Good morning. We cover a school shooting in Texas, Russia’s narrow focus in eastern Ukraine, and diplomacy in Africa.
A deadly shooting at a Texas school
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in a single classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday. Officers shot and killed the 18-year-old gunman at the scene. Here are live updates.
The gunman also injured several children. Before entering the school, he shot his grandmother.
Authorities have identified all victims. Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was “a prankster, always smiling,” her father said. Eva Mireles, a teacher, “loved those children,” said her neighbor.
Background: The massacre is the second deadliest school shooting ever in the US, surpassed only by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six teachers a decade ago. “I think it’s something in society that we know will happen again and again,” said a Sandy Hook father.
National context: The massacre fueled a vexed debate over firearms laws and the country’s astonishing track record on gun violence. Before the pandemic, the US had more guns than civilians, and the pace of gun buying has increased. So is the toll of gun violence, especially against children.
International context: After the Christchurch massacre, which killed 51 people in 2019, New Zealand banned most semi-automatic weapons and launched a buy-back scheme to remove thousands of weapons from circulation. The US’s unique commitment to weapons protection has its roots in resisting the Civil Rights Movement, writes Amanda Taub in The Interpreter, our sister newsletter.
Russia narrows its focus in the east
Moscow once thought it would roll through Ukraine within days. Now, as the fourth month of the invasion approaches, Russia has concentrated its firepower and shortened its supply lines to a 120-kilometer-wide strip of land in the Donbas. It makes incremental profits. Here are live updates.
Sievierodonetsk, the easternmost city still under Ukrainian control, is Russia’s main target. Russian troops are approaching from three sides, at least six people have been killed and Ukrainian officials fear a repeat of the siege tactics used in Mariupol. “Sievierodonetsk is barely alive,” said the head of the regional military administration.
Analysis: Military analysts and Western intelligence officials believe that Russian forces would face brutal urban fighting if they were to capture Sievierodonetsk completely, and that they would struggle to mount an offensive deeper into Ukraine.
Taiwan: The Biden administration accelerated its efforts to reshape Taiwan’s defense systems, using lessons learned from Ukraine to fend off a larger military. On Wednesday, the Chinese military described organizing combat exercises in the sea and airspace around Taiwan.
Germany, Ukraine and Africa
Senegal and South Africa were among 16 African countries that abstained from a UN vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These abstentions have led to diplomatic tensions between Africa, Europe and the US, which Olaf Scholz attempted to mend on his first trip to Africa since becoming German chancellor.
As he tried to steer talks toward energy independence, Scholz saw firsthand the reluctance of some African countries to join the West in confronting Russia. The neutrality “could have far-reaching implications for diplomacy and aid and assistance,” said Liesl Louw-Vaudran, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, an African think tank.
Senegal: Germany is working to get rid of Russian gas; Senegal is preparing to develop renewable energy and has recently discovered offshore gas reserves. But African Union president Macky Sall proclaimed diplomacy from both sides at a joint press conference with Scholz in Dakar, announcing that he would be traveling to both Moscow and Kiev on an upcoming trip.
South Africa: Scholz and President Cyril Ramaphosa met business leaders at the headquarters of the country’s main fuel supplier. Ramaphosa defended his reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia and called for dialogue between Ukraine and Moscow.
THE LAST NEWS
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War between Russia and Ukraine: important developments
ART AND IDEAS
Love in the stars
Mercury is in retrograde right now. If that phrase means something to you, you might be a fit for the constellation of popular apps that use astrology to assign meaning to relationships. Among them: Ilios, a new dating app that matches users based on their alleged astrological compatibility.
At a recent student launch event, interest in the app generally fell along gender lines, Madeleine Aggeler reports. Most men knew their zodiac sign but felt indifferent. “I think for a week in seventh grade I thought, ‘Hey, that’s me,'” said Luke Anderson, 21, a Pisces. “And then I thought, ‘Oh wait, no, I don’t care.'”
Women tended to like the concept more. “It’s kind of a weird statistic, actually,” said Lexi Brooks, a 23-year-old Aries. † Sanam Yar