10 things you need to know today: January 20, 2024

Grand jury reportedly convened to investigate Uvalde shooting response, families protest outside Netanyahu's house as pressure mounts for hostage deal, and more

A memorial at Robb Elementary on the one-year anniversary of the shooting
A memorial at Robb Elementary in Uvalde on the one-year anniversary of the school shooting
(Image credit: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

1. Grand jury reportedly convened to investigate Uvalde shooting response

A special grand jury was seated on Friday to examine the response of law enforcement officers in the 2022 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, multiple media outlets reported. The jury will determine whether to criminally charge any first responders in the shooting in what will be the first criminal justice actions related to the police response at Uvalde. The jury selection comes one day after a scathing Justice Department report described widespread police failures that likely led to further deaths at the school. The May 24, 2022, shooting resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers, and the delayed response by police has been the subject of harsh criticism. Uvalde Leader-News, USA Today

2. Families protest outside Netanyahu's house as pressure mounts for hostage deal

Dozens of families of Israeli hostages protested outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, expressing anger toward his government for their loved ones' continued captivity by Hamas. A group representing the protesters said they were angered that it had been over 100 days since the hostages had been taken and asked for Netanyahu to come speak to them. "The days of grace in which you dragged your feet are over," the families said in a statement. The protest is a continuing display of anger in Israel over Netanyahu's handling of the ongoing war, and the prime minister has reportedly rejected calls for a two-state solution to the problem. The Times of Israel, The Associated Press

3. Biden signs stopgap measure to avoid government shutdown

President Joe Biden signed a congressional stopgap bill on Friday, the White House said, officially avoiding a partial government shutdown one day before it was slated to begin. The legislation was finalized late Thursday by both chambers and extends the expiration date for four government funding bills from Jan. 19 to March 1. Eight other bills related to the measure are now set to expire on March 8 instead of Feb. 2. While Biden was able to put pen to paper on these bills, continued fighting within the House of Representatives is likely to make ongoing negotiations difficult, particularly due to in-fighting between the center and far-right factions of the House GOP. ABC News, The New York Times

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4. Iran and Hezbollah reportedly helping coordinate Houthi attacks

Commanders from the Iranian military and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group are overseeing attacks by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, Reuters reported Saturday. Sources told the outlet that military leaders from both factions are on the ground in Yemen to help coordinate the attacks, and that Iran is continuing to fund the Houthis directly with weapons and training. This includes the provision of drones, anti-ship missiles, ballistic missiles and medium-range missiles, sources said. Houthi rebels have been attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to anger over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which they see as a sign of Israeli aggression. Iranian and Hezbollah officials have repeatedly denied involvement in the Houthi attacks. Reuters

5. Alec Baldwin charged for second time in deadly 'Rust' shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin was charged Friday with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film "Rust." This marks the second time that Baldwin has been indicted on charges related to the shooting. Baldwin was charged by prosecutors in New Mexico after new evidence was reportedly found in relation to the prop firearm that caused Hutchins' death. If convicted, Baldwin could face up to 18 months in prison. The actor was previously charged with Hutchins' death last year. Those charges were eventually dismissed last April, but prosecutors left the door open to re-filing charges if new evidence came to light. NBC News, CNN

6. Harvard creates task forces on antisemitism and Islamophobia

Harvard University on Friday announced the creation of task forces devoted to combating antisemitism and Islamophobia. "Incidents of bias and hate against Jews and against Muslims, Palestinians, and other people of Arab descent have risen across the country," Harvard Interim President Alan Garber said in a statement. "We need to understand why and how that is happening—and what more we might do to prevent it." The creation of the two task forces comes after criticism of the Ivy League institution's handling of racism on campus related to the Israel-Hamas war. The controversy culminated in the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, who faced backlash for comments made during a congressional hearing on the matter. The Associated Press, Bloomberg

7. NYC mayor vetoes ban on solitary confinement in city jails

New York City Mayor Eric Adams vetoed a bill Friday that would have banned solitary confinement in the city's jails. "Vetoing this bill will keep those in our custody and our correction officers safer," Adams said of the legislation, which was passed in the city council by a large margin. The mayor added that the bill would mean corrections officers would "no longer be able to protect people in custody, or the union workers charged with their safety, from violent individuals." Adams has already claimed that the city does not use solitary confinement, though others have argued that New York's current "restrictive housing" policy amounts to basically the same thing. ABC News, The Hill

8. Sports Illustrated lays off nearly entire staff as financial woes mount

Amid continued financial woes, Sports Illustrated on Friday announced a series of widespread layoffs. These layoffs affected the sports magazine's writers and editors, and could reportedly impact all of the remaining editorial staff of the publication. The layoffs come as Sports Illustrated was unable to finalize payment of its licensing deal, resulting in a breach of its publisher's contract. The magazine's entire staff could be laid off within three months if the issue is not resolved. The layoffs are occurring weeks after Sports Illustrated stirred controversy by publishing articles that were allegedly generated by artificial intelligence. The magazine's union pledged to fight for its employees in a statement on X. Front Office Sports, The Washington Post

9. Russia was China's top oil supplier in 2023, data shows

Russia was China's top supplier of crude oil in 2023, surpassing Saudi Arabia, data released Friday showed. This represents a large circumnavigation of Western sanctions by China in order to purchase cheap petroleum for its workforce. Russia shipped 107.02 million metric tons of oil to China last year, significantly more than any other nation. This equates to nearly 2.14 million barrels of Russian crude oil per day entering the country. The second-place Saudis shipped just 85.96 million metric tons of oil to China, a decrease of 1.8%. Russia was able to take the top spot in China as the majority of the Western world shunned its oil industry. Reuters

10. Malia Obama debuts short film at Sundance Film Festival

Malia Obama debuted her short film "The Heart" at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday. The 25-year-old daughter of former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama wrote and directed the short film using her middle name Malia Ann. The film was previously screened at the Telluride Film Festival in 2023 and won an award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Obama has spent the last few years working in Hollywood writers' rooms, including internships on the HBO show "Girls" and as a CBS production assistant. She also worked as a writer on the Donald Glover-created series "Swarm" for Amazon Prime Video. IndieWire

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