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A dry lake
The West's "megadrought" is getting worse. Alan Majchrowicz / Getty Images

Good morning, Portland! Let’s get right into the latest news.

In local news:

• The estate of Micheal Ray Townsend, a man fatally shot by Portland officer Curtis Brown last year, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday. Townsend had called 911 himself because he was experiencing suicidal ideations and wanted help. When officers arrived, Townsend refused a pat down and pulled a pointed tool out of his pocket. Brown shot him shortly after. The lawsuit alleges that the city had other mental health services that should have responded to the call instead of the police.

• Oregon is scheduled to be one of the last states to ditch its indoor mask requirement. State health officials say that Oregon’s cautious timeline will set us on track to never have a mask mandate again. Yes, you read that correctly. State epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger told the Oregonian that even though there is always the possibility of new variants emerging, “right now, I don’t see a mask requirement would be needed again.”

• Some people may hear about Mayor Ted Wheeler’s ban on homeless encampments next to high-speed streets and Sam Adams’s idea to build high-capacity homeless shelters and think “Gee whiz, those two dudes are finally tackling the real issues!” (stay with me). Katrina Holland, executive director of homeless services nonprofit JOIN, went on OPB to explain exactly why the city’s latest response to homelessness doesn’t actually help unhoused people at all. This is one of those interviews you can send to out-of-towners or people who are more bothered by seeing a homeless person than they are by fact that people don't have their basic needs met.

• Did you forget to get your beloved a gift yesterday? We’ve got you covered with a FREE Mercury Reader Valentine! Write a sweet note to your honey and we’ll send it their way—besides, isn’t declaring your love on a random Tuesday more meaningful anyways? (Submissions are open until February 17)

• Who needs the Olympics when you can watch Portlanders play bike polo in Alberta Park every Sunday? The sport, which has been played in the park since 1999, requires riders to knock a ball into a goal using a mallet while maintaining full control of their bike. Check out the video and photo gallery from BikePortland below:


  
In national news:

• The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners adopted a statement last year warning doctors who spread COVID misinformation—like the conspiracy theory that COVID vaccines contain microchips—that doing so could jeopardize their medical license. Now, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are trying to make it harder for the medical board to discipline doctors who peddle COVID misinformation and are pressuring the board to reverse the statement.

• Bummer climate news: The Western US is the driest it has been in at least 1,200 years and a “worst-case climate change scenario playing out live,” a new study found. Last year was one of the driest years ever recorded in the region, worsening the Southwest’s “megadrought.” According to a study in the Nature Climate Change journal, 42 percent of the megadrought can be attributed to human-caused climate change.

• Anti-vaccine mandate truckers were cleared off a trucking route between the US and Canada Sunday after three days of protest. However, hundreds of protesters remain in Ottowa and other cities, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to threaten freezing protesters’s personal bank accounts under an emergency act. Trudeau has the power to freeze a citizen's bank account without a court order as long as he can prove that person is endangering other Canadians.

• It’s back for 2022! America’s sexiest, funnest dirty movie fest, HUMP! Coming at ya starting February 24 at Revolution Hall—GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

• And we'll end today with a cute dog. Happy Tuesday!