FirstFT: Police defend handling of Texas shooting

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Police in Uvalde, Texas, have defended their handling of the school shooting in which 19 children and two teachers were killed in the face of mounting criticism from parents and local residents over the time taken to bring the massacre to an end.

In a press conference yesterday, Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Victor Escalon said that the window of about an hour in which the 18-year-old perpetrator Salvador Ramos was on the grounds of Robb Elementary School before he was killed by police was due to a wait for back-up officers and resources.

“During this time that they’re making those calls to bring in help to solve this problem and stop it immediately, they’re also evacuating . . . students, teachers,” Escalon said. “There’s a lot going on. A complex situation. They’re measuring, they’re measuring.”

According to a timeline provided by Escalon, Ramos is believed to have been inside the school building for at least three-quarters of an hour before being killed by Border Patrol agents.

Meanwhile, videos circulated on social media following the attack appeared to show officers restraining distraught parents who were urging them to go into the school while waiting for tactical support teams to arrive.

Escalon said he was aware of, but had not verified, such reports. Asked if any of the first responding officers should have gone in sooner or waited until the support arrived, he said: “That’s a tough question.”

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas and have a great weekend. We will be back in your inboxes on Monday. Here’s the rest of the day’s news — Gordon

1. US says China is greatest threat to international order In the first broad articulation of the Biden administration’s policy toward Beijing, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said China was the most serious threat to the international order despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It came as Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to join the US’s new Asian trade initiative.

2. EY plans global audit spin-off EY is working on a split of its audit and advisory operations worldwide in the biggest shake-up of a Big Four accounting firm in two decades, according to people with knowledge of the plans. The proposal, which is still being thrashed out by EY’s senior partners, is a bold attempt to escape the conflicts of interest that have dogged the industry and brought regulatory action from the UK to the US.

3. Europe plans for risk that Russia cuts gas supply this year The EU is racing to store as much gas as possible and could replace most of Russia’s deliveries this year, the bloc’s energy commissioner has told the FT. The plans include measures to ration gas supplies to industry while protecting households, Kadri Simson said.

4. Chipmaker Broadcom to buy software group VMware for $69bn The semiconductor company yesterday confirmed it had agreed to acquire cloud software company VMware for $69bn, including debt. The acquisition will help transform Broadcom into a diversified tech business and signals that the market for large corporate mergers might be thawing.

5. JPMorgan collects data on borrowers’ race The US’s biggest commercial bank has started to collect data on race and ethnicity from some borrowers as part of an effort aimed at making good on promises to do more for the black community after the police murder of George Floyd. In most cases, asking for a customer’s race or ethnicity for lending purposes is illegal but JPMorgan has invoked exemptions in a 1974 piece of legislation to better serve disadvantaged borrowers.

The days ahead

Annual meetings A four-and-a-half-hour drive east of the scene of this week’s horrific school shooting the National Rifle Association will host its 151st annual meeting. Guest speakers in Houston include former president Donald Trump and Texas governor Greg Abbott. Meanwhile, the White House has confirmed that Joe Biden will travel to Uvalde on Sunday.

Economic data The core personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, is expected to have increased by 4.9 per cent in April, compared with a 5.2 per cent increase in March. Economists expect personal income growth to increase 0.5 per cent on a monthly basis in April.

Earnings The smallest of Canada’s six major banks, National Bank, is expected to report earnings of $2.25 a share on $2.37bn in revenues in its latest quarter. Results from Canada’s commercial banks this week have generally been strong, with multiple lenders topping analyst expectations and boosting dividends. Chinese ecommerce group Pinduoduo also reports earnings this morning.

Markets outlook US stock markets look likely to pull back after rallying yesterday. Discount retailers Dollar Tree, Dollar General and department store Macy’s were among the biggest gainers after reporting strong earnings and providing a positive outlook. Shares in Europe are in positive territory today as Wall Street looks likely to make its first weekly gain in eight weeks.

Ukraine diplomacy G7 energy, climate and environment ministers finish a three-day meeting in Berlin today. Local media are reporting that the countries have reached concrete agreements on phasing out coal power generation and expanding renewable energy production. (Reuters)

Elections Polls suggest former guerrilla Gustavo Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez will win the Colombian presidential election comfortably on Sunday but fall short of the 50 per cent they need to clinch it outright. A run-off election is likely to follow on June 19 — most likely involving either centre-right candidate Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez or populist outsider Rodolfo Hernández.

What else we’re reading

What Tom Cruise’s new movie says about American power Top Gun: Maverick arrived in cinemas this week with impeccable geopolitical timing, just as US president Joe Biden reassured Asia-Pacific partners about Washington’s commitment. What better moment for a display of vulgar American soft power, offering a clear vision of US military prowess?

Bull market rhymes lead to a turn in the investing cycle Bitcoin and FAAMGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google) are the latest example of a bull market — something new that history can’t be used to discount. Stock market boom and busts occur and recur, abetted by the willing suspension of disbelief, writes co-founder and co-chair of Oaktree Capital Management Howard Marks.

Crypto and sports bet on winning combination to woo fans When Crypto.com stamped its name on Los Angeles’ main sports arena, the exchange’s boss, Kris Marszalek, said the $700mn deal marked cryptocurrencies’ move into the mainstream. Six months later, exuberance over virtual assets has waned, but the love affair between sport and crypto appears to be a perfect match.

Why does it feel good to do good? After his father died, economist Tim Harford wrote a thread on Twitter about his life that ended with a request for donations to the hospice that cared for him. He was surprised by readers’ generosity and as a result looked into the motivations for giving and reached these conclusions.

Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell win historic Booker Geetanjali Shree has been announced as the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize for her sprawling and multi-faceted novel Tomb of Sand. The book, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell, who takes an equal share of the £50,000 award, is the first in any Indian language to win the prize.

Obituary

Tributes for Dervla Murphy, Ireland’s best known travel writer, poured in yesterday after news of her death was accidentally revealed by among others Irish president Michael D Higgins. Murphy cycled, trekked or rode a mule across far-flung countries to understand the lives of ordinary people. To the end, writes the FT’s Ireland correspondent Jude Webber, she kept her vivid intellectual curiosity. 

Dervla Murphy on her bicycle. In 1963, she travelled solo to India by bike, the subject of her first book ‘Full Tilt’ © Tara Heinemann

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