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Haley takes on Trump in New Hampshire and San Diego's record flooding: Morning Rundown

Plus, "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" are expected to be among the top Oscars nominees.
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Nikki Haley sweeps the first (six-vote) race of the New Hampshire primary. Israel's military experiences its deadliest day since the launch of its ground offensive. And billions of cicadas are expected to emerge from underground — find out where.

Here’s what to know today.

Haley hopes for an upset and Biden’s ‘weird’ write-in vote: What to watch in New Hampshire 

Nikki Haley swept Donald Trump — at least when it came to the first six ballots cast in the New Hampshire presidential primary. The small town of Dixville Notch continued its tradition of being the first to vote in the state’s race just after midnight. All six voters there — four registered Republicans and two undeclared — chose the former United Nations Ambassador over the former president. 

But will Haley’s success extend to the rest of the state? We’ll find out.

Haley’s performance in the New Hampshire’s GOP primary is the story to watch today, NBC News senior political reporter Henry J. Gomez notes, especially after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ exit from the race over the weekend. If Trump prevails in New Hampshire by a wide margin, pressure on Haley to drop out of the race will intensify. But if Haley can pull off an upset, she’ll head to her home state of South Carolina with much-needed momentum. 

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Today's Democratic primary will be a weird one because President Joe Biden isn’t on the ballot, but Rep. Dean Phillips and self-help author Marianne Williamson are. There's a write-in campaign circulating among Biden's supporters, but there's also a progressive effort to encourage voters to write in “cease-fire” as a protest of Biden’s Israel policy. 

Here’s what else to watch for.

More New Hampshire primary coverage

Israel probes ‘disaster’ after 21 troops killed in Gaza incident; Khan Younis encircled by IDF

The Israeli military has said that 24 soldiers were killed yesterday in the Gaza Strip, including 21 in a single incident. The deadliest day for the country's forces since the war began may add to growing pressure for a cease-fire deal with Hamas, as Israel proposes a two-month pause in fighting in exchange for the release of all the remaining hostages, but dismisses Hamas' demands.

Israeli troops have encircled the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, the IDF said today, a day after it deepened its campaign in the area in some of Gaza’s bloodiest fighting of the new year. Health officials say the IDF has stormed a hospital in the city and placed another under siege, cutting patients off from trauma care. Follow live updates here. 

More on the Israel-Hamas war: 

  • U.S. and British forces launched a fresh round of strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen yesterday, the second round of attacks by the two militaries.
  • At age 112, Rose Girone is believed to be the oldest Holocaust survivor still alive. Her daughter says the recent rise in antisemitism fueled by the ongoing war in Gaza is a frightening reminder that the age-old hatred of Jews lives on.

State of emergency in San Diego after record rainfall

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria declared a state of emergency after a record day of rainfall and flash flooding. It was the wettest January day on record in the city, the National Weather Service said. Residents in a neighborhood just southeast of downtown had to be rescued by firefighters, and streets near Navy Base San Diego and part of Interstate 15 were under enough water that they were effectively shuttered. Streets were flooded in other parts of the region, too.

Luckily, the surprisingly strong storm was likely the last one like it for this month, an NWS meteorologist said.

Senate immigration negotiations hit a new phase

Senate negotiation efforts to impose tougher immigration and asylum laws have moved to a new phase. The group is now working with key senators to finalize funding the provisions in the deal that Sen. James Lankford, a lead GOP negotiator, called “the most conservative border security bill in four decades.” At this point, the major policy sticking points are largely resolved, a source familiar with the negotiations said. And it’s “possible” the Senate could start voting on it this week, Sen. Chris Murphy, a chief Democratic negotiator said.

The immigration provisions are poised to be attached to a national security supplemental bill that also includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

In the Supreme Court, justices voted 5-4 to allow Border Patrol agents to cut through or move razor wire Texas installed along the U.S.-Mexico border.

And while much of the conversation about illegal migration is focused on the southern border, GOP presidential candidates have been focusing on a worsening problem on the U.S’s border with Canada.

Today’s Talker: And the Oscar nominees for best picture are...

…probably going to include “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” but if you’re reading this before 8:30 a.m. ET, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out. This morning’s announcement of the nominees for the 96th Academy Awards is also expected to include love for “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Poor Things.” We’ll update this article as we learn who’s in the running for major categories.

Politics in Brief 

Trump defamation suit: The damages trial against Donald Trump was postponed for two days over Covid concerns, but that didn’t stop the former president from continuing to attack E. Jean Carroll.

Senate debates: Four candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat vacated by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein squared off in their first debate, with the three Democratic candidates trashing Donald Trump and attacking the lone GOP candidate onstage for declining to say whether he’d support the former president. In contrast, Republican candidates for an open Ohio Senate seat debated who would be Trump’s best ally.

China Initiative backlash: More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers urged congressional leadership to halt the potential reinstatement of a controversial Trump-era program that once led to accusations of racial profiling toward Asian scientists in the U.S. 

Staff Pick: Cicadas incoming

Bug lovers will rejoice, but everyone else? Buckle up. This spring, two different broods of cicadas — one that lives on a 13-year cycle and the other that lives on a 17-year cycle — will emerge from underground in a rare, synchronized event that last occurred in 1803. Billions of the winged insects will make an appearance across the Midwest and the Southeast for a raucous mating ritual that tends to inspire fascination and annoyance in equal measure. — Denise Chow, science reporter

In Case You Missed It 

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a skin care routine that works: It starts with a good cleanser, followed by toner — and builds from there. NBC Select spoke to dermatologists, who recommended their favorite products for each step.

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