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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! I know it's a bit early for a cocktail, but... will it be in four days? Because that's when the Mercury kicks off its absolutely delicious HIGHBALL week: an entire 7 days of scrumptious, creative cocktails stirred up by the best barkeeps in town... and they're only $8 each! Now that you've been informed, let's take a sip of the NEWS.


• According to the latest “Domicile Unknown” report, issued by the Multnomah County Health Department along with Street Roots, more houseless people than ever are dying (at least 193 just last year) on the street. There was a chilling 53 percent increase of unsheltered folks dying between 2020 and 2021, and while drugs was a major reason why, they were also dying from homicides and... cold weather. Which brings us to our next topic....

• VERY MUCH RELATED: New Portland Commissioner Rene Gonzalez has put a stop to public safety bureau employees (including those in Portland Street Response) handing out tents and tarps to houseless people... even in freezing weather, putting who knows how many more folks in danger of hypothermia and death. (It's weird how someone who flat-out told you they were going to be cruel and thoughtless before the election, actually gets elected anyway and turns out to be cruel and thoughtless.)

• Two Portland charitable organizations, Mercy Corps and Oregon Turkish American Association, are helping the victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria by sending money and (in Mercy Corps' case) physically assisting those in the disaster zone. OPB has an interview with a Mercy Corps team leader about what it's like on the ground in Northwest Syria.

• Anti-law gun lovers got the smack-down yesterday when the Oregon Court of Appeals refused to entertain a patently ridiculous declaration from gun owners in Columbia County that state and federal firearm laws simply don't apply to them. This is also baaaaad news for the more than 1,900 counties across the nation who also plan on labeling themselves "Second Amendment Sanctuaries.


• Grab yer popcorn! 🍿 A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, just released parts of a grand jury report on Trump's attempts to meddle with the 2020 election in that state, citing "compelling public interest." 👀 While suggested punishment will not be revealed, here are some of the juicy deets we know so far: Despite what Trump and his cronies have screamed thus far, the grand jury countered that there was ZERO evidence of voter fraud in their state. Also, while their names are not being revealed yet, a number of Trump cronies could be brought up on charges of lying under oath in their testimony. 🤗

• Meanwhile, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has been issued a subpoena to testify against his old corrupt boss, Donald Trump, and spill the tea over their many attempts to overturn the 2020 election. (Expect a screaming, crying hissy fit in a probably failed bid to avoid telling the truth.)

• Republicans (and some Dems) are pushing hard to get President Biden to divulge more info on the spate of UFOs that have been recently shot down by the military. And it looks like that might just happen as soon as today, as Biden is expected to at least tell the public how the government plans to deal with such aerial shenanigans in the future.

• Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, gave local officials a justified earful at a town hall meeting, demanding answers about the derailed train that spilled toxic chemicals and has caused an environmental disaster in the area. Townspeople are complaining of headaches and dead pets, as officials continue to assert the air is safe to breathe.

• And finally...