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GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! It's going to be another drizzly and chilly March day out there today, but sunnier times are ahead this weekend. For now, enjoy all the beautifully blooming trees against the backdrop of gray skies: I find it makes for an appealing contrast and helps me forget about how bad my seasonal allergies are. 

Now, here's the news, so you can get on with your Wednesday.


• A new report out of the city Elections Office says Zenith Energy, the crude oil transport company with a terminal along the Willamette River in Portland's Northwest Industrial District, violated city lobbying rules when it was trying to persuade city officials to approve its Land Use Compatibility Statement back in 2022. The company, which flouted city requirements to report lobbying activity, won't face financial repercussions. But the finding confirms what environmental activists have been saying for a long time: Zenith is shady AF (and the city's pretty shady too for going along with them). 

• Ever heard of a "listening bar"? I hadn't either, until I read Robert Ham's article about Portland's TWO listening bars: "Meticulously designed haunts built around the playing of vinyl records on high-end stereo equipment." The bars are a Japanese import, and the two locations around Portland are very intriguing to me, especially after hearing about Ham's time at one of them, where the experience of listening to dance music "feels like your internal organs are getting a deep tissue massage." Check out the story, along with the rest of the Mercury's amazing spring arts coverage!  

• The Jewell School District, located in Northwest Oregon's Clatsop State Forest, is suing the state forestry department because of their newly-adopted forest conservation plan, which will cut back on logging to preserve habitats for threatened and endangered species who live in Oregon's state forests. Apparently, the Jewell School District receives a significant amount of its revenue from logging, so this plan will force the district to make big budget cuts. Oh, in that case, it seems like the only path forward here is to irreversibly destroy Oregon's priceless, beautiful forests, killing off a few species of animals in the process. The state couldn't possibly find the money somewhere else so kids in the Jewell School District can learn. (That's a joke, yes they could, and just to be clear, we're talking about roughly $1 million a year in budget cuts.) Notorious Portland lawyer John DiLorenzo, who has (unsuccessfully) sued against plans to limit logging in the past, is representing the district. 

• In other school district news... teachers in the Salem-Keizer school district were set to go on strike this spring, following in the historic footsteps of the Portland teachers strike last fall. But yesterday morning, the teachers' union and district managed to come to a tentative bargaining agreement, avoiding a school walkout. Salem-Keizer is Oregon's second-largest school district (after Portland Public Schools). I hope the teachers got everything they wanted! 


Baltimore is reeling from the collapse of its Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning, which has likely resulted in the deaths of six people (they are currently identified as missing), all of whom were construction workers who were filling potholes on the bridge when a ship crashed into it. This is a tragic event for those people and their families, and will have long-lasting impacts. It's also raising questions about the state of our country's infrastructure—but, to be fair, even the best-designed bridges aren't meant to withstand getting rammed by a massive cargo ship. Even so, many people are saying this event could've been avoided. This isn't the first time a bridge has collapsed due to ship or barge collisions: According to an article in the AP, it's happened 35 times from 1960 to 2015. 

• New bullet point, but still talking (tangentially) about the bridge collapse: Luckily, it seems nobody died while crossing the Baltimore bridge in their vehicle (it's REALLY lucky this didn't happen during rush-hour), but this could still be a good opportunity to brush up on survival skills in the case something unthinkable happens to you. NPR released an article with tips on how to escape a submerged vehicle, and the main theme is just to get out as quickly as possible. They even provide a helpful acronym, SWOC, which stands for:

S —Seat belts off

W — Windows open

O — Out immediately

C — Children first

I am very hopeful none of you will ever be in this situation, but it's good to know just in case. 

• The U.S. Supreme Court is taking on its first abortion-related case since it blew up Roe v. Wade in 2022, and things... might not be so bad this time? Don't want to jinx it, but it looks promising that the justices won't agree to limit access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which a group of anti-abortion doctors are currently trying to get them to do. The plaintiffs' argument revolves around the idea that the abortion pill is unsafe, which it isn't. The justices seem hesitant to usurp the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which gave mifepristone the green light back in 2000. They're also not buying the argument that doctors are forced to go against their morals and prescribe the abortion bill. Fingers crossed! It would be extremely horrible if this pill was banned. 

• Umm...Donald Trump is selling $60 Bibles (sorry, they're actually only $59.99), which he has dubbed "God Bless the USA Bibles" for their inclusion of not only the scripture, but also the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights,  Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, and lyrics to the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA." This product is advertised as "the only Bible endorsed by President Trump!" and comes right in time for Holy Week, so you can celebrate Good Friday and Easter this weekend just as Jesus would've wanted you to: With Trump's Bible in hand. It also comes right in the middle of Trump's mounting legal fees, which he cannot afford to pay, so I guess he's trying to get creative with his business ventures. I don't even know what to say. Sometimes you just have to laugh. 

• Ok, time to go now. I hope you tackle your hump day with all the finesse of these bears climbing trees. (Oh yeah, bears can climb trees. Another survival skill to remember.)