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News brief: Russian filtration camps, Canadian stabbing case, Michigan abortion law

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Families are being separated at a border. This time it's Russians who are forcibly moving Ukrainians into Russian territory, then taking their children away from parents.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The U.S. says what Russia is doing to Ukrainians is a war crime. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called a Security Council meeting yesterday on the so-called filtration centers where Ukrainians are being held.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Filtered - the word does not begin to convey the horror and the depravity of these premeditated policies.

MARTIN: NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen is with us this morning. Hey, Michele.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: Does the U.S. have evidence of these so-called filtration camps and this family separation?

KELEMEN: So there's been a lot of reporting from human rights groups and from the U.S. intelligence community about this Russian practice. Russia had filtration camps in the war in Chechnya, too, by the way. So yesterday, Thomas-Greenfield cited some examples of stories that the U.S. has been hearing. And she said there's new evidence that officials in Vladimir Putin's administration are overseeing this campaign to deport or disappear Ukrainians who oppose what Russia is doing in areas that it now is occupying in Ukraine. And she said this is all laying the groundwork for Russia to annex parts of Ukraine. Take a listen to how she summed up her presentation in the Security Council.

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THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Colleagues, there will come a day when we are gathered in this council to condemn Russia's - the Russian Federation's attempts to annex more of Ukraine's territory. And I will ask that you remember what you've heard here today. No one - no one - will be able to say they were not warned.

KELEMEN: And Rachel, that's what the U.S. has been doing throughout this conflict, declassifying information to show what the Russians are up to. It warned the world that Russia was going to invade earlier this year, and that's what the Russians did.

MARTIN: What does Russia have to say about this, their ambassador to the U.N.?

KELEMEN: Deny and deflect - that's basically the strategy of Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya. He said yesterday's meeting might be a new milestone in a disinformation campaign. Those were his words. He says Ukrainians who go to Russia go through a registration process, not a filtration procedure. And he blasted the U.S. and others for supplying weapons to Ukraine. You know, Russia all along has been trying to portray this as a Western proxy war against Russia. A top U.N. official gave diplomats a reality check on that. She ended her presentation with a pretty stark quote. All wars are tragic, Rosemary DiCarlo said, but none more so than a war of choice.

MARTIN: So it's true. I mean, throughout the conflict, the U.S. has tried to strengthen Ukraine's hand with a whole lot of weapons shipments and aid. But there has, Michele, been baked in this assumption that this war was going to have to end in a diplomatic agreement of some kind. How likely is that looking right now?

KELEMEN: I mean, so far, U.S. officials just don't think Russia is serious about diplomacy, and they say that Ukraine has to decide how this war ends. The U.N. secretary general managed to help negotiate a deal to get Ukrainian grain shipments out, but Russia is now raising doubts about that. And then there's another thing that the U.N. is trying to arrange, and that's a demilitarized zone around a nuclear power plant.

MARTIN: Right.

KELEMEN: But that's something that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon.

MARTIN: NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen - Michele, thank you.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

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MARTIN: The search for the remaining suspect in a series of knife attacks in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is over now.

MARTINEZ: Myles Sanderson was arrested by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Wednesday and died shortly afterwards in police custody. Here's RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore.

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RHONDA BLACKMORE: This is not the end of our work. We do not stop here. The Saskatchewan RCMP continues to investigate this tragedy, and a police presence will continue in James Smith Cree Nation and the Weldon communities for the next while.

MARTIN: Joining us now, CBC News reporter Yasmine Ghania in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Thank you so much for being with us.

YASMINE GHANIA: You're welcome.

MARTIN: Tell us how police eventually caught up with the second suspect.

GHANIA: So, Rachel, police searched for Myles Sanderson for 3 1/2 days, and for a long time, officers didn't know his whereabouts at all. You know, there were possible sightings of him in multiple areas in the province that came up empty, and police were even looking for him in two other provinces. But he was found near a small town yesterday afternoon after he broke into a woman's house and stole her truck. So police were called to that area and found him along the highway. He was in police custody, but shortly after, he went into medical distress and was pronounced dead in hospital. We don't know exactly what the cause of death is. We know he was injured before the arrest, but sources also tell us he could have died by possible overdose. So that's still unclear.

MARTIN: And just to remind listeners, the first suspect was also found dead, and they're brothers, right?

GHANIA: That's right. He was found dead on Monday. And there are still many unanswered questions about that as well - his involvement in the attacks and what happened there. But he was found dead Monday, and they are brothers.

MARTIN: What more has come out about his background, this second suspect - anything?

GHANIA: Yes, we know Sanderson had a history of violence and a lengthy criminal record. He racked up 59 convictions. We also know from court records that he actually tried to kill one of the mass stabbing victims before, seven years ago. And that was his father-in-law. And he's tried stabbing other men on the reserve, too, we've learned through court records. And he also has a long history of intimate partner violence charges. But despite all that, he was out on statutory release. Then he stopped meeting with his caseworker this summer and disappeared for months.

MARTIN: And these stabbings originated on an Indigenous reservation. Ten people died. I mean, how is the community responding at this point?

GHANIA: You know, Rachel, the community is feeling so many different emotions now that the search is over. The biggest emotion is relief, but also anguish, sorrow, grief and anger. And we don't yet know the motive for the attacks. I think that's something that can really get in the way of people healing from this tragedy. But the community will be grappling with the immense loss and trauma for many, many years.

MARTIN: Yeah. CBC News reporter Yasmine Ghania, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

GHANIA: You're welcome.

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MARTIN: Abortion rights supporters in the state of Michigan have scored a big victory.

MARTINEZ: That's right. First, some background, though - there has been a law on the books in Michigan since 1931 that banned abortions in most cases and called for prosecutors to charge abortion providers with felonies. This law hasn't been enforced, but after the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade, some lawmakers wanted to revive it. Now a judge says that's not going to happen.

MARTIN: Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta has been following all this and joins us this morning. Hey, Rick.

RICK PLUTA, BYLINE: Hello.

MARTIN: Explain the judge's decision here.

PLUTA: Sure. Judge Gleicher issued a temporary ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade. It was back in April that Judge Gleicher said the Michigan Constitution probably protects reproductive rights. Now she's saying she's confident that was the right call, and she made that a permanent injunction.

MARTIN: So she's saying this 1931 ban can't go back into effect, which is good news for abortion providers who could have ended up facing felony charges, right?

PLUTA: Exactly. This shields them from charges, at least for now. And that is good news for Dr. Sarah Wallett, who is the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

SARAH WALLETT: Right now, we can be reassured that abortion access in Michigan is here, that I can keep providing health care to patients, that people in Michigan can keep coming to their appointments. And I don't have to worry about criminal prosecution for providing the health care to my patients that they need.

MARTIN: What's been the reaction, Rick, from those on the other side of this issue, those who were pushing to reinstate the ban?

PLUTA: A group of Republican prosecutors have filed this lawsuit. They're not happy and defiant in the ruling. Judge Gleicher says the state attorney general who supports abortion rights should instruct county prosecutors, well, not to prosecute. And that doesn't sit well with those prosecutors, who have filed their own lawsuit. Their attorney, David Kallman, says filing charges against abortion providers is their call, and yesterday's court decision, in his opinion, does not affect what they can do.

DAVID KALLMAN: I didn't realize the state of Michigan now, according to Judge Gleicher, controls and runs all 83 county prosecutor's offices in the state. Wow. This is pretty novel, pretty groundbreaking, you know, news. I mean, since when did this happen?

MARTIN: So just to be clear, Rick, they're saying the judge's decision actually doesn't shut the door on the 1931 ban, and individual prosecutors can still apply it.

PLUTA: Exactly.

MARTIN: So, you know, there are going to be legal battles over this, but there's also this effort to get a measure on the November ballot that would protect abortion rights in the Constitution, right? What's the status of that?

PLUTA: Well, it's in limbo. Activists who support abortion rights ran this petition campaign. They collected a record 750,000 signatures to put that question on the November ballot. But opponents have filed a court challenge, and that challenge claims the language in the proposed amendment is too baffling to qualify for the ballot.

MARTIN: OK. So we're going to see what happens there. I mean, that's gone to the Michigan Supreme Court, though, right? I mean, what's the deadline for a decision on that?

PLUTA: Soon. Very soon. We're looking at today, tomorrow, no later than Monday, because election officials say that's the deadline to finalize the ballot.

MARTIN: All right. Rick Pluta is senior Capitol correspondent for Michigan Public Radio Network. Thank you so much for your reporting, Rick. We appreciate it.

PLUTA: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.