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Morning news brief

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Police have still not confirmed the exact number of victims in a shooting spree in Lewiston, Maine, but early reports suggest dozens of people were shot.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yeah. That happened when a man opened fire in a bowling alley and a bar last night. The gunman is still at large, and police are asking local residents to shelter in place and lock their doors. Authorities identified 40-year-old Robert Card as a person of interest. Here's Mike Sauschuck of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

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MIKE SAUSCHUCK: Card is considered armed and dangerous. He is a person of interest, however, and that's what we'll label them at moving forward until that changes.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, joining us now with the latest on this is Patty Wight of Maine Public. Patty, take us through what happened.

PATTY WIGHT, BYLINE: Well, it started just before 7 p.m. Shootings were reported at two locations. One was at a bowling alley. And authorities released surveillance images of a white man who was wearing a brown sweatshirt and carrying an AR-style rifle. It showed him pointing it as he entered the bowling alley. It's a large place with a family restaurant, about 22 lanes for bowling. It's also a venue for birthday parties and events. And the owner of the facility posted on Facebook that he and his wife made it out OK, but it's clear that many others didn't. And there was also a second shooting site a few miles away at a bar and grill.

There are hundreds of police officers in Maine who are investigating, and many are in the Lewiston area. Throughout the night, we heard helicopters and sirens, and people have been congregating at the local hospital hoping for answers about missing loved ones. And as of right now, authorities have said virtually nothing about how many people were killed or how many were shot. They're calling it a fluid situation and that the numbers are all over the map as the search for the suspect continues.

MARTÍNEZ: And there is a picture of a man carrying a gun that's been released. What do they know about that man?

WIGHT: Well, they're calling him a person of interest, and he's not officially a suspect, but he's someone they want to talk to. They've identified him as 40-year-old Robert Card. He lives in the nearby town of Bowdoin. Police released images of him carrying the rifle inside the bowling alley, and also a picture of a car that he was driving at the time. Let's hear again from Mike Sauschuck of the Maine Department of Public Safety. He says they found his car in a neighboring town.

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SAUSCHUCK: A vehicle which was a vehicle of interest in this incident was located in Lisbon, and we are now also asking residents in Lisbon to shelter in place.

WIGHT: So people who live in Lisbon, Lewiston and all of Androscoggin County have been asked to shelter in place while the search for this person of interest goes on. And I should also mention that schools in the area have canceled classes today. Local municipal offices have shut down, and some businesses have told their staff not to come to work as all of this is happening.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. You know, one thing I know about Lewiston is that in 1965, Muhammad Ali fought there against Sonny Liston. It was a heavyweight rematch. What kind of a place is Lewiston, Maine?

WIGHT: Yeah. It's the second-largest city in Maine. It's got a population of about 40,000 people. It's roughly 45 minutes away from Portland. It's a very diverse place. Many immigrants live here, including from Somalia. There's also a sizable population of French Canadians who've settled here. It's a former mill town. It's had its economic challenges over the years, just like many places.

And the mayor of Lewiston put out a statement after this happened. He said that he's heartbroken for the city and its people. And he said Lewiston is known for its strength and grit, and it's going to need both of those in the days to come.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, absolutely. That's Maine Public's Patty Wight. Patty, thanks a lot.

WIGHT: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: Relief efforts for the more than 2 million people trapped in Gaza could soon come to a halt if fuel isn't delivered to the besieged enclave.

MARTIN: There have been weeks of negotiations to try to get aid into Gaza. The United Nations now says that that desperately needed relief can't be delivered, since Gaza has been cut off from fuel and other basic necessities.

JULIETTE TOUMA: I mean, the situation is terrible, and it gets worse by the hour - not even by the day.

MARTIN: And this all comes because, as you will recall, Gaza has been under constant bombardment since October 7, when fighters associated with Hamas, which is the governing authority in Gaza, launched a cross-border attack, killing more than 1,400 people in southern Israel and taking more than 200 hostages. In Gaza, the health officials say that more than 6,000 have been killed, and hospitals running on generators are struggling to treat the wounded.

MARTÍNEZ: We're joined now by Elissa Nadworny from Tel Aviv. Elissa, what can you tell us about what's happening in Gaza right now?

ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: I talked with Juliette Touma, who is with the U.N. agency for Palestine refugees. Thirty-eight members of her staff have been killed. Many more have lost family members and homes.

TOUMA: Our supplies are really dwindling, and they're running out fast. And this is why we need fuel today.

NADWORNY: Touma says the biggest need for the U.N. in Gaza right now is fuel - to keep hospitals going, to power the water system, to power U.N. vehicles, to transport food. And a few dozen aid trucks have made it into Gaza in recent days. That is just a sliver of what aid organizations say is needed. It's been full of medical supplies and food, but not fuel. Israel has said supplying fuel could mean it gets diverted by Hamas, which continues to launch rockets and other attacks on Israel. The Israel Defense Forces claim Hamas has plenty of fuel stockpiled. In regard to the need for fuel, on social media, they posted, ask Hamas.

MARTÍNEZ: So what does all of this mean? I mean, there's millions of people living in Gaza. So what does this mean for them?

NADWORNY: Well, at night, it means most residential buildings are in total darkness. People are stockpiling food, rationing whatever water they have left. We talked to a man with a 1-year-old baby who ran out of milk. This is the first time in its life it won't have it. People are safeguarding that last bit of juice on a cellphone battery. We've been keeping in touch with Mahmoud Khuwaiter (ph), who is in Gaza City.

MAHMOUD KHUWAITER: Hi. I feel this is my last message.

NADWORNY: He's been recording these daily voice memos to his friends and families, just in case he doesn't survive the night.

KHUWAITER: It's my first time to feel afraid of something. I'm afraid. I'm afraid for my family members to die in front of my eye. And I'm afraid for the next day. I'm afraid for the night to come.

NADWORNY: You know, I just want to say no one is getting in or out of Gaza, so people like Mahmoud are risking their lives using up precious battery power to share what's happening there. Nowhere in Gaza is safe, even in the south. That's where the Israeli military had asked them to evacuate. Again overnight, we saw more horrific images, including video of the moment an Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief discovered his family had been killed by an Israeli airstrike while they were sheltering at a refugee camp. The Israeli military said in response they were targeting Hamas infrastructure in the area.

MARTÍNEZ: And all this as the world waits for a ground invasion.

NADWORNY: That's right, yeah. Overnight, the Israeli military launched limited cross-border raids. But we are all still waiting for this very challenging task ahead, given just how densely packed Gaza is. I mean, there's 2 million people in the size of the city of Philadelphia.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Elissa Nadworny. Elissa, thank you.

NADWORNY: You bet.

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MARTÍNEZ: All right, it's over. Republicans have selected a new speaker of the House of Representatives.

MARTIN: Where three previous GOP candidates tried and failed, yesterday, Mike Johnson of Louisiana pulled it off.

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PATRICK MCHENRY: Therefore, the honorable Mike Johnson of the state of Louisiana, having received a majority of the votes cast, is duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress.

MARTIN: And he was unanimously elected speaker by his Republican colleagues.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Eric McDaniel watched it all come together. He joins us from our studio in Washington, D.C. So, Eric, how did Johnson pull this off?

ERIC MCDANIEL, BYLINE: Yeah. So he's a social conservative guy from Louisiana, and he's known as a nice guy, which helped at a moment like this. He's known as a bit of a policy-minded person. He's also an evangelical, which played a big role in his acceptance speech, and his win's being celebrated by anti-abortion rights groups. He's long been allied with the former president, Trump. He was one of just a few folks chosen to defend Trump in his first impeachment trial. And like Kevin McCarthy before him, Johnson voted against certifying Biden's election win.

MARTÍNEZ: Was there a big GOP sigh of relief after (laughter)...

MCDANIEL: You have no idea.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

MCDANIEL: Folks were chanting his name as the vote got underway. It's hard to overstate just how relieved folks seem there right now. And in fact, placeholder speaker Patrick McHenry, who has cut a dour figure in the Capitol over the last few weeks, was all smiles as he presided over the vote yesterday. But even after cobbling together this win for Johnson, the hard part's probably still to come. The government shuts down next month, and Johnson has already had to waylay Congress' recess to buy himself some time to get something done to try and keep it open.

MARTÍNEZ: So what is it about Mike Johnson that got him all the votes that he needed?

MCDANIEL: Look. Like I said, he's a nice guy. On Tuesday night, as all of this was starting to come together, I was having a conversation with Florida Republican Kat Cammack. She told me about how kind she thinks Johnson is, which I have to imagine was really important after all these weeks of fighting. And also, former President Trump didn't badmouth him online, so that was good for him. It doomed a previous candidate. And look; folks were tired. Republicans were tired. Even the folks in Congress don't want to fight forever.

MARTÍNEZ: You would think - or you would hope.

MCDANIEL: Yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: I mean, that's what - yeah. So - OK. So what comes next, then, because, yeah, as you mentioned, there's a lot of stuff that's right around the corner?

MCDANIEL: A, I don't think anyone has looked particularly smart guessing about what's about to happen next with House Republicans over these last few weeks. We've had a lot of stops and starts. They've been through three different candidates before they got here. Mike Johnson pulled it off. But I'm going to guess - and don't @ me if I'm wrong - there's probably not much of a honeymoon period for him. In addition to funding the government, which, again, is going to be a big deal, hard thing by the middle of next month, they also need to figure out a plan for aid to Israel, whether they're going to send more support to support democracy in Ukraine. They've got their plates full. They're going to have to collaborate with Joe Biden, pair up with a Democratic-controlled Senate to get anything done, not to mention keep everybody united within their own caucus. And that's all going to be really, really hard.

MARTÍNEZ: One more thing, Eric, before you go. I spoke to a former congressman yesterday who said that people will soon forget this. Do you think people will forget what happened the last three weeks?

MCDANIEL: Look; we're a year out from the election still. It's hard to say what's going to matter to folks. I mean, remember; in the 2020 cycle, COVID hadn't even happened yet. So a lot could change.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Eric McDaniel. Eric, thanks.

MCDANIEL: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: The United Auto Workers union has reached a tentative agreement with Ford Motor after nearly six weeks of strikes at some of the largest plants in the United States.

MARTIN: The union says that the new four-year contract includes cost-of-living wage adjustments, major gains on pensions and an immediate 11% increase in wages while the union continues to negotiate with General Motors and Stellantis, the other two large manufacturing plants impacted by the strike.

MARTÍNEZ: President Shawn Fain emphasized yesterday that the final decision will be in the hands of union members.

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SHAWN FAIN: We send this contract to you because we know it breaks records. We know it will change lives. But what happens next is up to you all.

MARTÍNEZ: UAW also called on Ford workers who were striking to go back to work while the union votes on the tentative agreement. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
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.