Will the UK still exist at this time tomorrow? After a rollercoaster campaign, the outcome of today’s Scottish independence referendum is too close to call. More than 4.2 million people — 97 percent of the adult population — have registered to vote, but the result will depend on the 600,000 or so who remain undecided. Polls close at 10 p.m. and results are expected early tomorrow, when Britain will find out how Great it remains.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The U.S. House of Representatives has voted 273 to 156 in a Republican-dominated coalition to approve President Obama’s plan to equip and train friendly Syrian rebels. Both sides expressed reservations about the president’s plans to counter the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. While Democrats — 40 percent of whom voted no — called for military restraint, Republicans argued for an even broader campaign. Although his top general said combat troops might be called for, Obama again promised that won’t happen.
Sometime soon, the Federal Reserve will halt its policy of quantitative easing, but remains vague about when its benchmark interest rate — which has stayed near zero since December 2008 — will begin to climb. Experts suggest that the rate will begin to stir in 2015, hitting a 3.75 percent target by late 2017. Janet Yellen’s positive economic report should rejuvenate the five-year-old bull market; the Dow finished at a record yesterday and the dollar jumped to a six-year high against the yen.
Some 800 law enforcement officers participated in the largest anti-terrorism operation in Australian history, arresting 15 people linked to an alleged plot by Islamic State. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the plot, exhorted by a senior IS member, involved abducting a random citizen for public beheading. There is no evidence that Australia faces a greater home-grown terror threat than other countries and some argue that government actions will unnecessarily antagonize Australia’s moderate Muslim population.
V.A. official admits delays and deaths were linked. (NYT)
Texas executes Lisa Coleman. (The Guardian)
Uighur activist tried for separatism in China. (Globe and Mail)
Doctor confirms that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has cancer. (USA Today)
Former coup leader ahead in Fiji vote. (Al Jazeera)
Dropping a dime was never like this. Twitter sleuths may have nailed “clean cut, well-dressed” young people suspected of beating up a Philadelphia gay couple. After police YouTubed security video of the group, a former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Tweeted, “spread it round.” One user found a photo with similar faces on a nearby restaurant’s website, and soon suspects’ lawyers were phoning police. No arrests yet, but the long arm of the law has clearly gone viral.
Are apes innately violent or driven to attacks by human intrusion? Chimpanzees have a tendency to gang up and kill their own kind to gain territory or resources, even when their habitat is untrammeled, according to a new study. The paper, published in Nature, has reignited the debate over whether our closest animal cousins are influenced by our behavior. Such studies may provide insight into the roots of human violence but, as one scientist cautions, they won’t help us figure out Syria.
Female gamers now outnumber their male counterparts in the UK, and American women aren’t far behind. Some 70 percent of Britons have played video games in the past six months and 52 percent of those players are women, attributable in part to the spread of smartphones. But equality is about more than numbers and, as the FBI handles bomb threats against feminist gaming blogger Anita Sarkeesian, it’s clear that some gamers are intent on keeping women out of the clubhouse.
The “Captain America” custom-made Harley-Davidson that Peter Fonda’s protagonist crashed in Easy Rider is expected to fetch upwards of $1 million when it goes on the auction block in California next month. The iconic chopper—the only survivor of four made for the movie—is being sold by Michael Eisenberg, a Californian businessman who once co-owned a restaurant with Fonda and co-star Dennis Hopper. Splashing a million on a motorcycle might seem anathema to the movie’s anti-establishment spirit, but that’s how the river flows.
First it was the mishandling of Ray Rice’s fiancée assault. Next, the on-and-off suspension of Adrian Peterson in a child injury case. Yesterday, Minnesota paid Peterson to stop playing and Carolina did the same with star defensive end Greg Hardy, who’ll get $7 million for making himself scarce until his case is resolved. But wait; there’s more: Arizona benched running back Jonathan Dwyer in a fresh domestic case, and one report says 12 NFL players have similar arrest records. The cycle never ends.