The Senate Intelligence Committee released a 525-page report summarizing its still-classified 6,700-page review of the CIA’s post-9/11 detention program, which held terrorism suspects in secret “black site” prisons in Afghanistan, Thailand, and Eastern Europe, where many were subjected to waterboarding, facial slaps, “rectal feeding,” and other forms of torture. Of the 119 people detained by the CIA between 2002 and 2006, the duration of the program under President George W. Bush, the committee found that 26 had been “wrongfully held,” that the techniques used to interrogate them were “far worse than the CIA represented,” and that those techniques did not lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden, as the agency had argued in 2011. “You can’t claim,” said Arizona senator John McCain, “that tying someone to the floor and having them freeze to death is not torture.” State media in Syria ignored the report; the Russian government, which was condemned by the United States last year for supplying Syria with missiles, called it “shocking”; and former vice president Dick Cheney said of the program that he’d “do it again in a minute.” The wife of Creed singer Scott Stapp phoned 9-1-1 after her husband said he was a CIA agent ordered to assassinate President Obama. “He’s on a bicycle with no shirt and two backpacks,” she told the dispatcher, “and Central Intelligence documents.” The U.S. Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through September, reduce the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency to the lowest level since 1989, keep the greater sage grouse off the endangered species list, and ban the use of government money to commission portraits of federal employees. During the weekend session, Republicans drank sweet tea and ate Chick-fil-A; Democrats ate Chinese food and sang “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” “I haven’t seen Harry smile this much in years,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.) about Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.). “I didn’t particularly like it.”
Public demonstrations continued in Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities to protest grand-jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and to show solidarity with African-American victims of police brutality. An undercover highway patrol officer who had infiltrated protests in Oakland pulled his gun on demonstrators after they discovered his identity, and three cardboard effigies of black lynching victims were found on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. In Hong Kong, police tore down the last of the three pro-democracy camps that had been inhabited by protesters since September; in Colombia, thousands protested a peace deal between President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebels that would provide amnesty for war crimes committed by the guerrillas; and in Haiti, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced his resignation after antigovernment protesters demanded he step down. “I’m leaving,” he said, “with a feeling of accomplishment.” At a U.N. climate-change conference in Lima, Peru, 196 countries reached an agreement requiring all nations to draft policies to reduce their greenhouse-gas emission rates. The United Nations said that the airplanes, diesel generators, and construction equipment used during the Lima talk produced 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the biggest carbon footprint of any annual climate meeting to date. “We are still on a course,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “leading to tragedy.” Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
A Korean Air executive announced she would step down from the family-owned business after she was accused of forcing the head steward on a recent flight to kneel before her and apologize for serving her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of in a dish. “I failed,” said her father and Korean Air’s chairman, “to raise her properly.” An Air France flight from the Dominican Republic to Paris was diverted to Ireland when the plane’s fire alarm was activated by heat from a shipment of peppers, and a 28-ton rapeseed spill caused the closure of a German highway for seven hours. A 25-cent-toy vending machine inside a Tulsa, Oklahoma, Family Dollar dispensed to a four-year-old boy a plastic ring with the image of an eagle clutching a swastika. In Tel Aviv, a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old were arrested after attempting to rob a bank with toy M-16 assault rifles. Kuzya, a Siberian tiger released into the wild in May by Russian president Vladimir Putin, was filmed eating a dog in China. A Tokyo restaurant declared it would refuse service to couples on Christmas Eve because their presence would discomfort single men and women. “If you are single on Christmas Eve,” said an employee, “then it’s easy to get down.” South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety pulled its “Don’t Jerk and Drive” campaign, targeted at young men who overcorrect their steering on icy roads. “We’d prefer drivers keep their cars out of the ditch,” said the director of the Office of Highway Safety, “and their minds out of the gutter.”
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