Shorter Question Everything
• Rape victim battles ‘repugnant’ abortion law: State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, (D) Michigan, talks with Rachel Maddow about female legislators going public with personal stories to defend reproductive rights.
• Military Sexual Assault Bill Passes The House With Overwhelming Support: The House has passed a comprehensive defense policy bill that aims to stem the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military, cover the cost of combat pay for the nation’s war-fighters, and fund new aircraft and ships. The vote Thursday was 350-69, an overwhelming, bipartisan total that puts pressure on the Senate to act before it adjourns next week. The bill would strip military commanders of the ability to overturn jury convictions in sexual assault cases and criminalize retaliation against a victim of sexual assault. Although the bill has strong support, some Senate Republicans may try to block it, angered by Democratic leader Harry Reid for changing the rules last month to reduce their power over nominations. Reid also denied them a chance to offer amendments to the defense bill.
In other news
• Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission: An American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA – but all in secret, an Associated Press investigation found. The CIA paid Robert Levinson’s family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts – with no authority to run spy operations – paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world’s darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian regime for the U.S. government.
• PayPal, Owned by Greenwald Partner Pierre Omidyar, Handed Over Customer Data to NSA: Back in September, I documented some of the web bugs embedded within the pages of The Guardian, including bugs from companies that allegedly provided information to the National Security Agency’s PRISM database. Bugs from Google and Facebook, to name two, appeared on NSA articles by Glenn Greenwald and Bruce Schneier. Last month, Greenwald published an article on The Huffington Post, featuring another document from Edward Snowden about how NSA exploited the internet porn habits of six suspected terrorists. The Huffington Post, of course, merged with AOL, another corporation accused of supplying data to PRISM. And now we’ve learned through former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds that Pierre Omidyar’s PayPal also provided customer data to NSA. As has been widely reported, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have partnered with Omidyar to form a $250 million news outfit. An undisclosed retired NSA official apparently contacted Edmonds, who runs a news site called Boiling Frogs Post, and tipped her off that the documents stolen by Edward Snowden and handed over to Greenwald and Poitras contain information about PayPal’s cooperation with NSA surveillance and data collection.
• Palestinian president rejects U.S. plan for permanent Israel troop presence: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has rejected US proposals for Israel to keep troops in a future Palestinian state along its strategic border with Jordan, a Palestinian source said on Friday. Following a meeting on Thursday evening with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the West Bank city of Ramallah, “President Abbas has rejected the ideas presented by the secretary of state”, the source said.
• Why the Christian Right Is Obsessed With the Collapse of Civilization: Most of us are so familiar with the cluster of issues that compel the religious right—opposition to gay marriage and abortion, hostility to the separation of church and state, hostility to modernity—that we don’t often think about the underlying theme holding these disparate obsessions together. It might even be tempting to believe there isn’t a unifying theme, except for the fact that conservatives themselves often allude to it: “civilization collapse.” Over and over again, right-wingers warn that all the things they hate, from pro-gay Broadway shows to immigration to multiculturalism, are not just signs of an evolving American society, but portend the actual end of it. The Roman Empire is often darkly alluded to, and you get the impression many on the right think Rome burned up and descended into anarchy and darkness. ( Not quite.) But really, what all these fantasies of cities burning down and impending war and destruction are expressing is a belief that the culture of white conservative Christians is the culture of America. So it follows that if they aren’t the dominant class in the United States, then America isn’t, in their opinion, really America anymore.
• Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sued for defamation by reporter: Mayor Rob Ford is being sued by a Toronto Star reporter for slander. The defamation suit, which was served on the mayor this afternoon, relates to comments Ford made during a televised interview with Conrad Black on Monday.
• Donald Trump Floats Completely Insane Birther Conspiracy After Health Official’s Death: Real estate mogul Donald Trump pushed his birther views Thursday in a tweet about the death of Loretta Fuddy, the state Health Director of Hawaii who authorized the release of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate in 2011. Fuddy was the sole fatality in the crash of a small plane carrying nine people on Wednesday. The Makani Kai Air plane she was on crashed into the ocean off the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Trump tweeted about the crash on Thursday: How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2013