President Obama broke 2 huge barriers with his choice for Librarian of Congress.

The White House announced today that President Obama is nominating Carla Hayden to serve as the next Librarian of Congress.

Photo by The White House/YouTube.


Who is Hayden?

She's the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.

Photo by nf utvol/Wikimedia Commons.

If confirmed, she'd — weirdly — be only the third-ever actual librarian to hold America's top library job.

Hayden is also a big advocate for moving libraries into the 21st century, with expertise in doing just that, according to the White House statement:

"She's been hard at work revitalizing Baltimore’s library system as the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library, updating its technology and raising money to fund essential improvements. Under her leadership, the Pratt library has become the largest provider of public-access computers in Maryland."

She'd also be breaking some pretty neat boundaries. If Hayden is confirmed by the Senate, she'd also be the first African-American and the first woman to hold the post.

Photo by The White House/YouTube.

It's flown a little bit under America's radar, but Obama has been low-key diversifying the federal government and the courts for some time now.

Photo by Daderot/Wikimedia Commons.

A 2015 analysis found that over 50% of Obama's successful appointments to over 80 critical policy jobs were women and people of color. As of October 2014, 42% of Obama's judicial nominees were women, and 36% were non-white.

In September, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Washington Post that the president has "made a very deliberate effort to be inclusive in the diversity of his administration at all levels."

The result? The government and the bench look more like America than ever before, which is a great thing.

Top federal and judicial officials make decisions every day that affect real people's lives. The more walks of life that are represented in the most important posts, the greater the likelihood those decisions will reflect the lived experience of all Americans.

Anyway, congratulations, Dr. Hayden.

And yes, I promise, I'll use my inside voice now.

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Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

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Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

I worked as a substitute teacher in my early 20s, almost exclusively in middle schools and high schools—my age of specialty. Once, I accepted a two-day subbing assignment in a first grade classroom. Only once. Halfway through the first day, as the kids ate lunch in the cafeteria, I sat at the teacher's desk in an exhausted daze. Teaching little kids was a completely different animal than teaching big kids. While adorable, they had so many needs and so little attention span. It was like herding a bunch of flies that constantly needed to go potty.

Trying to herd those flies virtually during a pandemic is too much to even fathom.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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