The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC, announced a new peace agreement Saturday, almost two months after Colombian voters narrowly rejected an earlier deal.
Negotiators announced the breakthrough in The two sides first reached an agreement after four years of negotiations in September, but the original deal fell apart after its defeat in an October referendum. The New York Timeshas more:
The latest agreement aims to address some of the concerns of opponents of the original accord, especially former President Alvaro Uribe who said the deal was too lenient on a rebel group that had kidnapped and committed war crimes.
"The new deal is an opportunity to clear up doubts, but above all to unite us," said chief government negotiator Humberto de La Calle, who signed the accord along with rebel negotiator Luciano Marin, alias Ivan Marquez, in Cuba, moving to end a half-century-long conflict that has claimed more than 220,000 lives.
De la Calle described the text of the modified accord as "much better" than the previous one, but didn't say if or how it would be submitted to a referendum.
Both sides agreed to preserve the ceasefire while negotiations continued. If successful, the new accord would end the last armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.
A Taliban suicide bomber killed two U.S. soldiers and two American contractors at Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base on Saturday.
The bomber, who wore a suicide vest, bypassed extensive security at the largest NATO base in the country. The attack comes two days after truck bomb struck a German consulate in northern Afghanistan, killing two people. NBC News has more:
The attack occurred around 5:30 a.m. local time as people were gathering for a post-Veterans Day fun run.
There was no immediate word on the identities of the victims. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, according to The Associated Press, which quoted a spokesman who said they have been planning the coordinated carnage for four months.
The suicide bomber chose the time and location because he "was looking for an opportunity to do the most damage," a senior U.S. military official told NBC News.
Sixteen U.S. soldiers and a Polish soldier were also injured in the attack. In a statement shortly after the bombing, the U.S. embassy in Kabul also said it would be closed Sunday as a “temporary precautionary measure.”
Three Atlantic writers discuss the HBO epic’s divisive series finale, which tries to break the wheel one last time.
Every week for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, three Atlantic staffers have been discussing new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners were made available to critics in advance this year, we’ll be posting our thoughts on the series finale in installments.
When federal officials ignore subpoenas, imposing a fine is the legislative branch’s best hope of getting the information it needs.
The fight for control of information from the Russia investigation is heading into uncharted legal territory. The House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for his refusal to provide the committee with the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Earlier this month, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff publicly signaled his intention to impose fines on the federal officials who refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas. “We’re looking through the history and studying the law to make sure we’re on solid ground,” the California Democrat said, revealing that he and his staff are aware that the move would be unorthodox and unconventional. Under these circumstances, the trepidations of the Democratic leadership are understandable. Yet the important thing is: Fining Barr would be legal—even if enforcing the fine could itself prove tricky.
Residents of the majority-white southeast corner of Baton Rouge want to make their own city, complete with its own schools, breaking away from the majority-black parts of town.
The fight began with little subtlety. White, wealthy parents in the southeastern corner of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, an area known as St. George, wanted their own school district. They argued that the schools in East Baton Rouge were routinely named as among the lowest performing in the state, and were unlikely to improve any time soon. So, in 2012, some of those parents went to the state legislature with a proposal: Create what would be called the Southeast Community School District.
The legislature shot it down. The parents needed a two-thirds majority for the creation of a school district, and they couldn’t martial the votes. A similar push in 2013 was rebuffed as well.
The organizers were discouraged, but undeterred. They needed a new strategy—and they didn’t have to look far. In 2005, a nearby community, Central, was unable to gather support for a school district from the legislature, so it incorporated as a new city. That helped it gain legislative approval to create its own school district, Central Community Schools, which opened its doors in 2007. The St. George supporters launched a petition drive and, in August 2013, registered a new website: StGeorgeLouisiana.com. They would try to create their own city.
Credentialed authorities are comically bad at predicting the future. But reliable forecasting is possible.
The bet was on, and it was over the fate of humanity. On one side was the Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In his 1968 best seller, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich insisted that it was too late to prevent a doomsday apocalypse resulting from overpopulation. Resource shortages would cause hundreds of millions of starvation deaths within a decade. It was cold, hard math: The human population was growing exponentially; the food supply was not. Ehrlich was an accomplished butterfly specialist. He knew that nature did not regulate animal populations delicately. Populations exploded, blowing past the available resources, and then crashed.
In his book, Ehrlich played out hypothetical scenarios that represented “the kinds of disasters that will occur.” In the worst-case scenario, famine rages across the planet. Russia, China, and the United States are dragged into nuclear war, and the resulting environmental degradation soon extinguishes the human race. In the “cheerful” scenario, population controls begin. Famine spreads, and countries teeter, but the major death wave ends in the mid-1980s. Only half a billion or so people die of starvation. “I challenge you to create one more optimistic,” Ehrlich wrote, adding that he would not count scenarios involving benevolent aliens bearing care packages.
It was a blockbuster discovery at the time. The team found that a less active version of the gene was more common among 454 people who had mood disorders than in 570 who did not. In theory, anyone who had this particular gene variant could be at higher risk for depression, and that finding, they said, might help in diagnosing such disorders, assessing suicidal behavior, or even predicting a person’s response to antidepressants.
Back then, tools for sequencing DNA weren’t as cheap or powerful as they are today. When researchers wanted to work out which genes might affect a disease or trait, they made educated guesses, and picked likely “candidate genes.” For depression, SLC6A4 seemed like a great candidate: It’s responsible for getting a chemical called serotonin into brain cells, and serotonin had already been linked to mood and depression. Over two decades, this one gene inspired at least 450 research papers.
Every time I try to talk about my problem, I just start crying.
Last year, I started working at a company that has an employee-assistance program. I've taken advantage of it and have finally started seeing a counselor to address my anxiety and depression, which have worsened since moving halfway across the country for this job. Together we've come up with strategies to fix some of the aspects of my work environment that make me most anxious, and now I'm much calmer and happier at work.
However, I've been unable to talk with her about my relationship with my spouse, which caused my anxiety and depression to spike even before the move and new job. Every time I try to bring this up, I start crying and am literally unable to say words until I switch to a different topic.
Cancer cells grow in distinctive patterns that defy normal limitations.
That growth activity requires energy, and so, cancer cells metabolize nutrients in different ways from the healthy cells around them. In attempt to kill the tumor without killing the normally functioning cells, chemotherapy drugs target these pathways inside of cancer cells. This is notoriously difficult, expensive, and prone to toxic side effects that account for much of the suffering associated with the disease.
Now, doctors are starting to think more about specific nutrients that feed tumor cells. That is, how what we eat affects how cancers grow—and whether or not there are ways to potentially “starve” cancer cells without leaving a person undernourished, or even hungry.
Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government.
As our political discourse generates derision and dissension, our time in the virtual world crowds out our time in the actual one, and trust in our institutions and each other has plummeted, local places such as markets, libraries, and coffee shops can help. A new study shows that living near community-oriented public and commercial spaces brings a host of social benefits such as increased trust, decreased loneliness, and stronger sense of attachment to where we live.
Americans who live in communities with a richer array of neighborhood amenities are twice as likely to talk daily with their neighbors as those whose neighborhoods have few amenities. More importantly, given widespread interest in the topic of loneliness in America, people living in amenity-rich communities are much less likely to feel isolated from others, regardless of whether they live in large cities, suburbs, or small towns. Fifty-five percent of Americans living in low-amenity suburbs report a high degree of social isolation, while fewer than one-third of suburbanites in amenity-dense neighborhoods report feeling so isolated.
In 40 years on air, PBS’s This Old House inspired a more flashy genre of TV while giving tradespeople the attention they deserve.
Now in its 40th season, the PBS home-improvement show This Old House feels like the TV equivalent of New England clam chowder: hearty, wholesome, and old-school. The cast—headed up by master carpenter Norm Abram and rounded out by contractor Tom Silva, gardener Roger Cook, plumber Richard Trethewey, and host Kevin O’Connor—returns autumn after autumn, as consistently as uncles you might see every year at Thanksgiving dinner. The look and feel of the series hasn’t changed much since its debut in February 1979. Each episode still zeroes in on a few elements of home construction, like installing a skylight or shoring up a foundation. In one of the rare, subtle signs that four decades have passed, Silva appears to be wearing an Apple Watch in a recent episode.
They’ll fight off other males who try to interfere.
Martin Surbeck remembers the episode vividly. He was in the Congo’s LuiKotale rain forest, watching a group of bonobos, African apes that are closely related to chimpanzees. Two of them—Uma, a female, and Apollo, a young, low-ranking male—were trying to have sex. Camillo, the highest-ranked male in the group, caught wind of their liaison and tried to come between them. But Hanna, Apollo’s mother, rushed in and furiously chased Camillo away, allowing her son and his mate to copulate in peace.
This was just one of the many memorable incidents that Surbeck and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have observed over 16 years of watching bonobos. At first, before getting to know individuals involved, Surbeck was surprised. “It’s not typical female behavior,” he says, in that female apes often stop unwanted males from mating with them, but very rarely police the mating attempts of other couples. He only worked out what was happening by collecting the bonobos’ poop, and sending the samples off to colleagues who sequenced the DNA within. Their analysis confirmed how the different bonobos were related, and clearly showed that mothers were repeatedly and actively improving their sons’ sex lives.