Vote to end civil war in Colombia fails by 0.45%

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - OCTOBER 02:  A voter carries her ballot in the referendum on a peace accord to end the 52-year-old guerrilla war between the FARC and the state on October 2, 2016 in Bogota, Colombia. The guerrilla war is the longest-running armed conflict in the Americas and has left 220,000 dead. The plan called for a disarmament and re-integration of most of the estimated 7,000 FARC fighters. Colombian voters have reportedly rejected the peace deal in a very close vote.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
A voter in the peace referendum

The civil war in Colombia has gone on for five decades — long enough that people who are fighting today had parents and grandparents involved in the struggle. Between the actions of the government, the communist Farc guerrillas, and right wing militias, over 260,000 people have died while Colombia’s stability has been roiled by kidnappings, terrorism, and the drugs that provided funds to keep the fire burning. 

In 2010, President Juan Manuel Santos was elected on a pledge to end the conflict, and since then he has worked to negotiate an end to the war. Just days ago, it seemed that the war was finally over. Santos signed a treaty under which the rebels would lay down their arms and form a political party in exchange for amnesty for most past crimes involved with the conflict.

However, the treaty between the Farc and the government needed to be ratified, and there was opposition from the political party led by former President Alvaro Uribe who wanted the Farc rebels punished. And now it seems that the treaty has failed.

With votes in from more than 99% of polling stations counted, 50.2% opposed the accord while 49.8% supported it – a difference of less than 63,000 votes out of 13 million ballots.

The surprise result means the peace process is now shrouded by uncertainty.

It is also a major setback to President Juan Manuel Santos …

If he sticks to his word about there being no plan B, the bilateral ceasefire will be lifted and the war will resume, our correspondent says.

Uribe has called for the government to return to the negotiating table and require that some Farc leaders face jail while others receive a lifetime ban from public office. However, it’s unclear if the Farc will agree to this — knowing that they are negotiating to bring harsher penalties to bear on their own side. The Farc is already deeply unpopular, and it was unclear if their re-engineering into a political party would have been successful.

Many had hoped this would be a day of celebration to mark the beginning of peace,

“The war is over,” declared Humberto de la Calle, chief government negotiator, after signing the deal in Havana, where talks have been held since November 2012. “It is the time to give peace a chance.

Instead Colombia is facing a moment of stark uncertainty.

No Deal? Seminole Tribe and Florida Now Head to Court

The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state are squaring off in a crucial federal trial that may affect the future of gambling in Florida.

The trial scheduled to start Monday could decide whether the tribe can continue to have blackjack tables at their Florida casinos.

The tribe filed the lawsuit last year after key portions of a gambling deal with the state expired. The state countersued saying that under the terms of a 2010 deal or “compact” the Seminoles were required to remove the blackjack tables.

Gov. Rick Scott last December reached a new deal with the tribe that would let them keep blackjack and add games such as craps and roulette. But the deal was rejected by the Florida Legislature.

Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Japan’s Yoshinori Ohsumi

A Japanese biologist was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for elucidating how the body’s cells deal with and recycle waste, a discovery that has paved the way for research on treatment for neurological and other diseases.

Yoshinori Ohsumi received the prize, which comes with an 8 million Swedish kronor ($933,000) check, for research that led to understanding of autophagy and its role in many physiological processes, such as the response to infection.

Dr. Ohsumi’s work on the machinery of autophagy—literally “self-eating”— explains how cellular components are being degraded and recycled, Nobel Committee member Juleen Zierath said. Thanks to autophagy, cells turn waste into fuel for energy and building blocks for renewal of cellular components.

“He showed cells were equipped with sophisticated recycling plants,” she said. “It’s a beautiful prize.”

The biologist, who was born in Japan in 1945, also identified genes that regulate the process, opening a new field of research to understand what happens when autophagy is disturbed. Disrupted autophagy has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and other disorders, Prof. Zierath said.

Although autophagy has been known for over 50 years, its importance wasn’t recognized until Dr. Ohsumi published his research on the subject in the 1990s.

Dr. Ohsumi said he focused his research on a subject that initially drew little interest from other scientists.

“My basic principle is that I want to do things that other people aren’t doing,” Dr. Ohsumi told national broadcaster NHK shortly after the award was announced.

Dr. Ohsumi said the subject of autophagy “wasn’t getting much attention” when he first tackled it decades ago, perhaps because the trash-disposal function of the cell wasn’t as glamorous as other subjects in biology.

“Recycling nutrients is the most basic function of autophagy,” he said. “Degradation is always happening in our bodies. Life doesn’t exist without the parallel relationship between degradation and synthesis.”

The biologist didn’t study autophagy on human cells but on thousands of strains of yeast. Frequently used as a proxy for human cells in labs, yeast cells still posed a challenge because of their small sizes, Prof. Zierath said.

Dr. Ohsumi successfully cultured mutated yeast, finding ways to trigger the autophagic process right when cells were under his microscope.

“He created a really ingenious way to study cells,” she said.

Nobel Committee Secretary-General Thomas Perlmann said he had a chance to speak with Dr. Ohsumi by telephone and share the news.

“He seemed surprised,” Prof. Perlmann said. “The first thing he said was ‘Oh!’”

Last year, the Medicine Prize was awarded for discoveries concerning novel therapies against river blindness, lymphatic filariasis and malaria, diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually

Write to David Gauthier-Villars at and Peter Landers at

Chris Christie on Trump taxes: He’s a ‘genius’ if he didn’t pay for 18 years

After months of mystery surrounding the unreleased tax returns of Donald Trump, The New York Times has obtained the presidential candidate’s 1995 state income tax filings. 

The records, reportedly mailed to the newspaper anonymously from Trump Tower, showed a net loss of $915,729,293 in federal taxable income for the year, according to the Times – a loss that could have allowed Mr. Trump to legally pay no federal income taxes for 18 years. 

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was quick to highlight that possibility, following Mrs. Clinton’s suggestions during Monday night’s debate that the reason Trump had withheld his tax returns was because he had not paid federal taxes: “Trump’s returns show just how lousy a businessman he is AND how long he may have avoided paying any taxes,” tweeted campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. 

But whether the allegations have a negative effect on Trump’s campaign remains to be seen. Shortly after the Times published its findings, the Trump campaign issued a statement denouncing the announcement as an attempt by the media to promote Hillary Clinton. 

“The only news here is that the more than 20 year-old alleged tax document was illegally obtained, a further demonstration that the New York Times, like establishment media in general, is an extension of the Clinton Campaign, the Democratic Party and their global special interests,” the campaign said in a statement. 

At a time when Americans’ distrust of the mass media – and Republicans’ distrust of the media in particular – is at an all-time high, the message may resonate with Trump supporters. 

“A lot of [the media’s low approval rating] has to do with what Americans view as dishonest, agenda-laden reporting,” Jim Kuypers, author of “Partisan Journalism: A History of Media Bias in the United States,” told The Christian Science Monitor in June. 

“Many Americans,” and Trump supporters especially, “are fed up with what they see as a press that talks about free speech, but does not responsibly use that right,” Dr. Kuypers continued. “To the degree that is there, Trump has tapped into that.”

Furthermore, rather than disputing or making excuses for the findings, surrogates of Trump such as Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie have since framed the possibility of Trump not paying taxes as a savvy business strategy that is further proof of Trump’s “genius.” 

“He’s a genius – absolute genius,” Mr. Giuliani said on ABC’s “This Week.” “This was a perfectly legal application of the tax code, and he would’ve been a fool not to take advantage of it.” 

“It shows you what a genius he is – how smart he is, how intelligent he is, how strategic he is,” he later added. “I want that working for me. I want to see if he can produce these kinds of results for us.” 

Governor Christie, similarly, told “Fox News Sunday” that “this is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump.” 

“What it shows is what an absolute mess the federal tax code is, and that’s why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it,” Christie said. “There’s no one who’s showed more genius in their way to move around the tax code and to rightfully use the laws to do that.” 

Since the start of his campaign, many of Trump’s supporters have referenced his success in business as one of his qualifications for the presidency. 

“The argument is widely used,” writes Gautam Adhikari, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, for The Huffington Post. “It goes like this: First, Trump has been so successful in business that he is not only a billionaire, he can use his business acumen and managerial skills to run the administration far more efficiently than any career politician. Second, Trump has so honed negotiating expertise as an experienced businessman that as president he can make winning deals with Congress, with Mexico, with Russia, with China, you name it.” 

But also since the start of the campaign, the Republican nominee has refused to release his tax returns, maintaining that his tax returns in recent years are under audit and that he has been advised by his lawyers not to release them during the process. 

“It’s an interesting tactic he is able to pull off at this point,” Diana Owen, a political science professor at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture, and Technology graduate program, told The Christian Science Monitor in September. “In a clever way, he has been able to tread that line. ‘I am successful. I do have great wealth. But, at the same time, I’m relatable.'”

But, she added, “once you get some more concrete things out there, like his taxes, it might be a little bit harder for him to play this game.” 

While it’s impossible to say, in the immediate aftermath of the revelation, whether Trump’s campaign will suffer, polls show that a majority of voters do care about candidates’ tax records. In a Monmouth University poll last month, 62 percent of respondents said it was very important or somewhat important for candidates to show their tax records.

However, that poll suggests that the revelation may more important for voters on the fence than for those who already support Trump: only 10 percent of Trump supporters said disclosure of tax records was very important.

Hurricane Matthew Shaping Up to Deliver ‘Devastating Blow’

Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Atlantic tropical storm since 2007, continued on a path to land a heavy punch to Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba, forecasters said early Monday.

“This is shaping up to be a devastating blow, especially to places like Haiti and Cuba,” said Domenica Davis, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

IMAGE: Hurricane Matthew's projected track

IMAGE: Hurricane Matthew's projected track

At 5 a.m. ET on Monday, Matthew was a category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. It was 230 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, which was already being swamped with torrents of rain, and it was moving north at about 6 mph.

The National Hurricane Center called Matthew “extremely dangerous,” and conditions look favorable for it to maintain its strength, said Michael Lowry, a hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel.

“It’s kind of a resilient hurricane — it hasn’t really wavered much in terms of its strength,” Lowry said Sunday night. “It’s a little bit unusual to go 48 hours with a category 4 or 5 hurricane and not to see some sort of fluctuation.”

The center of the storm was expected to approach southwestern Haiti and Jamaica on Monday. With it expected to remain a powerful storm into at least Tuesday, hurricane warnings were in effect for all of Jamaica and Haiti and for the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas.

“It’s all in God’s hands,” said Sister Joanne Belmonte of the Missionaries of the Poor, a Jamaican Catholic relief organization.

“There’s no point in worrying, because if it’s going to come, it’s going to come” she said. “But you would be foolish if you didn’t prepare for it.”

The U.S. government began preparations to airlift hundreds of people from its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Haiti, where as much as 25 inches of rain is expected, reaching 40 inches in isolated areas, began evacuating residents by boat from outlying islands.

Related: What Makes a Hurricane Category 5?

The U.S. Agency for International Development said Sunday night that it had deployed two disaster response teams to Haiti and Jamaica as the hurricane center warned that the raging rainfall will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Davis said Matthew will eventually make its way to the Bahamas by Wednesday, but after that, it’s too early to know whether it will head for the U.S. East Coast or make its way out to sea.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was taking no chances, calling the storm “catastrophic” and urging residents to be prepared.

NBC Miami: ‘This Storm Is Catastrophic,’ Governor Warns

“If it hits our state, we could see impacts that we have not seen in many years,” Scott said.

Matthew has killed at least two people so far: a 67-year-old man who was swept away by a stream in Uribia, Colombia, and a 16-year-old boy who was crushed by a boulder on the island of St. Vincent.

May says to trigger EU divorce by end of March, sterling falls

BIRMINGHAM, England Prime Minister Theresa May said she would trigger the process to leave the EU by the end of March, offering the first glimpse of a timetable for a divorce that will redefine Britain’s ties with its biggest trading partner.

Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union in June propelled May to power and the former interior minister has been under pressure to offer more details on her plan for departure, beyond an often-repeated catchphrase that “Brexit means Brexit”.

In a move to ease fears among her ruling Conservatives that she may delay the divorce, May told the party’s annual conference in Birmingham, central England, on Sunday she was determined to move on with the process and win the “right deal”.

Using Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty will give Britain a two-year period to clinch one of the most complex deals in Europe since World War Two.

“We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year,” May told the conference to cheers from hundreds of members. “Parliament put the decision to leave or remain inside the EU in the hands of the people. And the people gave their answer with emphatic clarity.”

“So now it is up to the government not to question, quibble or backslide on what we have been instructed to do, but to get on with the job,” said May, keen to reassure lawmakers that she will deliver Brexit despite her earlier support, albeit quiet, for a “Remain” vote in the referendum.

Sterling fell to a three-year low against the euro and within a cent of a three-decade trough against the dollar on Monday while some investment banks said May’s comments indicated Britain could be heading towards a “hard Brexit”.

While May dismissed the idea that Britain faced a choice between a “soft” or “hard” Brexit, JPMorgan said her comments indicated the latter – meaning Britain could abandon the EU’s customs union, give up on seeking preferential access to the single market and impose controls on immigration from the bloc.

“Although May does not like the ‘hard-soft’ distinction, this looks pretty ‘hard’ to us,” JPMorgan said in a note to clients.


May’s comments were welcomed by the EU, with Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, saying the statement had brought “welcome clarity” to the situation.

Lawmakers in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party made similar remarks but some expressed frustration at the lack of detail on the timetable.

“Finally there is a position,” lawmaker Elmar Brok said. “It would be important that the Brexit is done before the next election for the European parliament”, due in early 2019.

“The British government has shown that it is clueless about what to do,” said Gunther Krichbaum, leader of the European committee in the Bundestag lower house.

One senior German official said: “It is beyond comprehension that the politicians who campaigned for Brexit for months have no idea what they want, they have no plan at all.”


Britain’s decision to leave the EU on June 23 sparked turmoil in financial markets as investors tried to gauge its impact on both the world’s fifth largest economy and the bloc.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said Britain needed a new fiscal plan to navigate the economic turbulence caused by the referendum vote, stressing the need to balance spending cuts with infrastructure investment.

“There will be a period of a couple of years or perhaps even longer when businesses are uncertain about the final state of our relationship with the European Union and during that period we need to support the economy,” he told BBC TV on Monday.

The country’s allies fear that its exit from the EU could mark a turning point in post-Cold War international affairs that will weaken the West in relation to China and Russia, undermine efforts toward European integration and hurt global free trade.

For some businesses, May’s reluctance to offer what she describes as a “running commentary” on her strategy, has deepened fears that they could end up paying higher costs if operating from Britain.

But May said she could not risk a good deal by putting her strategy under continual scrutiny.

“Every stray word and every hyped-up media report is going to make it harder for us to get the right deal for Britain,” she said. “So we have to stay patient. But when there are things to say – as there are today – we will keep the public informed and up to date.”

For many of her lawmakers, the announcement hit the mark.

“The timing is just right,” Conservative lawmaker Andrew Bridgen told Reuters, saying voters had understood that the new prime minister had needed some time to prepare her position.

Others said they feared that triggering Article 50 so early could put pressure on Britain as elections in France and Germany in 2017 could change London’s partners in the middle of talks.

Unwilling to give too much away, May said her government must respond to the demands of voters, many of whom fear that hospitals and schools are being stretched by high levels of migration from the EU, but also had to listen to business.

“I know some people ask about the ‘trade-off’ between controlling immigration and trading with Europe. But that is the wrong way of looking at things,” she said.

Underlining her point, close ally, trade minister Liam Fox – one of three leading Brexit campaigners in her cabinet – told an event at the conference: “What we want is the best exit for the United Kingdom, not the quickest.”


But it was her move to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act next year, a law that took Britain into what is now the EU, and make Britain “a sovereign and independent country” that received the loudest cheers from her audience.

Some members of her Conservative Party said that what May has billed as the ‘Great Repeal Act’ was little more than a technicality, but many others said it was the first step for Britain to reclaim power and dispense with some EU regulation.

“I’m rather looking forward to being a sovereign parliament again … to dealing with EU legislation and removing unnecessary laws and streamlining it,” said Bridgen.

Describing himself as an “ardent Brexiteer”, Bridgen said by repealing the act, Britain could help businesses by dispensing with EU regulation “which puts them at a disadvantage”.

(Additional reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan, Andreas Rinke and Noah Barkin in Berlin,; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and David Stamp)

Caribbean fears for coastal families as Hurricane Matthew gets close

LES CAYES, Haiti/KINGSTON Haiti and Jamaica urged residents in vulnerable coastal areas to evacuate and Cuba suspended flights on Sunday as bands of rain from Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to menace Caribbean nations since 2007, drenched the Jamaican capital.

Matthew’s slow-moving center was expected to come near southwestern Haiti and Jamaica on Monday as a major storm bringing winds of 145 miles per hour (230 kph) and life-threatening rain, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Eastern Cuba would also feel bands of fierce wind and rain on Monday, the agency said.

“We are very worried by the situation,” Haitian Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said at an operations center in Port-au-Prince. “We want everybody to know that it is real.”

He said 1,300 shelters had been set up, with the capacity to hold 340,000 people. Some two thousand people refused to leave their seaside homes in the coastal town of La Savanne and the government was ready to use force if needed, Anick Joseph said.

One person was swept away by high waves on Saturday despite government warnings to stay out of the sea, he said.

On Sunday afternoon, nobody had arrived at the largest shelter in La Savanne, a high school with the capacity to fit 600 people, except some boys playing basketball there.

Up to 40 inches (101 cm) of rain could fall on parts of southern Haiti and the prime minister’s office issued a red alert warning for landslides, high waves and floods.

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the hurricane center said.

In Kingston, Jamaica, major roads and waterways flooded as the first bands from Matthew lashed the island. Cars stalled as rain-drenched drivers tried to push vehicles through streets that flooded within minutes after the downpour started.

In the nearby town of Port Royal, fishermen scorned government calls to leave for shelters.

Matthew was about 255 miles (415 km) southeast of Kingston on Sunday night and moving northwest at 5 mph (7 kph), with a turn to the north expected overnight. The hurricane center ranked it at Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.

“Slow motion is almost always a bad thing for any land area impacted,” said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the center. Matthew was expected to remain a powerful hurricane into Tuesday, the center said.

Matthew is the most powerful hurricane to form over the Atlantic since Felix in 2007.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, and a combination of weak government and precarious living conditions for most of its people makes it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. More than 200,000 people were killed when a 7-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010.


Despite worries about potential storm devastation, life in the southern Haitian town of Les Cayes went on much as normal. One of two restaurants at the tourist port was open but employee Jonel Glezil said there were no visitors on Sunday.

Glezil, 28, said he was unprepared for the storm and worried about damage to the restaurant and the town of 70,000 residents, where streets are lined by tall, colorful houses and coconut and mango trees.

“When the hurricane comes, there is no food in my house,” he said as heavy waves driven by high winds broke over the shore. “We can’t live.”

In Jamaica, which could get up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Reuters outside his office that his government was mobilized and about 80 percent of the 2.7 million Jamaicans were ready for the storm.

“The damage will have an impact on our economic growth, which is already fragile,” he said, as the wind began to build. In particular, agriculture, tourism and towns cut off by storm damage and landslides would suffer, Holness said.

Kingston residents stocked up on canned food, water and batteries, while banks and offices boarded their windows. Fishermen were told not to go to sea.

In Cuba, where evacuations were under way, many flights were suspended by noon on Sunday. In the seaside village of Siboney, near Santiago de Cuba, villagers moved furniture to the safest houses. Some left for evacuation centers and others were preparing shelters in caves in the cliffs nearby.

“We chose this cave to protect us from cyclone Matthew,” said Eduardo Gallo, 40. “We have always hidden here, where we will be protected from the storm.”

Cuban President Raul Castro warned that Matthew was stronger than Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Santiago de Cuba in 2012.

“We have to prepare as if it has twice the power of Sandy,” the Granma newspaper quoted Castro as saying on a visit to Santiago de Cuba.

A few miles east, the United States was airlifting some 700 spouses and children to Florida from its Guantanamo Bay naval base. Prisoners and service personnel would remain.

Matthew could affect the Bahamas and the U.S. East Coast later in the week, although forecasts so far out are often inaccurate. The U.S. State Department issued travel warnings for the Bahamas, Jamaica and Haiti and authorized government workers’ relatives and non-essential personnel to leave.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Marc Frank and Rebekah Kebede and Joseph Guyler Delva in Port-au-Prince; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel and Letitia Stein; Editing by Bill Trott, Lisa Von Ahn and Paul Tait)