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This is a big deal
May 6, 2014
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Michelangelo's famous statue of the biblical David brings spectators from around the globe to the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. Recent reports, though, would have you believe that tourists don't have much longer before the statue collapses.

Last week, a BBC report declared that David is about to collapse due to its ankle fractures and "poor-quality marble." Italian newspaper La Gazzetta del Sud suggested the statue be moved to an earthquake-free room to minimize its chances of crumbling.

Today, however, Florence's museums authority, Polo Fiorentino Museale, decided to clear the air with an official statement that David is not in danger. Marco Ferri, a spokesperson for the authority, told AFP that there was "nothing dramatic" about last week's findings and that the gallery has no plans to move the statue.

"Even if there is an earthquake of 5.0 or 5.5 on the Richter scale, Florence will stay in one piece. And David would be the last to fall," Ferri said. Meghan DeMaria

Watch this
8:31 a.m. ET

He was only in Alaska for three days, but the Last Frontier clearly stole President Obama's heart. Whether making history as the first president to venture above the arctic circle or learning survival skills in the wilderness with Bear Grylls, the Chicago city boy took what Alaska has to offer with a stride and a smile — even when it meant busting a move.

Obama is certainly one of our groovier presidents (over here he's doing the Lipala in Kenya; over here he's dancing on Ellen) but in order to keep up with the kids at Kotzebue's Dillingham Middle School he needed to learn a few new tricks. The children performed four traditional Yup'ik dances, including one tailored specifically for the president called, "Don't be afraid to play basketball." Then Obama got up to join in; watch it all unfold, below. Jeva Lange

Quotables
8:15 a.m. ET
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A few donors at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in Miami on Wednesday were left scratching their heads after Vice President Joe Biden suddenly started complimenting Bernie Sanders, Politico reports.

"I am not a populist," Biden reportedly said, "But Bernie Sanders, he's doing a helluva job."

That didn't go over well with some. "What the hell was he saying? I mean, 90 percent of the room is a Hillary donor," one bemused attendee told Politico.

"Yeah. It was kinda weird," another said.

If Biden were to throw his hat into the presidential race, both Sanders and Clinton would be his opposition in the field — and apparently he's got a particularly watchful eye leveled at the Vermont senator.

The event was not recorded, as standard practice. Jeva Lange

Ancient palaces
7:58 a.m. ET
Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Archaeologists are rushing to uncover and preserve Emperor Nero's Domus Aurea, or "Golden House," one of the most lavish palaces ever constructed in the Roman Empire, Archaeology reports. The Domus Aurea serves as a reminder of the notorious emperor's tyrannical, opulent, and lasciviousness lifestyle; before Nero eventually took his own life in 68 AD, he raised the Domus Aurea on grounds flattened by the devastating fire of 64 AD, leading to the speculation that he burned Rome himself. To quote the historian Suetonius:

[The Domus Aurea's] courtyard was so large that a 120-foot colossal statue of the emperor himself stood there; it was so spacious that it had a mile-long triple portico; also there was a pool of water like a sea [...] In other parts of the house, everything was covered in gold and adorned with jewels and mother-of-pearl; dining rooms with fretted ceilings whose ivory panels could be turned so that flowers or perfumes from pipes were sprinkled down from above; the main hall of the dining rooms was round, and it would turn constantly day and night like the Heavens; there were baths, flowing with seawater and with the sulfur springs of the Albula; when he dedicated this house, that had been completed in this manner, he approved of it only so much as to say that he could finally begin to live like a human being. [Suetonius, in Archaeology]

The pleasure palace eventually fell into disuse and was abandoned by Nero, only to be discovered again more recently. Only now are archeologists finally learning the extent of Nero's greed.

While working to restore the structure, which occupies the space of more than 30 Sistine Chapels, archaeologists unearthed surviving sections of the Domus Aurea that have never been explored. One area, 8,000 square feet wide, supported the Bathes of Trajan, while another unearthed area revealed nine graves — the work of Middle Age inhabitants who occupied the Roman ruins. Another section of the palace recently uncovered revealed entertaining and dining spaces. The columned portico that stretched 800 feet and opened into the artificial lake, described by Suetonius, has now also been further documented. Jeva Lange

More than 1000 words
6:42 a.m. ET

The European migration crisis got a tragic human face on Wednesday: Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year old refugee from Kobani, Syria, whose body washed ashore in Turkey along with his 5-year-old brother, Galip. Aylan, Galip, their mother, and nine others died trying to reach the Greek island Kos, an entry into Europe for many Syrians and other refugees seeking asylum. Photos of the dead toddler seized the world's attention:

The news media and social media were split sharply on whether to show more graphic, heartbreaking photos of Kurdi's lifeless body, but advocates for the migrants and some journalists said seeing Kurdi dead in the sand was a necessary jolt as hundreds of would-be refugees are dying en route to Europe.

"The image is not offensive, it is not gory, it is not tasteless — it is merely heartbreaking, and stark testimony of an unfolding human tragedy that is playing out in Syria, Turkey, and Europe, often unwitnessed," argued Kim Murphy, a news editor at the Los Angeles Times. "We have written stories about hundreds of migrants dead in capsized boats, sweltering trucks, lonely rail lines, but it took a tiny boy on a beach to really bring it home to those readers who may not yet have grasped the magnitude of the migrant crisis."

In Canada, meanwhile, a legislator says that Kurdi's aunt had submitted a request to bring the family to Canada from Turkey, but that Canadian immigration officials denied the request. European leaders have been unable to agree on how to deal with the huge influx of Africans, Afghans, Syrians, and others fleeing war and other violence. Peter Weber

game of thrones
5:00 a.m. ET

Actress Amanda Peet is married to David Benioff, one of the creators and executive producers of Game of Thrones, a show that counts Peet among its passionate fans. Because of her great love for the show, the marriage may not last, Peet told Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. What happened with your husband? asked a surprised Kimmel. "I don't love him anymore," Peet said, then elaborated. "Jon Snow. I told him, if you kill him, that's it.... I'm in the process of getting divorced — I'm not kidding." She almost certainly is, but she tells a good story. She also does a pretty impressive Jon Snow imitation, reading instructions for an invisible bra she claimed to be wearing. Or at least Kimmel said it was a good impression. You can watch the whole dramatic exchange of Game of Thrones love, and find out what it's like to be a huge fan married to a man who won't tell you the show's secrets, below. Peter Weber

This just in
4:22 a.m. ET
Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina resigned early Thursday, according to his spokesman, amid a fraud scandal that had already led to the imprisonment of his vice president and forced the resignation of some cabinet members. Hours earlier, Attorney General Thelma Aldana had told a local TV station that a judge had approved her request to detain Perez Molina to testify in court. The judge, Miguel Angel Galvea, would have been able to force the president to step down or even be sent to prison.

The resignation isn't official until Guatemala's Congress approves it and names a successor, moves expected Thursday. Under the constitution, Vice President Alejandro Maldonado, a conservative former high court judge, is next in line for the office.

The corruption scandal, which has dogged Perez Molina's administration for months and led to daily street protests, revolves around businesspeople paying bribes to customs officials to avoid paying import duties. It was uncovered by Guatemalan prosecutors and a United Nations commission. Perez Molina is accused of illegal association, fraud, and receiving bribes. The former president says he is innocent, and long maintained he would not step down. Guatemala is holding elections to pick his successor on Sunday, but Perez Molina wasn't scheduled to leave office until January. Peter Weber

last night on late night
3:52 a.m. ET

According to a new poll, Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live, 54 percent of Republicans still believe that President Obama is a Muslim. "I'm sure Donald Trump had something to do with this," Kimmel said. He was surprised enough by the findings to make that questions — "Is President Barack Obama a Muslim?" — his "pedestrian question." The way the game works is the interviewer asks the question to a random pedestrian on the street, and then the audience guesses his or her answer, based only on name and place of residence. Did he find any "yes" votes, on camera? You can play along below. Peter Weber

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