November 27th, 2008
09:29 AM ET

Thanksgiving 220 miles from Earth

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Thanksgiving marks the busiest travel period of the year as people take planes, trains, and automobiles to visit loved ones on every corner of this nation.

Others take the shuttle…the space shuttle that is.

I present to you Thanksgiving 2008 – From Outer Space:

We have a seasonal medley of Smoked Turkey, green beans and mushrooms, candied yams, corn bread stuffing, a spot of tea, and cran-apple dish for desert! (that's the stuff on the right)

For astronauts aboard the space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ this is the meal they will sit down to this evening… OK, well, they won’t be sitting – no fancy place-settings or designated seats here. Just a bunch of floating guests with trays VELCRO'ed to their clothing (I never liked assigned seats anyway).

It’s not every space-mission where you can experience Thanksgiving 220 miles above Earth. The last time this happened was six years ago!

I have to imagine there’s nothing like celebrating 'Turkey Day' eating Turkey while looking at Turkey… the country… all of it… from your window.

The seven astronauts and three crew members from the International Space Station will take a page from the very first Thanksgiving– sharing all that they have with each other… They’ll have to – Seems NASA only launched 6 Thanksgiving meals up into space this year…. So as the Indians first shared their feast with the Pilgrims – We hope our astronauts slice that freeze-dried turkey a little more thinly for that lonely Russian cosmonaut on board.

Speaking of freeze-dried turkey…

Feel bloated after Thanksgiving dinner? Have that urge to loosen the belt, unbutton your pants? No problem when there’s no gravity! Plus, if you’re counting calories tonight…compared to your family’s meal, its not too bad. Let’s break it down for you:

According to NASA the average Thanksgiving meal racks up 3,000 calories while their ‘out of this world’ meal only costs you 700 calories!

Reporters were privies to a taste test of the holiday dinner. One AP reporter noted:

“The smoked turkey was slightly stiffer than deli meat, like after it has been left in the refrigerator a week past its expiration date. The candied yams had a syrupy sweetness outside that dissolved into blandness in the middle. The green beans with mushrooms tasted like they have been frozen and then microwaved to an inch of their life.”

Despite the not-so-rave-review, I think our space crew has a lot to be thankful for up there (hello?!? No in-laws!). Astronauts aboard the Mercury program missions ate food-paste out of a tube for dinner!

So before you take issue with how Aunt Sally prepared the white-meat this year… Think of the meal happening miles and miles over your head…. Let you never complain the Turkey was too dry again…

Filed under: 360° Radar • David M. Reisner • Global 360°
November 27th, 2008
09:28 AM ET

A Day of Thanksgiving

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Ira Stoll
The Wall Street Journal

When was the first Thanksgiving? Most of us think of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621. But if the question is about the first national Thanksgiving holiday, the answer is that the tradition began at a lesser-known moment in 1777 in York, Pa.

In July 1776, the American colonists declared independence from Britain. The months that followed were so bleak that there was not much to give thanks for. The Journals of the Continental Congress record no Thanksgiving in that year, only two days of "solemn fasting" and prayer.

For much of 1777, the situation was not much better. British troops controlled New York City. The Americans lost the strategic stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga, in upstate New York, to the British in July. In Delaware, on Sept. 11, troops led by Gen. George Washington lost the Battle of Brandywine, in which 200 Americans were killed, 500 wounded and 400 captured. In Pennsylvania, early in the morning of Sept. 21, another 300 American soldiers were killed or wounded and 100 captured in a British surprise attack that became known as the Paoli Massacre. 


Filed under: Ira Stoll • Raw Politics • Thanksgiving
November 27th, 2008
09:26 AM ET

Food for Friends

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Jill Dougherty | Bio
U.S. Affairs Correspondent

It’s 7 a.m. on a cold Thanksgiving morning and 500 volunteers at Food & Friends already are at work wrapping up turkey dinners – 3,000 of them. A whole roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans and three pies.

Another team of volunteers picks up the boxes and heads for their cars to deliver the dinners to Food and Friends’ clients: people with few financial resources and many health challenges, including HIV/Aids and cancer.

For twenty years, Food and Friends has been providing them with nutritionally balanced meals, three per day, delivered six days a week – for free. “People are making difficult choices in this community between paying for their medical care and eating,” says Craig Shniderman, executive director, “and the job of Food & Friends is to make sure that, for our clients at least, they don't have to make that choice.”


Filed under: Hunger • Jill Dougherty
November 27th, 2008
08:51 AM ET

Caravan for compassion

Kate Devries
Kernville, California

In Southern California, mountain communities in the Kern River Valley are feeling the pressure of a failing economy. Local food banks are experiencing shortages as more residents are seeking their help to survive.

One neighbor heard the need and spread the word. In less than two weeks several residents had volunteered to form a "Caravan for Compassion." The Caravan is a food drive...


Filed under: Economy • Food crisis • iReport
November 27th, 2008
08:39 AM ET

Your spare change will feed the hungry and save lives

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Editor's Note: Actress Drew Barrymore is an Ambassador Against Hunger for the U.N.' s World Food Program.

Drew Barrymore
Special to CNN

I made my first trip to Nairobi after reading an article in The New York Times about schools and how they can change a child's life.

Dollars could do wonders for one child in a year in Africa, providing food and education, it said, while children in so many other parts of the world have the luxury to spend that money on miscellaneous fun.

The article made me feel one person could actively help another person; that I could tangibly help a child in need. A problem that had seemed so vast, so untouchable to me, suddenly felt smaller and more contained - at least for the moment.

I picked up the phone and called the United Nations and told them that I would love to further educate myself on what they do and would more than anything love to go with them on a trip to Africa to see things firsthand.


Filed under: Drew Barrymore • Hunger • Raw Politics • United Nations
November 27th, 2008
08:07 AM ET

Obama in the big leagues now: Time for fastballs instead of softballs

CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry asking President-Elect Barack Obama questions at Wednesday's press conference.

Ed Henry
CNN White House Correspondent

As President-elect Barack Obama's third press conference in three days was about to come to a close, I was sitting in the front row getting and - like some of my colleagues - was getting a little steamed. Some reporters were throwing a few softballs, treating the President-elect as if he's the incoming Mayor of Springfield, Illinois, instead of the incoming Leader of the Free World.

If I get called upon, I kept saying to myself, I better make it good and tough. Unfortunately, I wasn't getting the nod - until I finally made eye contact with Obama and got him to call on me and had a good, old-fashioned sharp exchange with the President-elect that was revealing about the balancing act the "change" candidate faces as he puts together an administration full of insiders.

At these high-pressure televised press conferences, the President-elect has a list of names handed to him by his staff with suggestions about which reporters should be called upon. My CNN colleague Candy Crowley had gotten the call at Obama's very first post-election presser at the beginning of the month, so I realized that I might not get the nod at all this week. The transition team likes to rotate the questions, in part so that different news organizations get a fair chance to play.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Ed Henry • Raw Politics
November 27th, 2008
08:06 AM ET

Making sense of the meaning of life

Leonard Pitts Jr.
Miami Herald columnist

I was crammed into a middle seat. The guy in front was practically in my lap, and I had my arms drawn in tightly as I pecked furiously on the keyboard. God glanced over. "What are you working on?" He asked.

"A column," I said. "About you, in fact."

He lifted an eyebrow. "Oh? What did I do now?"

"Well, not you per se," I admitted. 'It's about this atheist group, the American Humanist Association. They stirred up folks in Washington, D.C., recently by running a billboard on the buses. It said, `Why believe in a god?' "

God was curious, so I passed Him the computer. Just then, the plane lurched violently. The guy next to me spilled his drink and muttered a curse. God paid no attention. When He finished reading, He passed the computer back. "That's not about me," He said. "It's about defending their right to free speech."

"Sure," I said. "What else would I do?"

God shrugged. "Why not just answer their question?"

"What do you mean?"


Filed under: Leonard Pitts Jr. • Religion
November 27th, 2008
08:04 AM ET

Count those blessings

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Gail Collins
The New York Times

Time to give thanks. Let’s get cracking.

Sure, this isn’t the absolutely best and brightest holiday season ever. But look at the pluses. There has never been a better time to buy a condo in Reno, Nev., or a plane ticket from Oklahoma City to Disney World. Bargains abound!

And we sleep the sleep of the insolvent innocent. Our retirement funds may have evaporated, and we may be envisioning ourselves deep-frying chicken nuggets on our 85th birthdays. But the good part is that it wasn’t our fault. As a matter of fact, if it had been left to us, the subprime derivative never would have been invented. And a clean conscience is worth more than all the golden parachutes, indoor squash courts and $13 million vacation houses in the world.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Gail Collins • Raw Politics