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10 things you need to know today: November 30, 2013
HealthCare.gov gets last-minute upgrades, North Korea claims a detained U.S. tourist confesses, and more
 
Black Friday shoppers prepare their purchases at a Best Buy in Florida.
Black Friday shoppers prepare their purchases at a Best Buy in Florida. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

1. ObamaCare website gets last-minute upgrades before deadline
The Obama administration took HealthCare.gov offline for 11 hours overnight, ending at 8 a.m.Saturday, to complete upgrades as a self-imposed deadline to fix glitches arrived. The administration promised to have the ObamaCare website ready to handle 50,000 users at a time, although officials are worried the site might be swamped by far heavier traffic. The second unveiling is a crucial test for the system, after a disastrous Oct. 1 launch prevented most visitors from enrolling for health insurance. [Reuters]
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2. Elderly U.S. tourist detained by North Korea reads an apology
North Korea state media claimed Saturday that an American tourist, Merrill Newman, had apologized for crimes during the Korean War and a recent trip. Newman, 85, was pulled from a departing plane more than a month ago. Pyongyang accused him of killing civilians in the war and trying to meet with soldiers he trained to fight for South Korea. North Korea's volatile government has a history of coercing confessions from detainees, and Newman's statement was filled with awkward phrases, such as "I want not punish me." [Associated Press]
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3. Black Friday sales fall below recent years
Tens of millions went hunting for bargains on Black Friday, but most retailers reported thinner crowds than in past years. Industry analysts said Thanksgiving Day deals and online competition reduced the haul expected at brick-and-mortar stores. EBay.com sales jumped by 35 percent, and online retail juggernaut Amazon.com's increased by 25 percent. Shoppers spent a record $1 billion online on Thanksgiving. Even reports of violence and ugly battles for limited sale merchandise were down this year. [USA Today]
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4. Government tells airlines to respect China's new defense zone
The U.S. government on Friday advised airlines to notify the Chinese government before flying into its disputed new air defense zone over the East China Sea. The U.S., along with its allies Japan and South Korea, has defied Beijing by sending military planes into the zone unannounced, but the Obama administration said it expected civilian aircraft to comply with China's demands to avoid an unnecessary escalation of the international conflict, which centers on control of a group of remote islands. [New York Times]
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5. Police helicopter slams into pub in Scotland
At least one person was killed when a police helicopter crashed into the roof of a crowded pub, The Clutha, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Friday, with three people on board. About 120 people were inside the pub. Thirty-two people were injured, some severely, and rescue officials said Saturday they expected the death toll to rise. Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter "falling like a stone." Rescuers worked through the night, and some people were believed trapped inside the pub. [Los Angeles Times]
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6. Small plane crashes in Alaska, killing four people
A Cessna 208 airplane crashed Friday night near the remote western Alaska village of St. Mary's, killing four people and injuring six others, an Alaska State Troopers spokesperson said Saturday. The dead included the pilot and three passengers, one of whom was a baby boy. The single-engine turboprop plane was operated by Era Alaska, which offers scheduled service to remote parts of the state. Authorities are focusing on saving survivors, the State Troopers spokesperson said, "The 'why' comes after." [Reuters]
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7. Thai protesters target prime minister's offices
Tensions escalated in Bangkok on Saturday when protesters tried to force their way into the offices of Thailand's prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. The opposition coalition is driven by hatred of Yingluck's older brother, ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra. The protesters want Yingluck to step down. The crowds have diminished since the first rally drew 180,000 people on Nov. 24, but police say the threat of violent clashes between Thaksin rivals and supporters is increasing. [AFP]
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8. Dog rescued nine days after deadly tornado
A 6-month-old pit bull was found alive partially buried in rubble nine days after a tornado devastated Washington, Ill. The dog belonged to Jacob Montgomery, a member of the Illinois National Guard, whose third-floor apartment was reduced to rubble in the storm. A neighbor who returned to the scene to look for his missing cat found the dog, Dexter, with the help of an animal welfare group. "The vet said he has no real injuries — just a few scrapes and cuts," Montgomery said. [Associated Press]
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9. The Obamas might stay in D.C. after 2016
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about life in the White House in their first joint interview of the year. They told Barbara Walters of ABC News that, unlike most presidential families, they might stay in Washington, D.C., after Obama's second term ends in three years, so their younger daughter, Sasha, won't have to move in the middle of high school. Obama also said that, after the damage to his popularity after the botched ObamaCare website launch, he has "nowhere to go but up." [New York Times]
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10. Kidd admits he was "trying to win" when he spilled a soda on the court
Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd admitted late Friday that he intentionally spilled a Coke on the court with eight seconds left in a Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Lakers. His team had no more timeouts, and he was trying to buy time to draw up a play while the drink was being cleaned up. "It's about trying to win," Kidd said. Initially, he had claimed the drink slipped because he had "sweaty palms." The NBA fined Kidd $50,000 for the move. The Nets lost anyway, 99-94. [ESPN]

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Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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