Move to ban circumcision will be on November ballot

A group seeking to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has succeeded in getting their controversial measure on the November ballot, meaning voters will be asked to weigh in on what until now has been a private family matter.

City elections officials confirmed Wednesday that the initiative had received enough signatures to appear on the ballot, getting more than 7,700 valid signatures from city residents. Initiatives must receive at least 7,168 signatures to qualify.

If the measure passes, circumcision would be prohibited among males under the age of 18. Violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions.

The initiative appears to be the first of its kind in the country to actually make it to this stage, though a larger national debate over the health benefits of circumcision has been going on for many years.

Supporters of the ban say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that is unnecessary, painful and even dangerous. They say parents should not be able to force the decision on their young child.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Afghan’s death at Gitmo was a suicide, military says

The U.S. military says an Afghan detained at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba has died in an apparent suicide.

U.S. Southern Command spokesman Bob Appin says the 37-year-old prisoner was not breathing when guards found him Wednesday. Appin says the guards tried without success to resuscitate him.

The prisoner went by only one name: Inayatullah. He had been held at the U.S. base in Cuba since September 2007.

He is the eighth prisoner to die at the detention center since January 2002, when the U.S. began using the U.S. Navy base in southeastern Cuba to hold captured detainees suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Five other deaths were declared suicides. Two others were from apparently natural causes.


U.S. conducted 1940s syphilis experiment, says top official

An investigation by Guatemalan authorities has identified about 1,300 people who may have been involved in a 1940s U.S. syphilis experiment, a few of whom may still be living, Vice President Rafael Espada said Wednesday.

The search of hospital, health department, military and prison records has identified about 1,300 people who were infected with syphilis or gonorrhea without their knowledge or consent.

“As of today, we have found three or four patients who are still alive,” Espada said.

The formal results of the investigation were to have been presented this week, but were delayed when the government had to turn its attention to the massacre of 27 people by suspected drug traffickers in northern Peten province.

No new date has been set for the release of the report.