Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Further pings heard in hunt for missing jet bring hope
Two new pings were detected Tuesday in the southern Indian Ocean where ships are looking for black boxes — and any wreckage — of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight, officials said Wednesday. They said the noises are coming from “a man-made device,” and have narrowed down the search field to a still staggering 46,000 square miles. Read more in NEWS.
2. Pistorius trial: ‘I made a terrible mistake’
Track star Oscar Pistorius took the stand for the third day in his murder trial as testimony continued to center around what happened in the hours before he fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. “You killed Reeva Steenkamp ... Say it,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said to the Olympian in a dramatic exchange. The court also saw pictures of the horrific gunshot injuries to Steenkamp. Read more in NEWS.
3. Russia edging closer to military intervention in Ukraine
Tensions are rising in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian protesters have stormed government buildings and expressed hopes for a similar secession as in Crimea. Those protesters released 56 hostages who were being held in a government building early today. Former American ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said the Russians are “starting to put together the narrative to justify” military intervention. Read more in NEWS.
4. UConn women sink Notre Dame in historic win
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team followed the men by winning the NCAA crown on Tuesday night, defeating Notre Dame 79-58. While both teams were undefeated during the season, it was the Huskies who made history again. The UConn men’s and women’s teams both won the championship title in the same season — having done so previously in 2003-04. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas declares UConn the hoops Mecca:
5. Sharpton says he helped FBI out of fear
Following a report by The Smoking Gun on Monday, the Rev. Al Sharpton came forward Tuesday to talk about his time in the 1980s as an FBI informant. Sharpton said he took on the role after he and other black concert promoters were receiving death threats from the Genovese crime family. Sharpton, who hosts a show on MSNBC, said he cooperated out of fear. “This is not ‘The Sopranos’ on television,” he said. Read more in INVESTIGATIONS.
6. WWE superstar The Ultimate Warrior dies at 54
The famed wrestler — real name James Hellwig — began his career in 1987, and had just been inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame on Saturday. His cause of death wasn’t immediately known. Other pro wrestling icons shared their condolences via Twitter. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
Bet your selfie never looked this stellar.
American astronaut Steven “Swanny” Swanson snapped a picture of himself aboard the International Space Station’s seven-window observatory overlooking the Earth. It was uploaded to the space station’s Instagram account on Monday — apparently the first Instagram pic from space — and prompted Swanson to write, “Back on ISS, life is good.”