Politics November 30, 2014: Elizabeth Lauten’s attack on Malia and Sasha Obama turns into Twitter partisan war on Jenna Bush

Lauten attack on the Obama girls turns into Twitter partisan war on Jenna Bush

November 30, 2014, 11:31 PM MST

Malia and Sasha Obama looked bored and embarassed as their father President Barack Obama conducts the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony in the White House, Nov. 26, 2014

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Malia and Sasha Obama looked bored and embarassed as their father President Barack Obama conducts the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony in the White House, Nov. 26, 2014
Mark Wilson/Getty Images / The White House

Politics November 29, 2014: Obama family celebrates Thanksgiving begin Christmas season at the White House

Obama family celebrates Thanksgiving, begin Christmas season at the White House

November 29, 2014, 8:15 PM MST

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President Barack Obama delivers his Thanksgiving Weekly address entitled “Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This past weekend President Barack Obama and his family celebrated Thanksgiving with all the White House traditions. First Obama pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in a White House ceremony, afterward the whole family volunteered at Bread for the City.

Then on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27, the Obamas had a big holiday dinner, but first the President released his Thanksgiving-themed weekly address and phoned members of the military. In the evening, the first couple appeared in a pre-recorded ABC interview.

On Friday, Nov. 28, Christmas decorating began with First Lady Michelle Obama receiving the official White House Christmas tree. Capping off their annual tradition on Saturday, Nov, 29, the president began his holiday shopping, buying books and supporting small businesses at Politics and Prose bookstore.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha kick-off the Thanksgiving and Christmas season with annual family and White House traditions

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

First Obama conducted the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 in a White House ceremony attended also by his daughters Malia, 16 and Sasha, 13. There were two birds competing in this latest round to be either the National Thanksgiving Turkey or the runner-up, Mac and his brother Cheese. The two birds were born and “raised on with Presidential Turkey Flock at Cooper Farms in Fort Recovery, Ohio.” Since 2012, voting for the official turkey has been done through Twitter, and the contest called “America’s Next Top Turkey,” with voters using the hashtags #TeamMac or #TeamCheese. Only the winner Cheese attended the official ceremony. Cheese is 20-weeks-old and 48 pounds. The two pardoned turkeys move on to Morven Park’s “Turkey Hill,” in Leesburg, Va., the home of pardoned turkeys since 2010, and former Virginia governor Westmoreland Davis.

President Obama’s speech was filled with jokes about executive actions and amnesty, referring to his immigration executive actions, granting amnesty, stopping deportations for 4.7 million illegal immigrants. The executive actions have not been going over too well with the American public in general; those affected think the president did not do enough to thwart deportations, while Republicans have threatened a government shutdown, impeachment, censure, or a lawsuit and have the GOP Congressional leadership promised to stop him.

The president joked, comparing his turkey pardoning to his immigration actions, “I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month.” Continuing his gag, Obama stated; “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. Some will call this amnesty, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of turkey to go around.”

President Barack Obama’s remarks were filled not only with immigration analogies, but also with Thanksgiving holiday jokes, saying; “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.” On a more serious note, Obama also thanked American service men and women in the military, expressing, “Remember the folks who can’t spend their holidays at home. Especially the brave men and women in uniform who help keep our country secure.”

Later in the afternoon he, First Lady Michelle and their two daughters donated two additional donated turkeys, and volunteered at Bread for the City, an agency that “provides vulnerable residents of Washington, DC, with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.” Each member of the Obama family handed out thanksgiving food to those in need. Obama handed-out “bags of sweet potatoes,” Mrs. Obama “turnips,” Malia “cranberry sauce and canned beans,” Sasha “canned mixed vegetables and White House Hershey kisses,” and the president’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson gave out “fresh bread.” Volunteering at a food bank is part of the Obama’s annual tradition.

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27 the Obama family had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, earlier in the day, the president phoned the troops, and started the day by releasing his Thanksgiving-themed weekly address entitled “Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family.” In his address, the president wished the country holiday greetings and expressed that “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.”

President Obama also thanked military service members for their sacrifices for the safety of the country; “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.” The president made sure to remember volunteers at “soup kitchens and shelters” for their work “looking out for those who are less fortunate, and lifting up those who have fallen on hard times.” Obama pointed out that “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.”

Concluding his Thanksgiving address, the president asked the nation to instead of emphasizing the differences, “what separates us” politically and socially, American should as they “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.”

The president also phoned “representatives of each of the five service branches: the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard.” According to the official readout of the calls, Obama expressed “his appreciation on Thanksgiving Day on behalf of a grateful nation,” thanking them for all they do for “the safety and security of the American people.” First Lady Michelle also thanked America’s troops with a Twitter post, “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”

On Thanksgiving evening, a special interview with the president and first lady aired on ABC. The interview conducted by Robin Roberts focused on the meaning of the holiday and American troops, with some scoop on their favorite pie deserts. First Lady Michelle expressed; “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.”

While President Obama discussed his Thanksgiving tradition to call to members of the military; “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.’ 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 interview included a pie testing in the White House kitchen, where Obama complained that the first lady never shares her desserts. Michelle replied it is “Cause he eats it like that. Look, the crust is gone, everything that makes a pie delicious is gone in his one bite!” To which Obama joked “Do I have to, like, take a small bite because I’m on TV?” The president revealed his favorite Thanksgiving pie flavor is pumpkin, and described, “The proper way to eat your pie is you should have just a little whipped cream on top. We go all out on pies. We don’t play with pie.”

This year there were only six pies at the White House Thanksgiving dinner, down from nine last year. The menu included traditional thanksgiving fare, “thyme-roasted turkey” “honey-baked ham” as the main courses. As for the side dishes, there was “cornbread and oyster stuffings, braised winter greens, sweet potato gratin, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and dinner rolls,” and of course macaroni and cheese. Although there are fewer pie varieties this year, the selection was still diverse enough and included; “banana cream, coconut cream, pumpkin, apple, pecan and cherry pies.”

On Friday, Nov. 28, the White House Christmas tree was delivered. First Lady Michelle, Malia and Sasha, and first dogs Bo and Sunny were there to meet is as it arrived at the North Portico in a carriage drawn by four Clydesdale horses. This year’s tree is an 18.5-foot-tall Douglas Fir from the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Leighton, Pennsylvania, and owner Chris Botek was on hand to present the tree that will reside this holiday season in the White House Blue Room. The First Lady will unveil the Christmas decoration in a reception for military families on Dec. 3.

The last annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition that Obama does each year is going shopping on Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 29 which supports small businesses, and buying books at Washington, D.C.’s Politics and Prose bookstore. Obama purchased 17 books at the store with his daughters. The president joked with the shoppers and “picked up a baby,” then asked, “Do I get a discount for that?” to which the clerk said he only get a “neighbor’s discount.” Obama was also confronted with a serious question when a shopper asked when he would be “clos[ing] the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, to which he answered, “We’re working on it.” The White House released the full list of books the president purchased, which include the following:

“Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande
“Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus” (Junie B. Jones Series #1) by Barbara Park
“Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business” (Junie B. Jones Series #2) by Barbara Park
“A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More” by Doreen Cronin
“I Spy Sticker Book and Picture Riddles” by Jean Marzollo
“Nuts to You” by Lynn Rae Perkins
“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
“Redwall” (Redwall Series #1) by Brian Jacques
“Mossflower” (Redwall Series #2) by Brian Jacques
“Mattimeo” by Brian Jacques (Redwall Series #3)
“Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms” by Katherine Rundell
“The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan
“The Laughing Monsters” by Denis Johnson
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
“Nora Webster” by Colm Toibin
“Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China” by Evan Osnos

RELATED LINKS

The 2014 White House Christmas Tree Arrives, Nov. 28, 2014

President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family, Nov. 27, 2014

Weekly Address: Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family, Nov. 27, 2014

The First Family Participates in a Service Project, Nov. 26, 2014

Remarks by President Barack Obama at Pardoning of the National Turkey, Nov. 26, 2014

President Obama Pardons the National Turkey, Nov. 26, 2014

Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.

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Politics November 25, 2014: Obama heckled during Chicago immigration speech by protesters over deportations

Politics November 24, 2014: Obama urges calm after grand jury does not indict Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s death

Politics November 24, 2014: Obama forces Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign over war with ISIS

Universities November 21, 2014: US News ranks the colleges that that accepts the most early admission applicants

US News ranks the colleges that that accepts the most early admission applicants

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 21, 2014, 4:18 PM MST

The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma accepts practically all the students that apply for their early admission program; US News ranked the top schools who accept the most students that apply early
The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma accepts practically all the students that apply for their early admission program; US News ranked the top schools who accept the most students that apply early
utulsa.edu

 

Politics November 20, 2014: Emperor Obama outlines executive amnesty for nearly 5 million illegal immigrants

Politics November 20, 2014: Obama announces immigration executive actions in speech, McConnell vows battle

Politics November 17, 2014: Never mind government shutdown Obama is looking to be impeached or sued by GOP Congress over immigration reform

Universities November 16, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15: McGill again tops Maclean’s University Rankings

College rankings guide 2014-15: McGill again tops Maclean’s University Rankings

 

November 16, 2014, 2:29 PM MST

McGill University topped Canada’s Maclean’s University Rankings for the 10th straight year

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In Canada, the most prestigious ranking of universities is Maclean’s Magazine University Ranking, and their 2015 listing and guidebook was released on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, where for the 10th straight year McGill University topped the list in the Medical Doctoral category. Simon Fraser University moved up to number one in the Comprehensive category, Mount Allison University for the seventh year topped the Primarily Undergraduate category, while the University of Waterloo moved up again to the number one spot in the reputation survey. Maclean’s explains the reason for their three main lists saying they “place universities into three categories to recognize the differences in levels of research funding, the diversity of offerings and the breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs.”

The most significant of Maclean’s’ ranking lists is their Medical Doctoral category, focusing on the major research universities. McGill again topped the list this year and has retained the number one spot for the past two years. There was movement in the top three, with the University of Toronto going up the ranking from the third spot to the second, while the University of British Columbia (UBC) moved down back to number three. The rest of the top 10 saw very little movement, with most of the universities keeping their same positions as last year. The ranking is in reverse on most international lists, with the University of Toronto considered Canada’s top university followed either by the University of British Columbia or McGill, but the international rankings all agree those are the top three Canadian universities.

Here in Canada McGill’s reputation as the Harvard of the North, rightfully keeps its spot as the nation’s best. McGill’s Principal Suzanne Fortier apparently pleased with Maclean’s ranking results told the McGill Reporter; “The value of the Maclean’s rankings, like other rankings, is in the story they tell over time. This is a story of continued commitment to excellence. I am proud of the McGill community for sustaining its top performance for a decade running.”

Recently McGill has faced budget challenges, with the Quebec government’s funding cuts the past couple of years and not enough private endowments Canada’s once top university across all rankings has taken a hit and drop in international rankings and prestige as a result. Even on Maclean’s list, where McGill was able to hold to their “decade” long reign as Canada’s best, they are 12th when it comes to “operating budget.”

Principal Fortier recently spoke of the funding problems and international rankings to the Globe and Mail, explaining, “We have not seen any additional investments in quite a number of years now and also we have to live within quite a lot of constraints… We don’t have agility, we don’t have a lot of flexibility, because, certainly in the case of McGill, all of our money is controlled by the government.” According to McGill’s statistics, the university is still a top draw for international students, in the fall of 2013 “25.2 per cent of the incoming student body” were international students.

The Comprehensive category is described as universities “with significant research, undergraduate, and graduate programs as well as professional schools,” but are not as research focused, and do not have Medical instruction. Simon Fraser and the University of Victoria continue their power struggle for the top spot in the category as they have been doing since 2007, this year Simon Fraser won the honors. The University of Waterloo retains the third spot to round out the top three. The list also saw Brock and Wilfrid Laurier graduating up this category from the Primarily Undergraduate category. Concordia University in Montreal also saw improvement in their ranking, and they are now sitting at the precipice of the top 10 at number 11.

The Primarily Undergraduate category that features universities that focus on their undergraduate program saw Mount Allison again holds on as the top university that category. Mount Allison has a monopoly on the category, maintaining their supremacy since 2007. The University of Northern British Columbia moved up to second place from tying for third last year, while Lethbridge University now solely retains the number three spot. Acadia University dropped the most in the top 10 from number two to four, while Laurentian University was the greatest gainer moving from 14 to the number 10 spot.

Macleans’ reputation survey is the most controversial lists in their annual rankings, because it is subjective, taking their results from a survey completed by “education and business leaders.” Maclean’s publishes four reputation rankings, Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative, and Leaders of Tomorrow, with 49 universities represented in all four lists. This year the University of Waterloo tops the “Best Overall” list. Maclean’s noted that “For almost two decades, Waterloo has dominated the national list,” while the Waterloo Region Record pointed out Waterloo topped the list “for the 19th time in 24 years.”

As for the rest of reputation list’s top three, UBC comes in second followed by Toronto at third. Meanwhile top ranking McGill is only fourth in the Best Overall. In Highest Quality, there is a reversal, McGill is number one, followed by Toronto and UBC, and Waterloo is forth. In the Most Innovative, Waterloo again tops the list, with Toronto and UBC second and third again, with McMaster forth and McGill just in the fifth position. The Leaders of Tomorrow reputation list had a ranking in the top four that mirrored the Best Overall list, with Waterloo at number one, followed by UBC, Toronto, and McGill again in fourth place.

In other rankings, the reputation survey is similar to Times Higher Education‘s World University Rankings World Reputation Rankings, and the QS World University Rankings that heavily relies on reputation to determine its main rankings. As with most subjective rankings like the Princeton Review Best “379 Colleges,” university administrators “criticize” the results, but students find it helpful in their application decision making. Maclean’s quoted a high school senior who commented; “A school’s reputation tells me about the path of the school and its graduates. If a university’s graduates have a high chance of getting the job they want because they went to that particular school, I feel like the same thing will happen to me if I go there.”

Maclean’s three major rankings Medical Doctoral, Comprehensive, and Primarily Undergraduate use the same methodology to determine the lists’ rankings. There are six performance indicators; students and classes account for 20 percent of the grade, Faculty also 20 percent, Resources account for 12 percent, Student Support at 13 percent, Library at 15 percent, and Reputation weigh heavily at 20 percent.

Here is Maclean’s top ten in their Doctoral-Medical category and includes the university’s 2014 positions:

  • 1 McGill University (1)
  • 2 University of Toronto (3)
  • 3 University of British Columbia (3)
  • 4 Queen’s University (4)
  • 5 University of Alberta (5)
  • 6 McMaster University (6)
  • 7 Dalhousie University (7)
  • 8 University of Ottawa (8)
  • 8 University of Western Ontario (9)
  • 10 Université Laval (13)
  • 10 Université de Montreal (11)

RELATED LINKS

College Rankings Guide 2014-15:

Bonnie K. Goodman is a proud alumnus of McGill University having received both her BA in History & Art History & Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill. She is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are academic & universities news, particularly history & library news.

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide: Caltech tops Times Higher Ed’s World University Rankings

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College rankings guide: Caltech tops Times Higher Ed’s World University Rankings

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 10:13 PM MST

 Times Higher Education again put Caltech, the California Institute of Technology at the top of their World University Rankings for the fourth year
Times Higher Education again put Caltech, the California Institute of Technology at the top of their World University Rankings for the fourth year
top10rankings.org

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide: Harvard tops US News’ Best Global Universities Rankings

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College rankings guide: Harvard tops US News’ Best Global Universities Rankings

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 10:19 PM MST

Harvard University topped US News’s inaugural Best Global Universities Rankings, the university topped three global listings, but failed to make the grade in the national rankings
Harvard University topped US News’s inaugural Best Global Universities Rankings, the university topped three global listings but failed to make the grade in the national rankings
Wikimedia Commons

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15: MIT again tops QS World University Rankings

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College rankings guide 2014-15: MIT again tops QS World University Rankings

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 10:09 PM MST

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been QS World University Rankings Top University for the past three years
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been QS World University Rankings Top University for the past three years
Wikimedia Commons

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15: Harvard tops ARWU and CWUR World Rankings

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College rankings guide 2014-15: Harvard tops ARWU and CWUR World Rankings

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 10:02 PM MST

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) both named Harvard University the best university in the world
The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) both named Harvard University the best university in the world
UK Telegraph / SIPA PRESS / REX FEATURES

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15 Princeton and Williams tops US News Best Colleges

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College rankings guide 2014-15 Princeton and Williams tops US News Best Colleges

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 9:56 PM MST

Princeton University again topped US News and World Report's Best National Universities part of their 2015 Best Colleges
Princeton University again topped US News and World Report’s Best National Universities part of their 2015 Best Colleges
callawayhenderson.wordpress.com

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15: Forbes names Williams America’s Top College

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College rankings guide 2014-15: Forbes names Williams America’s Top College

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 9:50 PM MST

Forbes was the only university ranking list that placed a liberal arts college, Williams in their top spot
Forbes was the only university ranking list that placed a liberal arts college, Williams in their top spot
harschrealestate.com

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15 Princeton Review names Syracuse best party school

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College rankings guide 2014-15 Princeton Review names Syracuse best party school

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 9:47 PM MST

 This year Syracuse University had the dubious honor of being named by Princeton Review as the best party school
This year Syracuse University had the dubious honor of being named by Princeton Review as the best party school
thecollegesolution.com

Universities November 15, 2014: College rankings guide: national and global rankings rev up for 2015 admissions

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College rankings guide: national and global rankings rev up for 2015 admissions

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 15, 2014, 9:41 PM MST

 Harvard University tops three of the 2014-2015 colleges and universities rankings, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and US News and World Report's Best Global Universities Rankings
Harvard University tops three of the 2014-2015 colleges and universities rankings, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and US News and World Report’s Best Global Universities Rankings
blogs.ubc.ca

Politics November 13, 2014: Obama to announce immigration reform executive actions next week, ignores GOP

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