AP Top News at 9:40 a.m. EST

People stand in a snaking line at a security screening area at Newark Liberty International Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, in Newark, N.J. Passengers are having to endure more intense screening this holiday season. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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People stand in a snaking line at a security screening area at Newark Liberty International Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, in Newark, N.J. Passengers are having to endure more intense screening this holiday season.

Travelers dismayed by airport body scans are headed to airports Wednesday with the makings of any good protest: handmade fliers, eye-catching placards, slogan-bearing T-shirts — and Scottish kilts. The loosely organized effort dubbed National Opt-Out Day hopes to highlight what some call unnecessarily intrusive security screenings. Others fear it will merely snarl pre-Thanksgiving airline operations on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A hectic, hard-hitting storm shut down highways in Idaho and Wyoming and threatened much of Utah with a blizzard Wednesday as travelers in the Rockies dealt with canceled flights and windy, snow-covered roads a day before Thanksgiving. Numerous schools, governments and businesses in Utah closed hours earlier than normal Tuesday because of the storm, with state traffic officials warning the evening commute could take four times longer than usual.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans earned more and spent more last month, and the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than two years. At the same time, demand for long-lasting manufactured goods fell off. All told, the latest government data released the day before Thanksgiving suggest an improving picture of the economy. Income and spending are rising, and layoffs are slowing. This comes amid a decline in manufacturing activity, which had been a source of strength for months after the recession ended.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department is proposing to discontinue the color-coded terror alert system that became a symbol of the country's post-9/11 jitters and the butt of late-night talk show jokes. The 8-year-old system, with its rainbow of five colors — from green, signifying a low threat, to red, meaning severe — became a fixture in airports, government buildings and on newscasts. Over the past four years, millions of travelers have begun and ended their trips to the sound of airport recordings warning that the threat level is orange.

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Rescuers found the burned bodies Wednesday of two islanders killed in a North Korean artillery attack — the first civilian deaths from a skirmish that marked a dramatic escalation of tensions between the rival Koreas. The barrage on the tiny island of Yeonpyeong in the western waters near the Koreas' maritime border also killed two South Korean marines and wounded 18 others Tuesday in what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called one of the "gravest incidents" since the Korean War.

GREYMOUTH, New Zealand (AP) — A massive explosion deep inside a New Zealand coal mine Wednesday erased hopes of rescuing 29 miners caught underground by a similar blast five days ago. The prime minister declared it a national tragedy. Even if any of the missing men had survived the initial explosion Friday at the Pike River Mine, police said none could have lived through the second. Both blasts were believed caused by explosive, toxic gases swirling in the tunnels dug up to 1 1/2 miles (2 kilometers) into a mountain that had also prevented rescuers from entering the mine to search for the missing.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Oracle Corp.'s courtroom clash with archenemy SAP AG has paid off handsomely. A jury on Tuesday ordered SAP to pay $1.3 billion — more than half of its total profit last year — for a subsidiary's skullduggery in stealing a stockpile of software and customer-support documents from password-protected Oracle websites.

A shadow political campaign or an "attagirl" for a struggling amateur? Bristol Palin's success on this season's "Dancing With the Stars" defies easy explanation. Either way, Bristol has something to brag about if talk at the Palin dinner table turns toward vote-getting ability. Just like her mom, Sarah, and her campaign for the vice presidency two years ago, however, Bristol fell short at the end. She finished third to champion Jennifer Grey of "Dirty Dancing" fame during the ABC competition's two-hour finale Tuesday. Runner-up was Disney Channel star Kyle Massey.

NEW YORK (AP) — Me want "Saturday Night Live!" Cookie Monster has made an audition tape to convince "SNL" that he can host the show. "Sesame Street" posted the video Wednesday on YouTube and Facebook.

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — The first jolt came in the early semifinal, when unranked Connecticut knocked off No. 2 Michigan State. Then came the real trembler: a magnitude-4.7 earthquake off the coast that rattled chairs, tables and the rims for about 5 seconds in the late game between No. 8 Kentucky and No. 13 Washington.