- Scotland Decided 1:27am ET
On Thursday, after weeks of high drama, Scottish voters opted to stay a part of the United Kingdom. The consequences of Scottish secession would have been big and unpredictable, and British leaders had done some serious last-minute barnstorming to support the "No" side. So on Friday morning, British newspapers signaled England's relief that their neighbors to the north hadn't jumped ship. Here's a roundup of some of the major English and Scottish newspapers' front pages for Friday morning. --Peter Weber
Guardian front page, 4.30am edition, Friday 19 December: Scotland's history-makers pic.twitter.com/g5bFJN5GE1— The Guardian (@guardian) September 19, 2014
- announcements 12:53am ET
Live from New York, it's Darrell Hammond: The former Saturday Night Live cast member is taking over announcing duties for the show, following the August death of Don Pardo.
Hammond, 58, had the longest tenure on the show — 14 years, from 1995 to 2009. Known for his impressions of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Regis Philbin (among dozens of others), he also had to impersonate longtime announcer Pardo on occasion. "I sat in for Don when he had laryngitis several times over the years," Hammond told USA Today. "He was a lovely person. When he passed, they wanted me; it felt right for me to be the one to replace him. It's been a very improbable life; I didn't expect something like this, but it feels real good."
In his new role as announcer, don't expect Hammond to mimic Pardo. "I just knew it wouldn't be anybody who sounded like Don or replicated him," says Lorne Michaels, SNL's executive producer. "It can't be what it was, but it could sort of be in the same tradition."
The 40th season of Saturday Night Live starts Sept. 27.
- Rule, Britannia — For Now 12:36am ET
The Scotland independence referendum — the big project of Scotland's regional Parliament under First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party — has come up far short, with the "No" side winning a big victory in Thursday's referendum. This comes after a campaign that for a time had scared the markets, and the entire British political system, over the potential consequences of Scottish secession.
With 26 out of 32 local government areas now reporting, the No side leads with 54.3 percent of the vote, against the Yes campaign with 45.7 percent. In the 26 areas that have now reported, the Yes campaign has only won the majority in four of them — though this did include a win in the largest city, Glasgow.
The BBC projects that when all the counting is done, the No campaign will have won with an even slightly higher 55 percent of the vote.
The No side — officially calling itself "Better Together" — led for much of the campaign, until a late surge in the polls by the Yes campaign that put them briefly ahead. As a response to this voter insurgency, the three leaders of the UK's major national parties — Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservatives, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, and opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labour Party — promised that there would be new powers granted to Scotland in the event of it staying in the Union.
This promise could potentially lead to an even broader upheaval for Britain: Potential devolution in the rest of United Kingdom, and a tilting of Britain's overall structure toward regional governments. Only time will tell where this process leads — if it can successfully get anywhere at all.
If Alex Salmond lost the referendum, former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown comes out a winner. Not only did Brown stand for unionism in public debates with Salmond, but he gave a rousing speech for the Better Together campaign on Wednesday, urging Unionist supporters to reclaim their own identities as patriotic Scots, against the claims of the Yes side.
- The Kingdom United 12:05am ET
Update: The "No" side has won the referendum, according to the BBC's official projection.
The vote count is still going on in the Scotland referendum — but with a clear lead for the "No" side, against independence from the United Kingdom.
With 24 out of 32 local government areas now reporting their votes, the Yes side has 1,102,788 votes, for only 45.8 percent, compared to the No campaign at 1,305,388 votes, for 54.2 percent.
The areas that have reported have spanned a number of rural areas, all the way up to the biggest city of Glasgow, and a great variety of towns and smaller cities in between.
As an important point: The Scottish Nationalists have already won a victory in Glasgow, at 53.5 percent — but with a margin of only about +25,000 votes there, it barely made a dent in the No lead nationwide. The bottom line: The Yes side is clearly running out of areas to make up their disadvantage.
- Ebola September 18
Sierra Leone has instructed its six million residents to stay home for three days, starting Friday and ending Sunday, in an effort to stop the spread of Ebola.
During that time, volunteers will visit homes to try to find victims who haven't been to a doctor yet, and to also distribute 1.5 million bars of soap and brochures on preventing infection. They are expected to find several new patients, The Associated Press reports.
Before the lockdown began, people were scrambling to stock up on food and other necessities. In a country where many live on $2 a day or less, residents were worried about not being able to earn an income while staying inside. "If we do not sell here we cannot eat," Isatu Sesay, a vegetable seller in Freetown, told AP. "We do not know how we will survive during the three-day shutdown."
On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting, where it called Ebola "a threat to international peace and security." The Security Council asked all countries to send supplies and experts to help combat the outbreak, which so far has killed at least 2,600 people in West Africa. In Guinea, the bodies of a team of health workers and radio journalists were discovered, days after being kidnapped by armed villagers. Several health workers have been attacked by fearful villagers who do not trust outsiders.
- water bowl half empty September 18
You may think your four-legged friend is the happiest canine on Earth, but University of Sydney researchers say that dogs can in fact be pessimistic.
The Australian team trained dogs to touch a target after hearing two different tones. One tone meant they would be given milk, a treat, while the other tone meant water would be served. Once they had those rules understood, new tones were introduced between the pitches. The researchers posited that if a dog kept hitting the target, it was likely because he was optimistic and thought it would eventually lead to the reward of milk. The dog who stopped was the pessimist, who became upset if he didn't get milk and finally just gave up.
This study could be used as a guide for what types of canines will work well as specific service dogs. The pessimists, for example, were better in training as guide dogs because they were very careful and didn't like taking risks. The optimistic dogs were more persistent, and would probably make a good search-and-rescue assistants.
Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, was not involved in the study, but told The Washington Post: "Especially in dogs who are abused early on, you definitely see animals who just really won't work that hard to get love or affection, having failed before. I think it's perfectly legitimate to say that there are optimistic and pessimistic dogs — and that you can change their behavior."
- Congress September 18
On Thursday night, with a 78-22 vote, the Senate approved President Obama's plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS.
The proposal was added as an amendment to a spending bill that will keep the government operating on Oct. 1, the beginning of a new fiscal year, Reuters reports. Following the vote, Obama said he was glad that a majority of Democrats and Republicans supported the legislation. "I believe we're strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together," he said.
Supporters included 44 Democrats, 33 Republicans, and one Independent, while nine Democrats, 12 Republicans, and one Independent opposed the plan.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Reuters that while she voted for the bill, she would like to see Congress have a full debate over how to stop ISIS. "I'm concerned that the fighters that we train will be focused on what really motivates them, which is removing [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad, not fighting ISIS," she said.
- Not in Kansas Anymore September 18
In a very odd kind of victory for Democrats, U.S. Senate nominee Chad Taylor of Kansas has just won a unanimous decision from the state Supreme Court — to have his name taken off the ballot.
The underfunded Taylor dropped out of the race two weeks ago, and filed a notice to have his name taken off the ballot — thus potentially clearing the way for Independent candidate Greg Orman to have a clear shot at defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. However, Kansas Secreatry of State Kris Kobach (R) then ruled that Taylor had to remain on the ballot. Kobach maintained that Taylor's filing did not use the precise legal language needed to withdraw — a direct statement that he was unable to serve in the office of senator — arguing that Taylor's filing had instead stated he was withdrawing pursuant to the statute.
Kobach's decision could have potentially helped Roberts win the election, since a number of Democratic voters could have picked Taylor if they did not know he had dropped out. Taylor then sued Kobach at the state Supreme Court. During oral arguments on Tuesday, the justices very pointedly inquired of Kobach's attorney as to why Kobach's office had accepted other candidates' withdrawal notices, even though they were either similar to Taylor's or otherwise did not meet Kobach's exact requirement.
Today's court order for Taylor to be removed from the ballot likely provides an immediate boost to Greg Orman. In a Fox News poll released yesterday, Roberts edged out Orman by 2 points, 40 percent to 38 percent — plus 11 percent for Taylor. The same poll, however, also found that Orman would leapfrog ahead of Roberts in a two-way race, 48 percent to 42 percent.
Update: Kobach now says he has informed the Kansas Democratic Party that they have eight days to select a replacement nominee, The Wichita Eagle reports. Kobach has previously maintained that if Taylor dropped out, the Democrats would still be required to select a replacement — but it is not exactly clear what action he could take if they simply refuse to do so, now that he has been ordered to remove Taylor's name.
- This just in September 18
Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison said Thursday he is stepping down as chief executive of the company, effective immediately. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, who previously served as co-presidents for the company, will both become CEOs, while Ellison will remain on board as executive chairman.
"The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future," Ellison said in a statement.
The 70-year-old Ellison founded the behemoth software company in 1977 and has been the only CEO in its history. With an estimated net worth of $51.3 billion, he is the fifth-richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
- ISIS Crisis September 18
ISIS on Thursday released a video in which a British captive claims he will expose "the truth" about the Sunni militant group in a series of videos to be released sometime in the future.
In contrast to recent videos showing the beheadings of two American journalists, the new video shows British journalist John Cantlie sitting calmly at a desk, seemingly reading from a script. Cantile admits he is a prisoner who is making the video because ISIS has a "gun at his head," though he adds that, "seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State, I have nothing to lose."
"Maybe I will live and maybe I will die, but I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that you can verify," he continues. "Facts that if you contemplate, might help preserving lives."
The Senate is set to vote Thursday on an amendment that would authorize the White House to train and arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.
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