firsts
April 12, 2021

President Biden plans on nominating Christine Wormuth, a top Defense Department policy official during the Obama administration, as Army secretary, the White House announced Monday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Wormuth will be the first woman to lead the Army. She started working at the Pentagon in 1996, and in 2014, became policy chief, shaping the military's campaign against the Islamic State, Politico reports. Wormuth has also served on the National Security Council, directing defense policy and strategy, and was director at Rand, the international security and defense policy center.

The White House also announced three other nominations on Monday: Susanna Blume as head of the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office; former Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness; and Christy Abizaid as director of the National Counterterrorism Center at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Catherine Garcia

February 1, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, in her first phone call with a foreign leader since the inauguration.

Harris and Trudeau discussed trade policies and China's arrest of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. At the U.S.'s request, Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018, with the U.S. wanting to extradite her on fraud charges. Beijing appears to have retaliated with the detention of Kovrig and Spavor, and a readout from the White House shows that Harris promised Trudeau the U.S. will do "everything it can" to secure their release.

The readout released by Trudeau's office says they also talked about a planned meeting later this month, although it is not clear if Trudeau and Harris will get together in person or virtually. They did not appear to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline, one point of contention between the U.S. and Canada; in one of his first executive orders, President Biden revoked a permit for the controversial project, which would carry oil from Canada to the Midwest. Catherine Garcia

June 3, 2020

Ella Jones made history on Tuesday night, becoming the first black mayor of Ferguson, Missouri.

Jones, who has served as a council member for five years and is a 40-year resident of Ferguson, is also the first woman to be elected mayor of the city.

In August 2014, Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, fatally shot Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black man, triggering unrest in the city and protests across the country. This weekend, there were demonstrations in Ferguson over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

Protesters peacefully marched with the Ferguson police chief, but there was also some violence and looting, and Jones said as mayor she will "help stabilize the businesses in Ferguson" that were damaged. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it is "just my time to do right by the people," and when asked what her election means for black residents, she responded, "One word: Inclusion." Catherine Garcia

May 8, 2019

Denver's Initiative 301, which effectively decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms, narrowly passed with 50.6 percent of the vote.

Denver is the first city in the United States to approve such a measure. The unofficial results, posted Wednesday afternoon, came as a surprise, as early results on Tuesday night made it appear the initiative would fail. The current tally is 89,320 votes in favor of the measure and 87,341 against, a difference of just 1,979 votes.

Under the measure, city code will be rewritten so that police officers make enforcing laws for possession their lowest priority. It will still be illegal to purchase, sell, or possess psychedelic mushrooms. Supporters of the measure touted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision last fall to give psilocybin "breakthrough therapy" designation, meaning it has potential to help people with treatment-resistant depression, The Denver Post reports. Catherine Garcia

April 2, 2019

Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosector, won Chicago's mayoral election on Tuesday, becoming the city's first black female mayor.

She defeated Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president and chair of the Cook County Democratic Party. Lightfoot, 56, is the second woman to be elected mayor of Chicago, after Jane Byrne, who served one term from 1979 to 1983. This was Lightfoot's first run for office, and with her win, Chicago is now the largest city in the U.S. to ever elect an openly gay mayor.

In September, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would not seek a third term, and Lightfoot and Preckwinkle beat out 12 other candidates in February's first-round election. Catherine Garcia

January 7, 2019

In March, Susan Zirinsky will replace David Rhodes as president of CBS News, becoming the first woman in network history to hold the position.

The first female network news president was Deborah Turness, who held the role at NBC from 2013 to 2017. In addition to being president of CBS News, Zirinsky will also serve as senior executive producer. Rhodes was brought to CBS News in 2011 by disgraced former network CEO Les Moonves.

Zirinsky has spent the last 20 years in charge of 48 Hours, and told the Los Angeles Times "being a producer is my oxygen and the core of who I am." Following the September ouster of 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, who was accused of inappropriate workplace behavior, Zirinsky was the top choice to replace him, but higher-ups wanted her to have a larger role. Zirinsky told the Times she will ensure that CBS News is an "environment where there is transparency, where you can talk, where there are reactions based on actions." Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2018

After years as a diplomat, Sahle-Work Zewde is now the first female president of Ethiopia.

She was elected by parliament, and is Africa's only female head of state. As president, she will be able to appoint ambassadors, receive foreign envoys, and grant pardons, with the prime minister holding executive power. Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister's office, said Sahle-Work "brings the right competence and experience to the office. In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life."

Previously, Sahle-Work was special representative to the African Union, head of the U.N. Office to the African Union, director-general of the U.N. Office in Nairobi, and Ethiopia's ambassador to France and Djibouti. After she was sworn in, Sahle-Work promised to work for gender equality, telling parliament, "I urge you all to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of power." Catherine Garcia

October 8, 2018

In a first for SpaceX, the company landed a first-stage booster at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday night, after launching an Argentine observation satellite.

Since December 2015, SpaceX has successfully landed 11 Falcon 9 boosters at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, but this was the first time the company landed a booster on the West Coast. In order to make launches less expensive, SpaceX lands first-stage boosters and then refurbishes them; a launch on a new Falcon 9 rocket costs $62 million, the Los Angeles Times reports.

This was the company's 44th successful launch in a row, and the first time SpaceX tried a landing at Vandenberg. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads