Top News Stories for Today – October 3, 2016
Colombians reject peace deal with FARC rebels
Voters in Colombia have rejected a peace deal between the government and FARC rebels, which would have ended the longest running armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. With 98 percent of polling stations reporting their results Sunday night, the “no” vote has 50.23 percent, compared to 49.76 percent for “yes.”
It took four years for the peace negotiations to lead to a deal, and while campaigning, President Juan Manuel Santos said there was no other option than to approve it, otherwise Colombia will return to war with the FARC fighters. Opponents have said by rejecting the deal, the government can renegotiate for something better. Under the agreement, 5,800 FARC rebels would have been disarmed, and leaders who confessed to their crimes would have avoided going to jail. It is uncertain if a bilateral ceasefire, in effect since the end of August, will remain in place. Over the past 52 years, 220,000 people have died in the fighting. The Guardian, The Week
Japan’s Ohsumi awarded Nobel Medicine prize
On Monday morning, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine to Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan for his groundbreaking work on the mechanisms for autophagy, the process in which the body breaks down and recycles cellular components.
“Ohsumi’s discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content,” the Karolinska Institute said. “His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection.”
His use of baker’s yeast cells to discover the 15 genes essential for autophagy — Greek for “self-eating” — and its mechanisms led to an explosion in that area of research. Along with the Nobel medal, Ohsumi was awarded 8 million Swedish krona ($933,000). Reuters, Nobel Committee
Putin suspends Plutonium cleanup program
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday to suspend an agreement with the United States on disposing of weapons-grade plutonium, a further sign of worsening ties between the former Cold War foes.
The deal, which was signed in 2000 and went into force under a 2010 agreement, was being suspended due to “the emergence of a threat to strategic stability and as a result of unfriendly actions by the United States of America towards the Russian Federation”, the preamble to the decree said. VOA
IS to adopt ancient strategy for defending Mosul
Reeling from US-led coalition airstrikes and battlefield defeats by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the Islamic State (IS) is resorting to an ancient defense strategy as a massive battle looms to eject the militants from Mosul. The tactics are drawn from the “Battle of the Trench,” a story narrated from Islamic history texts in which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad led 3,000 defenders of Medina to prevail over 10,000 Arab and Jewish troops in 627 A.D.
IS fighters are using the ancient tale — a highly significant religious moment for many Muslims around the world — to rally followers worldwide via internet posts and social media accounts. The size of the force left to defend IS’s last remaining stronghold in Iraq has been cut by as much as two-thirds, US military officials say, leaving only 3,000 to 4,500 fighters left in Mosul, US officials say. A US-aided Iraqi and Kurdish assault on Mosul could begin in October, according to reports. VOA
Hurricane Matthew blowing through Caribbean
Hurricane Matthew is the strongest hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean since Felix in 2007. With maximum sustained winds of 230 kilometers per hour and higher gusts, Matthew is expected to remain a powerful storm while creating chaos on parts of the Caribbean during the next few days.
Hundreds of people had to be airlifted out of the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay as Matthew heads toward Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica. The Navy says people staying at the base and military detention center on the eastern end of the island of Cuba are being told to take shelter, and a mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel is under way. That includes 700 family members of military personnel.
Jamaica and Haiti continue to encourage residents in vulnerable areas to evacuate as the Caribbean begins to get hit by powerful Hurricane Matthew. VOA
US Presidential election
Tax revelations dog Trump campaign as Election Day nears: Donald Trump enters the final five weeks before Election Day facing allegations that he used legal loopholes to avoid paying up to 18 years of income taxes. That’s according to what appear to be three pages of his highly-sought tax returns, published over the weekend in The New York Times. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has seized on the opening, slamming Trump’s reputation for being a brilliant businessman by highlighting his loss of nearly a billion dollars in a single year. Trump’s campaign has stated its candidate paid hundreds of millions in other taxes, like sales and real estate, and his surrogates insist the move shows his “genius.” But the revelation follows a weak presidential debate by Trump as Clinton leads in election projections. “We are getting into the homestretch of this horserace to the glue factory of American Exceptionalism,” Politico’s Glenn Thrust wrote Monday, “and the events of the next week to 10 days will likely be Trump’s final shot at repairing his damaged candidacy.” CNN, The New York Times, The Week
LeBron James endorses Hillary Clinton: On Sunday, LeBron James announced he’s with her, and is supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Writing in an op-ed for the Akron Beacon Journal, The Cleveland Cavaliers star said he returned to Ohio with two missions: to win the NBA Finals and to “make sure my kids in Akron have what they need to become their best selves.” James started The LeBron James Family Foundation in order to “give kids in Akron the resources and opportunities they need to stay in school and reach their dreams through education,” he said, adding, “only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.” Clinton has “always been a champion for children and their futures,” he continued, and will “make sure kids have access to a good education, no matter what zip code they live in.” James also said he supports Clinton because she will “build on the legacy” of his “good friend, President Obama.” Business Insider
US newspapers break decades of tradition with Trump opposition: When the Dallas Morning News endorsed a Democrat in the US presidential race for the first time in more than 75 years, the reaction from readers ranged from exclamatory praise to expletive-laden predictions of doom for the country. The decision last month by the newspaper’s editorial board was followed by others that have traditionally supported Republican candidates but this year have instead backed Hillary Clinton, and in one case Libertarian Gary Johnson. Those papers include the Houston Chronicle, Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer and Detroit News, all of which, along with the Dallas Morning News, supported Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. VOA
Hackers crack State Voting Systems: Hackers have made their way into state election systems in a few cases, but the federal government hasn’t found “any manipulation’’ so far of voting information, the homeland security secretary said Saturday. Twenty-one states have contacted the agency for help in safeguarding their election systems, and Secretary Jeh Johnson is urging additional requests for cybersecurity assistance. VOA