Good morning, and happy Thursday! Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. Edward Snowden exclusive: ‘I miss my home’
Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked thousands of government documents, sat down with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams in an interview that aired Wednesday night. Snowden, charged with espionage after fleeing the U.S. a year ago, said he may have lost his ability to travel, but he can go to bed at night believing he did “the right thing.” Snowden, who remains in Russia after his passport was revoked, added that he wants to return to the U.S. — but doesn’t think he can get a fair trial. Read more in NEWS.
2. Search area for missing Malaysian jet is ruled out
A 300-square-mile search area in southern Indian Ocean where electronic “pings” were last located in April is not where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed, officials said today. It’s the latest setback in a mystery that has frustrated the families of the 239 passengers and crew, and officials tasked with finding the airliner. The hunt has expanded to a wider search that is slated to begin in August and take up to a year. Read more in NEWS.
3. Iconic essayist and poet Maya Angelou sang to readers
The author of the celebrated autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” died at age 86 on Wednesday, leaving behind a generation of fans, including presidents and civil rights icons, enthralled by her writing. NBC News correspondent Harry Smith wrote: “Her words were so powerful and so true, they touched even the most hardened hearts.” Read more in NEWS.
4. Four Nigerian schoolgirls escape militant captors
Government officials say the abducted girls — among nearly 300 — have been reunited with their parents since going missing in April. Nigerian officials claim they know where the rest of the girls are, but don’t want to use force to free them fearing they could be harmed. Islamic militants Boko Haram, known for using deadly violence in Nigeria, captured the schoolgirls — and sparked global outrage. Read more in NEWS.
5. White House will tackle youth sports concussions
A team of sports professionals, coaches, parents and young athletes are scheduled to meet with President Obama today to talk about how head injuries can have lasting effects in sports. A report last fall from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council called for a national system to track sports-related concussions and begin answering questions about the risks of youth sports. Read more in HEALTH.
6. Buzzworthy: National Spelling Bee champ will be crowned
After earlier rounds filled with lighthearted moments Wednesday, students are expected to get down to business as they vie for the title of the nation’s best speller. The 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee finals will be broadcast live from Oxon Hill, Maryland, at 8 tonight on ESPN. The winner gets more than $33,000 in cash and prizes — and the glory of being the best of the nation’s “word nerds.” Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
Brad Pitt became the latest Hollywood celeb to get smacked down by serial prankster Vitalii Sediuk, according to reports.
Sediuk allegedly hopped a barrier Wednesday night at the Los Angeles premiere of “Maleficent,” the latest flick starring Pitt’s partner, Angelina Jolie.
Police told NBC News that he managed to reach Pitt and punch him. Sediuk was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery in lieu of $20,000 bail.
He’s pranked other celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith. Most recently, he crawled underneath America Ferrera's dress at a red carpet premiere.