Deadly outcomes from federal law enforcement agencies operating with limited oversight. The U.N. is accused of not acting fast enough to address alleged sexual violence by Hamas. And Panera Bread’s caffeinated lemonade is blamed for another death.
Here’s what to know today.
Tracking how the ATF, DEA, FBI and U.S. marshals use deadly force
For decades, Congress and multiple presidents have been pushing for federal law enforcement to become more transparent. But the four agencies overseen by the Justice Department — the ATF, the DEA, the FBI and the Marshals Service — have been slow to adopt reforms long embraced by big-city police departments, such as the use of body cameras and the release of comprehensive use-of-force data. The Justice Department rules are sometimes at odds with local law enforcement, and limited oversight has helped the agencies resist reform.
To understand how federal officers and their task forces use deadly force, NBC News built a database of shootings that involved officers working for or with the agencies by reviewing five years’ worth of public documents, news releases, lawsuits and news reports.
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From 2018 to 2022, 223 people were shot by an on-duty federal officer, a member of a federal task force or a local officer participating in an operation with federal agents, according to an NBC News analysis. A total of 151 were killed, an average of 30 per year.
One of those people was Jason Owens, who was fatally shot in West Virginia on the day of his father’s funeral. Officers said Owens reached for his pistol before he was killed. Some family members rejected that account. Later, the county’s top prosecutor would say the shooting was justified. Owens’ family and friends are not the only ones who have suffered losses in incidents involving federal law enforcement.
Read the full investigation here.
Israel and activists accuse U.N. of slow response to accounts of Hamas militants’ raping women
Israel accused the United Nations of moving too slowly to respond to accounts that Hamas members carried out widespread sexual violence against women in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Yesterday, at a U.N. panel organized by Israel to present what it said was evidence of the crimes, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. said Hamas intentionally used rape and sexual violence as weapons of war in its attack. Sheryl Sandberg, former chief operating officer of Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, also spoke out. See what she and other leaders said.
Meanwhile, about 150 activists marched in front of the United Nations headquarters yesterday, with speakers accusing the U.N. of failing to act over the alleged abuse of Israeli women by Hamas.
Hamas has denied its militants committed sexual crimes against women.
More on the Israel-Hamas war
- Israel is moving its intense aerial and ground assault to southern Gaza, fueling concern for civilians crowded into the area, many of whom fled bombardment and battles in the north at Israel’s urging. Gazans are now being warned to evacuate large areas of the south, but “there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said. Follow our live blog for updates .
Possible new syndrome in newborns exposed to fentanyl
Doctors have identified at least 10 babies with what they believe to be a “concerning” new syndrome related to exposure to fentanyl in the womb. The most common symptoms included cleft palates, unusually small bodies and heads, and noses that are turned upward. All the infants identified were born to mothers who said they had used street drugs, particularly fentanyl, while they were pregnant. However, no proof yet links fentanyl to the cases. And while fentanyl use has skyrocketed in recent years, even among pregnant women, there is no indication that birth defects are rising. Here’s what doctors have observed.
Panera Bread’s Charged Lemonade blamed for another death
A Florida man’s family claims Panera Bread’s highly caffeinated Charged Lemonade is to blame in his death, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday. The suit comes less than two months after Panera was hit with a separate lawsuit over an Ivy League student with a heart condition who died in Sept. 2022 after she drank a Charged Lemonade.
According to the new lawsuit, 46-year-old Dennis Brown drank three Charged Lemonades then suffered fatal cardiac arrest. Brown — who had an unspecified chromosomal deficiency disorder, a developmental delay and a mild intellectual disability — would often stop at Panera after his shifts at a supermarket, the lawsuit said.
Turmoil in the video game industry
The trailer for the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI confirms what many video game fans had predicted: a 2025 release. The excitement comes at the end of a tough year for the video game industry marked by potentially thousands of layoffs. One studio director compared the industry’s general atmosphere to a funeral.
An estimated 6,500 video game workers were laid off in 2023, according to the Los Angeles Times, from studios such as CD Projekt Red, Bungie, BioWare, Epic Games and Electronic Arts. The layoffs contrast a year of huge releases and successful adaptations of games into TV shows and movies that included “The Last of Us” and “The Super Mario Bros Movie.”
Amid the excitement and uncertainty, experts in the industry have some concerns.
Today’s Talker: The Oxford University Press ‘word of the year’ is…
… “rizz” — that’s short for “charisma” (or so it’s believed), and there’s a chance you’ve seen the word on social media or have heard younger generations using it. Rizz is used to describe “style, charm or attractiveness,” OUP explained, or “the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.” It beat out “Swiftie,” “beige flag” and “de-influencing” for the year-end honor.
Politics in Brief
National security: Republicans have vowed to filibuster President Joe Biden’s national security package, which includes aid to Israel and Ukraine, unless Democrats agree to tighten U.S. asylum and parole laws in immigration proceedings.
Fourth GOP debate: Tomorrow’s presidential primary debate will have the smallest stage yet with just four candidates qualifying for the event in Alabama: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Supreme Court tax case: The Supreme Court will hear a case that concerns whether people can be forced to pay taxes on stakes in foreign-owned companies that attracted scrutiny after Justice Samuel Alito refused to recuse himself.
Menendez charges: At least four gold bars found in the FBI search of Sen. Bob Menendez’s home are linked to a 2013 robbery of a New Jersey businessman accused of bribing the senator, records show.
Staff Pick: A perilous Israel-Hamas debate in Hollywood
The entertainment industry has seen some high-profile fallouts amid disagreements over how to talk about the war. In recent days, actors Julianna Margulies and Susan Sarandon each issued apologies after drawing backlash for remarks they made on either side of the divide. Sifting through a crush of competing views, Chloe Melas and Sara Ruberg get producers, union members, civil rights groups and others in Hollywood to weigh in on where the line falls between political debate and hate speech — and what the consequences should be for crossing it. — Rich Bellis, senior business editor
In Case You Missed It
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