There’s a reason turkey (the bird) and Turkey (the country) share a name

— When the guests around your Thanksgiving table are busy stuffing their bellies, here’s one way to break the lull in conversation: dazzle them with some tasty turkey trivia.

Here’s 9 to get you started.

  1. A tradition is born: TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving — by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side? Thus, the first TV dinner was born!

  2. Going shopping?: Not if you’re a plumber. Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for them, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation’s largest plumbing service. After all, someone has to clean up after household guests who “overwhelm the system.”

  3. This land is my land: There are four places in the United States named Turkey. Louisiana’s Turkey Creek is the most populous, with a whopping 435 residents. There’s also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, let’s not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!

  4. Leaving a legacy: When Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. Her other claim to fame? She also wrote the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

  5. Gobble, gobble?: Not so fast. Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Females, called hens, cackle.

  6. Ben’s bird: If Ben Franklin had his way, the turkey would be our national bird. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had “bad moral character.” A turkey, on the other hand, was a “much more respectable bird.”

  7. Born in the U.S.A.: Thanksgiving is not just an American holiday. Canadians celebrate it too. Except they do it the second Monday in October.

  8. Don’t blame the bird: You stuffed yourself, and now you’re feeling sleepy, very sleepy. But it ain’t the tryptophan in the turkey. In fact, chickens have more tryptophan. You’re groggy because you overate. And digesting all that grub takes a lot of energy.

  9. Talking turkey: Why is it called a turkey? Oh boy, this will take some explainin’. Back in the day, the Europeans took a liking to the guinea fowls imported to the continent. Since the birds were imported by Turkish merchants, the English called them turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls. When they were sent to Europe, the English called these birds “turkeys” as well.

Racial disparities persist in U.S. schools, study finds

— It’s been more than a half a century since the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling found that “separate but equal” has no place in U.S. public schools.

And yet, true racial equality in our education system is yet to materialize.

That’s clear from the startling revelations in the latest Education Department report released Tuesday. Entitled the Civil Rights Data Collection, the survey is conducted biennially. This one surveyed 50 million students in 95,000 schools during the 2013-2014 school year.

It shows how much African-American and Latino students still lag in terms of opportunities.

The disparity “tears at the moral fabric of our nation,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. told reporters.

“What sets the U.S. apart from any other country is the idea that opportunity is universal,” he said. “These data show that we still fall far short of that ideal.”

1 in 10 students are chronically absent

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing at least 15 days of school. Nationwide, 6.5 million students were absent for that duration during the 2013-2014 school year. Among high school students, the numbers are worse: One in five. This is troubling because students who miss school are likely to fall behind and eventually drop out.

Black students are suspended more often

Schools suspended minority students more often than white students, and it starts very early — in preschool. In preschool, black kids were 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white kids. In K through 12, black students were 3.8 times more likely to be suspended. Will things improve? Perhaps. A new federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act, requires states to review school disciplinary stats to reduce excessive suspensions.

Schools with more minority kids offered fewer advanced classes

The study found schools with large numbers of black and Latino students offered fewer classes in calculus, algebra II, chemistry and physics. This was the case with gifted classes too. Blacks and Latinos made up 42% of the student body in schools with gifted classes, and yet they made up just 28% of students enrolled in gifted classes.

Minorities are more likely to attend schools with police officers but no counselors

Counselors: Around the nation, 1.6 million kids attended schools that have a law enforcement officer but no counselor. And Asian, black and Latino students were more likely to be among those kids.

Officers: Among high schools with more than 75% black and Latino students, 51% had an officer. Another startling stat: A black student was 2.3 times more likely than a white student to be referred to or arrested by an officer.

Students of color are more likely to be taught by less qualified teachers

Nearly 800,000 students were enrolled in schools where 20% of the teachers didn’t meet all the requirements for a state license. And once again, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to attend such schools. The same is true when it came to experienced teachers. Students of color were more likely than white students to attend schools with teachers who were in their first year of teaching.

Rapper Trinidad James, commentator Ben Ferguson clash over use of n-word

— Things got testy on “CNN Tonight” when conservative commentator Ben Ferguson charged that rappers like Trinidad James were profiting off the n-word.

“I’ll be honest with you,” Ferguson told James on Monday night. “I think you know that we should probably get rid of the n-word, but in reality, I think many rappers are afraid they will lose out on money and sales and street cred if they don’t stop using the word.”

The two were part of a panel discussion about who can say the n-word. The panel also included CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill.

“I’m making money off of doing music and being creative, sir,” James responded. “I’m not making money just because I use the n-word. Nobody goes to buy an album because it’s full of the n-word.”

To which Ferguson responded: “Trinidad, you wouldn’t be on this show tonight if it wasn’t for using the n-word in your rap music. Let’s be honest.”

Trinidad James is the rapper whose hit song, “All Gold Everything,” is heard playing in the background as the house mother of the University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon house — known as Mom B. — was caught on a Vine video repeating the n-word seven times on camera.

The woman, Beauton Gilbow, was bombarded with claims that she’s just as racist as the fraternity members who were caught singing a racist song on a bus earlier this month.

In a previous appearance on the CNN show, hosted by Don Lemon, James had said he was willing to give the house mom a pass — though he said he didn’t condone her use of the word.

But when Ferguson said Monday the rapper was only on the show for his use of the word, the third panelist — Hill — quickly jumped in.

“He wouldn’t be on the show if a white woman hadn’t said the n-word on a tape,” he said.

“White people have been saying the [n-word] long before Trinidad was born.”


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US vs. Belgium preview: There’s no room for error now

— OK, so the U.S. lost to Germany, but still squeezed through to the next round. No shame in that. But nothing to be too proud of either.

But the game today? This is do or die. This is one and done. This is all or nothing.

This is whatever cliche you can think of to rabble rouse your team spirit.

If the U.S.-Germany match was a battle of David and Goliath, this afternoon’s encounter is David and the Dark Horse.

And Belgium ain’t no one trick pony.

The game’s at 4 p.m. ET — enough time for you to skim through this cheat sheet and become an insta-pundit.

Why you should care

It’s about time soccer caught on in the U.S.

And in order for that to happen, Americans need a team they can really rally behind.

If the boys can beat Belgium, it’s off to the quarter finals of the World Cup. The last time the men’s team did that was in 2002. (They lost to Germany.)

The expectations are enormous. When was the last time you saw the country unite behind one cause, gather in front of massive TV screens, and collectively bellow, “I believe that we will win”?

At home, 25 million people watched the USA nearly slay Portugal last week. Twenty five million! That’s more than what the NBA finals or the baseball World Series averaged.

In Brazil, Americans are second only to the host nation in the number of tickets bought.

Online, Twitter and Facebook are blowing up.

Soccer, you see, is starting to stir the soul of America.

“The country is paying attention in a way that it’s never done before, and we have a chance to make some history,” said Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer Federation president.

It’d be a shame if the plucky Yanks lost to Belgium, killing the momentum.

How it has played out before

When the U.S. last played Belgium at the World Cup, it beat them 3-0. But that was 84 years ago — in 1930! More recently, the teams played two “friendlies” (matches that aren’t part of a tournament). The U.S. lost both.

Why you should worry

You don’t hear Belgium mentioned in the same breath as soccer powerhouses like Brazil, Argentina or Germany.

That’s because it isn’t.

It plays a boring brand of soccer. Cautious. Tentative. Patient.

”I am here to be a realist,” their coach, Marc Wilmots, says. “I am not here to please the fans in the stands.”

But Belgium wins games.

It qualified for the World Cup, winning eight out of 10 games. (It drew the other two.) At the tournament, it’s won all three of its games, conceding only one goal.

Another reason: The Red Devils are young and hungry. Eleven of their players are in the prestigious English Premier League. Four of the Americans play there. Also, Belgium has way too many strong goal-scorers.

Why you shouldn’t worry

Un: The Belgians are banged up.

Captain Vincent Kompany can’t seem to shake a nagging groin injury. So he’s iffy for the game.

Kompany is one of Belgium’s key defenders. A second starting defender has a hamstring strain.

Without those two, the goal scoring potential increases for the U.S.

And they’re not the only ones battling injury. There’s one guy with a broken leg, another with a groin strain, another with muscle tightness.

Deux: Jozy Altidore will be back for the U.S. Since he was sidelined with a hamstring injury in the U.S opener against Ghana, Clint Dempsey has had to go it alone as the main goal scorer. Altidore returns to the potent partnership.

Trois: There’s something to be said for experience. And the U.S. has four players who are World Cup veterans (Howard, Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Bradley.) They know how to deal with the pressures of competing on soccer’s biggest stage. The Belgians? The last time they were at a World Cup was 14 years ago.

“We have absolutely no fear at all,” U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We believe we have built a foundation in our team that we are able to beat them, and we’re looking forward to it.”

What you should ignore

The fact that the referee is Algerian. Ever since FIFA picked Djamei Haimoudi for the match, the comments have poured in: “We’re toast.” Why? Because the USA knocked Algeria out of the 2010 World Cup with a 1-0 victory.

Klinsmann’s got a second reason: He seems to think that the fact that the ref speaks French gives the Belgians an edge.

“Is it a good feeling? No,” he said. “He’s able to speak French with their players on the field, not with us. And it’s the country that we beat in the last second of the last World Cup.”

Will Haimoudi hold a grudge? Hogwash.

He’s refereed the Netherlands-Australia game and the England-Costa Rica game without complaints from fans or critics about wrong calls.

“It is looking for excuses ahead of the match,” Belgian coach Wilmots said.

What the U.S. should do

Attack, attack, attack! In the last three games, the boys attacked just 72 times, says FIFA. You know where that places the USA among the 32 teams at the World Cup? Dead last!

Today, the natural tendency of the team might be to hunker down, ward off the inevitable Belgian onslaught, and make a run for the goal when chances open up.


This isn’t the group round. You lose here, you’re out.

All of Belgium’s goals have come in the last 20 minutes of games, making it hard for the opposing team to equalize.

So the U.S. needs to go at it guns blazing. Yes, the Red Devils have won their World Cup games so far, but they never quite dominated. Overwhelm them.

What you should say

Here are some fun facts to impress your buddies at your soccer watching party:

Fun fact #1: Before he became Belgium’s coach, Marc Wilmots served in the country’s senate for two years.

Fun fact #2: Belgium’s most notable contribution to cinema is Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Fun fact #3: Waffle House is calling for a ban on Belgian waffles. That’s not even a Belgian invention. Oof!

Fun fact #4: Brussels sprouts actually do get their name from the Belgian capital.

Fun fact #5: Clint Dempsey has another goal: to make it as rapper Deuce. His 13-track album, “The Redux,” comes out after the World Cup.

Who will win

The folks at FiveThirtyEight give the U.S. a 42 percent chance of winning.

The Belgian coach pegs his team’s chances at 50-50.

The U.S. quotes Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Porsha Williams charged with battery for ‘Real Housewives’ scuffle

— Well, this is going to be ratings gold.

Just in time for Sunday’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion show, police served one of the show’s stars, Porsha Williams, with an arrest warrant for attacking another, Kenya Moore.

Of course, the brawl was caught on film. And of course, Bravo — which airs the show — is not going to not air it.

Williams, 31, turned herself in to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday on a simple battery charge, a misdemeanor. She had her mugshot taken and was released on a $2,000 bond.

The attack took place during the taping of the show back on March 27. So why did the arrest take so long?

Well, according to a police incident report obtained by People magazine, Moore called police the day of the assault, but didn’t fill out a witness statement until much later.

“Mrs. Moore stated, at this time she was unable to fill out any statement due to the fact that she had to be on the movie set to start filming,” the responding officer wrote, according to People. “I also advised Mrs. Moore that she can always call back whenever she had the time to continue.”

Williams and Moore have bickered all season, with the latter questioning Williams’ ex-husband’s sexuality.

According to teasers that Bravo released of Sunday’s show, Moore took the goading up a notch during the reunion — using a scepter and bullhorn.

The clip then shows the two women in each other’s faces. But viewers will obviously have to tune in to catch the scuffle in all its glory.

The show is never short on drama.

In January, the husband of another co-star, Phaedra Parks, was arrested in connection with a fraud scheme that allegedly stole millions of dollars.

CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report