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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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