TD Bank shuts 81 Florida branches due to storm CIBC closes branches

Toronto-Dominion Bank is closing all 81 of its branches in South Florida in preparation for the arrival of hurricane Irma.The bank said today the decision was made for the safety of its employees and customers based on the severity of storm forecasts. A spokesman said in a statement that TD Bank is monitoring Irma’s path and timing, and will make a decision on whether to close other TD Bank locations in Florida based on the storm’s projections throughout the state.Based on current projections, the affected branches are expected to reopen by Sunday.TD Bank said it is preparing branches in the anticipated path of the hurricane by ensuring they are stocked with needed supplies, such as sandbags and back-up generators.CIBC, meanwhile, confirms it has closed its offices on three islands in the Caribbean and will also shut operations in Florida on Friday.The bank said it has two offices in Florida. CIBC FirstCaribbean operates in 17 countries in the Caribbean.Florida officials ordered thousands of metropolitan Miami’s 6 million residents to leave today before hurricane Irma hits the state this weekend. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the Florida Keys and parts of South Florida, the first of what is likely many watches and warnings throughout Florida over the next few days.While people in the state anxiously watched the massive storm, Irma battered the northern Caribbean, killing at least six people and leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.At least 31,000 people fled the Florida Keys, which could begin seeing wind and rain from Irma as early as Friday night, Gov. Rick Scott said. He noted the size of the powerful Category 5 storm, and told residents not to become complacent. read more

Colombian leader cites his accord with rebels as paradigm for ending civil

“The bells of peace are ringing in Colombia and their echo is heard by all nations represented inthis room,” he told the Assembly on the second day of its annual general debate, citing the final accord reached in August between his Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP).“Colombia gives hope to the world that it is possible to achieve the dream of peace when there is will and commitment,” he said.“After more than half a century of internal armed conflict, I come back to the United Nations today, on the International Day of Peace, to announce, with all the strength of my voice and of my heart: the war in Colombia has ended,” he added, painting the enormous benefits that will accrue from exchanging bullets for ballots and devoting all resources to national development.After a plebiscite on 2 October, FARC guerrillas will surrender their arms to a UN observer mission over a six-month period and become a political movement, with their weapons melted down to become three monuments to peace: one at the UN in New York, one in Cuba where the peace negotiations took place, and third in Colombia.“These monuments will remind us that the bullets are behind us and the construction of a new and better country has begun,” Mr. Santos said. “The last and oldest armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere has come to an end. America, the vast American continent, with all of its islands, from Patagonia to Alaska, is now a zone of peace.”The accord not only guarantees FARC participation in politics but gives greater guarantees to the opposition, to strengthening democracy and the electoral system, improving the lives of poor people, and granting access to land to those who do not have it or who lost it because of the war. “The main characteristic of this peace process is that it focused on the protection and the guarantee of the rights of victims: the rights to truth, to justice, to reparation and to non-repetition,” Mr. Santos said, citing such mechanisms as a truth commission, while those responsible for the most serious crimes will be judged and punished.“This is the first time in the history of the resolution of armed conflicts in the world that a Government and an illegal armed group agree on a transitional justice to submit to through an agreement and not through external imposition,” he added.He noted that drug trafficking has fuelled war in Colombia and around the world and FARC will now cooperate in combatting the scourge, ensuring great benefits for the environment.“The substitution of illegal crops with legal crops will end the deforestation caused by planting coca,” he said. “A new Colombia greets the international community today, a Colombia full of hope. A Colombia that, without a war, is ready to reach its highest potential and to be a positive factor in the global context,” he concluded.“A Colombia where the resources that used to finance war will now be geared towards education, health and security for its citizens […] I can say today, in this history-filled halt, that we have delivered, to Colombians and to the whole world. Colombia is turning the page and ending the chapter of war to start writing the chapter of peace. This is what we wish for the rest of the planet,” he declared.President Santos is among the many leaders who will address the general debate of 71st General Assembly. The Assembly’s high-level segment opened this year with the adoption Monday of the New York Declaration as the outcome of the first-ever UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. Made up of all the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of international issues covered by the UN Charter. read more