This just in
March 5, 2014
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A United Nations envoy and an ITV News journalist were stopped by a group of armed men in Crimea, according to tweets from the reporter. James Mates tweeted that he and UN representative Robert Serry were threatened in a Simferopol coffee shop by pro-Russian men who asked Serry to enter a vehicle. He refused and left in a different waiting car. Serry headed to the airport where he agreed to leave the region if it eases the tension in Crimea.

UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson released a statement saying the "action should be seriously condemned." ITV News is continuously updating its blog with the latest. --Jordan Valinsky

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9:28 a.m. ET

It's been almost 20 years since the release of Happy Gilmore, but Adam Sandler and Bob Barker's feud is as red-hot as ever. In a promo for Comedy Central's charity event Night of Too Many Stars, the unlikely comedy duo rekindle the brutal feud they first acted out as golf partners in Happy Gilmore — and take their violent fight to its logical conclusion:

Night of Too Many Stars airs on March 8.

This just in
9:20 a.m. ET
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Soon, elephants will no longer be a part of your visit to the circus.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will get rid of elephant acts by 2018, according to The Associated Press. The move comes after public concern about animal rights. Before the announcement, some cities had passed ordinances against circus elephants during performances.

Feld Entertainment, the circus' parent company, told AP the elephants will retire to the company's Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. "Things have changed," Kenneth Feld told AP. "How does a business be successful? By adapting."

The circus will still showcase other animals, such as camels.

Marvel-ous News
9:12 a.m. ET
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To ring in the release of the blockbuster superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, select AMC and Regal theaters will host a screening of every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — a marathon screening that will span about 27 hours. The full roster:

Iron Man

- The Incredible Hulk

- Iron Man 2

- Captain America: The First Avenger

- The Avengers

- Iron Man 3

- Thor: The Dark World

- Captain America: The Winter Soldier

- Guardians of the Galaxy

The marathon screening event will culminate with Avengers: Age of Ultron — not that any of the attendees will be awake to see it.

Cameo cancelled
9:05 a.m. ET
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was slated to appear on Parks and Recreation but backed out at the last minute, according to the show's co-creator, Mike Schur.

"I think he thought we were making fun of him, or something, which we were not, at all," Schur told Hitfix. "We were in fact flattering him, by linking him to Ron."

Added Schur of the potential 2016 presidential candidate: "I get the sense that maybe interpreting writing and humor is not his strong suit."

8:34 a.m. ET
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Roughly 50 protesters gathered outside the police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday night following two landmark announcements from the Justice Department.

The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that white police officer Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, will not be charged. In a separate report released Wednesday, the department found that Ferguson's police department was guilty of routine racial discrimination.

Four protesters were arrested on Wednesday night, but reporters described the scene as relatively peaceful, with no accounts of violence from the demonstrators. The demonstrators held hands outside the police department, chanting and occasionally blocking traffic.

New Jersey
8:32 a.m. ET
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In late February, New Jersey quietly and unexpectedly settled its $8.9 billion lawsuit against Exxon Mobile for about $250 million, after more than a decade of hard-fought litigation and a finding that Exxon was liable for damages. And the driving force behind that pennies-on-the-dollar settlement was not the state attorney general but Gov. Chris Christie's (R) chief counsel, Christopher S. Porrino, The New York Times reported late Wednesday, citing "two people familiar with the negotiations."

One of those people spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, but the other, former commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Bradley M. Campbell, made his allegation in an op-ed in The Times. The leaders of the state legislature, controlled by Democrats, said they would hold hearings and try to prevent the deal from being approved.

"The reported settlement is appalling and disturbing," said Assemblyman John KcKeon, chairman of the judiciary committee. "The Christie administration appears more interested in rewarding Exxon Mobil — for whatever reason — than protecting taxpayers and our environment." Christie's office and Exxon declined to comment, when asked by The Times.

This doesn't look good
7:51 a.m. ET
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Statins can lower cholesterol, but their other health effects may not be so positive. A study published in the journal Diabetologia found that the drugs could increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes in white men by as much as 46 percent.

Researchers in Finland found that after six years, white men who were prescribed statins had a 46 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those not taking statins. The statins made patients resistant to insulin, and the patients worst affected were the ones who started the study with the lowest blood glucose levels.

"It's a good news-bad news scenario," Dr. Robert Eckel, the former president of the American Heart Association and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado's School of Medicine, told Time, adding that the benefits of the drug still outweigh the health risks.

7:28 a.m. ET
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On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio officially added two holidays to the public school calendar — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha — making New York the largest city to close schools on Islam's two holiest days. A handful of other cities around the U.S. have put those holiday on their calendar, but as The New York Times points out, "New York City, with its 1.1 million schoolchildren, dwarfs the others in its size and symbolism."

The move wasn't a huge surprise — de Blasio had pledged to add Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the school calendar during his campaign. About 10 percent of New York public school students are Muslim, a 2008 Columbia University study estimated. De Blasio had also pledged to add the Lunar New Year to the school holiday list, as requested by the city's Asian community, and he said Wednesday that he'll "keep working on that." Next school year, Eid al-Adha is on Sept. 24, and Eid al-Fitr is during the summer.

North Korea
6:55 a.m. ET

Never one to pass up a good opportunity to troll its adversaries, North Korea on Thursday responded to the stabbing of U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert by celebrating it as a "knife attack of justice," and "just punishment for U.S. warmongers." The statement, from official North Korean news agency KCNA, also said the attack was a sign of "anti-U.S. sentiment" in South Korea — which is true, at least regarding the attacker, Kim Ki-Jong.

Lippert, an Asia policy expert who has only been ambassador to South Korea since October, received 80 stitches to his face and will probably stay in the hospital for up to four more days, CNN reports, citing a doctor at Yonsei Severance Hospital. The one-inch-deep gash on his face required two hours of surgery, but didn't sever any facial nerves.

Kim, the attacker, had been invited to the event, as he was a member of the organization that was hosting it, the Korea Council For Reconciliation and Cooperation. In 2010, Kim was reportedly arrested and given a suspended two-year sentence after trying to hit Japan's ambassador with a piece of concrete. The Associated Press shows the aftermath of Thursday's attack in the video below. —Peter Weber

5:50 a.m. ET
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On Thursday, Liberia plans to release its final Ebola patient from a Chinese-built hospital in Monrovia, the capital, according to Tolbert Nyenswah, the head of the country's Incidence Management System. The recovered patient is the last known case of Ebola in Liberia, and if no new cases emerge in the next 42 days, the country will be declared Ebola-free.

Almost 10,000 people have died since the world's worst Ebola outbreak started a year ago, and Liberia shouldered the highest number of deaths. Ebola cases are also down sharply in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, although on Tuesday, Sierra Leone reported nine new cases within 24 hours.

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