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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! Today marks the second day of Kwanzaa, the African American cultural celebration centered on a harvest, or “first fruit” that is now regarded as a time to embrace family, community, history and culture. Kwanzaa lasts until January 1. 

Let’s get into the headlines.

In Local News:

  • A pedestrian was struck and killed by a car in a hit-and-run crash Tuesday evening, and police say another car struck the person, but stopped and stayed at the scene. The pedestrian fatality marks the second fatal hit-and-run crash in Portland since Monday morning and brings the city’s total 2023 traffic death toll to 72. Traffic deaths this year have surpassed 2022 levels, when 63 people died in crashes. Advocacy organizations like The Street Trust are calling attention to dangerous conditions on Portland’s roads.
  • Speaking of roads and transportation, January 1 marks a new price for TriMet bus and Max fares. As detailed in our transportation recap, passes will jump from $2.50 to $2.80 for the two-and-a-half hour pass, and from $5 to $5.60 for a full day pass. We can forgive TriMet for occasionally running late, or not running efficient service between inner SE Portland locales, but we might never forgive the agency for refusing to just pick an easy, 50-cent increment for its fare increase. 
  • You know what else kicks off in January? A new law that requires hospitals, detox centers and similar clinics to provide Narcan to patients, upon release. Patients at risk of opioid use must be given two doses of the overdose-reversal drug, with the Oregon Health Authority facilitating hospitals and detox centers' access to the drug.
  • The Mercury is recapping this year’s news for you, one topic at a time. Revisit the top labor-related stories that impacted our lives, and get ready for more worker-forward energy in the new year!
  • The Mercury's Everout calendar team dove into an inbox ocean of Portland New Year's Eve parties and found OPTIONS for you: fancy-schmancy dress events, a sci-fi discotheque, even a midnight breakfast buffet with the drag mavens of Darcelle's XV! And there's more! Here's our list of nine unmissable NYE events—you'll have FOMO just reading it.

In National/World News:

• Hot on the heels of yesterday's blizzard in US central plains states, like Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and South Dakota, much of the country's upper midwest states are unseasonably warm. The National Weather Service noted the warmest Christmas ever recorded in Minneapolis Minnesota, an extremely mild 54 degrees. Jokes abound: Midwesterners running out of freezer space when they can usually depend on the front porch. As do dangers: Ice fishers worry about thin ice. The director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota told the New York Times: "It’s a visceral feeling of what climate change looks and feels like."

• Israel's military shelled areas in central Gaza on Tuesday, some of which the UN human rights office pointed out were areas those in northern Gaza were instructed to flee to. As of this morning, Israel’s military forces had expanded heavy bombing into southern Gaza as well. Between December 24-26 the New York Times obtained and analyzed satellite images, determining that Israel's military forces had traveled a mile outside Israel to Al Bureij, a decades-old, densely-packed neighborhood that began as a refugee camp for displaced Palestinians. The military's expansion into central Gaza—which the military confirmed as an attempt to target a terrorist infrastructure / a tunnel shaft—bodes poorly for any predictions of ceasefire or peace. Instead, the Palestinian communities in Al Bureij have received messages to evacuate the area. Gaza’s main telecom provider has blanketed the area in a “complete interruption.”

• At this point, it’s worth wondering what WOULD keep prospective presidential nominees off the ballot.

Actor Lee Sun-kyun has died at age 48 of what appears to be suicide, following a period of intense scrutiny over his alleged drug use. Lee is best known to US audiences as the haughty, rich dad in the Academy Award-winning 2019 film Parasite. Fans of South Korean drama shows will also know him as the secondary male lead in the wildly popular 2007 series Coffee Prince. Major South Korean news agency Yonhap News reported that Lee had faced multiple interrogations over allegations of drug use (marijuana and potentially other drugs), and had also claimed he was being blackmailed. He was found in his car by Seoul police.

[If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can reach Oregon's suicide hotline by dialying 988. Lines for Life—the organization who runs the state's hotline—also has a number of specific hotlines for community members with unique needs—fine more info at linesforlife.org]

• This thread is an incredible digest of 2023 buttoned-up wackiness, but "British Museum asks public to help recover stolen artefacts" has to be an all time self-burn: