Here's your daily roundup of all the latest local and national news. (Like our coverage? Please consider making a recurring contribution to the Mercury to keep it comin'!)
• Governor Brown along with several of Oregon's fire fighter officials gave a sobering press conference this afternoon in which they warned that the state's current wildfires could be the worst Oregonians have seen in modern history, and that we should expect significant losses of "both structures and human lives." According to the governor, the towns of Detroit, Blue River, Vida, Phoenix, and Talent are “substantially destroyed.” While fires on the east side of the state are being brought under control, the west side includes a 55 mile stretch (!!) of wildfire along the base of the Cascades. Fires are also picking up speed in Clackamas County with half of the county, including Estacada, being given the orders to evacuate this afternoon. THE GOOD NEWS? The weather is supposed to shift tomorrow as winds die down, allowing fire fighters a better chance of containing the blazes which the governor noted was now "statewide event."
Oregon has more ‘mega fires’ burning right now than at any time in the last 120 years says OR Dept of Forestry.
— Pat Dooris (@PatDooris) September 9, 2020
• Needless to say, people who have or are recovering from COVID-19 are at a greater risk from the smoky air produced by wildfires.
• Under direction from Mayor Ted Wheeler, three Portland Police officers have been placed on administrative duty following their brutal treatment of protesters during nightly demonstrations, including the officer who tackled a protest medic and repeatedly punched him in the face.
• More bad news for local cops: A new poll clearly shows that a majority of Portlanders have an unfavorable view of the way the Portland Police bureau and its union operate, and things aren't looking good for Mayor Wheeler either.
• Related: The City of Portland has paid $975,000 to a family whose son was shot and killed by Portland Police while suffering a mental health crisis. Another important point from Alex Zielinski's story: "In 2019, four of the five people who died at the hands of PPB were in need of critical mental health treatment the day they were killed." Once more for those in the back: POLICE ARE NOT TRAINED TO DEAL WITH THOSE IN MENTAL CRISIS.
IN NATIONAL NEWS:
• According to Bob Woodward's new book about the Trump administration, the president said ON TAPE that he knew in February that COVID-19 was "deadly," but decided to "play it down." (In the same book, Trump also admitted he doesn't feel any responsibility to understand the "anger and pain" experienced by Black Americans.)
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he would have taken more aggressive action to fight Covid-19 if President Trump had been more honest about the true threat of coronavirus during the early days of the pandemic https://t.co/pbhzo7d082
— CNN (@CNN) September 9, 2020
• According to a whistleblower, top officials with the Department of Homeland Security encouraged employees to manipulate data to be more in line with Trump's political views—for example, blocking analysis of Russian election interference and downplaying the growing threat of white supremacy.
• Trump's Department of Justice plans to represent the president in a defamation lawsuit from E. Jean Carroll who accused him of sexual assault. While the DOJ is supposed to be independent, Bill Barr says they can defend Trump because he uttered the defamation while carrying out his duties as president, and DEAR GOD WHAT HAS THIS COUNTRY BECOME?
• After a long stint of sitting on his thumbs, Senate Majority Turtle Mitch McConnell has finally released a coronavirus relief package that is so thin and useless, even many of his fellow Republicans aren't expected to support it.
• In jackass sports news, I've been saying this for YEARS:
Novak Djokovic—who hosted a pandemic tennis tour, went COVID clubbing, and started a tennis men’s rights org—is the biggest jackass in pro sports https://t.co/CcYcpkWFjU
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) September 9, 2020
• The WEATHER REPORT: Winds are expected to die down tomorrow (a relief for firefighters) so expect a mostly sunny, though smoky, day with a high of 92.
• And finally, a public service announcement from the committee to GET YOUR ASS OUT AND VOTE!