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Good Afternoon, Portland! Did you watch that scary new TV show where fungi are the new COVID? Sure, it's weird that the mushrooms are flesh-biting zombies, and not just puffing out brain-zooping spores, but if the monsters were bitin' AND sporin' it wouldn't be believable that humans would stand a chance.

• Over the weekend, a 40,000-pound sperm whale washed ashore at Fort Stevens State Park, near Astoria. This has happened before, the Oregonian's Zane Sparling pointed out via a pretty cool dead sperm whale deep dive. In 1979, 41 Forty sperm whales beached themselves in Florence—leading hundreds of volunteers to rush to the coast to try to save them. Those whales were buried, the residents of Florence seeming to have thought better of their 1970 approach of blowing a beached whale up with dynamite. In regards to the latest, Fort Stevens whale, a spokesperson for the Oregon Parks and Recreations Department said contractors will relocate the whale to a spot where it can decompose

• A lawsuit between the union representing teachers in the Newberg School District and the Newberg School District was resolved today via settlement. The suit sought to block a policy put forth in 2021, by the district's school board, which banned symbols deemed "political, quasi-political, or controversial topic"—the policy was aimed at Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride symbols. OPB's Elizabeth Miller reports that, as part of the settlement, the district will not appeal an ACLU lawsuit where a judge deemed the policy unconstitutional, and it will amend or rescind the policy completely. Newberg superintendent Stephen Phillips told OPB, "the policy is gone."

• Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble (PETE) is known for its unflinching unorthodoxy, and yet its latest performance, The Americans, still manages to tread new territory. Calling in influence from Robert Frank's black-and-white photograph collection of the same name, PETE's new work prods at the tumultuous history of American social relations. Read the full preview from theater critic Conner Reed.

• And that's not all, there's plenty of talent hitting Portland stages this week:

• A failed Republican candidate for New Mexico's state legislature has been arrested in connection with a series of drive-by shootings aimed at his local lawmakers. Solomon Peña showed up at the homes of state and county lawmakers with documents he claimed proved he had, in fact, won his "rigged" election. [Narrator: He lost by a lot.] Following the conversations, he allegedly fired from his car at the lawmakers' homes.

• Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar have been given committee assignments—Greene to the House Homeland Security Committee and Gosar to the House Committee on Natural Resources—after being respectively removed in 2021 for incendiary remarks. Greene was removed when past, violent statements (including repeated support for executing prominent politicians she didn't like) came to light. Gosar posted an anime video, which was photoshopped to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And he should never be allowed to forget it.

• Rep. George Santos was elected to TWO committees: the Small Business Committee and House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

• In 2018, long before he owned Twitter, Elon Musk was already allegedly committing fraud with it. Jury selection for a trial related to a series of tweets he authored about taking Tesla private—which caused the stock price to wildly fluctuate—began today. The people suing him? Tesla investors.

• While I'm a casual video game player, I somehow understand most of the references in this year end wrap up from video game reporter, my friend, and guy who came to a Mercury party once Kurt Indovina.