UK’s price for keeping Scotland: More autonomy – USA TODAY

Scottish voters turned out in record numbers Thursday to deliver a vote to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will follow through on promises to grant the Scots greater autonomy. (Sept. 19)
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00:01 As the sun rose over Scotland Friday the United Kingdom

00:04 remained — But no vote for Scottish independence one under an

00:09 unprecedented turnout both sides hailing the vote as a triumph of

00:13 democracy. I think they — the process by which we have

00:17 made up of decision as a nation. Reflects enormous credit upon

00:22 Scotland. So now it is time Ali United Kingdom. To come

00:27 together. And to move forward despite the loss for some 45%

00:31 of voters were pro independence and that’s significant and millions of

00:36 people and the lights. Recognizing a — for greater autonomy British

00:41 prime minister David Cameron said Friday he will follow through. On

00:45 promises to grants — with the additional powers to Levy taxes

00:48 and spend money. Camera hinting at plans for similar steps to

00:52 be taken across the country is actually be right but he

00:55 knew that settlement the — Should be accompanied by a new

00:59 and that settlement that applies to all parts of — United

01:03 Kingdom. Just months ago — vote for independence seemed a long

01:07 shot for Scotland. On an unlikely surge of support may end

01:11 — bringing change to all citizens of the UK. Robert –

01:15 Associated Press.

EDINBURGH — Scotland renewed its 307-year-old vow with the United Kingdom on Friday, but new autonomy is the price England must pay for keeping the marriage.

Voters rejected a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom by a comfortable margin of 55% to 45%. British Prime Minister David Cameron helped ensure that outcome by promising the central government in London — one of the most powerful among Western nations — would hand over more power to Edinburgh if voters chose to stay in the union.

The question now is how quickly Cameron will deliver on those promises which include significantly enhanced control over spending and taxation amounting to a version of home rule in all matters of state save for certain key areas such as defense and monetary policy.

The outcome is likely to provide new job security for Cameron, who avoided going down in history as the prime minister who lost Scotland. The vote had threatened to upend the U.K.’s relationships with key international organizations such as the European Union and NATO and inject fresh uncertainty into global financial markets at a time when world economies are in the midst of fragile recoveries.

However, the pledge also effectively opens the door to the other members of the U.K. who may now seek additional legislative capabilities to manage their own affairs.

“The failure to produce a Yes verdict on this vote is in some ways much more complicated for the U.K. internally than a No because Scotland now has to be given much more constitutional freedom,” said Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics.

That in turn raises the possibility that Wales, Northern Ireland and, crucially, England, will agitate for more local law-making powers, Travers added.

That prospect was not lost on Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, who during his concession speech Friday said: “Scotland will expect these (unionist pledges) to be honored in rapid course — as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland bill by March 27 next year.”

In his own remarks Friday morning from London, Cameron reiterated his intention to see that “those commitments are honored.” Cameron also said he was aware that other members of the U.K. deserve a larger say over their own affairs.

“This result does definitely not mean business as usual for the U.K.,” said Matt Beech, an expert on British politics at the University of Hull. “We are going to see an incredibly beefed up Scottish Parliament that really takes very little direction from Westminster.”

In Edinburgh on Friday the de facto offer of a deal that will further empower Scottish lawmakers was not a sufficient salve to soothe those who had been holding out for full sovereignty.

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“There’s going to be a period of mourning,” said Ross Colquhoun, co-founder of National Collective, a group of artists and activists that spent over two years campaigning to make Scotland the 31st country to emerge on the world stage since WWII.

“We’re going to try to make sure that people are still engaged with this issue but it’s going to be a much tougher challenge,” he said.

Cameron has been under considerable pressure to deflect the challenge to the U.K.’s constitutional authority. He may find a temporary reprieve in a part of his portfolio not typically associated with peace and quiet: the British Armed Forces.

“It’s unlikely that much in the military will change with a No vote,” said Malcolm Chambers, a defense and security expert at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank.

“If another independence vote proves to be a possibility that could change though,” he added.

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Scotland opts to stay with Britain – Los Angeles Times

Voters in Scotland have rejected independence from Britain, opting to preserve a more than 300-year-old union in a referendum Thursday that sent shock waves through Europe and opened the door to continuing political tumult in Britain.

With turnout about 85% — so closely watched that many pubs got special license to stay open all night as the returns came in — voters dealt a decisive blow to the controversial ballot measure that would have ended Scotland’s union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The independence measure was losing Friday in all-but-final returns, with 55% against independence and 45% voting “yes.”

The outcome was a blow to First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party, which pushed for the referendum when it won a majority in the Scottish regional parliament in 2011.

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On Road to Scotland’s Referendum, Big Gambles and Fateful Steps – New York Times

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The Guardian
On Road to Scotland's Referendum, Big Gambles and Fateful Steps
New York Times
EDINBURGH — Over a Michelin-starred dinner of Scottish venison and red Burgundy in February 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain outlined his strategy for defeating a Scottish independence referendum. The Scottish National Party had won a …
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Video purports to show British photographer held by Islamic State – Los Angeles Times

A British photographer reported to have been kidnapped along with slain American journalist James Foley and held captive for two years purportedly appears in a YouTube video released on Thursday.

The video, which is different from previous recordings that showed the beheadings of Foley and two other Westerners, shows John Cantlie at a table before a black background and does not include any violent acts.

In it, Cantlie says he is a prisoner and that he was captured in November 2012, the same month Foley disappeared in Syria. Cantlie says he feels “abandoned” by his government, and that he has “nothing to lose” by participating.

“I’m going to show you the truth as the Western media tries to drag the public back to the abyss of another war with the Islamic State,” Cantlie says, questioning why his government “appears so keen to get involved in yet another unwinnable conflict.”

Cantlie also criticizes the approach of the U.S. and British governments in hostage negotiations, saying other European nations have successfully negotiated for the release of their citizens. “They negotiated with the Islamic State and got their people home, while the British and Americans were left behind,” he says.

YouTube removed the video Thursday morning, saying it violated the company’s policy on violence.

The video, addressed to the Western public, came after a number of nations have ramped up discussion about rooting out the Islamic State, including a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday in favor of arming Syrian rebels fighting the militants.

Cantlie, who according to McClatchy news service has been the subject of a media blackout for the last two years, was previously captured in Syria and released after a week before returning.

He was the only person to appear on camera and was wearing bright orange garb similar to the clothing Foley, American journalist Stephen Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines wore before they were killed.

In the YouTube clip, Cantlie said the video, which carried Thursday’s date and was titled “Lend Me Your Ears,” was the first in what will be a series of “programs” that will show “the truth” behind the motivations of the Islamic State and “convey some facts” that might “help in preserving lives.”

“There are two sides to every story,” the photographer says. “I think you may be surprised by what you learn.”

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Australian police: Raids thwarted beheading plot – Times of India

SYDNEY: Police on Thursday said they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by supporters of the radical Islamic State group. They raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney and were holding six people and have identified the suspected ringleader, officials said.

Nine other people were detained but were freed before the day was over.

The raids involving 800 federal and state police officers — the largest in the country’s history — came in response to intelligence that an Islamic State group leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Abbott was asked about reports that the detainees were planning to behead a random person in Sydney.

“That’s the intelligence we received,” he told reporters. “The exhortations — quite direct exhortations — were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country.”

ISIL refers to the al-Qaida splinter group leading Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which now calls itself simply Islamic State.

“This is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have,” Abbott said.

New South Wales police did not say why nine of the detained people were released, or whether they would face charges later.

The raids came just days after the country raised its terrorism threat to the second-highest level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State group. At the time, Abbott stressed that there was no information suggesting a terror attack was imminent.

Later Thursday, Attorney General George Brandis confirmed that a person born in Afghanistan who had spent time in Australia and is now working with the Islamic State group in the Middle East ordered supporters in Australia to behead people and videotape the killings.

“If the … police had not acted today, there is a likelihood that this would have happened,” Brandis told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Abbott and Brandis did not name the Australian. But Mohammad Ali Baryalei, who is believed to be Australia’s most senior member of the Islamic State group, was named as a co-conspirator in court documents filed Thursday. Police have issued an arrest warrant for Baryalei, a 33-year-old former Sydney nightclub bouncer.

One of those detained, 22-year-old Omarjan Azari of Sydney, appeared briefly in a Sydney court on Thursday.

Prosecutor Michael Allnutt said Azari was involved in a plan to “gruesomely” kill a randomly selected person — something that was “clearly designed to shock and horrify” the public. That plan involved an “unusual level of fanaticism,” he said.

Azari is charged with conspiracy to prepare for a terrorist attack. The potential penalty was not immediately clear.

In court documents, Azari is accused of conspiring with Baryalei and others between May and September to prepare for a terrorist attack. Allnutt said the charge stemmed from the interception of a phone call a couple of days ago.

Azari did not apply for bail and did not enter a plea. His next court appearance was set for Nov. 13.

His attorney, Steve Boland, said during the hearing that the allegation against his client was based “on one phone call.” He did not speak to reporters outside court.

Dozens of police spent Thursday searching Azari’s home and a car parked across the street from his house. One officer pulled a memo out of the car from the Australian National Imams Council outlining concerns about Australia’s new anti-terrorism proposals.

The council did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. On its website, it says proposals to expand government surveillance powers would invade privacy. It also denounces the Islamic State group, saying there “is nothing Islamic about their murderous actions.”

A second man was charged Thursday night in connection with the raids. The 24-year-old, whom police didn’t name, was charged with possessing ammunition without a license and unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon. He was released on bail and ordered to appear in court next week.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization’s director-general, David Irvine, said the threat of terrorism in the country has been rising over the past year, mainly due to Australians joining the Islamic State movement to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Some terrorism experts question, however, whether the extremist group has the capacity to organize a major terror campaign in Australia, far from its base.

Police declined to reveal exact details of the attack they believe was being plotted. New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said only that it was to be carried out against a member of the public on the street and was at “a very high level.”

“Right now is a time for calm,” Scipione said. “We need to let people know that they are safe, and certainly from our perspective, we know that the work this morning will ensure that all of those plans that may have been on foot have been thwarted.”

A separate series of raids was conducted Thursday in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan. Last week, Australian police arrested two men in Brisbane for allegedly preparing to fight in Syria, recruiting jihadists and raising money for the al-Qaida offshoot group Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front.

Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the raids conducted in Brisbane on Thursday were a follow-up to that operation. Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the operations in Sydney and Brisbane were linked, but declined to release details.

Police said at the time there was no terrorist threat to the Group of 20 leaders’ summit to be hosted by Brisbane in November that will bring President Barack Obama and other leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies to the Queensland state capital.

Australia has estimated that about 60 of its citizens are fighting for the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria. Another 15 Australian fighters have been killed, including two young suicide bombers.

The government has said it believes about 100 Australians are actively supporting extremist groups from within Australia, recruiting fighters and grooming suicide bomber candidates as well as providing funds and equipment.

A Sydney money transfer business owned by the sister and brother-in-law of convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, an Islamic State fighter, had its license suspended this week on suspicion it had been sending 1 million Australian dollars ($ 900,000) a month to the Middle East to finance terrorism, said John Schimdt, chief executive of the industry regulator and corruption watchdog AUSTRAC.

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Obama Promises Again Not to Send Ground Troops to Fight Militants – New York Times

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New York Times
Obama Promises Again Not to Send Ground Troops to Fight Militants
New York Times
President Obama on Wednesday told soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., that they would not be sent into combat against Islamic militants in Iraq. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times. Continue reading the main story. Continue reading the …
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House Votes to Authorize Aid to Syrian Rebels in ISIS Fight – New York Times

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New York Times
House Votes to Authorize Aid to Syrian Rebels in ISIS Fight
New York Times
President Obama addressed members of Congress at the White House Congressional Picnic after the House voted to authorize aid to Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State. Video Credit By whitehouse.gov on Publish Date September 17, 2014.
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