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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! If you've been checking the weather app, you might have noticed a conspicuous little sun emoji popping up this week. While it's only going to be 50ish (and sunny) today, it's set to be in the high 60s and even 70s later this week. WARNING: Only go watch the sunset at the Skidmore Bluffs if you're cool with running into everyone you've ever gone on a Tinder date with. And only keep reading this article if you're cool with encountering a bunch of interesting news. 


• It's been a very big few days for the Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) I-5 Rose Quarter project— dubbed an "improvement project" by ODOT, and an environmentally catastrophic freeway expansion by the agency's critics. The plan IS to expand I-5 at the Rose Quarter by adding auxiliary lanes and shoulder space...but ODOT has added a much more appealing component with the plan to reconnect the Albina neighborhood with sturdy freeway caps. That part of the project is what has been getting the federal money ($450 million last week!) and helping ODOT get federal approval for the controversial plan. But transportation and environmental advocates say the state transportation agency can get the best of both worlds by adding the caps— which are now well-funded by the feds— and scrapping the expansion. What will happen? Who knows! But you can find out more by reading the Mercury's story all about it.

• Backcountry daredevils, beware: An avalanche forecaster, Nick Burns, died last week in an avalanche he caused while backcountry skiing in Eastern Oregon. This is very sad for Burns and his family, and a good reminder for all of us who aren't avalanche forecasters and expert backcountry skiers to use caution when out in the wild. 

• Useful advice from Portland Streetcar for the upcoming warm weather:

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• Not just one, but two Oregon State Senators (both Republicans, obvs)— who are legally barred from running for office again because they participated in last year's destructive legislative walkout— are running for statewide office this year. These senators are Brian Boquist, who is best known for threatening to kill state troopers during a DIFFERENT Republican walkout, and Dennis Linthicum, who is not known for anything. Don't vote for them! 

• Portland Commissioner Rene Gonzalez only began his time in local elected office last year, but it didn't take long for him to become quite the notorious figure around here, for better or for worse. When Gonzalez beat former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in the 2020 City Council race, it reflected Portland's swing into more conservative politics. Now that he's running for mayor, and currently leading in donations, it might be time to take an even closer look at Gonzalez: His beliefs, goals, and what's he's done during his time in office so far.  Alex Zielinski's does just that in her OPB deep-dive about Gonzalez, which begins with a scene of the polarizing politician missing a goal during a game of futsal, and gets even better from there. Whatever you think about Gonzalez, you won't want to miss this great read. 

• Yay for bikes!


• HUGE, UNEXPECTED NEWS! President Joe Biden has secured enough delegates to be the official Democratic nominee for president. Nobody thought this would happen, did they? And in other majorly surprising news: 

I love living in an even worse version of Groundhog Day, where Joe Biden and Donald Trump just keep running against each other for president of the United States until the end of time. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Sigh.

• An international nonprofit has evacuated 68 orphans from Gaza to the Israeli West Bank, and far-right Israelis are really pissed. Their hatred isn't really worth entertaining, so let's focus on the important thing: Because of Israel's war in Gaza, an estimated 17,000 Palestinian children are estimated to fall under the category Wounded Child with No Surviving Family (WCNSF)— a group so large it has been given an acronym. Protecting these 68 children from even further emotional and physical trauma is, quite literally, the least that can be done to help Palestinian kids and people in general. 

U.S. legislators in the House voted overwhelmingly (352-65!) this morning to ban TikTok from all American devices if their parent company doesn't sell the app. We never see this kind of consensus in the House— what gives? Well, TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is a Chinese tech company, and there's evidence that the app is a "threat to user privacy" and has been used to interfere in elections in the U.S. During a Senate hearing last week, FBI Director Christopher Wrap said the Chinese government could use the app to spy on Americans and pose further national security risks. President Biden— who is a TikTok user, by the way— has agreed to sign a bill if it passes the Senate. 

Personally, I don't like TikTok because I blame it for my dwindling mental capacity and attention span. I also KNOW the app is spying on me in some capacity, as do all TikTok users who have seen the algorithms remarkable ability to show you EXACTLY what you want to see. I wouldn't be the right person to speak on potential national security threats, but I must ask...where was this energy for Facebook when it was interfering in American elections? 

• Oh, and Putin threatened to use nukes again. In a statement today, the Russian president said the country is ready to attack with nuclear weapons "if its sovereignty or independence is threatened." A Russian election is coming up in just a few days, and he is all but guaranteed a victory, due to the fact that he's a dictator who has silenced all dissent in the country. Obviously, Putin has bluffed before, but I for one am tired of living in this kind of world! Let's change it. 

• This has been a lot of bad news. Here's a video of a baby donkey. Happy Wednesday, and enjoy the sun! 

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