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!

Good morning, Portland! It's that time of year when we reflect on all of the wildness that we went through in the past 12 months. Here at the Merc, we took a data-driven look at what 2022 had to offer through Spotify Portland Wrapped 2022—a completely original idea that's never been done before and no, it does not look familiar it just has one of those faces. Give it a read! Now onto the new news.

In local news:

• Allow me to state the obvious that it’s really fucking cold outside. It’s going to continue to be really fucking cold through the end of the week, with both wind chill and winter storm advisories going into effect today and temperatures in the mid-twenties. Warming shelters are currently open and will remain open as long as frigid temperatures continue (possibly through Friday).

• National data reveals that the Oregon Department of Education spent less per student than the national average during the 2019-2020 school year. Oregon’s per-student spending was about 4.6 percent less than the US average, clocking in at $12,810 per student. For comparison, Washington spent $14,535 per student.

• Alleged Shroom House owner Steven Tachie Jr. plead not guilty Monday to 40 felony charges relating to selling magic mushrooms at the Northwest Portland store. The alleged store manager, Jeremiah Geronimo, plead guilty to unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, and money laundering.

• In case you’re in need of a refresher on how White Elephant works, you can read the Mercury’s very own Wm. Steven Humphrey’s "Unfuckwithable Rules of the White Elephant Gift Exchange.”

In national and international news:

• Ukraine Prez Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the US Wednesday, his first known trip since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Zelenskyy met with President Biden and gave a speech to Congress about the importance of financial support for Ukrainian military forces. The US has provided tens of billions of dollars in economic and US military assistance to Ukraine over the past year, including a $1.8 billion military aid package announced just before Zelenskyy’s visit. “Your money is not charity,” Zelenskyy told Congress. “It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”

• Average life expectancy in US dropped by seven months last year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decrease is in addition to the 1.8 year decrease in 2020. The main causes for the declining life expectancy are COVID (duh) and drug overdoses from synthetic opioids like fentanyl (yikes).

• Facing ongoing worker shortages, some hotels are turning to cleaning robots to fill vacant janitorial positions. In Long Island, the Garden City Hotel hotel bought two “Whiz” robot cleaners for $30,000 each. The robots can vacuum entire hotel floors and assist with some catering tasks. Plus, the Whiz will never call out its employer for not paying it a livable wage.

• A new federal law requiring sesame oil to be labelled as an allergen on food labels has actually led to more food manufacturers including sesame oil in their products. Manufacturers say that, because the law is so strict, it’s actually cheaper to add sesame oil to a product and label it than to ensure that products do not get contaminated with sesame oil in the production facility.

• Shout out to “Mike’s Videos of Beavers” for this adorable video of (you guessed it) a beaver bringing some Christmas decor to its dam.