The latest recap of the news you may have missed… we’re assuming by accident.
Our Own Personal DeFazio
If you want to see what our representative Peter DeFazio has been up to, it’s all about transportation infrastructure. As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation, and an active member of the committee since 1986, DeFazio has been meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg about advanced transportation authorization and infrastructure investment – including the needs for investment in civil engineers, the importance of roadways for all of us to get places like work, and the fact that this is a pivotal time to make serious changes. You can read the hearing minutes here.
Rep. Peter DeFazio also has his own personal YouTube channel… you know, in case anyone wants to check in.
Strangely Wonderful COVID News
In Oregon, there were zero COVID deaths on March 28, and zero COVID deaths on March 29. Sadly, six died March 30, which was still a smaller number than we have seen. It seems odd to say it, and it seems amazing to acknowledge, but we may be seeing the start of the end of this latest pandemic.
Kate Brown Goes to School(s)
On March 29, Governor Brown broadcasted a message via Facebook Live to students returning to in-person classrooms across Oregon. The 25 minute long video – beginning at minute marker 5:46 – has received over 9,500 views, 254 comments, and 117 likes, loves, and haha’s.
Eugene Taking Care of the Houseless
The city of Eugene unveiled a new “rest stop” for homeless individuals. The Westmoreland Safe Spot holds 16 conestoga huts that can shelter up to 18 people. Eugene funded the infrastructure for the rest stops, and Lane County is funding social support across five sites at Skinner City Farm, Empire Pond, Parking Lot 9 off Leo Harris Pkwy, Bertelsen Rd & W. 7th Ave, and Westmoreland Park. Between them all, the city hopes to house 100 people who can stay for up to one year as they look for permanent housing. Did we mention that Corvallis recently dumped its plan to have a managed camp for the houseless due to insurance issues?
Hernandez Replacement Chosen
Multnomah County Commissioners have chosen Andrea Valderrama to replace Diego Hernandez as the East Portland Representative. Valderrama is a policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, and once she is sworn in, women will hold the majority of seats of the state’s House of Representatives for the first time. She will serve until January 2023.
Yet Another Oregon Man
A third man from Oregon has been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection. Arrested in Florida and held in Broward County until being transferred to D.C., Richard Lee Harris is being held without bail by U.S. Marshals. Charges against Harris include assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, obstruction of an official proceeding, and entering and remaining in a restricted building. A man who appears to be Harris was recorded using a landline inside the Capitol and making threatening remarks about Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence.
Satan Shoes Sell, Then Comes the Lawsuit
Singer/Rapper Lil Nas X has made a splash lately – from his song “Old Town Road” crossing over to become a country music jam to his collaboration with MSCHF to design 666 pairs of black Nike sneakers with a pentagram, inverted cross, and blood on them. Now, Nike has filed a lawsuit against the performer and MSCHF, insisting they stop. It seems those on social media have objected to the Satan Shoes and have threatened to boycott Nike rather than Nas X. And there we thought “value added reselling” had taken an interesting turn.
In More Nike News…
The Nike FlyEase sneakers work for people like Ohio man Cooper Lewis who is recovering from a stroke. So he is looking forward to the GO FlyEase which are completely hands-free – scheduled for release April 30. Unfortunately, the Nike marketing machine isn’t geared for disabilities and has ads in the queue featuring able-bodied people slipping those puppies off and on without a worry or care. Lewis and his husband both worry that it’ll be impossible to get their feet onto a pair. Nike is encouraged to make accessible shoes the norm to offer more options for all.
Portland Children’s Museum Closing
When a museum closes, it rarely is reopened. Such might be the fate of the Portland Children’s Museum and the Opal School – a charter school in the museum – which will be closing June 30. Due to revenue and attendance loss from the pandemic shutdowns, adding on the cost of cleaning and limited capacity rules, then add 50 staff positions that need to be refilled, and they just don’t have the wherewithal to keep things going. Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus said, “Children’s museums across the country are reporting average losses of more than 70% of the income they had received in years past.” *sigh**
In Bird News…
The endangered California Condor is ready to be seen in a sky near you! After about 100 years absence from the Pacific Northwest, the Yurok People and the National Park Service are ready to establish an experimental population in the Yurok ancestral lands along the Klamath River. The population of condors dropped to 23 birds worldwide when, in 1987, all of them were put in captive breeding programs. It worked, and the global population now numbers over 500. The Yurok People and Redwood National Park will begin operating a condor release facility in tandem which will allow the Yurok to be the first tribal nation to reintroduce condors.
In More Bird News…
In the late ‘60s, there were fewer than 500 American Bald Eagles in the U.S. In fact, the DDT Americans used to protect crops had made eagle eggs so fragile they often broke under the weight of their parents. Today, thanks to efforts to protect and safely breed them throughout the “Lower 48,” there are over 70,000 breeding pairs and more than 316,000 eagles. They were officially removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007. Good job, Americans!
Derek Chauvin Goes to Trial
The trial the world has been holding its breath for has begun with several bangs. Beginning with the video of George Floyd’s last 8 minutes and 46 seconds, former police officer and current person-on-trial-for-murder Derek Chauvin listened as Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry recounted getting a call about a man passing a counterfeit bill and worrying when her monitors showed responding officers kneeling on the suspect. Scurry also recalled telling the sergeant in charge “I don’t want to be a snitch” when she reported what she was seeing. We at The Advocate fully support this brand of snitchery.
Politics Get Confusing
During his first press conference of his presidency, Joe Biden confirmed that he expects to seek a second term in 2024. He added, “I’ve never been able to plan 4 ½, 3 ½ years ahead for certain.” He also expects that Vice President Kamala Harris will join him. On December 11, 2019, it was suggested that Biden would only seek a single term as president – a prominent advisor saying that if elected, “he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for re-election.” Yet, by December 12, 2019, Biden denied discussing this, saying “I don’t have any plans on one term.” Next week, we fully expect an advisor to claim the president will be leaving in eight years to become an MMA fighter named Joe Will ABideMan.
You Cannot Grow Out of Yourself
Alabama 17-year-old Syrus Hall has been dealing with bullies his whole life. Being told he would “outgrow” being transgender and being assigned female at birth can’t change the fact that Hall is male. Now, as he has finally been able to start testosterone, the state of Alabama has advanced a bill which would outlaw hormone treatments, puberty blockers, and surgery in transgender youths. In fact, this bill would make these treatments a felony, leaving parents and guardians in dire situations when trying to support their kids. Currently, 20 states have introduced bills like this, although Alabama’s is decidedly the toughest.
Giving Sadness Official Recognition
In a move that honors sad news everywhere, New Zealand’s government approved three days of paid leave after a miscarriage. This will allow someone a small portion of the time it takes to grieve their loss without tapping into their sick leave. This bill comes on the heels of the legalization of abortion one year ago – allowing the procedure up to 20 weeks into pregnancy. Washington D.C. has a similar new law, offering public employees who lose a child expanded bereavement leave.
Cuba Gets COVID Right
Cuba currently has five – count’em 5 – COVID vaccines in the works. The small country off the shore of the U.S. has managed the pandemic extremely well, notwithstanding the mistake of allowing tourists in which created a small uptick in cases. Now, the Soberana 2 and the Abdala vaccines have both entered phase 3 clinical testing. Their goal is to vaccinate all of the people of Cuba, to share their vaccines with friendly nations, and to even vaccinate tourists in airports. They have not signed up for any other vaccine initiative.
‘Ever Given’ the World a Story to Tell?
The Ever Given, a cargo ship owned by a Taiwanese firm, ran aground in the Suez Canal this week, blocking over 10% of global shipping traffic for six days, leaving the hundreds of ships in line behind it with a difficult choice – wait or go the long way around Africa. On March 29, the ship was finally freed. The shipping issues this caused will take weeks to sort out.
If You’re Gonna Hide…
An alleged fugitive member of the Italian Mafia landed in the Dominican Republic, safe, sound, and unseen since 2014. Until he decided to star in a cooking show on YouTube, which didn’t show his face – meaning, of course, that he was somewhat careful – but did show his tattoos. Marc Feren Claude Biart was arrested March 24 and returned to Milan, Italy for prosecution. In other news, there are makeup products that will cover tattoos.
By Sally K Lehman