NPR News

A "day of action" has brought thousands of students into the streets of London, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh and other cities in England and Scotland as they protest plans for tuition hikes and budget cuts at U.K. universities.

As you can see from the live coverage being streamed and blogged by the BBC, there's been some violence. There's also live-blogging over at The Guardian.

The latest economic numbers to consider:

-- The number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits declined to 407,000 last week, the Employment and Training Administration says, from 441,000 the week before. The last time weekly claims were this low: July 2008.

Pop culture and politics came together on ABC-TV's Dancing With the Stars this season, thanks to the presence of Bristol Palin.

And while this blogger did not watch a minute of the show, lots of folks did. So, for those who need to know and might have missed last night's finale (maybe because they were stuck on some highway?):

Bristol, daughter of 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, did not win.

OK, this is it. Time to go over the rivers and through the woods.

And if you haven't left already, good luck.

As the Associated Press writes:

"More than 40 million people plan to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA, with just more than 1.6 million flying -- a 3.5 percent increase from last year."

The AIDS pandemic is almost 30 years old. Sixty million people have been infected with HIV – more than the combined populations of California and New York. Thirty million people have died – about the population of Venezuela. The number of people who will get infected with HIV this year almost equals the population of Chicago.

But all is not gloom and doom.

Americans crammed into trains, planes and automobiles Wednesday for a wave of Thanksgiving travel, but threatened protests at airport security inspection stations didn't appear to be causing problems.

Smoothly flowing security lines and few protests were reported at some of the nation's largest airports.

For example, at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, there were wait times of 10 minutes or less Wednesday morning at the 43 security checkpoints. The airport expects 1.7 million people to move through its gates through the holiday period ending Monday.

North Korea's attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong comes during a difficult period for the isolated regime in Pyongyang.

It is going through a process of political succession, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il seeking to ensure that his son Kim Jong Un is the country's next leader. At the same time, North Korea is facing new food shortages. In the past, weakness and uncertainty have sparked provocations like the Nov. 23 attack.

A Pre-Emptive Strike?

Sixty million Americans say they plan to shop this holiday weekend.

Black Friday is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but lots of retailers began promoting their Black Friday specials weeks ago -- hoping to get an early jump on sales.

And many stores will actually be open on Thanksgiving Day.

Consumers are expected to spend a bit more than last year. But they're doggedly looking for good deals, which are often found online.

Imagine a world where no one has siblings. That's the reality for tens of millions of young urban Chinese, born since the one-child policy was introduced in 1976.

This has led to a cosseted generation of singletons nicknamed the "little emperors."

This week an Illinois fish processor is sending 44,000 pounds of Asian carp back to Asia as food. A small startup in Pearl, Ill., the Big River Fish Company is just one group that sees Asian carp not as a voracious, invasive species, but as a business opportunity.

Asian carp can be huge -- up to 100 pounds -- and they have been feasting on native fish in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for years. Originally introduced to the United States in the 1970s to eat algae, the carp now threaten the Great Lakes.

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