Good morning, and happy Thursday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Russian official reminds gays at Olympics not to ‘touch kids’
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak made the remarks Thursday while talking to reporters in Sochi. While he said Russia does not “differentiate between people depending on their religion or their sexual orientation,” he also made it clear that the country doesn’t want any “problems.” Russia last year passed laws restricting gay-rights activity, which has been condemned by human rights groups and some Olympic athletes. Read more in NEWS.
2. Suspects plead not guilty in heroin-linked death of Hoffman
The NYPD is investigating whether three people arrested in Manhattan on drug charges sold heroin to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead Sunday of an apparent drug overdose. An autopsy was inconclusive as to the cause of Hoffman’s death, although a toxicology report has yet to be released to police. Read more in NEWS.
The lights were dimmed on Broadway in honor of the award-winning actor.
3. Latest winter storm leaves thousands in the dark
More than a half-million people are estimated without power across the Northeast after a heavy and persistent snowstorm weighed down power lines and snapped trees. Meanwhile, some communities have been forced to ration salt after weeks of above-average snowfall and freezing temperatures. Read more in NEWS.
4. Jay Leno gives final farewell to “The Tonight Show”
The late-night funnyman will sign off from the iconic show Thursday after 22 years chatting up guests. So where does the consummate comedian go next? One thing’s for sure, he’s got plenty of options. Read more in POP CULTURE.
5. Sisters living with mystery gene that killed family
Brooklyn, N.Y., woman Joselin Linder says she and her sister are living with an unnamed, incurable genetic disorder that killed five people in their family, including their dad. To stop the illness from potentially being carried onto the next generation, the women have made a heartbreaking decision not to have children. Read more in NEWS.
6. Pacific castaway’s deteriorating health worries doctors
Jose Salvador Alvarenga, 37, said in his first public news conference Thursday, “I feel good.” But after more than a year lost at sea, and only reemerging on a remote Pacific atoll last week, doctors say his health has gone downhill. Read more in NEWS.
... What's trending today?
And when it comes to complaining, journalists are on track for a gold medal in Sochi. In the past 24 hours alone, more than 26,000 tweets have been sent using the hashtag #SochiProblems and the Twitter account @SochiProblems has more than 53,000 followers as it retweets some of the stories and photos. Read more in NEWS.