Police in Clarksdale, Mississippi are investigating the apparent murder of an African-American candidate for Mayor.  34-year old Marco McMillian was also openly Gay, making him the first such candidate to seek public office in this corner of America’s Deep South.

A major oil company is cutting its losses after an embarrassing streak of mishaps (thankfully before they turn into a streak of oil on the Arctic Ocean), foul play is ruled out in the deaths of several tourists, and a world-renowned Pianist passes away.  Time to take a spin around the world for the news:

Talks to solve the Nuclear Crisis with weren’t expected to produce any results, but at least Iran calls it a “positive step” while acknowledging more work is necessary.  And at the very least, two more contacts are scheduled between Iran and those who would halt its nuclear weapons program.

They held out the chair, but Beppe is refusing to take it.  Italian insurgent politician Beppe Grillo is snubbing attempts by the center-left to lure his Five-Star Movement (M5S) into a governing coalition.  It signals a period of looming gridlock that will almost certainly force new elections.

Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI was not laying his problems off on his boss.  But in his final general audience in Rome the outgoing pontiff said his reign say "difficult moments" when he felt that God "seemed to be sleeping".

America’s new Secretary of State John Kerry says his country is about to get more deeply involved in the Syrian Civil War.  The U.S. is considering ways to send non-lethal help to carefully vetted rebel groups.

20 people are dead after a fire swept a building containing unlicensed markets and warehouses in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.  Twelve more people are hospitals with serious injuries.

The man attacked and killed by a shark off the coast of New Zealand was award-winning filmmaker.  46-year old Adam Strange in his biography describes himself as an avid outdoorsman who loves to "surf some big waves out on the West Coast ..."

The government of Japan is getting out of the cigarette business.  The Finance Ministry is selling a third of its stake in Japan Tobacco, a move expected to raise $10 Billion for the country’s northeast coast to rebuild after the tsunami and nuclear disasters

U.S. President Obama wins a round, a new strain of a old tropical disease is spreading rapidly, and Coffee Growers are on strike in a key region.  Let’s take a trip to the Western Hemisphere:

Swedish Police say a lucky accident helped them find a missing toddler who wandered away from her home and walked out into the snowy woods, barefoot and without winter clothes. 

A political earthquake in Italy is rattling across Europe.  The populist blogger and comedian Beppe Grillo’s strong showing in Italy’s election is signaling what some think is a growing wave of resistance to the European Union’s incredibly unpopular austerity measures.

A gas cylinder exploded aboard a tourist balloon hovering above Egypt’s fabled “Valley of the Kings”, setting it ablaze and sending it plummeting to earth.  Conflicting reports say either 18 or 19 people were killed, most or all of them foreign tourists.

An openly Gay ex-friar-turned-journalist is calling the Vatican’s Gay Sex scandal a “ticking time bomb”.  One Cardinal who might have helped choose a new Pope is forced to resign amid Gay rumors.  Another faces fresh allegations of covering up priestly child abuse.
But at least the Pope knows what color shoes he’ll wear next week.

Sri Lankan authorities are accused of using rape as a weapon against Tamil separatists, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.  The group says the scores of victims it has interviewed is only the tip of the iceberg.

Japanese whalers had to abandon efforts to refuel in the southern ocean after they say the Sea Shepherd vessels Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Sam Simon rammed them and made the operation too dangerous.  Paul Watson says it was the Japanese who rammed the activists.

Former KISS guitar player Ace Frehley might find himself back on the road, although not the way he planned.  The bank is reportedly foreclosing on the Space Ace because he apparently hasn’t paid his mortgage in 2 years.

Cyclone Rusty is getting stronger off of the Pilbara Coast, and authorities have issued an emergency relocation notice for people in eastern and western parts of Port Hedland in Western Australia, because the storm surge is expected to be big.  Let’s be extra careful out there!  
Meanwhile, here’s some fresh stuff from the outside world:

A video uploaded to Youtube apparently shows the French family kidnapped by Islamic insurgents in the African nation of Cameroon.  The government of France says its experts are examining the video to make sure it is authentic.

One of Pope Benedict XVI’s final actions in office is coming as a surprise to the world’s 1.1 billion catholics.  He amended Vatican rules to allow the conclave to select his successor to begin much sooner than expected.

South Korea inaugurated its first female president, who promptly issued a stern warning to the Nuclear North.  President Park Geun-hye called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.