Good morning, and happy Friday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Armed men take control of Ukrainian airport
An airport in Ukraine’s Crimean capital is the latest staging ground for separatist sentiment that has many worried could lead to an east-west divide in the fragile country. Ukraine’s interior minister claimed Moscow was creating a blockade at Belbek international airport, decrying it as “military invasion and occupation.” Read more in NEWS.
Meanwhile, tensions in Crimea has at least one Russian newspaper questioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Olympic-sized ambitions for the region:
2. Heavy rain in West will turn into ice storm across East
A potentially dangerous rain storm drenching California today will move east and create another wintry mess for the weekend. The storm will dump snow and create treacherous conditions across the Plains on Saturday, and then eventually slam the Midwest and the Northeast on Sunday and into Monday, forecasts say. Read more in NEWS.
3. Rained-out red carpet at Oscars?
Hollywood’s A-list gathers Sunday for the Academy Awards, but there’s an oh-so slight chance they may have to show off their most fashionable galoshes with their tuxes and gowns. Even if it doesn’t rain, they and the rest of California will surely need their umbrellas in these days leading up to the big event. Read more in NEWS.
Fear not, the red carpet is protected:
4. Gay marriage debate heats up
With the defeat of an anti-gay bill in Arizona this week and a federal judge in Texas saying the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, advocates on both sides say the fight is only beginning. In fact, a new battle line is being drawn. Read more in NEWS.
5. Pro-Obama group nixes fundraiser who collected check from felon
Organizing for Action, a political nonprofit set up last year to promote the president’s policies, told NBC News it has fired a fundraiser who took money from a doctor convicted of Medicare fraud and tax evasion. Read more in INVESTIGATIONS.
6. Qantas collision under investigation
A Qantas superjumbo jet crashed into another of the airline’s planes in Los Angeles on Thursday night as it was being towed. No injuries were reported, but there was damage to both of the planes’ wing tips. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
Look who's running the White House.
President Obama and Vice President Biden filmed a video of themselves jogging around the office as part of the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign.
"Let's do this thing. Let's move!" Obama tells Biden.