We need your help. The economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis is threatening our ability to keep producing the quality reporting you've come to love. If you’re able, please consider making a monthly contribution to the Mercury.
Good morning, Portland. Over the weekend, COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 12 million. As we enter the beginning of the holiday season, please heed the corny-but-true words of former CDC Director Tom Frieden: "Better a Zoom Thanksgiving than an ICU Christmas." Here's some other very light and merry headlines to start your week:
- President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken to serve as his secretary of state. Blinken served as deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama, and was a close foreign policy advisor to Biden during his Senate years. Per the New York Times, Blinken's "extensive foreign policy credentials are expected to help calm American diplomats and global leaders alike after four years of the Trump administration’s ricocheting strategies and nationalist swaggering."
- This year's virtual international G20 summit wasn't much to write home about, especially because the Trump administration has pulled out of nearly every international partnership discussed. Leaders did leave the meeting in agreement that the TBD coronavirus vaccine will be dispersed equitably across the world. So, that's nice.
- Speaking of COVID-19 vaccines, a chief adviser for the United States' vaccine development program says that some Americans could receive an effective coronavirus vaccine as soon as December 12. On that timeframe, that means the US could achieve herd immunity by the end of May 2021.
- The New York Times created its own AI system to prove how easy it is to conjure up real looking photos of fake people. It is equally fascinating and horrifying.
- In other fascinating/horrifying technology news, here's what robots have been up to:
ICYMI: This is ‘Robovie,’ a robot enlisted in a Japanese shop to remind customers to wear a mask, practice social distancing and guide them around https://t.co/R1wXaY8Nb8 pic.twitter.com/4PEZbooiga
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 23, 2020
Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida is among the first bases to incorporate 'semi-autonomous robot dogs' in their arsenal. pic.twitter.com/LiLkS75Zfb
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 23, 2020
- The Oregon Legislature will consider a proposal this morning to extend the state's coronavirus-related moratorium on evictions until June 30, 2021—with the assumption that Oregonians will be back to work by that point. Here's the catch: Tenants would be required to pay all of their missed rent payments on July 1. For some, that could mean more than a year of missed rent.
- On Friday, TriMet staff unveiled a plan to create a pilot program for a mobile crisis response team, a proposed alternative to sending police or security personnel to respond to transit users experiencing a mental health crisis. The pilot program could go live by 2023.
- It's COLD out there, Portland. Fortunately, that has encouraged the city and county to invest in 40 winterized, heated "pods" to replace soggy tents at Portland's three city-run outdoor homeless camps.
- OPB reports on how Portland's racial justice protests have undermined Black-led activist work. A quote from former protest leader Darren Golden: “We’ve seen this happen over decades, over centuries...Black folks that get in power or have a voice are somehow squashed or quelled by a white political leadership or white organizing.”
- Some activists spent Friday—which was the Transgender Day of Remembrance—marching up Sandy Blvd. breaking business windows and writing the names of trans Portlanders who have been killed or died by suicide on walls.
- For some reason, this above protest garnered more media attention and pearl-clutching than a Vancouver gathering that, quite literally, put lives in danger. Dozens of people gathered in Vancouver over the weekend for a planned mask-free shopping event, where they stopped at several stores, such as Fred Meyer and Walmart, to proudly purchase things without wearing a mask. The event was dubbed "An Act of Civil Disobedience." I have renamed it "Domestic Terrorism."
- A white business owners' request for a temporary restraining order against the State of Oregon for denying him access to the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency was denied by a federal judge on Friday.