April 19, 2014

After nearly a year in captivity in Syria, an unknown group released four French journalists on Friday, the Associated Press reports.

President Francois Hollande's office said he felt "immense relief" and that the four men — Edourard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin, and Pierre Torres — were in relatively good health despite "very trying conditions."

A Turkish news agency said soldiers on a routine patrol through the southeast Sanliurfa province discovered the men blindfolded and cuffed there; they had been dropped near the Turkey-Syria border.

Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom advocacy group, has called Syria "the most dangerous country in the world" for journalists, noted the AP. Sarah Eberspacher

8:13 a.m. ET
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Yahoo's tenure as an independent internet company is coming to an end. On Monday, Verizon confirmed its $4.8-billion buyout of the beleaguered web pioneer. Verizon won the bidding war for Yahoo after a five-month-long auction, following Yahoo's announcement in February that it would consider alternatives as its revenue continued to plummet.

All that's left of Yahoo now is its 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan Corp. and 15-percent interest in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which have a combined market value of roughly $40 million. Yahoo will hand over its email services, websites, advertising tools, and real estate assets. The deal will likely also end the tenure of the Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The deal, expected to double the size of Verizon's digital advertising, will reportedly close in the first quarter of 2017. Verizon's purchase marks the second time in two years that it has bought a fallen internet company; the wireless carrier bought AOL last year for $4.4 billion. Becca Stanek

7:27 a.m. ET

The Republican National Convention might have had its share of chaos, ranging from a plagiarism scandal to all-out mutiny, but Donald Trump did something right according to the latest polls. In a four-way competition including Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, Trump leads the current race for the White House following a 6-point post-convention bump, putting him at 44 percent to Hillary Clinton's 39 percent.

The CNN/ORC poll found that Trump's surge comes mainly from independents that were convinced by his convention in Cleveland — 43 percent reported being swayed by what they saw, while 41 percent said they were dissuaded. Overall, what voters heard and saw boosted Trump's favorability. CNN writes, "There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court."

Two other polls published Monday will also raise concerns for the Clinton camp: Morning Consult shows Trump has pulled 4 points ahead of Clinton. CBS News shows Clinton and Trump in a dead heat, 42 percent to 42 percent after both the Republican Convention and Clinton's announcement of Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate.

The CNN/ORC poll reached 882 registered voters by telephone between July 22 and 24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5. Jeva Lange

5:41 a.m. ET
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Police say two people were killed and at least a dozen more were injured Monday in a shooting outside a nightclub in Fort Myers, Florida, NBC News reports. Shots were fired in the parking lot of Club Blu bar around 12:30 a.m. ET, officials say. One suspect is in custody but "the Fort Myers Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office are actively canvassing the area looking for other persons who may be involved in this incident," police said in a statement.

The incident comes a little more than a month after a gunman killed 49 people in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Jessica Hullinger

3:15 a.m. ET

Whether it's Donald Trump appearing at the Republican National Convention with the strains of Queen in the background or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) playing the Dropkick Murphys during a campaign stop, politicians have long been using music at their events against the wishes of the artists.

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver urged musicians to come together and take a stand against the unauthorized use of their work, and Usher, Michael Bolton, Josh Groban, Sheryl Crow, and others accepted his call to action. Watch the video below to hear their message to politicians, and also for a free song that any one of them could — and should — start using on the campaign trail. Catherine Garcia

2:47 a.m. ET
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It didn't work for Kramer and Newman, and prosecutors say it also didn't work for a man found with 10,000 empty cans in the back of a rented Budget truck.

In Michigan, recyclers receive 10 cents for the bottles they return, a higher refund than in most states where it is 5 cents. Under Michigan's bottle deposit law, it is illegal to recycle bottles and cans purchased out of state, with the maximum sentence being five years in prison. Prosecutors say that this is exactly what Brian Everidge planned to do when he was pulled over about 40 miles away from Detroit in April for speeding. The trooper said he found more than 10,000 aluminum cans in the back of Everidge's truck, and Everidge told him they were from Kentucky and "his intent was to return them; he just didn't say where he was going to return them."

Everidge's attorney is arguing that his client was improperly charged, since the trooper "caught him too early," The Guardian reports. "He attempted to attempt to return the bottles." He is charged with one felony count of beverage return of non-refundable bottles, and faces up to five years in prison. Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning said if Everidge is found guilty, he doubts he'll be put in prison — it would cost the state $35,500 a year for him to be incarcerated. Had Everidge returned all of the bottles in Michigan, Henning estimates he would have pocketed about $1,000. Catherine Garcia

1:48 a.m. ET

Goodbye Twilight Zone, hello Guardians of the Galaxy.

At Comic-Con in San Diego, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced Disney is revamping its popular California Adventure elevator drop ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The ride, which sends thrill seekers plummeting down several stories, will close in January and reopen in the summer of 2017 with a new theme: Guardians of the Galaxy. Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion, and fans have predicted that the attraction will be part of a new Marvel land at the Anaheim theme park, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Fans of the ride in its original form are not happy with the plan, and have let Disney know about their anger on Twitter and by launching a petition. One person even offered up another tower to be sacrificed instead:

Are you listening, Disney? Catherine Garcia

12:52 a.m. ET
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

Heat warnings and advisories are in place across 26 states, with higher than normal temperatures expected through the next week.

In Michigan, at least five people are dead from heart attacks or breathing difficulties related to humidity and high temperatures, Roseville Fire Chief Mike Holland told The Macomb Daily. Meteorologists say a dome of high pressure is affecting most of the United States, trapping hot air and causing extremely high temperatures. The heat is fueling fires in California and will make for an uncomfortable Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where on Monday it is expected to feel like it's 108 degrees. Catherine Garcia

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