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The days without reports of a terrorist attack, somewhere in the world, have become rare. And no, today is not one of them. Details are emerging this morning of three veiled women attacking a police station in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, reportedly wounding two officers before they were shot dead.


What stands out in particular in this report is the gender of the alleged terrorists. Other recent attacks in Kenya and Nigeria suggest that al-Shabaab (which is believed to be behind the events in Mombasa) and Boko Haram are increasingly using female jihadists, and sometimes even little girls, to carry out their terror agenda. Meanwhile, with information bringing the world ever closer, such scenarios appear to be inspiring others to do the same in faraway places. In Paris, for example, police are still investigating a group of ISIS-linked Islamist women who were planning a large-scale attack on the Notre-Dame cathedral.


This new tragic path toward a kind of jihad gender equality is a rather recent phenomenon. In a paper penned 10 years ago, Katharina Von Knop, a German professor of international politics, wrote that female suicide bombers "undermine the idea of who and what a terrorist is." She argued that the role of women in jihad is, originally, that of "an ideological supporter and operational facilitator," someone who can "continue to take care about the financial issues of the organization and continue to educate the children in the ‘right' belief," should the husband die in an attack. But at a time when al-Qaeda dominated the Islamic terror terrain, Von Knop also foresaw the evolution of the female jihadist into a full warrior. This, she concluded, provides terror groups with "a tactical advantage" given the "element of surprise, hesitancy to search women, and the stereotype of females as being nonviolent," not to mention the "much greater psychological impact."


The growing direct participation of women in terror operations not only raises the risk of more attacks, but also raises levels of suspicion towards Muslim women who have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, including those dressed in traditional Islamic clothes. It is a reminder that recent debates in Europe over burqas and burkinis are no passing fashion.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • Syrian ceasefire comes into force (see below).
  • 1.6 billion Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, Islam's holiest festival.


DEADLY BATTLES AHEAD OF SYRIAN CEASEFIRE

At least 90 people were killed in airstrikes that hit rebel-controlled areas of Syria since the announcement of a U.S.-Russia ceasefire due to come into force today at sunset, CNN reports. In a letter addressed to Washington, rebel groups said they would "cooperate positively" but expressed doubts concerning the other party, the Russian-backed Syrian government. The ceasefire, if successful, should also allow for the nationwide delivery of aid. After the seven-day truce, "U.S. and Russian experts will work together to defeat Daesh the Arab acronym for ISIS and Nusra," John Kerry said as he announced the deal.


CLINTON CANCELS CALIFORNIA TRIP AFTER SICKNESS

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has canceled a planned two-day trip to California after she cut short her participation at a 9/11 memorial ceremony yesterday in New York City. A video posted on Twitter shows her apparently unable to walk unaided and extremely unsteady as she headed to a car away from the memorial. Her doctor said in a statement "she became overheated and dehydrated" and had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday. For The Daily Telegraph, this could mark "a major turning point" as questions emerge over her health, and yesterday's events will likely fuel Trump supporters' speculations.


— ON THIS DAY

76 years ago on this day, four teenagers stumbled upon something really awe-inspiring in southern France … That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


VERBATIM

"We wonder how their lives might have unfolded — how their dreams might have taken shape," Barack Obama said about the "3,000 beautiful lives" in an address outside the Pentagon, as America marked 15 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.


MINOR ARRESTED IN FRENCH ANTI-TERROR PROBE

French police arrested a 15-year-old boy in Paris on Saturday, in connection with a female jihadist cell believed to have planned an attack on the Notre Dame cathedral, Le Figaroreports. In a Sunday interview with several French media outlets, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that terror plots were foiled "every day" and that some 15,000 were being monitored for radicalization.


— EXTRA! CATALAN RALLY

Some 800,000 Catalans used Sunday's annual La Diada, national day in Catalonia, to renew demands for independence from Spain. See how Barcelona-based La Vanguardia featured the protest on its front page.


NORTH KOREA READY FOR 6TH NUCLEAR TEST ...

South Korean intelligence officials believe that North Korea is "fully ready" to carry out a sixth nuclear test "on short notice," Yonhap reports, just days after the country conducted its most powerful test yet. South Korea meanwhile unveiled plans to raze Pyongyang should signs emerge that a nuclear attack is imminent. Seoul's plans would leave Pyongyang "reduced to ashes and removed from the map," a military source said.


… AS DEADLY FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION

At least 133 people were killed and 395 are missing, after what's believed to be the worst downpour to hit North Korea in decades. The figures, released by the UN, also place at 107,000 the number of people displaced, with thousands of buildings destroyed.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Donald Trump shows disdains for both Latinos in his own country, as well as some basic tenets of international relations. For Colombian daily El Espectador, Eduardo Barajas Sandoval writes: "Trump's proposal for a wall, and that Mexico should pay for it, is simple enough to show he has but a vague idea of the scope and dimension of the two states' relations. Among other elements he seems oblivious to the tremendous progression of Latino culture across the U.S., with Mexicans leading the way in this cultural transformation of so many aspects of everyday life there. ...

Lost in the forest of his own rhetoric, Trump has said so many things that were later modified that many have even hoped he might substantially change his positions toward the Mexicans. This has not happened."

Read the full article, Latino Pride Is Bigger Than Any Wall Trump Can Build.


AUSTRIAN ELECTION RERUN COULD BE DELAYED

The rerun of Austria's presidential faceoff between independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen and the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer is likely to be delayed until at least late November, due to faulty glue on postal vote envelopes, newspaper Die Presse reports. Austria's highest court had imposed a rerun on Oct. 2 after irregularities regarding postal votes handed Van der Bellen a narrow victory.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Ghost Town Grandeur — Mystras, 1961


$4,390

You might have heard that a group of eight Chinese tourists in Israel recently had to pay an incredible $4,390 for humus. But it now appears they had a little more than just that.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

TREKKIE TECHNOLOGY

As Star Trek recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, IFLScience! website focused on some of the technologies depicted in the cult science fiction show to see how feasible they are. Beam us up, Scotty!

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Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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