Mecca Stampede, FARC Handshake, Exhumed Tsar

MORE THAN 300 DEAD IN MECCA STAMPEDE

Photo: Omar Chatriwala

At least 310 people taking part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage were killed in a stampede Thursday morning in Mina, near the Islamic holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, Al Jazeera quotes Saudi officials as saying. Thursday is the first day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, and some 2 million people were set to take part in this year's Hajj pilgrimage. With 450 reported injured, the number of victims could still rise significantly. Earlier this month, 118 people were killed and nearly 400 wounded when a crane collapsed over Mecca's Grand Mosque.


DEADLY YEMEN MOSQUE BLAST

At least 25 people were killed and 30 wounded when two suicide bombers detonated at a Shia mosque run by Houthi rebels in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Thursday. The explosions struck while worshippers were celebrating the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, according to witnesses and medical staff quoted by Reuters. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but similar suicide bombings have been carried out by ISIS on Shia mosques in Sanaa in recent months.


1.1 BILLION

European Union leaders pledged at least $1.1 billion to help UN agencies handle the refugee crisis between the Middle East and Europe, the BBC reports. At a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, European heads of state also agreed on closer cooperation to stem the flow of refugees into the EU.


COLOMBIA, FARC VOW TO END WAR

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Timoleón Jiménez of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed Wednesday on a "deadline for peace," promising to end the country's half-century-long civil war within six months. The two men marked the accord with a historic handshake in Havana, Cuba, which has hosted the nearly three-year-old peace talks. Read more in our "Extra!" feature.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



VW SCANDAL KEEPS ROLLING

The German carmaker may name a news chief on Friday after the resignation of CEO Martin Winterkorn, as the fallout continues after revelations that Volkswagen manipulated emissions test with serious consequences for the environment.


PORTUGAL TO CROOKS: HANDS OFF GRANDPA

With a fast declining birthrate, Portugal is among the world's oldest countries. That has apparently been a boon to criminals targeting vulnerable senior citizens. But now a new law increases sentences for crimes against people over 65. Read more from Diario de Noticias/Worldcrunch.


RUSSIA EXHUMES LAST TSAR AND WIFE

Russian investigators have exhumed the remains of the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his wife, Alexandra, killed with their children and servants by revolutionary Bolsheviks in 1918. Samples were taken from the remains, buried at Saint Petersburg cathedral. This is part of a reopened probe to confirm the identity of remains found elsewhere and believed to belong to two children of the royal Romanov family, Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria, the Russian daily Kommersant reports.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

The conventional wisdom says a male teacher shortage is bad for society, and the surplus of women in education might work against boys. A new study confronts the myths, Fanny Jiménez reports for Die Welt. "Some education experts consider this so-called ‘feminization' of the teaching profession a real concern. They believe boys might perform better were they to have more male teachers. When it comes to student performance, as a matter of fact, studies show that girls have overtaken boys. They tend to start school earlier, are less likely to have to repeat classes, and attend high school longer than boys."

Read the full article, Does The Gender Of A Teacher Matter?


ON THIS DAY


Today marks the birthday of the brain behind Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, and Bert & Ernie. This — and more — in your 57-second shot of history.


TRAVEL SLOWER TO COMMUTE FASTER

Commuting in and around London could be faster if Tube trains travelled slower, a study published in the Royal Society Interface journal suggests. After establishing a mathematical study of transport, researchers found that if Tube journeys are too fast, compared to travelling by road, the overall congestion increases due to key locations outside the city center becoming bottlenecks. Their results showed that the London Underground would work best if its trains travelled at about 13 mph (21 km/h), which is 1.2 times faster than the average speed on roads. The current average speed is 21 mph (33 km/h).

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After being canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Fiesta Grande is back in Mexico’s city of Chiapa de Corzo

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

👋 你好*

Welcome to Friday, where U.S. and Russian top officials are meeting today in Geneva as tensions mount over Ukraine, rock and Rocky Horror fans mourn Meat Loaf and a 19-year-old flies solo around the world. Meanwhile, from Bogota-based daily El Espectador, we see how an old text reveals new insights to late Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ambiguous history as a “wandering Sandinista.”

[*Nĭ hăo - Mandarin]

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