Things you should know today – September 24, 2015


saudiMore than 700 pilgrims dead in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia (AP) — At least 717 people were killed and hundreds were injured in a stampede Thursday at the annual hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities said. The crush happened in Mina, a large valley about three miles from the holy city of Mecca that has been the site of hajj stampedes in years past. Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. It also houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage. The Saudi civil defense directorate earlier said at least 450 other pilgrims were injured in the stampede on Street 204 in Mina. It was not immediately clear if some of those previously listed as injured were included in rising death tolls. Denver post



popePope Francis will delivers historic speech to Congress
Pope Francis is to become the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of the US Congress, with an audience of more than 500 lawmakers, justices and senior officials. The subject matter for the Pope’s speech may range from the environment to the economy. He could also touch on controversial social issues that divide America, including abortion. Later on Thursday the Pope is due to share a meal with homeless people. Pope’s appearance in Congress has also provoked debate among some lawmakers as to whether a religious leader should be asked to address a secular democratic body. BBC



congressFederal government shutdown is looming
Federal agencies will run out of money in a week, but House GOP leaders still haven’t outlined a path forward for a stopgap bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a Thursday vote on a bill that continues funding federal agencies through early December that also bars taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood. Many conservatives insist any spending bill should block any federal funds for the women’s health organization after a series of secretly taped, edited videos released by an anti-abortion group purportedly show officials from the group talking about the sale of fetal body parts. Planned Parenthood denies any illegal activity. CNN



trumpDonald Trump continues fighting rivals
Donald Trump offered a scathing assessment of several 2016 rivals during a visit to the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, continuing the trash-talking approach to the presidential race. He knocked Carly Fiorina for raising money for her campaign rather than spending her own, during last GOP debate. Trump said Hillary Clinton is the original birther, during her 2008 presidential campaign, kicked off the warrantless speculation that Obama was not born in US. On Marco Rubio, Trump charged that he has “the worst attendance record in the Senate.” He also called Rubio “very disloyal” for running against Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, his former mentor, in the 2016 GOP primary. CBS



xiChinese president Xi Jinping meets US tech leaders
Visiting Chinese President Xi meets Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and other US technology leaders in Washington State. He has promised to strengthen protections on intellectual property and clear obstacles to investment in China at the meeting. Mr Xi addressed recent China’s recent economic troubles, and said the government was taking steps to address it. But he said, “I believe in the long run that the fundamentals of the Chinese economy are good.” BBC