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Scots reject independence in historic vote
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) - Scottish voters have resoundingly 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 Britain's political establishment, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who faced calls for his resignation if Scotland had broken away.


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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Militants threaten ancient sites in Iraq, Syria
BAGHDAD (AP) - For more than 5,000 years, numerous civilizations have left their mark on upper Mesopotamia - from Assyrians and Akkadians to Babylonians and Romans. Their ancient, buried cities, palaces and temples packed with monumental art are scattered across what is now northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Now much of that archaeological wealth is under the control of extremists from the Islamic State group. The militants have demolished some artifacts in their zealotry to uproot what they see as heresy, but they are also profiting from it, hacking relics off palace walls or digging them out to sell on the international black market.


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.


Congress backs Obama on aid to Syrian rebels
WASHINGTON (AP) - Legislation requested by President Barack Obama authorizing the military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants in the Middle East is headed for his signature after a sweeping Senate vote. The bipartisan 78-22 tally Thursday blended support from Obama's close Democratic allies and some of his fiercest GOP critics, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It put leading contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on opposite sides. Some of Obama's liberal allies defected.


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.


Artist says tax case shows China's dark side
BEIJING (AP) - China's best-known artist dissident Ai Weiwei blasted his country's Communist government for losing its principles and using underhanded ploys to try to silence critics. The bearded artist, whose supporters say he was hit with a $2.4 million tax bill in retribution for his outspokenness and activism, also criticized fellow Chinese artists for failing to speak up while he was singled out.


AP Photos: Scenes from Iraq's Mosul then and now
CAIRO (AP) - Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, is locked under the rule of extremists from the Islamic State group trying to purge it of everything they see as contradicting their stark vision of Islam. A trove of photographs now housed at the Library of Congress offers a glimpse of a different Mosul - before wars, insurgency, sectarian strife and now radicals' rule. The scenes were taken in the autumn of 1932 by staff from the American Colony Photo Department during a visit to Iraq at the end of the British mandate.


Appeals judges skeptical of Bonds conviction
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Skeptical members of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals questioned the soundness of Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction for a rambling response to a grand jury in 2003 and left open the possibility they may throw out the verdict. During oral arguments that lasted just over an hour Thursday, judges asked a federal government lawyer how an evasive answer could be obstructive given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is a prosecutor's duty to pin down a witness who gives an evasive answer.

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