• President Obama announced major changes in the NSA’s spying activities.
• In an “Open Letter to African Leaders”, former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano called on African leaders to reject discrimination against LGBT people and to protect reproductive rights.
• A Federal judge has ruled Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
• Mikhail Koloshnikov, inventor of the AK-47 and faithful member of the Russian Orthodox Church, asked for forgiveness for “the deaths of millions” in a letter penned to the church just before his death. He wrote:
“My spiritual pain is unbearable.
“I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I… a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?” he asked.
“The longer I live,” he continued, “the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression”.
• Pope Francis has fired almost all of his predecessor’s appointees to the Vatican Bank, in what has been called a massive house-cleaning in the wake of corruption and scandal.
• Florida’s largest gun dealership chain has banned the practice of gun rentals in the wake of a rash of gun range suicides.
• The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Arizona’s appeal of a 9th Circuit Court ruling which struck down the state’s 2012 “fetal pain” law banning abortion after 20 weeks. That means the ban has been struck down.
• Eric Holder announced the federal government will recognize Utah’s same-sex marriages.
• An Ohio orange tabby cat was rescued after spending three frigid days stuck in a drainpipe.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• Democratic state rep. Sherry Jones has introduced a medical marijuana bill. We still can’t buy wine in grocery stores here, so I don’t hold out much hope for this one, but you gotta start somewhere.
• K9 officers in Washington County received protective vests.
• Business Facilities magazine named Tennessee its 2013 “State of the Year.”
• Schools in Hawkins County have divvied up revenue from the school system’s solar panel program, and it amounted to $2,000 per school.
• More than 36,000 Tennesseans now have health insurance thanks to Obamacare. Republicanas in the Tennessee State Legislature are trying to take this insurance coverage away. Maybe they can find a puppy to kick.
This week’s cool video: how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. Man, if I’d known this ….