News Wrap: Saudi officials blame pilgrims for deadly stampede

In our news wrap Friday, Saudi authorities launched an investigation into the deadly stampede among hajj pilgrims near Mecca, but officials also blamed the crowd as well as the will of god. Also Sepp Blatter, head of soccer’s world body FIFA, faces a criminal investigation for corruption charges in Switzerland.

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    King Salman of Saudi Arabia received pilgrims' representatives at his palace in Mina today.

    He talked of Arab and Islamic unity and of preventing hidden hands from causing mischief in Muslim lands. Not all the faithful will accept that. Amateur video shot yesterday shows emergency workers amongst piles of bodies. Other footage shows people waiting to enter the Jamarat yesterday. One gate is opened, the crowd presses in the danger is obvious.

    Dissident voices say there's little chance of a transparent investigation. That's just not the Saudi government's priority. In Tehran, they were protesting about the 131 Iranians who were killed in Mina. "Death to the Saudi monarchy," she shouted, but this grief is orchestrated, not spontaneous. Shiite Iran is Sunni Saudi Arabia's sectarian and regional rival.

    The governments sponsor opposing forces in Syria and Yemen. Yesterday's tragedy will fuel antagonism and political strife. Today, a official pictures showed a calm scene a that Jamarat, while pilgrims carried out the ritual stoning of the devil. Some two million Muslims are staying in the massive city of air-conditioned tents in Mina.

    The Saudis have talked of increasing the number next year. Now the pilgrims will move towards Mecca, despite the danger, the acrimony and the grief for those who lost their lives.


    Saudi officials say they expect the death toll to rise, as they continue counting bodies.

    The head of soccer's world body, FIFA, President Sepp Blatter, now faces a criminal investigation for alleged corruption. Authorities in Switzerland interrogated Blatter today and searched his office. U.S. and Swiss officials announced in May they're looking into corruption at the sport's highest levels. After that, Blatter said he will step down early next year.

    In Europe's migrant crisis, the prime minister of Hungary promised today to consult with neighboring states before closing his border with Croatia. But Hungary also neared completion of a fence on that border, where thousands have crossed in recent days. Thousands more are crossing Serbia to get to Croatia. A top European official was there today to witness the influx firsthand.

  • JOHANNES HAHN, European Commission:

    It's a global problem, and we can only give a European answer. It's not something where we can leave only one country with itself to resolve the problem. This problem can only be managed if we are all working together.


    Meanwhile, there was trouble in Finland, where dozens of protesters threw stones and set off fireworks at a bus carrying foreign asylum seekers. The government condemned the violence.

    Back in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency announced auto emissions testing is going to get more stringent. EPA's head of air quality said the agency wants to know if other automakers also cheated on the tests, as Volkswagen has admitted doing. The head of V.W. has resigned, and today, Matthias Mueller, who now runs V.W.'s Porsche unit, was named the company's new CEO.

    California today reimposed the United States' toughest carbon emission standard. It mandates cutting transportation fuel emissions by 10 percent within five years. And it counts the pollution generated by producing the fuel, as well as by driving. The issue's been on hold since 2009 because of legal challenges.

    And on Wall Street, stocks had an up and down day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 113 points to close near 16315. The Nasdaq fell 48 points, and the S&P 500 slipped one point. For the week, the Dow lost a fraction of a percent, the Nasdaq fell nearly 3 percent, and the S&P shed 1.5 percent.

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