Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here are six of the top stories we are following this morning at NBC News:
1. Worries of east-west divide could fracture Ukraine
With President Viktor Yanukovych out of power, what will happen to the fragile country remains up in the air. Acting leader Oleksander Turchinov said he will meet with law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism — a possibility in eastern regions where Russian ties are strong. Read more in NEWS.
2. Al Qaeda on the lookout for its next bin Laden
The U.S. has eliminated at least six potential successors to current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri since the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, an NBC News analysis has found. With the terrorist group’s influence waning, it is seeking its next charismatic leader to help rebuild its network, counterterrorism officials warn. Read more in INVESTIGATIONS.
3. Rio cracks down on gangs before Cup, Olympics
The colorful South American capital city will host soccer's World Cup this summer and the next Summer Games in 2016, and officials are trying to squash gangs and criminals ahead of the fanfare. It will be a tall order in a region plagued by high crime. Read more in NEWS.
4. Journalist loses arm in freak accident
Former CNN anchor Miles O’Brien lost his left forearm after suffering from compartment syndrome — a severe crush injury — caused when a heavy case fell on him during a trip to Asia, he revealed Tuesday. Doctors have called this a “very rare” case. Read more in HEALTH.
He also tweeted his personal story about his accident:
5. Missouri murderer executed after Supreme Court denies stay
Michael Taylor, 47, was killed by lethal injection early today for the murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl 25 years ago. His execution came after the high court rejected his appeal, which was filed based on questions surrounding the state’s use of a secret compounding pharmacy. Read more in NEWS.
6. Arizona’s anti-gay bill has ‘Super’ consequences
Some business owners aren’t the only ones worried about a state bill that would allow their fellow entrepreneurs to refuse service to gay couples based on religious grounds. The NFL said they, too, are looking at the bill with trepidation, and hinted at moving the 2015 Super Bowl out of Arizona if the bill becomes law. Read more at NBC SPORTS.
Meanwhile, Gov. Jan Brewer says she's on top of it:
… What’s trending today?
New dad Kanye West has had his fair share of hyped-up, head-scratching TV moments. But the “I Am a God” rapper was uncharacteristically mellow on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
Still, West wasn’t going to let the interview go by without comparing himself to at least one legendary artist. He’s looking at you, Michelangelo.