The NSA is tracking the GPS location of cell phones worldwide, an initiative it has codenamed "GRINDRplus." Chevron and ALEC say endangered species are hampering energy development, a veiled criticism of the black-footed ferret's decision to unionize. And a new poll finds most Americans want to keep the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of senators. Like visiting the doctor and reading a book, there are just some things Americans want to do every six years. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 4th, 2013:
N.S.A.C.U.P. - Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani: "The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals -- and map their relationships -- in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool." [WashPost]
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM NRSC ATTACK - This is going to lead to some really awkward moments at the Capitol Hill Club. The Hill: "Rep. Tom Cotton's (R-Ark.) Senate campaign on Wednesday denounced a 'bizarre and offensive' attack on Sen. Mark Pryor's faith by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat who is up for reelection, on Wednesday began airing an ad where he says the Bible 'is my compass, my North Star. It gives me comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas.' NRSC communications director Brad Dayspring emailed reporters to say that statement contradicts one Pryor made last year, when he said the Bible 'is really not a rulebook for political issues' and that 'everyone can see it differently.' 'So is the Bible Mark Pryor's compass, providing the 'comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas?' Or is it really not a good rule book for political issues and decisions made in the Senate? Guess it depends on which Mark Pryor that you ask,' Dayspring said. 'That is an incredibly bizarre and offensive email from the NRSC's press secretary. We should all agree that America is better off when all our public officials in both parties have the humility to seek guidance from God,' Cotton campaign spokesman David Ray told The Hill." [The Hill]
SUNNY OBAMA IS A MONSTER - Barack Obama will probably eat him soon enough. "The first dogs also delighted small children when they made an appearance in the fur Wednesday, as Mrs. Obama welcomed Gold Star families to a Christmas celebration. The children, who have each lost a family member who served in war, made holiday crafts with the first lady and enjoyed iced sugar cookies. In the hubbub, one small girl took a tumble as she was greeted by the Obamas' exuberant new puppy, Sunny. The dog jumped up to meet the girl, who stepped back and tripped. The girl seemed undaunted and got up to chat with the First Lady, and later walked around proudly carrying a red paper rose. As Mrs. Obama left, the girl gave her a hug and waved an enthusiastic goodbye." [CNN]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Class warfare from the Congressional Budget Office: "Average before-tax income rose by 2.7 percent from 2009 to 2010 in real (inflation-adjusted) terms, but the increase was uneven. Income rose by about 1 percent for households in the lowest quintile and by less than 1 percent for households in each of the three middle quintiles (see the figure below). In contrast, income grew by about 5 percent for households in the top quintile and by about 16 percent for households in the top percentile." [CBO.gov]
Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill
MILLENNIALS UNLIKING PRESIDENT OBAMA - See what we did there? The important thing is that you stay fresh. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Millennials are largely disaffected with politics, President Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics, which finds a 'sea change' among adults under 30...In the Harvard survey, however, only 41 percent of millennials approved of Obama's job performance, while 54 percent disapproved -- numbers that are nearly identical to the president's support among Americans of all ages. Young adults also gave Obama low marks on his handling of major issues, including approval ratings of 33 percent on the economy and 34 percent on health care. While 83 percent of those who voted for him said they'd do it again, 4 percent said they'd choose Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and another 8 percent would now vote for 'someone else.' Millennials are also pessimistic about the effects of the president's signature health care law. The survey, which asked half of its respondents about 'the Affordable Care Act' and half about 'Obamacare,' found low approval regardless of the term used. Adults under 30 disapproved of Obamacare by 57 percent to 38 percent and the ACA by 56 percent to 39 percent. About 50 percent think their expenses will rise under the law, and about 40 percent believe their quality of care will fall." [HuffPost]
CHEVRON IS COMING FOR YOU, LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN - Kate Sheppard: "The American Legislative Exchange Council and Chevron are teaming up to spread awareness of what they say is a serious threat to energy development in the U.S.: the lesser prairie chicken. Chevron is a sponsor of a workshop scheduled for Friday as part of ALEC's policy summit in Washington, D.C., looking at the alleged hardship the 1973 Endangered Species Act imposes on energy developers. The panel, as described in a planning document, will examine how the law 'often negatively impacts and stifles energy development of all kinds.' In particular, the description of the panel singles out the lesser prairie chicken, which is being considered for protection under the law. The lesser prairie chicken is a bird species in the grouse family, native to the grasslands of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas -- areas the energy industry is keen on developing, in particular for oil drilling. The description of the ALEC panel says it will look at how 'a particular market-based plan would allow for further energy development while protecting the habitats of the lesser prairie chicken.' The Center for Media and Democracy received the planning document in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for emails and documents related to ALEC that the center made to Texas state Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford), a member of ALEC's board of directors." [HuffPost]
HuffPost Haircuts: Jon Ward (h/t Jon Ward) Elise Foley (h/t Elise Foley) Laura Bassett (h/t Laura Bassett).
The Renewable Fuel Standard: Bad for food bills, engines and the environment. Take action at FillUpOnFacts.com.
POLL: AMERICANS OPPOSE 17TH AMENDMENT REPEAL - Emily Swanson: "Repealing the 17th Amendment -- and returning to the days when U.S. senators were elected not by the people but by state legislatures -- is an idea that has gained popularity in some right-wing circles in recent years. This week the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council may throw its support behind model legislation that would dramatically weaken the amendment. But according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, attacking the 17th Amendment has little appeal outside the most conservative circles...The HuffPost/YouGov poll found that, so far at least, Republicans have not been persuaded: 83 percent of them said they preferred the popular vote for Senate elections (only 12 percent favored election by state legislatures) and 73 percent of them said the 17th Amendment should remain in place (18 percent favored repeal)...Very conservative Americans were the most likely to favor allowing state legislatures to elect senators, with 31 percent saying they preferred the idea. Still, 41 percent said they preferred direct election of senators. Very conservative respondents also said the 17th Amendment should remain in place by the same 41 percent to 31 percent margin." [HuffPost]
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST DOES NOT LIKE MARTIN BASHIR - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist has been hard at work on an Infowars.com op-ed denouncing Santa Claus (PSLGOPL fears anyone who makes lists). However PSLGOPL took time away from his anti-Kris Kringle screed to email us about Martin Bashir's resignation from MSNBC. "I'm disappointed that MSNBC's journalistic standards are so low that they could not fire Bashir before he resigned," PSLGOPL writes. "They deserve to lose their female viewing audience. Only Joy from the Grio replacing Bashir could give MSNBC back whatever credibility they've hemorrhaged during this dark period." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CAN NOW SEND YOU HOLIDAY GREETINGS - This is like the Battle of the Bulge of the War on Christmas. Take it away, Candice Miller, Chairwoman of the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards! "As Chairman of the House Franking Commission, I am pleased to announce that, effective immediately, Members of the House may include holiday greetings in their communications to constituents. In the past, including any form of a holiday greeting was banned. While still prohibiting the misuse of official funds, this new commonsense policy allows Members to share their holiday wishes with constituents in otherwise official communications. I feel it is entirely appropriate for members of Congress to include a simple holiday salutation, whether it is Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and so on. I appreciate my colleagues' support for my request to make this simple, but meaningful, change and look forward to more bipartisan coordination over the upcoming year." [House Administration Committee (h/t Jen Bendery)]
NOTE: Holiday greetings are on the list of things that make John Boehner cry.
SCOTT BROWN WEIGHING RUN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE - To be fair, he is the former member of Congress most likely to think New England is a state. Examiner: "Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is making all the right moves for someone looking to make another Senate run. This time, however, the seat Brown might seek is in neighboring New Hampshire. Brown, who lost a re-election bid in Massachusetts in 2012, has over the past few weeks become markedly more receptive to the idea of challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, and sources close to the Brown say the odds of him running have risen to 50-50. 'He's certainly leaving the option open, whereas he's closed the door on other races,' including a special Senate election in Massachusetts to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry, and a bid for Massachusetts governor, said one strategist familiar with Brown's thinking. 'The only door he's leaving open is New Hampshire Senate.' Brown is in no hurry to make a decision before the New Year, but he has been dropping public hints that he's interested. Last month, he erased the 'MA' (for Massachusetts) from his Twitter handle, which is now just @SenScottBrown. He established a political action committee in New Hampshire that made a $10,000 contribution to the state GOP. And on Dec. 19, he'll headline a New Hampshire state Republican holiday reception." [Examiner]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a fiscally responsible mouse.
Don't worry, there are plenty of opportunities at the Daily Caller: "The campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) fired deputy finance director Taylor Palmisano on Tuesday after learning that she'd tweeted out bigoted comments about Hispanics in 2011. Shortly after Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice notified Walker's campaign of the tweets, which made derogatory comments about a housekeeper in a library and fellow patrons on a bus, Palmisano was ousted. 'I will choke that illegal mex cleaning in the library. Stop banging (expletive) chairs around and turn off your Walkman,' said one of the tweets, posted on March 9, 2011." [HuffPost's Ashley Alman]
- Ron Burgundy stopped by "SportsCenter" to interview Peyton Manning. [http://huff.to/18im4ep]
- A satirical customer review on Amazon for an 85-inch, $40,000 television. [http://bit.ly/1izTjjX]
- Newly uncovered DNA samples have allowed scientists to draw a more accurate picture of what our ancestors looked like. [http://bit.ly/IHXb1S]
- That time Donald Duck was a Nazi. [http://bit.ly/IGRJMT]
- Field hockey game interrupted by streaking dog. [http://bit.ly/1hywRGy]
- This is what a gang of raccoons looks like. [http://bit.ly/18md3O5]
@jesseltaylor: RT if I should be morally outraged, favorite if I should be intellectually outraged
@dceiver: Elizabeth Warren wonders if getting a dragon tattoo on her face will quell 2016 feeding frenzy, concludes, "probably not."
@igorbobic: WHAT A BOO-BOO! MARTIN BASHIR RESIGNS AFTER DOO-DOO
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (email@example.com), Ryan Grim (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Arthur Delaney (email@example.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e