June 30th, 2012
02:35 PM ET

Will 2012 be the hottest summer on record?

Nearly 52 record-high temperatures for 2012 have been reached in the past seven days, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

Summer has definitely arrived in the United States with record-breaking temperatures soaring into the triple digits, and relief is slow to follow. The sizzling heat may not subside for a week, possibly longer.

From Kansas to Washington, heat warnings, watches and advisories spanned 730,000 square miles, affecting about 100 million people on Friday alone.

Excessive heat warnings were posted for 12 states, from Nebraska to New Jersey, on Friday by the National Weather Service.

As fierce thunderstorms battered their way across the Midwest to the Atlantic Seaboard on Friday night, the wicked weather caused mass power outages, leaving residents to suffer the heat without air conditioning.

Deaths possibly related to the heat are still being investigated. People are checking on their neighbors, and cities are putting cooling centers into place and extending pool hours.

The temperatures soaring above 100 degrees are nowhere near normal for this time of year in the United States, Morris said.

But we've experienced hideously hot ones before the dog days of summer officially set in before.

Last year - which was declared the hottest summer on record  in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico by The Weather Channel - featured some wicked days.

In its list of all-time record highs, The Weather Channel reported that Childress, Texas, climbed to 117 degrees on June 26 last year, beating any temperature on record for any month, dating back to 1893.

Borger, Texas, and Gage, Oklahoma, both hit 113 degrees on June 26, while Fort Smith, Arkansas, hit 115 degrees on August 3.

If the temperatures are climbing dangerously high in your city, be sure to check our five tips to survive extreme heat.

How are you beating the heat in your area? Let us know in the comments below.

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Filed under: Heat • Weather
Instagram down in mass power outage
June 30th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Instagram down in mass power outage

Breakfasts everywhere went undocumented on social media Saturday morning because photo-sharing site Instagram is still down after a line of powerful storms caused mass power outages across the Midwest  and Atlantic Seaboard on Friday night.

Fierce thunderstorms and high winds, some topping 80 miles per hour, whipped across Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Washington and Virginia, leaving debris, hot temperatures and no power to combat the record-breaking heat.

In addition to Instagram, Mashable and Forbes reported that on Friday night Netflix and Pinterest, powered by Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, also were down because of weather affecting the region. The majority of those accounts, and the sites themselves, appear to be up and running again.

However, on Saturday morning, people were still taking to Twitter and Facebook, complaining or poking fun at the impact of Instagram, based in northern Virginia, going dark.

Some tweets encouraged people to enjoy the blackout by leaving technology behind for the weekend, that it's OK to eat breakfast and drink coffee without sharing a photo of it with the rest of the world via social media. Other tweets joked that many people would go undocumented on Facebook or Twitter as long as Instagram was down because of the site's various photo-enhancing filters.

A similar conversation ensued when Twitter experienced a widespread outage on June 21, its largest since October 2011.

More on social media:

Photos: Our mobile addiction

When losing e-mail is like a snow day

Instagram: My addiction and affliction

Viral vigilantism, Tony Hawk style

Instagram and the rise of photo apps

Instagram wants photos to be seen beyond 10-hour window

How to behave on Instagram

Do you fly into a panic when your favorite social media site goes temporarily dark? Or does it allow you to disconnect? Let us know in the comments below.

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Filed under: Social media • Technology
Overheard on CNN.com: 'CrackBerry,' Jelly Bean, Apple get just desserts
Some BlackBerry fans still love them, but recent years have been tough for the once-dominant device.
June 29th, 2012
07:05 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'CrackBerry,' Jelly Bean, Apple get just desserts

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"Today Blackberry changed its name to Blackbury"
–QthePower 

As readers discussed three popular and whimsically named mobile platforms, their commentary turned mouth-watering. Readers were reacting to a story about decline of the BlackBerry mobile device in a world of iPhones, Androids and Windows 8 phones.

"A blackberry was squished by an apple," said RKW29.

"Apples suck. Jelly Beans Rule," said Another_Fine_Mess, referring to the latest dessert-themed Android update.

From 'CrackBerry' to depressing: The BlackBerry's 5-year fall

One reader noted that the BlackBerry is popular in business settings.

jimbo0117: "People need to keep these kinds of headlines in perspective. The VAST majority of BB's users have always been business users. And for the most part, they still use the BB. BB tried, but never really got a large consumer base. Mainly because their products weren't tailored to the average teen/early 20's user – and they were/are expensive. So it isn't like BB has lost as much, but more like it never gained – just basically stagnated. And for most business watchers, they equate that with decline."

On the other hand, plenty of readers say businesses are warming up to other devices and adding support for people to "BYOD," as in "bring your own device." FULL POST

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Filed under: Android • Apple • Overheard on CNN.com • Technology
June 29th, 2012
07:48 AM ET

Friday's live events

The candidates for the 2012 presidential election appear to be set in stone.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of all the news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:30 am ET - George Zimmerman bond hearing - The Florida man accused of fatally shooting unarmed teen Trayvon Martin is back in court this morning.  He will again ask for bond in his case.

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime • Elections • On CNN.com today • Politics
June 29th, 2012
05:01 AM ET

European leaders reach key deal on banks

European leaders reached a "breakthrough" deal early Friday to ease the recapitalization of struggling banks that should help draw the eurozone back from the brink of a gathering crisis.

Under the deal, European leaders agreed to create a single supervisory body to oversee the eurozone's banks which could use the single currency area's rescue funds, the European Financial Stability Facility or European Stability Mechanism, to aid banks directly without adding to governments' debt.

European Union leaders are hoping for implementation of the agreement by July 9, an EU statement said.

The deal means Spain's formal request this week for eurozone bailout funds to recapitalize its troubled banking sector will not add to its sovereign debt. Madrid had feared the increased debt load would send its borrowing costs even higher.

Ireland, which hopes to rework the terms of its bailout deal, and Italy, which like Spain is battling with spiraling government borrowing costs, could also benefit from the new deal.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Economy • World
June 29th, 2012
04:19 AM ET

Clinton, Russian foreign minister to meet on Syrian crisis

Explosions rocked the Syrian capital Friday morning, opposition activists said, hours before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Russian counterpart to raise pressure on the crisis in the Middle East nation.

Clinton meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in St. Petersburg amid their nations' deep divisions over Syria.

The meeting is expected to include talks on Russian arm sales to Syria, the State Department said.

U.S. officials have advocated a political transition plan in Syria, but Russia opposes the idea of foreign intervention in the violence-hit nation.

After the meeting, Clinton will attend an emergency gathering led by international envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, in Geneva on Saturday. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the meeting marks a "turning point" in diplomatic efforts.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
June 29th, 2012
03:26 AM ET

Colorado fire toll: 1 dead, at least 1 missing, 346 homes destroyed

Rebekah and Bryan Largent clung to one another as their worst fears were confirmed: Their home was among the 346 destroyed in a wildfire ravaging the outskirts of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"We're not sure what we are going to do next," Rebekah Largent told CNN affiliate KKTV late Thursday just minutes after the couple learned their rented home was among those turned to a pile of smoldering ash and rubble.

The wildfire has wreaked havoc since it began over the weekend on the western outskirts of Colorado Springs, forcing more than 36,000 to flee their homes as it hop-scotched through heavily populated neighborhoods and threatened the Air Force Academy.

By early Friday morning, the fire had scorched more than 16,700 acres and killed at least one person, authorities said.

More than 20,000 homes and 160 businesses were under threat from the Waldo Canyon Fire, which was 15% contained by early Friday, according to InciWeb, a U.S. multi-agency fire response website.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Barack Obama • U.S. • Weather
June 29th, 2012
02:16 AM ET

Zimmerman to seek second bond

George Zimmerman and his attorney will be back before a Florida judge Friday to argue Zimmerman should be allowed bond a second time despite misrepresenting his finances.

Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin, will attend the morning hearing unshackled and in civilian clothing.

Video and photos of Zimmerman wearing jail garb could prejudice prospective jurors, defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued in a motion.

Zimmerman was released on a $150,000 bond after his arrest. But he was ordered back to jail early this month after the judge revoked his bail, citing about $150,000 in donations in an account controlled by Zimmerman that he had not disclosed at the first bond hearing in April.

O'Mara is asking Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to set a similar bond.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Crime • U.S.
June 29th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

Blistering, potentially deadly heat forecast for much of U.S.

Much of the Central and Eastern United States will bake under intense heat Friday, prompting warnings about air quality and fears about the health of those unable to find refuge in cooler confines.

The blistering conditions won't be fleeting: High temperatures not only are expected to be around or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in locales from Topeka, Kansas, to Washington, DC, on Friday, but they're expected to stay at about that level in many places through next week if not longer.

"Heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke are a real threat, dehydration can occur quickly," the National Weather Service's bureau in Indianapolis, where highs should hit 101 on Friday, noted in issuing an excessive heat warning. "The extended period of heat also will cause drought conditions to worsen and raise the concern for wildfire development."

The thermostat in St. Louis, Missouri, is forecast to hit 108 degrees and remain above 100 through next Thursday, at least, according to the weather service.

That's prompted the city health department to remind residents to limit outdoor activities, not to leave children or pets in vehicles and to watch out for signs of heat exhaustion.

FULL STORY

Filed under: U.S. • Weather
24 hours through the lens
June 28th, 2012
05:09 PM ET

Mash-up: Dogs killed by bees

The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on CNN.com in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.

Well, when you put it that way ...

Your quote of the day comes from a Supreme Court decision you may have heard about. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, wrote in the opinion's pivotal paragraph:

The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. ... The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.

Mixed feelings on court decision

CNN iReporter Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, was both pleased and disappointed by different parts of the Supreme Court's health care ruling. She's unemployed and Catholic, and she questions whether religious institutions can be forced to provide access to birth control.

It's going to be great for people to get health care, but I still think we're going to wonder how we're going to pay for it. ... I'm left wanting to know more, and want someone to address those points.

FULL POST

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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
House holds Holder in contempt
June 28th, 2012
04:48 PM ET

House holds Holder in contempt

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting - a discredited operation that has become a sharp point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

The 255-67 vote marked the first time in American history that the head of the Justice Department has been held in contempt by Congress. Almost every House Republican backed the measure, along with nearly 20 Democrats.

A large number of Democrats - including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - walked off the House floor in protest and refused to participate in the vote.

The criminal contempt charge refers the dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who will decide whether to file charges against Holder. Most legal analysts do not expect Machen - an Obama appointee who ultimately answers to Holder - to take any action.

House members are also expected to pass a civil contempt measure Thursday afternoon. The civil measure would allow the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to file a lawsuit asking the courts to examine the Justice Department's failure to produce certain subpoenaed documents, as well as the validity of the administration's recent assertion of executive privilege over the documents in question.

Legal experts contacted by CNN have said, based on recent precedent, that it could take years for the courts to reach any final decision.

Fast and Furious, a so-called "gun-walking" operation, allowed roughly 2,000 guns into Mexico with the goal of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's fatal shooting were linked to the operation. Guns from the operation have also been linked to an unknown number of Mexican civilians' deaths.

FULL STORY
Overheard on CNN.com: Health care law a 'necessary evil'
A supporter of the health care law cheers upon learning the Supreme Court upheld it.
June 28th, 2012
04:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Health care law a 'necessary evil'

On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 ruling. In the hours after, CNN’s audience was incredibly active in expressing their opinions on the decision.

Some CNN commenters and iReport contributors had personal stories to share:

roaringwoman
As a cancer survivor… my life would have been over without health insurance. It's a necessary evil, but without it, hospitals would be closing their doors, and people would be dying. And don't blame Obama or any other political force because the insurance monster has been around for a long, long, time ruling patients, doctors and hospitals.

Amelia
If you own a vehicle you are required to have it insured. If you don't you pay fines...I don't see the big deal, if they make it affordable I would jump at the chance to insure my family. I work for an attorney, and since it is a small firm, he does not offer insurance.

Natfka
I have 62 employees currently, and since I will be mandated to provide healthcare, I have two options now: Cut deeply into the pockets of the company, myself and its employees, or cut my staffing down to 49 people so as to not hit that 50 person benchmark for mandatory coverage. So 13 people are gone, or 62 (plus myself) take cuts in vacation and or pay raises. I have not made the decision yet, but I won't let my company and all of its employees take such a big hit.

iReport assignment: Your reaction to health care ruling

darb123
As a person with a pre-existing condition that was hereditary, I am glad. Maybe [now] I can purchase insurance. No insurance company will insure me. I have to use my state Medicare-type program. I don't mind paying at all. I still pay for my own prescriptions to the tune of $200 a month. I had no choice a few months back when I had gotten extremely ill and had to go to a regular local hospital. I stayed overnight and the cost was $6,000. Not an Obama fan either!

Many readers pointed out the potential benefits of the law’s implementation:

c_apples
Most of you that have a problem with health care reform have no issues paying your Social Security and Medicare taxes on your paycheck. In fact, I'm sure the majority is counting down the days until they can take advantage of the Social Security and Medicare they have paid into. How is this health care as a tax any different?

flannelgal
People against this law have chosen to limit where they get their information about this law. Currently, when a person who has no insurance requires emergency care, tax payers pay for it, and the [federal] debt mounts. Now, all least the coffers will be replenished by all people, and all people get health care, preventative health care to boot. Thank you, President Obama, and everyone who worked hard to make this happen for all Americans.

Leeford68
I don’t like being forced to pay for wars I don’t want.
I don’t like being forced to pay for roads I don’t drive on.
I don’t like being forced to pay for schools when I don’t have kids....
But I accept the fact that I have to pay for all of these things that create a better community for all of us to live in.

Obama: Supreme Court ruling on health care a victory for all Americans

FULL POST

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Filed under: Health Care • Health care reform
Supreme Court upholds Obamacare 5-4
June 28th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare 5-4

Editor's note: We're live blogging from the Supreme Court today as the nation waits to see how the justices will rule on the health care law. You can follow along below as CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears and Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin get the latest details live from the court as well as analysis when the opinion is delivered. Watch live coverage and analysis on CNN TV, CNN’s mobile apps and http://cnn.com/live.

[Updated at 12:23 p.m. ET] President Obama touted the benefits of the law he championed as he reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling.

"By this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administration and CEO bonuses and not enough on your healthcare,” Obama said.

Other benefits include lower drug costs for seniors as well as denying insurers the option to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. It also provides free preventative care in certain cases and issues credits to those who can’t afford their health insurance premiums.

Each state will decide its “own menu of options” and they're welcome to come up with ways to cover more people and improve costs, Obama said.

The president said he respects concerns about the bill and he understands that people are worried that it was politically driven, but he said it should be clear by now he didn’t push for the act because it was “good politics."

“I did it because I believed it was good for the American people,” he said.

[twitter https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/218378521335181312%5D

[Updated at 12:16 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama on Thursday called the Supreme Court's decision upholding his signature health care law "a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law."

"They’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle, that here in America, the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin,” Obama said.

Opinion: Health care victory, but still a long way to go

[Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET]  Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minnesota, responded to the ruling by saying, "This is a turning point in American history.  We will never be the same again with this denial of liberty interests. But also it is a black cloud pragmatically speaking on economic recovery.  There will be no hope of economic recovery between now and the election. We have exhausted now our legal solutions to be able to rid the nation of Obamacare. Now, we have to look for a political solution."

[Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET] GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney is speaking now regarding health care.

“I will act to repeal Obamacare” if elected president, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said. “Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today.”

He wet on to cite the economic impact of the healthcare law. It raises taxes and cuts Medicare by hundreds of millions of dollars, while adding trillions to the national debt. It “pushes those obligations onto coming generations.”

Romney said that in light of the Supreme Court decision, Americans must decide if they want more government and more deficits and if they want to lose their preferred insurance or if they want to “return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in healthcare.”

“This is a time of choice for the American people. Our mission is clear: If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we have to replace President Obama,” he said.

[Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET] Vicki Kennedy, the wife of late Sen. Edward Kennedy released the following statement regarding the health care ruling.

"I applaud the decision by the United States Supreme Court this morning, upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now to complete that
work. The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise.

As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: 'What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.'"

[Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET] The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it is for comprehensive healthcare reform, especially for the poor, but it opposes the Supreme Court decision for three reasons.

"First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of “high risk” insurance pools that would have covered abortion.

Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. We have provided extensive analyses of ACA’s defects with respect to both abortion and conscience. The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA’s new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.

Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly. ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need."

[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET]  Lots of reaction from the political world on this decision, which was seen as an issue that could sway the upcoming election.

But just as much as this is a political issue, the real impact is on everyday Americans.

Here's a look at how some of those people reacted to the decision.

FULL POST

June 28th, 2012
07:46 AM ET

Thursday's live events

The Supreme Court is expected to rule today on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law.  Once a ruling is issued, watch CNN.com Live for reaction and fallout to the decision.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Anti-health care law rally - The Supreme Court will be the place to be today because of the health care ruling.  Before the ruling is announced, conservative groups opposed to the Affordable Care Act will stage rally outside the Court.

10:00 am ET (est.) - Health care ruling revealed

FULL POST


Filed under: Health • Health Care • Health care reform • On CNN.com today
June 28th, 2012
12:04 AM ET

TSA screener spilled grandfather's ashes, then laughed about it, Indiana man says

An Indiana man is demanding a direct apology from a Transportation Security Administration agent in Florida who, the man says, spilled his grandfather's ashes during an airport bag check - and then laughed off the incident.

And John Gross is also demanding that the TSA release any security surveillance tapes of the incident - tapes that the federal agency claims simply don't exist.

Gross, 30, was returning home from visiting family in Orlando, Florida, on June 19, carrying with him a portion of his grandfather's ashes that had been passed along by an uncle - a "real sentimental kind of guy," says Gross - when he approached TSA screeners. A female agent wearing blue latex gloves inspected the contents of his bag, says Gross, including the jar clearly labeled "Human Remains."

"I said, 'Please be careful, these are my grandpa's ashes,'" Gross told CNN Wednesday. But, he said, the agent proceeded to stick her finger in the jar then accidentally spilled its contents on the airport floor.

She then laughed, according to Gross - not an uproarious cackle, but a chuckle that he found offensive nonetheless.

"She thought it was funny," he said. "I wanted to smack her."

FULL STORY
24 hours through the lens
June 27th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Mash-up: Heroes, poems, stories

The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on CNN.com in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.

Shaking off the Troubles

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, dressed in green, shook hands Wednesday with former Irish Republican Army commander Martin McGuinness. It was a historic gesture as Northern Ireland continues to heal from decades of violence over British rule. Gerry Adams, president of the Irish republican party Sinn Fein, welcomed the meeting:

All in all, it's a good day for Ireland and a good day for the people of these islands. It brings our journey of relationship building within this island and between these islands onto a new plane. I would like to think we will build upon that.

Missing Nora Ephron

The death Tuesday of screenwriter and author Nora Ephron has brought forth an outpouring of grief from celebrities who knew her and worked with her, but regular folks appreciated Ephron too, as evidenced by CNN users' comments. An example:

djreilly

I never saw a Nora Ephron picture I didn't enjoy and I'm a guy. I like guns and body counts in my movies. But, Nora could tell a story even I could enjoy. The warmth, depth and humor she brought to the screen was barely matched, Nora you will be missed. I know Harry and Sally will miss you even more.

 Something about the name Thompson

Two regular guys, both named Thompson, in different cities are being hailed as heroes after coming to the rescue of people in trouble along their routes.

FULL POST

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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
What to know about Eric Holder
June 27th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

What to know about Eric Holder

The U.S. House will proceed with a vote Thursday on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder has been cited for withholding documents in the "Operation Fast and Furious" weapons operation.

Fast and Furious was a federal operation that involved agents' allowing illegal sales of guns believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels. The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers, but things went awry when weapons found at murder scenes were traced back to the program.

Fast and Furious: By the numbers

As the proceedings continue with Holder, here's a bit of background on his time as Attorney General, as well as a timeline of the events involving Fast and Furious. (For an in-depth breakdown, you can also read more about the Fast and Furious investigation, which started with an agent's death.):

FULL POST

Jews, Muslims slam German circumcision ruling as assault on religion
A German court has sparked a furor by ruling that religious-based circumcisions are not in a child's best interests.
June 27th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Jews, Muslims slam German circumcision ruling as assault on religion

Jews and Muslims are joining forces in outrage over a German court's decision that could prohibit parents from having their children circumcised for religious reasons. The court deemed the oft-religious procedure an act of "bodily harm" to children, according to German media reports.

The Tuesday ruling says doctors who perform the procedure for religious reasons could be charged with committing bodily injury, sparking a debate that pits parents' religious freedom against a child's right to self-determination. The court essentially ruled that circumcision is not in a child's best interests, according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

"The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision," the court said. "This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs."

While the ruling is expected to influence other courts, it is not legally binding, Der Spiegel noted.

The procedure, which is relatively common in the United States (roughly six in 10 newborn boys are circumcised), is not so prevalent in Europe. In Germany, only 11% of boys are circumcised, according to 2007 figures. However, many of Germany's 4 million Muslims and its 100,000 Jews consider circumcision a religious rite.

The case began in Cologne in 2010 after a doctor performed a circumcision on a 4-year-old Muslim boy. His parents took him to a hospital two days later because he was bleeding heavily, the Medical Daily website reported. When prosecutors learned of the emergency room visit, they brought criminal charges against the doctor.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Germany • Health • Islam • Israel • Lawsuit • New York • Religion • World
June 27th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

TV station in Syria bombed; report finds growing 'contours of an insurrection'

Bombers killed at least seven people at a pro-regime Syrian satellite channel Wednesday, the government said, as world diplomats were making another try at ending the violence raging across the country.

"Terrorists planted explosive devices" in the headquarters of al-Ikhbaria, located near Damascus, killing three journalists and four security guards, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The attackers also ransacked and destroyed studios, the news outlet said.

"The massacre won't go unpunished," Information Minister Amre al-Zoubi said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Syria
Queen makes history with ex-IRA leader handshake
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands Wednesday with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness.
June 27th, 2012
09:35 AM ET

Queen makes history with ex-IRA leader handshake

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shook hands Wednesday with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in a historic gesture marking a giant step forward in the peace process around British rule of Northern Ireland.

The handshake comes 14 years after the end of a conflict that claimed about 3,500 lives, including that of the queen's cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten in an IRA bombing.

McGuinness spoke to the queen in Irish as they clasped hands and made eye contact for several seconds in the ground-breaking event.

"Goodbye and godspeed," McGuinness then said, translating his comment for the queen. She smiled throughout the encounter but did not speak.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Ireland • Queen Elizabeth II • United Kingdom
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