Good morning, and happy, snowy Thursday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Vicious ice storm knocks out power in South, moves North
More than a half-million homes and businesses went dark after an intense ice and snowstorm roared across the Southeast on Wednesday. Commuters in Charlotte, N.C., were stuck in traffic for hours after highways turned into skating rinks. Meanwhile, the storm is heading north, and could drop more than a foot of snow outside of major East Coast cities from Washington, D.C., to Boston, creating a treacherous morning commute. Read more in NEWS.
The ice wreaked havoc in South Carolina, where Gov. Nikki Haley said the storm was the worst in the state in at least 10 years.
2. American men sweep slopestyle skiing finals at Sochi
After the U.S. men failed to medal at any Olympic event for four days, three Americans — Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper — went one, two, three Thursday in slopestyle skiing. It’s a welcome change after top U.S. Olympians expected to win gold, including Bode Miller, Shaun White and Shani Davis, all wiped out in their respective events. Read more in NEWS and watch the latest events live at NBC OLYMPICS.
3. Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners believed to be threats
U.S. officials condemned the release of the alleged militants on Thursday, saying the country bears responsibility if they commit new acts of violence. The administration of outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said they do not have sufficient proof to hold the prisoners captive, although the U.S. maintains there is evidence to link them to both American and civilian slayings. Read more in NEWS.
4. Comcast to take over Time Warner in $45B stock deal
Comcast announced the blockbuster deal with Time Warner, which if approved by the FCC, would solidify it as the nation’s largest cable company with more than 33 million subscribers. Comcast is the ower of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News and CNBC. Read more in BUSINESS.
5. Derek Jeter: 2014 will be my last season
The celebrated Yankees captain announced on Facebook that this upcoming season will be his last. It comes after an injury-plagued 2013 in which he played just 17 games because of a broken ankle. “I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life,” Jeter wrote. Read more in SPORTS.
6. Comedy legend Sid Caesar dies at 91
Caesar made a name for himself as a pioneer in TV sketch comedy, working with the likes of Carl Reiner and Imogene Coca. His career spanned six decades, and included the NBC hits, “Your Show of Shows” and “Ceasar’s Hour.” Read more in POP CULTURE.
His ability to capture satire and silliness inspired current sketch comedy shows, including “Saturday Night Live”:
… What’s trending today: Olympics edition
Lebanese Olympian Jackie Chamoun is causing a stir in her home country after racy photos of the scantily-clad skier were leaked online.
But a worldwide social media campaign called #StripForJackie is coming to her defense, and features fans taking nearly nude pictures of themselves in solidarity.
Chamoun, 22, apologized on Facebook for the photo shoot.