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On the eve of Scotland’s independence
referendum, the fate of the United
Kingdom rests on hundreds of
thousands of wavering Scottish voters as
opinion polls showed supporters of the
307-year union just a whisker ahead of
In an intense final day of campaigning,
leaders of both sides beseeched Scots to
seize the reins of history in a vote that has
divided families, friends and lovers but
also electrified this country of 5.3 million.
From the remote Scottish islands of the
Atlantic to the toughest city estates of
Glasgow, voters will be asked to answer
“ Yes” or “No” to the question: “Should
Scotland be an independent country?”
Four sur veys — from pollsters
Panelbase, Sur vation, Opinium and ICM
showed support for independence at
48% compared with 52% for the union,
while a fifth, from Ipsos MORI, showed
it even closer on 49 to 51%.
The sur veys also showed as many as
600,000 voters remained undecided
with just hours to go before polling
“ Don’t let this opportunity slip
through our fingers. Don’t let them tell
us we can’t. Let’s do this,” Alex Salmond,
Scotland’s 59-year-old nationalist leader,
said in an open letter to voters as he
Invoking 18th-century economist
Adam Smith and Scotland’s greatest
poet Robert Burns, Salmond implored
Scots: “ Wake up on Friday morning to
the first day of a better country.”
With a mix of shrewd calculation and
nationalist passion, Salmond has hauled
the “ Yes” campaign from far behind
to within a few points of winning his
dream of an independent Scotland.
Facing the biggest internal threat to
the United Kingdom since Ireland broke
away nearly a century ago, Britain’s
establishment — from Prime Minister
David Cameron to corporate bigwigs
and pop-culture celebrities — have
united in a last-ditch effort to convince
Scots that the United Kingdom is
Cameron’s job could be on the line if
Scotland breaks away, but the 47-year-
old prime minister has conceded that
his privileged English background and
Conser vative politics mean he is not the
best person to win over Scots.
That has left the leadership of the
unionist case in the hands of the
opposition Labour Party, winner of
41 Scottish seats in the 2010 British
election and the only party with the
local support capable of checking the
secessionist Scottish National Party.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon
Brown, a Scot who has in recent days led
the battle cry for the union, warned Scots
in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city and a
crucial battleground, that Salmond was
“ leading us into a trap”.
“Have confidence, stand up and be
counted tomorrow,” Brown thundered,
fists clenched, to applause and cheers from
unionist supporters. “Say to your friends,
for reasons of solidarity, sharing, pride in
Scotland, the only answer is vote ‘No’.”
In the event of a vote for independence,
Britain and Scotland would face 18
months of talks over how to car ve up
North Sea oil and what to do about
European Union membership and
Britain’s main nuclear submarine base.
Scotland says it will use the pound after
independence but London has ruled out
a formal currency union, while Britain
will have to decide what to do about the
nuclear submarine base on the Clyde,
which the nationalists want to eject.
The prospect of breaking up the UK,
the world’s sixth-largest economy and
a veto-wielding permanent member of
the United Nations Security Council,
has prompted citizens and allies alike
to ponder what would be left, while the
financiers of the City of London have
warned of market turmoil.
In an indication of how close the
vote is, the Scottish edition of Rupert
Murdoch’s Sun newspaper declined to
take sides. As Scotland’s best-selling
daily, its stand had been eagerly awaited,
but it said in an editorial simply that it
believed in the people of Scotland to
make the right decision. — Reuters
Iran blasts US veto of troops in IS fight
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
has criticised the United States for
its refusal to send troops into combat
in the battle against Islamic State
militants he claimed were seeking to
“ kill humanity.”
Speaking in an inter view with NBC
television in Tehran overnight before
heading to the United Nations ahead
of next week’s general assembly, the
Iranian leader appeared to question
whether the US could achieve victory
over the IS group without putting
boots on the ground.
“Are Americans afraid of giving
casualties on the ground in Iraq?
Are they afraid of their soldiers
being killed in the fight they claim
is against terrorism?” Rouhani asked
on NBC according to excerpts of the
“ If they want to use planes and if
they want to use unmanned planes
so that nobody is injured from the
Americans, is it really possible to
fight terrorism without any hardship,
without any sacrifice?
“ Is it possible to reach a big goal
“ In all regional and international
issues, the victorious one is the one
who is ready to make sacrifices,” he
Rouhani said while air strikes were
necessary in “some conditions and
some circumstances”, they should go
ahead only with the “permission of
the people of that country and the
government of that country”.
US President Barack Obama has
ruled out deploying US troops on
the ground against the Islamic State
US warplanes began air strikes
against the brutal
organisation’s fighters in Iraq last
month while building an international
coalition against the group.
While critical of the US reluctance
to send troops into battle, Rouhani
said the Islamic State group must be
The group’s executions of American
journalists James Foley and Steven
Sotloff and Briton David Haines
were at odds with Islamic tenets, he
“They want to kill humanity,”
Rouhani told NBC.
“From the viewpoint of the Islamic
tenets and culture, killing an innocent
people equals the killing of the whole
“Therefore, the killing
beheading of innocent people in
fact is a matter of shame for them
and it’s the matter of concern and
sorrow for all the human and all the
Rouhani said Iran would provide
Iraq with any support necessary but
stressed a “red line” would be crossed
if IS fighters moved on Baghdad or
“ We will not allow Baghdad to
be occupied by the terrorists or the
religious sites such as Karbala or
Najaf be occupied by the terrorists,”
he said. — AFP
Church-goers in Sydney ’s west have been left
shaken after a stranger shouted death threats
from a car bearing the Islamic State flag.
The car drove past Our Lady of Lebanon
Church at Harris Park on Tuesday and
witnesses claim it had a flag similar to those
brandished by Islamic State jihadists hanging
out the window.
A priest from the church said the people in
the car threatened to “kill the Christians” and
slaughter their children.
“They were strong words and people were
scared of what they saw,” he said.
Witnesses told police there was a small
triangular flag placed out the window with
Arabic words similar to “there is only one god
and Mohammed is the prophet ”.
Rosehill police Inspector Brian Jackson
confirmed “some threats were made in regard to
some people” near the church.
Maronite Catholic parish priest Monsignor
Shora Maree contacted police ahead of the 7pm
Officers were sent down to patrol the Harris
Park church while hundreds took part in Mass
inside. It is understood detectives were looking
into who is behind the threats. — AAP
IS threats target
Support for the Islamic State organisation
has grown since the United States launched air
strikes in Iraq and the group is attracting many
new jihadist fighters, top US officials say.
The IS group’s “widespread use of social
media and growing on-line support intensified
following the commencement of US air
strikes in Iraq”, FBI head James Comey told
the House Homeland Security Committee
The number of jihadist fighters in Syria
and Iraq is now between 20,000 and 31,000,
Matthew Olsen, who leads the National
Counter-terrorism Centre, said.
Olsen said Islamic State had “very
sophisticated propaganda”, which “exceeds” that
from other groups.
“ It ’s likely to have a potential impact on
recruits,” he said.
After the recent beheadings of two
American hostages and a British man, Comey
said the group and “other foreign terrorist
organisations may continue to try to capture
American hostages in an attempt to force
the US government and people into making
concessions that would only strengthen (IS)
and further its terrorist operations”.
But intelligence ser vices had no information
the Islamic State group was plotting an attack
inside the US, Olsen said.
Since August 8, American forces have
launched 167 raids against jihadist targets in
Iraq. — AFP
Islamic State support
on the rise
Virginity worth $5000,
rules Chinese court
King Carl Gustav XVI of Sweden has escaped
unhurt from a car accident in Stockholm,
according to the Swedish Royal Court.
“The car that the king was travelling in had a
minor collision at Nockeby bridge just outside
the Drottningholm Palace,” the court said in a
statement, adding the monarch was unhurt and
continued on a journey to the north of Sweden
after the accident.
Sweden is one of world’s safest countries to
drive in — according to traffic accident statistics
— but the country’s royal family have had some
notable mishaps on the road.
A district known as “ The Kings Bend”
(Kungens Kur va), south-west of the capital —
home to the world’s largest Ikea store — was
named after the current monarch’s grandfather,
Gustaf V, whose car wound up in a ditch there
in 1946 when his driver took the turn too fast.
The King’s Roundabout in the southern town
of Norrkoeping, was named after Carl Gustav
XVI who collided with another car there in
2005 when driving his BMW. — AFP
Swedish king escapes
car crash unhurt
A Chinese woman who sued a man for
“ violating her right to virginity” after he wooed
her with false promises has been awarded nearly
$US5000 ($6179) by a court.
The two were dating but after the woman,
surnamed Chen, found out her boyfriend was
already married she sued him for swindling her
out of her virginity, accusing him of pretending
to be single and pledging to make her his wife,
Shanghai media report.
A spokesman for the Pudong New Area
People’s Court confirmed the case and the
judgment, but said the man had appealed the
The two met on-line in 2009 but began dating
only in 2013, later travelling to Singapore where
they consummated the relationship, on-line
media platform The Paper said.
After the man, surnamed Li, suddenly broke
off contact, Chen burst into his home and
found him with his wife.
Chen sued, accusing him of violating her
rights to virginity and health and demanding
more than $US81,000 ($100,129) in
psychological damages, plus medical costs of
The court found the original demand
“excessive” but said in its ruling that the “right
to virginity” should be protected by law as it was
a “moral right ” related to “sexual freedom, sexual
safety and sexual purity”.
“ Violating the right to virginity might lead
to harm to a person’s body, health, freedom
and reputation. It ought to be compensated,”
the court said, though it did not explain how it
reached the precise figure.
The defendant did not appear in court, but
through a lawyer he denied having sex with the
woman. — AFP
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