The telephone call went something like this: "Hi, is this Barry-O? Okay, hi, It's Angie and Frankie here, your friends and associates across the hall. Remember us? The ones who used to fight all the time until you and your friend with the English accent straightened us out? Anyway, this business about you listening in on our phone calls... we're pretty mad. So how about we talk about it and maybe you can promise to stop doing it. Or else we'll stop showing up for your Super Bowl parties. Or something."

Speaking of eavesdropping, a private citizen riding a passenger train overheard the ex-head of the National Security Agency doing a phone interview—on background "as a former senior administration official"—where he dished dirt about the Obama team and bragged about sneaky black ops. The citizen promptly started live-tweeting the whole damned thing. And then someone called the spy boss to let him know it was happening—and he walked over to the guy and they took a photo together and talked about the Steelers.

The spy boss was talking about revelations, thanks to whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that Americans targeted some 35 world leaders with taps. Turns out Snowden's files have some bigger secrets: the names of countries who aren't our allies, at least publicly, and who might have helped us run spook ops against places like Russia, China, and Iran.

Highly radioactive water, from the Fukushima nuclear plant crippled years ago, is still pouring into Pacific Ocean with no end in sight. In case you were trying to forget.

Iraq is very much in love with the idea of keeping around American drones and fighter planes, especially with Al-Qaida offshoot groups running wild in the country's far-flung desert west.

For only $2,000 a year, much less than the price of a new car, you can spend a luxurious vacation in the Vatican City—filled with champagne and soirees—and then cap the whole thing off with a personal sitdown with the pope. Okay with skipping the pope? Then all you need is a measly $500. Why hang grievances on a church door when you can hang up a tuxedo coat at the sumptuous Sistine Chapel instead?

One reason why is buggy? Instead of having months to work out problems in the sensitive and important portal to health insurance reform, the contractors say, they had only two weeks.

Now that American retirees are too poor to eat so-called people food, the FDA is finally instituting minimum quality standards for pet food. You worked hard to earn those golden years. Enjoy!

If you eat Mexican candy, it may have come from a plant in Ciudad Juarez where potential safety violations led to an explosion that killed one worker and left 40 more injured.

"If you can talk, you can breathe." Sources in the Los Angeles Police Department leaked the contents of a video showing cops ignoring the "I can't breathe" pleas of a suspect who later died in their custody. "If our officers are not trained to make an assessment when someone needs medical attention, then they have the obligation, not only professionally, but morally, to err on the side of caution and make that call for help," said one person who reviewed the video.

On immigration reform, the president is now considering a deal with Republicans—letting them split off and pass the pieces of the package they like, instead of insisting the whole thing go up or down.

Friday long-read! This magazine piece about San Francisco's skid row Tenderloin District—an impenetrable island of social services and poverty in a sea of wealth, and just blocks from downtown—evokes some interesting parallels to Old Town and Chinatown.