Good morning, and happy Friday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Ukraine’s president says deal reached to end violence
President Viktor Yanukovych announced a tentative peace deal early today with opposition leaders to bring an end to the conflict that has spilled into the streets in a wave of deadly protests against the government. However, no opposition leader had immediately confirmed an agreement — and Western nations remain cautious. Read more in NEWS.
2. Drama unfolds on the ice in Sochi
It was a heartbreaking loss for the American women, who came up short — settling for silver — in the hockey finals against Canada, who grabbed gold in a stunning overtime victory Thursday. Meanwhile, the American women finished off the podium in ladies’ figure skating, which was not without controversy when Russian dark horse Adeline Sotnikova easily defeated Olympic favorite Yuna Kim of Korea. But the big match up today will be a semifinal game between the United States and Canada in men’s hockey. The game starts at noon ET. Read more and watch events live at NBC OLYMPICS.
3. Thunderstorms across the U.S. bring risk of tornadoes
Most East Coast states will be drenched in rain today as a strong system with high winds threatens regions from Florida up to New England. The odd tornado could form, and it would come after a twister already spun through Illinois on Thursday, destroying buildings and knocking down power lines. Read more in NEWS.
4. Same-sex marriage lawsuits picking up steam
Federal judges are striking down same-sex marriage bans in states for constitutional reasons, and that’s helped propel more legal action to challenge same-sex marriage opposition. Such cases are now pending in all but eight of the 33 states that forbid gay marriage. Read more in NEWS.
5. China: U.S. relations will be damaged if Obama meets with Dalai Lama
A Chinese Foreign Ministry official is warning his country’s relationship would be seriously strained if President Obama has his meeting with the Dalai Lama at the White House today. The country has criticized the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Read more in NEWS.
6. Michelle Obama goes ‘Ew!’ on ‘Tonight Show’
The first lady joined new "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell in a gender-bending sketch on the late-night show, proving she’s not afraid to go “Ew!” at the right moment. Read more in POP CULTURE.
What’s trending today: Olympics edition
After the Canadian women narrowly took home gold in Thursday’s hockey finals, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wasn’t shy about jumping for joy when the news broke. His reaction deserves a gold medal of its own:
First published February 21 2014, 4:30 AM