The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

The great Zaila Avant-garde clinches the national spelling bee.
The great Zaila Avant-garde clinches the national spelling bee. Courtesy Scripps National Spelling Bee

GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! Tonight I need your sweet caress, hold me in the darkness. Tonight you calm my restlessness, you relieve my sadness. LET'S GO TO PRESS.

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• Portland Fire & Rescue reports that the Northeast apartment complex fire, in which two people died, one was critically injured, and more were hurt, was caused by... you guessed it, fireworks. (Fireworks are currently BANNED in Portland and Multnomah County, btw.) Our Isabella Garcia has more.

• Nate Monson, the state’s acting legislative equity officer, has resigned after only two months on the job—but on his way out the door left behind an absolutely scathing letter, lambasting the legislature for letting harassment cases linger and refusing to pay law firms on time, drawing out painful situations even further.

• Good news for renters still trying to recover from the pandemic: Multnomah County has extended the eviction moratorium to 90 days as the state struggles to get federal rent relief funds into the hands of those that need it. BUT IMPORTANT: Renters must apply for rent relief and provide proof of such to landlords in order to qualify for the eviction protection. Our Alex Zielinski explains it all for you.

• In his first public remarks since the Blazers disastrous press conference following the hiring of the Blazers' newest (and controversial!) coach, Dame Lillard told reporters that he never said anything about being asked to be traded, and continues to back the hiring of Coach Chauncey Billups, who was accused of sexual assault, but was never charged and settled the matter out of court.

IN NATIONAL NEWS:

• Let's kick off with some GOOD news: Congrats to the brilliant 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde, the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Her winning word was... was... umm... "murraya" I think? Hold on, spell checking that.

• The CDC has issued a new advisory for kids returning to school in the fall, saying that students who are fully vaccinated can choose whether to wear masks or not, while unvaccinated children should stay masked up.

• Pfizer is preparing to seek authorization from the US for a third COVID shot that would be administered within 12 months after the second dose, presumably to provide greater immunity against variants. HOWEVER, the FDA and CDC quickly pointed out that, at this point, the vaccinated do not need a booster, adding that science will dictate if and when they become necessary. (READ: Never trust big pharma!)

• Biden is set to sign an executive order taking aim at big business, targeting anti-competitive practices at tech companies and the health industry, while also providing relief with consumer protections and boosting wages.

• Tropical storm Elsa blew through NYC yesterday soaking the city and flooding the streets and subway... and tornadoes might be next?

• Toyota has announced it will stop contributing to the campaigns of butthole, America-hating Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results on January 6. (Of course, Toyota had to be shamed into doing the right thing... but at least it's the right thing.)

• A US Olympic swimmer admitted he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, claiming... he didn't want the dose to interfere with his training schedule? I wonder if being in a hospital on ventilator would put a damper on his training.

• Like sex, weed, and scares? Get a sweet taste of ALL our fun film fests (HUMP, SPLIFF, and SLAY) with the Mercury's SUMMER MOVIE MASHUP! Get those tickets now!

Support The Portland Mercury

• Too hot for ya? Get ready for a cool July because the Mercury's SUMMER OF SLUSHIES is serving up $5 delicious, boozy frozen concoctions from your fave bars all damn month long!

• And now... THE WEATHER REPORT: Much sunnier and warmer today with a high of 90.

• And finally, how I plan on riding off into this weekend.