Your Friday Briefing: Where Were the Police?

Good morning. We’re covering growing frustrations about the police response to the Texas school shooting, questions about the end of Russia’s war in Ukraine and a change in U.S. policy toward China.

A memorial outside the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.Credit…Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times

Where were the police in Uvalde?

Parents and witnesses to the massacre at an elementary school in southwestern Texas are asking: Why didn’t armed personnel stop the shooter?

The gunman walked into the school unobstructed, a state police official said on Thursday, and was in the school for more than an hour before officers killed him. Officials said they believed that most, if not all, of the 21 victims were shot within the first few minutes of his arrival.

Police accounts have changed, but today officials said that officers responded “within minutes” and that two police officers were shot when they tried to enter a classroom where the gunman was already firing.

But some witnesses said they furiously urged the police to storm the school sooner. Others saw officers handcuff a parent who was trying to get inside. Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter was killed, was outside during the attack. “They said they rushed in and all that,” he said, speaking of law enforcement. “We didn’t see that.” Here are live updates.

Witness: “We were wondering: ‘What the heck is going on? Are they going in?’” one man said. “The dads were saying, ‘Give me the vest, I’ll go in there!’”

Victims: Jackie Cazares and Annabelle Rodriguez were cousins in the same classroom. Eva Mireles, one of the teachers killed, “brought the neighborhood together.” Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, the other teacher who was killed, died this morning of a heart attack. They were married for 24 years and had four children.

Analysis: Popular school security strategies have not stopped mass shootings. Some parents wondered if any child is truly safe in a school.

Resources: Here’s how to talk to children about mass shootings.

Politics: The Times asked all 50 Republican senators where they stood on gun legislation.

Ukrainian soldiers headed toward the frontline in the Donetsk region.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

How will the war in Ukraine end?

The global conversation about Russia’s war in Ukraine is increasingly focused on how the fighting could end and how to define victory.

Some Western voices, prominent among them the leaders of France and Italy — and Henry Kissinger, the 98-year-old former U.S. secretary of state — suggested a territorial compromise.

Ukraine strongly opposes that idea. On Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky compared the proposal to Western Europe’s appeasement of Nazi Germany in 1938. Other officials have pledged to fight until they have liberated the entire country — including the Crimean peninsula.

Central and Eastern European leaders support full liberation and have dismissed as dangerous the idea of a negotiated end to the war. And no one knows whether President Vladimir Putin would accept anything other than total capitulation by Ukrainian forces.

Fighting: Russia shelled central Kharkiv, leaving many dead and wounded. At least four civilians were also killed in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian officials said.

Economy: As sanctions took a toll, Russia’s central bank cut interest rates and Putin moved to raise the minimum wage and sweeten military benefits.

“Beijing’s vision would move us away from the universal values that have sustained so much of the world’s progress over the past 75 years,” Antony Blinken said.Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

The U.S. aims to constrain China

The Biden administration has concluded it cannot change Beijing’s aggressive behavior. In a glimpse of its classified strategy, the secretary of state said Thursday that the U.S. was instead trying to constrain China.

“We can’t rely on Beijing to change its trajectory,” Antony Blinken said. “So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system.”

The U.S. will form coalitions with other nations to limit the Chinese Communist Party’s influence, Blinken said. He stressed that the U.S. was not seeking a new Cold War and would not try to isolate China, and pointed to opportunities for cooperation between the world’s largest economies.

Background: U.S. officials have concluded that decades of direct economic and diplomatic engagement largely failed to compel Beijing to abide by the American-led order. President Xi Jinping’s military posturing and diplomatic support of Russia during its invasion of Ukraine have deepened their conviction.

Details: Blinken noted China’s human rights abuses, repression of ethnic minorities and suppression of free speech. He also reiterated the longstanding U.S. policy on Taiwan, despite President Biden’s remarks on Monday that the U.S. had a “commitment” to get involved militarily if China were to attack.


Asia and the Middle East

A construction site in Beijing last week.Credit…Wang Zhao/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • China’s premier, Li Keqiang, raised concerns over the economic impact of “zero Covid” policies.

  • The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of intentionally killing Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist, after a two-week investigation.

  • South Koreans are rebelling against their abusive bosses.

World News

  • Colombia is poised to elect its first leftist leader on Sunday, a former rebel riding a wave of support from young voters.

  • At least 11 newborns were killed when a fire engulfed a neonatal unit in Senegal.

  • Gambia will prosecute its former president, Yahya Jammeh, who is accused of a wide range of atrocities.

  • After a bruising inquiry into pandemic parties at Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled an aid package to tackle soaring prices in the U.K. One feature: Direct payments to households from a tax on oil and gas profits.

What Else Is Happening

  • The U.S. has had an apocalypse plan since the Cold War. In the internet age, documents suggest, it includes plans to control or shut down communication networks.

  • Oklahoma banned nearly all abortions starting at fertilization.

  • The former head of the Louvre was charged in an investigation into the trafficking of Egyptian antiquities.

  • A novelist who wrote a blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband” was convicted of murdering her husband.

A Morning Read

Credit…Lauren DeCicca for The New York Times

In 1944, a U.S. military plane crashed in a remote village in northern Thailand. A team is now working to find and identify the airman’s remains.

Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments

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Russia’s economy. Russia’s central bank cut interest rates again, in the latest effort by Moscow to try to stabilize its economy, which has been harmed by sanctions and months of fighting in Ukraine. The move came as President Vladimir V. Putin promised to increase the minimum wage and military benefits.

Russian oil ban. The European Union has stalled on its proposed ban on Russian oil. The measure is being held up by Hungary’s refusal to back the embargo, claiming it would devastate the country’s economy.

On the ground. Moscow’s military has narrowed its focus to a 75-mile-wide sliver of land in the heart of the eastern Donbas region, which has allowed Russian forces to make incremental gains. Russia’s main immediate target remains Sievierodonetsk, the easternmost city still under Ukrainian control.


Some states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party have offered tax breaks on ticket sales and days off from work to spur attendance.Credit…Sajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

India’s unexpected blockbuster

In the opening scene of “The Kashmir Files,” boys play cricket on a snowy field in the Muslim-majority region contested between India and Pakistan. When a Hindu boy cheers for a famed Indian cricket star, he is attacked. His abusers force him to chant, “Long live Pakistan, down with Hindustan!”

The new film, which tells the story of the expulsion of upper-caste Hindus from Kashmir in the 1980s and 1990s, is an unexpected box office draw. It has grossed more than $40 million in India so far.

It has also become a political flash point. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party seized on the film to advance its narrative of Hindu persecution. Critics say the film is “divisive” and ahistorical “propaganda,” which avoids depicting violence against Muslims that was also inflicted by militants during the conflict.

The film comes at a time of increasing calls for violence against India’s minority Muslims, and follows a crackdown on Kashmir: In 2019, the Modi government stripped the region of its long-held semiautonomous status and deployed a heavy security presence amid a clampdown on free speech.


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This spicy clam dip is a cheesy and savory take on a 1950s staple.

What to Watch

“Playlist” is a charming French feature about a young woman trying to figure it all out.

What to Read

“The Latecomer” is a cutting, wise New York novel full of complex family dynamics and irrepressible wit.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Big star (Five letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. The Times won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for its work revealing that intelligence failures and civilian deaths were a hidden legacy of the U.S.-led air war across the Middle East.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the U.S. primary races.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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