Costly train strike looming ahead of holidays. Shooter at CO gay club charged with hate crime, dodged red flag law. Turkey, Iran carry out airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan.
National train strike looms again ahead of holidays
Back in September, marathon negotiations between industry groups, labor unions and members of the Biden administration narrowly averted a major nationwide railroad strike. The parties hammered out a deal that would give train workers a 24% raise. However, the deal did nothing to address issues with working conditions and sick days, which were a major sticking point for the unions.
Leaders and members of the 12 major unions expressed dissatisfaction with the deal at the time, but agreed to put the contracts to a vote. As of now, seven unions have ratified the agreement; three have rejected it and are back at the bargaining table; and two unions have yet to vote.
Now fears are rising that we could see a strike as soon as Dec. 4. If even one of the 12 unions decides to strike, all the others will join them. Back in September when a strike was first on the horizon, industry groups estimated a strike would cost the US economy about $2 billion per day. With the holidays approaching, the loss could be even better. Not to mention the fact that about 30% of freight in the US travels by rail. A rail strike could mean even greater supply chain problems and even empty shelves. Amtrak and some commuter rail lines would also grind to a halt.
In the event of a strike, Congress has the power to force the unions back to work. Workers know this would mean accepting a less favorable deal than the one that’s on the table now. But after over 5 years of negotiation and two years of crews working short-staffed with punishing schedules while companies made record profits, there is a lot of built up anger and frustration on the part of the workers.
Shooter at CO gay club charged with hate crime, dodged red flag law
Saturday night, a 22-year-old gunman entered Club Q, a LGBT club in Colorado Springs, CO., and started shooting. Anderson Lee Aldrich killed 5 people and injured 25 before two civilians heroically tackled and disarmed him. Police and first responders were on the scene within about 5 minutes of the first 911 call.
Aldrich was not known to the patrons or owners at Club Q. His attack coincided with Trans Memorial Day, when the LGBT community memorializes trans people who have died by violence in the last year. It seems Aldrich picked a day when he knew there would be a good crowd in attendance. He carried both and AR-style long gun and a handgun and brought several extra magazines. It’s not clear how many people were in the club that night, but Aldrich obviously hoped for a high body count.
Today Aldrich was charged with a hate crime. FBI agents have been working alongside local law enforcement processing the scene.
Back in June 2021, Aldrich allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb. Police responded and evacuated nearby neighbors while the bomb squad searched his home for explosives. None were found. Local media reports that prosecutors did not pursue formal charges and the records were sealed. Nevertheless, Aldrich’s guns could have been confiscated under Colorado’s red flag laws. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to obtain a warrant to remove weapons from the home of a subject who is considered a threat to himself or others. It’s not clear at present why this didn’t happen. Even if a judge had ordered Aldrich’s weapons confiscated, subjects often get them back within a couple of weeks.
Turkey, Iran carry out airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan
Turkey is hitting neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan (in the north of the country) with air strikes in retaliation for a recent bombing in Istanbul. The Turkish government blames militant Kurdish liberation forces, known as the PKK, for the bombing. Air strikes have also taken place in Kurdish areas of Syria in what the Turks are calling Operation Claw-Sword. Turkey has been waging war on its own Kurdish population for decades and has committed numerous war crimes against them over the years. Militants have now largely retreated to areas of Syria and Iraq. Turkey has taken advantage of political turmoil in its neighboring countries, believing they can carry out attacks on foreign soil with impunity.
Iraqi Kurdistan has also been hit multiple times by Iranian missiles in recent weeks. Iran’s government blames the Kurdish minority for stirring and perpetuating widespread antigovernment protests across the country. Mahsa Amini (also known as Zhina Amini), the 22-year-old student whose death in police custody sparked the protests, was Kurdish.
The Kurds are a distinct ethnic group with their own language. They’ve been fighting to create their own state as they frequently face brutal oppression in the countries they inhabit. The diaspora spreads across areas of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Caucasus region. During the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Kurdish force called the Peshmerga fought alongside US troops. The Kurds then established a semi-autonomous region in the north of the country and enjoyed a period of relative peace. Now that the political situation in Iraq has become increasingly unstable, Iraqi Kurdistan has been vulnerable to attacks from all sides.
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