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Ruth Bader Ginsburg Released from Hospital After Heart Procedure


Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from a Washington, D.C. hospital on Thursday.

Ginsburg was admitted at MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Wednesday after experiencing discomfort. She underwent a coronary catheterization and had a stent placed in her right coronary artery.

Ginsburg is expected to return to work next week, with the court set to hear arguments on Monday.

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Obama Reaches Out to Service Members, Tweets on Thanksgiving


President Obama makes phone calls to US Forces on Thanksgiving 2014 Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spoke with deployed U.S. military members on Thanksgiving Day, calling to offer gratitude for their service.

According to a readout of the calls from the White House, Obama spoke with representatives from the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. He offered his praise "on behalf of a grateful nation," the readout said.

A tweet posted to Obama's Twitter account on Thursday featured a photo of the president with his family, accompanied by the simple message, "Thankful. #TBT." The "#TBT" represents "Throwback Thursday" when Twitter users post photos from their past.

 

Thankful. #TBT pic.twitter.com/JAEzQdsMz0

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 27, 2014

First lady Michelle Obama personally posted a message to her own Twitter account, giving thanks to those serving the U.S. as well.

As we celebrate #Thanksgiving, let's give thanks to our men and women in uniform serving our country far from their homes and families. –mo

— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) November 27, 2014

 

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President Obama, First Lady Talk Gratitude, Military Families and Pumpkin Pie


MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At a time when our country is still at war and facing tumultuous events at home, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama talked with ABC’s Robin Roberts about what Thanksgiving means to them and sharing gratitude, especially for our servicemen and women.

“I think this Thanksgiving time is a time for all of us to reflect on those military gold star families who are having dinner without a loved one there. It’s easy to get lost in the food and the fellowship, but Thanksgiving is a time for reflection,” Michelle Obama said.

“A lot of times during these holidays, I'll actually make calls to folks who are deployed. We'll just call 'em up and say, ‘thank you,’” said the president. “It’s a great idea for every American, every day, but especially during the holiday season. You know, you see a service member -- you just go up and say, ‘Thanks, we appreciate it.’ Because the sacrifices they make are extraordinary.”

The president and first lady shared a few fond memories of their families coming together to celebrate the holiday in years past and some of their favorite Thanksgiving foods – but Mrs. Obama said she is not about to share her Thanksgiving pie with her husband.

“She never lets me share dessert,” Obama joked during a pie-tasting in the White House kitchen.

“Cause he eats it like that,” Mrs. Obama laughed. “Look, the crust is gone, everything that makes a pie delicious is gone in his one bite!”

“Do I have to, like, take a small bite because I'm on TV?” the president asked.

This year's White House Thanksgiving menu includes a grand total of six pies, down from nine last year. On Thanksgiving, the president prefers pumpkin.

“The proper way to eat your pie,” Obama told Roberts, "is you should have just a little whipped cream on top.”

“We go all out on pies. We don’t play with pie,” he said.

“I mean, this is why you work out every day,” Mrs. Obama chimed in.

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Plenty of Pie at White House Thanksgiving Dinner


Vacclav/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The president will have his pick of pie this Thanksgiving.

The White House released the menu from Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner. A standard thyme-roasted turkey and a honey-baked ham will be served with cornbread and oyster stuffings, braised winter greens, sweet potato gratin, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and dinner roles.

Of course, there will also be macaroni and cheese served. On Wednesday, President Obama continued the tradition of pardoning a pair of turkeys -- this year's turkeys were named Mac and Cheese.

When it comes time for dessert, though, Obama may have a tough time choosing between the six choices of pie. The White House will serve banana cream, coconut cream, pumpkin, apple, pecan and cherry pies.

Last year's menu actually contained nine types of pie, including chocolate cream, sweet potato, peach and huckleberry, and lacking cherry.

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GOP Senate Candidate Bill Cassidy Says LSU Part-Time Job Is a 'Non-Issue'


Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Was Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is locked in a bitter battle for a U.S. Senate seat, getting paid by taxpayers for work he didn't do?

That's the allegation raised after the release of new documents about the GOP candidate's part-time job as a professor of medicine at Louisiana State University during his time in Congress.

The documents, first published Tuesday by the Louisiana news website The American Zombie, have become a late campaign issue for Cassidy just two weeks before he heads to a runoff election against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu. Among the documents released is a collection of timesheets that indicate Cassidy worked as few as seven hours in one month for his part-time teaching job that earned him $2,000 a month in addition to his Congressional salary.

But in an interview with ABC News, Cassidy brushed aside the notion that he has been getting paid for work he hadn’t done.

“I don’t earn more money by recording hours, I am on salary,” Cassidy told ABC News. “All I am trying to do is let LSU know what I am doing, I get the same no matter what I do.”

Cassidy, who worked as a doctor for two decades before being elected to Congress in 2008 and was employed by LSU at the time of his election, obtained permission through the House Ethics Committee to continue working part-time as a professor on the condition that his additional earnings not exceed $25,000 a year.

A series of emails among LSU employees, also obtained through the document release, detail that Cassidy would be expected to carry 20 percent of his previous workload and hours for 20 percent of his full-time salary, amounting to about 30 hours of work for $2,000 a month.

Landrieu’s campaign has seized on the new documents, suggesting that Cassidy may have been double-dipping with his two taxpayer-funded jobs.

“Congressman Cassidy may have taken home over $100,000 in taxpayer funds for work he never did,” Landrieu campaign Communications Director Fabien Levy said in a statement. “Most people don’t get paid enough for the work they do, let alone for the work they don’t do. But it seems Congressman Cassidy got a pat on the back and a check in the bank.”

But Cassidy said his detractors have a “non-issue” with this new line of attack.

“They’re trying to make something out of a service to humanity,” Cassidy said. “There’s a guy in New Iberia, Louisiana, who has a brother who is alive because I am allowed to do this.”

Cassidy has been on a leave of absence from LSU since April, as he focuses on his Senate campaign, but said he hopes to pick back up his teaching role if elected on Dec. 6.

“I would love to teach,” Cassidy said. “I am the only liver doctor in the LSU charity system -- this is for the uninsured and those on Medicaid…I am the only liver doctor for hundreds of thousands of patients.”

Asked about specific dates on his timesheets when he recorded hours working for LSU but was also on Capitol Hill for votes the same day, Cassidy said that his LSU teaching responsibilities were fulfilled remotely from DC on days when there were conflicting votes.

Cassidy said that, for example, he has provided “resident supervision” for LSU medical students on health policy rotations in Washington, D.C.

One such student is LSU resident Claude Pirtel, who spent a month in the district earlier this year and worked with Cassidy on a project that studied the implications of the Affordable Care Act on health policy.

“Two or three times a week, we’d sit down and talk about health policy and work on projects pertaining to Louisiana,” Pirtel told ABC News of his time working with Cassidy, which he described as one of “best experiences” of his time in medical school.

On other occasions, when votes weren't scheduled until late in the day, Cassidy said he would sometimes supervise a resident clinic in Louisiana before getting on a plane to head to Washington. Cassidy recalled one day when his morning began in an operating room in Baton Rouge and he finished his day at a White House party.

“I did a liver biopsy in the morning on an inmate, who was chained to a bed at the public hospital, took off my gloves, got a ride to the airport to go to DC, went to Capitol Hill and voted, and then changed into a tuxedo and went to a White House Christmas party,” he recalled. “It was a juxtaposition of life experience that few would have.”

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Obama Wishes Americans A Happy Thanksgiving in Weekly Address


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's address, President Obama wishes Americans a happy Thanksgiving.

Obama says Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday because it is "uniquely American."

He says Thanksgiving can be viewed as a day that binds Americans together. "Each of us brings our own traditions and cultures and recipes to the table – but we all share this day, united by the gratitude for the bounty of this nation," Obama says.

The president also addressed troops and their families. "To our service members who are away from home, we say an extra prayer for you and your loved ones, and we renew our commitment to take care of you as well as you’ve taken care of us."

Read the full transcript of the president's address:

On behalf of the Obama family – Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo, and Sunny – I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.  Like many of you, we’ll spend the day with family and friends, catching up, eating some good food and watching a little football.  Before we lift a fork, we lend a hand by going out into the community to serve some of our neighbors in need.  And we give thanks for each other, and for all of God’s blessings.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because, more than any other, it is uniquely American.  Each of us brings our own traditions and cultures and recipes to the table – but we all share this day, united by the gratitude for the bounty of this nation.  And we welcome the contributions of all people – no matter their origin or color or beliefs – who call America home, and who enrich the life of our nation.  It is a creed as old as our founding: “E pluribus unum” – that out of many, we are one. 

We are reminded that this creed, and America itself, was never an inevitability, but the result of ordinary people in every generation doing their part to uphold our founding ideals – by taking the blessings of freedom, and multiplying them for those who would follow.  As President Kennedy once wrote, even as we give thanks for all that we’ve inherited from those who came before us—“the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed,” we must also remember that “the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” 

Today, we are grateful to all Americans who do their part to live by those ideals, including our brave men and women in uniform overseas and their families, who sacrifice so much to keep America safe.  To our service members who are away from home, we say an extra prayer for you and your loved ones, and we renew our commitment to take care of you as well as you’ve taken care of us.

We are grateful to the countless Americans who serve their communities in soup kitchens and shelters, looking out for those who are less fortunate, and lifting up those who have fallen on hard times.  This generosity, this compassion, this belief that we are each other’s keepers, is essential to who we are, not just on this day, but every day. 

It’s easy to focus on what separates us.  But as we gather with loved ones on this Thanksgiving, let’s remember and be grateful for what binds us together.  Our love of country.  Our commitment to justice and equality.  Our belief that America’s best days are ahead, and that her destiny is ours to shape – and that our inherited ideals must be the birthright of all of our children. 

That’s what today is all about: that out of many, we are one.  Thank you, God bless you, and from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

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GOP Weekly Address: Sen.-Elect Tom Cotton Reflects on Thanksgiving's History


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, Senator-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas looks back on the history of Thanksgiving, from the Pilgrims at Plymouth, to the Civil War, to Pearl Harbor, to today. 

Cotton says what all of these Thanksgivings have in common is the "gratitude for the blessings of a beneficent and loving Lord no matter the adversity of the times."

Cotton also says he is grateful for American troops and their families.

"To each of you, on behalf of the people of a grateful nation, I extend our deepest thanks for your honorable and faithful service," he says.

Read the full transcript of the GOP address:

Hello, I’m Tom Cotton, Senator-elect from Arkansas. I want to wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. For nearly as long as we’ve been a people, Americans have set aside a day for public thanksgiving for our many blessings. 

Many trace our modern Thanksgiving back to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Despite the hardships of the coming New England winter, the unforgiving terrain and climate, and the dangers of settling a new land, these Pilgrims celebrated a feast to thank God for his provision and protection.

In the earliest days of our new and untested government, President Washington established a day of Thanksgiving for Americans to, in his words, acknowledge ‘with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.’

In the depths of the suffering and deprivation of the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a single day for a nationwide Thanksgiving, to help unify a deeply divided nation.

And just days after the shock of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed a congressional resolution establishing the fourth Thursday of November as our national day of Thanksgiving, a practice which continues today.

A constant among these Thanksgivings and the one we celebrate today is gratitude for the blessings of a beneficent and loving Lord no matter the adversity of the times. Today, we as nation no doubt face many challenges – too many of our fellow citizens out of work, too many families struggling to make ends meet, too many enemies plotting to do us harm. But we have faced graver challenges and not simply survived, but thrived.

It’s tempting to be consumed with these challenges – as individuals, as families, as a people – and neglect our many continued blessings. The bountiful harvests from our fields and the amazing fruits of our industry and commerce we all too often take for granted. Nor do we always cherish the even more valuable blessings of our natural rights, civil and religious freedom, and the rule of law. And we can overlook the blessings of family and the love for our children.

On this day of Thanksgiving, then, let us once again pause and reflect on these blessings, and also remember that we are not their author nor are they the work of our own hands. Rather, they are the gifts of a just and merciful God who loves us in spite of our failings. In deepest gratitude, we thank the Lord for these gifts and humbly petition for His continued Providence.

And, finally, we prayerfully commend to His care two groups of our fellow Americans in particular: our troops and their families.

For many, there will be no homecoming this week. From Afghanistan to Iraq to Korea, our troops continue to patrol the world to bring peace and security for us all. From Marines in Liberia to sailors across the oceans to airmen over the Asian skies to the sentinels standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, these troops will sacrifice the comforts of family and home so we can enjoy them.

To each of you, on behalf of the people of a grateful nation, I extend our deepest thanks for your honorable and faithful service.

And to your families, I extend similar thanks, and this personal assurance. Nine years ago, I was at Ranger School for Thanksgiving; six years ago, it was Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan. While we deeply missed our own families, we also celebrated together as a second, surrogate family. 

As you see the empty seat at your table this Thanksgiving, please know that your sons and daughters, husbands and wives, moms and dads miss you dearly, but are enjoying the next best thing to home: the camaraderie and love of their brothers and sisters in arms.

God bless them, God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Underwent Heart Procedure


Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a coronary catheterization on Wednesday.

According to a press release from the court, Ginsburg experienced discomfort while partaking in "routine exercise." Ginsburg was taken to a MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where a coronary blockage was found and a stent was placed in her right coronary artery.

Ginsburg is "resting comfortably" and is expected to be released within 48 hours.

Despite being diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009, Ginsburg, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, has never missed a day of oral arguments due to medical treatment.

The court is set to hear arguments on Monday.

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First Family Hands Out Thanksgiving Food in DC


MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Wednesday afternoon, the First Family handed out Thanksgiving food items to recipients at Bread for the City, a DC agency that provides food, clothing medical care, and legal and social services to the poor.

President Obama gave out bags of sweet potatoes and the First Lady gave out turnips. Malia handed out cranberry sauce and canned beans, while Sasha provided canned mixed vegetables and White House Hershey kisses.

The Obamas were joined by family and friends, including Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, who handed out fresh bread.

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Obama Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey 'Cheese'


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama issued yet another executive order Wednesday afternoon, granting two turkeys amnesty from Thanksgiving dinner.

"I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month," the president said before pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the White House.

"Today, I’m taking an action fully within my legal authority -- the same kind of action taken by Democrat and Republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate," Obama said.

Cheese was chosen by fans to be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey and pardoned by the president, but Mac's life was also spared. Since 2012, fans have been able to vote for their favorite turkey on Twitter.

"Let’s face it, if you’re a turkey and you’re named after a side dish -- your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low, so these guys are well ahead of the curve," Obama added.

The side dish's chances of escaping Obama's dinner are pretty low -- macaroni and cheese has been featured on the White House Thanksgiving menu every year.

The nearly 50-pound birds were raised with the Presidential Turkey Flock at Cooper Farms in Fort Recovery, Ohio.

Since arriving in Washington, Mac and Cheese have been pampered at the Willard Hotel in a custom room with tarps and shavings. Following the ceremony, they flocked to their retirement home at Morven Park in Virginia.

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House Ethics Committee Defers Rep. Grimm's Case to DOJ Again


Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House Ethics Committee has once again deferred consideration of Rep. Michael Grimm's alleged violations of campaign finance law to the Department of Justice.

Grimm, R-N.Y., is alleged to have solicited and accepted prohibited campaign contributions, caused false information to be included in campaign finance reports and allegedly made a deal with a foreign national to collect campaign contributions in exchange for help getting a green card.

The committee had previously made a similar decision on Nov. 26, 2013, when it deferred action on the case.

The committee says it will make public statements at least annually regarding Grimm’s ethics referral.

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Angelina Jolie on Why She Would Get into Politics


Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Angelina Jolie would consider a career in politics "if I felt I could really make a difference," she told a British television network.

"I've always gone where I felt I was needed," the actress and activist, 39, told ITV on Tuesday. "When I started working with the U.N., I loved working in the field."

Jolie began her humanitarian work in the early 2000s and since then has served as a United Nations goodwill ambassador, traveling to places such as Darfur, a war-torn region in Sudan, and neighboring Chad. She's also met with members of Congress over the years, championing causes focused on children in developing nations.

In June, Jolie was appointed an honorary dame commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George for her work with the United Kingdom and efforts to end sexual violence in war zones.

Jolie added that after her U.N. work, she got more involved with going to Washington, D.C., to "plead" for certain cases.

Of that work, Jolie said she "doesn't know what that means or where that will lead me." But if she's useful in making change, then politics might be in her future.

The Oscar winner also spoke to ITV about "all of the people who are starving and dying at the moment."

"We simply aren't doing enough," she said.

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EPA Proposes Stricter Smog Standards


hxdbzxy/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new smog standards in an effort to safeguard Americans from air pollution on Wednesday.

"Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. "We deserve to know the air we breathe is safe."

The current standard deems 75 parts per billion of ozone as acceptable, but the EPA wants to lower that figure, perhaps to 60 parts per billion. At 75 parts per billion, the agency says, individuals can suffer damage to their respiratory system, asthma or aggravated cases of asthma, other long diseases.

The EPA says strengthening its standards would prevent at least 320,000 asthma attacks and at least 330,000 missed school days.

The agency expects to hold public hearings and announce final standards by Oct. 1, 2015.

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Where Turkeys Go After They're Pardoned by the President


seyitali/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It's a presidential tradition to "pardon" a turkey on the eve of every Thanksgiving -- and now we know where the lucky birds go to retire.

After the ceremony at the White House, this year's spared turkey will head to Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. In past years, the birds have gone to George Washington's Mount Vernon.

"Before that, Disney World. And before that, Disney Land," said Keith Williams, a spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation. "And about maybe 10 or 20 years ago, they went to a petting zoo in the area."

The federation works with different farmers each year to send two birds to the White House. One will be pardoned, and the other is a backup. Neither is really at risk of winding up on the First Family's dinner table, Williams said.

"Everyone calls it 'the pardon,' but it's the presentation of the national Thanksgiving turkey," he said. "We've done this since Truman. I believe it was George H. W. Bush who made an offhand comment that he was going to pardon the turkey, and that's where it became a custom."

This year's turkeys will join one of last year's turkeys, Caramel, at Morven Park. The other turkey, the one President Obama chose as the national Thanksgiving turkey, died this past summer.

"They're not bred for longevity," Williams said. "They're not pets. They're not workhorses. They don't live that long."

The turkeys come from an Ohio farm. People vote on the names and the final suggestions are sent to the White House. The White House announced that this year's turkeys are named Mac and Cheese.

Today's the day these turkeys go to the @WhiteHouse and meet President @BarackObama! #PresidentialTurkey14 pic.twitter.com/vTYknWaHO5

— Cooper Farms (@CooperFarms_) November 26, 2014

 

Today is the #WHTurkeyPardon. Cast your vote now for America's next top turkey. Are you on #TeamMac or #TeamCheese? http://t.co/frNyFCH1v6

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 26, 2014



Teresa Davenport of Morven Park said she'll be transporting the turkeys from the White House to the their new home, which is about an hour's drive.

"I'm bringing them in the back of our van and hoping it's not snowy and rainy," she said.

 

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New Name Added to List of Defense Secretary Candidates


US Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) -- At least one new name has shown up on the list of candidates who could potentially replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who announced Monday that he would step down from that role.

ABC News has learned that Jeh Johnson, the current Secretary of Homeland Security, may be under consideration for Hagel's old job.

Initial reports indicated that Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Michelle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense and Ashton Carter, former Deputy Defense Secretary, were among the candidates for the job. Reed and Flournoy, however, have reportedly told the White House that they are not interested in taking over the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday that Hagel's decision to step down was mutually agreed to by Hagel and President Obama, and that it was not prompted by any policy disagreements.

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