Your Weekend Reader for June 8-9

by | Jun 8, 2024 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Oregon’s rural-urban divide is back in the news this week. In Oregon, of course, the divide rarely is off the radar for long, but a couple of recent news stories examine new angles on the issue:

First, here’s a well-done story by Sami Edge of The Oregonian, about how rural boys throughout Oregon increasingly are not choosing college. In 2019, only 35% of Oregon’s rural male students went on to college the year after they graduated, as opposed to half of rural female students, and the numbers certainly have not improved post-pandemic. Edge’s story focuses on a handful of seniors at Ontario High School, way over on the Idaho border.

Meanwhile, you may have heard of the group Braver Angels, which seeks to find ways to ease the nation’s polarization in part through a revolutionary new approach: Civil conversations in which we actually listen to each other instead of thinking up a snappy comeback. In Oregon, Braver Angels is sponsoring an online statewide debate Wednesday night on this topic: “Resolved: The Oregon Rural-Urban Divide is Insurmountable.” Here’s a story about the free debate and why Braver Angels members in Oregon thought the divide would be a good topic.

A new interactive map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers users a chance to see how climate change — and the attendant rise in sea levels — will affect coastal areas. A 2022 report from the agency estimated that sea level is expected to rise 2 feet by the end of the century, thanks to human-caused climate change — but if we fail to curb emissions, you might be able to tack another 5 feet or so onto that. Heck, give us another century or two, and Corvallis could be a seaside community. Lizzy Acker of The Oregonian/OregonLive explains how the map works, and offers a link to it.

Oregon Health & Science University — which turns out to be Portland’s biggest employer, with 21,300 employees — says it needs to cut 500 or so jobs over the next 90 days in an attempt to stem big financial losses;. How big? OHSU said in April it had lost $44 million in the preceding nine months. If you’re saying something now like, “Wait — isn’t OHSU planning to merge with Legacy?,” that’s correct; in fact, the two signed their merger agreement last week. But a letter from OHSU President Danny Jacobs announcing the job cuts cast a shadow on that: In his letter, Jacobs said the financial crunch “raises questions about how we can afford the required investment in light of our financial situation.” Mike Rogoway of The Oregonian/OregonLive has the details in this story.

Maybe it’s coincidence. Or maybe it’s conspiracy. In any event, three of the United States’ leading news organizations — The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and CNN — now are led by British journalists. And, if you take a deeper look at some of the nation’s top news outlets (as Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times did in this story), you’ll find plenty of British nationals in key roles.

In fact, Will Lewis, the chief executive at the Post, pushed out Sally Buzbee, the Post’s editor, and has named another British national, Robert Winnett, to take over the Post’s core coverage areas after the election. For the past decade, Winnett has run news operations at Britain’s Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici has been impressed by the success of Oregon’s Project Turnkey, a effort launched in 2020 to convert motels into emergency shelters. Statewide, the program (which was developed by the Oregon Community Foundation) is credited with creating nearly 1,400 new shelter beds at 32 facilities in 18 counties, including in Corvallis. Now, as the Oregon Capital Chronicle’s Julia Shumway reports, Bonamici has introduced a bill that would create a Turnkey-style program at the federal level. Of course, part of the challenge involved with Turnkey programs is finding the funding to keep these shelters operating once they open. Expect the 2025 Legislature to again take up that issue.

In Corvallis crime news, a 200-pound “Madonna and Child” statue has been swiped from a riverfront grotto, and the owner, Catherine Mater, says she’d like it back, no questions asked. The statue was the centerpiece of a grotto that Mater has been shaping for a decade or so in front of the Mater Building at 101 SW Western Blvd. Mater’s theory is that a group of idiots (the “idiots” part is my addition) swiped the statue for — I don’t know, the same reason idiots steal people’s campaign signs off their lawns, which is to say no reason that makes any kind of sense. In any event, if a “Madonna and Child” statue suddenly shows up on a neighbor’s porch (“Say, neighbor, that’s a nice ‘Madonna and Child’ statue. You get that at Home Depot?”), you can call 541-753-7335 to leave a tip.

Speaking of crime: An FBI agent is on the phone. He or she says that they’re on their way to arrest you, unless you immediately cough up some cash. Or gold bars. Or run down to the local department store and buy gift cards and read them the number on the cards. No need to hang up: They’ll stay on the phone with you. It’s urgent. Of course, it’s a scam — an FBI variation of a time-tested and still quite effective scam; it’s so effective, in fact, that the FBI issued a warning this week about it. You may be wondering, “Who falls for this scam?” Lots of us, the FBI says: Last year, more than 14,000 Americans were its victims, with a total loss estimated at $395 million nationally, and $1.7 million in Oregon. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to scammers: 40% of victims are over 60, so keep a watchful eye on parents and other relatives, especially if they tell you they need to dash out to the store and buy a bunch of iTunes cards.

So I was looking for a somewhat upbeat story with which to end this edition of the Weekend Reader, and I came across this story from The Associated Press. I think the headline pretty much says it all: “Optimism is just what the doctor ordered. But what if I’m already too negative?”

Always look on the bright side of life, faithful readers, and we’ll meet here against next weekend.

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