Foreign affairs
March 19, 2014
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Tuesday, gunmen shot and killed a Ukrainian officer at a military base outside the Crimean capital, Simferopol, and wounded two other servicemen. Ukraine blamed Russian troops storming the base, while Crimean police say that both the Ukrainian soldier and a member of the pro-Russia Crimean self-defense forces were killed by an unidentified sniper. An eyewitness tells the BBC that men armed with automatic weapons arrived at the base in two unmarked cars and attacked it, guns blazing.

The attack came after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimea's leader signed documents allowing Russia to annex the occupied province, and it marks a dangerous escalation in the showdown between Ukraine and its Western allies on one side and Russia on the other. Ukraine responded to the killing by authorizing its soldiers in Crimea to fire in self-defense. "The conflict is moving from a political one to a military one because of Russian soldiers," said Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. "Today, Russian soldiers began shooting at Ukrainian servicemen and this is a war crime without any expiry under a statute of limitations."

have you seen this dress?
7:49 p.m. ET

Someone call the fashion police: The pearl-covered dress worn by actress Lupita Nyong'o to Sunday's Academy Awards was stolen from a hotel on Wednesday.

The Calvin Klein-designed dress is said to be covered with 6,000 real pearls, and is worth a hefty $150,000. The gown was reported missing at 11:23 p.m. Wednesday, and police believe it was taken between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. that day. Detectives are dusting for fingerprints, talking to staff, and looking at surveillance footage from L.A.'s London Hotel for clues. "At this point, we don't have any idea who did it," Lt. William Nash of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told NBC News.

your health
7:22 p.m. ET
iStock

The Centers for Disease Control is worried about an increase in the number of people contracting the potentially deadly bacteria C. difficile.

C. difficile is usually found in hospitals, but a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine said that 150,000 people who had not been in a hospital came down with C. diff in 2011, and 82 percent had visited a doctor's or dentist's office in the 12 weeks before becoming ill, CNN reports. Nearly half a million Americans are infected every year, with 15,000 deaths attributed to the bacteria. Researchers say the best way to avoid getting it is by washing hands with soap and water after visiting a doctor's office.

In 2013, researchers found C. diff in six out of seven outpatient clinics tested in Ohio, on chairs and exam tables. The CDC plans to do another study to see just why the numbers are so high outside of hospitals and to determine how many people arrive at the doctor's office already with the bacteria. "This is really an important issue," Dr. Cliff McDonald, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC, told CNN. "We need to understand better how people are getting C. diff."

Shutdown showdown
5:19 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate appears poised for a vote Friday on a bill that would approve funding for the Department of Homeland Security without blocking President Obama's immigration order. That would give the House — which passed a DHS funding bill last month that included provisions thwarting Obama's immigration action — less than a day to respond; funding for DHS runs out Saturday.

Confronted with a restive conservative wing that wants him to keep fighting and spurn the bipartisan Senate deal, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has yet to say how he will respond once the Senate acts.

Snowball Fights
4:56 p.m. ET

During a speech on climate change, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) employed some very questionable science to prove that global warming is a hoax.

"Do you know what this is?" he asked. "It's a snowball. It's just from outside here, so it's very very cold out," Inhofe said before tossing the snowball.

"Here, Mr. President, catch."

His staff confirmed that the snowball was caught by a Senate page. —Marshall Bright

Science!
4:19 p.m. ET
iStock

Oversleeping might be the activity of choice for college students, but sleeping more than eight hours a day could have significant health risks.

A new study published in the journal Neurology found that people who regularly sleep for longer than eight hours a day are at a higher risk for stroke than people who sleep six to eight hours daily.

The researchers studied almost 10,000 people aged 42 to 81 for nearly 10 years, recording how long they slept each night and if they had any strokes. The participants who slept the most had a risk of stroke 46 percent higher than average, and their stroke risk was double that of those who slept six to eight hours a night.

For now, the study authors note that more research is needed, since the study only proves correlation, not causation, between the two. But the researchers also note that oversleeping may be a sign of other health problems, such as depression, cancer, or neurological deterioration.

Kiss off?
4:08 p.m. ET

"That's just a kiss, that's all," House Speaker John Boehner explained Thursday after blowing kisses in response to a reporter's query.

With two days to avoid a Homeland Security shutdown, Boehner faces a potential revolt from the right over the fight to block President Obama's immigration order. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) struck a deal with Democrats to undo parts of the House's DHS funding bill, but Boehner insists he's waiting to see a final version of the legislation before he'll commit to a next move.

So when pressed to explain how he would avert a DHS shutdown, Boehner began one response with a few kisses, before adding, "When we make decisions I'll let you know," he said. —Jon Terbush

Fair and Balanced
3:34 p.m. ET
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

It's likely not a surprise that a majority (66 percent) of Republicans trust Fox News. 

What is more surprising, though, is that Fox is both the most and least trusted news source, according to a new study from Public Policy Polling. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they trusted Fox News over ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC, while 30 percent of respondents said they trusted Fox the least.

The only network that Republicans and Democrats agree is reliable? PBS. 

This just in
3:00 p.m. ET
Pool/Getty Images

An Argentine judge has dismissed the case against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, which alleged Kirchner had protected Iranian officials from being prosecuted for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Judge Daniel Rafecas said Thursday that the documents filed by deceased prosecutor Alberto Nisman "failed to meet standards needed to open a court investigation," The Guardian reports. "I dismiss the case because no crime was committed," Rafecas said on Thursday.

Nisman's death was originally ruled a suicide, but later was suspected to be murder. He had drafted an arrest warrant for Kirchner.

ISIS
2:47 p.m. ET

Islamic State extremists have taken sledgehammers and power drills to a series of 3,000-year-old statues in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq, the Daily Mail reports.

A video of the destruction was posted to a Twitter account used by ISIS. An unidentified vandal in the video says the demolition is being done in the name of Muhammad.

(AP Photo via militant social media account)

"The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics," the man says, "and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him."

The Mail reports that one of the museum artifacts destroyed dates back to the 9th century B.C. This most recent rampage follows the bombing of Mosul Public Library at the hands of ISIS militants. Priceless "idolatrous" maps and manuscripts from the Ottoman Empire are assumed to have been destroyed because they "promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah."

Fightin' words
2:27 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off yesterday, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned that one of his rivals might not be received with open arms when it's his turn to present his ideas in front of the thousands of conservatives who gather to hear movement bigwigs make their case.

Despite having a brother and father as former presidents, Paul said Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) may face a "kind of a difficult crowd" at CPAC on Friday because he's not right-wing enough.

"There's definitely a place for moderates," Paul said on Fox News' The Kelly File, "but it may not be quite the same level of enthusiasm for moderates at this conference."

Bush has angered the conservative base in the past for his more liberal stance on certain issues such as Common Core and immigration.

See More Speed Reads