Winter storm forecast for East Coast and ‘Steamboat Willie’ enters public domain: Morning Rundown

Hezbollah vows to retaliate after a prominent Hamas leader is killed in Beirut. What to know about a winter storm forecast for the East Coast. And a California mother says her 10-year-old son was killed over a bike race.

Here’s what to know today.

Killing of senior Hamas leader in Beirut is likely to be seen as warning to Iran

The killing of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon has sparked vows of retribution from the country’s Hezbollah militants. And though Israel has not formally taken responsibility, experts say there is little doubt about who is behind the killing – or the signal it sends.

Al-Arouri was killed in a reported drone strike that also killed six other Hamas members in his home in a suburb of Beirut. He was a key figure who helped repair Hamas’ relations with Iran, which has armed and financed the militant group, and had been in Israel’s cross-hairs even before the current conflict. 

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“There’s no single cog in this group without whom the whole thing falls apart, but Arouri was a particularly important person,” said Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank. 

“This is putting other senior Hamas officials on notice,” said Colin Clarke, the director of research at the Soufan Center, a U.S.-based nonprofit focusing on global security issues.

Al-Arouri has been on Israel’s radar for over a decade and was detained several times by Israeli authorities. In 2011, he was freed in a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. Read the full story here.

More on the Israel-Hamas war

  • Hezbollah vowed to retaliate against the Beirut killing, stoking fears of escalation in the region. The IDF has said it is “prepared for any scenario” as the focus turns toward an expected response. Follow our live blog for the latest.

Embattled Harvard president steps down

Harvard University President Claudine Gay has resigned from her post, marking the end of weeks filled with fierce criticism over testimony she gave at a congressional hearing on antisemitism. Gay’s six months at the helm of the university was the shortest in the school’s 388-year history, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper said. She was the first Black person and the second woman to lead the institution. The Harvard Corporation said Gay will return to a faculty position. 

Less than a month ago, Gay’s job appeared to be secure when the Harvard Corporation reaffirmed its support amid growing calls for her ouster. But in the ensuing weeks, new allegations of plagiarism exacerbated the crisis

In a letter to the Harvard community, Gay said “it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard and for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”

New indictment against Sen. Menendez over Qatari investment deal 

A federal grand jury has filed a second indictment against Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who is already facing bribery charges. Menendez has now been accused of making statements supportive of Qatar to help a New Jersey developer get a multimillion-dollar investment from a company tied to the country. The new indictment mentions text messages exchanged between Menendez and developer Fred Daibes, who was also charged in the case, as well as a web search by Menendez — specifically, “how much is one kilo of gold worth” — after he returned from a trip to Qatar. 

A lawyer for Menendez said the new allegations “stink of desperation.”

A winter storm in the forecast for the East Coast

Last month was historically warm for much of the U.S., but that is expected to change with a colder and more active weather pattern coming for a large swath of the country. A storm this weekend could affect areas from the mid-Atlantic to New England. It’s been a while since cities like New York City, Philadelphia or Baltimore have seen more than an inch of snow in a 24-hour period.

Senior meteorologist and producer Kathryn Prociv shares three things to know ahead of the stormy weekend.

Inside the Japan Airlines plane as it went up in flames

After a collision between two planes in Tokyo, passengers aboard a Japan Airlines flight described the moments they first realized something was wrong. One woman told Japan’s state broadcaster that she thought the plane had struck a bird. Another said he felt a “warm sensation” on the side of his face. When he looked over, he saw “flames all over the windows.” Seconds after the plane landed, the 379 passengers and crew on the Airbus A350 raced to safety, contending with suffocating smoke and a perilous jump to land along the way. Here’s what they recalled.

Five passengers in a coast guard plane also involved in the collision died. The pilot aboard the coast guard plane escaped.

Today’s Talker: The entry of ‘Steamboat Willie’ into the public domain…

Steamboat Willie
Steamboat Willie from 1928.LMPC via Getty Images

… spurred the announcements of two horror movies and a video game — and it’s only been two days. The copyright on early iterations of Mickey Mouse expired on Monday, meaning non-Disney creators can officially use the famous cartoon for their own profit. They are also fair game for internet memes, with creators putting Mickey in some fairly dark situations.

Politics in Brief

Trump ballot efforts: Donald Trump appealed the decision by Maine’s secretary of state to remove him from the state’s 2024 primary ballot. 

Immigration and the border: The Biden administration will reopen four ports of entry at the southern border, which were closed due to a record influx of migrants. Yesterday the Biden administration also asked the Supreme Court to allow federal Border Patrol agents to cut through razor wire Texas officials installed along the U.S.-Mexico border. And several Chicago suburbs are moving to pass policies that would restrict buses that are part of unannounced migrant dropoffs in the area.

Biden campaign: President Joe Biden will cast former President Donald Trump as a threat to democracy in a speech this weekend on the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Biden campaign said.

Abortion rights: A federal appeals court ruled that Texas can ban emergency abortions in spite of federal guidance.

2024 election: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has hired a prominent anti-vaccine activist as his presidential campaign’s communications director.

Staff Pick: Why fish and chips are endangered

In the next three years, a third of the U.K.’s “chippies,” or seaside fish and chip shops, may close for good, the National Federation of Fish Friers predicts. And it’s not just the cost of fish contributing to this crisis, though that is part of it. NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman dives into what’s going on. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

In Case You Missed It

  • “Black Panther” actor Carrie Bernans was seriously injured when a driver fleeing police plowed through an outdoor dining area in New York City.
  • The mother of a 10-year-old California boy who was fatally shot over the weekend said her son died because the suspect, also said to be 10 years old, angrily opened fire after losing a bicycle race.
  • “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay and husband Bryan Abasolo are divorcing after four years of marriage.
Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo in Philadelphia
Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo in Philadelphia in 2018. Lisa Lake / Getty Images file

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

 In addition to using floss and a good toothbrush, picking the right toothpaste is key to having good oral hygiene. Here are the 11 best toothpastes, as recommended by dentists, and what to look for on your next shopping trip.

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