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Oregon Zoo

Good afternoon, Portland! Here's the latest on local news, national news, and a little bit of fun.

In local news:

• We start this Friday post off with some welcome heartwarming news, courtesy of an Oregon Zoo press release:

Amelia Gray, the 5-year-old polar bear and newest Oregon Zoo resident, met her half-sister Nora for the first time this week. The two furry friends romped around Polar Passage, playfully sparring, chasing one another and splashing into their saltwater pool.

“Polar bear introductions can be very intense so we took it slowly at first,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo’s polar bear area. “But they made it very clear they wanted to be together, and their care team listened. Now the two are having a great time playing and hanging out. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on their interactions, but things are off to a great start.”

That's what we like to see, folks:

• And in equally good news, the Burgerville Workers Union—the country's only federally recognized fast food union—has finally reached a tentative contract agreement with Burgerville management. That means union members simply need to vote to ratify the agreement, and then their union contract is final. This comes after three years of negotiations. Go get some waffle fries once that contract is set in stone, and be sure to tip your server!

• Thanks to last week’s passage of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will receive an estimated $1.2 billion in additional federal funding over the next five years. (YAY!) While ODOT will spend the next four months determining where to allocate the influx of transportation dollars, a vast majority of the one-time funding will go towards highway projects. (BOO!)

• After nine years, Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan is stepping down. The news comes just one week after the Blazers hired an outside company to investigate claims of a toxic workplace, particularly directed at general manager Neil Olshey.

In national news:

• STRONGER THAN YESTERDAY!!!

• The trial against the three men who killed Ahmaud Arbery last year continued this week, and Reverend Al Sharpton attended and sat with Arbery's family yesterday. Now, a lawyer representing one of the three defendants says he doesn't want "any more Black pastors" in the courtroom, claiming Sharpton's mere presence was "trying to influence the jurors in this case." To add another fucked-up twist, this is the same jury that has received scrutiny for being disproportionately white.

• In further "wow, that's fucked up" news, an Ohio senate primary between two Republican candidates is gaining attention after one candidate claimed the other one couldn't adequately represent Ohio Republican values.... because he's Jewish. Seriously: A radio ad for candidate Mark Pukita against opponent Josh Mandel says that "Are we seriously supposed to believe the most Christian-values Senate candidate is Jewish?” I really don't make a habit of ever rooting for Republicans, but I do hope Mandel beats the antisemetic Pukita in this one.

• From the AP: "Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was indicted Friday on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol." Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

And just for fun:

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• Book-lovers with Zoom fatigue, rejoice! The Portland Book Festival is back with some in-person events TOMORROW, including an Ursula Le Guin tribute, a memoir about Portland’s traveling library service for unhoused folks, and musings on raising a feminist son.

• And finally, enjoy your weekend! You deserve a rest, and so does this hardworking cat: