Tech push back. After revelations they gave the government access to users’ personal data, Google, Facebook, Apple, and other major technology companies have issued an open letter to President Barack Obama asking for more moderated surveillance. The letter, signed by AOL Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc., and Yahoo Inc., is part of a campaign that calls on governments to codify “sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data.” The campaign follows this summer’s revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of secret programs that critics argue violate privacy rights. Intelligence officials say that the NSA’s tactics have helped to disrupt terror attacks and that they’ve taken care not to routinely look at the content of conversations or messages by American citizens. The letter coincided with a new joint report by The Guardian, The New York Times, and ProPublica that the NSA’s snooping extended to online video games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life.
Newlywed murder trial. Jury selection began today in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont., in the murder trial of a bride accused of pushing her husband to his death in Montana’s Glacier National Park just days after their wedding. Jordan Graham, 22, and Cody Johnson, 25, had been married for eight days when they argued over her doubts about the marriage, prosecutors said. They will attempt to convince jurors that Graham deliberately pushed Johnson to his death, then made up a story about how he was last seen driving off with friends. Graham’s federal public defenders will ask jurors to believe that while Graham thought she married too young, she loved Johnson and was only trying to remove his hand from her arm when he fell off the steep cliff.
After the nuclear option. The U.S. Senate convenes today for its first session since Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed through a rule change on Nov. 21 to hamstring Republican opposition. The so-called “nuclear option” trimmed from 60 to 51 the number of votes needed to stop procedural delays against the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominees in the Senate, where Democrats have a 55-45 edge. Republicans still have tactics ranging from requiring clerks to read voluminous bills and amendments to forcing repeated procedural votes to slow down Senate business. Whether the Republicans will use those stalling measures remains to be seen. The agenda for the two-week, year-end session includes a modest budget deal, a defense bill, and some major nominations, including Janet Yellen’s appointment as head of the Federal Reserve.
European disturbance. A top Ukrainian opposition party leader says heavily armed riot police have stormed the party’s office in downtown Kiev. The move comes as the Ukrainian capital has been crippled by massive anti-government protests. Hundreds of thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Ukraine’s capital Sunday, toppling a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and blockading key government buildings in an escalating standoff with the president over the future of the country. The protesters want to oust President Viktor Yanukovych after he ditched ties with the European Union in favor of Russia and sent police to break up an earlier protest in the nearly three-week standoff.