Good morning, and happy Friday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Vladimir Putin draws hard line on Crimea
The Russian president stood firm Thursday in a one-hour phone call with President Obama, telling him that Ukraine’s government came to power by an “unconstitutional coup” and his country’s reaction is in line with international law. Meanwhile, a March 16 referendum before voters in Crimea will ask them if they want to “reunite” with Russia or stay with Ukraine. Read more in NEWS.
The crisis in Ukraine is affecting the NBA’s only Ukrainian currently playing. Phoenix Suns rookie Alex Len is showing support for his home country while on the court:
2. Pistorius trial: Ex-girlfriend says he always carried a gun
Samantha Taylor said in testimony today that Oscar Pistorius had a gun on him “all the time,” and even fired a shot out of a car’s sunroof after he was pulled over by police for speeding. She added that they split up after he cheated on her with model Reeva Steenkamp. The details of Pistorius’ personal life are part of the prosecution’s attempt to show he willfully murdered Steenkamp in their home last year. Pistorius claims he mistook her for an intruder. Read more in NEWS.
3. Alleged bitcoin founder says he’s not your man
Newsweek published a story claiming California man Dorian Nakamoto, 64, is the creator of the digital cryptocurrency known as bitcoin. After the report made waves online, Nakamoto spoke with The Associated Press on Thursday denying he is behind bitcoin. Read more in TECH & SCIENCE.
4. ‘Drive high, get a DUI’: Colorado targets stoned drivers
After the state legalized recreational marijuana use this year, officials are attempting to nip driving while high in the bud. New ads warn users that getting behind the wheel after using pot is being treated like a DUI. Read more in NEWS.
Meanwhile, one company is lighting up the airwaves with ads to connect consumers with medical marijuana doctors.
5. Case of mom who drove kids into ocean raises questions
The family of Ebony Wilkerson, the pregnant mom who drove her three children into the Atlantic Ocean, thanked “the brave men” who rescued the family in a statement. The frightening ordeal in Florida has led to questions about Wilkerson’s mental state and why involuntarily committing someone can be difficult. Read more in HEALTH.
6. Japan’s ‘Beethoven’ a fraud
Mamoru Samuragochi, once lauded for being Japan’s Beethoven, confessed Friday that he can partially hear and didn’t write his music himself. “It’s true that I will have to take responsibility and apologize to a large number of people,” Samuragochi said. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
The Lakers are getting slammed for their lopsided loss to the Clippers, who trounced them 142-94.
The game was the largest win in Clippers history and the largest loss in Lakers history.
Lakers fans, once used to a winning franchise, are none too happy: