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Good morning, Portland! This is going to be my last Good Morning, News Post of 2020—we're all taking a bit of time off to
And here are the headlines.
• Some good news to start with: In a special legislative session held yesterday, Oregon lawmakers voted to extend the statewide eviction moratorium until June, meaning Oregonians can't be evicted for failing to make rent during the pandemic. How renters can be expected to make up more than a year's rent deficit after the moratorium ends is still TBD.
• Also at yesterday's special session: The State Legislature approved to-go cocktails from restaurants and bars, and passed $800 million in wildfire and pandemic relief.
• And, after wasting most of the year doing absolutely nothing of consequence, the US Congress finally passed a $900 billion COVID-19 financial relief bill yesterday as well. The upshot of that is that we'll all be getting $600 stimulus checks. Now your kid can go to college!!
• In the last few weeks, the Columbia River Correction Institute (CRCI)— a minimum-security men's prison in Portland—has reported over 80 new COVID-19 cases. Our own Alex Zielinski got the inside scoop on the fear and abysmal conditions that incarcerated people are dealing with there.
• According to an annual report released yesterday, 113 people died while experiencing houselessness in Multnomah County in 2019. That's the largest number seen since this data first started being tracked in 2012.
• We've gone over what happened inside the Capitol in Salem yesterday—but while lawmakers were working inside, some right-wing protesters who oppose the coronavirus lockdown were aggressively demonstrating outside, prompting Oregon State Police to declare an unlawful assembly. Here's OPB reporter Sergio Olmos being attacked by one of the demonstrators:
• The United States is on track to see over 3 million people die before the end of 2020. That's the most deaths the country has ever reported in a single year—and a whopping 15 percent increase from 2019. That increase can mostly be explained by COVID-19, though a spike in drug overdoses also played a part.
• In towns along the US-Mexico border, traveling between the two countries is a daily event for many, who live on one side of the border and work on the other. But COVID-19—and the travel restrictions that come with it—has made that way of life more complicated, as this LA Times story documents.
• President-elect Joe Biden is expected to pick Miguel A. Cardona, the current commissioner of education in Connecticut, to be his education secretary. Cardona started his career as a public school teacher, and has worked in the US education system for over 20 years—a welcome change from college-for-profit advocate Betsy Devos.
• We'll end today's post with a little bit of schadenfreude. Ever since Joe Biden became the projected winner of the 2020 election, far-right cable TV station Newsmax—which is like if Fox News had nothing to lose—has been providing its viewers with a 24/7 stream of conspiracy theories casting doubt on the election's legitimacy. Now, Newsmax appears to be facing a legal threat from Dominion and Smartmatic, two voting technology companies, and had to air this disclaimer yesterday. Please enjoy this monologue from none other than Newsmax host John Tabacco: