Secretary of State John Kerry offered a defense of freedom of speech, religion and thought in the United States on Tuesday telling German students that in America “you have a right to be stupid if you want to be.”
“As a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view,” Kerry told the students in Berlin, the second stop on his inaugural trip as secretary of state.
“People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another,” he added.
“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In American you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be,” he said, prompting laughter. “And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.”
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited Bavaria on Sunday, charming former critics of Greece in the southern German state who once wished to eject his country from the euro zone, and departing with pledges of solidarity and support.
Samaras’ visit to Munich and dinner with Bavaria’s State Premier Horst Seehofer on Sunday night was another sign of the new thaw in Greek-German relations that started when Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens in October and was convinced of Athens’ commitment to painful reforms.
“We want to support the Greek government and the Greek people, and help them gain economic growth and competitiveness,” Seehofer said at a press conference with Samaras.
Seehofer added the Greeks deserved deep respect for their achievements. “They are on a good way to overcoming the causes of the crisis.”
Early success for the iPhone 5 smartphone has helped Apple to overtake Google’s Android software in the United States, research firm Kantar WorldPanel said on Tuesday.
Apple’s U.S. market share in the 12 weeks to October 31 more than doubled from a year ago to 48.1 percent, putting it within reach of the record 49.3 percent it managed in early 2012.
Android’s share dropped to 46.7 percent from 63.3 percent, Kantar WorldPanel’s data showed, but it continues to dominate in key European markets. The platform 74 percent market share in Germany and 82 percent in Spain.
Its combined share of the top five European markets rose to 64 percent, from 51 percent a year earlier, while Apple’s share edged up by one percentage point to 21 percent.
A German court’s ban on circumcising baby boys has provoked a rare show of unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians who see it as a threat to religious freedom, while doctors warn it could increase health risks by forcing the practice underground.
European rabbis meeting in Berlin on Thursday promised to defy the ruling by a court in the city of Cologne last month. They plan further talks with Muslim and Christian leaders in Stuttgart next week to see how they can fight the ban together.
“We urge the Jewish community in Germany and circumcisers to continue to perform circumcisions and not to wait for a change in the law,” said Pinchas Goldschmidt, Swiss-born chief rabbi of Moscow and organizer of the three-day meeting.
Men talk outside the internet cafe where police detained Canadian murder suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta in Berlin, June 4, 2012. Canadian Luka Rocco Magnotta, suspected of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student in Montreal, was arrested in an internet cafe in Berlin on Monday, police said.
Magnotta was found in a cafe on Karl Marx Strasse, a busy shopping street running through the multi-cultural south-Berlin district, which is home to numerous Turkish and Lebanese cafes and snack bars. [REUTERS/Thomas Peter]
READ MORE: Canadian murder suspect arrested in Germany
A white rose is placed on barbed wire at the museum of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau marking the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust, in Auschwitz Birkenau January 27, 2012. [REUTERS/Kacper Pempel]
Germany: many seek to switch to public health insurance
Shocked by premium increases of as much as 50 percent, many Germans with private health insurance are seeking to switch to a national health plan, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
Many private health insurance plans pushed through hefty premium increases at the beginning of the year and that’s behind the move to switch, the magazine said.
“We’ve gotten increased telephone inquiries from those privately insured who want to come to the AOK,” Wilfried Jacobs, the head of the AOK in Rheinland/Hamburg, told the magazine. The AOK, with 15 regional branches and some 24 million members, is Germany’s largest public health insurance organisation. The magazine said other public health insurers have received similar inquiries.
But it’s not so easy to switch once you’ve opted for private insurance. German law only allows people to change from public to private in exceptional situations.
These include when someone has lost their job. You can also switch if you are an employee whose salary falls below the € 45,900 level. Workers who used to be self-employed but now have a full-time position with a similar salary may also change. (via The Local)