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Germany pledges to protect religious circumcision

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The German government on Friday pledged quick action to protect the right of Jews and Muslims to circumcise baby boys on religious grounds, after a court ruling that prompted international outcry.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters it was “concerned” about the judgement published by a Cologne regional court last month calling the religious rite of circumcision a criminal act.

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“It is absolutely clear to the federal government that we want Jewish, we want Muslim religious life in Germany. Circumcisions carried out in a responsible way must not be subject to prosecution in this country,” he said.

“It is urgently necessary that we establish legal certainty.”

He said that aides from Merkel’s office would now discuss with the relevant government ministries ways to put the rite on firm legal footing.

“It is clear this cannot be put on the back burner. Freedom to practise religion is a cherished legal principle,” he said.

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A spokeswoman for the justice ministry said that there were three options for new draft laws to protect circumcisions on religious grounds that were under “intensive” review.

The Cologne ruling said circumcision of male infants on religious grounds was tantamount to grievous bodily harm, a criminal act subject to prosecution.

It concerned a case brought against a doctor who had circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy in line with his parents’ wishes.

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When, a few days after the operation, the boy suffered heavy bleeding, prosecutors charged the doctor.

The court later acquitted the doctor himself of causing harm but judged that “the right of a child to keep his physical integrity trumps the rights of parents” to observe their religion, potentially setting a legal precedent.

German diplomats admit that the ruling has proved “disastrous” to the country’s image abroad, particularly in light of its Nazi past, following uproar from officials in Israel as well as Muslim countries.

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European Muslim and Jewish groups banded together this week to criticise the ruling and called on German MPs to pass legislation protecting the practice.


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There’s evidence that climate activism could be swaying public opinion in the US

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Climate activists walked out of classrooms and workplaces in more than 150 countries on Friday, Sept. 20 to demand stronger action on climate change. Mass mobilizations like this have become increasingly common in recent years.

I’m a scholar of environmental communication who examines how people become engaged with solving dilemmas such as climate change, and how activism motivates others to take action. A new study I worked on suggests that large rallies, such as this youth-led Climate Strike, could be influencing public opinion.

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‘I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA’: See the most memorable signs from the global climate strike

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"Why should we go to class if you won't listen to the educated?" one homemade sign asked.

With millions marching to demand bold climate action in more than 150 countries around the world on Friday, a number of sentiments expressed on homemade signs and through other demonstrations captured the world's attention.

An estimated 400,000 people attended strikes across Australia to start off the day of action. The Australian Conservation Foundation shared a video of some of the young people, including one marcher who proclaimed, "You'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change," addressing the world leaders who climate scientists say are not working nearly fast enough to end fossil fuel extraction and the resulting carbon emissions which are causing global warming, rising sea levels, droughts, and other extreme weather events.

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Trump felt free to ask for Ukraine election interference after Mueller let him off the hook: Wired reporter Garrett Graff

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On CNN's "New Day Weekend," author and commentator Garrett Graff noted that President Donald Trump's attempt to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden came right after former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in 2016 ended — and suggested the two were related.

"You know, Garrett, there may be some people thinking 'Gosh, we just got out of the whole scenario with the Mueller report. Now we have this again,'" said anchor Christi Paul. "Do you get a sense that there are people looking at this saying 'I think I have confidence in the 2020 election?'"

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