Good morning, and happy Thursday. Here are six of the top stories we’re following this morning at NBC News:
1. Snow gridlock: Authorities warn people to stay away from abandoned cars
Authorities in Georgia are pleading with people not to retrieve the cars they abandoned during a traffic nightmare that followed a snowstorm there. Thousands of people gave up on their cars after being stuck, some for more than 24 hours, on gridlocked interstates around Atlanta. State officials are focusing on clearing roads blocked by ice and cars, and say they’ll help reunite people with their vehicles. Read more in NEWS.
2. Don’t blame us! Meteorologists say Georgia had enough warning
Georgia officials, caught flatfooted by the crippling winter storm, pointed the finger at meteorologists — and the meteorologists are ticked. Forecasters leapt to the defense of the National Weather Service and said authorities had plenty of warning that snow and ice could cause a problem for drivers in a region unaccustomed to winter weather. Read more in NEWS.
This tweet from the National Weather Service on Monday morning — more than 24 hours ahead of the storm — seems to back up the weathermen:
3. Missouri killer executed after high court delay
A convicted murderer in Missouri was put to death with a controversial lethal-injection method after a daylong reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawyers for Herbert Smulls, who killed a St. Louis jeweler in 1991, had challenged the state’s use of a loosely regulated, out-of-state compounding pharmacy to provide the drug it uses to kill inmates. Read more in NEWS.
4. ‘Don’t even try it’: Super Bowl crackdown on sex trafficking
The Super Bowl this weekend in New Jersey is putting the focus on sex trafficking and prostitution. Bars of soap with a hotline printed on them are being distributed to hotels in New York and New Jersey, and Gov. Chris Christie says law enforcement is taking it seriously. “To anyone out there that is even thinking about it: Don’t even try it,” he said. “We have eyes and ears on the ground and on the web.” Read more in NEWS.
5. Lower premiums make Obamacare exchanges appealing to employers
Premiums on the new Obamacare health exchanges are lower across the board than the average paid by most Americans who have employer-provided coverage, according to a report out today. The report suggests that the exchanges might be an appealing option for employers that are frustrated by the cost of providing health insurance. Read more in HEALTH.
6. The Biebs in crisis: Turns self in to Toronto police
Justin Bieber turned himself in to police in Toronto to face an assault charge related to a December altercation with a limousine driver. The beleaguered pop star was besieged by photographers as he got out of a black SUV at the police station. In the United States, a petition to have him deported to Canada passed 100,000 signatures. Read more in POP CULTURE.
... and what's trending.
A Wisconsin couple is playing defense after an anonymous letter told them to stop posting their vacation photos on Facebook, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. "It's a little upsetting seeing, hearing and reading about someone's vacations all year while we all can't afford one," the letter said.