GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! It’s December 20. This is your gentle reminder that there are less than five days left to finish any holiday shopping, including food for any feasts. I'm not ready to arm wrestle anyone over the last Tofurky or the fattest sweet potatoes at the grocery store, so please do your shopping early so I don't have to! And if you need any ideas for gift giving, cozy places to snag a drink, or just need a good seasonal read, consult the Mercury’s Holiday Spectacular. Cheers!

Now to the news.

In Local News:

  • This Thursday is December 21, the longest night of the year. In keeping with tradition, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is partnering with a few local organizations for a Houseless Day of Remembrance, to honor and remember the people who died while living outside. This year’s vigil is hosted by Sisters of the Road, Street Roots, Ground Score Association, PDX Saints Love, and JOHS. Attendees are encouraged to bring bottled water or seltzer water, snacks, a tent, sleeping bag, body wipes, mini flashlights or other items to donate to Portland’s unhoused residents. 

If you go: 

When: 5-7:30 pm Thursday, December 21 at

Where: Ground Score Association: 624 NW Couch Street, Portland

This Thursday, Sisters of the Road in partnership with our host Ground Score Association, PDX Saints Love, Street Roots, and the Joint Office of Homeless Services would love for you to join us on our Houseless Day of Remembrance gathering!

  • Today, county leaders, in partnership with Street Roots, will release the 2022 Domicile Unknown report. The annual report details how many unhoused people died in Multnomah County each calendar year, and provides a critical, albeit tragic look at the reality faced by people living on the streets. Last year, thanks in-part to more data becoming available, we know that the number of people who died homeless (315) increased from 2021. Check for our updated coverage as we sift through the report and learn more, and remember to hold elected leaders accountable for the policy decisions (or lack thereof) that impact these numbers.

  • Earlier this fall, a delegation of Oregon lawmakers, police, and addiction recovery specialists traveled to Portugal, to see how the country’s drug decriminalization has played out over the past 20 years. One major takeaway: Portugal’s legalization of drugs was done nationwide, which meant the country’s national health care system was better equipped to offer treatment. Read more about the lessons Portugal has for Portland in Abe Asher’s latest piece.
  • A couple of months ago, three Target stores in Portland closed quickly and rather unexpectedly. The company’s corporate leaders cited a rise in retail theft and crime as major culprits, but something didn’t add up. One local outlet checked out cop logs and police dispatch reports to fact-check Target’s statement. Turns out, data didn’t corroborate the company’s claims. Yesterday, CNBC went a step further and discovered that of the nine Target stores closed across the country in recent months, each of them faced declining revenue, but fewer instances of crime than other Target stores in the same cities. In essence, Target’s corporate execs needed an excuse to close stores that weren’t making any money, without coming clean to shareholders about their bad business decisions that led to the closures. We all smelled BS when the company didn’t close the Mall 205 Target, which has more reported crime. The last two times I visited featured a woman stealing shoes by swapping muddy sneakers for some new ones in the box, and, more recently, a man with a long pipe and what appeared to be a kendo stick, sauntering in before closing, right before the man in the full face ski mask who…was probably just cold.

In National/World News:

  • The EPA says a funeral home in Colorado that improperly stored hundreds of bodies will be demolished early next year. The Return to Nature funeral home was raided and found to have about 190 decomposing bodies, after neighbors reported foul odors coming from the site.
  • In news that highlights how broken the country’s justice system is: an Ohio-based reproductive rights group is urging a prosecutor to drop charges against a woman who had a miscarriage in the bathroom of her home. Under Ohio law, a 33-year-old woman is being charged with “abuse of a corpse” after she went to a hospital with excessive bleeding and explained how her stillborn fetus was naturally flushed from her body into her toilet. A nurse at the hospital called police on the woman. It's weird we still call our nation the United States, when laws are drastically different, depending on whether your nearest body of water is the Pacific Ocean or the Sandusky River.
  • You love to see it: Colorado (what’s with this state lately?!) just became the first state to disqualify Donald Trump from its 2024 presidential primary ballot. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump is ineligible under the US Constitution’s insurrection clause. The state’s high court ruling has been temporarily paused, though, because the court expects an appeal to the US Supreme Court. 
  • U.N. Security Council negotiations to try to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza, where residents face bombing, deadly shortages of water and food, and the steady loss of thousands of Palestinian lives, have been delayed until Wednesday, because US leaders have cold feet and no moral compass, apparently.