Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Kerry to meet Russia foreign minister in bid to ease tensions
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet face-to-face at 11 a.m. ET today for the first time since the Ukraine crisis escalated. Russia, meanwhile, is looking at ways to protect its interests if the U.S. and Europe go ahead with economic sanctions. But the situation in Crimea is still precarious: Pro-Russian forces have reportedly seized two Ukrainian missile defense battalions in the region. Read more in NEWS.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's national soccer team presses on, readying for a "friendly" with the United States in Cyprus on Wednesday. Read more in SPORTS.
2. Boxer testifies at Pistorius trial
Boxer Kevin Lerena took the stand on Day 3 of the trial against South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year. Lerena testified about an incident at a popular Johannesburg restaurant — a few weeks before Steenkamp’s death — where Pistorius accidentally fired his gun and asked a friend to take the blame. The testimony is supposed to show Pistorius was reckless with guns and willing to lie about his use of them. Read more in NEWS.
3. Edward Snowden booked for SXSW
The NSA leaker, who’s currently under temporary asylum in Russia, is scheduled to speak at the South by Southwest media, technology and music festival in Austin, Texas, on Monday. The session — via videoconference — will be moderated by Snowden legal adviser Ben Wizner. Read more in NEWS.
4. Nepal to Mt. Everest explorers: Clean up the trash
Fed up with the human waste littering the iconic mountain, Nepalese tourism authorities are ordering adventurers who scale Mt. Everest to carry back down 18 pounds of garbage. That excludes their own empty oxygen bottles, bodily waste and other belongings. Read more in TECH & SCIENCE.
5. Facebook eyes aerial strategy
The social network is planning to buy New Mexico-based drone maker Titan Aerospace for about $60 million, a source told CNBC. Facebook is supposedly interested in Titan because its solar-powered drones can help the company provide Internet access around the world. Read more in TECH & SCIENCE.
6. After Oscars flub, John Travolta wants to ‘let it go’
The actor caught flak for his botched introduction of “Let it Go” singer Idina Menzel as “Adele Dazeem” during Sunday’s Oscars. But in a statement Tuesday, he admitted he was “beating myself up all day” about the mistake, although he never explained why he got Menzel’s name so wrong. Read more in POP CULTURE.
Menzel is set to star in a new Broadway show currently in previews tonight — or is it “Adele Dazeem?”:
… What’s trending today?
How much is that star-studded selfie from the Oscars worth? A cool $3 million, after more than 3 million people shared it on Twitter — making it the most-retweeted image ever.
Samsung, an Academy Awards sponsor, said it’s grateful for the free publicity that Ellen DeGeneres gave it and will pay it forward by donating $1.5 million each to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Humane Society of the United States. Both are DeGeneres’ charities of choice.
Meanwhile, "The Simpsons" poked fun at the now-famous tweet: