Good morning. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Recovered black box from Germanwings plane crash taken to Paris
A black box recovered from the Germanwings that slammed into a remote French Alps mountainside is damaged but could still yield clues as to what caused the crash, officials said Wednesday. The device is the cockpit voice recorder from the doomed passenger plane carrying 150 people en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Germany. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve acknowledged that all possible explanations for the crash are being considered, but told local radio that terrorist action is not the most likely theory for what downed the jet. Meanwhile, some Germanwings crew remain shaken over the tragedy, and have refused to fly. Read more in NEWS.
2. Victims of Germanwings crash included mostly Spaniards, Germans
Grieving families were expected to arrive at the scene of the crash site on Wednesday, with Lufthansa — the owner of Germanwings — saying it would help transport relatives to the site. The victims of the flight from Spain to Germany included two babies, two opera singers, an Australian mother and her adult son vacationing together and 16 German high schoolers returning from an exchange trip to Spain. The cousin of one of the high school students told NBC News that she was in shock over the news. "I still think she will come to school tomorrow," she said. Read more in NEWS.
3. Yemen's president flees Houthi rebel advance on seaport city
Embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled his home in the city of Aden on Wednesday for an undisclosed location as Shiite rebels — known as Houthis — neared his last refuge, The Associated Press reported. Hadi fled just hours after the rebels' own television station said they seized an air base where U.S. troops and Europeans advised the country in its fight against al Qaeda militants. That air base is only 35 miles away from Aden, the port city where Hadi had established a temporary capital. This advance of the Shiite rebels threatens to plunge the Arab world's poorest country into a civil war that could draw in its Gulf neighbors. Read more in NEWS.
4. Obama says U.S. will maintain troop levels through 2015
President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the U.S. will not reduce troop levels in Afghanistan by the end of 2015, despite the president's previous pledge to cut the number by half. The announcement came during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is making his first visit to the U.S. since being elected in September. The U.S. will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of the year at Ghani's request. Read more in POLITICS.
5. Italy's highest court to examine Amanda Knox conviction
The Italian Court of Cassation on Wednesday will review the murder conviction of Knox, the former American college student accused, along with her boyfriend, of killing her roommate while studying abroad in 2007. The process could set up an extradition battle between Italy and the United States as the court decides whether or not to uphold a 2014 appeals court decision to sentence Knox to 28-1/2 years in prison and her boyfriend to 25 years. Both were convicted of the murder in 2009 but freed on appeal in October 2011. Knox has since returned to the U.S. Read more in NEWS.
6. 'Mad Men' star Jon Hamm completes rehab program
The 44-year-old actor, known for his role as advertising exec Don Draper, recently underwent treatment for alcoholism, his camp confirmed to NBC News. "With the support of his longtime partner Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm recently completed treatment for his struggle with alcohol addiction," a rep for the actor said in a statement. "They have asked for privacy and sensitivity going forward." TMZ, which was first with the story, reports that the Golden Globe winner and GQ's April cover gent was treated for 30 days at the high-end Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. Read more in POP CULTURE.
Hamm this week was spotted publicly when he and his fellow "Mad Men" cast unveiled a bench in New York City created as a tribute to the show, which ends its run this spring.
And now this ...
A three-day lockdown was ordered in Sierra Leone, as its president says the future of the country is at stake.