Blinken announced Wednesday that he will appoint a chief diversity and inclusion officer for the department who will report directly to him, will soon release a ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan,’ and will create a “D&I Leadership Council.” In his statement, the secretary also said he will require each of the State Department’s regional bureaus to designate an existing deputy assistant secretary to focus on creating more diversity in a department known for its “pale, male and Yale” workforce.
“The State Department has the honor of representing the American people to the world. To do that well, we must recruit and retain a workforce that truly reflects America,” Blinken said. “And our diversity gives us a significant competitive advantage on the world stage. This is something that the President, the vice president, and I firmly believe.”
The statement did not say when Blinken will appoint the diversity and inclusion officer.
State Department data underscores the challenge Blinken faces.
Just over 70% of the full-time permanent State Department staff — civil servants and foreign service officers — are White. Foreign service officers literally represent the face of America at consulates and embassies around the world. More than 72% of foreign service specialists are White, while 10.7% are Hispanic, 10% are Black, .8% are American Indian and 7.2% are Asian. More than 80% of foreign service generalists are White, while 6.5% are Hispanic, 6.2% are Black, .5% are American Indian and 7.5% are Asian.
In his statement, Blinken said his goal “is to incorporate diversity and inclusion into the department’s work at every level.”
The nominees include Ron Stroman, the former deputy postmaster general who resigned under the previous administration; Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of American Postal Workers Union; and Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute.
The nominations come amid public outcry over delayed mail and increased pressure on Biden from Democratic lawmakers and postal service unions to take action to improve the USPS.
On Tuesday, the American Postal Workers Union called on Biden to swiftly fill the board’s four vacancies. Some Democratic lawmakers have gone further, calling on Biden to remove Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
If confirmed, his nominees will answer calls to diversify the board and alleviate concerns of the unions, who have complained that the current Trump-appointed board had no one with previous postal service experience serving on it.
“I encourage you to ensure your appointees are reflective of the 600,000 dedicated workers they will lead,” Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley wrote in a letter Biden last week. “We need a Board of Governors that includes women, people of color, and individuals who have direct experience working for the USPS and serving our communities.”
The nominations come after a heated day on Capitol Hill, where DeJoy appeared in front of the House Oversight Committee to discuss improving the USPS. DeJoy sparred with Democratic lawmakers over woefully slow mail delivery rates, the 2020 election and his forthcoming 10-year plan to overhaul the Postal Service.
The President does not have the power to remove the postmaster general. Only the Postal Service Board of Governors — which is comprised of members nominated by the President and confirmed in the Senate — has the power to do so, and DeJoy continues to have the support of the Trump-appointed board.
On Wednesday, DeJoy made it clear he has no intention of leaving willingly. When asked how much longer he intended to stay, DeJoy responded: “A long time, get used to me.”
Murphy, co-chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats, hopes that by emphasizing a bipartisan background she can appeal to a state that has elected Republicans to the Senate in 2016 and 2018 and twice supported former President Donald Trump. Murphy has hired Lauren Calmet, the former political director of the Florida Democratic Party, to organize her new initiative, called “Cast Forward,” and has talked with Georgia’s Stacey Abrams about how to rebuild Florida’s party’s infrastructure.
“I firmly believe that Florida is not a red state; it’s a hard state,” Murphy told CNN in an interview. “You have to have the right money, message, and machine to compete and after a few disappointing election cycles, it’s clear that we’ve fallen short.”
The comments indicated she took to heart the 2020 loss of two House Democrats representing South Florida, former Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whom Republicans attacked as socialists who were weak on Cuba and Venezuela.
In the interview, Murphy also previewed a potential attack against Rubio, a two-term senator.
“I think the challenge for Rubio is that he’s made it apparent to everybody that the only person he cares about is himself,” she said. “He’ll do anything or say anything to stay in power and I think that’s unfortunate.”
In response, a Rubio campaign spokesman touted Rubio’s accomplishments, noting that the senator helped craft the Paycheck Protection Program last year to aid small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, helped expand the child tax credit in 2017 and secured millions for Everglades restoration. The spokesman also noted that the Lugar Center rated him one of the top 10 bipartisan senators in 2019.
“I’m very proud of our record,” said Rubio on Thursday. “I would stack it up against anybody, including her.”
“I fled a communist country. I deeply appreciate the fact that I get to live in a democracy,” Murphy told CNN. “The future of our democracy depends on elected officials and the good people of this country to stand up for it. And you’ve seen Republicans, and you’ve seen Rubio, support Trump’s big lie for months. And I think they did so because they chose their own political future over the future of our democracy.”
In 2016, Murphy defeated 24-year GOP Rep. John Mica. But her district in the Orlando suburbs may be redrawn by the Republican state legislature in the coming months. She said she was “less worried” about her district changing and more focused on the “disenfranchisement of Floridians all across the state.”
GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican state legislators have introduced proposals that will make it harder to vote by mail, warning of potential voter fraud, even though the state’s 2020 election worked smoothly and there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the state.
This story has been updated Thursday with comment from Rubio’s spokesman.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.
Michelle Obama, Thurgood Marshall and Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the figures who appear in a set of cards.
“It’s dedicated to the dreamers — to all of the African American individuals before us who paved the way,” Johnson told CNN.
Despite praise from her peers, the Kansas City, Missouri-based graphic designer and founder of Studio Lo recalled being hesitant to take what was originally a class project and turn it into a physical product.
“I just hadn’t seen it done before,” Johnson said. “But I looked at an example from the class and I was like, ‘How would that look with a Black figure on it?'”
The 22-year-old illustrator recalled how she didn’t intend to take her design idea beyond the classroom. “That, literally, was where it was going to stay and I wasn’t going to push the product any more,” Johnson continued. That all changed when she got her first order request.
Last October, a professor at the University of Missouri came across the design on Johnson’s portfolio website. She was eager to buy a few decks as gifts for her graduate students; however, the cards didn’t actually exist.
“I didn’t want to tell her no,” Johnson recalled. “So I took that as an opportunity just to motivate me to go ahead and get them done.”
After fulfilling the professor’s five-deck order, Johnson pivoted her focus to the cards and began pushing the design.
“I’ve just been showing them to people who I think would be interested and just seeing how many eyes I can get on them,” Johnson explained. “And literally every person that I’ve shown has been excited about it — more excited than me sometimes.”
Johnson initially only printed 100 decks that she planned to sell on her own. However, curators at Made In KC, a company in Kansas City that sells locally designed products, suggested that she print more. “So then I went and got 500 more printed,” Johnson continued. The cards are now being sold in-store at all three Made in KC locations.
Starting important conversations about Black history and Black culture is something Johnson hopes can be achieved with the playing cards. She explained how the project is her creative passion mixed with an important topic.
“I think it’s always important to push [Black] culture forward,” Johnson said. “And there’s no better way to do that and than through creativity.”
Johnson currently works as an In House designer at Kanbe’s Markets, an organization that seeks to eliminate food deserts in Kansas City. Her creative skills, coupled with the idea that art can be used as a powerful tool for change, makes her job at the nonprofit even more enjoyable.
“Just being able to contribute my talents, and contribute to the bigger cause is super rewarding,” Johnson continued.
Looking back on her journey so far, Johnson explained how grateful she is to be surrounded by people who support her work and have her best interest in mind.
“I think a lot of times people kind of fear that people won’t respect or understand their idea,” Johnson said. “But, really, you just gotta be confident and people will see what you see.”
To learn more about the Revolution Card Deck and the artist behind the design, visit her website. The deck sells for $30.
“Every culture has some kind of soup,” she said. “It’s got very ancient roots.” Early people simmered everything from turtle shells to lengths of bamboo in soup, she writes in the book, turning out metal soup pots starting in the Bronze Age.
Boiling food made it possible to subsist on stable grains, with herbs and other ingredients added for nourishment or medicinal purposes.
Each time you deliver a pot of soup to a friend with the sniffles, Clarkson said you’re in fact carrying on an age-old tradition. “Separating food and medicine — that’s not how ancient people thought of it,” she said. “I think in every country in the world, historically, some soups were seen as restorative.”
That’s true no matter what you call it. Today, soup leans brothy while stews are more substantial, but the world’s spoonable foods have never fit neatly into the two English-language categories.
While Clarkson dove into centuries of etymology to trace the history of soup, potage and broth, she settled on a generously broad take. “Just some stuff cooked in water,” she wrote, “with the flavored water becoming a crucial part of the dish.”
Banga | Nigeria
The spices infuse a rich, red sauce that’s the soup’s main draw: Soak it up with eba or a ball of starch, two Nigerian staples both made from cassava prepared with different methods.
Beef pho (phở bò) | Vietnam
A bowl of beef pho is sure to cure what ails you.
Leisa Tyler/LightRocket/Getty Images
Broth is simmered for hours with cinnamon, star anise and other warm spices to create a wonderfully aromatic base for this rice noodle soup.
And while today’s pho restaurants serve a wide range of flavors, beef is the original. By 1930, Nguyen explained, the soup was served with slices of raw beef cooked gently in the broth.
Today, beef pho remains the most beloved version in Vietnam, with options that include the original raw beef, a mix of raw and cooked beef, brisket and tendon.
Borscht | Ukraine
Chunks of tender beets swim in brilliant red broth for a soup that’s beloved in Ukraine and across Eastern Europe. Often topped with a rich dollop of sour cream, borscht is anything but basic beet soup. It gets a tangy kick from kvass, a lacto-fermented beet juice that’s another regional specialty.
Bouillabaisse | France
A fisherman’s stew turned culinary icon, bouillabaisse distills classic Mediterranean flavors into a dish synonymous with the coastal city of Marseille. Saffron, olive oil, fennel, garlic and tomatoes blend with fish fresh from the sea.
At one time, that fish would reflect each day’s catch, but things have gotten a bit stricter.
Caldo verde | Portugal
Thinly sliced greens meld with potatoes and onions in this homey soup from Portugal’s wine-producing Minho region. Now, the soup is a culinary star from upscale cafes to rural kitchens, the definition of down-home comfort food.
In many versions, tender Portuguese chouriço sausage adds an undercurrent of smoky, salty flavor that makes the soup even heartier. Enjoy alongside a glass of Minho’s famed vinho verde wine.
Chorba frik | Algeria, Libya and Tunisia
Durum wheat harvested while green, called freekeh, adds satisfying heft and nourishment to this North African soup, which is especially beloved during the holy time of Ramadan.
The tender grains absorb a tomato broth and aromatic spices, their flavor melding with chickpeas plus stewed chicken, beef, mutton or lamb. Serve with lemon wedges and a hunk of kesra bread.
Chupe de camarones | Peru
Shrimp lovers will want to try the Peruvian soup known as chupe de camarones.
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images
This creamy shrimp chowder is a specialty of Arequipa, a historic city surrounded by towering volcanoes. Cold nights in the mountains are perfect for the hearty dish: Tender shrimp swim alongside chunks of Andean potatoes and corn.
Gazpacho | Spain
Arabs brought the dish to the Iberian Peninsula centuries before Spaniards tasted tomatoes, a New World ingredient. The original was a blend of bread, garlic and olive oil, pounded in a mortar and seasoned with vinegar.
Groundnut soup | West Africa
Sweet potatoes and okra are stars in this particular version of groundnut soup, popular throughout West Africa.
As with so many culinary treats, groundnut soup ignores international boundaries: Meat, fish or chicken simmered into a thick peanut soup is pure comfort food in countries across West Africa. Versions range from Gambian domoda — the national dish — to a Nigerian take cooked with bitter, leafy greens.
No matter the country, such soups and stews are creamy, rich and salty, a satisfying combination that often gets a fiery jolt from the addition of Scotch bonnet peppers.
Gumbo | United States
Ground, dried sassafras leaves — called filé and long harvested by the Choctaw people — give many gumbo recipes a distinctive spice. Some cooks thicken their soup with a cooked flour paste called roux, while others swear by sautéed slices of okra.
Harira | Morocco
Kharcho | Georgia
It’s made with unripe plums, whose sour note balances the richness of fatty beef and ground walnuts cooked into the soup. The aromatic kick, though, comes from the spice mix khmeli suneli, a blend of coriander, savory, fenugreek, black pepper, marigold and more.
Lanzhou beef noodle soup | China
Of course a Chinese soup makes the best 20 list — one taste of lanzhou beef noodle soup will tell you whyl
Slip them into a bowl of beef broth for a world-class soup that includes tender beef, pale slices of radish, chili oil and fresh herbs. (At some shops, diners may even ask for noodles of a preferred thickness and shape.)
Mohinga | Myanmar
Soup is what’s for breakfast in much of Myanmar, where sidewalk vendors and tea shops hawk steaming bowls of mohinga out of enormous vats. The soul of this noodle soup is the aromatic broth, which is simmered with herbs and thickened with toasted rice powder.
Fish lends added richness, while the thin rice noodles are perfect for slurping. Mohinga is so beloved that it’s gone from breakfast dish to anytime snack, and each region has its own twist on the classic soup.
Menudo | Mexico
Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made with tripe and hominy. It’s touted for its curative effects for hangovers.
Tripe simmered for hours in a piquant, garlicky broth is the ultimate Mexican hangover cure, but menudo goes far beyond morning-after remedies. It’s a favorite at weddings and big occasions, too, when an enormous pot of the traditional soup can feed dozens of guests.
It’s sheer comfort food, with kernels of hominy that get fresh bite from a garnish of raw onions, chiles and cilantro. Choose from one of two main varieties: Menudo rojo turns a deep red from chiles in the broth, while Sonoran-style Menudo blanco is a milder alternative.
Moqueca de camarão | Brazil
Palm oil and tomatoes tint coconut broth a warm, orangey red in this specialty from the Bahia region of Brazil, where locals eat steaming bowls on even the hottest days.
This soup’s real draw is sweet, tender shrimp floating in the broth, however. Traditionally, moqueca de camarão is cooked in a handmade pot made from black clay and the sap of mangrove trees, then brought to the table in the same authentic vessel.
Soto ayam | Indonesia
Chicken noodle soup may reach its culinary pinnacle in this piquant Indonesian dish. Spices such as fresh turmeric, star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass and lime leaves combine for deeply layered aroma and flavor, with the jammy yolks of soft-boiled eggs to add extra richness.
Every part of Indonesia has a local twist, and the soup is also beloved in Singapore, Malaysia and in faraway Suriname in South America, where the recipe arrived with Javanese immigrants.
Eat topped with fried shallots, fresh limes and a fiery scattering of sliced red chiles.
Tom yum goong | Thailand
Shiitake mushrooms and prawns are the stars of this version of tom yum soup.
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Sweet, sour, spicy and salty, this soup’s magnificent broth is the ideal foil for sweet, tender shrimp. Aromatic ingredients include galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves, while slivers of bright red bird’s eye chilis add additional heat.
Tom yum goong is just one of many varieties of tom yum soup in Thailand — this version comes enriched with fat prawns, and is a favorite with many diners.
Tonkotsu ramen | Japan
While the indulgent broth is the star of tonkotsu ramen, a bowl isn’t complete without slices of pork belly and a tangle of noodles that are hard in the center. Eat with a pair of chopsticks and a flat-bottomed spoon, and don’t forget to slurp — it’s believed to enhance the flavor.
Yayla çorbasi | Turkey
Yayla çorbasi speaks to a time when soup and medicine weren’t considered such separate things.
Boiled rice or barley adds grainy sweetness to this creamy yogurt soup. It’s believed to ward off colds during winter; some Turkish hospitals even serve yogurt soup to recovering patients.
A crumble of dried mint helps balance the yogurt’s slight tang. Serve with a pillowy round of fresh pita bread.
Newman put a winky face emoji and a transgender flag emoji with her tweet.
The back-and-forth between Newman and Greene is a reminder of an increasingly common strain in the Republican Party in the Trump age: Performative politics as an end in and of itself.
See, Greene isn’t putting that sign up because she thinks it might have some sort of actual effect on the debate over the Equality Act. The bill has support among the Democratic House majority and is likely to pass. Greene knows that. All she is doing is rallying her political base by putting on a performance with zero actual effect on how or whether this bill will become a law or not.
And of course, it worked. Greene’s video had 4.3 million views on Twitter as of Thursday morning, double the number that Newman’s video had gathered. It will further cement her status as a Trumpian cultural warrior, battling the forces of “woke” culture and standing up for traditional values.
That’s exactly right. For Greene, the performance and the controversy is the point. She has zero interest in actually legislating or even trying to build relationships with colleagues with whom she may not agree. Her sole interest is in building her Twitter followers, her small-dollar donor base and her profile on Fox News. That’s success for Greene. That’s how she views the job of representing the people of the 14th district of Georgia.
And she might be the most extreme example but she won’t be the only one. Donald Trump’s presidency (and his post-presidency) tilled the soil for candidates just like Greene to succeed. No longer is going to Washington to do something considered of value to the Republican base. Now the goal is to troll Democrats (and the media) with outlandish — and, in this case, intolerant — behavior. And of course to document and share it as widely as possible, because if a tree falls in the forest and all that.
Greene will view the back-and-forth with Newman as a major success. Her video will continue to accumulate views. More people will know her name. She’ll raise more money off it. Win, win, win for her.
And a loss for anyone who believes that politics is about relationships and actually trying to find common ground to get things done for the American people.
It’s water — a benign and beautiful waterfall experience known as “firefall.”
So how does ‘firefall’ happen?
The rays of the setting sun create a pinkish-orange hue at firefall in Yosemite on Wednesday, February 24.
Firefall occurs at Horsetail Fall, which flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, according to the National Park Service.
It’s a small waterfall, and it normally flows only during winter. The Park Service said it’s actually easy to miss.
But on some days during mid- to late February, it might glow an enchanting and magical orange when it’s backlit by sunset. That gives it that lavalike look.
The Park Service says the dazzling effect happens only on evenings with a clear sky when the waterfall is flowing. Even some haze or a bit of cloudiness can ruin the effect. Mother Nature provides no guarantees.
Keeping things pristine
It’s about a 1.5-mile walk each way from the closest parking to the viewpoint near the El Capitan picnic area.
The park is very serious about crowd control and parking in the ecologically sensitive area, which has been trampled and trashed in the past. The website posts explicit instructions on parking and warns violators could be towed.