVP if you're planning to come, and share this with anyone who'd be interested!

OptOut News 2023 Kickoff and Fundraiser
Help the OptOut Media Foundation kick off its third year in Brooklyn!
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported another 2,400 U.S. COVID deaths this week for the seven-day period ending February 22. While deaths are declining nationally, the pandemic is clearly not over. Yet that hasn't dissuaded the Biden administration from its plan to end the COVID pandemic emergency declaration.  The move will have far-reaching consequences for millions of Americans.

OHIO CAPITAL JOURNAL had a report this week about a new study warning that the official end of the emergency could lead to a surge in the number of uninsured children.

Study shows uninsured children could increase with loss of pandemic-era coverage - Ohio Capital Journal
A new study warns of a sharp rise in uninsured children in Ohio and across the country if pandemic-era coverage is allowed to fade away.

Extra federal aid to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is coming to an end this month. OptOut participating outlets wrote about what that means for Americans.

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE BULLETIN explored what the loss of the added benefits could mean for residents of the state.

Extra SNAP benefits coming to an end, but overlooked exemptions could help fill gap – New Hampshire Bulletin
The number of Granite State adults and children without enough food dropped during the pandemic, in part because the federal government increased food stamp payments, according to a New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute analysis.

THE NEVADA CURRENT published a piece by political science professor Tracy Roof of the University of Virginia about the looming political battle to prevent a “hunger cliff.”

Extra SNAP benefits are ending as U.S. lawmakers resume battle over program - Nevada Current
Ed. note: Roughly 250,000 Nevadans are currently enrolled in SNAP, and Nevada is one of the 32 states where expanded benefits will end in March. Millions of Americans will find it harder to put enough food on the table starting in March 2023, after a COVID-19 pandemic-era boost to Supplemental Nutri…


HEATED investigated the question of whether or not fossil fuels will have any place in a net zero energy future, examining and rebutting each of the main arguments put forward to suggest the answer is “yes.”

Do fossil fuels have a place in the net zero transition?
In our first edition of Wormhole, Arielle dives into a question that kept coming up in our previous story.

GRIST published a report this week on the impact of climate-driven coastal erosion is fueling the disappearance of Louisiana’s historic communities. The article is part of a series about how climate change is displacing people.

As Louisiana’s coast disappears, its historic communities are disappearing too
New levees are too late to stop the exodus for bayou villages like Pointe-aux-Chenes.

UNICORN RIOT reported on indigenous protests in Minneapolis, MN, over the planned demolition of a Roof Depot which sits on a site of arsenic contamination. The protesters fear the demolition could negatively impact the surrounding neighborhoods.

Indigenous-Led Occupation Begins at Roof Depot Site Demanding City Call Off Demolition - UNICORN RIOT
A tipi was erected and over a dozen tents were set up as neighborhood residents started an occupation demanding the city end plans to demolish Roof Depot.

THE MAJORITY REPORT highlighted a segment on The View with Greta Thunberg in which the climate activist called for thinking outside the confines of the law in the face of climate change.

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Anti-Black hate crimes rose steeply in Los Angeles in 2021 according to a new report highlighted by PRISM. “Despite making up only 9% of LA’s population, Black residents made up 46% of all racial hate crime victims.”

Anti-Black hate crimes continue to increase in Los Angeles
Black residents in LA were the target of 46% of hate crimes, despite making up only 9% of the population. Local organizations are providing resources in hopes to change that

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his anti-”woke” evangelism this week, speaking to police officers in three northern cities. The governor blamed crime on “politicians putting woke ideology ahead of public safety.” THE FLORIDA PHOENIX had the story.

Anti-Black hate crimes continue to increase in Los Angeles
Black residents in LA were the target of 46% of hate crimes, despite making up only 9% of the population. Local organizations are providing resources in hopes to change that

Also notable was a thought-provoking piece published in THE APPEAL on mass incarceration and prison abolition.

Mass incarceration is slavery. Abolition is a vision for the future.
No system designed to make money by subjugating people intends to rid us of those harms. Abolition is a vision for the future.

THE MARSHALL PROJECT, meanwhile, released an important report on police shootings in America.

The Fatal Police Shootings That Don’t Make Headlines
We investigate police shootings in rural areas and speak with music executive Jason Flom about his work with people who were wrongfully convicted.
DOWNLOAD the free OptOut app for Android or iOS for more curated content like this every day!


A federal court delivered a victory for Starbucks workers seeking to unionize this week. THE AMERICAN PROSPECT had the story.

Federal Court Tells Starbucks to Stop Illegal Union-Busting
A judge issues an all-too-rare injunction that might just revive the baristas’ organizing.

A major U.S. food sanitation company was fined for using children as young as 13 as workers. THE KENTUCKY LANTERN reported on the story this week.

Food sanitation company fined $1.5 million for illegal child labor - Kentucky Lantern
Children, from 13 to 17 years-old, worked overnight shifts cleaning head splitters, back saws and brisket saws, and were exposed to dangerous chemicals such as ammonia.

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