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People react after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Will Texas school shooting move the needle on US guns debate?

Another mass shooting has rocked America, leaving 21 dead (19 of them children) at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday — the second-worst school massacre in US history after Sandy Hook almost a decade ago. “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” President Joe Biden said in a nationwide address. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” For one thing, stricter gun laws are vehemently opposed by most Republicans: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz controversially responded to the tragedy by calling for more armed law enforcement at schools. For another, 2nd Amendment die-hards like the National Rifle Association have deep pockets to fight legislation and fund campaigns (Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and former President Donald Trump are all slated to speak Friday at the NRA's annual conference in Houston). If a bipartisan gun bill failed to pass in 2013 in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, the odds are even longer now because US politics is even more polarized and we're less than six months out from the November midterms.

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A service member of pro-Russian troops stands guard next to a combat vehicle, with the symbol "Z" seen on its side, in Mariupol, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Putin enjoys rare win in Ukraine

This week brought more bad news for Vladimir Putin and his invasion. Ukrainian fighters have pushed Russians back from the city of Kharkiv, the fight for the Donbas appears to have stalled, and Russian commentators are becoming more open about their country’s military failures on the internet and even on state-controlled TV. But the surrender of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from a Mariupol steel plant gives Russia a genuinely important win. First, it clears away the final obstacle to establishing a land bridge that connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the Russian border. Second, it’s a big propaganda win for Putin, who insists the war is aimed partly at “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. Many of those who surrendered belong to the Azov Battalion, a group with a history of ultra-nationalist, white-supremacist politics. Ukraine’s government says it hopes the now-captive troops can be traded for captive Russians, but Russia’s parliament may ban any release of Azov prisoners. Ultimately, Putin will decide their fate. Are they most valuable to him as trophies, or as pawns who provide him with an opportunity to appear magnanimous?

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Reuters

Zelensky ties Odesa’s fate to global food crisis

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday urged the world to help break a Russian blockade on the Black Sea port of Odesa, which he said is contributing to a global food crisis. He has a point: the war has all but eliminated Ukraine’s massive exports of wheat and cooking oils, most of which leave through Odesa. At the same time, Western sanctions and local export restrictions have decreased Russia’s own sizable exports of grain, oils, and fertilizers. All of this has driven global food prices to record highs, stoking political unrest in places like Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, while also threatening to push as many as 44 million more people into famine around the globe this year. Zelensky’s appeal came as Russia intensified its aerial attacks on Odesa. If Russia is able to take the strategic port, the way would be clear for it to continue westward to the Moldovan border, landlocking Ukraine entirely.

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Staying up to date on international news and politics? Prove it by taking GZERO's weekly news quiz.

Paige Fusco

The US economy grew 5.7% in 2021, the biggest annual growth rate in decades, yet at the beginning of 2022, less than a third of Americans thought it was strong. As the world confronts the converging crises of the lingering pandemic and war in Ukraine, inflation and skyrocketing prices are further contributing to feelings of financial insecurity around the globe.

The latest episode of Living Beyond Borders, a special podcast series from GZERO brought to you by Citi Private Bank, takes a look at why there is still reason for optimism, and what we can expect from US and global markets over the next year. Moderated by Shari Friedman, managing director of climate and sustainability at Eurasia Group, the discussion features David Bailin, chief investment officer and global head of investments at Citi Global Wealth, and Robert Kahn, director of global macroeconomics at Eurasia Group.

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French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen

Reuters

Will the far-right candidate win in France?

Vive la différence! In Sunday’s second and final round of the French presidential election, incumbent Emmanuel Macron and National Rally Party leader Marine Le Pen present very different visions of France’s future. Will France choose Macron’s promise of an open France, a strong EU, and continued streamlining of state spending? Or will it bend toward Le Pen’s idea of tighter immigration controls, a weaker EU, and more protectionism? Polls indicate that this is Macron’s race to lose (he’s 10 percentage points ahead following Wednesday's televised debate), and Eurasia Group Europe analyst Mujtaba Rahman believes Macron will win. “It’s always hazardous to call an election three days out,” he tweeted, “but this one looks like it’s all over but for the voting.”

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