9 min read

Battle For Congress Shapes Up • Railway Strike Still Looms • Keeping the Mail Going in Ukraine

The best of independent media from the OptOut network.
Battle For Congress Shapes Up • Railway Strike Still Looms • Keeping the Mail Going in Ukraine

Written by:

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.

State of the Races | News From The States
Campaign season is in full swing, and there’s a lot at stake for voters: Election-denying candidates are on local, state and national ballots; a referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings is brewing across states; and Democrats’ accomplishments while controlling the White House and Congre…

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.

The Majority Report

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.

Grading President Biden’s Economic Record
Rapid job growth and increased worker bargaining power are very good—there’s a whole lot more progressive policy that could be done.

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.

War or Peace Is the Most Neglected Issue on the November Ballot
But most Americans don’t know it because the media isn’t asking candidates about disarmament, diplomacy, and out-of-control military spending.
People Over Profit. The OptOut Media Foundation recently launched its end-of-year fundraising campaign. We need to raise $50,000 in individual contributions by the end of 2022 so we can continue advocating for independent news organizations and challenging the dominant corporate media. Please consider helping us hit our target by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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.

Alabama Said Prison Strike Was ‘Under Control.’ Footage Shows System in Deadly Disarray.
While prisoners protest unsafe conditions, “it just doesn’t let up,” say advocates.

LABOR NOTES has additional details on the prisoners’ demands and history of organizing in Alabama state prisons.

‘Society Has Shut Down On Us:’ Prison Strikers Across Alabama Demand Change Despite Severe Retaliation
Across the state of Alabama, where the state’s longest-ever strike is currently ongoing at Warrior Met Coal after over 18 months, another historic labor stoppage is in its second week. Thousands of incarcerated people at every major male prison in Alabama have refused to report to their work assignm…

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.

How to Fight Mass Incarceration and Win
Criminal justice reform advocates in Los Angeles have amassed some impressive victories—laying out a model for reducing incarceration and providing care.
Solitary By Another Name: How New York Prisons Are Using ‘Therapeutic’ Units to Evade Reform
New York’s landmark solitary confinement reform law created a new, “rehabilitative” type of isolation unit. State prisons aren’t on board with the changes.

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.

Railroad workers have reservations about the tentative agreement
Though railroad companies and unions were able to reach a last-minute deal, workers remain unhappy with the agreement details

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.

Three Amazon Warehouses Catch Fire; Workers Protest Unsafe Conditions with Sit-in
Amazon warehouses caught fire in New York and Alabama this past week, endangering hundreds of workers. In the unionized Staten Island facility, workers marched on managers and staged a sit-down in protest over Amazon’s disregard for their safety—and the company lashed back with mass suspensions. The…

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.

John Logan on Amazon & Starbucks Organizing - FAIR
With tens of thousands of workers walking out around the country, the notion that this is somehow not meaningful should be hard to maintain.

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.

A Coal Baron’s Dirty Pipeline Bill • Geoengineering As A Potential Climate Solution • Puerto Rico’s Plight
The best of independent climate news from the OptOut network.

To get next week's climate newsletter in your inbox, sign into your account and click "Manage" to subscribe to OptOut Climate!

International News

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.

Dispatch from Ukraine: The Postmaster of Mykolaiv
Neither rain nor snow—nor Russian artillery—deter Egor Kosorukov from making sure the mail gets through.

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.

Elections in Brazil: Second Round Slated for October 30 Between Lula and Bolsonaro - UNICORN RIOT
Brazilian voters expressed their contempt with the current regime of Jair Bolsonaro, yet it wasn’t enough to declare Lula a first round victor.

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.

Nobel Prize Winner Annie Ernaux Speaks on How Class Shapes Her Writing
This week, French writer Annie Ernaux was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In an interview, she explains how her class background and the reality of class divides shape her writing.

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.

Death As Life’s Work: What It’s Like to Be a Funeral Director or Gravedigger
Co-published with Teen Vogue. For funeral directors, gravediggers, and crime-scene cleaners, death is life’s work.

DEFECTOR posted a guide to the NHL season, analyzing the teams and players that are expected to shape the games.

32 Teams, 29 Guys, One Building, And One Deity: Your Guide To The 2022–23 NHL Season | Defector
One superior concept dominates every square inch of sentimental autumn weekend imagery: FROZEN WATER.

Thanks as always for following the great independent outlets in the OptOut network! See you next week.

Please join our mission to boost independent media, challenge the dominant corporate and legacy outlets, and move things forward towards a stronger democracy, a healthier planet, and a more equitable society.

Please consider donating $20, $100, $1,000, or whatever you can here!

The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.

Download the app for Apple and Android
Sign up for OptOut's free newsletters.
Learn more about OptOut.

Events calendar

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.