Good morning, and happy Friday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Possible jetliner debris in Indian Ocean could have sunk
Military planes came up empty again today during another search for potential debris spotted 1,500 miles off the coast of Australia. The objects could be part of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, which vanished without a trace March 8. Australian officials have pledged to find the objects, although they said they may have already “slipped to the bottom” of the ocean. Read more in NEWS.
2. U.S. and Russia up ante on sanctions
After the U.S. slapped sanctions on top Russian officials over Crimea, Russia has struck back by imposing sanctions on several high-profile American politicians, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today that sanctions from the West were “absolutely unlawful.” Read more in NEWS.
3. Nine slain execution-style in Afghanistan restaurant
The deadly shooting occurred Thursday night while guests at the Serena Hotel in Kabul were dining for the Persian New Year. Among those killed were four foreigners, as well as women and children. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bloodbath. Read more in NEWS.
NBC News' Jamieson Lesko tweeted a photo of some of the arsenal collected at the scene:
4. Army general in sex case slapped with fines but no jail
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, accused of sexually assaulting and threatening to kill his female subordinate, was sentenced to pay $24,100 in fines and restitution during a sentencing Thursday. Sinclair pleaded guilty to other charges as part of a plea deal, but dodged jail time and is able to keep his military rank. One congresswoman called his sentence a “mockery of military justice.” Read more in NEWS.
5. Turkey vows to ‘eradicate’ Twitter
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went after Twitter on Thursday, claiming the popular microblogging network wasn’t complying with the country’s new Internet laws. That led Erdogan to order that Twitter be blocked from Turkey. Read more in NEWS.
But Twitter users quickly mobilized to circumvent the move, and made a mockery out of Erdogan's ban:
6. Upsets start early in NCAA tournament
They don’t call it March Madness for nothing. Dayton, the No. 11 seed in the South Regional, knocked out Ohio State, the No. 6 seed. Meanwhile Harvard, the No. 12 seed in the East, sunk Cincinnati, the No. 7 seed. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
With the upsets, some fans’ bracket hopes were obliterated:
… What’s trending today?
She’s got a voice from the heavens.
A 25-year-old nun named Sister Cristina Scuccia performed on Italy’s version of “The Voice,” belting out Alicia Keys’ “No One” much to the surprise and delight of the judges.
This sister act was all real, too. “Yes, I am truly, truly a sister,” Scuccia responded when the judges asked about her religious attire.
As expected, the singing sister moved on to the next round.