Thursday, February 14, 2019

Zing! You’ve been hit by an arrow from Cupid, inviting you to fall in love with the fact that we’re alive and doing fine on a Thursday, February 14, 2019. Valentines Day! Oregon’s Birthday! Portland’s weather is rainy and windy, highs around 40..but a winter storm warning remains in effect in the Gorge, and man alive, we’ve seen some human suffering there. What a mess. Let’s get to it:

The ordeal is over for the hundreds or thousands of travelers who were stuck for seventeen hours on a frozen stretch of Interstate 84 in the Columbia Gorge. Drivers ignoring the chain requirement are getting blamed, but long-haul truckers say the worst conditions they saw anywhere in the nation made the highway impassable whether they were chained or not. The result was an epically bad experience for all those souls on the road: guys hauling crude in big rigs, indy rock bands going to a gig, families with babies who packed their dreams in a U-Haul for the move to Portland, the Red Deer Rebels heading for a hockey game in Everett, Pendleton folks trying to get to PDX for their flight to warm climates, and all the vagabonds flowing west on the modern Oregon Trail. All were stranded together in the cold on an endless winter night. Reports say people were tense, cold, and hungry. Nobody slept. There were no bathrooms, except, one hopes, for a kind Winnebago driver or two. What can you do? I’d tell the kids: hide behind this truck and get it done while I guard you. Kick snow over it.

Our latest information from ODOT tweets as of 0300: “Good news, I-84 WB in Columbia River Gorge is open. Bad news, I-84 WB closed to trucks at Ontario and to cars at Baker City due to three trucks crashed 27 miles west of La Grande. The WB closure has been extended to Baker City and Ontario due to no more room for commercial vehicles in La Grande or Baker City.

Traveling, it sounds like, was tough for everybody. A flight bound from Orange County for Seattle made an emergency landing in Reno after severe turbulence. Two passengers and a flight attendant were hospitalized when the drink cart was upended, and cans of Coke and mini-bottles of Chardonnay went flying.

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The other big story: The Portland City Council voted 3-2 to withdraw, as it did in 2005, from Joint Terrorism Task Force. I watched the session and noted the comments of the City Commissioners.

Amanda Fritz, yes: “I found it hard to trust the FBI under President Obama. It’s impossible now.”
Nick Fish, no: “The FBI will do this work whether or not we participate. I’d rather have our values on the table than walk away from community oversight.”
Jo Ann Hardesty, yes: “When we talk about one Portland where everyone is respected, I cannot in good conscience continue in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
Chloe Eudaly, yes: “I do not trust the system that JTTF functions within. I do not trust the administration that oversees it. Sometimes we get to challenge and change the system. This is one of those times.”
Ted Wheeler, no: “I believe it’s a mistake. The task force doesn’t go away–it continues to operate without the City’s help. By withdrawing, we lose our ability to bring our Portland values to the table.”

Portland’s Police Chief says she fears the decision will “wall off” the city from FBI information on terrorist or other criminal activity. But the vote may have been cemented when US Attorney Billy Williams, when asked by Hardesty if he believes in Oregon’s sanctuary law, responded that federal officials are “not required to follow Oregon law.”

***

It’s been one year since the shootings at Parkland, Florida. Students who immediately rose to prominence by advocating measures to stop gun violence are still at it. Says David Hogg: “Michelle Obama should run for president in 2020 and end this madness already,”

Both the Senate and the House are expected to pass today the deal to avert a government shutdown tomorrow, and the thinking is the president will sign it. We’ll see.

Lyndon LaRouche, who ran for president 8 times and ranged from way far left to way far right, has died at 96.

Willamette Week is buoying the morale of a beer-lover’s city undergoing a wave of brewery closures, with a story headlined, “Portland International Airport is Beervana. Our airport not only has higher-quality booze than most others—its selection could put entire cities to shame. ”

The big news in Rip City–besides trashing the Golden State Warriors 129-107 last night– is that the Blazers have signed former Knicks big man Enes Kanter, in a push to actually get beyond the first round in the playoffs this year. And this guy has a big personality. We might love him!

*****

Calendar notes:

February 14, 1859 …Oregon admitted as 33rd state of the Union. Happy 160th birthday to the state we love!

February 14, 1896 …Portland’s Union Station Opens its Doors- described by the Morning Oregonian as “commodious and handsome.”

February 14, 2005…Youtube.com was launched. There is no better way to spend a lunch hour looking up your favorite band on YouTube, and following the links.

And 20 years ago today, the first GPS satellite was launched. Now we really don’t have to ask for directions!

****

After 15 unexpected years wandering the Martian surface, NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover is now officially dead. There’s sadness in the scientific community that this little robot, which had a projected lifespan of 90 days, has succumbed to whatever forces exist on Mars. But we know Mars better than we ever imagined, and it’s not impossible to believe that our next giant leap will put an American boot into some red dust in our lifetimes.

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Let’s launch our Good News Rover! (And let’s see if I can format it correctly, unlike yesterday, on the Links page in the Coffee Cup)

–“Teacher jumps into action after seeing student riding bike on highway, learns he’s trying to save his father’s life”

–“Great mid-winter workout! HS football players clear driveways for neighbors”

–“Global search finds blood donor in Australia for three-year-old cancer patient in US”

–“Officers walk fallen deputy’s 7-year-old son to school”

–“Astronomers shoot down Russian startup that wants to put billboards in space.”

****

Sunrise 7:14 AM….sunset 5:36 PM. Do you feel it? Spring is really and truly coming. Really! Truly!

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