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! There's a persistent rumor that the founding fathers left an enchanted horn a US president could use to summon them in a time of dire need. All I'm saying is that James Madison's crystal flute looks pretty FUCKING FANCY. Since this hypothetically enchanted flute 1) is single use only 2) is too precious to play over measly pandemic / environmental decay / debt ceiling / fakey politicians being fakey problems 3) was already probably played in the McCarthy era over communism, and 4) was already played by Lizzo in the fall…has Biden tried honking the pipes. Just tried it?

• TODAY'S TOP STORY IS GROUNDHOG. How are we supposed to believe the weather predictions of Punxsutawney Phil when he snugly abides in a castle of lies? According to Punxsutawney lore, groundhog Phil has been predicting the length of winters since 1886. But the average lifespan of wild groundhogs is only 6 years! Lies! The beaver at the Oregon Zoo "Filbert"—WHO HAS AN ACTUAL BIRTHDATE, I MIGHT ADD—also predicted the length of this year's winter season. And he also says six more weeks of winter... but with a lot of fucking STYLE.

• ICYMI: Yesterday we learned that a labor arbitrator from the Oregon Employee Relations Board ordered the city to reinstate Brian Hunzeker to his position with the Portland Police Bureau. Hunzeker was originally fired in March 2022 for leaking CAD dispatch information that incorrectly identified former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as the perpetrator in a hit-and-run. The arbitrator also ordered that Hunzeker be paid for the year and a month of back pay he would have received if he hadn't been dismissed. How can be? News Editor Isabella Garcia takes us through the elaborate logic dance, which may or may not just boil down to it's okay to do unethical things if you're the president of the Portland Police Association because people are constantly horrible to one another—and spread misleading information about one another—in the name of politics.

• Take the bus tomorrow! Trimet buses, MAX, WES and LIFT are all free of fare this Saturday, February 4, to honor Rosa Parks' birthday. Also, on many buses there are already signs "reserving" a front seat in memory of Parks.

• Reports of Portland's death are greatly exaggerated. But on the other hand, who is always giving those  exaggerations credence? 

• As of yesterday 600+ city City of Portland maintenance and operations workers are actively striking, after negotiations for a pay increase, which the union representing the workers' says is comparable to rising inflation, dragged on for nearly 10 months. Yes, you can still flush your toilet. And the city is keeping a page where they address services that may be impacted by the strike.

• Marry a robit? How dare you! Who TOLD YOU? WHO TOLD YOU... about us?


• You've likely heard of a number of big name layoffs in the past few weeks—loudest perhaps at tech and media companies—but are we in a recession? So hard to tell if we're in a recession. Would the government even tell us if we were? The good (?) news is that, on a national level, unemployment seems to be at a 50-year low. The economy keeps adding jobs (But what kind of jobs? Leisure and hospitality are leading, unfortunately.) The Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates, trying to slow the rise of inflation, but it's hard to say if low unemployment is a good indicator of higher interest rate impacts. This all led to the Associated Press calling the US job market "resilient." Let's not get carried away now.  

• Oh sweet holy Filbert. Make sure you aren't using these fucking eyedrops.

• Everyone wants to shake Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hand for a photo, but are they going to finally let Ukraine into the European Union? The New York Times doesn't think so, at least not anytime soon. Meanwhile, Russia seems to be preparing for another offensive where they carelessly throw their away the lives of their soldiers.

• After threatening to do so for nearly a year, the European Union will finally ban all Russian refined oil products, starting February 5. Oil and gas prices have been pretty wild this year over repeated attempts to wean Europe and the rest of the world off Russian oil and gas exports. Apropos of nothing, Shell reports doubled profits from last year, setting a record profit high.