Vatican City – The Vatican is enlisting the services of eBay, the Silicon Valley internet auction giant, to dispose of valuable items that Pope Francis has decided won’t have anything to do with his reign as head of the 1.2 Billion-strong Catholic Church. Since being elected pope on March 13, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has surprised the Vatican Curia with sweeping changes that have signaled a more simple, less materialistic papacy.
Ebay is finalizing the design of a special “Vatican Store” which company executives said will make its public debut on September 1st. Ebay is reportedly providing the Vatican with the auction service pro bono, on the condition that Pope Francis absolve the company of all its past unfair business practices. The Vatican has said that proceeds from the auction will be used to set up a special fund to pay for legal costs in the increasing number of criminal and civil lawsuits the Catholic Church is facing in connection cases of sexual abuse by priests worldwide.
Ebay released the following initial list of papal items to be auctioned off by the Vatican:
- Pure Gold “Fisherman’s Ring” (Pope Francis has chosen to wear a gold-plated silver ring)
- Red Prada Shoes (Pope Francis is keeping his old black shoes)
- Papal Red Cape (Pope Francis has chosen to wear a simple white cassock)
- Pure Gold Pectoral Cross (Pope Francis insists on keeping the iron-plated pectoral cross he used as archbishop)
The Vatican is also considering renting out the papal room at the Apostolic Palace which overlooks St. Peter’s Square (Palazzo Apostolico) to tourists since Pope Francis has opted to live in the Vatican guest house, along with other priests and bishops.
Menlo Park, California – Every single one of Facebook’s 1.11 Billion users worldwide will receive a check for $38. This was announced by Mark Zuckerberg minutes after Facebook stocks closed at slightly above $38 per share last Friday, the first time it reached a level above the initial IPO price since the company went public more than 14 months ago.
Champagne flowed at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park Friday night as managers and employees celebrated this milestone.
Zuckerberg, upon cajoling from his wife Priscilla , decided to share Facebook’s success with all its users. “After all, our users are technically our stockholders,” Zuckerberg said. “Without its users, Facebook is nothing,” he added. Asked whether he thinks this distribution will result in Facebook going bankrupt, Zuckerberg said he was not in the business for the money. “Besides, I am confident that each of our 1.11 Billion users will use their check to buy a share of Facebook stocks. So it will be awash.”
In order to receive their $38 checks, users must post and publicly share their mailing addresses on their Facebook page on or before August 31, 2013. Alternatively, they can post and share their bank routing number and checking or savings account number in order for funds to be deposited electronically to their account.
Moscow, Russia – Russian president Vladimir Putin abruptly cancelled Edward Snowden’s visa, less than 48 hours after the suspected American spy was granted a one-year asylum in Russia.
A spokesperson for the Russian government told reporters that the asylum cancellation came after Putin learned that Snowden is gay and that previous revelations about his dancer-girlfriend Lindsay Mills were a mere cover-up for his homosexuality. Russia recently issued draconian laws to criminalize homosexuality and has stepped up a state-sanctioned campaign to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens and visitors.
Ironically, the discovery about Snowden’s sexual orientation came about after the U.S. National Security Agency leaked 5 years worth of email exchanges between Snowden and his long-time boyfriend. The documents, obtained by the Russian government this week, showed that Mills is actually a lesbian cousin of Snowden. The NSA leaked documents did not identify Snowden’s boyfriend by name.
It was not clear whether Snowden is in custody or is back at the Moscow airport lounge which was the fugitive’s living quarters for many weeks prior to the asylum order.