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Roundtable: Cancer in Jail; Sea Wall Lawsuits; Frogs With Fungus; Mice With Alzheimer’s; Undocumented Millions

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Cancer in Jail

In San Diego CityBeat this week, Kelly Davis tells the agonizing story of Robin Reid, who was given a four-year sentence in November of 2012 for operating a business in San Diego County offering full-body massages.

Until recently, a four-year sentence would have meant prison, but under California's prison realignment, she was sent to jail. At the same time, the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 2007 returned with a vengeance and spread to multiple organs.

Robin is dying. If she were in prison, she would be eligible for compassionate release and sent home. But until last year, there was no such provision for prisoners in county jails. SB 1462, allowing compassionate release for offenders in jail, passed and went into effect January, 2013. But there have been delays in producing regulations for the bill, which leaves Reid in limbo.

Her deal with San Diego County releases her four days a week for chemo treatments — that are not working — and makes her personally liable for the expense.

Until the regulations come down to the county from the state, she will not be eligible for release until December 2014.

She could be released earlier if the District Attorney agrees. So far, she has not.

Living Dangerously In Solana Beach

The high bluffs overlooking Solana Beach afford any homeowner spectacular, unobstructed ocean views. Until their house falls off the crumbling cliff.

Bluff residents have plastered the cliffs with, well, plaster, building walls to hold back the sea, some of them 30- to 40-feet tall, reports Tony Perry in the Los Angeles Times. Most are designed to resemble the cliffs they cover. But what happens if a wall needs repair?

The Solana Beach City Council has adopted a land-use plan which requires a permit for upgrading or expanding a seawall to expire after 20 years. If the wall is not holding up its end of the bargain at that point, it will have to come down.

The California Coastal Commission likes the plan. Environmentalists like it, too. People with homes on the bluffs? Not so much. They like it so little, in fact, that they are heading to court.

Of Mice With Alzheimer's, Frogs With Fungus

KPBS News science and technology reporter David Wagner this week found important stories featuring mice and frogs.

Researchers at the Salk Institute are using very old mice with Alzheimer’s Disease in research they believe is leading to a compound that will stop the progression of the disease.

The compound, J147, can improve multiple types of memory in these mice and prevent synapses in the brain from disconnecting, which halts the disease.

The other piece of critter news is not so positive. Scientists have found that African Clawed Frogs, first imported into the U.S. in the early 20th century for a form of pregnancy test, carry a fungus. Although the African frogs are immune to this fungus, other types of frogs are not.

When they were no longer useful for testing for pregnancy in humans, many labs worldwide simply released them. The fungus has already wiped out 200 frog species worldwide. So far, there is no antidote.

They are still imported into this country for other uses.

How Many Immigrants Without Documents — Really?

You’ve heard it in newscasts and read it in print articles: there are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without permission. How did we arrive at that number? KPBS/Fronteras Desk reporter Adrian Florido found out.

Jeffrey Passell, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, came up with the number by collecting government information from multiple sources, particularly the Bureau of Labor Statistics. His formula is simple: the total number of immigrants minus the number here legally equals 11 million.

So who are they? The Pew Hispanic Center says six of the 11 million are Mexicans, 60 percent are men and most live in states like Texas, Illinois and New York.

And then there's California.

Pew estimates that nearly 25 percent of the nation’s undocumented immigrants lives in California. They are 7 percent of the state’s population, 8 percent of its adults and 9 percent of its workforce. Many are single men, but many also are families with children in school and on soccer teams.

Unauthorized immigrants are not exclusively in the large cities. Many live in the South, Midwest and Northwest, and they include Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos.


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