World

Your Wednesday Briefing

Families outside the Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, where students from Robb Elementary School were transported.Credit…Marco Bello/Reuters

19 children killed in elementary school shooting

A gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults yesterday at Robb Elementary School, an elementary school in the rural Texas community of Uvalde, west of San Antonio, officials said, in the deadliest American school shooting since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary a decade ago.

The gunman, whom the authorities identified as an 18-year-old man who had attended a nearby high school, was armed with several weapons, officials said, adding that he died at the scene. It was not immediately clear whether the shooting took place in one classroom or several. Officials did not release the names or ages of the students or adults killed.

The tragedy comes just 10 days after the mass killing of Black shoppers in a grocery store in Buffalo, in what was one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent American history. Together, the shootings deepen a national political debate over gun laws and the widespread prevalence of weapons in the U.S.

Address: Speaking from the White House last night, President Biden grew emotional as he reflected on the massacre and called for action. “Where in God’s name is our backbone, the courage to do more and then stand up to the lobbies?” he said. “It’s time to turn this pain into action.”

Political response: Within hours, Democrats moved to clear the way for votes on legislation to strengthen background checks on gun purchasers, pushing to revive measures with broad appeal that Republicans have blocked in the past.


Residents of the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk receiving food from Ukrainian police officers on Tuesday, as Russian efforts to capture the strategic city intensified.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Using global hunger as a weapon

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hampered the country’s ability to produce and export grain, choking off one of the world’s breadbaskets and fueling charges that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is using food as a powerful new weapon in his three-month-old war. Some 20 million tons of grain are now trapped in Ukraine. Follow the latest updates from the war.

Russia has seized some of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and blockaded the rest, trapping cargo vessels laden with critical food stores, as well as taking control of some of Ukraine’s most productive farmland, destroying Ukrainian infrastructure that is vital to raising and shipping grain and littering farm fields with explosives.

“Russia is now hoarding its own food exports as a form of blackmail, holding back supplies to increase global prices, or trading wheat in exchange for political support,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said yesterday. In response, E.U. countries were increasing their own grain production, she added.

Fighting: Military action is increasingly concentrated in a small pocket of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s battered forces are making slow, bloody progress as they try to encircle the strategically important city of Sievierodonetsk, the easternmost Ukrainian stronghold.

In other news from the war:

  • Russia’s depleted military is still failing to make major advances, and time is on Ukraine’s side. Take a look at our maps showing the war’s progression.

  • The British government opened a program to offer Ukrainian refugees a quick path to safety. But despite tens of thousands of Britons having expressed interest in playing host, the rollout has been painfully slow.


The unequal toll of the pandemic

Poor and developing countries experienced far more excess deaths than wealthy ones during 2020 and 2021, according to data released by the W.H.O. that aims to measure the true toll of the pandemic. About 13 percent more people worldwide, or about 15 million more people, died than expected in the first two years of the pandemic.

The U.S. had more deaths above normal levels during the pandemic than most other wealthy countries, with deaths at 15 percent above normal — a number surpassed by only four other large countries in the same income group: Chile, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

Scientist have described these latest estimates by the W.H.O. as the most reliable gauge of the total impact of the pandemic so far. The figures measure the difference between the number of people who died in 2020 and 2021 and the number of people who would have been expected to die during that time if the pandemic had not happened.

Decreased mortality: In countries like Australia, China and Japan, the number of deaths in 2020 and 2021 estimated by the W.H.O. was actually lower than normal. The W.H.O. said that some countries may have seen decreased mortality from other causes as a result of Covid-19 control measures.

THE LATEST NEWS

Around the World

Credit…Leah Nash for The New York Times
  • Romania could become the first country in the world to have a type of nuclear plant known as a small modular reactor, under a proposed deal with the U.S.

  • As the U.S. experiences the largest wave of migration at its southwestern border in decades, it is increasingly relying on an informal pipeline of shelters to support migrants.

  • Quebec passed a law to reinforce the primacy of the French language, limiting access to public services in English and enhancing government powers to enforce compliance.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Matthew Busch for The New York Times
  • The U.S. birthrate ticked up, halting a steady decline.

  • North Korea launched three ballistic missiles, including a possible intercontinental ballistic missile, toward the waters off its east coast on Wednesday.

  • China and Russia held joint military exercises, sending bombers over the seas in northeast Asia, during President Biden’s visit to the region.

What Else Is Happening

  • London’s new Elizabeth tube line officially opened at 6:30 a.m. yesterday, after years of construction, a number of delays and a skyrocketing price tag of more than $22 billion.

  • A luggage search at a Detroit airport turned up a moth species not seen since 1912.

A Morning Read

Credit…Antoine d’Agata/Magnum, for The New York Times

Andrey Kurkov, Ukraine’s most famous living novelist, has spent his life writing about realities so absurd they defy satire. Since being displaced from his home in Kyiv, he has dedicated himself to chronicling the war for foreign audiences.

“I think everybody should do what he can do best for the country,” he said. “The snipers should kill the enemy. The singers should sing for the soldiers and the refugees. What I can do is write and tell things, and that is what I am doing.”

For more: Read our review of Kurkov’s latest novel, “Grey Bees.”

ARTS AND IDEAS

Credit…Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

What the mullet means now

Business in the front, party in the rear: The subversive hairstyle has found its way to runways and red carpets once again, writes Megan Bradley for The Times Magazine. But is there anyone left to shock?

There’s evidence of the mullet — which is characterized by hair closely shorn everywhere except at the back of the head, where it is left longish — appearing in ancient Assyria, Egypt and Greece, in depictions of warriors, heroes and gods.

More recently, it had been worn by David Bowie, as his otherworldly alter ego Ziggy Stardust; the punks of the 1970s, who wore it expressly to shock; and, last fall, the rapper Lil Nas X, on the red carpet at MTV’s Video Music Awards, along with legions of other outsiders, nonconformists and visionaries.

The mullet refuses to be any one thing, sitting at the midpoint between long and short, masculine and feminine, tasteful and tacky. But if an inability to categorize causes discomfort in some, this sort of in-betweenness is just what some are looking for, especially at a time when gender and taste both feel, rightfully and crucially, so fluid.

Read more about the political potential of short sides and a long back.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

This shrimp-and-chorizo take on paella is a great way to feed a group.

Get Moving

Our new exercise video leads you through six “joy moves,” meant to suit people of all ages and abilities.

What to Watch

In “Cordelia,” a traumatized young woman and a strange musician form an unsettling connection.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Stinky smell (four 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. The Times won nine awards from the New York Press Club, including coverage from Metro, Culture and Sports.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Taiwan.

You can reach Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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