Happy New Year! What a wild start to 2021. To give ourselves a little break, we took two weeks off from this newsletter, but development of the OptOut app continues to go really well. Here are some recent screenshots.
This is the “Headlines” feed, where OptOut editors handpick news items we think you should check out. Unlike social media apps and search engines, we don’t use algorithms, which boost extremist content for profit (social media) and prioritize legacy outlets (searches). Instead, we use our editorial judgment to personally select important news, including items from outlets you’re far less likely to discover through traditional means.
And here’s a new feature we’re working on: live videos. If any of our independent media partners are livestreaming on YouTube or Twitch, you’ll find them in the “Livestreams” tab. If you watch for a few minutes and want to go back to browsing articles, you can keep the sound on while you do. (Watch that Nomiki Konst video here.)
Folks, I’m just a money-in-politics reporter. If you told me a year ago that some friends and I were getting ready to launch a news aggregation app, I’d think you were nuts. But thanks to a lot of time in quarantine, the great work of some generous volunteers from the Progressive Coders Network, and the excellent content that our media partners create, it’s happening!!
Thus far, OptOut has been an entirely volunteer operation. We’re fortunate to have 120 paid subscribers of this newsletter, whose donations are paying for our web hosting and other online services and covered our state and federal incorporation fees. But to run and maintain a curated news app, we’ll need to raise a significant amount of money. We are planning a crowdfunding campaign and will be applying for grants, but if you aren’t yet a paid supporter and can afford to help us now, please do. We really appreciate it.
Ok, let’s get to this week’s news.
I’m sure every one of you has been scouring the internet for coverage of the grotesque shitshow (literally) that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Five people died, and it was catastrophic on so many levels. While it was happening, and afterwards, I kept thinking about all the reporters who were trapped inside the building, denied protection by the Capitol Police, and those who were just outside, also covering the mayhem. The insurrectionists attacked some of them. Sometimes reporting can be dangerous, and my deepest respect goes out to all the journalists who covered Wednesday’s events.
What’s Left: How seriously should we take the storming of the Capitol?
Zeeshan Aleem answers some important questions that have arisen over the last few days about the danger of the MAGA rioters, law enforcement’s failure, terminology, and Trump’s never-ending sea of lies.
Jacobin: In America, Leftist Protesters Get Violently Beaten and Arrested. Right-Wing Protesters Get to Take the Capitol.
Luke Savage for Jacobin:
The kid-glove treatment of yesterday’s far-right protesters was a shocking departure from the wanton police brutality that is the norm for leftist protesters of any kind. When racial justice or antiwar protesters take to the streets, police repression is fierce and unrelenting. When right-wingers protest, they’re given free rein.
The Insurgents: What Does the Mob Do Next? ft. Jared Holt
Jared Holt, a researcher of rightwing extremism and the host of the Sh!tpost podcast, talks with Jordan and Rob about next steps for the far right. The insurrection will inspire terrorist attacks for the next decade, says Jared, who is tracking online discussions about another, more deadly attempt in the works.
Links to the episode on other platforms are here.
Status Coup: Trump Army's Coup | A Timeline
Status Coup puts together footage by Jon Farina from the day before the insurrection to the insurrection itself.
Exposed by CMD: Charles Koch’s Political Machine Bankrolled Senators Who Planned to Steal Election for Trump
Yours truly wrote a piece about how fossil fuel billionaire Charles Koch, his family, his company, and political spending groups he founded have bankrolled the campaigns of the senators, including ringleaders Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, who planned to challenge the Biden electors on Wednesday. Koch recently published a book in an attempted rebrand as a “uniter,” but even his very recent partisan political spending screams otherwise.
Discourse Blog: RIP to the World’s Greatest Poster of All Time, @RealDonaldTrump
Because of his starring role in The Insurrection and incitement via Twitter, the platform has, at long last, permanently banned Trump’s personal account. Several other platforms are cracking down on Trump and other far-right accounts as well. Discourse Blog’s Katherine Krueger brings back some of the Poster-In-Chief’s best work in this retrospective.
In Other News
The Daily Poster: Millionaire Joe Manchin Threatening To Starve His Constituents
A 50-50 Senate with Democrats in control because of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote means that coal millionaire Sen. Joe Manchin (Extremely Conservative D—W.V.) is going to be a thorn the the side of liberals and progressives. In fact, he already is.
Tim Black TV: Joe Biden's Very Diverse Cabinet
“Joe Biden's diverse cabinet doesn't necessarily mean good results for the historically disenfranchised,” argues Tim Black.
Acute Condition: Did Amazon sink Haven?
The “secretive, splashy new venture to make over health care” launched by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase in 2018 has collapsed. Olivia Webb analyzes why these three corporate giants couldn’t figure out how to make it work.
Sick Note: One hospital system's big lobbying bill
Excited to announce that Libby Watson’s brand new newsletter about the U.S. health care industry, Sick Note, is an OptOut partner! In this article, Libby follows up a New York Times story about how Northwell Health, the hospital chain run by a very close ally of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, sued patients for unpaid medical bills during the pandemic, unlike many of its competitors. While it was doing this, Northwell still had plenty of money to spend on state and federal lobbying.
This Machine Kills: Conceptual Hit List
Happy to welcome This Machine Kills, a podcast about technology and political economy, to the OptOut network! In this episode, hosts Jathan Sadowski and Edward Ongweso Jr. “go through some foundational ideas in digital capitalism that we resolve to destroy.” Support the pod here.
The Gravel Institute: Does Capitalism Actually Reduce Poverty? (with Richard Wolff)
Professor Richard Wolff of the New School joins The Gravel Institute to answer this question.
Jewish Currents: White Savior Cinema
Rebecca Pierce speaks with Palestinian-German filmmaker Lexi Alexander about Wonder Woman 1984’s problematic depiction of Arabs and the Middle East for Jewish Currents.
Thanks for supporting OptOut and our great media partners! Have a good, hopefully insurrection-free week, and see you next weekend.