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Added November 25, 2009 with 6 photos
Added November 25, 2009 with 10 photos

U.S. President Obama waved his hand over Courage the turkey Wednesday, pardoning the bird from being the guest of honor on someone's Thanksgiving Day table.

"I hereby pardon Courage so he can live out his days in peace and tranquility" in Disneyland, where he also will serve as grand marshal Thursday in the Orlando, Fla., theme park's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Obama said he was showing mercy to the 45-pound bird at the behest of first daughters Sasha and Malia because "I was planning to eat this sucker."

"That's a good-looking bird," Obama said several times during the minutes-long pardoning ceremony of Courage, who was bred in North Carolina along with his stand-in, Carolina.

Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama would take two turkeys to Martha's Table, which provides meals for the Washington-area homeless.

"So, it's fair to say I've saved or created four turkeys," Obama said, poking fun at his stimulus plan and its mantra about saving or creating jobs.

In a more serious vein, Obama said he was thankful to serve the American people as president and to be commander in chief for U.S. troops, wishing service members and their families a happy Thanksgiving Day.

Times of war and bad economic conditions, such as the United States is experiencing now, makes remembering reasons to be thankful "resonate more powerfully," Obama said.

Courage, uttering only a few gobbles, was unruffled by the fanfare, even when Obama and the girls petted it.

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National Geographic Museum's exhibition "Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor" opened this month in Washington, D.C.

The ancient sculptures are to be on display from Nov. 19 through March 31.

Washington is the show's final stop on a four-city U.S. tour.

"The exhibition offers an in-depth look at China's First Emperor's enormous tomb complex, considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century," the National Geographic Museum said in a news release. "The tomb contained thousands of terra cotta warriors intended to protect the emperor in the afterlife. The exhibition showcases 100 sets of objects, including 15 terra cotta figures representing soldiers, archers, servants, musicians and animals. This is the greatest number of warriors ever to travel to the United States for a single exhibition."

More than 70,000 advance tickets have been sold for the museum's first-ever ticketed exhibition, the institution said.

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