The last war in the entire Western Hemisphere has just ended.

UPDATE 10/3/2016: On Oct. 2, 2016, the Colombian peace deal was narrowly struck down by voters, leaving Colombians in shock. Both sides have vowed not to go back to fighting, however, meaning an era of peace is still expected.

As of September 2016, there are no more wars in the Western Hemisphere.

Yep, that's what I said. Read it again if you need to. The entire Western Hemisphere — also known as 50% of the planet — does not have a single war zone.


That's the Western Hemisphere on the left. The whole left. Photo via CIA World Factbook/Wikimedia Commons.

So that's cool.

When the president of Colombia and rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri brokered a peace deal on Sept. 26, 2016, the only war happening west of the prime meridian came to an end.

For decades, Colombia has been engaged in a civil war. Not one war exactly — but a rotating series of insurgency groups and guerrilla movements that have taken arms against the Colombian government for over 50 years.

The last of those groups, called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed a peace deal with President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The agreement will need to be ratified by voters, but the vote is expected to pass easily.

Both men wore white and shook hands as the Colombian crowd chanted, "Long live Colombia! Long live peace!"

Photo by Guillermo Legaria/AFP/Getty Images.

A simple handshake ushered in a new wave of peace for Colombia, and an unprecedented era of peace for (one half of) the world.

No matter how cynical you are, half the planet being war-free is a pretty inspiring milestone — though, of course, there are some caveats.

For one, lack of officially declared wars doesn't mean complete peace. Colombia and Mexico still suffer from drug violence.  In fact, after a three-year decline, homicides tied to organized crime in Mexico have been sharply increasing.

There's ongoing political unrest in Venezuela that, just recently, sent 30,000 protestors marching into the streets.

Government protestors running from the Venezuelan National Guard in 2014. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Here in America, we've officially ended our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but still have a military presence in the Middle East. In fact it was just announced that more U.S. troops would be headed to Iraq in the continuing fight to stop ISIS. We've also faced too many mass shootings, police killings, and domestic acts of terror recently to even keep track of.

Photo by Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images.

The world is far from being free of problems and conflict, but things don't change overnight. It took decades for Colombia to find a peaceful solution to their conflict, and it was no small accomplishment when they did.

News like this is a reminder that the problems of the world can come to peaceful resolutions — that step by step, handshake by handshake ... we can make the world better and safer.

It's just in time too. Because you've probably been hearing a lot of this lately...

Whether the culprit is ISIS, guns, terror, hackers, nuclear China, or "the cyber," it sure can seem like the whole world is one small step away from becoming a dangerous back alley filled with machete-wielding murderers who want to steal our jobs.

In reality, things are looking up: global poverty is down, world hunger is down, and life expectancy is up.

Whatever metric you want to use, things are looking pretty good for humanity.

Achieving "world peace" has always seemed like a bumper sticker slogan or a pipe dream, but ... that's always been kind of the point.

Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images.

Maybe we'll achieve that seemingly impossible goal one day, maybe we won't. I don't know if, in our lifetimes, we'll wake up one morning and find out that every war in the world has ended.

All I know is we woke up one morning in September 2016, and we were already halfway there.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

Keep Reading Show less
True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

Keep Reading Show less
via Seresto

A disturbing joint report by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found that tens of thousands of pets have been harmed by Seresto flea and tick collars. Seresto was developed by Bayer and is now sold by Elanco.

Since Seresto flea collars were introduced in 2012, the EPA has received incident reports of at least 1,698 pet deaths linked to the product. Through June 2020, the EPA has received over 75,000 incident reports relating to the collars with over 1,000 involving human harm.

The EPA has known the collars are harming humans and their pets but failed to tell the public about the dangers.

Keep Reading Show less