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The Colbert Report Signs Off

Comedy Central(NEW YORK) -- After nine years of truthiness, justice, and the American Way, Stephen Colbert signed off as the host of Comedy Central's award winning spoof news show The Colbert Report.

Colbert launched his show on October 17, 2005, after spending several years as a correspondent on another Comedy Central program, The Daily Show. His parody of right-wing TV commentators quickly became a hit."

And no, he didn't break character, even in the finale. 

Let's not pussyfoot around," Colbert said in his last "Word" segment. 

"I have had a huge impact. Need more evidence? Maybe you should ask Saginaw Spirit's mini mascot Steagle Colbeagle The Eagle," which was obviously named in his honor. "I don't remember Cronkite ever having a mascot!" Colbert trumpeted.

While Colbert's only official guest was occasional guest Grimmy AKA The Grim Reaper -- who, after a struggle Colbert shot to death, therefore insuring the host's immortality -- the host was accompanied in studio by dozens of celebrities to sing the WWII standard "We'll Meet Again."

The star singers included Bryan Cranston, George Lucas, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Katie Couric, James Franco, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, Elijah Wood, Cindy Lauper, Michael Stipe, Alan Alda, Patrick Stewart, Willie Nelson, Mark Cuban, Mike Huckabee, Henry Kissinger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tom Broakaw, Yo Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Rod Stewart, Smaug, Tim Meadows, Keith Olbermann, and Sam Waterston.

Other guests chimed in via video, including J.J. Abrams (appropriately backed with a Star Wars "crawl" reading the song's lyrics), Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan (still chained in front of his computer in Colbert's basement, as in a previous episode that had the host forcing him to make more episodes of the AMC drama), troops in Afghanistan, an astronaut running on the C.O.L.B.E.R.T. treadmill in space, and former President Bill Clinton (tweeting using the account Colbert created for him on the air).

Later on, Colbert got more serious, saying, "We finally come to the end of the Colbert Report. Nine great years, 1,447 wonderful episodes," expressing he just has, "so many people to thank," including, "everybody who works so hard every day to make something special," as well as, "all the friends and family for putting up with our long hours, the network for giving us the chance to begin with -- and of course all the guests...thousands of them--too many to thank. So... I'll just thank Mavis Staples. So Mavis, if you can just call everybody tomorrow, that would be great."

The host then addressed the fans by saying, "you, the Colbert Nation: we couldn't have done it without you."

The show ended with more guests, however, notably Santa Claus, who arrived via sled on the roof of Colbert's studio with none other than Abraham Lincoln -- who revealed himself to be at least part unicorn -- and "the man with all the answers," Jeopardy's Alex Trebek in tow. "So I guess I'll be gone forever?" Colbert asked. "Oh no, no no," Trebek assured him. "We'll always be there for the American people when they need us the most."

"But aren't you Canadian?" Colbert countered, expressing that Trebek's "dual citizenship since 1998" really is, "not the same." And with that, Santa's sleigh took off, with the host, who will start as David Letterman's replacement on CBS' Late Show next September.

After a few weeks of @Midnight airing in the Report's 11:30  time slot, Comedy Central will replace it with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, premiering January 19.

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White House Considering 'Range of Options' in Responding to Sony Hack

Jim Dorian/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House will consider a "range of options" in dealing with the Sony hack, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

Earnest would not speculate on the eventual White House response, saying, "I would acknowledge that an appropriate response is something that is not always obvious, but it's something that's worthy of careful consideration." The president's national security team continues to consider their options carefully, Earnest said.

"I don't anticipate that we'll be in a position where we're going to be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon," Earnest added.

Earnest would not discuss who would eventually be deemed responsible for the hack, though he did say that Obama "considers it to be a serious national security matter."

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Uber to Implement New Policies with Eye on Safety

QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a blog post on Thursday, ride-sharing company Uber announced that it would implement new policies in an attempt to increase safety.

In the post, titled "Our Commitment to Safety," Uber says it will implement technology in ways that will "ensure the safety of riders and drivers." The company mentions plants to research and develop "biometrics and voice verification" to enhance driver screening. They also hope to give riders the ability to communicate both with Uber and with their loved ones in the case of an emergency.

Uber also says it will explore new methods of screening drivers, including the use of scientific analysis and technology. Similar methods, the company says, are being undertaken in India, where earlier this month a woman was allegedly raped by an Uber driver.

Tim Collins, a former executive at Amazon, will join the company to lead their Global Support department, the company announced. The goal of that department will be to continue to evolve customer service and build Safety Incident Response teams around the world.

Finally, the company "will be working with partners that have deep expertise in issues like women's safety, conflict resolution, and road safety" and incorporate their recommendations into the Uber plan.

In addition to the India case, in November a New York woman claimed she was harassed by a driver for canceling a ride.

Uber also faces a lawsuit filed by prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles alleging the company is breaking rules and made false and misleading statements about background checks conducted on drivers.

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Australia Police Investigating After Eight Children Found Dead

Global_Pics/iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRNS, Australia) -- Police are investigating after eight children were found dead in a home in Manoora, Australia, Friday morning.

Police were called to the home at about 11:20 a.m. local time after receiving reports of a woman with serious injuries. When they arrived at the scene, they found the children, ages 18 months to 15 years old, dead. The woman, believed to be in her 30s, was treated for her injuries and was assisting police in their investigation.

According to BBC News, police did not say whether they had made any arrests in the case.

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Scoreboard Roundup - 12/18/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars 21 (3-12) – Tennessee Titans 13 (2-13)

NBA: Chicago Bulls 103 (16-9) – New York Knicks 97 (5-23)

New Orleans Pelicans 99 (13-12) – Houston Rockets 90 (19-6)

Milwaukee Bucks 108 (14-13) - Sacramento Kings 107 (11-15)

Golden State Warriors 114 (22-3) - Oklahoma City Thunder 109 (12-14)

Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (2) Duke 66 (10-0) – Connecticut 56 (4-4)

(6) Virginia 70 (10-0) – Cleveland State 54 (5-6)

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes 4 (9-19-3; 21pts) – Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (19-10-3; 41pts)

Florida Panthers 2 (14-8-8; 36pts) – Philadelphia Flyers 1 (11-14-6; 28pts) SO

Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (21-6-4; 46pts) – Colorado Avalanche 0 (10-13-8; 28pts) OT

Washington Capitals 5 (15-10-6; 36pts) – Columbus Blue Jackets 4 (13-15-3; 29pts) OT

Anaheim Ducks 2 (22-7-5; 49pts) – Montreal Canadiens 1 (20-11-2; 42pts)

San Jose Sharks 4 (18-11-4, 40pts) - Edmonton Oilers 3 (7-20-6, 20pts)

Los Angeles Kings 6 (16-11-6, 38pts) - St. Louis Blues 4 (21-9-2, 44pts)

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America Conducted Fewest Executions Since 1994

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Death Penalty Information Center on Thursday released its annual report, which found that America conducted the fewest executions in 20 years in 2014.

The report says that just 35 executions took place in 2014 in seven states, the smallest number of people put to death since 1994. Also in 2014, only 72 people received death sentences, the smallest number in the 40 years of the modern death penalty.

Three states -- Texas, Missouri and Florida -- accounted for 80 percent of the country's executions.

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Parents Should Buy Teens Newer, Safer Cars

dolgachov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Parents buying their teenage children cars should open up their wallet and opt for a new car instead of a used one, researchers say.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and published in the journal Injury Prevention, looked at national data on drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 and drivers aged 35 to 50 who were killed in car accidents. The biggest difference, the study found, was the age of the cars.

An overwhelming majority -- 82 percent -- of the teenagers killed in crashes were driving vehicles that were more than six years old. Even more striking, 48 percent were driving vehicles 11 years old or older.

Those older cars, researchers say, were less likely to have safety features, such as electronic stability control and side air bags, which might have cut the rate of teens killed in crashes. In fact, researchers say, the rate of fatal crashes for teens is about three times that for adult drivers.

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