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Morning news brief

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Ten people are dead, and at least 15 others are injured following multiple stabbings in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are looking for two suspects in connection to Sunday's attacks. Here's Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Rhonda Blackmore talking yesterday at a press conference.

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RHONDA BLACKMORE: At this stage in our investigation, we believe some of the victims have been targeted by the suspect, and others have been attacked randomly.

MARTIN: Police say people were stabbed in at least 13 different locations.

MARTINEZ: Mickey Djuric is a Saskatchewan correspondent for The Canadian Press, joining us from the city of Melfort. Mickey, what can you tell us about what happened yesterday?

MICKEY DJURIC: Thanks for having me. Well, so it started yesterday morning where the National Police Service had received a phone call regarding a stabbing that occurred on an Indigenous First Nation. And one call led to another, and eventually, they reported that 10 people were dead across 13 locations. Another 15 people have been injured, but police believe that there could be more. And the stabbings occurred mostly in James Smith Cree Nation. It's a very small community up in the province's north. It's located within a small farming community, very rural. Most of the roads here are gravel roads. And then another stabbing occurred about 20 minutes away from there in Weldon, and that also is a small town, about 200 people. And I can say residents in the area are very much on edge as police across three provinces are searching for these two suspects.

MARTINEZ: We heard earlier that some of the victims may have been targeted. What do we know about them?

DJURIC: We don't know much. Police aren't saying anything about motive at this time. What they did tell us earlier in the day is that they believe that some of the victims were targeted, but they also believe that some of the victims were attacked randomly. They haven't answered any questions if this was drug fueled or why these two individuals have done this. The suspects, Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson, both share the last name. They also will not share the connection between the two men. I can say - I'm staying in a hotel about 20 minutes away from the Indigenous reservation, and there is a heavy, heavy police presence. Officers from across the province have been deployed to the area, and it really does look like a big manhunt.

MARTINEZ: We mentioned that they have the same last name, but we still don't know if they're related, right?

DJURIC: Right. I did speak to some witnesses in the area. They do say that they are brothers, but police have not confirmed that to media at this time.

MARTINEZ: OK. Now, the two alleged attackers are still on the loose. Do police have any idea about where they are or where they might be headed?

DJURIC: Last we heard is that they were in Regina, which is the city's capital. Their vehicle that they allegedly had stolen was spotted in the city, which is about almost a four-hour drive south of the location where these stabbings occurred. It kind of complicated things because on Sunday we had this huge football game in the area, and it's one of the biggest football games of the year, so police had asked everyone in the area to be alert and try to stay in their homes if they could. They're still advising people to do that. And they're also asking people in Manitoba and Alberta to be on the lookout.

MARTINEZ: Mickey Djuric is a Saskatchewan correspondent for The Canadian Press. Mickey, thank you.

DJURIC: Thank you.

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MARTINEZ: The German government has announced a $65 billion relief package for its citizens.

MARTIN: Yeah, this is all designed to help ease the burden of soaring inflation and surging energy costs as Russia cuts off its gas supplies to Europe.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Rob Schmitz is on the line from Berlin to talk about this. Rob, this package comes just a couple of days after Russia's state-owned energy company, Gazprom, announced an indefinite halt of natural gas in the key pipeline that supplies Germany and much of Europe. How much of a factor was that in this aid package?

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: The erratic supply of natural gas from Russia was a big factor behind this relief package. For months, Gazprom has cut gas supplies through its pipeline to Europe and sometimes resumed those flows. We've seen this over and over, and each time the company claims it's shutting down the pipelines for maintenance. But German officials roll their eyes at this, and they say that Russia's obviously using energy as a weapon against the European Union, which is supporting Ukraine and which has imposed a range of sanctions on Russia. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck spoke this weekend about the latest cut in gas deliveries to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Here's what he said.

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ROBERT HABECK: (Speaking German).

SCHMITZ: And he's saying here that Nord Stream 1 should be running at full capacity, but then there's the erratic decisions by the Russian government, which means that Germany should not count on any more gas coming through that pipeline this winter.

MARTINEZ: And how much of a problem will that scenario be for Germany?

SCHMITZ: Very big problem. But Germany's government has worked very hard to wean itself off of Russian natural gas. Prior to the war, Germany relied on Russia for more than half its natural gas supply. In August, that was down to less than 10%. Now, August is not a month where Germany typically uses a lot of gas, but overall, Germany's been able to sign contracts with other European countries like Norway and the Netherlands for alternative gas supplies. And German energy experts I've spoken to say they will likely not be blackouts this winter for Germany's household sector but that German industry may suffer.

MARTINEZ: OK, and that's probably not great for the German economy, which brings us then back to this relief package. How is this going to help Germans get through the winter?

SCHMITZ: This is the third and largest relief package from the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. It'll include one-time payments to families, payments for retirees on pensions, and it promises to reduce the price for public transportation. Energy-intensive German industrial companies will be given tax breaks to help them stay afloat and keep people employed. And all of this aims to counter the impact that inflation has had on the economy here. Prices rose 8% in August alone. The price of groceries rose nearly 17% last month. And natural gas is 10 times more expensive than a year ago. So the pressure on German citizens and companies is very real here.

MARTINEZ: Now, things are OK right now, Rob, but, I mean, how concerned is the government about social unrest over all this?

SCHMITZ: Oh, very much so. German officials have been warning local police for months that soaring costs may lead to protests. And both left-wing and right-wing groups say they'll begin weekly demonstrations against the government. Labor unions have also warned about this. Beyond Germany, we saw big protests over inflation in neighboring Czech Republic over the weekend. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Prague, demanding that their government do more about this. And this could get a lot worse. We've got months before winter begins and this energy shortage starts to inflict real pain here in Europe.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR Berlin correspondent Rob Schmitz. Rob, thanks.

SCHMITZ: Thank you.

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MARTINEZ: Support for unions in the U.S. has reached the highest level since 1965, as a wave of first-ever unionization has swept through big-name companies such as Amazon, Starbucks and REI. Still, only a small share of U.S. workers are unionized. Today on Labor Day, we're checking in on the state of U.S. labor organizing with NPR's Alina Selyukh. We've seen a lot of headlines about recent union wins. How historic is this moment?

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Yeah. We have seen a reversal of a long trend of declining union interest. This year, we're seeing union petitions up about 60%. Many workers are filing charges of unfair labor practices against employers. There are more strikes. They're bigger. Remember - the pandemic prompted millions of front-line workers to quit. Many people began revaluing what type of work they were willing to do for what type of wage, and it sort of shook up the power dynamic between workers and employers. Workers went on to organize at places that had fought this off for years, like Amazon, Apple Stores, Chipotle and, of course, Starbucks, where more than 200 stores have unionized.

MARTINEZ: How are these new unions different?

SELYUKH: Yeah, maybe if you're thinking, like, a traditional American union, you might picture a guy on a factory line maybe. This latest wave has a lot of service jobs, lots of retail, coffee shops, also white-collar jobs like in media, nonprofits. And we're definitely seeing more women leading the charge. I talked to Sarah Beth Ryther, who works at a Trader Joe's in Minneapolis, where she said after years of whispers about a union, high-profile wins at other companies kind of put it in the air.

SARAH BETH RYTHER: It made unionization feel possible. You kind of register it and then feel that it's possible in a way that maybe that feeling wasn't there before.

SELYUKH: Her store became the second Trader Joe's to unionize just three weeks ago, possibly with more to follow.

MARTINEZ: Now, of course, a key goal of forming a union is to have workers collectively bargain. That's getting a contract with their employers that solidifies demands, such as higher wages. Is that happening?

SELYUKH: Yeah, that's the flip side of the story. Even with the highest-profile union wins, none of them are close to reaching a contract. Companies have many paths to try to slow down or even reverse labor organizing. They're challenging many of the wins. Like, Amazon has been appealing to overturn the union victory at its Staten Island warehouse. At Starbucks, it's been nine months since that first union win, and only 3 out of over 200 have even started negotiations. Organizer Michelle Eisen says the company is dragging its feet.

MICHELLE EISEN: I think their hope is that they're going to tire people out to the point of, you know, the leaders in this movement getting tired and moving on to something else.

SELYUKH: Starbucks, of course, disputes this. There are just so many legal delays to get through. Both Amazon and Starbucks, for example, are pursuing a remarkable challenge to the fairness of the union election process itself.

MARTINEZ: So stepping back a second, though, I mean, how much are things really changing then? I mean, are unions winning?

SELYUKH: Yeah, OK, so only about 10% of American workers belong to a union, but the latest Gallup poll found 71% of Americans approve of unions. And labor experts say particularly young people are engaged and potentially growing a new generation of organizers.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Alina Selyukh. Thanks a lot.

SELYUKH: Thank you.

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MARTINEZ: There's one more story that we think you should know about this morning. It's the final full day for Boris Johnson as British prime minister.

MARTIN: His Conservative Party will soon announce a new leader after a monthslong contest to replace him, and it's looking like it might be Liz Truss. She is currently the country's foreign secretary. She owes her rise to a very small number of Conservative Party members. For more, listen to NPR's MORNING EDITION on your local station. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.