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Poway Water Woes, San Diego Police Stop Blacks More Often Than Whites, One Year After Border Shutdown, Workplace Injuries At Amazon And More

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A state official told KPBS that Poway’s storm drain and reservoir connections are not in compliance with state regulations and contributed to the contamination of the city’s water system. Poway residents remain under a boil-water order. In San Diego County, a new report commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union shows black people are twice as likely to be stopped than white people. Law enforcement officials are disputing the data. And, one year after the shutdown of the San Ysidro border crossing, local leaders say ties between San Diego and Tijuana are stronger than ever. Plus, it’s the busiest time of year for Amazon and a new investigation uncovers widespread workplace safety violations at warehouses across the country. Also, we’ll take a closer look at how the Army is turning to video games to recruit members of Generation Z. And, what one environmental group is doing to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 The water problem in Poway will apparently require a big fix since the downpour at the end of last week, residents have noticed something wrong with the water. It came out of some faucets with a brownish tinge in the city of Poway restaurants close to school lunches were outsourced. The city distributed bottled water and Poway issued its first ever boiled water order. The source of the problem has been found, but the fix required by the state is more complicated than city officials were expecting. Joining me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt, welcome. Hey Maureen, you've been reporting on this story for a couple of days. What is the water like in Poway?

Speaker 2: 00:39 So if you go to the water and power right now, like we were at Lake Poway a couple days ago, turn on the faucet. It's, it's clear, you know, there's no Brown tinge to it. They've gotten that part figured out. So right now the water is not Brown, but there's still some concerns about, uh, some of, uh, of what's inside the water, the, that they found that there's no bacteria, but some of the chlorine levels are a little low. Um, and the state says that that could mean that there's still something in the system that's like eating those chlorine. Um, so, uh, there's still some testing going on, but, uh, as of right now, the water they think is pretty safe. And, but it did look pretty bad originally. Yeah, it did look pretty bad. It was, it was Brown. Um, and that's obviously we know now that's because stormwater was able to, uh, infiltrate that already treated water.

Speaker 1: 01:17 How did that happen? How did it get contaminated?

Speaker 2: 01:20 Right. So stick with me here for a second. So basically, um, there's storm drains that connect, uh, to the city's treated a reservoir of water. It's called their Clearwell. Um, and during the storms last week, um, the, those storm drains were overwhelmed and there was a hatch that got stuck. Um, and that basically poured storm water into the treated water. Um, now, uh, there's a much bigger issue there than just that flap coming down. Uh, the state basically told us yesterday in a story that we broke that, uh, that's out of compliance. That storm drain should not be connected to, um, uh, especially treated reservoirs to prevent issues like this contamination issues like this from happening.

Speaker 1: 01:57 I'll talk to you more about that later, but let, let me find out from you. How have people been reacting to this?

Speaker 2: 02:03 Right. Lots of mixed reactions. Um, uh, we've been the Poway there's like, they have these long waterlines at Lake Poway and city hall where they city says they've given out over a million bottles of water, um, and you can get a case per car. We had a chance to talk to a number of people there, a lot of people there, um, at least before this news came out yesterday, they were like, Hey, you know, the city of power is doing a great job. Um, you know, they're really jumping on this. Uh, there's some people who are like, Hey, you know, we just want to know what it is. Um, and that, and we were trying to figure out what it is to, um, my Monday before they said it was this storm drain, but they didn't give all the details. Um, so people there, you know, some of them are just thinking like, Hey, the city's doing a great job. Uh, but at least on social media yesterday after this came out, a lot of people really rip and Poway saying, Oh my goodness, I knew there was some problem here. A lot of people saying, how could that storm water get into that treated water? What we know now?

Speaker 1: 02:46 Yeah. And businesses are also suffering. Well businesses just have to take the loss or will they be compensated in some way?

Speaker 2: 02:53 Right. Yeah. So the city of [inaudible] did not close those businesses, but the County health department stepped in and said that water is not safe to use under this water advisory. So all basically all the restaurants they had to close down, some of those have been able to reopen under a temporary permit. They just have to do all of their preparation offsite. Like a couple of pizzerias that I believe the in and out up there too. But it appears that businesses that are just going to have to take the loss here. I mean, I don't know if there's a remedy for them, but I mean, maybe they can try to contact the city, but I don't think the County is going to be giving them any reimbursement here.

Speaker 1: 03:20 So now the state inspectors say the water system is not in compliance. Meanwhile, the city I believe is flushing out the water system. Right? So what does this mean for the city of Poway?

Speaker 2: 03:32 Right. What it means is that there's going to be a multimillion dollar capital improvement project on the horizon that the city's acknowledged that they need to do a, that's going to be something that requires a city council vote. Uh, and uh, and when we say capital improvement project, it means it's something that they're going to need to plan for. Um, they've already made the temporary fix. Uh, they're out of compliance in terms of the storm drains being connected to that treated reservoir. They made a temporary fix that the state has gone out and they've inspected and they say, that's good to go. Like the recent storms, the recent rains we had just yesterday day before they said, that's not going to impact the water there. Uh, but the future going forward, like I said, um, the state official told me it's going to be capital improvement project. The city of Poway did acknowledge that. Um, and it's something that they're going to have to address. It's going to be a multimillion dollar project and ultimately taxpayers are gonna be the ones footing the bill here.

Speaker 1: 04:16 What was [inaudible] response when they found this out? About the, what the state regulators were saying,

Speaker 2: 04:22 they were shocked, uh, surprised, uh, and they were unhappy. Um, and we had a chance to talk to Steve boss yesterday and here's some of his comments about, excuse me, the mayor of Poway. Here's some of his comments, uh, reacting to what that state official said about them being out of compliance.

Speaker 3: 04:36 Oh, stunned by it because just a couple months ago, in September, we had a, a, uh, annual report of sorts, no mention of this, uh, storm drain Clearwell a noncompliance issue. That's been an operation over 50 years. Never in those 50 years. Has there been any mention of that? So yeah, I'm stunned and frustrated.

Speaker 1: 04:57 Is the fact that it's been in place for 50 years, one of the problems maybe,

Speaker 2: 05:01 uh, I mean it seems like, I mean, would you just look at it to the outset? You know, you talk about, you know, a storm overflow drain right next to the treated water. I mean, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense just on paper. Um, and, uh, the city obviously very unhappy now. Part of what they, they, they, they keep saying is that, Oh, you know, uh, the state visited our site, uh, to do, I think it was like a sanitary, uh, inspections and 2018, 20, 19. Now I haven't done any digging on that. We don't know for sure what they were looking at and we don't know if they were looking at this and they just missed it. Um, but obviously the city of Poway saying that, Hey, we've had this open for 50 years. No one's ever said anything about it. We didn't think we were doing anything wrong. Uh, I know the mayor says he's still drinking the water, but you know, as of right now, at least city officials or state officials are saying that, you know, don't drink the water right now. Just wait until we get the all clear.

Speaker 1: 05:42 And when will they give the all clear

Speaker 2: 05:44 tests are coming back. Good. The, there's no bacteria, low chlorine levels, which is a little bit concerning, at least for this, from the state's perspective. Uh, but if the test keep going, well, uh, right now the estimate is tomorrow. Friday should be the day that everything. Well, um, but if there is some hiccups that could be, be pushed back to Saturday or Sunday or even longer, but it looks like Friday, right now is the day that boil water advisory will be lifted. Residents, the County says we'll be able to reopen on their own. They just need to flush their system. They don't need to wait to come out to have somebody inspect it. Um, so Friday, hopefully tomorrow is a day tomorrow. Okay. We've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks Maureen.

Speaker 1: 00:00 A new report funded by the ACL. OU has some harsh criticism of San Diego law enforcement. An examination of interactions between local police and Sheriff's deputies and minority groups found evidence of bias. The report spanned a two year period and looked at how local law enforcement treated people of color, people with disabilities and the LGBT community. Midday additions. Jade Heinemann spoke with Samuelson young way, cofounder of campaign zero, the advocacy group that conducted the research. Here's that interview.

Speaker 2: 00:34 So what prompted this research and what were the key findings in this report? So, uh, under the racial identity profiling act, uh, which recently was signed into law in California, uh, every police department in the state is now responsible for reporting data on every stop that they make. What happens during that stop, whether they start somebody or arrest somebody or use force against them. Uh, and so this data is just now coming, becoming available, uh, to the public. And so, you know, we're an organization that has been working for quite some time, uh, to collect and analyze data on policing, uh, to better understand how communities are impacted by policing, uh, analyze racial disparities in policing, uh, and then to identify the policies and practices that work to end police violence and improve accountability. Um, so we looked at this data, uh, we analyzed it for about a year, uh, and uh, to have just presented our findings@policescorecard.org and so the, the report highlights some disparities among, uh, various communities.

Speaker 2: 01:34 Uh, talk to me a bit about that. We looked at both the San Diego police department and the San Diego Sheriff's department. Just to give you a sense of the scale and scope of, uh, the discrimination. Uh, we found that the San Diego police department made 35,000 stops of black people, uh, in a one year period from mid 2018 through mid 2019 in a city that has 88,000 total black population. So 35,000 stops, 88,000 population. Um, which is a very extreme level of policing. Black people were 219%, more likely to be stopped by San Diego police department, uh, more likely to be searched during that stop, more likely to be arrested during that stop. 59% more likely to have the police use force against them. Uh, and San Diego Sheriff's department had similar outcomes to that as well. And these disparities also exist, uh, among people with disabilities and among the LGBTQ community.

Speaker 2: 02:25 Talk to me about that as well. Absolutely. So, uh, one of the things that has been incredible about the racial identity profiling act, um, is that for the first time we're an to analyze data, uh, on policing impacting LGBT communities, uh, policing impacting communities with disabilities. Uh, and what we see for both departments, San Diego sheriff and police department, um, is that, uh, if you are LGBT, the officer perceives you to be able to be T, then you are more likely, uh, to be searched during a stop. You are more likely to have the police use force against you and you're more likely to be arrested. Um, that is also if you are a person with disabilities, uh, in particular, uh, somebody with mental disabilities, um, the police were about 100% more likely to use force against folks, uh, with mental disabilities. Uh, and if you are black and LGBT or black and have mental disabilities, you are more likely to, to have all of those things happen to you than if you were white.

Speaker 2: 03:18 Uh, and and, uh, had disabilities and white and LGBT. Um, so we're seeing the intersection of identities and how police respond, uh, to identity and race in ways that are discriminatory. The San Diego police and San Diego County Sheriff's department dispute the report's findings in a statement. The Sheriff's department said, well, they haven't had time to review the entire report in detail. Some of the statistics in the report do not match their inhouse data. Is there any way their data could be different? This is their data. Um, so all of the data that we use for this analysis is their own data. Um, we requested through public records requests and this is data that they are mandated to report, uh, under the racial identity profiling act. Um, and we obtain that data and analyzed it. So this is, we didn't make this up, we didn't just invent a dataset.

Speaker 2: 04:03 Um, we got this data from the police. Um, so this is what their officers are reporting doing. Um, and so, you know, they're welcome to provide, uh, their internal data and do their own analysis of it. Um, but we have obtained the data from them, um, conducted that analysis. Uh, and this is what it says, um, which is, you know, it is disturbing and you know, again, they, they said they haven't done a thorough review of the report. Um, so you know, when they do that thorough review of the report and are ready to talk about what they want to do to address the findings of the report, um, I'd be happy to talk with them, you know, law enforcement and have said there are public safety reasons for all of their interactions. Does this report refute that in any way? It does. Um, so for example, one in five stops resulted in a police search and this is true across both departments.

Speaker 2: 04:53 Both had similar search rates. Um, you're more likely to be searched if you are a black or Brown, you're more likely to be searched. A few, uh, are perceived to have a disability if you're LGBT. And of all of those searches that are conducted thousands and thousands of searches every single year, 77% of all searches across both departments did not find anything, anything, so no reason for that search. Um, so police are engaging in thousands of searches every year. A vast majority find nothing. Uh, when they do find something, it's drugs and drug paraphernalia. Um, they're finding almost nothing that impacts public safety. And yet thousands of people are being impacted by this practice every single year. The report has 10 policy recommendations for San Diego police department and 12 for the San Diego County Sheriff's department. Can you walk us through a few of the top policy recommendations? Sure. So one of the key recommendations is, uh, recognizing that when we look at the arrest data, uh, police were predominantly arresting people for low level offenses.

Speaker 2: 05:51 So about 70% of all arrests were for misdemeanors. Um, and when you look what those charges were, um, they're for things that don't impact public safety, uh, by and large. So for example, police made more arrests or this or a similar number of arrests for drug possession alone as for violent and property crimes combined for both departments. And this is after you know, the legalization of marijuana that is not serving a public safety rationale. Um, there are a whole bunch of rests, thousands and thousands of arrests, uh, for, um, what they call quality of life offenses. And when you look at what those are, they tend to be, uh, associated with, uh, policing, homelessness and poverty. Um, essentially being outside and on property that you don't own because you don't have any money. There are cities right now, let's say for example, you look at Eugene, Oregon, um, they've decided to adopt a different approach to many of these, uh, situations.

Speaker 2: 06:45 Uh, when somebody is having substance abuse issues, when somebody is going through a mental health crisis, um, they will send a mental health provider instead of a police officer to those cases. Um, there were 2,500 youth who were arrested, uh, for the only charge listed there was mental illness. Um, why are they being arrested for that? Um, there are other approaches that are nonviolent that don't involve somebody armed with a gun, arresting somebody and messing up their whole life, um, for something that it shouldn't even be a crime. Um, so scaling up those alternative approaches, scaling up what has worked in other jurisdictions, in other cities, um, to, uh, to, to deal with these high number of arrests for low level offenses is one of the key recommendations. Um, if that were implemented, uh, at least a third of all arrest by both departments, uh, would not happen. You can find the report@kpbs.org I've been speaking with Samuelson young way cofounder of campaign zero Samuel. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:47 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 We recently passed an anniversary that many would be happy to forget. It's just over a year ago that the San Ysidro border was completely shut down for five hours to stop members of an immigrant caravan from crossing the border, the shutdown and subsequent threats from president Trump to repeat a border shutdown sent shockwaves through our binational way of life in San Diego and Tijuana. But as a voice of San Diego report has found it also strengthened those by national ties against any future threats. Joining me is Maya Sri Krishnan who writes about the border and immigration issues for voice of San Diego. And my welcome. I thank you for having me. Remind us how the shutdown of the San Ysidro port of entry unfolded last year and it was over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Speaker 2: 00:48 Yes. So it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2018 and initially what was supposed to happen, um, where there were all these migrants who had traveled up in the caravan who were staying in Tijuana and they were, they had planned a peaceful March, um, towards the port of entry, basically just to, you know, ask that their rights be respected to um, to seek asylum. And at some point close to the port of entry, they reached a police blockade and a group of the protesters actually ran around. The blockade, ran through, um, a canal that is, um, in the 200 river and directly to the ports of entry and to, um, a series of sections along the border fence. And as a response, um, U S customs and border protection shut down the San Ysidro port of entry completely. Uh, and a little bit after that border patrol agents also threw tear gas. Is it certain portions of the fence where there were migrants who, um, they said at the time were throwing rocks or being overly aggressive. Uh, and the port of entry was shut down for five hours that day.

Speaker 1: 01:58 And you spoke with local officials and poured over emails leading up to that day. What have you learned about the days leading up to that shutdown?

Speaker 2: 02:07 They were very tense locally. I think a lot of the local officials who are very involved in the border, um, they knew that people locally were going to be impacted most by a border shutdown and by the caravan. Um, just from the nature of traffic impacts, um, a lot of families who live cross-border lives and are constantly trying to cross, um, you know, that's sort of our reality in the region. And they were definitely aware of the fact that these constant disruptions were going to impact our economy and impact our residents. Um, but the problem was was that they really didn't have any power to prevent the federal government from shutting things down. Um, they really weren't given a ton of information about what could happen, um, or what they should do. So, you know, they really tried to get as much information as they can and play sort of this intermediary role between the federal government and local businesses and residents who are most impacted by the shutdown. Um, because the Sunday shutdown was, it was the big one, you know, it was the one that was completely shut down for five hours, but there had been disruptions that were happening for weeks leading up to that day. Um,

Speaker 1: 03:21 how much of an economic impact did the border closure have?

Speaker 2: 03:24 It probably had a bigger one than we realize, but what we do know is that it costs San Ysidro businesses over $5 million. I'm going to cost you on a businesses over $6 million. I'm at the very least, there are probably some other things that we don't even know about and that we aren't able to calculate. Um, but that is the impact that we were able to measure afterwards. But

Speaker 1: 03:46 you say that that sort of information and that sort of cooperation cross border is something positive that came out of the shutdown. Tell us about that.

Speaker 2: 03:57 That's what everyone told me. You know, we have a series of people, um, in Tijuana and San Diego who have basically spent their careers working on border issues. Um, many of them have cross border lives themselves. Uh, you know, even our mayor has someone who works full time on by national affairs. Uh, we have a local Mexican consulate here and a lot of people like the San Diego chamber of commerce and a synesthesia chamber of commerce and the OTA, Mesa chamber of commerce are constantly, um, involved in what's happening at the border because their businesses depend on it so heavily. So I think one of the things that they all told me was that that time of year last year was very challenging. You know, it was very challenging for all of them, but one of the things they were really proud of was that it sort of strengthened the communication between the mall and it also kind of strengthen the messaging that they all had, um, about the importance of having a border that is fluid. Um, and the importance of trying to balance national security with, you know, the, the economic needs and just the, you know, emotional and social needs of, of a region that is split by a border.

Speaker 1: 05:07 Well, there've been a lot of things happening at the border in the year that has followed that shutdown. Are we still seeing migrants coming to the border and the same numbers as last year?

Speaker 2: 05:17 We are seeing a lot of people still coming to the border. Um, the numbers have gone down in the past few months. Um, that's probably for several reasons. In general, they're seasonal shifts, um, with migration. So for instance, we saw numbers go down during the summer, which is fairly normal because a lot of the paths to the border are through the desert and areas that get really, really hot during that time of year. Um, another major change that we've seen is the, um, so-called remain in Mexico policy, which is officially called the immigration protection protocols. Um, that's now sending everyone who requests asylum at the border pretty much, um, especially central Americans back to Mexico to wait. And, um, I think that, you know, that has certainly had an impact on people's decision making when they're deciding whether to come here or not. I've been speaking with the voice of San Diego reporter Maya, Sri Christian, and thank you so much for your time. Thank you again for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:00 As the army works to reach its recruiting goals. It's found that video games are one of the best ways to attract new soldiers. Increasingly, the military is holding East sports events and it's finding they're often more effective than traditional recruiting methods like visiting high schools or sending out brochures from Denver Taylor Allen reports for the American Homefront project.

Speaker 2: 00:23 Call of duty. Modern warfare is one of the most anticipated video game releases of the fall of engagement have changed. The game leads players through military missions in combat, if you call, identify the target, so it makes sense that army recruiters pick this game to be the centerpiece of a recent recruiting event at an East sports arena in Lakewood, a suburb outside of Denver. It's a dark room. The size of a warehouse led mainly by the glow from rows and rows of computer screens. The people playing wear headphones. You hear the excited chatter of players and controllers clicking

Speaker 3: 01:06 [inaudible].

Speaker 2: 01:06 Anyone who came to the game's release party was able to play the new game as long as they also spoke to army recruiters.

Speaker 4: 01:12 This is the targeted demographic. You know these young men and women that come out here to play the East sports

Speaker 2: 01:19 Sergeant Vincent Cruz is a recruiter. He says video games are a way for the army to connect with more people and even started a professional e-sports team, which has become part of his pitch.

Speaker 4: 01:29 Reach out to these men and women and showing the actually, Hey, you can actually do this. The men get paid. By the way,

Speaker 2: 01:34 the army has been struggling to attract new soldiers. Last year it fell 6,000 troops short of its national recruiting goal. This year the army set a lower goal and met it, but crew says the old ways to attract potential recruits just aren't working the way they used to.

Speaker 4: 01:50 Phone calls and text messages is not the way to go. Traditionally. That's how we've been been trying to reach out to the population, uh, for here is very difficult. You know what I mean? So now it's more like the Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.

Speaker 2: 02:05 The army says it's open 44 virtual recruiting stations that are trying to reach potential soldiers through social media techs. And it calls its e-sports efforts. Some of the highest lead generating events in the history of the all volunteer force

Speaker 3: 02:23 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 02:23 across the gaming arena. 17 year old Gavin gains is sitting at one of the computers staring at the bright screen. How was he doing so far?

Speaker 4: 02:31 I've died like four times three missions. Well not gonna say greatest

Speaker 2: 02:37 Gaines says he isn't ready for college yet and he's about 95% sure he wants to go to the military. A big reason for him is community.

Speaker 4: 02:44 It's always just kinda been a big motivator for me is just kind of like having somewhere where I belong. I like the military cause it's like, I mean not even necessarily like everyone, but it's like you know they have your back type of it.

Speaker 2: 02:56 Out of about 110 people that attended the e-sports, the

Speaker 5: 03:00 military says it gained 35 leads. Michelle Alcantara is also 17 and a brand new recruit. She'll graduate in December and by the summer she's off to bootcamp in Oklahoma. She got into video games through her brother-in-law who's also in the army. Call of duty is a favorite. Both gaming and the military are stereotypically guy things, but she's [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 03:21 be a woman doing both of them. To me it's really a special because not a lot of women I feel like are represented in the army and I feel like it's such a power move for women just cause like we can do the same thing men can and we're finally allowed to do that after. I know that years that we couldn't, I'll Qatar also ended up winning a raffle that night. She went home with a copy of the [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 03:42 game for Xbox, but she didn't say whether she'll take it to boot camp. With her.

Speaker 1: 03:48 Joining me is reporter Taylor Allen with Colorado public radio. Tell her welcome. Thank you for having me. What was this military e-sports event like? What was it like to be there?

Speaker 5: 04:00 Well, you walk in, right and it's just a huge warehouse. It's a really big arena and all you see your screens and it's black and it's just a lot of like blue light coming from everywhere. But it's surprisingly a little silent because everyone has headphones in. And so you just hear so much clicking on the controllers and there's just so many people just like whispering to each other. And sometimes there's some yelling, you know, someone did it, shoot someone when they wanted to. And so like there's teams, it's just a very interesting event because it's an arena, but it's just video games. And so it's a very surreal, very different thing that I've ever encountered.

Speaker 1: 04:38 Was there a lot of army recruiting presence? A lot of army recruiting talk going on?

Speaker 5: 04:43 Yeah, absolutely. Um, what the arena that I was in, uh, the, the local host, Serena and Lakewood, a suburb outside of Denver, uh, there's actually a whole lot of different tournament's going on. And so on one section was just the military, right? And that's where they had their little table. And there's stuff that says, go army Colorado, and you talk to them. They have all their, you know, their swag, their, um, totes and water bottles, and you have to talk to them before you can play this new call of duty game. So there's a lot of discussion, a lot of recruitment, a lot of like, I bet you didn't know that we were into video games. You know, a lot of that kind of element. And then also the recruiters are all in their uniform. They were also playing the games too. So it was very interesting seeing people like in full uniform playing call of duty.

Speaker 1: 05:33 Why are the old recruiting methods like visiting high schools, why are they not working as well for the army anymore?

Speaker 5: 05:40 Well if you think about the old methods like stuff that goes in the mail, right? Or going to high schools, kids just aren't that interested in those methods anymore. Just cause they're not there anymore. Right. Like when's the last time you received a letter and also in high schools? Yeah, they're there, they're there and it's kinda like everyone kind of knows why you're there and some people just like are just not thinking about it twice. And you have to like convince this 17 six this 17 year old that you have something in common with this adult. Right. And I think that's a problem that everyone has when you're trying to get to teenagers because the average teenager is probably like we have nothing in common and you're in the school settings that most of the time in high school people don't really want to be in any way. So the army in general, on a national level, it's just like, okay, this isn't working. They are not coming to us. So we have to meet them where they're at. And that's how certain things like Snapchat and Instagram and, Oh you like video games. Okay, well then we'll just go to the places where you're going to do that activity. They're just really changing on how they're meeting. Gen Z is how they call them generation Z.

Speaker 1: 06:43 Now let's talk about the video game recruiting from your report. One of the recruiters tells the video game players that quote, you can do this in the army and get paid for it. So is playing video games a big part of army life?

Speaker 5: 06:55 Uh, well it's very new. So it's kinda hard to say. It's a big part of the East sports team. Like their actual team that they uh, compete with other universities and other entities. Like that's very, very new like within the last year. So saying that it's a big part, there's very much still in like the prototype phase and very much still, I'm just like trying it out, but they very much are pushing it a lot. And a big part of the army for 17 year olds when they're trying to recruit to them is, has always been education. So on top of that they're like, Hey, you like video games, we can offer that to you, you can get paid for this. And we know one of our big pitches is education and did you know, 122 colleges are offering scholarships for this. So they're like really trying to just get you in the door. That's really what this is all about. It's about getting you in the door, getting you introduced, just so you can even start to listen to them about their pitch.

Speaker 1: 07:50 Now you met a couple of teenagers at this army e-sport event. What is the age requirement to sign up for the military?

Speaker 5: 07:58 The earliest you could sign up is 17 with parental consent and you do still need to get some kind of a form signed from your parents.

Speaker 1: 08:07 Has there been any criticism of this method of using video games to get teenagers interested in joining the service?

Speaker 5: 08:13 I definitely heard a lot of people like what I talked about doing this. There's definitely been a few people who had a few eyebrow raises. One cause it's a little odd, right? You don't think about video games and the military, right? It's just not two things that you associate with each other, but there were a few people with reservations like I don't know how I feel about someone playing a game, right? That is about killing people. Call of duty is a combat game to recruit for a potential job that you might have to do that in real life. That is a criticism that I've heard across the board whenever I was talking about this story, but what seems to calm people down is when I try to explain that they're not necessarily to say, Oh, you like doing this in the virtual world. You will like to do this in real life.

Speaker 5: 08:59 That's not exactly what they're doing. They're very much using video games is how you would use Snapchat and Instagram of just getting you in the door. Also, it's very difficult to actually get on the sports team, right? There's only a limited amount of slots. Um, although re recruiting has gone down in the last few years, you know, in 2018 nationally, they recruited 68,000 people, right? You can't have six to 8,000 people playing these games, uh, for the professional team at least. So even if that is the reason that you wanted to, that you are initially wanted to join or initially wanted to just see what it was about, it's a long shot for the average person to join this e-sports team. I have been speaking with a reporter, Taylor Allen with Colorado public radio. Taylor. Thank you. Oh, thank you so much. This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The great Pacific garbage patch has become a floating symbol and terrible example of pollution on this planet. Ocean voyages Institute founder Mary Crowley is among many trying to do something about it. She recently explained how at a lecture at the San Diego maritime museum as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk, Carly spoke via Skype with round table host Mark Sauer. Here's that interview.

Speaker 2: 00:27 Now your organization removed 42 tons of plastic from the Pacific Guyer in June. What does 42 tons of plastic look like?

Speaker 3: 00:35 It's a phenomenal amount of plastic. You know, we filled four big containers full of plastic from what we brought in. It was quite a haul. Lots of netting, lots of consumer plastics. And you know, we've been trying to figure out, because some people say that's a small percentage of what out, what's out there, which is true, but we could figure in a certain way how many whales and dolphins and sea turtles and fish are saved by us removing that amount of plastic. And this coming year in 2020, our goal is to have our expeditions operate with 10 fold is much. So we're looking to bring in over 420 tons because we certainly spotted lots of debris out there. Unfortunately, there's no sort of shortage of debris and we want to do our best to make the ocean a healthier environment for all of us.

Speaker 2: 01:51 Now the Pacific gyres part of the great Pacific garbage patch. Explain what's in it. How big is it roughly? Where is it?

Speaker 3: 01:58 I always say, I don't really like the name great Pacific garbage patch though. That is certainly the name it has because it's really much bigger than a patch. You know, it's an area that starts 500 miles, 600 miles off the coast of California and goes to five, 600 miles off the coast of Asia. Um, Hawaii is very central. There is a particularly dance area of debris distribution that's about halfway between Hawaii and California. And of course this area, this GI or area moves dependent on currents and weather conditions. But you know, the, the area is a huge one and uh, it has been collecting debris, plastics for at least 60 years and as people know, plastic can last for hundreds of years.

Speaker 2: 03:15 And what causes the trash to converge in this area in particular? It's all about currents, right?

Speaker 3: 03:20 Yes. There's four major currents that kind of create this area and feed this area. And we need to both affectively and on a large scale do ocean cleanup globally though the GI are right in our backyard is considered the one that has the most debris. But we have to also change our habit patterns, particularly around throw away plastics and figure out better ways to reuse, recycle, repurpose. Plastic says many people are learning in the news. You know, plastic recycling is a tricky area. You know,

Speaker 2: 04:13 the great solution, we all wish it would be.

Speaker 3: 04:16 Exactly. We have to do more innovation and be very careful about what we use, how we recycle, um, and just make sure the ocean, which you know, everybody sort of has in their mind that rain forest are important because of the air they create. And that is true. But the ocean creates roughly two thirds of our air. And so having a healthy ocean influences everyone's health. And you might imagine that all of this toxic plastic is terrible for ocean creatures and the health of the ocean.

Speaker 2: 05:04 Yeah. Tell us about the impact on the Marine life. It can really be devastating, right?

Speaker 3: 05:08 Absolutely. I, there's figures, you know, I see different figures, different places, but I, I know Sylvia Earle, who I really respect, uses a figure of over 600,000 Marine mammals get killed every year by plastics either becoming entangled in them or ingesting them, you know, big whales that ingest plastics, the plastic gets stuck in their stomach and they starve to death. And I think that happens to lots of the Pologic fish as well, the tunas and the sword, fish, et cetera. And you see all of sad instances of ocean creatures being in tangled in debris

Speaker 2: 06:06 and eventually gets into the human food chain as well. Right?

Speaker 3: 06:09 Absolutely. I mean, I think they're, they're finding lots of plastics in people's systems and uh, some of that probably comes from seafood. Some of it may come from just the way so many things are stored and plastics because plastics have all sorts of nasty chemicals and so they're finding uh, a full range of not so good things and in us.

Speaker 2: 06:40 And uh, this interview is part of our climate change desk coverage. And what role do plastics have in climate change? They're petroleum based to begin with, right?

Speaker 3: 06:50 Absolutely. Another way of viewing the whole issue of plastic garbage in our ocean is it's another form of an oil spill. And uh, there's some interesting work being done by a gentleman from the world bank and a scientist. They were trying to figure out the value of whales, but whales is just one piece of the puzzle. You can't figure out the value of all sorts of Marine life and you could figure out the value of coral reefs. And so part of the value of the sea life and the reefs have to do with the role they play on maintaining temperature on health in terms of of ocean life. And so we need our oceans is part of the climate equation. They play a very important role. And we need to to clean up our oceans, to allow them to continue doing that and to have it be a healthy atmosphere for all of the ocean life. That was ocean voyages Institute founder Mary Crowley, speaking with KPBS at Roundtable host Mark Sauer.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.