Battle For Congress Shapes Up • Railway Strike Still Looms • Keeping the Mail Going in Ukraine
I’m Cristian Salazar, OptOut’s Climate Editor, and I’ve written your weekly news roundup for today.
A month before the pivotal midterm elections, the fight over the control of the U.S. Congress is shaping up as Democrats and Republicans attempt to determine the narrative over abortion rights, the results of the 2020 election, and the state of the economy. The outcomes of these races have the potential to either support or stymie President Biden’s agenda and political wins.
STATES NEWSROOM is tracking elections in multiple states, including in Michigan where election deniers are on the ballot and where candidates are making abortion a core issue. The news organization also has guides on the races in Pennsylvania, how Kansas Republicans are trying to position themselves in the fight against the fentanyl crisis, and voting rights in Georgia.
In a review of state races, THE MAJORITY REPORT speaks with Aaron Kleinman, director of research for the States Project at Future Now, about the midterm elections.
IN THESE TIMES argues that the Democrats’ success in the midterm elections will pivot around how Biden is graded on the health of the economy. While giving Biden high marks for low unemployment, working-class benefits under the Inflation Reduction Act, and student loan debt relief, the publication argues “a whole lot more” could be done under progressive policies.
Even though critical domestic issues are shaping the midterm elections, THE NATION says they have crowded out important discussions of the war in Ukraine, military spending, and disarmament. As Jon Nichols writes, “neglecting issues of war and peace doesn’t make them go away.” This is especially critical given that the specter of nuclear war breaking out in Europe is becoming even more plausible as Russian President Vladimir Putin gets increasingly desperate in his aggression toward Ukraine.
Your Independent News Roundup
Prison Industrial Complex
Evidence of the Alabama state prison system’s deteriorating conditions, lethal violence, lack of oversight and general disarray was made public by THE MARSHALL PROJECT. Prisoners staged a five-day strike beginning on Sept. 28 to call for changes to their living conditions, sentencing laws, and parole board policies.
LABOR NOTES has additional details on the prisoners’ demands and history of organizing in Alabama state prisons.
THE APPEAL and NEW YORK FOCUS jointly published a look at how New York’s solitary confinement law has created a new type of isolation, under the guise of rehabilitation. While the reform was intended to improve conditions for those in punitive segregation, the news organizations report that prisons are failing to follow the law and are hardly progressing in making solitary confinement more humane.
The New Labor Movement
Although railroad union members and their companies reached a tentative agreement in September to avoid a national rail shutdown after President Biden’s administration intervened, workers remain unhappy and a strike still remains a real possibility, PRISM reports.
On the MAJORITY REPORT, labor journalist Jonah Furman provides details and context to understand what’s at stake for workers.
Workers have been mobilizing to unionize Amazon warehouses in various parts of the country, and this past week some employees staged protests after fires broke out in facilities in New York and Alabama, LABOR NOTES reports. The Amazon Labor Union said that the warehouses didn’t have sufficient fire extinguishers and evacuation protocols, potentially endangering workers.
COUNTERSPIN also reports on the fire at the unionized Staten Island, N.Y., facility, where dozens of workers were suspended after they refused to go to work following the blaze.
Did you read our latest climate-focused newsletter? OptOut Climate Editor Cristian Salazar rounds up the best independent reporting about climate change, energy, and the environment every other Wednesday.
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THE NATION profiles the postmaster of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, as he attempts to fulfill a critical role in his country’s defense against Russia’s invasion by directing shipping to the front lines of the war and ensuring civilians can still receive their mail.
The presidential election in Brazil is heading into a runoff between far-right President Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Oct. 30. UNICORN RIOT, which recently joined the OptOut Network, examines the voting results, as well as the misinformation and violence that have marred the election.
In Other News
JACOBIN interviewed French writer Annie Ernaux, the 2022 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, about class, balancing writing as a single mother, and gender.
Writing for the ECONOMIC HARDSHIP REPORTING PROJECT, freelance journalist Kim Kelly examined the labor of workers who must deal with death as part of their job, such as gravediggers and funeral directors.
DEFECTOR posted a guide to the NHL season, analyzing the teams and players that are expected to shape the games.
Thanks as always for following the great independent outlets in the OptOut network! See you next week.
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