Voters in Scotland have opted not to form an independent country. With a record turnout of 84 percent, about 55 percent of voters chose to remain in the United Kingdom, while 45 percent backed independence. In the wake of the vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to give Scotland more independent powers as part of a process known as “devolution.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron: “The people of Scotland have spoken, and it is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together. And like millions of other people, I am delighted. As I said during the campaign, it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end.”
The U.S. Senate has voted 78 to 22 in favor of a plan by the Obama administration to train and equip Syrian rebels fighting militants known as the Islamic State. Just 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted against the plan. The measure passed the House of Representatives earlier this week by a vote of 273 to 156, with 85 Democrats and 71 Republicans voting no. President Obama praised Congress for its rare bipartisan action.
President Obama: “As I said last week, I believe that we’re strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together. And I want to thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue, in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.”
The measure, which passed as part of a wider bill to keep the government funded, does not actually have any new funding attached to pay for arming or training the rebels. After passing the bill Thursday, the Senate adjourned for six weeks, until after midterm elections in November.
The vote in the Senate came as Islamic State militants besieged the Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria after seizing 21 villages in 24 hours near the Turkish border. On Thursday, the Islamic State also released a new video showing a British freelance photojournalist whose kidnapping was previously under a media blackout. John Cantlie was seized with James Foley in Syria in 2012. He has worked for Getty Images and other news organizations.
The United Nations has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa “a threat to international peace and security” and announced plans for a new health mission. U.N. health chief Margaret Chan called the outbreak “likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced.” More than 5,000 people have been infected, and more than 2,600 have died. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the number of cases is doubling every three weeks.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented steps to save lives and safeguard peace security. Therefore, I have decided to establish a United Nations emergency health mission, combining the World Health Organization’s strategic perspective with a very strong logistics and operational capability.”
Sierra Leone has begun a three-day nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain Ebola. Residents have been told not to leave their homes from Friday to Sunday, as health workers go door to door to identify cases and educate people. Doctors Without Borders, Médecins Sans Frontières, has criticized the measure, saying, “Forced quarantines and lockdowns are driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers.”
In Guinea, eight bodies have been found after a team of Ebola health educators and journalists went missing in a remote area. The team was attacked with rocks by residents when they arrived in the village earlier this week. A government spokesperson told Reuters the victims were found in a latrine.
The White House has unveiled $46 million in new military aid to Ukraine. Obama held talks at the White House Thursday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who had asked the United States for weapons to help it combat a pro-Russian insurgency. Obama declined to include lethal aid as part of the package.
President Obama: “I’m pleased that during this meeting we reaffirmed that commitment to Ukraine, and we are providing additional assistance, both economic and security assistance, to Ukraine to make sure that not only are they able to weather this storm economically, but they’re also going to be able to continue to build up an effective security force to defend themselves from aggression.”
In Bahrain, human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja has been released from prison. Alkhawaja was detained last month as she tried to enter the country to visit her father, activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is on hunger strike as he serves a life term. On the day of Alkhawaja’s release, 14 other activists were sentenced to life terms, purportedly for detonating explosives at a protest. Maryam Alkhawaja still faces a charge of assaulting a police officer, which she denies. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. It has waged a crackdown on government critics since a 2011 pro-democracy uprising against the U.S.-backed monarchy.
The Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange today with a market value more than twice as high as eBay’s. Alibaba priced its shares at $68 each Thursday, making it the largest public offering in U.S. history.
China has fined the British pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline $490 million over claims it bribed doctors and hospitals to promote its products. It is the largest corporate fine in China’s history. A top executive for the firm in China, Mark Reilly, has also been sentenced to three years in prison.
Home Depot has announced the second-largest credit card breach on record. Some 56 million cards may have been compromised by malware at the retailer’s payment terminals from April to September.
Panama has announced it plans to invite Cuba to the next Summit of the Americas in 2015 despite heavy U.S. opposition. Cuba’s exclusion became a key issue of debate at the last summit in 2012, with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa boycotting the meeting over Cuba’s absence.
This summer is officially the hottest summer ever recorded. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global temperatures reached an all-time high for the June-August period. Last month was also the hottest August since records began in 1880.
The report comes as New York City is set to host what could be the largest climate change protest in history. Organizers expect more than 100,000 people to converge for the People’s Climate March on Sunday. On Thursday night, the People’s Climate Train pulled into Penn Station in Manhattan after a cross-country trip that began in California. We’ll spend the rest of the hour on the climate and this weekend’s march after headlines.
The consequences of extreme heat and drought are being felt in California, where a massive wildfire has rapidly consumed forestland near Sacramento. The King fire erupted overnight on Wednesday, more than doubling in size and becoming the second-largest fire in California this year. A man has been arrested and charged with deliberately setting the fire.
New details have emerged about the domestic violence case against NFL player Jonathan Dwyer after his arrest on Wednesday. According to a police report of the July incident, Dwyer headbutted his wife in the face after she resisted his sexual advances, fracturing her nose, then threatened to kill himself after she fled. The next day, he punched his wife in the face and threw a shoe at their 17-month-old son. Dwyer’s team, the Arizona Cardinals, has barred him from playing but continued to pay him.
In Alabama, a federal judge is facing calls for his resignation after his wife said he hurled her to the ground, pulled her hair and kicked her. District Court Judge Mark Fuller was actually arrested more than a month ago. But amidst the scandal over domestic violence in the National Football League, federal lawmakers from Alabama have begun calling for his ouster this week.
In Bell, Florida, a man shot and killed his 28-year-old daughter and her six children, then killed himself. The man had reportedly previously served time in prison for firearms violations after killing his eight-year-old son with a high-powered rifle in a purported hunting accident.
An 83-year-old peace activist has defeated trespassing charges for protesting outside a base in upstate New York where U.S. military drones are piloted remotely. Eve Tetaz was arrested outside the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base with 30 others last year as she read aloud the First Amendment of the Constitution, asserting her right to free speech. This week a judge in DeWitt Town Court dismissed the charges against her. After her victory, Tetaz described her act of protest.
Eve Tetaz: “What I did was stand outside the air base and I read from the First Amendment of the Constitution, which clearly states that we are free to protest what I believe are the illegal actions of the drone.”
In July, grandmother and activist Mary Anne Grady Flores, was sentenced to a year in prison for her role in peaceful protests at the Hancock air base. She is out on bail pending an appeal.
The New York City borough of Manhattan now has the greatest gap between rich and poor in the country. New Census data shows the top five wealthiest households in Manhattan have seen their income rise 9 percent and now make 88 times more than the poorest 20 percent. Across New York City, more than one in five people are living in poverty.
A new report from the New York Civil Liberties Union finds New York state is illegally failing to provide public defense services to poor people who cannot afford attorneys when accused of crimes. In some areas, public defenders are carrying nearly three times the maximum recommended caseload.
A new Gallup poll finds public trust in the mainstream media has returned to an all-time low. Just 40 percent of Americans believe in the mass media’s ability to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly.” Since the poll began in 1997, trust has only dropped that low once before, in 2012. This year also saw a sharp rise in the number of Americans who think the media is too far to the right.
A new report describes how hundreds of high-ranking sheriffs and police from across the United States have traveled to Israel for so-called counterterrorism training. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, since 2002 at least 300 top officials have participated in seminars that are privately funded by the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Israeli police and soldiers, and police in U.S. cities like Ferguson, have also been using the same equipment, from tear gas and stun grenades to long-range noise devices that send out high-pitched sounds. For years Israel has also conducted trainings abroad, including in Chiapas, Mexico, where Israeli officials have trained Mexican police and military forces on combating the Zapatista uprising.