Review Category : Top Stories

Independent Scotland? Cases Made Before Thursday Vote

iStock/Thinkstock(GLASGOW, Scotland) — The Scots are about to decide their destiny.

With a mixture of raucous argument, romantic nostalgia, economic number-crunching, and hair-raising suspense, millions of Scots are bracing for the vote Thursday. The urgency in the air is palpable.

What is striking is how vital and universal this debate is. Everyone you meet is talking, canvassing, dreaming, fighting and playing the bagpipes — or at least it seems that way, sometimes. An astonishing 97 percent of Scots eligible to vote have registered for this referendum.

The most recent polls show that those who want Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom have a very slight lead — but one within the margin of error.

In these last 24 hours, it seems, those who will vote “no” to Scottish independence have finally roused themselves and found their passion and their voice.

In Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday morning, speakers young and old, professional politicians and ordinary citizens, poured out their hearts before a fired-up crowd, urging a rejection of separation from London.

“We are Clyde-built,” said one shipbuilding worker, referring to the river that this proud industrial town bestrides. “And what we’ve built together in the U.K., we will keep.”

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scotsman from Kirkcaldy, seemed almost overcome with emotion as he summoned the ghosts of the United Kingdom’s war dead down through the centuries, “Scotsmen, Welshmen, Englishmen and Irishmen lying side by side.”

“We who vote no love Scotland,” Brown said.

But on the other side, there is plenty of passion, too. And there is hope that a dream long deferred is about to come true.

“Freedom!” hollered David Bell, a taxi driver, in a pub in Edinburgh, Scotland, last night.

Holding up a 10-pound note with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth on it, Bell savagely crumpled it up in his fist, saying, “Take that!”

The pro-independence movement goes deeper than all that, though. At the heart of the argument for separation from London is a bitter dissatisfaction among many Scots with a trend in the United Kingdom since Margaret Thatcher towards a more market-based conservatism than people in Scotland want. Scots have come to see themselves as more European, more socially democratic, and less reflexively pro-American in foreign policy than the establishment that governs them from London.

There are all kinds of practical problems with independence: Would Scotland use the pound sterling as its currency? What would happen to the U.K. national debt? Would the Union Jack, the flag that combines English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh elements — need to be changed?

But in the end, the question for the voters here is simple and profound: What does it mean to be Scottish?

It’s rare that a people get to ask that sort of question so clearly and so formally as they will Thursday. And after all the arguing and the speechifying and the bagpiping, the Scots are ready to give their answer.

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Independent Scotland? Cases Made Before Thursday Vote

iStock/Thinkstock(GLASGOW, Scotland) — The Scots are about to decide their destiny.

With a mixture of raucous argument, romantic nostalgia, economic number-crunching, and hair-raising suspense, millions of Scots are bracing for the vote Thursday. The urgency in the air is palpable.

What is striking is how vital and universal this debate is. Everyone you meet is talking, canvassing, dreaming, fighting and playing the bagpipes — or at least it seems that way, sometimes. An astonishing 97 percent of Scots eligible to vote have registered for this referendum.

The most recent polls show that those who want Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom have a very slight lead — but one within the margin of error.

In these last 24 hours, it seems, those who will vote “no” to Scottish independence have finally roused themselves and found their passion and their voice.

In Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday morning, speakers young and old, professional politicians and ordinary citizens, poured out their hearts before a fired-up crowd, urging a rejection of separation from London.

“We are Clyde-built,” said one shipbuilding worker, referring to the river that this proud industrial town bestrides. “And what we’ve built together in the U.K., we will keep.”

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scotsman from Kirkcaldy, seemed almost overcome with emotion as he summoned the ghosts of the United Kingdom’s war dead down through the centuries, “Scotsmen, Welshmen, Englishmen and Irishmen lying side by side.”

“We who vote no love Scotland,” Brown said.

But on the other side, there is plenty of passion, too. And there is hope that a dream long deferred is about to come true.

“Freedom!” hollered David Bell, a taxi driver, in a pub in Edinburgh, Scotland, last night.

Holding up a 10-pound note with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth on it, Bell savagely crumpled it up in his fist, saying, “Take that!”

The pro-independence movement goes deeper than all that, though. At the heart of the argument for separation from London is a bitter dissatisfaction among many Scots with a trend in the United Kingdom since Margaret Thatcher towards a more market-based conservatism than people in Scotland want. Scots have come to see themselves as more European, more socially democratic, and less reflexively pro-American in foreign policy than the establishment that governs them from London.

There are all kinds of practical problems with independence: Would Scotland use the pound sterling as its currency? What would happen to the U.K. national debt? Would the Union Jack, the flag that combines English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh elements — need to be changed?

But in the end, the question for the voters here is simple and profound: What does it mean to be Scottish?

It’s rare that a people get to ask that sort of question so clearly and so formally as they will Thursday. And after all the arguing and the speechifying and the bagpiping, the Scots are ready to give their answer.

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Marvel Releases Official Synopsis of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

Buena Vista(NEW YORK) — Marvel has finally released the official synopsis of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance,” Marvel teases, before continuing, “As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.”

As far as the cast goes, Marvel explains, “Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction.”

Marvel also added this little nugget about Vision: “Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.”

Meanwhile, on his Facebook page Tuesday, Downey promised a “surprise” for Wednesday morning that is likely Avengers-related. He posted, “Seeing as how Tuesday is the most productive day of the week, I’ll not decrease the efficiency. TOMORROW AM, however, I’ll throw a surprise your way…” Under his blue suit jacket, the actor was wearing the Black Sabbath shirt he wore as Stark in The Avengers.

Avengers: Age of Ultron will be released to theaters nationwide on May 1, 2015. Marvel, like ABC News, is owned by Disney.

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Prescription Drug Deaths Continue to Rise

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says deaths from opioid prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2011.

According to CDC data, there were 4,263 deaths linked to opioid drugs in 1999. In 2011, the number of deaths climbed to nearly 17,000.

“The numbers we’re seeing are definite underestimates,” said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, injury epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics and one of the lead authors of the CDC report.

According to the report, the number of deaths linked to a combination of opioids with benzodiazepine drugs, like Xanax or Klonopin, was also on the rise.

In 2011, nearly a third of opioid-related deaths occurred in combination with benzodiazepines — a considerable jump from only about 13 percent in 1999.

The report also concluded that the group with the greatest increase in death rates was Americans between 55 and 65 years old. Dr. Robert Waldman, an addiction medicine consultant not involved with the research, says one explanation may be the medical community placing more emphasis on treating pain symptoms.

Dr. Waldman says while this has led to relief for patients, it may have also led to more aggressive treatment of pain — and with it, more use of prescription painkillers.

The rise in deaths from opioid prescription painkillers appears to be slowing down in younger age groups. Health experts say that is likely due to a combination of increasing drug awareness, law enforcement activities and drug treatment programs.

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7.1-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes off of Guam

US Geological Survey(EWA BEACH, Hawaii) — A 7.1-magnitude earthquake was reported off the coast of Guam Wednesday, but no tsunami is expected due to the earthquake’s depth — more than 100 miles.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the earthquake was located “too deep inside the earth” to generate tsunami concerns.

The earthquake was reported about 25 miles northwest of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. territory is located about 4,000 miles west of Hawaii and 1,600 miles southeast of Japan.

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Tanaka Will Start Sunday Vs. Blue Jays

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) — New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to start Sunday in the team’s game versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 25-year-old rookie from Japan has been out for more than two months after partially tearing his ulnar collateral ligament.

Tanaka threw 65 pitches during a simulated game on Monday and had no setbacks.

Tanaka is coming back because the team wants to make sure he will not need Tommy John surgery.

“More than anything, I want to see if my body is able to go fully on a major-league mound,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “That’s by far most important to me. Also, to be able to contribute in the team’s win would be something important to me, too.”

Yankees skipper Joe Girardi says Tanaka will throw 70-75 pitches against the Blue Jays.

Before getting injured, Tanaka made 18 starts this season, pitching 129 1/3 innings while recording a 2.51 ERA, 135 strikeouts, 19 walks and a 1.01 WHIP.

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Tanaka Will Start Sunday Vs. Blue Jays

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) — New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to start Sunday in the team’s game versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 25-year-old rookie from Japan has been out for more than two months after partially tearing his ulnar collateral ligament.

Tanaka threw 65 pitches during a simulated game on Monday and had no setbacks.

Tanaka is coming back because the team wants to make sure he will not need Tommy John surgery.

“More than anything, I want to see if my body is able to go fully on a major-league mound,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “That’s by far most important to me. Also, to be able to contribute in the team’s win would be something important to me, too.”

Yankees skipper Joe Girardi says Tanaka will throw 70-75 pitches against the Blue Jays.

Before getting injured, Tanaka made 18 starts this season, pitching 129 1/3 innings while recording a 2.51 ERA, 135 strikeouts, 19 walks and a 1.01 WHIP.

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Reports: Eva Mendes, Ryan Gosling Welcome First Child

Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Eva Mendes and longtime boyfriend Ryan Gosling reportedly have welcomed their first child.

According to Us Weekly and E! News, Mendes, 40, gave birth to a baby girl last Friday in Los Angeles. There are no other details about the newborn available yet.

Mendes, who never confirmed she was pregnant, side-stepped pregnancy rumors for the past year.

In February, she was evasive during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She told host Ellen DeGeneres that the baby rumors started after she, “didn’t want to go through the scanners at the airport.” Mendes explained, “You know those X-ray scanners, which are really creepy? They basically see you naked, right? And not only that, but there’s a radiation aspect to it, so I always opt out. I always ask for a personal patdown.”

Gosling, 33, and Mendes have reportedly been dating off and on since September 2011, according to E!

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Facebook Says 17 Million Ice Bucket Challenge Videos Shared This Summer

mactrunk/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Facebook confirmed what we all knew on Tuesday, that the Ice Bucket Challenge was ubiquitous this summer, with millions of Internet users posting videos of themselves as they got soaked in the name of charity.

According to the social networking site, between June 1 and September 1, more than 17 million videos related to the challenge were shared. Those figures include celebrities such as Bill Gates, Will Smith, and Taylor Swift, and millions of others.

Facebook says those videos were viewed by over 440 million people and received a total of 10 billion views.

The ALS Association, the organization for which the Ice Bucket Challenge aimed to raise money, said late last month that the efforts had raised $100.9 million in donations just between July 29 and August 29. During that timeframe in 2013, the charity brought in $2.8 million.

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Ukraine Approves European Union Deal, Grant Autonomy for Breakaway Regions

sigurcamp/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) — Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to grant greater autonomy for breakaway regions in the east and immunity for those who’ve taken up arms, while also integrating further with Europe.

The decision to grant autonomy is part of an effort to bring the fighting in eastern Ukraine to an end. While Tuesday’s actions create further opportunity for division at the hands of Russia, the Ukrainian government also ratified a deal to further integrate itself with the European Union. That deal was opposed by the Kremlin, and was the same deal that was dismissed by the former Ukrainian president last year, prompting street protests.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf offered congratulations to the people of Ukraine for “making history” on Tuesday. She added that the new laws approved on Tuesday, “highlight the Ukrainian government’s continuing commitment to resolve the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine peacefully.”

The U.S. continues to call on Russia to reciprocate and pull its military forces and equipment from inside the Ukrainian borders and end support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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