National briefs: NYPD ends Muslim spying

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NEW YORK -- Muslim groups and civil liberties advocates applauded the decision by New York Police Department officials to disband a controversial unit that tracked the daily lives of Muslims as part of efforts to detect terrorism threats, but they said concerns exist about whether other problematic practices remained in place.

The Demographics Unit, conceived with the help of a CIA agent working with the NYPD, assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Plainclothes officers infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued Muslims in New York City who adopted new, Americanized surnames. NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis confirmed Tuesday that detectives assigned to the unit had been transferred to other duties within the department's Intelligence Division.

Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, applauded the decision but said there's still concern about the police use of informants to infiltrate mosques without specific evidence of crime.

Police end Muslim surveillance

Police end Muslim surveillance

Bloomberg anti-gun push

NEW YORK -- Michael Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving the New York mayor's office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization that he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Bloomberg said gun control advocates need to learn from the NRA and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda -- even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

Google, online drug sales

WASHINGTON -- Several state attorneys general are pressing Google to make it harder for its users to find counterfeit prescription medicine and illegal drugs online, marking the second time in the past three years that the firm has drawn government scrutiny for its policies on rogue Internet pharmacies.

Their complaints, conveyed in a letter signed by 24 top state prosecutors, led to private meetings with Google executives earlier this year in Denver and Washington, producing contentious exchanges about the company's practices. Now, while some of the attorneys general are pleased with Google's response to their concerns, others want the tech giant to go further.

BP ending shore cleanup

HOUSTON -- Nearly four years after the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP declared an end late Tuesday to a $14 billion cleanup operation that covered 778 miles of shoreline.

The Coast Guard has finished its last patrols of the three remaining miles of beach that had been soaked in oil after a blowout at BP's Macondo well sent millions of barrels of crude into the ocean on April 20, 2010. The explosion killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and the spill lasted more than 85 days.

Gay union ruling is on hold

CINCINNATI -- Ohio's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states will stay in effect until its constitutionality is resolved on appeal, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying he's seeking to avoid creating confusion.

The order by U.S. District Judge Timothy Black in Cincinnati, who declared the law unconstitutional Monday, aligns his case with a similar one in Louisville, Ky., where federal Judge John Heyburn invalidated that state's parallel law. He, too, stayed his decision pending appeal.

-- Compiled from news services


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