Your Thursday Briefing

Mourners at Robb Elementary School on Wednesday.Credit…Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times

Details of Texas school shooting emerge

The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers in a rural Texas elementary school on Tuesday entered the building despite being confronted by an armed security officer, state police officials revealed. He then wounded two responding police officers and engaged in a standoff inside the school for over an hour, the officials said.

While gaps remained in the timeline of events, details emerged yesterday of a protracted scene of carnage at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. An armed man, identified as Salvador Ramos, approached the school around 11:30 a.m. Just after 1 p.m., specialized officers breached a pair of adjoining classrooms and killed the gunman barricaded inside, the officials said.

Even as more about the attack became clear, the motivation behind the eruption of violence remained frustratingly opaque. In the absence of an explanation, there was only deep grief in a small community and a raw renewal of the national debate over firearms legislation and the stupefying tally of gun violence in America.

White House: President Biden said he would travel to Uvalde in the coming days to try to comfort the residents. In remarks yesterday, he said that the “Second Amendment is not absolute” and that previous gun safety laws had not violated its constitutional protections. “These actions we’ve taken before, they save lives,” he said. “They can do it again.”

Context: After the Christchurch massacre of 2019, which left 51 people dead, New Zealand banned most semiautomatic weapons and launched a buyback scheme to get thousands of guns out of circulation. America’s unique commitment to protecting guns has roots in the backlash to the civil rights movement, Amanda Taub writes in The Interpreter.

A Ukrainian rocket launcher in the Donbas region on Tuesday.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Russian forces pound Sievierodonetsk

As the fourth month dawns on the war in Ukraine, the battle has narrowed to a 75-mile-wide sliver of land in the heart of the eastern Donbas region, where Russia’s concentrated firepower and shortened supply lines are helping its forces make progress toward a handful of key cities. Follow the latest updates from the war.

Russian forces pummeled Sievierodonetsk, the easternmost city still under Ukrainian control. Artillery barrages have knocked out water and electricity in the city, driven citizens into shelters and killed at least six people in 24 hours.

Heartbreaking scenes have played out as residents struggle to survive. Ukrainian officials expect Russian forces to try to duplicate the siege tactics they used in Mariupol, choking off Sievierodonetsk from the rest of the country. Military analysts say Moscow’s forces would face brutal urban combat if they tried to fully capture the city.

Destruction: “They are killing our cities, destroying everything,” the head of the regional military administration in Luhansk Province, Serhiy Haidai, said. Referring to the last major city in the province that is not in Russian hands, he said, “Sievierodonetsk is barely alive.”

In other news from the war:

  • Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, visited wounded Russian soldiers in a military hospital for the first time since the invasion began.

  • Finnish and Swedish envoys in Turkey met with officials to address Turkish opposition to their NATO bids.

  • Germany said it would keep coal-fired plants open in case Russia cuts its gas supplies.

  • Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, has declared a state of emergency because of the war in Ukraine, a pretext to allow him to expand his power.

Passengers struggled to cling to an overloaded, capsizing boat near Tunisian waters early Wednesday. Most or all were rescued, but dozens drowned in a separate shipwreck.Credit…Valeria Ferrario/Associated Press

Dozens perish in migrant boat sinking

Seventy-six migrants were presumed dead after a boat sank off the coast of Tunisia, the U.N. migration agency said yesterday. Of the 100 people aboard, 24 were rescued. One person was found dead in the water; the others remain missing and are unlikely to be found. “In the sea people drown in few minutes,” said Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the agency.

The shipwreck brings the total number of deaths in the central Mediterranean Sea this year above 650, a figure similar to the one from the same period last year. This year, 17,900 migrants arrived in Italy via boat, compared with 13,700 in the same period last year, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.

Despite efforts by the E.U. to limit the number of African migrants and asylum seekers, thousands still undertake this dangerous journey, though the numbers are dwarfed by those of 2016. In that year, at the height of the migrant crisis, more than 180,000 people arrived in Italy by sea.

Quotable: “It is clear that there is a humanitarian emergency because people continue to die,” Di Giacomo, the spokesman, said.

Search mission: Another boat, pictured above, was found to be in trouble near Tunisian territorial waters late on Tuesday and capsized. The Spanish N.G.O. Open Arms said it had rescued the passengers, who numbered more than 100, but officials were not sure if some of them went missing.


Around the World

Credit…Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times
  • Israel told U.S. officials that it was responsible for the assassination of an Iranian military officer, Sayad Khodayee, whose funeral is pictured above.

  • China is pursuing a sweeping deal with 10 Pacific island nations that would significantly expand its regional influence.

  • At least 11 newborns were killed in a fire in a neonatal unit of a regional hospital in Senegal.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament
  • A report on boozy parties held at Downing Street during lockdowns in Britain looks unlikely to lead to the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

  • Donald Trump reacted approvingly to chants of “Hang Mike Pence” from the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters, witnesses have told the House panel investigating the attack.

  • Trump-endorsed candidates lost up and down the Georgia primary ballot. Gov. Brian Kemp trounced David Perdue and will face Stacey Abrams in the fall, a rematch from 2018.

  • A wave of monkeypox cases in Europe has been met with more than a little resignation.

What Else Is Happening

  • Scientists have improved their ability to send quantum information across distant computers — another step toward the network of the future.

  • A romance novelist who wrote a blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband” was convicted in her husband’s killing.

A Morning Read

Credit…Illustration by Devin “DVO” Roth

Loren Bouchard is one of the most influential figures in adult animation, best known as the co-creator of “Bob’s Burgers,” now in its 12th season, with a feature film, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” arriving in theaters now.

The show is about a lower-middle-class family, the Belchers, and the restaurant they run together — at once a family comedy and a workplace comedy. Yet despite a certain atmospheric grossness, the show never treats the Belchers as objects of contempt; in fact, it runs on the deep affection and respect that it has for them and they have for one another.


Olaf Scholz in Africa

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, visited Senegal, Niger and South Africa this week during his first trip to Africa since taking office. The war in Ukraine loomed large over his meetings with African leaders, some of whom have refused to condemn the Russian invasion.

As Germany works to wean itself off Russian gas, Scholz met with Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, in Dakar. Senegal is preparing to develop renewable energy and recently discovered offshore gas deposits. In South Africa, Scholz and Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, met with business leaders at South Africa’s main fuel supplier. And in Niger, Scholz stressed Germany’s commitment to stability in the Sahel region, where German troops are taking part in an E.U. mission to train African troops.

Some African countries remain reluctant to join the West in confronting Russia. Seventeen of them, including Senegal and South Africa, abstained from a U.N. General Assembly vote to condemn Russia’s invasion in March. These abstentions have caused diplomatic tensions between Africa, Europe and the U.S.

Scholz saw this reluctance firsthand: At a news conference in Dakar, Sall announced that he would travel to both Moscow and Kyiv, representing the African Union, of which he is the current chairman. And Ramaphosa defended his unwillingness to impose sanctions on Russia and called for dialogue.

Quotable: “This neutrality and abstention from the vote could have far-reaching consequences for diplomacy and aid and assistance,” said Liesl Louw-Vaudran, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, an African think tank. — Lynsey Chutel


What to Cook

Credit…Romulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Good things take time. This French onion grilled cheese warrants the effort.

One to Watch

Who is the magnetic, deep-voiced star of Baz Luhrmann’s flashy new Elvis biopic?

What to Read

“The Latecomer,” about a wealthy family at odds with itself, is a Gilded Age novel for the 21st century.

Now Time to Play

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

And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. China lifted a Cultural Revolution ban on Shakespeare 45 years ago.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the Uvalde school shooting.

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

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