Your Tuesday Briefing: The U.S. Midterms Loom


Americans will finish voting in midterm elections today, which could change the balance of power in state and federal legislative bodies, influence foreign policy and foreshadow the 2024 presidential race.

Many races are teetering on a knife’s edge, but Democrats are bracing for losses even in traditionally blue areas. Republican control of the House, Senate or both could embolden the far-right and lawmakers in Washington who traffic in conspiracy theories and falsehoods. Here are four potential election outcomes.

Democrats have depicted Republicans as extreme, while Republicans have portrayed Democrats as out of touch on inflation and immigration. Crime is a key issue: Many Americans think there’s a surge in violence, which could benefit Republicans, even though experts disagree on the data.

It could also further politicize the U.S. approach to Iran and the war in Ukraine and allow Republicans to slow the torrent of aid to Kyiv. That could benefit Moscow: Russian trolls have stepped up efforts to spread misinformation before the midterms, which researchers say is an attempt to influence the outcome.

António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, gave a stark warning in his opening remarks at yesterday’s COP27 session. “We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing,” he said. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

Power was cut Sunday night, and Ukrainians say Russian troops have destroyed electrical infrastructure and have placed mines around water towers. An exiled Ukrainian official said that repairs are impossible without specialists and equipment. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, said that Russia was planning more mass strikes on energy infrastructure.

Kherson City is the only regional capital to be captured by Russia, and a battle for its control has loomed for months. Its loss would be a major blow to Moscow, and Ukraine says it has no evidence that Russian forces will abandon the region.

Ukraine: The military has reclaimed over 100 towns and villages in the region since it began a counteroffensive in August.

Russia: Kremlin-appointed authorities ordered the “evacuation” of all civilians there last month, and occupation officials have reduced their presence. Since then, Russian personnel have shuttered essential services and looted the city, according to residents and Ukrainian officials.

Other updates:

The concept of a “wood-wide web” has overturned conventional views of forests. Instead of competing for resources, the theory goes, trees collaborate and communicate underground through fungal filaments.

Although those findings influence Hollywood and forest management discussions alike, the theory is up for debate. Most experts believe that organisms whose members sacrifice their own interests for the community rarely evolve, a result of the powerful force of natural selection.

Lives lived: Ela Bhatt was a champion of gender equality who secured protections for millions of Indian women in the work force. She died at 89.

People in Keelung, a port city in Taiwan, have prepared for war for hundreds of years: The city had its first foreign attack, by the Dutch, in 1642.

Those anxieties have left a mark on Keelung, which has the highest density of air-raid shelters of any city on the highly fortified island. Kitchens connect to underground passageways that tunnel into the sandstone. Rusty gates at the ends of alleys lead to dark maws that are filled with memories of war, and sometimes trash or bats — or an altar or restaurant annex.

Now, some of the city’s nearly 700 bomb shelters are being renovated and turned into cultural oases. Some are part of restaurants, while others sprout murals or altars.

“It’s a space for life,” said a breakfast shop owner who uses her bunker for storage. “And a space for death.”

Source : Nytimes