Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Government's Secret Plan to Shut Off Cellphones and the Internet, Explained

Update: The Electronic Privacy Information Center reports that the court just granted the government more time to decide whether to release the kill switch plan. It now has until January 13.

This month, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must make its plan to shut off the internet and cellphone communications available to the American public. You, of course, may now be thinking: What plan?! Though President Barack Obama swiftly disapproved of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak turning off the internet in his country (to quell widespread civil disobedience) in 2011, the US government has the authority to do the same sort of thing, under a plan that was devised during the George W. Bush administration. Many details of the government's controversial "kill switch" authority have been classified, such as the conditions under which it can be implemented and how the switch can be used. But thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), DHS has to reveal those details by December 12—or mount an appeal. (The smart betting is on an appeal, since DHS has fought to release this information so far.) Yet here's what we do know about the government's "kill switch" plan:

Web Snooping Laws Return Under the Cover of Cyber-Bullying

In Feb. 2012, then-minister of public safety Vic Toews introduced Internet surveillance legislation that sparked widespread criticism from across the political spectrum. The overwhelming negative publicity pressured the government to quickly backtrack by placing Bill C-30 on hold. Earlier this year, then-minister of justice Rob Nicholson announced that the bill was dead, confirming "we will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures contained in C-30."

U.S. Methane Study Says Emissions 50 Percent Higher Than EPA Estimates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is spewing 50 percent more methane — a potent heat-trapping gas — than the federal government estimates, a new comprehensive scientific study says. Much of it is coming from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

That means methane may be a bigger global warming issue than thought, scientists say. Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long.

Canada’s prison population at all-time high

New figures show the number of visible minorities in Canadian prisons has increased by 75 per cent in the past decade, while the number and proportion of inmates who are Caucasian has declined significantly.

As well, Canada’s prison population is now at its highest level ever, even though the crime rate has been decreasing over the past two decades. Ten years ago, the number of inmates in federal prisons was close to 12,000. It’s now more than 15,000.

B.C. Smelter To Blame For Illnesses, Say Washington Residents

Residents of a small town in northern Washington state may turn to courts to force a B.C. mining company to address what they say is a high prevalence of certain diseases in their community.

Northport, Washington, a town of about 375 people, is 30 kilometres downstream on the Columbia River from Teck Resources’ lead-zinc smelter in Trail, B.C.

Jamie Paparich, who grew up Northport, began an independent public health study two and a half years ago after observing that the number of people there with diseases such as Crohns, colitis, multiple sclerosis and thyroid disorders was unusually high with respect to the population.

Museum Of Civilization Taps Big Oil To Help Fund Canada's 150th Birthday

GATINEAU, Qc - Canada's 150th birthday is being brought to you by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

A $1-million sponsorship of the Canadian Museum of Civilization is a great opportunity to get the oil and gas industry's message out to Canadians, the president of the industry lobby group said Monday as the deal was announced.

While You Weren't Looking, 23 States Radically Slashed Obamacare Abortion Coverage

During the fractious health care reform fight of 2010, one of the sticking points preventing the bill from moving forward was a controversial amendment proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat. The so-called Stupak amendment would have forbidden Obamacare plans from covering abortion, instead requiring Americans who wanted this coverage to purchase separate, abortion-only policies. Stupak lost the battle, but he's winning the war. Twenty-three states have adopted similar rules—and Stupak's home state of Michigan could be the latest to join them.

Banks Threaten To Charge You For Saving Money

In an effort to protect their record profits, banks might soon charge you for the privilege of having a savings account.

I know what you're thinking: Banks already charge customers outrageous fees for the privilege of having bank accounts. But if the Federal Reserve dares to try and help the economy by cutting a special interest rate it pays banks, fees could get even more outrageous, the Financial Times reports (subscription only). Such a move by the Fed would lose banks some easy money, and they could take the difference out of their customers' hides.

Colo. School Board Member: Transgender Students Need 'Castration' Before Using Bathrooms

A Colorado school board member is facing criticism after she said that transgender students would need to be castrated before the student could use the school bathrooms that fit their gender identity.

KREX-TV in Grand Junction, Colo. was the first to report on Delta County School Board member Katherine Svenson's comments about transgender students during an October meeting (Listen to audio of Svenson's comments above):

"I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country," Svenson said at the school board meeting. "Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is. I just want to emphasize: not in this district. Not until the plumbing's changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here."

New Tax Return Shows Karl Rove's Group Spent Even More On Politics Than It Said

On its 2012 tax return, GOP strategist Karl Rove's dark money behemoth Crossroads GPS justified its status as a tax-exempt social welfare group in part by citing its grants of $35 million to other similarly aligned nonprofits. (Here's the tax return itself, which we detailed last week.)

The return, signed under penalty of perjury, specified that the grants would be used for social welfare purposes, "and not for political expenditures, consistent with the organization's tax-exempt mission."

But that's not what happened.

Blockbluster -- Who needs hits?

In 1976, a music executive named Walter Yetnikoff launched a campaign that came to be known as Walter’s War. He had recently become president of CBS Records, the parent company of Columbia Records, and resolved to rally his troops by providing them an enemy. It was not enough that CBS should succeed; Warner Bros., its hipper rival, should fail. In “Hit Men” (1990), an unsentimental book about the music business in its prime, Fredric Dannen explained that the campaign began with an expensive gambit. Yetnikoff lured James Taylor away from Warner Bros., paying him two and a half million dollars in advance, and a million dollars per album. Two years later, Warner got its revenge, outbidding CBS for the services of Paul Simon, and offering Rod Stewart two million dollars for each of his next ten albums. From the perspective of the rock stars, Walter’s War was an unusually munificent one: its combatants strafed innocent bystanders with seven-digit payments.

Still no election reform robocalls bill, 14 months past House deadline

The federal government has yet to table a bill to address the robocalls issue and to prevent election fraud, more than 14 months past the House’s deadline, and opposition MPs say it’s “irresponsible,”  “disgraceful,” and “frustrating,” that the governing Conservatives are delaying this important piece of legislation.

The House passed the motion unanimously in March 2012 and the next federal election is expected in the fall of 2015.

“At some level, it’s either a mix of incompetence or deliberate delay seems to be underlying the holding up of the legislation that they promised to have in by last September. We’re looking at 14 months,” said NDP MP Craig Scott (Toronto Danforth, Ont.), his party’s democratic reform critic.

Harper has betrayed Canada's veterans

If the politics of contempt is the hallmark of Stephen Harper's governing style -- for Parliament, for accountability, for critics, for science, for journalists -- nothing is more shameful than its contempt for Canada's veterans. It's not merely that vets have won the right to so much better. It's also the flat-out hypocrisy, the unbridgeable chasm between the Harper government's rapturous rhetoric and its actual policies.

Besides the usual Remembrance Day platitudes, there was the PM at the recent Conservative Convention in Calgary shamelessly boasting that only his party cared about Canada's "brave men and women in uniform." Yet precisely one week earlier, Corporal David Hawkins from London, Ontario, injured in the field and suffering from post-traumatic stress, was booted out of the military before he was eligible to collect an indexed pension -- one of many wounded vets who are being treated so callously.

Conservatives question PMO’s tactics in growing Duffy-Wright scandal

Conservatives are criticizing the PMO’s alarmingly poor strategy on the Senate expenses scandal and critics say, following last week’s explosive, 80-page RCMP court document with new allegations and details on the $90,000 payment former chief of staff Nigel Wright made to Senator Mike Duffy, it could hurt the party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“Every person I have talked to has a different version of events, and a different version of what should be done. So, I don’t think there’s an organized split, but some people are certainly questioning the tactics,” said a top Conservative source who spoke to The Hill Times on condition of anonymity last week.

Harper is good as gone if he gave ‘good to go’ order

Rob Ford and Mike Duffy may not prove to be the end of Stephen Harper, but they are the beginning of the end.

To what must be the disbelief of his political base, the prime minister reduced Mayor Ford’s saga of crack-cocaine use, drunk driving, and hanging out with guys who pack heat and use it to a political cliche. When asked for his view of the ‘gangsta’ side of Rob Ford, Harper responded simply that the voters of Toronto will decide his fate.

That can only mean one thing: If 11 months from now, a conflagration of idiots re-elects Rob Ford, Harper is suggesting he believes that ROFO’s drug use and criminal associations is inconsequential, if not utterly without meaning. Political success purges all. This from the fellow who used to say he would rather lose an election than do the wrong thing in Afghanistan.

Amazon Warehouse Staff In 'Slave Camp' Conditions, Workers Say

Online retail giant Amazon makes its staff work under "unbelievable" pressure in "slave camp" conditions, with employees at their warehouses having to walk 11 miles in a shift and collect orders every 33 seconds, an investigation has found.

The shocking revelations came as part of a BBC investigation into working conditions at Amazon warehouses, which found that level of pressure staff are put under could cause "mental and physical illness". One warehouse employee told the BBC that conditions were comparable to a "slave camp".

Jeremy Scahill: the man exposing the US Dirty War

Jeremy Scahill, whose provocative documentary Dirty Wars is released in the UK this week, has been described as a "progressive journalist" and an activist in the same mould as Glenn Greenwald. Is "progressive" a word he is comfortable with? "It's not a term I would reject in terms of my personal politics," he says, "but I see myself as an independent journalist and my mission is to try to tell stories about real people."

Scahill's critics write him off as an activist or an advocate, but he argues that all journalists have a point of view. "Oftentimes the ones who are activists on behalf of the state don't get labelled as activists. People who accept the state's version of events are considered objective journalists. People who question the state's version of events, particularly in the face of overwhelming evidence that the state is either lying or involved in extra-legal activity, are tarred with the brush of being activists. There is a systematic smearing of anyone who questions the state, while people who are slavishly devoted to advocacy for the state somehow wear the crown of objectivity."

Student unions condemn government sale of loans for £160m

The government has sold a student loans book with a face value of £890m for just £160m, angering student union groups.

A consortium called Erudio Student Loans led by the investment fund manager CarVal bought the remaining book of mortgage style loans which were taken out by around 250,000 students between 1990 and 1998.

The National Union of Students (NUS) and University of London Union (ULU) expressed alarm at the sale and said it made "no economic sense".

'We're Losing Our Little Boy': One Family's Heartbreaking Fight For Their Son's Education

WASHINGTON -- Greg Masucci just wants to hear his little boy say his own name.

That's what he tells developmental specialists as he sits in an office at John Tyler Elementary School for what feels like the hundredth meeting to hash out his son's educational goals. This time, the specialists insist the school can't be expected to teach 6-year-old Maximus to say his name and his family's name upon request.

"He should be able to say his name, our name … and maybe 'Washington, D.C.,'" Greg says. "You know, just, God forbid, if he gets kidnapped."

Stephen Harper And Mike Duffy: What Did The Prime Minister Know?

OTTAWA - What exactly went down on Feb. 22, 2013, when the prime minister's chief of staff approached him about how to deal with the Mike Duffy Senate expenses headache?

Two clear but very different versions of events have emerged:

A) Nigel Wright meets with Harper and conceals the details of an agreement with Duffy, but then tells other staff in the Prime Minister's Office that the PM has approved the deal.

B) Harper was informed of and approved a deal, or parts of a deal, that could turn out to be criminal.

Egypt Approves Law Limiting Protests

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's interim president on Sunday banned public gatherings of more than 10 people without prior government approval, imposing hefty fines and prison terms for violators in a bid to stifle the near-constant protests roiling the country.

The new law is more restrictive than regulations used under the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in Egypt's 2011 uprising that marked the start of unrest in the country. Rights groups and activists immediately denounced it, saying it aims to stifle opposition, allow repressive police practices and keep security officials largely unaccountable for possible abuses.

Canada's Tax Burden Shifting From Corporations Onto People: Economist

For the first time in Canadian history, more than half of the federal government’s revenue in 2014 will come from personal income taxes -- a vivid sign that Canada’s tax burden is slowly shifting away from corporations and onto consumers.

It’s the apparent result of successive Liberal and Conservative governments that have cut corporate taxes far more aggressively than they have cut personal income taxes, while increasing “hidden taxes” that mostly impact low-income and middle-income workers.

Iran nuclear deal gets 'deeply skeptical' response from Canada

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he is "deeply skeptical" of the newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran and says Canada's sanctions will remain in "full force" against the country.

"We will evaluate the deal reached not just on the merits of its words but more importantly, on its verifiable implementation," Baird said at a news conference in Ottawa on Sunday.

He said that because of previous Iranian leaders had made hostile comments toward Israel, “we're deeply skeptical of the deal and the work that's brought us to this stage.”

House Republicans Have Passed 3 Bills To Help The Natural Gas Industry Just This Week

WASHINGTON -- Republicans in the House have been busy this week, passing three pieces of legislation that would help the natural gas industry by circumventing environmental regulations and making it easier to drill for and transport fossil fuels.

President Barack Obama has issued a veto threat for all three bills, and they are unlikely to make it through the Senate.

Beyond Blackwater

“WE WERE selling $1m a year in merchandise with the company logo on it,” says Erik Prince with a mixture of nostalgia and defiance. Blackwater, the company in question, rose to worldwide prominence as an outsourced branch of the American army during the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. It had plenty of admirers for the way it had pioneered a new branch of the defence industry, earning a total of around $2 billion from Uncle Sam for providing armed personnel to the Pentagon, the State Department and, secretly, the CIA. But the firm was overwhelmed by its more numerous critics, who said it was an undisciplined, unaccountable bunch of mercenaries.

Map Shows the NSA's Massive Worldwide Malware Operations

A new map details how many companies across the world have been infected by malware by the National Security Agency's team of hackers, and where the companies are located.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports the NSA uses malware to infect, infiltrate and steal information from over 50,000 computer networks around the globe. This new, previously unreported scope of the NSA's hacking operation comes from another PowerPoint slide showing a detailed map of every infection leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.

San Rafael Smoking Ban, Strictest In The Nation, Goes Into Effect

The California city of San Rafael might be one of the more beautiful places in the country, but if you’re a smoker, it might not be the place for you.

Last week, the San Francisco suburb made active a smoking ban that officials say is the strictest in the country, prohibiting smoking cigarettes in your own home.

The ordinance specifically bans smoking in dwellings that share a wall with another unit, including apartments, duplexes and condominiums. The hope is to eliminate second-hand smoke from creeping through doors and windows, ventilation systems, floorboards and other susceptible openings. According to a U.S. Surgeon General report, secondhand smoke kills about 50,000 Americans per year, including 430 infants.

Why Is Obama's Department of Labor Bringing On a Top McDonald's PR Person?

Labor Secretary Tom Perez has taken a lead role in President Barack Obama's push to increase the federal minimum wage. The fast food industry is one of the nation's largest employers of low- and minimum-wage workers. So why has the labor secretary brought on a top McDonald's PR person as a senior adviser?

Ofelia Casillas worked as a national media relations manager for McDonald's until she was hired as Perez' director of public outreach. At McDonald's, Casillas was in charge of overseeing "media crises" for the company. That would include the wave of fast-food strikes designed to draw attention to poverty wages. McDonald's average wage is $7.81 an hour.

Netanyahu: Iran Nuclear Deal A 'Historic Mistake'

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister harshly condemned the international community's nuclear deal with Iran on Sunday while Saudi Arabia remained conspicuously quiet, reflecting the jitters felt throughout the Middle East over Iran's acceptance on the global stage.

Elsewhere, many welcomed the agreement as an important first step toward curbing Iran's suspect nuclear program.

Israel and Western-allied Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia have formed an unlikely alliance in their opposition to Sunday's deal, joined together by shared concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran and the Tehran's growing regional influence.

Guantanamo Faces Ticking Clock As Time Runs Out On Detention Legislation

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — A persistent knock came from inside the heavy, locked cell door.

A young U.S. Army guard strode over and leaned in to hear the detainee through a shatterproof window.

"What do you want?" the guard asked, not unkindly, in one of the many daily moments in which suspected terrorists demand to be dealt with as their lives hang in legal limbo.

Dirk Boder, Montreal Man, Claims Brutal Arrest Over Parking Illegally

A Montreal man's ticket for illegal parking quickly turned into a violent arrest, every agonizing moment filmed by his sobbing teen daughter.

Boder told Huffington Post Quebec he made a brief stop in downtown Montreal earlier this month, parking at Peel St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. so his daughter could run into a store.

When she returned, a police officer approached the car, issuing an $88 ticket for illegal parking. At that point, Boder stepped out of his car to snap a picture of the police vehicle.

Canadian Porn Block Petition Gets An American Cousin

As Britain’s internet porn filter becomes a reality over the next few months, a petition urging the government to bring the same rules to Canada is growing in support.

But so are objections from members of the public who see a porn filter as the thin end of the wedge to internet censorship.

The fallacy of corporate taxes in a neo-liberal context

"Make the corporations pay!"

It is a slogan that sounds good, and with which I would fully agree, under conditions where "corporations," or, more accurately, those who control them, were actually paying. But this is not the case in the debate in Canada today where many on the left are falsely proclaiming corporate taxes as an alternative to increasing personal taxes, even on the wealthy, and seem to display little understanding that corporate tax rates have nothing at all to do with inequality socially and are not at all a tax on wealth or the wealthy.

When Thomas Mulcair juxtaposes his "plan" to increase corporate taxes as a "progressive" alternative to Toronto-Centre candidate Linda McQuaig's previously stated notion that taxes should be increased as well on Canada's wealthiest individuals, he is fundamentally juxtaposing McQuaig's plan that might accomplish something to a plan that will accomplish absolutely nothing.

The House GOP's Hypocrisy on "Too-Big-To-Fail"

Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) warned that, five years after the financial crisis, the biggest Wall Street banks are still so large and loosely regulated that their failure would endanger the entire financial system, forcing the government to bail them out. This problem—called too-big-to-fail—is worse now than it was in 2007, Warren said, because the four largest banks are 30 percent bigger than they were before the financial crisis. House Republicans have made common cause with Warren on the issue—at least rhetorically. But when it comes to proposing a solution, GOPers in the House are MIA; in fact, they've pushed bills that would preserve bank bailouts.

John F. Kennedy's Prophetic Rebuke of Tea Party Politics

Fifty years ago today in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated before he could deliver a speech whose message echoes across the decades, and today stands as a prophetic admonition against Tea Party politics.

In the words of the speech he never gave that day, Kennedy rebuked those who "confuse rhetoric with reality," who demonize America's civil servants, and who "see the debt as the single greatest threat to our security." The speech is a full-throated celebration of rationality and learning as the linchpin of American leadership, and a surprisingly modern rebuke of the Ted Cruz wing of Republican politics.

Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike through cassava plantations. Ahead of us lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garage forecourts and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.

The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months.

Deep sea oil protesters crowd iconic beach

More than 1000 people turned up at one of Auckland's famous west coast beaches to protest against deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters today.

Protesters turned up in their droves, waving and carrying banners, to show their support for the Oil Free Seas flotilla, which is protesting where oil giant Anadarko intends to begin drilling off the coast of Raglan.

This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rob Ford Was Subject Of August Police Alert

Toronto police issued a city-wide alert for Rob Ford's SUV on Aug. 29 after witnesses called police with concerns about the Toronto mayor's fitness to drive, CBC News has learned.

The calls to police came in response to Ford's behaviour at a barbecue attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Sunnybrook Park.

CBC News has learned that when Ford got behind the wheel to leave the event, his departure set off a series of calls to a police dispatcher.

China imposes airspace restrictions over Japan-controlled Senkaku islands

China has tried to establish its authority over Japanese-controlled islands in the East China sea by demanding that all aircraft flying in the region obey its rules or face "emergency defensive measures".

The East China sea air defense identification zone came into effect from 10am local time on Saturday when the Chinese defence ministry issued a map of the area, which includes the uninhabited East China sea islands.

Harper mum on PMO meddling in Duffy audit

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper dodged questions Friday about alleged attempts by his people — including the party's top bagman — to meddle in and even quash an independent audit of Sen. Mike Duffy's contested expenses.

But Harper's own Conservative senators appear to want to lend the issue more scrutiny. RCMP files made public this week included emails from Harper's staff and interviews from key players describing how they sought to cut short the work of auditing firm Deloitte in order to avoid any damning statements on Duffy.

Members of Harper's staff appeared to receive inside information about the audit even before senators who sit on the committee that was studying Duffy's expenses.

Poorest students face £350m cut in grants

The Department for Business (BIS) is considering cutting £350m of grants to the UK's poorest students and slashing £215m from ringfenced science funding in order to plug a £1.4bn hole in its finances, the Guardian has learned.

More than 500,000 students from lower income backgrounds would be affected by plans drawn up by the higher education minister, David Willetts, which are being discussed by the business secretary, Vince Cable, and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

Government Claims Americans Have No Right To Challenge NSA Phone Surveillance

NEW YORK -- After years of secrecy, the National Security Agency's phone records surveillance program had its day in open court on Friday, as civil liberties lawyers asked a federal judge in New York to shut it down, and government lawyers claimed ordinary Americans cannot legally challenge it.

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III did not immediately rule on issuing an injunction against the NSA program. But he did push the government on whether it respected Americans' rights to privacy and freedom of association, and whether Congress was adequately informed about the program.

Bring on the billionaires and their largesse

“Property is theft!” said the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865). Canada doesn’t have enough millionaires, Michael Wilson, then federal finance minister, said in the 1980s.

Somewhere between those observations are found the five heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune, whose collective net worth is equal to about 40 per cent of all private wealth in America; and the Occupy movement, which did the world the noble service of highlighting the growing gap between rich and poor – in affluent and destitute regions alike. The logical outcome of that chronic unfairness is an uprising against plutocracy that will harm us all. (The fall of the insensitive Romanovs was followed by 73 years of Soviet oppression.)

Stop-And-Frisk Rulings Won't Be Tossed By Appeals Court

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to toss out court rulings finding that New York City carried out its police stop-and-frisk policy in a discriminatory manner.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday. Last month, an appeals panel had suspended the effects of a lower-court ruling.

The city had argued that the panel's decision to remove federal Judge Shira Scheindlin (SHEER'-uh SHIND'-lihn) meant it should also nullify her rulings.

Scheindlin ruled in August that police officers sometimes carried out stop-and-frisk unconstitutionally by discriminating against minorities.

The court's action appears to spoil the city's bid to get Scheindlin's rulings tossed before a new mayor sympathetic to her viewpoint takes office in January.

Original Article

The Cyberbullying Bill Is A Virtual Big Brother in Disguise

In February 2012, then Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced Bill C-30, the "Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act." While the government marketed the bill as an attempt to protect children from Internet predators (and infamously accused opponents of siding with child pornographers), it soon became readily apparent that the bill was really about adopting a wide range of measures that increased police powers, stripped away privacy rights, and increased Internet surveillance. The overwhelming negative publicity led the government to put the bill on hold. Earlier this year, then-Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that Bill C-30 was dead:

New cyberbullying law has 'larger agenda,' expands police powers

When Justice Minister Peter MacKay unveiled the federal government's proposed cyberbullying law on Wednesday, he touted it as a necessary tool to combat the often hurtful spread of intimate images. To emphasize the underlying point, he made the announcement during national Bullying Awareness Week.

But legal experts were left wondering why a piece of legislation that is meant to rein in online tormentors is also taking on terror suspects and people who steal cable TV signals.

Nigel Wright-Mike Duffy affair tests Harper's 'new era of accountability'

For his single-minded devotion to business as usual, you have to hand it to Stephen Harper. Really.

There he was Thursday in Lac Megantic, far away from Parliament Hill, committing $95 million to the critical work of decontaminating the site of one of the worst rail disasters in Canadian history.

Harper is frequently the face of his government when it comes to big spending announcements. Good news like that is good for the PM's image.

George Zimmerman's Estranged Wife: He's 'Like A Ticking Time Bomb'

George Zimmerman's estranged wife says the infamous neighborhood watch guard is now acting "like a monster."

In an interview with Katie Couric, Shellie Zimmerman described how she hopes there are "no more casualties" caused by her husband's erratic behavior. She also remembers how the couple was very much in love when they first married.

"We were great friends and I thought he was a wonderful person -- that's why I married him," she said Thursday on "Katie."

House Committee Rejects Provision Requiring Account Of Drone Casualties

WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee rejected a proposal on Thursday that would have required U.S. spy agencies to make an annual public accounting of the number of casualties caused by U.S. drone attacks on militants overseas.

The Republican-controlled committee rejected the measure by a vote of 15-5, according to Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who had proposed it.

White House Reporters Question Limits On Photo Access At Press Briefing

White House reporters are riled up about restrictions placed on photos of President Obama, and they made no effort to hide it at Thursday's press briefing.

In a letter delivered to the White House on Thursday, journalists from a variety of media organizations protested limits that often prevent them from taking photos of Obama. The letter questioned why only White House-approved photos were the only ones of certain events allowed to be released.

Tim Berners-Lee: UK and US must do more to protect internet users' privacy

The UK and US must do more to protect internet users' privacy, the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has warned as a survey of online freedoms is released.

Berners-Lee warned that "a growing tide of surveillance and censorship" posed a threat to the future of democracy, even as more and more people were using the internet to expose wrongdoing.

His remarks came before the second annual release of a global league table that classifies countries according to a set of freedoms. Since last year, the US has dropped from second place to fourth, while the UK has remained in third place. Sweden still tops the list, with Norway in second place. All of the Scandinavian countries – Sweden, Denmark and Norway – feature in the top 10.