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'!)
• According to their latest report, the Oregon Department of Forestry is closely monitoring 12 major wildfires in the state—which is down from the 17 reported yesterday—and the huge Riverside fire is now 3 percent contained, which may not sound like much, but containment was at 0 percent yesterday and shows that, thanks to the change of weather, the firefighters are now able to attack the blaze. All 12 of the major fires now have some percentage of containment, all the way up to 40 percent contained in the Echo Mountain fires outside of Lincoln City.
• While the terrible air quality in Portland due to wildfire smoke dropped to merely "very unhealthy" this morning, it popped back up to "hazardous" this afternoon. On the upside, the air quality in certain pockets on the coast have returned to "good," which is giving the rest of us hope. We're currently under an air quality advisory until Thursday, when rain is forecasted to reduce the smoke by the weekend. Fingers crossed!
Two inmates evacuated from the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon due to wildfire have since tested positive for COVID-19. https://t.co/0tWfyecjCq— OPB (@OPB) September 16, 2020
• Positive news for those whose lives were tragically upended by the Oregon wildfires: FEMA is now on the ground in the state, and Rep. Greg Walden says that anyone “adversely affected” should register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362 or going online to DisasterAssistance.gov.
• Prison inmates in Oregon spoke with OPB as they were being quickly evacuated due to wildfires, and according to their account, the effort lacked coordination and was absolutely harrowing.
• The Willamette Week has a interesting story that connects the loyal followers of right-wing commentator Andy Ngo with threats of death and violence against Portland protesters.
At a recent meeting with police, the first officer to speak told [DA Mike Schmidt], “I don’t trust anything you do or say because you’re antifa.” The president of the local police union accused him of being “George Soros-backed.” https://t.co/0usG7Gdjmy— Zakir Khan (@Muzzakh) September 16, 2020
• Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal has joined the chorus of outraged voices demanding that DHS investigate the allegations of detainees in a Georgia ICE detainment center who were given hysterectomies without their consent.
IN NATIONAL NEWS:
• Hurricane Sally slammed into the Alabama/Florida coast early this morning with winds reaching 105 mph and dropping up to three feet (!!) of rain in some areas. Over 350 people so far have been rescued from floods.
• Despite what Trump may want or say, health experts agree that, at best, a safe COVID-19 vaccine won't reach Americans for at least six-to-eight months. Meanwhile, head of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield bucked Trump by telling a Senate hearing today that if all Americans wore masks, the virus could be under control in six to 12 weeks. (That includes you, Mr. and Mrs. Nose Hanging Out.)
Is he aware he is president of the entire United States? https://t.co/DiipXT2Qdr— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) September 16, 2020
• Trump underling/personal lawyer/head of DOJ Bill Barr is pushing Justice Department prosecutors to take an even more aggressive stance against Black Lives Matter protesters, suggesting they should be charged with sedition (conspiring to overthrow the government).
• Trump crony/HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo is taking a leave of absence after spreading dangerous conspiracy theories, including that the CDC was actively working against Trump and warning of coming liberal "hit squads." (To be sure, liberal "hit squads" exist—but mostly they just "hit" the sauna after a rousing game of squash, while arguing over the best type of Pinot Grigio.)
• In an ABC News town hall, Trump answered questions from undecided voters and was shocked to discover the audience was nothing like the drooling, sycophants he usually encounters at his rallies. In short, he didn't do so good.
The President previously said he read the entire 480-page Woodward book on Monday night. Trump just said he read it Tuesday night, too.— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) September 16, 2020
• Despite their earlier decision that was based on safety and science, the Big Ten college football teams have changed their minds (AKA succumbed to public pressure) and will be playing this fall anyway. YAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaay.
• Find out what it's really like on the front lines of Portland's nightly protests with our upcoming livestream event, "Eyes on the Ground: A Conversation With Portland's Protest Journalists" coming Tuesday, September 22. Our Alex Zielinski and Blair Stenvick interview a panel of local reporters on being gassed, journalistic ethics, being arrested by the cops, and more! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.
• The WEATHER REPORT: Expect a high of 73 tomorrow with a chance of rain Thursday evening that could wash away the smoke by the weekend.
• And finally, these isolated vocals of Marvin Gaye singing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is just what I needed today.