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From Brexit To Bogota, What's Next?

The first instinct is to make the connection. During the referendum in the UK back in June, the cooler heads, the let's-try-to-work-together folk, the conventionally wise were supposed to win. But, in the end, the people advocating for Britain to "Remain" in the European Union lost. And those calling for Britain's exit, or "Brexit," prevailed. Yesterday, the world woke up to what was billed as another stunning referendum result, 5,000 miles away, where voters in Colombia rejected a widely-hailed peace deal with FARC leftist rebels to end a civil conflict that has consumed the country for more than 50 years. One reporter called the results in Bogota a "Brexit-style backlash."

What's going on with this whole democracy thing? Darío Acevedo Carmona, writing in top Colombian daily El Espectador, explained his vote rejecting the deal as a question of "dignity," in the face of an effort by the ruling government, global leaders and even the pope to jam the negotiated agreement down the throats of citizens. "What we who voted "no" to the deal want is to be listened to properly and be given serious consideration in any continuing peace discussions."

His remarks have the same whiff of sentiment as those espoused by people who voted for Brexit as a way to say "I am here. Don't tell me what to think."

Still, as The New Yorker correspondent Jon Lee Anderson notes, the Colombian referendum was different from Brexit because it needed voters to forgive the perpetrators of the war. Colombians, many of whom were directly affected by decades of violence, were being asked to effectively shake hands with the enemy. Still, it's hard to suppress the instinct to see a global trend here. Anderson's piece concludes with this warning from a Colombian voter: "First Brexit, now this," she said. "This means (Donald) Trump is going to win in the United States. What will you do?"


  • Google holds much-hyped hardware event in San Francisco.
  • Woof, meow and oink: It's World Animal Day.
  • Samsung and Apple take their patent dispute to the Supreme Court.


Hurricane Matthew is expected to make landfall today in Haiti in what the Weather Channel describes as a "potentially catastrophic strike." The Category 4 storm — the strongest to hit the Caribbean since Hurricane Felix in 2007 — may trigger flash floods and mudslides. Widespread damage is feared in Jamaica, and parts of Cuba and the Bahamas. The East Coast of the U.S. is also bracing, with states of emergency declared in both Florida and North Carolina.


U.S. State Department has confirmed that it was halting talks to work with Moscow to enforce a ceasefire and end the five-year-long war in Syria. The Washington Post called the collapse of negotiations "a new post-Cold War low," and comes as more airstrikes hit the Syrian city of Aleppo, whose biggest hospital was targeted for the third time within a week. The decision comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended a plutonium disposal agreement with the United States over "unfriendly actions" by Washington towards Russia.


Violent clashes erupted in the eastern African country's central Oromia region yesterday, a day after 52 were killed in a stampede reportedly sparked by police using tear gas during a religious festival, AFP reports.


Hello Christoph Waltz, goodbye Janis Joplin … That, and more, in today's 57-second shot of history.

9 DEAD, 5,600 SAVED

In one of the biggest rescue operations of its kind, the Italian Coast Guard has saved more than 5,600 migrants traveling in 40 boats off the Libyan coast, La Repubblica reports. The Italian daily writes that nine bodies were recovered during the mass rescue, which came exactly three years after 368 people drowned as their boat sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa.


There are conflicting reports about the state of fighting in Kunduz today, after an assault led by Taliban fighters early Monday in an effort to retake the provincial capital reportedly killed "hundreds of Taliban fighters," the city's police chief told the AFP. While Al Jazeera reports heavy fighting continuing in and around the city in northern Afghanistan for a second day, the BBC quotes the governor of the province as saying that fighting had stopped Tuesday.


There are various reasons the wage and wealth gap is growing, but in Europe's strongest economy it makes no sense to blame the global marketplace. For German daily Die Welt, the president of the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research Marcel Fratzscher writes: "Globalization is not responsible for social inequality and insecurity. It's just an easy excuse by politicians to cover their own mistakes. Germany was, and still is, one of the biggest winners of globalization. The country proudly calls itself the world export champion. Without the competition and innovation of German companies, the economic miracle after World War II would not have been possible."

Read the full article, Globalization And Wealth Inequality, The German Counter-Case.


Appearing by video link at a conference in Berlin to mark the tenth anniversary of WikiLeaks, whistleblower Julian Assange revealed he would be publishing data pertaining to the U.S. election "every week for the next 10 weeks," as well as documents on "war, oil, Google, and mass surveillance," RT reports.


Demon Door — Bangkok, 1993


UK's David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz have won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter."



New Zealand has unveiled a plan to rid the country of non-native predators that could be threats to the country's beloved kiwi bird. The BBC reports that over the next 35 years the government would try to cross off a long list of its most unwanted beasts: stoats, rats and the fearsome possums. Sheep are safe.

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Migrant Lives

A Train Journey With Bengal Migrants Looking For A Living Far Away

Finding a seat on the Karmabhoomi Express is close to impossible. A closer look at why so many migrant workers travel on it, and out of Bengal, offers a grim picture.

image of a train

The Karmabhoomi Express runs from Kamakhya to Mumbai in a 3 day journey.

India Rail Info
Joydeep Sarkar

WEST BENGAL — Welcome aboard the 22512 Kamakhya-LTT Karmabhoomi Express — a metaphor, if any, of the acuteness of Bengal’s unemployment problem.

It is 10.28 pm at north Bengal’s Alipurduar Junction and the crowd has swollen to its peak. This is when the Karmabhoomi Express appears at the station. It is bound for Mumbai. Finding a seat on it is close to impossible. It is always chock full and there are always hundreds struggling to get a spot in the unreserved general compartment.

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