The head of Colombia's FARC leftist guerrilla, Timoleon Jimenez, aka 'Timochenko,' speaks during a press conference with other members of his delegation in Havana on August 28, 2016. Colombia's FARC rebel force ordered a definitive ceasefire late Sunday as part of an accord to end 52 years of conflict with the government. YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images(BOGOTA, Colombia) -- A ceasefire between the Colombian government and the main rebel group, the FARC, was announced Sunday evening.
The ceasefire brings an end to the 52-year-old war, one of the world's largest insurgencies, following four years of peace negotiations in Cuba. An official agreement is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, the BBC reports.
FARC's leader Rodrigo Londono ordered all of his group's combatants to "cease fire and hostilities against the Colombian state from midnight tonight" on Sunday evening. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree earlier in the day that halted military action against FARC.
On Friday, Santos tweeted that the end of the conflict had arrived.
According to the BBC, the more than 50 years of conflict left more than 260,000 people dead and millions displaced internally.
The FARC is expected to abandon its armed resistance and join the legal political process, the BBC says. In March, the Colombian government announced the beginning of negotiations with the second largest rebel group, the ELN, but that group has yet to reach the government's requirement to release all hostages and stop all kidnapping.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Gaston has reformed in the Atlantic Ocean and although it's not expected to reach land, experts say it could grow stronger in the next few days.
"We're not forecasting it to become a major hurricane, but it could near major hurricane status during the next 48 hours," forecaster Todd Kimberlain of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) told ABC News.
The category 1 storm's highest sustained winds are 85 miles per hour while moving slowly northwest at 8 miles per hour, according to NHC.
Separately, another storm system is headed to Florida and could be this season's next named storm. The low pressure wave, with some tropical storm force winds, is moving west after lingering over the Caribbean for a few days, the NHC said.
"The computer models are saying some kind of low pressure area is likely to form in the eastern Gulf of Mexico earlier this week and it is possible that it could become a tropical cyclone at that point," Kimberlain said to ABC News.
izustun/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- By Monday, more than 10,000 Syrian refugees will have been accepted into the United States in the 2016 fiscal year, the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan announced Sunday.
The Syrian refugee resettlement program aimed to accept 10,000 refugees for the entire 2016 fiscal year. The American program looks to take in the most vulnerable refugees from Syria.
Ambassador Alice Wells said Sunday that the refugees who are accepted are the most thoroughly screened of all travelers to the United States.
Jordan, which neighbors Syria, has taken in approximately 660,000 refugees.
The latest group of refugees accepted into the U.S. are expected to go to California and Virginia.
Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(MAUNA LOA, Hawaii) -- A year-long mission to simulate life on Mars has ended, with six crew members exiting their geodesic dome in Hawaii.
The six-member crew lived in isolation in the dome, which was set at about 8,200 feet above sea level as part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation project known as HI-SEAS.
The simulation, which lasted 365 days, was focused on crewmember cohesion and performance over such a long time period in a Mars-like environment.
"The [University of Hawaii] research going on up here is just super vital when it comes to picking crews, figuring out how people are going to actually work on different kinds of missions, and sort of the human factors of space travel, colonization, whatever it is you are actually looking at," said Tristan Bassingthwaighte, a doctor of Architecture candidate at the school. Bassingthwaighte was the simulation crew's architect.
UH professor Kim Binsted, the principal investigator of the HI-SEAS project, said that everyone involved is "proud to be helping NASA reduce or remove the barriers to long-duration space exploration."
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(TALLINN, Estona) -- With less than 75 days until the United States presidential election, one world leader has weighed in on the prospect of a Donald Trump administration.
“I would certainly hope that he would be well-briefed on foreign affairs, so that he knows who does what,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
Trump has repeatedly questioned the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, refusing to guarantee military support to Baltic states if invaded by Russia.
“We have many NATO members that aren’t paying their bills,” Trump told The New York Times in July.
Ilves noted that his country, one of the most vulnerable to Russian aggression, is also one of the few NATO allies that meets the target spending of two percent of gross domestic product on defense. Following a meeting of Baltic leaders with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Latvia where Biden reiterated America’s commitment to the security of Europe, Ilves said he’s not worried about “that rhetoric flying around.”
Ilves, who was raised in New Jersey and educated at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, said the biggest problem for Estonia is people who don’t know anything about Europe. But regarding Trump’s knowledge of foreign affairs, the Estonian president, noted for calling out a Trump supporter for improper spelling on Twitter last month, said, “I’m told it’s improving.”
“That’s very diplomatic of you,” Raddatz responded .
As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has called for improved relations with, Ilves didn’t mince his words -- he sees no rhyme or reason to Putin’s aggression.
“I don't see a strategy given, especially, the severe economic problems they are facing,” Ilves said. “It’s more of an ad hoc 'let's try this let's try that.'”
He added he thinks Putin acts not out of craziness but to keep others off balance, with his biggest concern being not conscious Russian maneuvering, but “some stupid accident.”
Ashley Bartyik (SURREY, British Columbia) -- An elderly couple from the town of Surrey in British Columbia, Canada, was recently photographed crying after apparently being moved to separate nursing homes a few months ago.
The emotional photo was taken Monday during a visit between the couple. Ashley Bartyik, the couple's granddaughter, told ABC News this week she's worried that their "heartbreak and the stress could literally kill them."
"This is the saddest photo I have ever taken," Bartyik, 29, wrote in the photo's caption. It has been shared nearly 3,000 times on Facebook.
She explained that after 62 years of marriage, her grandparents have been separated for eight months "due to backlogs and delays by our heath care system."
Bartyik said her grandpa, 83-year-old Wolfram Gottschalk, was first put in an assisted living home in January after he suffered health complications from dementia that made it impossible for her family to take care of him at home.
Four months later, her grandmother -- 81-year-old Anita Gottschalk -- also had to enter assisted living, but she was put in a different home than Wolfram, Bartyik said.
Since then, Wolfram has been put on a waiting list to be able to move in with Anita, she added.
For now, Bartyik and her parents try to drive Anita to Wolfram's center at least every two days, so they can see each other, "even if for only a little bit."
She said the photo of her grandparents’ crying was taken during a recent visit.
"They're heartbroken, they cry every time they see each other," Bartyik said. "In addition to the dementia, we recently learned my grandfather also has cancer now. My grandma needs to be able to spend these last few days with him, not worried about when the next time she'll see him is."
A spokeswoman for Fraser Health Authority, which manages the assisted living residences in the area, said it has been working to get the couple together but space is unavailable.
"We certainly understand how heartbreaking this is for the family," spokeswoman Tasleem Juma told ABC News partner CTV News. "It’s upsetting for us as well."
Juma added that Fraser Health would "continue to work to reunite this couple and hope to do so in the next few weeks."
Meanwhile, Bartyik said she and her family will continue trying to get her grandparents back together.
"They've been together since they got married in 1954," she said. "They're completely infatuated with each other and have been together in sickness and health. They deserve to stay together."
studioportosabbia/iStock/Thinkstock(AMATRICE, Italy) -- Italy's national day of mourning following Wednesday's deadly earthquake kicked off Saturday morning with an increase in the death toll to at least 290 and a series of aftershocks that rattled the already-frayed nerves of shaken residents.
Italy's Civil Protection agency said late Saturday morning that the death toll increased to 290 from 281 as bodies continued to be recovered. The number of injured is 387.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the aftershock struck at 4:50 a.m. local time with a magnitude of 4.2. The Italian Geophysics Institute measure the aftershock at 4.0.
The day of mourning will include a state funeral for some victims in the town of Ascoli Piceno. Premier Matteo Renzi and President Sergio Mattarella are slated to attend.
On Saturday morning, Mattarella toured Amatrice, a town devastated in the earthquake that has the highest death toll. Guided by town mayor Sergio Pirozzi, Mattarella was taken only to the edge of the town, because it is too dangerous to enter the heart of the medieval town due to the extent of the destruction.
Ahead of the funeral, flower-topped caskets filled a gym where mourners are paying their respects to victims of the 6.2 magnitude quake.
More than 200 people were pulled alive from the devastation, including a 10-year-old girl rescued after spending 17 hours buried in a collapsed building. She was reported to be in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
Renzi has declared a state of emergency and authorized 50 million euros to fund the recovery.
More than 2,000 people, left homeless by the quake, have been spending their nights in tent cities.
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- France’s highest court has ruled against the recent ban on "burkinis" in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, saying it was a clear violation of individual and fundamental liberties.
There are similar bans in about 30 coastal towns in France and each one will remain in place until they are legally challenged. However, Friday's decision by the council of state sets a precedent.
The ruling trumps the recent decision by local authorities to ban “improper clothes that don’t respect good morals or secularism” on beaches between June 15 and Sept. 15.
"Burkinis" are a full body swimsuit worn by Muslim women.
The challenge was brought by the League of Human Rights and the Committee against Islamaphobia.
While France's prime minister supported the ban, calling the burkini an "enslavement of women," the lawyer who challenged the ban in court argued that the burkini was a veil and a wetsuit combined, adding that veils are authorized in public spaces in France.
The ban has been in the media spotlight ever since photos of a woman wearing a headscarf and leggings on a beach in Nice was widely shared on social media. In the photos, armed officers can be seen confronting the Muslim woman about her clothing.
The League of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and other groups have publicly spoken out against the ban.
Bénédicte Jeannerod, the director of Human Rights Watch in France, wrote in a statement, "Under the pretext of defending France’s republican principles and women’s rights, the burkini ban actually amounts to banning women from the beach, in the middle of the summer, just because they wish to cover their bodies in public. It’s almost a form of collective punishment against Muslim women for the actions of others.”
French President Francois Hollande has not addressed the burkini issue directly, but said in a recent speech that there must be a "need for rules and respect of those rules, without provocation and stigmatization.”
Marco Longari / AFP / Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius' 6-year prison sentence still stands after an appeal was rejected.
South African state prosecutors had appealed on that basis that the Paralympic athlete's sentence was too light, but Judge Thokozile Masipa rejected their claim at a hearing in Pretoria on Friday.
Pistorius, 29, did not appear in court.
The amputee sprinter was sentenced in July for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius was previously found guilty of culpable homicide in September 2014, and was granted parole and transferred to house arrest in October 2015.
The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in December when the appeals judge found Pistorius guilty of murder. Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot her through a locked bathroom door, but the judge said he should have known he was going to kill whoever was on the other side.
U.S. Department of State(GENEVA) -- Progress has been made on a new Syria agreement between the U.S. and Russia, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry and Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov held talks in Geneva for 12 hours Friday to discuss reinstating a collapsed ceasefire from February and a path forward with Syria.
Kerry said the two had "narrow issues" to resolve but they had "achieved clarity on the path forward," according to BBC.
"We want to have something done that is effective and that works for the people of Syria, that makes the region more stable and secure, and that brings us to the table here in Geneva to find a political solution," he said according to BBC.
He said Friday the widely-circulated image of a 5-year-old boy sitting in an ambulance after an airstrike in Aleppo covered in dust and blood "needs to motivate all of us to get the job done."
Virgin.com(MIAMI) -- English businessman and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson recently survived a horrifying high-speed bicycle crash, according to a post titled "My life flashed before my eyes" on his website.
Branson, 66, described cycling and flipping over the handlebars as he went down a hill on Virgin Gorda, an island in the British Virgin Islands.
"I really thought I was going to die," he said. "I went flying head-first towards the concrete road, but fortunately my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact, and I was wearing a helmet that saved my life (however, perhaps they should build bike helmets that protect the side of the face too - does anyone know of one?)."
According to Branson, he traveled to Miami for x-rays and scans and only suffered a cracked cheek and torn ligaments.
The billionaire businessman is in a lot better shape than his bike, which he said "went flying off the cliff and disappeared," but was recovered "crumbled" and "completely destroyed."
ABC News(PARIS) -- In a dark room in a Paris suburb, a Muslim mother shared the story of how she almost lost her son to one of the deadliest terrorist organizations on Earth: ISIS.
“I always wanted to preserve [my son] from this,” Fathima said, her face obscured in darkness to conceal her identity. ABC News has also used pseudonyms for the mother and her son.
It was Nov. 2014 -- just months after ISIS declared its caliphate across Iraq and Syria -- when her son, Omar, was first approached by Muslim men on the streets across from their suburban home.
Omar had never seen the men before, but that didn’t stop them from attempting to radicalize the teenager who was already becoming more interested in religion.
“They said this [Syria] is where we have to help the Muslim brothers,” Omar told ABC News.
Soon afterward, he said he began searching about ISIS online, coming across propaganda videos posted by the organization on Facebook. The videos showed ISIS fighters giving food to starving children and protecting the locals from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s relentless aerial bombardment.
Omar said he was intrigued by the videos and wanted to go to Syria to help. He said he had no knowledge of the violence ISIS was capable of committing around the world.
Fathima also knew about ISIS, but said she was hesitant to talk to her son about the group for fear he would go online and become tempted to travel to Syria. She said she faced the issue parents around the world can probably identify with: Tell a child not to do something, and it makes them want to do it more.
It took the terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Jan. 2015 that killed 12 people to scare Omar away from a life with ISIS, or “Daesh,” an acronym of its Arabic name.
“He sent me a [text] message saying, ‘Look at the terrorist attack, look at the terrorist attack,’” Fathima said. “I smiled and said, 'He’s finally going to realize, finally.' I was very shocked by the terrorist attack. And I answered to him, ‘You see Daesh? That’s what Daesh does. Those are not Muslims.’”
Omar said he saw the ISIS recruiters only once more.
“I explained to them that Daesh said they made the attack on the Charlie Hebdo,” Omar said.
When the men acknowledged the ISIS connection, Omar said he never looked back.
“I’m very lucky because I’m very close to my son so he tells my everything. In other families, especially in Muslim culture, Muslims don’t share with their parents,” Fathima said. “A teenager that’s alone and gets a certain message … they are kind of the perfect target.”
Fathima said she fears that Muslims who are not well integrated into French society can be easily attracted to Daesh by recruiters like the ones who almost took her son.
She has watched Muslim mothers on French TV, asking for help because their sons have gone to fight with ISIS in Syria. Fathima said she would not have done the same, fearing it would push her son further away from her.
One of Omar’s friends who went to Syria is now dead. It’s a grim reminder of what could have been the conclusion to Omar’s own story.
Fathima said she doesn’t worry about her son now because “he understands.” Omar said he believes ISIS fighters are not part of Islam. He told ABC News that he hopes to own his own company someday.
When asked about how he would like to help the Syrian Muslims he was so concerned about in those ISIS propaganda videos, Omar responded simply.
“I would love to do humanitarian stuff. That’s the only way.”
Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- For the second day in a row, Prince William and Princess Kate met with children, parents and counselors seeking to provide a safe environment for children.
The Royals visited Young Minds on Thursday in South East London. The charity operates a helpline for those needing support, and the Duke and Duchess observed at the call center and underwent training themselves. Young Minds is one of the eight charity partners of Heads Together, the mental health campaign that William, Kate and Prince Harry set up to raise mental health awareness.
Princess Kate, in a candid moment, revealed that she and William naturally have concerns as Prince George and Prince Charlotte grow up.
"We are parents ourselves, I am sure we will face worries -- we do face worries, because we've got small young children. If those worries escalate, how vital it is to get support -- and you are providing that support,” she said.
The couple have not been afraid to remind parents and teenagers that they too would seek help if their children needed it. William and Kate used the opportunity at the helpline calling center to remind those coping with the stress of growing up that there should be no shame in asking for help.
Kate added: “As a parent and as a mother, having that feeling that there is somebody there that is non-judgmental, that can provide the professional support, and that can really provide helping hand at a really difficult time.”
Duchess Kate looked regal in a scarlet red LK Bennett dress, the second day in a row she wore the designer to an engagement.
Prince William was also moved by the stories he heard on the helpline and the parents he and his wife spoke to.
"It is important that parents understand that you can’t be brilliant at everything. It is totally fine to talk about it and to seek help and to speak out because we’re not all superheroes. There is a lot of pressure on parents, and most of it is self-made by parents themselves, where you feel you have to be able to handle everything. You have to show strength and resilience to everything. But there are some times when it all gets too much and you need to reach out, and that’s totally fine," he said.
William and Kate have spent back-to-back days on a mission raising awareness on mental health. A spokeswoman for the Heads Together campaign said Prince William and Princess Kate, along with Prince Harry, hope "to change the conversation on mental wellbeing from one of fear and shame to one of support."
The Duke and Duchess met young people on Wednesday who had conquered mental health challenges ranging from suicide, self-mutilation, social exclusion, bullying, depression and overcoming the death of a parent.
Prince William comforted a 14-year-old boy at a hospice in Luton who had recently lost his mother, telling him how he too still misses his own mother, the late Princess Diana.
"I know how you feel, I miss my mother every day," he said, adding: "It's OK to feel sad."
While the future King and Queen listened to both the teenagers and parents they met over their two days of engagements, there were some lighter moments also.
Prince William was asked by one young mother for Harry's phone number for her daughter. He joked "Oh no, you don't want that."
Kensington Palace said in a statement: "Through the Heads Together campaign, Their Royal Highnesses are keen to build on the great work that is already taking place across the country, to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that stigma no longer prevents people getting help they need.”