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German circumcision ban ‘dangerous’: Jewish group

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BERLIN — A court ruling in Germany banning circumcision is “extraordinarily dangerous” and should be clarified by the government before the end of the year, a rabbi from a top Jewish rights group said Wednesday.

“We are very concerned that Europe becomes a place where circumcision is made illegal or denigrated,” Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre told reporters after meeting the German justice minister over the issue.

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“That would be extraordinary dangerous and injurious for the Jewish community,” he added.

Cooper said he was satisfied after his meeting with Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and said he expected the government to introduce legislation protecting the rite “before the end of the year”.

Members of parliament signed up to a cross-party motion in July calling on the government to draw up legislation that “ensures that the circumcision of boys carried out to medically professional standards and without undue pain is fundamentally permissible”.

In a ruling published in June, a court in the western German city of Cologne ruled that circumcision on religious grounds was tantamount to grievous bodily harm and therefore illegal.

The ruling prompted outrage and Jewish and Muslim community leaders joined forces to condemn it in the strongest possible terms, seeing a threat to the freedom of religion in Germany.

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Diplomats have acknowledged privately that the ruling has proved “disastrous” to Germany’s international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have said that the ruling risked making Germany a “laughing stock”.

Turkey’s Europe Minister Egemen Bagis wrote in an opinion article in Tuesday’s edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the ruling was in danger of threatening religious freedom in Germany.

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Israeli President Shimon Peres has also weighed into the controversy, telling his German counterpart in a letter last week that circumcision is “at the core of Jewish identity”.

Cooper said: “It’s true on economic areas, when Germany sneezes, Europe catches a cold.”

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“On this issue we want to make sure that it won’t spread.”


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Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro pushes political incorrectness to the limit

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro regularly offends opponents with political incorrectness and far-right diatribes, but he is taking heavier fire than usual for suggesting a respected journalist tried to get dirt on him with offers of sex.

The man dubbed the "Tropical Trump" has racked up a long list of controversial remarks over the years: he has praised the use of torture by Brazil's former military dictatorship; he once told a lawmaker he opposed she "wasn't worth raping"; he has said he would rather see his sons die than come out as gay.

But this week's firestorm has been big, even by his standards.

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In the wake of Roger Stone's sentencing of 3.5 years in prison this Thursday, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano posited that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's choice to go along with Attorney General Bill Barr's sentencing recommendation could have been an effort to pardon-proof the sentence from President Trump.

"[Jackson's] trying to make this bulletproof from a pardon," Napolitano said. "Because she went along exactly with what [Barr] requested."

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Rep. Adam Schiff suggested that a presidential pardon for Roger Stone would be an impeachable offense.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced the longtime Republican operative to 40 months in prison, saying Stone had lied to Congress and threatened a witness to cover up possible wrongdoing by President Donald Trump -- and Schiff sent a warning against a pardon.

"Roger Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and threatening a witness," Schiff tweeted.

Schiff, who led the impeachment inquiry and trial, agreed with Jackson -- whose language echoed the lawmaker's "corrupt scheme and cover-up" indictment during the Senate trial.

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