Gun neutral. After gun-rights advocates embraced Starbucks for its acceptance of gun-toting coffee drinkers, company CEO Howard Schultz tried to distance himself from the pro-gun lobby. “We’re not pro-gun or anti-gun,” he said in a letter released today. He also asked gun-rights advocates to stop holding their annual “Starbucks Appreciation Day,” on which they encourage coffee drinkers in states that allow open or concealed carry to take their weapons on their daily java jaunt. Although Schultz said the company doesn’t support the event, he stopped short of acquiescing to calls to ban guns in the company’s stores. He reiterated Starbucks’ desire to follow the laws in states that permit guns in public, citing a practical consideration: Baristas might feel more than a little uncomfortable asking a customer with a gun and a caffeine deficit to leave.
New evidence? Russian officials claim Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has given them proof that rebel forces were responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed hundreds on the outskirts of Damascus. In an interview with Russian media, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said officials had not had a chance to analyze the new evidence yet and criticized a UN report about the attack as “distorted” and “one-sided.” But the UN report only confirmed that someone launched a sarin gas attack, without assigning blame to either side. A Human Rights Watch analysis of the trajectory of the rockets that supposedly carried the gas, according to the UN report, show they likely launched from a government military compound. But speculation that the rebels perpetrated the attack persists.
Guilty plea. The man who confessed in a YouTube video to killing someone in a drunk driving incident pleaded guilty today. Police arrested Matthew Cordle, 22, of Columbus, Ohio, days after his video went viral. In it, he talked about his remorse and urged people not to drink and drive. He said he wanted to take responsibility for his actions. Vincent Canzani, 61, died in the June 22 accident. In the video, Cordle said he spent the night barhopping with his friends before climbing into his truck to drive home. He faces up to eight-and-a-half years in prison.
Back to Messiah. A Tennessee judge has reversed a magistrate’s decision to rename a child because she didn’t like the name his parents picked: Messiah. Chancellor Telford Fogerty ruled this morning that Cocke County Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew’s decision to rename the child Martin violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against the government endorsement of a particular religion. In explaining her decision, Ballew said the term Messiah should be reserved for Jesus. But the parents in this case aren’t the only ones who have picked such an unusual name for their child. According to U.S. Social Security Administration statistics, Messiah was the fourth fastest growing name for boys between 2011 and 2012.
Sandusky appeals. A lawyer for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky told a panel of judges yesterday his client deserves a new trial. Appeals attorney Norris Gelman claimed Sandusky’s trial defense team didn’t have enough time to prepare its case, prosecutors made improper statements in the courtroom, and the trial judge mishandled jury instructions. A jury convicted Sandusky, 69, last year on dozens of counts of child sexual abuse. He is serving a minimum 30-year sentence in state prison and did not appear at yesterday’s hearing.