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Mark Lippert: Ambassador Only Had One Unarmed Guard

Handout/The Asia Economy Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert had only one unarmed bodyguard assigned to protect him when he was slashed by a knife-wielding attacker at a breakfast event in Seoul, U.S. officials tell ABC News.

Lippert is being treated for wounds to his face and subsequent wounds to his arm that he suffered when trying to fight off the attacker Thursday morning.

Officials say the guard assigned to Lippert was an out-of-uniform Korean National Police officer and that it’s customary in Seoul for police officers not to carry guns.

After the attack, Lippert was seen bleeding while being escorted out of the building by attendees of the event.

The attacker, who is known to police as a potential threat, was subdued in the street outside of the building shortly after.

All personal security for any given ambassador is decided upon by the Regional Security Officer and the ambassador himself.

Seoul is generally considered a low-threat post and one official described Lippert’s security detail on Thursday as “routine.”

Security for different posts varies greatly. The ambassador in a country like Yemen, for instance, could have multiple diplomatic security agents supplemented by a small military force, such as Marine guards.

The State Department announced that Lippert is currently recovering in a local hospital and that he says he is in "great spirits."

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Ceres: NASA Readies For Historic Visit to Dwarf Planet

JPL-Caltech/NASA(NEW YORK) -- Are we there yet?

NASA's Dawn spacecraft will reach the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday after what has been a nearly eight-year long journey through space. When the probe reaches its destination and inserts itself into its orbit, it will be the first time a space mission has successfully visited a dwarf planet.

The mission is expected to continue for 16 months as researchers analyze data about Ceres, which is thought to be icy and possibly contain an ocean. Studying the dwarf planet could yield new insights into how the solar system has progressed.

"Studying Ceres allows us to do historical research in space, opening a window into the earliest chapter in the history of our solar system," Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division said in a statement. "Data returned from Dawn could contribute significant breakthroughs in our understanding of how the solar system formed."

Ceres is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

As Dawn moved closer to Ceres, the probe was able to send photos back to Earth making out a gray, round mass in space. Each photo became clearer as Dawn closed in on the dwarf planet -- and offered stunning new details of the dwarf planet's cratered surface.

It's Dawn's second rendezvous in the area. The spacecraft first explored the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and 2012 before moving along on its journey to Ceres.

NASA will make another house call to a second dwarf planet, Pluto, when the New Horizons probe reaches its destination this summer.

It's been a banner year for "firsts" in space exploration as scientists continue to seek clues that could help them unlock some of the seemingly never-ending mysteries of the universe.

Last November, the European Space Agency celebrated a successful Rosetta mission as it landed a probe on the comet 67P, nearly 300 million miles from Earth.

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Jawbone Fossil Sheds New Light on the First Humans

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 2.8 million-year-old jawbone fragment discovered in Ethiopia is shedding new light on a period of evolution that has long remained a mystery to anthropologists.

The fossil dates back to a time when Homo, the branch humans descended from, split from their ape-like ancestors.

The timing is significant because it gives scientists a better picture of what the first humans may have looked like and narrows a gap in the fossil record.

A report about the discovery was published in the journal Science.

The fossil is from the left lower jaw of an adult and includes five teeth. The fragment shows that early humans had a primitive, sloping chin shape linking them to Australopithecus afarensis, the species made famous by the discovery of the Lucy fossil.

What is different are the slim molars and evenly proportioned jaw -- providing scientists with a glimpse at a key turning point in the evolutionary history of humans.

"In spite of lot of searching, fossils on the Homo lineage older than 2 million years ago are very rare," Brian Villmoare, an anthropologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and lead author of the article said in a statement. "To have a glimpse of the very earliest phase of our lineage's evolution is particularly exciting."

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Duchess Kate Middleton to Visit “Downton Abbey”

Danny Martindale/WireImage(LONDON) — Calling all Lords, Ladies and Countesses -- a real-life Duchess will be making a special appearance in the fictional world of Downton Abbey.

Duchess Kate will visit the London set of the hit TV show next Thursday, March 12, the Palace announced Thursday.

Kate, 33, will pay a visit to Ealing Studios to, “celebrate the success of the award-winning production, Downton Abbey,” the Palace’s statement read.

In what could be a dream for royal watchers and fans of the show alike, the Duchess will meet nearly all of the show’s main cast members including Dame Maggie Smith (Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham), Hugh Bonneville (Robert) and Elizabeth McGovern (Cora).

Kate, who is expecting her second child next month, will also watch one take of a scene being filmed in the servants’ quarters before attending a reception with more of the show’s cast and crew.

Kate’s Downton Abbey tour will end with the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate her visit, the Palace said.

Season five of Downton Abbey premiered in January in the U.S. on PBS. The cast is currently filming the show’s sixth season.

One of the show’s stars, Dame Maggie Smith, recently told the U.K.’s Sunday Times that she believes this season will be the show's last.

“They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” Smith said. “I mean, I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s."

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North Korea Hails Attack on Mark Lippert as 'Righteous Punishment' Against US

Handout/The Asia Economy Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea hailed a South Korean man’s attack on the U.S. ambassador to Seoul in a statement through its Korean Central News Agency, stating that the attack “reflects public opinion” in South Korea and is a “righteous punishment” against the United States.

According to the statement, the alleged assailant, Kim Ki-jong, 55, gave “a knife-attack shower of justice” to Mark Lippert, who police said was slashed on the face and wrist with a 10-inch fruit knife.

Lippert was seen with blood on his hand and holding his bleeding face, and medical officials said 80 stitches were needed to close the facial wound. Lippert was in stable condition after undergoing surgery, the U.S. Embassy said.

The assailant shouted "No to war training!" before attacking Lippert, the Yonhap news agency reported. The man was later tackled and arrested.

The U.S. State Department condemned the attack, which happened at a performing arts center in downtown Seoul as the ambassador was preparing for a lecture about prospects for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.

President Obama called Lippert to tell him that "he and his wife Robyn are in his thoughts and prayers, and to wish him the very best for a speedy recovery,” according to National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.

Lippert previously held positions at the Department of Defense from May 2012 until September 2014, according to the embassy website.


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33 Miners Killed in Eastern Ukraine Coal Mine Explosion

JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images(DONETSK, Ukraine) — Thirty-three miners were confirmed dead Wednesday as the result of an explosion at a coal mine in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, a region that has been under siege in a conflict between pro-Russia rebels and government military forces.

Only 14 men managed to escape the mine alive.

Although Donetsk has been shelled in the last nine months, an emergency ministry official told ABC News that there was no fighting in the area since an internationally-sponsored cease-fire agreement went into effect in recent weeks.

“It was not due to artillery shelling, it was most likely a gas-air explosion,” rescue services official Yuliana Bedilo said.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has, to date, killed more than 6,000 people.

The same coal mine was the site of one of Ukraine’s deadliest mining disasters, a 2007 accident in which more than 100 people died. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, about 250 miners are believed to have died in accidents and explosions there.

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Colorado Woman's Global Scavenger Hunt Ends in Marriage Proposal

Amy Linville(NEW YORK) -- After Amy Linville completed her master's degree, she learned that her boyfriend, Brett Arnold, had a huge surprise for her.

That surprise would take her on an overseas journey more than 5,000 miles away.

"Brett and I have been together for eight years," she said. "As a graduation gift he told me I had to go on a scavenger hunt. We've traveled the world together, so it makes sense that he would do this."

Arnold, 30, accompanied Linville to the top of Green Mountain in their Lakewood, Colorado, neighborhood where she found a note telling her to pack her things.

"I wasn’t really excited because Brett's always joking and messing with me," she told ABC News. "He handed me a one-way ticket to Tokyo and a map. I was leaving in 13 hours."

The following day, Arnold drove Linville, 28, to the airport, where hours later she landed in Tokyo to search for her next clue.

"Everything was in Japanese and all I had was a map to a friend’s apartment that lives there," Linville said. "The clue at the apartment said that another friend would fly in to deliver my next clue."

In the meantime, Linville said, Arnold gave her a list of things to see and do while in the country.

"I was in Japan for seven days," she said. "I went to see the snow monkeys, I went to the 'Robot Restaurant,' I ate tons of sushi, and I did a pub crawl. I'm definitely a free spirit.”

Following the close of her Tokyo trip, Linville was greeted by an old friend, who presented her with her next clue.

"I flew to Barcelona and Brett put me into a hotel that overlooked a cliff that’s on the coast in San Sebastian," she said. "I was kind of depressed that day because it was Christmas and I knew Brett was with family."

While she figured he'd eventually join her, Linville went ahead and followed her next instruction to hike to a peninsula overlooking the ocean.

"The clue was a picture of Brett standing on this point of the island," she said. "It's raining, its cold, and I couldn't find my next clue after that.

"So, I started hiking down and Brett was hiking up at the same time. I was so shocked to see him and I still didn’t get what was going on. I said, 'Where's my next clue?'"

At that moment, Linville said, Arnold pulled out a ring and asked her to marry him.

"He said, 'You’ve come this far and I hope you're willing to go on another adventure with me,'"she recalled.

"I’m still in shock. It's hard to tell the story to people. The girl-reaction is, 'Shut up, no way!' and the guy-reaction is, 'Be quiet before my girlfriend hears you!'"

The couple plans to wed in October on a boat in Florida.

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US Ambassador Mark Lippert Attacked in South Korea

oztasbc/iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The U.S Ambassador to South Korea was attacked in the country's capital on Wednesday while giving a speech, officials say.

Photos from South Korea's official news agency show Ambassador Mark Lippert with blood on his hand and holding his face. He was attacked by what the Yonhap news agency described was "an armed man" who shouted, "No to war training!" before attacking him.

Lippert was attacked with a 10-inch fruit knife, police told ABC News.

He was assaulted Thursday morning local time and is being treated at a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the State Department.

His assailant was arrested, according to Robert Ogburn, an official at the U.S. embassy in Seoul, who said the U.S. strongly condemned the "senseless act of violence."

President Obama called him to tell him that "he and his wife Robyn are in his thoughts and prayers, and to wish him the very best for a speedy recovery,” according to National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.

Lippert previously held positions at the Department of Defense from May 2012 until September 2014, according to the embassy website.

 Thoughts are w/@mwlippert & his family after today's senseless attack. Grateful to people of #Korea for their care for him & well wishes.

— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 5, 2015

 

 

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Prince William Visits Elephant Sanctuary Just Minutes From Circus

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(XISHUANGBANNA, China) -- Prince William visited an elephant sanctuary while on a historic trip to China on Wednesday in hopes of raising awareness about the endangered animals.

“It is appalling that elephants and many others may be extinct in the wild in our lifetimes, and that we seem to be hurtling towards that tragic outcome,” the prince said in a speech.

The sanctuary is located in Xishuangbanna, a fast-developing area in southwestern China, where elephants are part of the culture.

Just a few miles from the sanctuary is a local circus, where patrons line up to ride and get picked up by elephants that have had their tusks either cut or removed for safety.


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US General Says Airstrikes Have Killed 8,500 ISIS Fighters

Juan Bernal/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Gen. Lloyd Austin of US Central Command and Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s top policy chief, were on the Hill Tuesday to talk about the authorization of use of military force against ISIS.

Austin noted that airstrikes have killed 8,500 fighters and that U.S. overhead intelligence indicated that Iraq was planning an attack on Tikrit.

Austin told the House Armed Services Committee that “we are making significant progress” against ISIS, as ISIS’s advances have been halted.  

The general said that U.S. airstrikes have killed an estimated 8,500 ISIS fighters, destroyed hundreds of vehicles and reduced their ability to gain revenue from oil facilities.

But Austin said that the focus shouldn’t be on the numbers but how the airstrikes have affected ISIS’s behavior – no more large convoys and no longer able to take over large areas of territory:

“The fact is that he can no longer do what he did at the outset, which is to seize and to hold new territory. He has assumed a defense crouch in Iraq. And although he has greater freedom of movement in Syria, he's largely in a defensive there, as well.”

He stressed that the Iraqi government has to become inclusive: “If we don't get things right there first before expanding our efforts in Syria, then we risk making matters worse in both countries.” He warned, “They must control the activities of Shia militia. They must guard against any kind of atrocities going forward of those elements.”

Iran is believed to be helping with Iraq’s offensive on Tikrit, and Austin emphasized that there’s no coordination between the U.S. and Iran on the ground in Iraq, which also means that “absolute knowledge of what their intent is, is not always there.”

“Our policy is that we don't coordinate with Iranian forces on the ground in Iraq,” said Wormuth. “We are not communicating with those forces, we are not coordinating with those forces. So that is our policy.”

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Former British Marine Killed in Syria Fighting Against ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- A former British marine was killed in Syria earlier this week while fighting alongside the Kurds against ISIS, according to Kurdish military officials.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield  was killed in a battle in northeast Syria. He was among a handful of known foreigners that took up arms alongside Kurdish fighters.

At least one other foreigner, a former Australian soldier, was killed last month while fighting with the Kurds.

In a statement Wednesday, Scurfield's family said they are "devastated" to confirm his death.

"His flame might have burned briefly but it burned brightly with love, courage, conviction and honour and we are very proud of him," his family said. "We would like to request that we be allowed to grieve in peace as a family without intrusion at this difficult time."

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At Least 17 Dead After Explosion at Ukraine Coal Mine

JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images(DONETSK, Ukraine) -- Dozens of miners were trapped, and at least 17 died, after an explosion at a coal mine in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, officials said.

A rescue operation is underway.

“Rescue teams are battling poisonous gases as they are trying to track down 32 trapped or missing miners," Vladimir Goryachev, deputy head of mine safety services, told ABC News. "They reached 700 meters, and miners are trapped almost 1,300 meters [more than 4,200 feet] below the ground. ... We had no communication with trapped miners since the blast occurred.”

Of 47 miners in the section of the mine where the blast occurred, 14 managed to escape, Goryachev said.

The Zasyadko coal mine was the site of one of Ukraine’s deadliest mining disasters, a 2007 accident in which more than 100 people died. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, about 250 miners are believed to have died in accidents and explosions there.

Donetsk has been shelled in the last nine months in fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels, but an emergency ministry official told ABC News that there was no fighting in the area since an internationally-sponsored cease-fire agreement came into effect in recent weeks.

“It was not due to artillery shelling, it was most likely a gas-air explosion,” rescue services official Yuliana Bedilo said.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has, to date, killed more than 6,000 people.

The rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk are located in the coal-rich region of Donbass. The local economy is mainly coal mining or black metallurgy. A local soccer club is called Shaktar, a word for a miner in Ukrainian.

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'Spocking' Money Legal but 'Inappropriate,' Bank of Canada Says

@The_CDR/Twitter(TORONTO) -- Canadian Star Trek fans have been paying tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy through "Spocking," or drawing in the character’s sharp eyebrows, bowl-shaped hair and pointy ears on look-a-like former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, who’s featured on the $5 bill.

There's now good news and bad news for these "Spockers."

The good news? "Spocking" isn't illegal, the Bank of Canada confirmed in a statement emailed to ABC News on Wednesday.

The bad news? Your "Spocked" bills won't live long and prosper. Those drawn-in Spock features could also prevent your money from being accepted in a transaction, interfere with security features and reduce a bill's lifespan, the Bank of Canada said.

"It is not illegal to write or make other markings on bank notes because neither the Bank of Canada Act nor the Criminal Code deals with mutilation or defacement of bank notes," the bank said.

But "the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride," the bank said.

“Spocking” has apparently been going on for years, though now more than ever after Nimoy's recent death. The Canadian Design Resource (CDR) took to Twitter to spur users to "Spock" their $5 bills to honor actor Nimoy, who was born in Boston. The $5 Canadian note converts to about four U.S. dollars.

In response to the Bank of Canada's statement, the CDR told ABC News they have the following message for the bank:

"Hey Bank of Canada, this is OK," CDR spokesman Todd Falkowsky said. "Don't be scared. I am sure that Sir Wilfrid Laurier would get it."

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India Woman Lands Dozens of Proposals After Marriage Ad Goes Viral

Monkey Business Images/Thinkstock(NEW DELHI) -- Indhuja Pillai may not sound like traditional marriage material, and that's just how she wanted it.

"I wear glasses and look dorky in them," she wrote in an online ad at marry.indhuja.com. "Detest masala & drama, not a TV fan. I don't read. Friendly but I don't prefer friendship. NOT a womanly woman. Definitely not marriage material. Won't grow long hair, ever."

Nevertheless, the ad Pillai placed to protest her parents' much-more-flattering "groom-wanted" ad has received almost half a million views, and even generated marriage proposals, she said. It has resonated far beyond India, where she lives.

"At first, it was for fun and to shun people away," she added. "I'm not actually looking for a relationship. I'm just 24 and I don't think it's the age to be married."

She said she got the proposals despite her description of the type of man she's after.

"Extra points to the one who hates kids," she wrote. "Points for a great voice and an impressive personality. Should be able to hold a conversation for [at least] 30 minutes."

According to Pillai, being married at a young age is considered a cultural norm in India. But after her parents' ad, she'd had enough.

"They posted a profile and it said that I was a software engineer," said Pillai. "I am not a software engineer and it made me look like any other woman who was waiting to get married."

"The basic details in the profile were wrong," she added. "The fact I'm a tomboyish woman wasn’t mentioned and you can't be in a relationship based on lies. It got me angry."

In her own ad, Pillai lists her occupation as "catalyst in a start-up."

Pallai said that she's pleased that her stand against marital pressure has inspired other girls and women who can relate.

"From the responses I received, they say they've gotten the courage to fight back for more time to wait for marriage," she said.

Pillai added that her parents are responding well and are enjoying the attention she's received.

"They wanted to find the perfect guy for me," she said. "They like that the responses are positive."

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Microsoft Co-Founder's Submarine Finds Sunken WWII Warship

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and a team of researchers used his submarine to uncover a Japanese battleship that sunk during World War II.

The battleship, called Musashi, was found in the Sibuyan Sea in the Philippines on Monday after the team used historical records and a hypsometric bathymetric survey of the ocean floor, according to a statement released by Allen.

"The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and, as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction," Allen said in the statement. "I am honored to play a part in finding this key vessel in naval history and honoring the memory of the incredible bravery of the men who served aboard her."

The battleship was officially launched on Nov. 1, 1942 and disappeared on Oct. 24, 1944 when it was shot down by 19 torpeadoes and 17 bombs during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, according to the release.

The Musashi reportedly had 2,399 people on board and about half are believed to have died when it was shot down.

Allen, who Forbes estimates is worth $17.5 billion, uses his submarine for exploratory missions including a 2012 search for a sunken British naval ship.

"Since my youth, I have been fascinated with World War II history, inspired by my father’s service in the U.S. Army," Allen said in the release.

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