How big is the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon? It’s so big that it’s generating its own weather, as this story by Henry Fountain of The New York Times explains. In the wake of climate change, this type of extreme behavior will become more common with big wildfires; in the case of the Bootleg, that behavior may have spawned so-called “fire tornadoes,” which frankly sound like something pulled straight from the Old Testament. Before you dive into the story, be sure to take a moment to really absorb the satellite photo at the top. In that vein, here’s a related Times story about how smoke from the wildfires spread across the continent. And, finally, Saturday’s edition of the Times has a story with plenty of photographs from the scene.
Saturday’s Oregonian/OregonLive has an alarming story about a pair of new coronavirus forecasts that predict trouble for Oregon in the months ahead: One of the forecasts suggests that the state, which has relaxed its statewide restrictions, could see 1,600 new known COVID cases a day by Nov. 1. A forecaster tells the Oregonian’s Aimee Green that Oregon could have the sixth-highest infection rate in the coming months, in part because the state has had a relatively low infection rate thus far, meaning that fewer residents have natural immunity. Experts say residents have the power to fight this surge by getting vaccinated and by continuing to wear masks inside public places. The story is an Oregonian subscriber exclusive, although it seems important enough that the paper should consider putting it outside its paywall; other publications, such as The Atlantic, have made its coronavirus coverage available to everyone.
Gary Warner of the Oregon Capital Bureau has a good primer about what’s likely to be the biggest political story of the next few months in the state: Redistricting to take account of the 2020 census results. It’s a story with national implications as well, because the 2022 election will feature, for the first time, a sixth congressional district in Oregon.
Speaking of Oregon politics, did you see that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a Yamhill native, has taken a leave from the paper to ponder a 2022 run for governor? April Rubin of The Oregonian/OregonLive has the details.
Here’s a column from Charles M. Blow of The New York Times, in which he laments how the decline of local news poses a threat to democracy. There’s not much here that will surprise anyone who’s been following this issue (or even anyone who occasionally checks in with my blog!), but Blow’s column is a good place to start if you’re just tuning into this issue. And, as Blow notes, plenty of people still think that their local news outlets are doing just fine financially.
Finally, if you’re looking for things do this weekend, may I suggest this preview story about “Cyrano,” the weekend’s production of the Majestic Readers’ Theatre Company? And don’t forget to check out my curated and frequently updated calendar of arts and entertainment events around the mid-valley.