Start Your Day Here: Canada Keeps Trudeau, Biden Speaks At The U.N. And More

Published September 21, 2021 at 7:49 AM EDT
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands at a podium with his children, Ella-Grace and Xavier, to give a victory speech early on Tuesday in Montreal.
Andrej Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, flanked by children Ella-Grace and Xavier, delivers his victory speech after general elections at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec, early on Tuesday.

Good morning,

Here are the top stories we're watching today:

Border patrol photos: Images of U.S. Border Patrol on horseback chasing migrants near the Rio Grande are sparking outrage and an investigation. Here's what the photographer saw.

Canada's election: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau narrowly won a third term, but his Liberal Party fell short of gaining the outright majority he had sought.

Biden at the U.N.: President Biden hoped to usher in a new era of diplomacy in his address to the General Assembly today. Here's how it went.

🎧 Also on Up First, our daily podcast, why anti-abortion rights activists are upset about a lawsuit against an abortion provider.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Dana Farrington, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark, Chris Hopkins and Manuela López Restrepo)


The Story Behind The Photos Of Border Agents Chasing Haitian Migrants On Horseback

Posted September 21, 2021 at 11:31 AM EDT

You've probably already seen the images that are making headlines and horrifying viewers en masse: U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants along the Rio Grande, whirling their long reins and, in one, grabbing a man by the shirt.

As NPR's Bill Chappell reports, they're raising a lot of questions about "how a 'nation of immigrants' treats people who are desperate for a better life." Read his story here.

Border Patrol agents on horseback follow migrants trying to cross the Rio Grand River in Del Rio, Texas on Sunday.
Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. Border Patrol agents try to stop migrants crossing the Rio Grande River in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday.

What the photographer says

AFP photographer Paul Ratje, who frequently covers border issues, spoke to Morning Edition about what he saw that day.

"I thought the Haitians were quite scared, and I think there was probably some panic which resulted in them trying to run around the horses," he said. "The agents tried to block them, and then the one agent grabbed a man by his shirt and then kind of swung them around. And I don't know what prompted that."

What the Biden administration says

The Department of Homeland Security last night announced it was opening an investigation. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN this morning that the was horrified and troubled by the photos, which "defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people."

He also warned Haitian migrants that "this is not the way to come to the United States."

Mayorkas is one of several officials to suggest that the agents were brandishing their horses' reigns, not whips as many viewers perceived.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the footage "horrible to watch" at a briefing on Monday, though cautioned she did not have more information on what happened at that time.


The Man Who Filmed Rodney King Died. Here’s What Jesse Jackson Said About Him In The ‘90s

Posted September 21, 2021 at 10:23 AM EDT

The scene of four white Los Angeles police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991 became a symbol of racial injustice, fueled five days of deadly riots after their acquittal and left an indelible mark on many Americans' memories — thanks to George Holliday.

Holliday, a local plumber, captured the footage on his new video camera after he was woken up by the sounds of the fateful traffic stop outside of his window. That grainy, nearly nine-minute video became a key piece of evidence in the officers' criminal trial for assault and excessive use of force. (It's also drawn comparisons to the video of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd last May — Darnella Frazier, the bystander who captured it, won an honorary Pulitzer this year.)

Holliday died on Sunday at a hospital in Simi Valley, Calif., of complications of COVID-19, according to a friend. He was believed to be in his early 60s, and had been hospitalized with the virus for about a month. The Associated Press reports that he was not vaccinated, and spent recent days on a ventilator after contracting pneumonia. Read more about Holliday's life and legacy here.

Here's how he was praised by the Rev. Jesse Jackson back in the 90s:

NPR Newscast

Sudan's Government Says It Foiled A Coup Attempt

Posted September 21, 2021 at 10:02 AM EDT
A view of houses and trees along the banks of a river, crossed by a bridge with several connected arches. A cityscape is visible in the background.
Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images
The Blue Nile steel bridge links the center of Sudan's capital Khartoum (foreground) with the adjacent city of Khartoum North (background), pictured after a reported coup attempt on Tuesday.

The government of Sudan said on state TV that it had repelled a coup attempt. As NPR's Eyder Peralta reports, the failed takeover was a test of the country's fragile transitional government:

"There was no official word as to what armed group attempted to overthrow the government, but this is a reminder that Sudan is in the middle of a power struggle.

Back in 2019, amid a huge popular uprising, the country's longtime leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted by his military. His overthrow led to hopes that Sudan would become a democracy. But since then, various military — and civilian — factions have been jockeying for power.

There have been other coup attempts and even assassination plots against the civilian prime minister."


JoJo Siwa Got Top Marks For Her Historic 'Dancing With The Stars' Performance

Posted September 21, 2021 at 9:12 AM EDT

Youtuber, actress and hair bow aficionado JoJo Siwa added another title to her resume last night: History-making Dancing with the Stars contestant.

Last night was her first performance on the show, where she's the first female contestant paired with a same-sex partner in the competition's 30-season run.

In the season premiere, Siwa and professional partner Jenna Johnson donned sparkly lime and fuchsia outfits to perform a quickstep to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl."

The judges were impressed, giving the pair the highest score of the night: 29 out of 40 points.

Siwa announced on social media earlier this year that she's part of the LGBTQ community and was later named to the GLAAD 20 Under 20 list.


Nabisco Strike Ends After Weekslong Standoff Over Contract Negotiations

Posted September 21, 2021 at 8:49 AM EDT
A person walks by a grocery store shelf containing different brands of crackers.
Reed Saxon/AP
In this Feb. 9, 2011, file photo, a shopper passes a shelf of Nabisco products at a Ralphs Fresh Fare supermarket in Los Angeles.

Unionized workers at Nabisco — the company that makes snack foods like Oreos, Chips Ahoy cookies and Ritz Crackers — have agreed to a new contract, ending a weekslong strike that included hundreds of employees across five states.

The strike prompted fears of a snack shortage and reportedly had some retailers stockpiling — even as supporters of the strike intentionally refrained from cookie-buying.

What the strike was about

As we reported last month, the strike began in early August over contract negotiations between the union (Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International) and Nabisco's parent company, Mondelēz International.

Workers accused the company of making unfair demands and asking for concessions at a time when Nabisco snacks are in huge demand, while Mondelēz International said it wanted to bargain in good faith but modernize decades-old contract language.

Both sides announced on Saturday that they had reached an agreement.

What the new contract says

The new four-year contracts include a ratification bonus for each employee, hourly wage increases each year of the contract, increased company match to 401(k) contributions and updates to "certain workplace policies," Mondelēz International said in a statement. They are retroactive to March 1 of this year.

Praise for the deal

The union said in a statement that its members in Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, Illinois and Georgia had voted "overwhelmingly" to accept the new collective bargaining agreement.

“The BCTGM’s striking members made enormous sacrifices in order to achieve a quality contract that preserves our Union’s high standards for wages, hours and benefits for current and future Nabisco workers," union president Anthony Shelton said. "Their sacrifice will benefit all BCTGM members and working people around the country for years to come. Those Brothers and Sisters who walked the picket lines day in and day out are true BCTGM heroes."

Shelton thanked the labor movement "in the U.S. and around the world" for their support and solidarity, and credited AFL-CIO leadership for providing critically important resources for strikers at the federal, state and local levels.

Glen Walter, the executive vice president and president of Mondelēz International North America, said the company's bakery and distribution site employees play an important role in its "bright future as a snacking leader" in the U.S.

"We look forward to welcoming back our BCTGM-represented colleagues and returning to normal production and distribution to customers and consumers," he said.

Human Rights

A Human Rights Court Says Russia Was Behind The Death Of One Of Its Former Agents

Posted September 21, 2021 at 8:21 AM EDT

The European Court of Human Rights has found the Kremlin responsible for the 2006 assassination by radiation poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence agent who defected to the West.

Litvinenko died in London weeks after drinking tea that was later found to have been laced with the deadly radioactive compound polonium-210.

In its ruling, the ECHR said it “cannot but conclude” that two Russian intelligence agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, had killed Litvinenko “acting as agents of the respondent State [Russia].”

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in Litvinenko’s death, while Lugovoi and Kovtun have suggested that the defector may have poisoned himself. However, critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB officer, say Litvinenko’s death is part of a deliberate policy to “liquidate” defectors.

On his deathbed, Litvinenko himself accused Putin of ordering his assassination.

The European court’s decision is in line with the findings of a 2016 British inquiry into Litvinenko’s death. It concluded that the FSB, the successor to the KGB, carried out the operation to kill him, which was “probably approved by Mr. [Nikolai] Patrushev, then head of the FSB, and also by President Putin.”

Season's Greetings

Somehow It's Nearly Fall Already

Posted September 21, 2021 at 8:05 AM EDT

Today is the Northern Hemisphere's last official day of summer, or the eve of the first day of fall, depending on how you spin it.

And you may have caught a glimpse of last night's harvest moon, aka the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The lunar event historically provided farmers a little extra light to harvest their crops (and also inspired a classic Neil Young song, of course). Here's the view from Olympia, Wash.:

A bright round moon in the top left corner of the frame, in a night sky above treetops and small houses with light in some windows reflected into the body of water below.
Ted S. Warren/AP
The full harvest moon rises near Mount Rainier, as viewed from Budd Inlet in Olympia, Wash., on Monday.

East Asian cultures celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, beginning on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar — which happens to be today. Traditionally, families and friends gather and share mooncakes, a symbol of wishing prosperity in the year ahead.

NPR's Mallory Yu wrote this beautiful piece about how the festival (and its signature baked goods) can offer a sense of connection and belonging no matter where you're celebrating.

PLUS: As the days get shorter and the temps get chillier, you might want to check out this interactive guide to what new TV shows and movies to watch at home. And if you've ever wondered why exactly some leaves are changing color right now, Short Wave — NPR's science podcast — has got you covered.


Johnson & Johnson Says Its Booster Improves Protection Against Severe COVID-19

Posted September 21, 2021 at 7:53 AM EDT

A booster dose for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine increases protection against getting severely ill from COVID-19, according to data released by the company Tuesday morning.

Giving people a second shot two months after the first one boosted protection against moderate to severe disease from about 75% to as much as 100%, the company says.

In addition, J&J says waiting to give that second shot until six months after the first shot boosts antibody levels even more than at two months -- by 12-fold versus four-to-six fold. The results suggest that waiting longer for that second shot provides stronger protection.

The new information comes from a press release, not published studies that have been reviewed by other scientists. J&J says it has given the information to the Food and Drug Administration and plans to submit it to other regulators as well.

More on where coronavirus boosters stand in the U.S.


Biden Is Giving His First Speech To The U.N. General Assembly Today

Posted September 21, 2021 at 7:39 AM EDT

President Biden is speaking at the United Nations General Assembly today. He’s expected to center his speech on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and “opening a chapter of intensive diplomacy,” a senior administration official said.

Biden will also be looking for commitments on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing climate change.

While it's his first U.N. address as president, Biden is very familiar with the institution, with his history on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1990s and as vice president.

The world is watching with some skepticism, though, particularly around these key issues:

NPR will be streaming the president’s remarks live at 10 a.m. ET.


Canada's Trudeau Won A 3rd Term As Prime Minister, But No Majority For His Party

Posted September 21, 2021 at 7:27 AM EDT
A man stands at podium with a red sign reading "Ensemble" and "For Everyone" in French and English. He's wearing a suit and standing between two circular white spotlights.
Dave Chan/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
Canadian Prime Minister and Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau delivers his victory speech at election headquarters on Monday in Montreal, Canada.

Canadian voters have narrowly awarded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a third term in a snap parliamentary election, but he fell short of his goal of winning an outright majority for his Liberal Party.

Early Tuesday, ballots were still being counted across the country, but the broad outlines of the next government were already evident. Trudeau, who had hoped that voters would reward Liberals for his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, instead came up with much the same result as in 2019: another minority government dependent on the help of partners to govern.

Despite falling short, Trudeau said voters had signaled their approval and that Canadians should be reassured over the handling of COVID-19 going forward.

“You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic, and to the brighter days ahead,” the 49-year-old prime minister said in a victory speech to supporters in Montreal on Monday night. “My friends, that is exactly what we are ready to do.”

The 35-day campaign kicked off as Trudeau's government was being forced to defend itself over its role in the Afghan withdrawal. Similar to opponents of President Biden, critics say Trudeau's efforts to evacuate his own nationals and Afghans after the Taliban takeover had been slow and uncoordinated.

The prime minister’s efforts to contrast his party from Conservatives on a variety of issues — including climate policy and vaccination mandates and passports — seemed to lose steam in the run-up to Monday’s vote.

“Some have talked about division, but that’s not what I see,” Trudeau said early Tuesday, according to the Toronto Star. “That’s not what I’ve seen these past weeks, across the country."

“I see Canadians standing together,” he said.

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole conceded defeat on Tuesday, but said that the Tories had turned back Trudeau’s “quick power grab.”

“Five weeks ago, Mr. Trudeau asked for a majority, he said the minority parliament was 'unworkable.' But tonight Canadians did not give Mr. Trudeau the majority mandate he wanted," O'Toole said, speaking in French. "In fact Canadians sent him back with another minority at the cost of $600 million Canadian dollars and deeper divisions in our great country."

🎧 Reporter Emma Jacobs spoke to Morning Edition from Montreal about the significance of the election.