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AP Top News at 1:42 a.m. EDT

Scots reject independence in historic vote
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) - Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core. The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent against independence in a vote that saw an unprecedented turnout.


Alibaba poised to surge on the NYSE
NEW YORK (AP) - Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba will say "open sesame" to the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, as its shares begin trading in a highly anticipated debut that could raise up to $25 billion. The company priced its initial public offering of stock Thursday evening at $68 per share, the top end of the expected price range, according to Alibaba. The shares will trade under the ticker "BABA" on the NYSE. The IPO values Alibaba at $167.62 billion. That's bigger than the current market value of companies such as Amazon, Cisco, and eBay.


Islamic State plot in Australia raises questions
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - The Islamic State plot to carry out random beheadings in Sydney alleged by police is a simple and barbaric scheme that has shaken Australians. But terrorism experts on Friday questioned whether the ruthless movement had the capacity or inclination to sustain a terror campaign so far from the Middle East. Police said they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by Islamic State group supporters after raiding more than a dozen properties across Sydney on Thursday.


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Sheriff: Fla. man kills 6 grandchildren, daughter
BELL, Fla. (AP) - A once-convicted felon killed six of his grandchildren, including an infant, his adult daughter and himself in a shooting at the man's home in a small North Florida town Thursday, a sheriff said. Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz at a news conference identified the shooter as 51-year-old Don Spirit. He would not say if the woman killed was the mother of any of the two boys and four girls, some of whom spent a lot of time at the rural home.


Home Depot breach affected 56M debit, credit cards
NEW YORK (AP) - Home Depot said Thursday that a data breach that lasted for months at its stores in the U.S. and Canada affected 56 million debit and credit cards, far more than a pre-Christmas 2013 attack on Target customers. The size of the theft at Home Depot trails only that of TJX Companies' heist of 90 million records disclosed in 2007. Target's breach compromised 40 million credit and debit cards.


Hunt for ambush suspect briefly intensifies
CANADENSIS, Pa. (AP) - Hours after a slain Pennsylvania State Police trooper was laid to rest, the hunt for a man charged with killing him briefly intensified late Thursday as authorities blocked roads around the home of the suspect's parents. The Barrett Township Fire Department opened a shelter for residents in the area who were unable to get to their homes due to police activity in the rural northeastern Pennsylvania community, but shut it down not long after as police reopened the area to traffic.


Fake tweets stir debate about parody, lawsuit
CHICAGO (AP) - Jon Daniel was watching cartoons with one of his sons when he created a spoof Twitter account in the name of the Peoria mayor. Out of boredom, he said, he soon began sending profane messages about sex, drugs and alcohol. Daniel never intended for the fake account to be seen by anyone other than his friends, and it never attracted more than a few dozen followers. But within weeks the raunchy parody led to a police raid of his home and ignited a debate about online satire, free speech and the limits of a mayor's power.


Militant gains illustrate plight of Syrian Kurds
BEIRUT (AP) - Islamic State militiamen backed by tanks defiantly advanced Thursday in Syria, capturing more than 20 Kurdish villages as the international community strains to assemble a coalition that might destroy them. The gains highlighted the plight of Syria's Kurds, who have been some of the most successful against the Islamic extremists. But unlike U.S.-backed Iraqi Kurds, they seem largely on their own in a devastated country where the enemy's enemy is not necessarily a friend.


Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) - In a desperate bid to slow West Africa's accelerating Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone ordered its 6 million people confined to their homes for three days starting Friday while volunteers conduct a house-to-house search for victims in hiding. At an emergency meeting, meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council unanimously called the crisis "a threat to international peace and security" and urged all countries to provide experts, field hospitals and medical supplies. It was only the second time the council addressed a health emergency, the first being the AIDS epidemic.


Falcons romp to 56-14 win over hapless Buccaneers
ATLANTA (AP) - Devin Hester high-stepped into the NFL record book. Matt Ryan had as many touchdown passes as incompletions. Julio Jones made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch tumbling into the end zone. The result: One of the biggest wins in Atlanta Falcons history.