It’s taken a deadly turn. The annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca — in which at least 2 million Muslims from around the world are taking part — saw more than 700 people killed today during the “stoning the devil” ritual in the city of Mina. Hundreds more were injured, and Saudi officials have responded by sending in thousands of civil defense workers and hundreds of ambulances in an attempt to deal with the carnage. They’ll be looking to boost safety precautions today, the third of five days of the Hajj.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He believes … in controversy. The pontiff called on the U.S. government — abandoning his native Spanish for English — to fight climate change, income inequality and persecution of minorities before exiting to share lunch with a group of homeless people. He’s also anointed America’s very first saint, elevating Junípero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan friar who set up early California missions. The move thrilled Hispanic Catholics, who have long sought Serra’s acknowledgment by the church, but frustrated Native Americans, who say he helped destroy indigenous communities and cultures.
They’re going to the source. The European Union has announced plans to send extra funds to Syrian refugees still in the Middle East in a bid to help stem the tide of migrants flooding the Continent. The money, agreed to at yesterday’s crisis summit in Brussels, will be distributed via a United Nations refugee agency and the World Food Program. Acknowledging that a permanent open door in Europe won’t solve anything, the leaders also agreed to strengthen EU border controls and boost funding for security forces along the frontiers.
He’s securing peace. President Juan Manuel Santos signed a deal yesterday with guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, aka Timochenko, for a commitment to end the nation’s decades-long civil war. Both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government agreed that tribunals will be established to try former combatants suspected of war crimes. A truth commission, meanwhile, will deal with victims’ reparations and provide amnesty to other combatants. Santos said a definitive deal will be finalized in six months and encouraged Colombians, tweeting, “Peace is possible and is closer than ever!”
He’s no longer behind the wheel. The German automotive giant’s chief exec, Martin Winterkorn, resigned yesterday to allow for a “fresh start” following the emissions-cheating scandal that’s seen shares drop 30 percent this week. The outgoing CEO said he hadn’t personally done anything wrong regarding the 11 million diesel cars fitted with technology to help them skirt emissions controls, and VW’s supervisory board thanked him for his “invaluable contributions.” They’ve also launched a search for a new CEO — as well as an internal investigation with an eye toward criminal charges.
Suicide bombers target Yemen mosque, killing 25. (Al Jazeera)
Border tensions escalate between Serbia and Croatia. (DW)
Canadian rail terror plotters get life in prison. (CBC)
Man charged in Arizona freeway shooting case. (NBC)
Nigeria bans cars in Borno state to thwart terror. (BBC)
2 die in Seattle charter bus crash. (Seattle Times)
Will they be forgiven? Yesterday, on the Jewish day of atonement, local Chicago news channel WGN inadvertently illustrated a story encouraging an easy fast with a yellow Star of David and the word “Jude” emblazoned across it, an offensive Nazi symbol that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. Outrage ensued, and the “extremely embarrassed” station quickly apologized for the mistake, saying — amid public derision and horror over the mix-up — that they’ll review their policies for vetting graphics.
They want to be sure. The remains of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and his wife Alexandra — executed by a Bolshevik firing squad in 1918 — have been dug up to aid an investigation into their murders and confirm their identities. Earlier genetic tests proved they were the Romanovs, but the Orthodox Church still has doubts. So investigators will test samples from the bloody uniform of the tsar’s grandfather, which will hopefully culminate in Nicholas, buried with three of his five children, being reunited with the remains of the other two.
Look both ways… or just hold mommy’s hand. The latter’s more likely in South Africa, Italy and Portugal, the three strictest countries for parenting according to a new study. Researchers surveyed more than 18,000 children from 16 countries and found that a whopping 80 percent of South African parents fear their kids will be hit by cars if they cross streets alone. They hope their findings will encourage city planners to design safer areas for play and get moms and dads to consider the benefits of a bit more freedom.
They’re ad-dressing fashion’s final frontier. Guys in skirts have long been accepted by the LGBT community, and in countries like Myanmar and Scotland. But now high fashion is catching up, with designers putting male models in skirts and stilettos. High heels, originally introduced for men but over time associated primarily with women, strode down runways for Hood By Air and Saint Laurent. With more labels and brands embracing androgyny, perhaps it’s just a matter of time before men in skirts are no more remarkable than women in trousers.
He’s suiting up. Seattle is off to a dangerous 0-2 start but enjoyed good news yesterday when their star safety put contract negotiations on hold until after the season. The three-time Pro Bowler sat out training camp, preseason and the first two games in a bid to boost his income, but finally said it was just too hard watching his teammates struggle. Chancellor’s holdout ironically cost him more than $260,000, but he’s expected to be on hand for Sunday’s home opener and hopes a successful season will expedite negotiations.