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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! It’s Tuesday, November 21, which means we’re 48 hours away from a national holiday predicated on a shaky story about English colonial settlers breaking bread with Indigenous people. Whether you skip the holiday celebrations altogether, or you’re among those who gather with friends to appreciate them while enjoying pumpkin pie, or those who gather with family for a day when everyone gorges themselves while pretending to like each other, godspeed.

Let’s recap the headlines. 

In Local News:

  • Portland students are out of school this week for the holiday break, which means they will have missed nearly a month of school by the time they return, if they go back next week. That all depends on what happens with negotiations between the teachers union and Portland Public Schools. Currently, the union is asking for committees to weigh in on class size limits and formulations. Those committees could and should include parents, teachers say, but district leaders say class sizes are often determined by how many kids in a grade need special accommodations or have an individualized education program (IEP)—info that is protected by federal student privacy laws. Listen, we've seen what happens when parents try to stick their nose too deeply in school affairs, as seen by recent pushes for book bans and curriculum control, so I'm more than a little skeptical of this latest effort to lock elbows with parents, but I also can't blame a mom for not wanting her young kid to be in a class with 32 students. Learn more about the current sticking points in the latest coverage from Taylor Griggs.  
  • On Monday, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley called for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying the humanitarian pauses in place aren’t enough to address the magnitude of the crisis in Gaza, due to unrelenting airstrikes by Israel. Last week, protesters took to Boeing’s plane parts manufacturing plant in Gresham to picket the company over its supply of weapons to Israel. Activists say although the local plant doesn’t make weapons, it’s still part of the larger company that should be held accountable for its role in the bloody Israel/Hamas war, that has cost the lives of what health authorities now estimate to be more than 13,000 people. Kevin Foster has the recap for the Mercury.
  • Portland music duo Wonderly committed some irony reversals with their new music video for their cover of Billie Eilish’s “Getting Older.” The Mercury’s culture editor Suzette Smith asked Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk about the irony, the Eilish, and why some of the video subjects look so familiar.  

  • Car-sharing company Free2Move will move itself out of Portland at the end of the month, The Oregonian reports. The company used a fleet of Jeeps for its on-demand car service, but has since found lackluster demand and profits in the Rose City. But if we’re going to talk about the loss of a company that gave residents an easy transportation option without the burden of car ownership, we need to also talk about the company’s demonstrated lack of responsibility for drivers who cause crashes in its vehicles, the company’s proclivity for using residential streets as de facto parking lots for its fleet of vehicles, and the rise of Free2Move Jeeps that wound up graffitied or abandoned near Powell Boulevard.
  • And finally, last week, a panel discussion that featured experts from the intersections of politics, mental illness, drug addiction and the justice system gathered virtually to acknowledge what many in Multnomah County have long known: the current system of throwing people in jail, or even hospitalizing them, doesn’t help. “Local and state leaders could be making concrete changes to better help people experiencing psychosis in the Portland region, experts in an online discussion said Wednesday. Instead, the Portland area’s fractured behavioral health system is too frequently leaving people in the depth of psychiatric crises with nowhere to go but jails, emergency rooms or the streets,” our friends over at the Lund Report observed

If you haven't yet, check out the Mercury's latest print edition, our damn fine Holiday Spectacular!

In National/World News:

  • The Associated Press reported yesterday that 28 babies born prematurely in Gaza have been evacuated to Egypt. That’s a relief, as hospitals in Gaza have faced deadly bombings by Israeli military forces who argue the hospitals are being used by Hamas. Now, as Reuters reports, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says a truce agreement with Hamas that would free hostages held by Hamas and hopefully stop or pause the perpetual bombing of Gaza, could be on the horizon.  
  • In what some are calling a blow to the Voting Rights Act, an appeals court upheld a 2022 ruling that deemed "only the head of the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney general, can bring Section 2 lawsuits" regarding the redrawing of voting districts that often suppress the voting power of marginalized communities, namely Black and Latino voters. That means community groups have limited power to challenge unfair redistricting decisions. Sigh.
  • The Formula 1 racing competition held in Las Vegas last weekend may have been a spectacle for fans, but local residents say it heavily disrupted their lives. One Las Vegas news outlet reported it will take six to eight weeks to clean up and repair the strip. Additionally, some fans who were denied access to viewing areas are now suing the Las Vegas Grand Prix event organizers. There's a lot to be said about this much effort being put into transforming a city so spectators can cheer for ... cars. Someone should tell F1 that folks can just come watch street racing for free on Powell Boulevard or Airport Way on a Friday night. Someone please invite Rihanna.