Good morning. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Home of Germanwings co-pilot searched for clues into crash
Prosecutors announced Thursday that the doomed jetliner's co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, appeared to have intentionally crashed the passenger plane Tuesday into the French Alps after locking out his co-pilot from the flight deck. That led German police and prosecutors to search the homes of Lubitz, seizing several items as investigators hunted for clues about what triggered the tragedy. Teams emerged late Thursday from Lubitz's parents' home carrying blue bags, a big cardboard box and what looked like a large computer. Investigators also searched the apartment that Lubitz kept in an upscale, three-story building in an affluent neighborhood in Dusseldorf. Read more in NEWS.
2. Airlines adopt new cockpit rule after plane crash
After the Germanwings crash, numerous airlines hastily changed their policies Thursday to require that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for many years has required that at least two qualified crew members be in the cockpit throughout every flight. But that's not the case in other parts of the world. The German Aviation Association will consider changing its rules Friday for implementation "as soon as possible," a spokeswoman said. Read more in NEWS.
3. Senate passes GOP budget with deep spending cuts
Republicans muscled a balanced-budget plan through the Senate early Friday, positioning Congress for months of battling President Barack Obama over the GOP's goals of slicing spending and dismantling his health care law. Working into Friday's pre-dawn hours, senators approved the blueprint by a near party-line 52-46 vote, endorsing a measure that closely follows one the House passed Wednesday. Both budgets embody a conservative vision of shrinking projected federal deficits by more than $5 trillion over the coming decade, mostly by cutting health care and other benefit programs and without raising taxes. Read more in POLITICS.
4. DEA agents held sex parties with women from cartels
The agents stationed overseas held sex parties with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels — the very people the agency was supposed to be investigating — according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General. Investigators discovered not only the parties, but also attempts to keep evidence from becoming public. The report did not specify the country where the parties took place, but it followed an earlier probe of allegations that DEA agents in Cartegena, Colombia, arranged for a prostitute to meet with a Secret Service supervisor in 2012. Read more in NEWS.
5. Italy's highest court set to rule on Amanda Knox conviction
The Italian Court of Cassation is expected to rule Friday on whether to uphold the murder conviction of Knox, who with her Italian boyfriend was accused in the 2007 killing of another student while studying overseas. The court will decide whether to uphold the guilty verdicts handed down to Knox, an American, and Raffaele Sollecito at their last appeal in 2014, or send their cases back for yet another appeal. Knox faces 28-1/2 years in prison, and the ruling could trigger an extradition battle between Italy and the U.S. Read more in NEWS.
6. NCAA tournament going from 'Sweet' to 'Elite'
A flurry of games in the opening of Thursday's Sweet 16 led to top teams getting knocked out, including North Carolina and West Virginia. But other favorites have secured their spots to the next round — the Elite Eight — including Arizona, Wisconsin and Kentucky. It was the No. 1 seed Kentucky Wildcats that crushed its competition, the No. 5 seed West Virginia Mountaineers, in a 78-39 blowout, proving this tournament is Kentucky's to lose. Follow the latest at NBC SPORTS.
And now this ...
This robot is taking one for the team. The University of Oregon's "Atrias" got beat with balls all in the name of science.