San Diego Votes, Local Lab Working On Coronavirus Vaccine, Martin Scorese Film Marathon
KPBS Midday Edition / March 3, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 We'll check how super Tuesday voting is going in San Diego and the lightest as health officials race to find a coven. 19 vaccine. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm wearing Kevin off. This is KPBS mid day edition. It's Tuesday, March 3rd super Tuesday is here. The polls have been open in California's presidential primary for about five hours now. San Diego are of course weighing in on the presidential race along with a number of local races, including the hotly contested 50th district congressional race to the San Diego mayor's race along with two countywide land use measures and much more joining us as San Diego County register of voters. Michael WGU and Michael. Welcome. Thank you. How is voting going so far at the registrar's office and around the County?
Speaker 2: 00:58 Well, here at the registrar of voters office, it's been eerily quiet and uh, that could be because individuals are voting at their assigned polling location or dropping off their mail ballot out there, but it's unusually, uh, light. In terms of individuals coming here, there are no waiting lines. So if there are individuals that want to participate in this election that needs to register and vote at the same time because they're not registered, probably now is the time to get to our office cause I anticipate that the lines will only just build from here on out.
Speaker 1: 01:28 Have you heard of any problems around the County so far?
Speaker 2: 01:31 No major issues that are out there. All just same issues that we expect from every given election that it's out there, but nothing systemic or major that we've seen thus far. Everything opened up pretty nicely this morning as best as it's going to be when you're dealing, uh, in, in managing 1,548 pacings as well as the eight to 9,000 poll workers.
Speaker 1: 01:53 Now this is the first election where California voters can register and vote on the same day. And do you have any sense how that is going in San Diego?
Speaker 2: 02:02 You know what, I don't, I, I've heard that it's so far. Anecdotally, things are, are quiet. Uh, again, we have so many more mail ballot voters than we did back in the 2016 presidential primary election. So I expect, uh, a lot of those individuals are dropping off their mail ballot or will be voting at their assigned polling location on election day. As far as the conditional voter registration, people registering and voting the same days. Uh, today I haven't really heard too much related to that, but certainly I haven't heard long lines either. And that's what generally is the first key to see whether or not conditional voter registration is having heavily at any of the respect of polling location or at our satellite locations.
Speaker 1: 02:42 Right. So the four new satellite offices to help with voting and same day registration have been open since this weekend. What can you tell us about how that's been going?
Speaker 2: 02:51 Good. It's been a, a decent turnout at these respective sites knowing that this is the first time that we've ever opened up satellite throughout the entire County. That's been a nice feature and a number of individuals have participated and get getting to one of these satellite voting locations over the weekend. And of course, uh, yesterday and today. So, uh, the satellite locations are well-equipped for individuals to register and vote or simply an individual that is registered to vote already and just wants to get into, in, in, in vote, uh, and get it out of the way. There were reports that some voters were handed the wrong ballots at those satellite offices. Has that been resolved? It has been resolved. We quickly resolved that the morning that we launched into our solid voting location period, uh, within the first 45 minutes, uh, we identified what the issue is and notify any impacted voter.
Speaker 2: 03:45 Um, Michael, you talked about how many Malin voters there are in San Diego County now. So my question is how many mail ballots have been returned? So far? We have over 350,000 mail bouts that have been returned thus far. That's not including those that we picked up from the us postal service. I will find out how many came in from today for today. Uh, but those that we received today will, will most likely not get into tonight's, uh, account, uh, because we still have to process and verify, uh, before we can open it. And get into the count. So what percentage of mail ballots have been returned so far? That represents about 26% of all mail bouts that we have, uh, sent out and issued. When I look at that percentage, I compare that against the 2016 presidential primary election and it looks like it's on par to that.
Speaker 2: 04:32 So if that's a kind of a teaser of the overall turnout, uh, then we'll see somewhere between a 50 to 55% turnout in the presidential election in 2016 the primary election, it was a 50.9% turnout. So, uh, again, there's still a lot to be known in this election with polling place voters as well as everyone that has a mail ballot that's dropping it off at any of the given polling locations today or at our site or at any of the given satellite locations. Here's one, Michael, what about people who may have marked their ballots for a presidential candidate who was no longer in the race? Do they have any hope of changing that? If you still have your mail ballot and you marked a candidate that has now dropped out of the race, what you can do is actually go to your assigned a polling location and get a replacement ballot.
Speaker 2: 05:26 What will happen is is that, uh, you will, we will spoil that initial ballot and issue you a replacement ballot. So whatever you do, make sure you bring that ballot with you to spoil at your assigned polling location. Make sure you get to your assigned polling location. Or the other thing that you could do if you're one of these situations is get to the satellite location or to the registrar of voters office with that about in hand. And what we will do is give you a clean, fresh ballot for you to vote on. And for people who are still holding onto their mail in ballots, is it too late to mail them? I would say no. Legally it is, no, but my recommendation and it's a high recommendation, is not to put it through the us postal service because we have to receive it within three days after it being postmark today.
Speaker 2: 06:19 And if it's received after that timeframe, we cannot count that ballot. It's not timely. So my suggestion is not put it through the U S postal service. My suggestion is get it, get it to any one of the 1,548 precincts, drop it off there and any of those locations or to the a ROV site or the satellite locations with all the changes to this election, the new satellite offices, the new touchscreen voting machines that we didn't even talk about. Some say California could end up with lots of problems when it comes to the vote count. Are you concerned about that? You know, we've done a battery of tests, uh, related to our new voting system and the tabulation system. Um, I anticipate, uh, that anything could happen in any given election that we conduct here. Um, but we've done the battery test. So there is a level of confidence that I have related to being able to, uh, produce the election results and post them at eight Oh shortly after eight o'clock. And the polls
Speaker 1: 07:18 close at eight as you just said, but if there are lines, will you keep [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 07:21 the polls open longer? Well, if there is a line at any given polling locations that we have out there, we have to allow those individuals in line at 8:00 PM the ability to vote so that polling location will have to remain open. Now, if there are other polling locations that there is no long line, then those polling locations can close and get those ballots to us, which we will of course receive verify process and get them into the County.
Speaker 1: 07:49 Thank you so much. I've been speaking with San Diego County register of voters. Michael WGU, thank you for taking time out to speak with us. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 08:02 Health officials are reporting more coven 19 Corona virus cases and deaths across the country in California. The number of confirmed cases is up to 50 meanwhile, researchers are trying to pump out a vaccine against the virus, but that can drag on while scientists search for the part of the virus that activates the body's defense without causing the illness. A newer approach of using DNA is far cheaper, easier, and doesn't use the virus at all. But no DNA based vaccine has ever been licensed. KPBS health reporter Teran mento goes into the San Diego lab and meets the team trying to break that barrier.
Speaker 3: 08:42 Brown liquids sloshes inside glass cylinders and a countertop at a Novio pharmaceuticals. The noise of brewing a DNA based vaccine isn't overwhelming, but the stench smells like you're in a college bar. You have your feet to stick to the floor. As the scent of stale beer lingers inside the second floor. Lab research associate Joseph fader cracks open the door to combat the odor smelly. He says it's just the smell of ecoli bacteria used to grow the DNA medicine.
Speaker 4: 09:11 So one of the ways that I've been explaining it is like say your favorite fruit is strawberries, right? You like strawberries, but you don't like eating the plant, but you need the plant to grow the strawberries. So the poli cells or the plant
Speaker 3: 09:22 and an OVO is trying to grow life saving fruit amid a raging storm as the Corona virus is battering cities around the globe, including the U S the company is raising to offer the world a life raft with its DNA based vaccine. It uses sort of a blueprint of the virus that tells the immune system how to build its defense without ever introducing the germ
Speaker 5: 09:45 and Novio is senior vice president. Kate Broderick is at the helm. Well, I'd go up to the spar legacy even today. I'm like, Oh, the lead researcher at the center of a Novios Corona virus vaccine operation says she manages the long days by starting with yoga helps so much because otherwise your brain never turns off and ends the days with what many other working parents use to unwind a glass of wine, any kind of wine, a very large one don't really care. So just go in between those brief moments. She's pushing the vaccine forward. The company has made progress just weeks after an international body in Europe asked it to join the Corona virus vaccine race. We have now started testing the vaccine in the lab. Um, we are extremely encouraged by the data, but the positive results in a tray don't always mean a vaccine will prevent disease in humans and Novios other vaccines for Zika.
Speaker 5: 10:39 Merz and HPV have shown positive results in the first two out of three trials. But no DNA-based vaccine has overcome the final hurdle. If ENOVIA does navigate those uncharted waters, it'll generate a master vaccine that could be quickly modified to combat whatever virus is the next to emerge. So the manufacturing remains the same. The we, we might have, uh, formulate the vaccine and the vial remains the same. The way we deliver the vaccine remains the same. But just that tiny little piece of genetic information differs. And so every time we make progress on developing a vaccine like this, we can add that learning to the next outbreak or the next fight is that we tackle and Novio is trying to make it to human trials by summer, a five month turnaround. The final steps to get there are happening outside the lab and behind the desk of Stephanie Ramos. It's a very intensive process here. The director of preclinical development is helping pull together reports, results, summaries and other information that can total to more than 8,000 pages and that all gets into like a massive document that's sent to the FDA. The process is expedited under the outbreak circumstance, so that means a lot of overtime and Indian takeout.
Speaker 6: 11:54 You have one Indian meal you're good for like the rest of the day.
Speaker 5: 11:58 She says the long hours and weekends are worth it because the climbing death toll from Corona virus reminds the researchers what they're up against.
Speaker 6: 12:06 It makes you feel good that you're doing everything you can to to do your part to get that vaccine out there faster.
Speaker 5: 12:15 Ramos is approaching this not just as a scientist, a handmade mother's day gift sits on her desk. We
Speaker 6: 12:21 do take to heart what is going into people. You know, we're not just here to say check. Yeah, we did our job check. Yeah, we did it first. No, ends
Speaker 5: 12:32 our interview. Another company announced its experimentally designed vaccine for Corona virus is ready for the first stage of human trials and Novio is still working toward that milestone. But achieving successful results will be the bigger deal, not only for this virus but for the next one that scientists know is coming, but aren't sure when or where. Taryn mento KPBS news joining me is KPBS health reporter Taryn, Manto and Taryn, welcome. Thank you. How many trials do new vaccines need to go through before they're ready for the public? And how long does that process take? So it's three trials generally. The first one usually is very small group of people looks for safety and before it even gets to people, it's tested in the lab and on animals. It's mandated to be tested on animals and that's checking for safety as well. And there's a lot of certifications they got to put out there before they say they add this, it's okay to put in humans.
Speaker 5: 13:28 And then the second one is kind of looking for, well is it effective, is it generating the immune response that we want? And it's a little bit larger group of people. The third one is thousands of people and it also kind of has a variety of different ages and, um, health conditions, uh, that we might see among the population that this vaccine would ultimately go in for the purpose that it's designed to, to prevent a certain disease. Um, and so how long it can take, um, like years, you know, it can take a really long time. Um, how quickly can it be? And we don't know. I think that's what we're going to see with the, the race to, to develop this vaccine. But there's some estimates out there that like the earliest could be maybe next year. Can you explain a bit more about how this DNA approach to producing a vaccine differs from the usual way of vaccine is produced?
Speaker 5: 14:16 So typically a vaccine is using some part of the virus that the vaccine is trying to prevent. And it's, it's a, you know, a weakened version and an active version part of it. Um, and so usually that's so it, it goes into the human without infecting them with that illness. Um, and, and then therefore triggers the body's natural defense response to fight it off with DNA. You're not using the actual virus. And in fact, the company that I talked to in Novio pharmaceuticals, they don't even have the virus on site. It's basically as best as I can describe it, is it's kind of like the instruction manual for the virus. So therefore it kind of is talking to the body about how to develop the response, but it's not actually using the virus to get that reaction. In order to fashion this kind of DNA to produce, uh, a blueprint of coven 19 virus, does the company have to actually decode the viral DNA or has that already been done?
Speaker 5: 15:18 So in this instance, uh, the um, officials, health health officials over in China publicly posted the genetic sequencing of this virus and that is what, and Novio took a look at to design design its vaccine and, and Novio Kate Broaddrick that I interviewed, she said that they designed their vaccine based on that within three hours. You said a Novio has been tapped by an international body in Europe to get into the covert 19 vaccine race. Which body is that? The, that's the coalition for epidemic preparedness innovations, also referred to as sappy and they're in Norway and it's a group of individuals from health organizations or official health organizations in various countries. Africa. There's a representative from the CDC on there, but also private companies. Uh, the Melinda and bill Gates foundation, uh, they're a part of it as well. So it's a mixture of all these individuals that have the expertise and the, the means, uh, to, to try and find innovative, hence in the name approaches to addressing global health matters like this.
Speaker 5: 16:21 I wonder why the CDC or other U S health agency itself hasn't directly tapped in OVO to develop something like this. So the federal government is backing and supporting development of some vaccines. One of the companies I believe is Johnson and Johnson. Um, but you know, there's lots of different efforts going on out there, lots of different companies working on this. And, and Novio actually was invited to the white house just yesterday to speak about their approach to designing a vaccine. So president Trump did get an update from a number of different pharmaceutical companies, including a Novio. Um, but so far it does look like that they're not backing directly in Novio but they are other companies from your report, I understand that at this point none of ENOVIA is vaccines have been okayed for public public use for broad public use or that they've been licensed for anyone to be able to access?
Speaker 5: 17:19 Yes, they have been received approval by the FDA to, to test these. They've got phase one, phase two, and they have a couple in the phase three trials right now. So they are actually being used on humans, but we're looking to make sure that they are safe, which they've proven in the earlier rounds that they're effective, which there's indication that they are and that they are comparable to the vaccines that we have out there. So is it doing, you know, equal to or better than what's already in existence. And so that's what they're really looking for in these third trials. But Kate Broderick, who I spoke with, you know, she'll tell you that based on testing, they do believe that some of their vaccines, um, are equal to or better than what's out there. Um, we're waiting for the, you know, the official pure review publication of that and they've got two in the works right now.
Speaker 5: 18:10 If this DNA based vaccine approach does ultimately work, how will that change the speed and efficiency of the fight against emerging viral diseases? So talking to a few people, theoretically it would make it quicker, cheaper, more effective to just develop something. Um, you know, Kate referred to it as a plug and play. Every time that there's a new virus, they can just insert that genetic sequencing and, and then you have the vaccine because they already know the process to develop it. They've already, um, everything else is the same except for that tiny little piece of information. So we could make it much quicker and much cheaper. Um, but you know, it hasn't gotten there yet, so we'll have to watch to see how that does play out. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Taren Manto. Taryn, thanks. Thank you.
Speaker 7: 18:59 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh and I'm Jade Hindman. Last month was one of the driest months we've had on record and yet millions of gallons of raw sewage flowed to our beaches from Mexico and the latest effort to stop cross border sewage flows. The regional water quality control board has requested increased monitoring and making those results. Public KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson joins us with details on how this could help clean up our coast. Eric, welcome. Thank you. So the request has been made for more monitoring of the sewage flows. Who does the board want to see do this monitoring?
Speaker 8: 19:35 What they're doing is they're asking the international boundary and water commission, which is a federal agency that runs the international wastewater treatment plan along the border. And some of those, uh, sewage collectors, they're asking them to actually do the monitoring and then make that monitoring public. They've done monitoring in the past, but they've not been compelled to share what they've found. And what they're saying is, look, we've picked 13 separate locations along the border. There are locations that are in the Tijuana river, there are locations in some of the Canyon collectors where they know that there are sewage flows and during the wet months, uh, they want the federal government through that agency to test those areas at least once a week in the summer months when the conditions are dryer. And the flows presumably are, are less intense than they only have to do the testing once a month. But the key component, I think the thing that's really different about this testing effort is that they want this information to be accessible to the public so that the public will be able to see exactly how contaminated these flows are over a period of time.
Speaker 7: 20:40 And so how does the public having access to that information impact what gets done to fix this problem? Well, and you can't away from the problem,
Speaker 8: 20:48 I think is what their line of logic is. You can't ignore it. You can't say it's lesser severe or that you don't know how severe the problem is, you'll be able to look at actual water quality testing information that will tell you just how bad or are not, how bad that situation would be.
Speaker 7: 21:05 So since the request for this increased public monitoring has been made, does that mean the international boundary and water commission will [inaudible]
Speaker 8: 21:12 actually move forward with the testing? I think we kind of have to wait to see. It's complicated because the international boundary water commission was created as the result of a treaty negotiation with Mexico. They're the agency that deals with the border pollution issues all along the us Mexico border. And so they're this federally created agency that was created by treaty and, uh, the state regulators do have the authority to, uh, monitor and issue punishments for quaint, clean water violations that were set up in the federal clean water act. But whether or not they can compel, uh, the IB WC to do this, uh, kind of remains up in the air. If the IB, WC just says, you know, we're not going to do it or doesn't respond to the investigative order, uh, the next step would be for the regional board to seek a legal remedy in a federal courtroom.
Speaker 7: 22:07 And so is this why this particular agency is the agency they're asking to monitor this problem because, um, regionally their enforcement is limited.
Speaker 8: 22:16 It's not that their enforcement is limited, it's just that there's not a clear delineation as to who has authority over these issues. The regional water quality board officials say, look, the federal government has recognized that it has some role to play here because it's built these collectors, it's built a sewage treatment plant, uh, and they seek a permit from the state of California that meets clean water guidelines every year. So they do have some authority, but it's not clear whether a state agency can Pell the federal government into action. And so if there's not willing compliance with this testing order, this investigative order, then, then again the remedy will likely come out of the courts.
Speaker 7: 22:59 This all comes as we're seeing an increase in sewage from Mexico. Talk to me about that.
Speaker 8: 23:04 Yeah. This is a kind of been a, a deteriorating situation in some ways. Over the last couple of months, uh, since about the middle of December, there have been repeated failures of sewage infrastructure on the Mexican side of the border pump stations. Collector pipes have broken and that's limited. The Tijuana government's ability to move, uh, their sewage that's generated in that city, uh, to a sewage treatment facility. And it has ended up running across the border. Uh, and it's come across in rather large amounts. It's between 10 and 50 million gallons of sewage. Tainted water is crossing the border every day. And that's happening even during periods of time when the flows would normally be non-existent because there wasn't any rain. So it hasn't been particularly wet. Uh, and these flows are still happening and it's really been a failure of the system South of the border to capture and contain and then to treat that sewage.
Speaker 7: 24:06 And the federal government has a wastewater plant in the South Bay that they will have to renew their permit for. How might that give the regional board leverage in their effort?
Speaker 8: 24:16 That's another thing. The regional board is looking at. What they want to do is sort of tighten the permit, the discharge permit, uh, regulations, uh, that, that plant has to get every a few years or so. Uh, when that permit gets renewed, they want to have these, a stricter pollution limits in place so that if there is a spill that contacts it, the agency would be in violation of its permit if they're in violation of their permit. That gives the regional board some enforcement, uh, capabilities. Um, so that's one other thing that is, that is being done. They want to get this extra testing. They want to kind of tighten up those permits. And uh, the bottom line I think for the regional board is, is they want to see the federal government be active in making sure that if there are cross border sewage flows, that those flows are captured and treated and, and don't reach the open ocean.
Speaker 7: 25:09 I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson. Eric, thank you for joining us. My pleasure.
Speaker 9: 25:18 [inaudible]
Speaker 7: 25:21 the Trump administration has ratcheted up efforts to punish California for its so-called sanctuary state law. Passed in 2017 it limits when California law enforcement can help with immigration authorities and it remains controversial in parts of the state. KQ E for Rita Java liver marrow reports that more than two years after the law took effect, police don't always follow it.
Speaker 10: 25:44 On June 3rd, 2018 Edgar Torres celebrated at the pride festival in Laguna beach where he lives. I had a few drinks and I made a dumb mistake and I got in my vehicle and headed home. Laguna beach police arrested the 29 year old on suspicion of DUI. They held Torres for 15 hours before to immigration and customs enforcement agents showed up, handcuffed him and drove him away. It was scary. I was overwhelmed. I was, I was confused. SB 54 prohibits local law enforcement from turning over immigrants to ice unless they were convicted of serious crimes, but Torres had no prior convictions. So Laguna beach police violated California. Sanctuary law says Jessica Bansal and attorney with the ACLU who represent the tourists.
Speaker 11: 26:38 California residents who were supposed to be protected by the law are not being protected. In some cases
Speaker 10: 26:43 because of SB 54 a lot fewer immigrants are turned over to ice by California law enforcement, but bandsaw and other attorneys have filed at least a dozen administrative complaints alleging violations, including by sheriffs and Alameda and Sacramento counties and police in Huntington park and Daly city. All the departments facing complaints declined to comment on the cases, but several say they take the law seriously. Still, many in law enforcement believe SB 54 makes it harder for them to keep the public safe. Brian Marvel would. The peace officers research association of California says, officers are not intentionally disregarding the law.
Speaker 11: 27:25 It's an extremely complicated law and and unless you have like some thorough training and explanation behind what you can and can't do, I think it's difficult to make sure that you follow this thing 100%
Speaker 10: 27:39 LASM assemblyman Miguel Santiago coauthored as B 54 and says law enforcement should be fully compliant by now. He says if they're not, the California attorney general should investigate.
Speaker 11: 27:51 The ag has the ability to enforce that law.
Speaker 10: 27:54 The attorney General's office has issued guidance for law enforcement to comply but won't say whether it is investigating any violations and declined. KQ EDS interviewed requests last month, Laguna beach settled with Edgar arturis agreeing to pay him nearly $19,000 and to show officers and new training video tourists pled guilty to a lesser offense of reckless driving. He has deferred action for childhood arrivals and that protected him from deportation ice. Let him go.
Speaker 12: 28:25 Other people might be too scared to even talk about this, so it's important for me to be vocal about this because it could help other people.
Speaker 10: 28:34 Meanwhile, the future of the sanctuary law is in question. The Trump administration asked the U S Supreme court to strike it down. The justice says are deciding whether to take the case on Friday that judge Villa Romero
Speaker 1: 28:51 during its 40 year history, the people for the ethical treatment of animals or PETA has been in the headlines a lot. It's controversial ads featuring naked women and animal carcasses and protests against for have brought animal activism into the mainstream. For instance. Among its other efforts. Pita has for years agitated against sea world's Marine animal shows, but now Peter president and founder Ingrid Newkirk is out with a book that attempts to explain why it's so important to treat animals with respect. It explores the richness of animals, lives and presents reasons why they have their own right to exist. Joining me is Ingrid Newkirk co author with gene stone of the new book, animal kind, remarkable discoveries about animals and revolutionary new ways to show them compassion and Ingrid, welcome to the program.
Speaker 13: 29:44 Thank you very much.
Speaker 1: 29:46 Now since I mentioned it, have the changes. SeaWorld San Diego has made to stop its Orca breeding and its shambhu shows, made the park more palatable to PETA.
Speaker 13: 29:55 No, it's made the park better than it was and we just managed to precious, see, well, to stop having trainers actually ride on the dolphins faces on their nostrums as if they were surfing on dolphins. So that's yet one other thing that is being set aside that they should never have done in the first place. But no, as long as there are these wonderful ocean going mammals with all their interests in being out in the free seas, stuck in a cement cell, just wearing their teeth down to the knobs by chewing on those underwater bars and not able to use this sonar because it bounces straight off the walls and having no real life. No. Uh, we are not satisfied. They need to go to all other kinds of amusements. They've already gone to concerts. They can have concerts all the time for all we care. But get those Marine mammals out, retire them to a seaside sanctuary.
Speaker 1: 30:58 Just one word about that though. Sue world does a lot of work to save all sorts of Marine life. How does pita balance rescue work like that with condemning the, the keeping of animals captive?
Speaker 13: 31:10 To me it's like hunters for the hungry. You know, it's two different things. There's people like to go out and shoot animals and then they want to justify what they're doing by doing something like feed the homeless and you think, wait a second, you can feed the homeless or the hungry without going out and shooting a deer and his family who is standing in the woods. So sea world can do the ocean rescues they want. That's grand. Go ahead, but don't use that as an excuse to incarcerate these other highly intelligent social animals and keep them crammed into these pans. In fact, even in bed social groupings, it's that elementary where one of them will scar up the other one because they fight all the time. They have no way to escape.
Speaker 1: 31:57 Now your new book animal kind describes discoveries about animals that uncover their complicated in our lives. Can you tell us about that?
Speaker 13: 32:07 It's absolutely fascinating. I collect information about every kind of animal from the smallest to the largest for them, the most familiar to the most exotic. Yet I found out so many different interesting things. If you just take dogs, I think many people know that the average dog in your home knows about 300 human words without ever being taught one. And we know no words of dog and then those as a so sensitive, they actually now, um, tell if a person is going to, is about to go into seizure. I have an epileptic fit. Or if they have a cancerous tumor, they can detect those subtle changes in the chemistry of the body. They can also detect a thumb drive in a metal box in a metal steel cabinet. And so you must never eat in front of your dog. It drives them insane and you must never pull them along when you're walking them because they, the Bush is their internet. They know who went by, what kind of health they were in and when it happened and so on. So it's their walk, let them have it.
Speaker 1: 33:20 There are so many people now, especially here in California who are not eating the animals, who are not using animal products and the reasons for that STEM from ethical to dietary concerns to climate change. Do you know if that's made an impact on the kinds of things that you watch out for on animal factory farms and related industries?
Speaker 13: 33:41 Yes, absolutely. It's absolutely wonderful. If someone chooses one vegan meal of a one meat or dairy meal or stops eating eggs, it makes a huge difference because the whole marketplace is shifting. You can go to a false food restaurant, you can go to any um, grocery store now. You don't have to go to anywhere special and you'll find the beyond burger. You will find soy [inaudible], almond milk, you name it, macadamia milk. It's all there for the taking and it doesn't have to be costly, but it's better for you as you say, for the environment. And it's certainly a hundred percent cruelty free. And when we go onto the factory farms or even the transport trucks in all weather and certainly the slaughter house, it's not anything that a kind person would wish to spend their money on.
Speaker 1: 34:34 I've been speaking with the founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, co author with gene stone of the new book, animal kind, remarkable discoveries about animals and revolutionary new ways to show them compassion. Ingrid Newkirk, thank you so much.
Speaker 13: 34:48 Thank you so much.
Speaker 1: 34:50 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm Maureen Cavanagh. Martin Scorsese is the Irishman NAB to 10 Oscar nominations, but no awards last month, but Scorsese's place as a master filmmaker is well established and to honor his work, Redding cinema is hosting a Marti party and screening four of his best films on Wednesday evenings this month at its Grossmont cinema here to talk about the films and Scorsese as a filmmaker is KPBS film critic Beth Huck Amando. Welcome Beth. Thank you. And movie Wallas Yazdi Pathak Villa Yazdi. Welcome. Hello Beth, you're a longtime fan of Chris says, do you remember how you first discovered his films? Yes. It's very vivid because I'm Italian. I was raised Catholic. I was born New York, and
Speaker 14: 35:38 to see a filmmaker like him was something that I really identified with. So I was a teenager when I first saw mean streets. That was like in 1973 and he's part of the reason I wanted to become a filmmaker and why I went to film school and he has this great intensely personal style, this passion for film, and it was something that I just immediately connected with and wanted to somehow be a part of it. So his work is rather pivotal to you? Yes. Yazdi what appeals to you about Scorsese's work? How would you describe him as a filmmaker? I think he's the closest we have to an elder statesman in American cinema and people talk about, you know, the most gifted American filmmakers right now, like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson or even the Cohen brothers within the context of how great they are as mastercraftsman. And I think Martin Scorsese was the original mastercraftsman. I mean he has made 65 films, music documentaries, televisions, shorts, feature films, and you'd be hard pressed to find a single shot that is sloppy or that's not exactly how it needs to be. Now the films showcased are all collaborations with actor Robert DeNiro. First up is taxi driver. That's tomorrow night. Here's a clip from the trailer.
Speaker 15: 36:56 No, Robert de Niro creates a terrifying portrait of life on the edge of the madness that we just forget about this. It's not the taxi driver, the film by Martin Scorsese, anything in front of tax job. I mean, anything. People too cheap to rent a hotel, room, travel, hurry up. People want to embarrass you. It's like you're not even there. It's like, you know, like a taxi driver doesn't even exist. This city here is like an open sewer, you know, it's full of filth and scum. I think I know what your name is, but it's not going to be easy.
Speaker 14: 37:34 So Beth, would you say this film really established Scorsese as part of a new wave of American directors in the 70s yeah, I think so. I mean, streets put them on the map. It got everybody's attention. But I think taxi driver proved that he wasn't a fluke. He wasn't a one shot wonder. He was somebody who was going to continue to uh, perfect his craft and mature as a filmmaker. And I just love this film. It is so good. I am attracted to unlikable protagonists. So Travis Bickle is a perfect example of this. DeNiro was great. Jodie foster played the young child prostitute and she was amazing in that and I really just appreciate the way he's able to get us inside of Travis's head and not really pass judgment on him. And I think that's what makes it so fascinating. You don't have to like him, you don't have to condone what he's doing or condemn what he's doing.
Speaker 14: 38:25 It's just, it gives you this perspective from such a firsthand sort of way that it's absolutely fascinating and I'm really happy that this is screening right now because joker came out last year. Uh, Todd Phillips acknowledged that score socio is an influence on him. Taxi driver and King of comedy were an influence. And I really hope that people who have only seen joker will go out and experience taxi driver. And you know, I think square Ceci was so much more masterful in terms of knowing what he wanted to say with that character as opposed to joker where I'm not quite sure what Todd Phillips wanted that film to say. But this is about, you know, a ticking time bomb going off and people never able to detect who Travis is in advance. And then once this happens because they know nothing about him, they misinterpret what he's done.
Speaker 14: 39:14 And that's kind of where the scary part of it is. But it's a brilliant, brilliant film. Yazdi what are your thoughts on taxi driver? What can I say? It's the very definition of the great American 1970s foam. And as Beth mentioned, there's absolutely no judgment of the central character. We see him as he is and there is no concession ever to make him likable or necessarily understandable. Even. He is, he is as you see him. And what I really like is, you know, as classic score, this movie is full of so many iconic moments. There is, you know, uh, him in front of the mirror. I mean, that goes down in the Pantheon of great scenes in cinema. Yeah, you took me, uh, so it's a thriller. It's like the psychological pressure cooker. It's a character study. It's a morality tale. It's the whole package next week as the Marty party continues.
Speaker 14: 40:05 It continues with raging bull about boxer. Jake Lamata Yazdi. Do you think raging bull represents Scorsese at the top of his craft? You know, he has Scorsese as such exalted work in a scanning that it's hard to point out and say this is the very best. I mean he's usually known for all his gangster movies, but we forget that he also made, Alice doesn't live here anymore. He made the age of innocence. He did Cape fear, the aviator, he, the charter Island. He did you go, he did silence. So he's done all of these movies. So it's hard to say this is the very best of his, but I do think it is definitely one of his most inventive because I think for that time, you know, he made the movie a particular way with the kind of black and white photography and with the kind of sound design where you become less of a spectator and become a participant, especially in those boxing ring scenes.
Speaker 14: 40:57 And Beth raging bull lost out for best picture to ordinary people in 1981 but Beth, would you argue that raging ball is the more memorable of the two movies? Yeah, I don't think most people remember ordinary people that well. And if they do, I doubt it's a film that they revisit very often. Whereas raging bull is a film where if it ever comes on, you just become riveted to it. It is so good. And Robert DeNiro famously or infamously got in to boxing shape to play Jake Lamata and was in condition to actually go in a ring he wanted to and fight. And then he ballooned up to play him as an older man. And he really gets into that character. And there are so many just brilliant scenes between him and Joe Peshy as his brother and the just the cadence of the dialogue and the way they interact with each other.
Speaker 14: 41:52 It's, it's brilliant. And yeah, the sound design shooting inside the ring, this ever moving camera placing you really inside that ring and understanding what it's like to be hit. The way Jake Lamata was head is just brilliant. Well, the month of this Marty party sort of wraps up, closes out with a pair of Scorsese, gangster films, Goodfellas, and casino, a theme he returned to with the Irishman last year. So what is Scorsese's fascination with gangsters, Beth? Well, in a number of his interviews, he's always talked about the fact he grew up in New York. And what fascinated him is that the two people who always got respect on the street were priests and gangsters. And so he's explored, he, he thought he was going to be a Jesuit priest. He studied for that. He made, as Yazdi mentioned, the film silence, which was about priests, but he was really fascinated with these gangsters.
Speaker 14: 42:43 I think part of it was is they appeared glamorous and you know, like these big larger than life figures. But when he tackled them in his films, he was also interested in going behind that image and showing us just how violent and dangerous and horrific some of their life was. And you revisits that in the Irishman, but from kind of the eyes of an aging gangster. So I really like the way he's been able to kind of change the perspective he's had on that gangster world through each of his films. Okay. Wow. So the Marty party we've been talking about is every Wednesday at seven this month at red and Grossmont cinemas. I want to thank you both. Thank you, Beth Huck. Amando. Thank you. Yazzie Pathak Villa. Thank you for all of the information about Scorsese. That was fun. Thank you. Thank you.
San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu joins Midday Edition with last minute advice for voters who want to cast a ballot in today’s March primary election. Also, a local lab's potential coronavirus vaccine could prove useful beyond the current outbreak, California is asking the federal government to do more to combat cross-border sewage spills., one of the co-founders of PETA has written a new book that explores the latest animal discoveries. Plus, Reading's Grossmont Cinema will be screening films by Martin Scorsese every Wednesday night in March.