As Washington careens toward shutdown, Saudi cleric tries to keep women from careening anywhere

You know that awkward moment when you meet the leader of the neighboring regional superpower and you leave your mike open — and everyone hears what you really think of him? Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif does.

Here are some other stories catching our attention around the globe today.

Disneyland for jihad

"Subhan'Allah, bro, I asked for ketchup"

Der Spiegels’ Christoph Reuter has a fascinating report (in English) from what he refers to as a  ‘disneyland’ for ‘jihad tourists’ in northern Syria. Atmeh is a safe area where Islamists fighters from around the world can meet and live out their jihadi fantasies in relative safety, without going to the frontline.

Won't someone please think of the ovaries?

“If a woman drives a car  ... medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards."

The Statesman is one of several outlets to take an interest in a recent colorful fatwa from senior Saudi cleric Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan. The pseudo-scientific argument is apparently a response to an organizing effort among Saudi women to protest a government ban on women driving.

Lay down your penknives and surrender

The Telegraph has an intriguing story on what the Swiss military has been up to this month. In the absence of any actual war during several hundred years of neutrality, the Swiss Army’s war games department has been role playing a potential invasion.

The hypothetical aggressor? A bankrupt and bank account free French nation.

Get off of your bike, get into a car

While most of the world looks for ways to convince residents to give up their cars for public transportation or bikes, Calcutta is going in a different direction. Earlier this month, the city's traffic department banned bikes and handcarts from 174 major and minor streets around the sprawling city.

DNA India has a report about activist Medha Patkar's efforts to get the ban reversed.

Now boarding all zones and all rows for Tehran

On the heels of the seemingly major breakthrough last week in US-Iranian relations, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is proposing that the two nations take concrete steps to improve relations: by re-establishing air links between the two nations. Flights were terminated after the 1979 Iran Revolution.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Heavy smog has settled in around Beijing, just in time for China's National Day — the holiday that celebrates the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. According to the US Embassy, air pollution levels for PM2.5 particles is a 200 micrograms per cubic metre, and Beijing officials have the reading at an even higher 225 — all of which adds up to very unhealthy air in Beijing, just in time for a major national holiday. 

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