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Nick Kristof
Nick Kristof gets denied from the race for Oregon governor race... AGAIN! Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Good morning, Portland! It’s still pretty grey and cloudy today, but you still have some time to get outside without a rain jacket before wetter weather arrives this weekend. Now onto the headlines!

In local news:

• Portland Public Schools officials are projecting a 7,000 student decrease in enrollment over the next two years, comparable to losing three large high schools’s worth of students. PPS is proposing budget and some staffing cuts in reaction to the projections, while the district’s teachers’ union argues educators need increased support.

• Former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof cannot run for Oregon governor, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning. The ruling was the second time Oregon legal officials determined Kristof does not meet Oregon's three year residency requirement. Kristof owns property in Yamhill County, but has been living, paying taxes, and voting in New York as recently as November 2020.

• Southeastern Oregon is home to one of the highest concentrations of lithium in United States, thanks to a former volcano on the Oregon and Nevada border. As the demand for lithium—which is used in electric car batteries—grows, geologists and private companies alike are trying to learn more about Oregon’s significant lithium deposits.

• Former Mayor Sam Adams, who is now a top aide to Mayor Ted Wheeler, is taking a “Tweet Through It” approach to Portlanders objecting to his idea of rounding up unhoused people and forcing them into mass homeless camps staffed by the National Guard:

In national and international news:

• Despite Russia’s previous claims, US and NATO officials say there is no evidence that Russian military troops have withdrawn from Ukraine’s borders. On the contrary, it appears Russian President Vladimir Putin has actually increased the number of troops lining Ukraine’s borders by approximately 7,000 this week alone.

• A recent study found that while major oil companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell have been using terms like “climate” and “low-carbon” in their annual reports, they haven’t actually made any efforts to move towards clean energy. Well I, for one, am shocked and appalled!

• New modeling shows that an estimated 73 percent of Americans are immune to omicron thanks to either catching the disease or receiving a booster shot. With mask mandates lifting across the country, health officials, researchers, and the public are wondering if the nation's immunity level is high enough to fend off another surge. Health leaders are spilt, with some arguing that any new surges will be less taxing on the hospital system while others warn of waning immunity.

• COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong have surged by more than 40 times case rates in the beginning of February. Officials have shuttered schools, gyms, and most public venues and are now considering imposing compulsory testing in March. But first, the government needs to secure 10,000 hotel rooms for people who test positive to quarantine in.

In fun news:

• Today is the last day to send your loved ones a FREE Mercury Reader Valentine!  

• 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 finally, let's end with a few deep breaths while looking at this tiny turtle. In through the nose... out through the mouth... in through the nose... out through the mouth...