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Colombia, Now To The People


When Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed an agreement yesterday with top rebel FARC commander Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londoño, the pair used pens made from the casings of bullets. It was a powerful piece of symbolism as the last major war in the Americas appeared to draw to a close.

But it's not over just yet. In a referendum on Sunday, ordinary Colombians will have the last word to decide the fate of a deal that could end a five-decade conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of their friends and family members.

In a Spanish-language opinion piece for El Espectador newspaper, translated exclusively into English by Worldcrunch, writer Cristina de la Torre notes that the deal between the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the government, is needed for more than just peace: It's needed to change the culture of violence that decades of war has woven into the fabric of Colombian society.

"Colombia has had an ‘anything goes' mentality where there's amorality, violence in personal relations, veneration of a militaristic state, and celebration of paramilitaries and guerrillas. In this society, vindictive speech and deceit are the daily currency of political debate, and double standards are a virtue," she writes.

De la Torre says that a "yes" ballot in the coming referendum is the perfect way to turn the page. Just as bullet casings were turned into pens, the votes of citizens can bury a half-century of violence.


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Most pundits agreed that Hillary Clinton scored a solid victory over Donald Trump in the highly anticipated first debate in the 2016 U.S. general election. Here is a expand=1] quick video recap of Monday night's debate, which included questions about Trump's tax returns, Clinton's flip-flop on trade deals, questions of "stamina" and "temperament, and a closing Clinton takedown of Trump for having once called a former Venezuelan beauty pageant contestant "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeper." But more important than national pundits may be local voters in Pennsylvania, a key swing state. See how the Philadelphia Inquirer covered the debate.


Good trivia for quiz night: Today's 57-second shot of history contains the shortest papacy in history.


A suicide bomber wearing an explosive-laden vest blew himself up this morning in a busy commercial area in the east of Iraq's capital, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens, AP reports. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.


Typhoon Megi has slammed into the coast of northeast Taiwan, delaying flights and disrupting public transportation, the China Post reports. It's the third severe storm to make landfall on the island in two weeks.


British rocker Pete Doherty is signed up for a November gig at the Bataclan, though other artists have opted out of playing in the venue where terrorists killed 90 people last year. From Paris, Léna Lutaud writes for French daily Le Figaro: "Jules Frutos, one of the Bataclan's managers, says he's facing difficulties he had not foreseen. For the upcoming winter and spring season, only 15 artists, most of them British, will perform. ‘I think that I overestimated the artistic demand,' says Frutos, saying that he assumed that a call from him or the other manager of the Bataclan, Olivier Poubelle, would be enough to convince artists to perform at the venue. ‘But I was wrong.'

The reluctance of technicians and production crews has been another obstacle. ‘The murder of a dozen colleagues that everyone knew was a traumatic experience,' says Pierre-Alexandre Vertadier, the chief executive of Decibel Productions."

Read the full article, The Bataclan, Aching To Rock "n" Roll Again After Paris Attack.


A mosque and a conference center were targeted in two separate explosions late Monday in the eastern German city of Dresden, Deutsche Welle reports. The bombings left no injuries, and came just after an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant PEGIDA demonstration took place in the city.


Brazil's former Finance Minister Antonio Palocci was arrested yesterday in connection with the country's long-running corruption scheme at oil giant Petrobras, Folha de S. Paulo reports. Palocci served as finance minister under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will also face trial over the Petrobras scandal, and as chief of staff under his successor, President Dilma Ms Rousseff, who was impeached last month for violating budget laws.


Sturdy Sentinel — Saksaywaman, 1996


The death toll of airstrikes on the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo has risen to at least 26 civilians, including six children, UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this morning. Though it's unclear who is behind the attacks, CNN writes that the opposition and the U.S. have blamed such shellings on the Syrian regime and Russian warplanes since a ceasefire was agreed upon earlier this month.


NASA's Hubble Space Telescope may have spotted "water vapor plumes" erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. In other news from the sky, Elon Musk is expected to livestream a speech outlining his ideas for how to establish a livable city on Mars within the next 10 years.


Pittsburgh-born horror movie pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis, whose taste for blood and violence in low-budget films like The Gruesome Twosome, Blood Feast or Two Thousand Maniacs earned him the nickname "godfather of gore," has died in his sleep at his home in Pompano Beach, Florida. He was 87.



A urologist and professor emeritus at Michigan State has demonstrated that going on rollercoasters could help people pass kidney stones.

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A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince


BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

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