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Bipartisan effort to remove nuclear waste from San Onofre plant revived

 February 14, 2022 at 3:41 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

There's a bipartisan effort in Congress on removing nuclear waste from Sanofy

Speaker 2: (00:05)

We've gotta move forward and we've gotta find, uh, other options.

Speaker 1: (00:09)

I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman. This is K P vs. Midday edition, A frustrating delay for COVID vaccines for kids under five,

Speaker 3: (00:28)

There is a really in depth look at the data, even when that leads to decisions that are disappointing for a lot of folks,

Speaker 1: (00:36)

Our San Diego school's teaching teachers, how to talk about black history and a celebration of black comic book creators returns to Balboa park. That's a head on midday edition In a rare bipartisan move Capitol hill Democrat, Mike Levin and Republican Dar ISA have reintroduced legislation on removing spent nuclear waste from Santa Noray, Congressman Scott Peters, and three other California representatives have joined the effort. The bill would prioritize removal of nuclear waste from facilities near large populations or high seismic hazard. Both of which are true for the shuttered nuclear plant near Oceanside. Joining me is San Diego Congressman Mike Levin to talk about the next step in this effort, Congressman Levin, welcome to the program. Thanks

Speaker 2: (01:37)

For having me.

Speaker 1: (01:38)

Why are members of Congress with such different political ideologies coming together on this issue?

Speaker 2: (01:44)

Well, Maureen, think we all have the same concern about, uh, sites across the country, like San Nore that have spent nuclear fuel, but are unique in that they have, uh, things like earthquake fault or very high population density or our, uh, national security interests. Uh, we have one of the largest bases as you know, right across the street at camp Pendleton. So I think it truly is a bipartisan issue. It's proof that we can work together in a productive way for our community. Uh, and it's really important that as we consider a, uh, solution for the nation's spent nuclear fuel challenges, when we find a place to store and eventually dispose of the waste that we begin by removing waste from areas with the highest, the environmental risk, that's a very common sense approach. It's one that I introduced in the last Congress. I'm really proud this time to introduce it on a bipartisan basis because ultimately that's what it'll take to get across the finish line.

Speaker 1: (02:37)

Why is it important to make those priority changes on paper when there's still no place to actually store nuclear waste away from San Nore?

Speaker 2: (02:46)

Well, we have to do both things in parallel. Last Congress, I was able to get 20 million for the department of energy to begin a request for information, to reach out, to interested communities that might be, uh, someday the hosts of a, uh, interim storage site or even a permanent repository. We know that we for many years have had political and environmental challenges around Yucca mountain and Nevada and absent. That is a viable site for the nation, spent nuclear fuel. We've gotta move forward and we've gotta find, uh, other options at the same time. We have to ensure that when we do find a home for this waste, that we move the waste first from those sites with the highest environmental risk, the highest population density and where national security are legitimate concerns such as, uh, a site like ours, that's adjacent to a base. So we've gotta do both things in parallel Marine. And, and that's why I'm for the partnership that we've got across the aisle on this. And also the work that we're doing with the us department of energy. We just have to keep it, keep up this positive momentum. In the years ahead,

Speaker 1: (03:48)

Southern California Edison says the spent fuel canisters buried at Sanofy are safe. This proposed legislation seems to doubt that

Speaker 2: (03:57)

Well, I think they would acknowledge that we can't. He spent nuclear fuel there indefinitely. That was never the intent of any of the parties as they were developing songs, nor is it, uh, the desire of medicine or anyone involved today. I think that there are concerns that are near term medium term long term. My interest is in seeing that we have a home for that spent nuclear fuel both at Santano Fran elsewhere, and also acknowledging that the inability for us to move that waste today is the symptom of a bigger problem, a national problem that will require a new effort in Congress. That's why it was really important and formed by our local community, that we started a bipartisan spent nuclear fuel solutions caucus as well. We're now up to 18 members of that caucus and this legislation and, and or pieces of legislation that we'll be introducing in the coming months and years will be driven by a bipartisan coalition of members, a new generation of people that were not in Congress, uh, 30, 40 years ago when the nuclear waste policy act was amended in 1987, to send that waste to Yucca mountain, uh, the people that are involved today weren't even in Congress then.

Speaker 2: (04:59)

So we need a new generation of bipartisan lawmakers trying to find solutions to the nation, spent nuclear field challenges. And that's what we're going to do. And this legislation, I think, is indicative of that effort.

Speaker 1: (05:09)

Do you think finding a permanent storage site for spent nuclear fuel would re-energize the nuclear industry?

Speaker 2: (05:16)

Well, I have no idea whether or not it would incentivize the new nuclear, but what I know that we must find a solution for the existing fleet of nuclear plants, because we've got in 33, 34 states across the country about 80 sites, reactor sites that have spent nuclear fuel, some are operating reactors, some are closed and some are in the process of decommissioning. And that is what my focus is on, is solving that existing pro problem. And what I have said to anybody, including the nuclear industry itself is that we should not be building new FIS power plants until, or unless we have solved the nation spent nuclear fuel challenge. And that is what I'm committed to doing. And it's a particular interest obviously to our district and to our region,

Speaker 1: (05:58)

Representative Darrell, ISA used to represent much of your congressional district. Now he represents the east county. Do you know why he is still involved in an effort involving Sanofy on the coast?

Speaker 2: (06:11)

Well, I think that obviously he represented the coast for quite some time and dealt with the alls around San Nora is familiar with the issue. Uh, and I consider, uh, his co-sponsorship his, his co-leading this legislation with us, a validation of our approach over the last several years, which is when we find a home for the nation spent nuclear fuel. We must prioritize moving the waste from higher environmental risk sites, such as we have here on the co host. And so I'm encouraged by his participation along with, uh, representatives, Kim and steel, along with my friends, Scott Peters and Katie Porter, we'll continue to build support for this on a bipartisan basis. Do all we can to get it through committee, to get it onto the floor, or ultimately included in a must pass vehicle, uh, is so critically important that we do this in the cut months and years

Speaker 1: (06:59)

And Congressman, how far away do you think we are from an actual decision on where to store spent nuclear waste?

Speaker 2: (07:05)

Well, what's happening now is the department of energy is soliciting information from interested communities across the country. The deadline for those, uh, submissions is the beginning of March. Uh, once, uh, they have, uh, received that input across the country, we'll begin exploring the opportunities with those communities. We wanna make sure it's done on a consent basis. That was the whole issue with Yucca mountain. When, uh, the nuclear waste policy act was amended in 1987, it was done many believe in a way, uh, that did not fully have the consent of the state of Nevada. And we wanna make sure that we don't repeat the same mistake. Uh, if you look at, for example, what has been going on in Canada as Canada tries to deal with its spent nuclear or fuel, they've had a multi-year stakeholder process similar to what the department of energy has started a new here in the United States. We've gotta get consent. We've gotta build trust between governors, between mayors, between people at the law local level who actually want the economic opportunity who want the jobs, uh, that storing, uh, nuclear fuel could bring. And we wanna be transparent. We wanna be accountable and ultimately this will be a solution, uh, that hopefully will be consent based. It's gotta be, if we wanted to stick in the long run,

Speaker 1: (08:17)

I've been speaking with democratic Congress for and Mike Levin who represents the 40 congressional district in San Diego and orange counties, Congressman Levin. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (08:26)

Thanks as always Maureen, good to speak with you.

Speaker 1: (08:28)

We invited Congressman Dar ISA to join us, but we got no response

Speaker 4: (08:43)

As California prepares to loosen mask rules this week, families with children under five face new challenges, the food and drug administration announced a delay in the authorization for Pfizer bio Andex COVID 19 vaccine for children under five. The news obviously unsettling for many families with children under five, who for more than two years now have been waiting anxiously for a vaccine. Joining me is Dr. Rebecca fielding Miller assistant professor at UC San Diego with the division of infection, disease, and global public health and the center on gender equity and health. Welcome.

Speaker 3: (09:20)

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 4: (09:22)

So what exactly did the FDA announce Friday?

Speaker 3: (09:25)

So the FDA was set to look at some data from Pfizer about their vaccine for kids under five and what they announced on Friday that given some emerging data that happened during the Omicron wave, they wanted to wait a little bit longer and see a little bit more data from Pfizer about the potential effectiveness of this vaccine for little kids.

Speaker 4: (09:49)

And what are you hearing from families with young children about how they're being impacted by this delay?

Speaker 3: (09:54)

So I know that this is for a lot of people, uh, myself included. My daughter is four. This is really frustrating and hard to hear. We've been waiting a really long time to have some type of vaccine be authorized for, for our kids. And it's just due to the nature of the vaccine process. We wanna make sure that we put extra scrutiny on any drug or any vaccine that we are, um, giving to small children. So it's, it's the nature of the beast that they're at the end of the line, but it's also incredibly frustrating.

Speaker 4: (10:28)

So why did the FDA ultimately choose not to proceed with the first two shots while awaiting data from the third shot?

Speaker 3: (10:36)

I actually think even though it was incredibly frustrating to watch that happen, it was very much the correct decision. So what happened with this particular two dose regimen from Pfizer is it's a really hard choice to figure out how strong of a dose you want to give people, especially small children. And there's always a true rate off between side effects and effectiveness. So what Pfizer did is they made the decision to try a very low dose because that also has the fewest side effects for small children. The dose they trialed for under five was about one 10th of the adult dose. And the data seemed to be demonstrating that small kids don't really Mount a strong antibody response. So their bodies don't make a lot of antibodies in response to this very low dose. And so there wasn't data to suggest that this low two dose regimen was going to be an effective tool to prevent COVID cases in small children. And so there was a hope that a third dose, if, if you use this as a three dose regimen, it would be effective. And so maybe we could start the approval process now with two doses and a third would come along, but that's just not how science is supposed to work. We don't approve drugs based on hope. We approve drugs based on data. And so it was the right call, but it's still frustrating and sad.

Speaker 4: (12:02)

Hmm. You know, there are parents who are already hesitant to get their kids vaccinated. How do you think the back and forth on this impacts efforts to build trust in this vaccine for children and under five?

Speaker 3: (12:13)

So I would hope that this decision would really improve trust to a certain degree. I know there is concern about corners being cut about rushing this vaccine out. And this is exactly the decision that you want. If you want to make sure that the FDA is taking every data point and safety concern extremely seriously, you want a slow, rigorous look at these data. So I would hope that parents who are a little bit nervous about getting these vaccines for their kids can feel a little bit of comfort that this is not a quick rubber stamp process. Um, there is a really in depth look at the data, even when that leads to decisions that are disappointing for a lot of folks,

Speaker 4: (12:57)

How much of this delay is caused by the Omicron variants dominance and how has it impacted the vaccines?

Speaker 3: (13:05)

We know that Omicron can a two dose regimen, a little bit better than three doses in adults. And that's of having a case at all. We still know that even just having two doses is a great way to keep you outta the hospital and off of ventilator. So that's completely worthwhile no matter what, but it does seem clear that because of Omicron specific mutations, it's a little bit better at escaping antibodies that come about after two doses, what is likely happened is that some of the data Pfizer was seeing that came about during the Omicron wave was showing enough infections that they might not have even been hitting the 50% threshold for avoiding symptomatic cases that FDA, um, has asked for when approving drugs that's conjecture. But I think it's pretty a pretty common conjecture in the field. It

Speaker 4: (13:52)

Has the Omicron variant proved, um, more challenging to combat in this age group specifically.

Speaker 3: (13:59)

Yeah. You know, the thing about this age group is things, um, many of them still nap, for example, lucky them, and you don't wear a mask when you're napping. Um, you don't wear a mask when you're eating a snack and little kids like to eat snacks. And so even for kids who are at even very careful preschools, a lot of the day is spent, um, taking a mask on, um, putting a mask off and kids under two can't wear a mask at all. And so it is difficult and scary when you know that your kid is in a space with other unmasked kids and there's no vaccine available for them. And

Speaker 4: (14:36)

It seems that government regulations, when it comes to COVID are, are quickly being loosened. While young children remain unable to be vaccinated for this virus. How should families with children under five navigate this?

Speaker 3: (14:49)

I think I'd like to answer that in the opposite way. I, I think that as somebody with a small kid, the, the request should really be how can the people around us who care about small children help us navigate this? And it takes a certain amount of collective care of caring that there are small children who aren't vaccinated kids or two who can't mask. And that it's really, really scary for those of us with small kids right now. And so I, I think I would ask everybody else to exhibit a certain amount of care and be aware that if you're around a small kid, maybe just put a mask on pretty please people who are advocating, you know, it's time to get back to normal. That's not an option for some of us right now. And so it feels a little, um, sad and like being left behind for many people. So it would be nice if other folks could, could remember us too, instead of, um, parents of small children just kind of struggling in the background.

Speaker 4: (15:47)

I have been speaking with Dr. Rebecca fielding Miller and epidemiologist professor at UC San Diego. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 3: (15:55)

Thank you.

Speaker 4: (16:03)

You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hedman with Maureen Kavanaugh. What should California do with its 20 billion budget surplus last year, some of the surplus was returned in the form of a rebate check for some Californians, but the second year of an enormous budget surplus makes us wonder, should California cut taxes? That's the question posed in the union tribunes regular economy column written by my guest reporter Philip Moar Phillip, welcome

Speaker 5: (16:33)

A you so much for having me.

Speaker 4: (16:35)

So first I should ask, why are taxes so high here in California? Uh, what services do we have here in California that other states with lower taxes don't have?

Speaker 5: (16:44)

So California has a lot of priorities that are different than other states. One of them is having a lot of access to healthcare for, or lower income people. So our Medicare style program here is called Medicare. So that make takes up a huge part of our budget. The other thing is we have a very large university system. So those two things put together are a lot of our costs, but one of the biggest things is a lot of taxes that are aimed at the rich in the state, them paying a lot more and trying to keep costs low for it doesn't seem like it, but for lower income Californians. So those two programs put together the health and university system are our biggest spenders. And also with all the talk about infrastructure, it's kind of interesting, but California spends the most on infrastructure of any state in the union, according to a lot of, uh, projections. So that's sort of an interesting thing that's been happening.

Speaker 4: (17:43)

Interesting. All right. Uh, so, so we're heading into a second year of projected budget surplus. How much of a surplus are we looking at now?

Speaker 5: (17:52)

So there's about one of the projections right now is about 20.6 billion up for grabs that have to be returned to taxpayers in some way. That's only a projection right now. And I know last year, some of the earlier projections were lower and it ended up being higher. So we'll have, have to wait and see just how much has to go back to tax payers, but, uh, chances are, there's gonna be a pretty good surplus

Speaker 4: (18:15)

Just about everyone who you interviewed for this piece answered. Yes, some of that surplus should absolutely be going, uh, back to residents, but their answers for what should be done, varied. Uh, what are they proposing in the short term and long term?

Speaker 5: (18:29)

So one of the long term things they keep mentioning is lowering taxes in general. So we have a very high sales tax, income tax, all these different ways that Californians are taxed. And a lot of them would like to see sort of, uh, you know, long term fits, maybe lowering taxes in some way here in California, where famous here in the state for having some of the highest taxes as one of the people that answered in my column, you know, Phil Blair from manpower, which is a staffing agency. He, he brought up this funny thing I've never heard before from businesses. He says businesses that want to open an somewhere new, they have a, a B, C expansion plan, which is anywhere but California because of the high taxes. So some of the long term is, is that, mm,

Speaker 4: (19:17)

And by law, does California have to give that surplus back to taxpayers?

Speaker 5: (19:21)

Yes, they do. But governor Newsom gave, gave a speech the other day, or about a couple weeks ago, governor Newsom spoke to the press and he mentioned that there's different ways that that money can be returned to taxpayers. So I'm not quite sure yet on what his thinking is or what the state plan is for how that money goes back to taxpayers. Is it a reduction in, you know, sending tax rebates to everybody, or is it putting more money towards programs like education or some other way? I'm really not sure at this point what he's gonna do.

Speaker 4: (19:53)

Hmm. And, and you heard from several people who said California's tax rate, hurts businesses, uh, even causing businesses to leave the state is the thinking that cutting taxes would bring more business here.

Speaker 5: (20:04)

Yeah. I think a lot of the answers sort of talked about businesses that had left California. I don't think we're gonna get a whole lot of people just deciding to relocate to California if they're looking at their balance sheet and all that kind of stuff. So yeah. One of the things is, you know, there's been some high profile companies like Tesla that have moved a lot of their operations to Texas and all that kind of stuff like that, that, that might actually help business in the state. Although, like I mentioned a little bit earlier, a lot of our money here in California comes from when there's a really good year in the stock market. So we, we tax rich people, anybody making more than $500,000, those folks make up half of our, of our budget here. So a lot of times it has to do with capital gain and how well businesses are doing and all those kind of things like that. That's where it's kind of tough. You know, this idea that we would lower taxes on businesses where we get so much of our state funding from it, that's where some of the answers were kind of like, well, maybe we should do this right away.

Speaker 4: (21:05)

Hmm. Just two of the 13 people you spoke to cautioned against tax cuts and rebates as a response to the surplus, what did they have to say?

Speaker 5: (21:15)

So, yeah, a lot of our money here comes from when the wall, when wall, Street's having a really great year, California's doing really well. Cause we tax capital gained so much as income and all that kind of stuff. So the last few years when the stock market's been on fire, it's fantastic. But so a and Jen and economist at the university of San Diego says, you know, Hey, maybe we shouldn't lower taxes right now, because next time we have some big budget cut or crisis or something bad's going on in wall street, we're ready to deal with it because in the past, California has had to cut programs and do all these sort of things in reverse. And you know, that's not a situation the state wants to be in and can get really messy.

Speaker 4: (21:58)

Hmm. So what are some ways they feel the surplus should be spent?

Speaker 5: (22:03)

So a lot of the people answering kept bringing up key infrastructure issues related to water, water storage, desalination, plants, all those sort of things related to water, cuz California is so pro to droughts. So that was the most common answer I got is where that money could be spent if it wasn't sort of sent in tax rebates.

Speaker 4: (22:23)

Wow. I've been speaking with Philip, Moar a reporter with the San Diego union Tribune. Philip, thank you so much.

Speaker 5: (22:30)

Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: (22:40)

A lesson on the power of poetry backfired on a fourth grade high tech high teacher last week, teacher Amy Blasey, who appears to be white, said she wanted to teach her students how words can provoke emotion. But after reading a piece from a Harlem Renaissance poet that included the N word, the teacher found out just how powerful words can be. The high tech high administration released a statement that the poetry reading was upsetting to some students and they are committed to making school a safe for all students. The teacher now has been placed on administrative leave, pending and investigation. How should teachers approach the introduction of inflammatory and racist words and subjects in a way that educates and doesn't injure their students joining me as Francine Maxwell, chairperson of the San Diego based black men and women United and Francine. Welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me in a classroom setting. A white teacher reads a poem to her students by a black poet who uses the N word, take us through what's troubling and problematic about that situation.

Speaker 6: (23:48)

The problem is that she should have known better to, to use the word. She actually could have picked another poem if she wanted to given that we are in black history month, but throughout the year, there should not be those types of poems read because it just re inflicts trauma than act an emotional response. And in this season in the climate that we're in, we need to remember how things can be triggered. And so I have been asking for the history of this teacher and, um, some parents and grandparents have reached out and there have been some other troubling aspects of her lessons prior to they that were ignored and swept under their carpet. So we're really excited that they're taking the time to do an investigation and maybe enlighten and re-look at what it means to be a teacher in this time, in this season, as it pertains to cultural sensitivity, training, implicit bias training and things like that.

Speaker 1: (24:42)

What the reaction to the poetry reading be D friend, if read by a teacher who was black,

Speaker 6: (24:48)

No, cuz a black teacher would've known better. Not only because it's black history month, but you don't use that word. They use that word in that season to invoke what they needed to, but in the season that we're in and what we've been in for quite a while, we don't need to use those words. She could have said something completely different. She could have skipped the line and still got the children to understand the poem. But like I said, there could have been another poem chosen.

Speaker 1: (25:13)

What do some white people not understand about the power of that word and why they should not say it?

Speaker 6: (25:20)

A lot of Caucasian people have a problem with going and asking for help asking for advice. Even if someone would just take the time and ask somebody at a grocery store, have a conversation with a mailman or here's a thought call one of your African or African American colleagues and show them your lesson plan and then discuss it prior to introducing it to a diverse population that are very sensitive today is the closing our arguments for the George Floyd case for the other three officers. Um, we know who was found guilty. And today they're doing the finishing comments on the court case for the other three today. And so the atmosphere is maybe just a little bit different than it was for the first case, but it's still here. And so we need to be extra sensitive. We still need to walk in learning each other. And so I think people need to humble themselves and ask more questions.

Speaker 1: (26:14)

Are there any circumstances in which it's appropriate for a person who is not black to use the N-word

Speaker 6: (26:20)

Not at all, but also it's not appropriate for African or African Americans to use it as well. There are some instances where family members behind closed doors, they make a choice to use that word and that's their choice. But in a public setting, the words should never be used.

Speaker 1: (26:36)

What kind of emotional damage can be done by using highly charged racist language, even in a classroom setting,

Speaker 6: (26:43)

You make someone feel less than, and we know that they're not, we know that men and women are all created equal. They haven't been given their due justice. And everybody knows that we have infighting. We have a lot of things we have to go back to civility and that has to be taught. And so we need to make sure that we are setting the tone correctly. And like I said, for me, black men and women United, we stand for learning and growing and we stand for restorative. So there should definitely be a circle. A restorative circle had so that people can voice of all cultures. Although that word was used, it also hurt other people of other cultures in that setting

Speaker 1: (27:23)

In ethnic studies courses or in the proper teaching of American history, students are gonna be getting a lot of information about how different races and cultures were defamed and abused. How can that be taught without doing further damage?

Speaker 6: (27:38)

It's how you set the tone. This is what happened in this era. And they're truthful re remember the very first teachers are parents and grandparents. And so a lot of things are going to be reintroduced that haven't been introduced by a home. And so it's also nice to send a syllabi to the home, to let parents and grandparents know because we have a lot of grandparents raising children. And so we wanna make sure that we're partners and the education of the children that we are letting teachers borrow. You're borrowing our children for six and a half hours. We are the first teachers, parents, grandparents, and alike. And so if you send home a syllabus SIL, then we can partner together and I can offer you some extracurricular tools that may be used in the classroom that we're using at home to educate.

Speaker 1: (28:23)

And when you talk about out teachers in the classroom, is there enough training being given to teachers who are having to take on sensitive subjects, which may injure their students?

Speaker 6: (28:34)

Absolutely not. We're looking forward to seeing what type of training was given and then also offering some suggestions on things that can be given. We know a lot of school districts are doing things to definitely grow their staff and staff development and things like that. We're looking to the county superintendent of the county board of education to see what he's offering, but we know that everything needs to be expanded and people need more time. It can't just be a webinar. It can't just something online. They really need a concerted focus group to come in and make them small and intimate so that people can understand. We can get past anything. Once we say that we realize someone was harmed and we apologize and we begin to move forward together.

Speaker 1: (29:22)

But you know, there are gonna be some schools and teachers who just throw up their and decide just not to broach these subjects, not to teach county Culin poems and literary pieces like that, then that work and the power of it is lost. How do we stop that from happening?

Speaker 6: (29:37)

We make sure that we give them an alternative. I meet with a lot of parents and their child is given an assignment to write about Martin Luther king, Rosa parks. Not that those are not important people in history that they should write about, but when you ask them, have they heard about Fannie Lou Hamer? And that family gets to go and research Fannie Lou Hamer, and they get reinvigorated and excited about black history. It's an opportunity. So as I shared, we can always find something that's comparable to any piece that a teacher wants to teach and a student wants to learn.

Speaker 1: (30:09)

How would you like to see this incident at high tech high resolved?

Speaker 6: (30:14)

I believe that when they look at their investigation, that they will see that they had an opportunity in the past to interject some extra training and also some extra curriculum. So I'm looking forward to them reaching out to a third party, rather it's black men and women United or another organization to help them re-look at what their structure is for training. And also how the curriculum is written that this particular teacher or other teachers want to follow. I look at this as an opportunity that we can begin to build something better and just put a pause in what has happened. The parents, students, grandparents, they voice their opinion and they were listened to that's a win. Anytime someone can speak their voice and their voice is heard by this person going on, leave for a moment so that they can do self-reflection and learning, and also the administration doing some self-reflection and learning as well. So we're looking forward to the next chapter for this teacher, for this school district and all the parents and students that reached out to black men and women United.

Speaker 1: (31:15)

I've been speaking with Francine Maxwell, chairperson of the San Diego base, black men and women United Francine. Thank you so much.

Speaker 6: (31:23)

My pleasure have a great week

Speaker 4: (31:36)

Mask mandates are soon disappearing for most people in California, but they'll remain in place at congregate settings like immigration detention centers where COVID is spreading, but detained people say it's been tough to get a booster shot, to protect themselves. K QEDs far Rita Ja Villa Romero reports

Speaker 7: (31:56)

Last month. The number of people detained by immigration and customs enforcement who got COVID 19 skyrocketed from about 300 to more than 3000 as Amron spread across the country. The CDC has recommended booster shots for all adults since last fall. And it prefers Moderna and Pfizer shots, which are more effective, but people locked up at ice facilities in California report. There's long delays to get a booster or that they can't get. The more effective ones says Edwin Carmona Cruz with the California collaborative for immigrant justice.

Speaker 8: (32:32)

There are, uh, massive efforts across the state and across the nation to be vaccinated, to be boosted, right? And so when you look at this population, that's in immigration detention, they're forgotten

Speaker 7: (32:45)

Advocates worry most about the thousands of detainees nationwide with medical conditions and a higher risk of getting really sick from COVID People like Enrique, Christo and Menezes has asthma.

Speaker 9: (32:59)

My lungs hurt. I think coughing, uh, since, uh, like the 21st

Speaker 7: (33:05)

He's been coughing since the 21st of January, that was just days after he says officials placed a new detain knee with fever and other COVID symptoms in his dorm violating ISIS pandemic protocols. He, he says within a week, he and 17 others tested positive. He blames the facility.

Speaker 9: (33:24)

I was frustrated because it was a lot of depend including myself that I was already, uh, explain some more simple. And I feel like their negligence with our health and my life and risk

Speaker 7: (33:37)

CBA wasn't boosted because is the facility only offers the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. He says, and he had a bad reaction. The first time he took it as spokesman for the geo group, the company that operates golden state annex declined to comment on Crito story. He said, boosters are available, but wouldn't say which kind as spokesman, another prison company management and training corporation that also runs an ice detention center in California, says they get boosters from ice, which has only had J and J

Speaker 9: (34:11)

Medical experts have all said that to only offer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to somebody as a booster shot, fall below. Uh, the standard of care that is expected for anybody in the country.

Speaker 7: (34:23)

UN Cho is an attorney with the a C L U. She filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of medically vulnerable, IC who couldn't get boosters at all, including at the California facility where Christo is held.

Speaker 9: (34:36)

It is really inconceivable at this point that I has not gotten his act together to provide, uh, COVID 19 boosters to people in detention. Uh, this really just goes beyond the pale.

Speaker 7: (34:47)

I says it is committed to CDC guidelines and working to get Pfizer and Moderna booster shots, but a spokeswoman declined to answer questions about how many detainees have gotten boosters citing. The lawsuit mean well, Carmona, Cruz and other advocates met with officials at the California department of public health to ask them to order detention centers in the state to offer the more effective boosters

Speaker 8: (35:13)

In requesting, um, the state to intervene and to protect the health and safety of immigrants in the state. When there's federal inaction,

Speaker 7: (35:21)

The California, the of public health says they're looking into it, but have no comment at this time on Friday, an immigration judge, granted Enrika Christo Menezes, the right to stay in the us. Still ice can hold them for up to 90 more days, but advocates want him released sooner so he can fully recover from the effects of COVID.

Speaker 1: (35:53)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade high black comics day returns this weekend to the world beat cultural center. After a two year pandemic hiatus, the two day event celebrates black comic book creators, K PBS arts reporter, Beth Amando speaks with the event, founder, Keith, and Jones about what to expect.

Speaker 10: (36:16)

Keith, how does it feel to be getting back to an in-person event for black comics day?

Speaker 11: (36:21)

It feels great. I'm very excited to see everyone. I'm a little apprehensive because what has it been two years now since we've done this well, because of COVID, uh, we had to put it on pause, but we're back and, uh, ready to go.

Speaker 10: (36:34)

And you are returning to the world beat center. So what feel right about having this event here?

Speaker 11: (36:40)

Um, I think the atmosphere is right for the show. Um, since it's a show focused on black creators, men and women, and if you've ever been here to world beat center, it's like it's namesake. It represents all the different cultures with the different countries, flags hanging from the ceiling, but very Afrocentric, obviously. So like I said, it, it, it adds to the atmosphere of what we're trying to do as far as representing black creators. So in that respect, uh, I think it's perfect.

Speaker 10: (37:05)

And for people who haven't come to black comics day in the past, what can they expect from this event?

Speaker 11: (37:09)

Think of it as a San Diego, as a San Diego ComicCon, but a more focused event where San Diego ComicCon, you have a SMO boards of all kinds of artists from all over the world. This being black history month, black comics day is more of a focus on specifically black creators where you can meet greed, interact with them, see the stuff they've been producing over the years. And we have people from all over the industry from Marvel comics, DC comics, image comics, but primarily it's a gamut of black owned publishers. And I think that's gonna be really exciting for people who've, um, not seen that in the mainstream or in general. There's, I mean, there's a SM board of, of everything you can think of where, whether it's science fiction, action, adventure, biographies, I mean, everything you would see in that you would see in your, your local comic bookshop it's, it's also here.

Speaker 11: (38:06)

It just so happens to be created by black creators. You know, that's really the only difference and it's from their point of view, you know, so, uh, which is what I think where the uniqueness of it comes to me, the best artists always put a bit of themselves in their work, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, you put a piece of yourself in it. That's where the original element comes from. And that's what makes, um, to me good art. Like I said, it's just a, it's a way to see these people in life, meet them, greet them. And I think it for, um, a young artist of color, I think it inspires them that they can do, they can pursue that dream of, of, of being a black creator, uh, whether it's comics, film, or even a, a, a chef, you know, it's just, you get to be around professionals is what I'm saying. And you get to, you get to, um, glean from them, the things they've gone through, the achievements that they've made and the hurdles they've overcome seeing this reality is basically what I'm saying.

Speaker 10: (39:09)

And you also have panels. So what kind of panels will there be?

Speaker 11: (39:12)

Uh, we have two panels. The first panel, they, it is a, it's a panel focused on doing black business today in modern time. So we're gonna have, uh, people like John Jennings, who is a professor and author himself. We're gonna have Luana Richmond, a native from San Diego. Who's a community leader here. She also is an author and we're gonna pick her brain on, on black business going to have Jason Reeves who's eyes up in LA. He's actually started a distribution company, a black owned distribution company to help not only black creators, but anyone really, but specifically black creators get their books out into stores across the country. So he's taken upon himself to, uh, spearhead that venture and, uh, David G. Brown. And he's, uh, he's a cartoonist up in LA and he's, uh, an award-winning artist. Uh, and so the second panel is going to be a focus on black women in comics. We're gonna have Lamar Richmond as the moderator. Then we're going to have some ladies, um, the stage talking about their trials and tribulations and their accomplishments in the field of publishing and just, just business in general, from their perspective and comics and their creative endeavors.

Speaker 10: (40:22)

And you yourself are a black comics creator. And what drove you to create this event because creating your own comics is a lot of work on its own and putting on an event like this is an additional burden of a, you know, responsibility. So what made you want to do this?

Speaker 11: (40:41)

My mother approached me about doing something for black history month for the Malcolm X library back in 2018. And at first I wasn't going to do it because like you said, I, I was super busy. I was still super busy, just publishing my own books and being, uh, freelance comic book artist. But I thought about it for a moment and came to the conclusion that this might be something that can be very helpful to the community and to artists like myself who are trying to be seen among the thousands of other creators in the, in the world of comic books. Like I said, I thought about it. And I thought about, I thought about all the folks I had already developed relationships with that were like-minded. And I said, Hey, why don't I, uh, reach out to these folks and see if we can put something together. And in 2018, the first show premiered the day after the black Panther movie premiered, uh, from Marvel. And it was a huge success, not as big as San Diego comic con, but, uh, for a first time show, it was very successful. And, uh, here we are going into our fourth year and it's only gotten bigger since.

Speaker 10: (41:47)

And what kind of a response have you gotten from people about the event itself? I mean, and have you seen artists come together and form collaborations, or have you seen people benefit from some of the things that have gone on, first

Speaker 11: (41:59)

Of all, the, the response? I don't think I've heard a negative response yet. It's been super positive. Even. I was thrown back during the show because people really, some people I've met during the show have gotten emotional even to is, they just couldn't believe what they were seeing generally from older fans. It was just, um, I don't wanna say religious that's probably too strong, maybe cathartic. I don't know. But, uh, they were just, they were just very happy and excited to see that they were folks like us out there doing this, doing this type of work. And I think it was inspiring for them to see black artists in comics, cuz you don't really see, you know, you see all these big comic book movies, but you don't really see the folks who created these characters. You don't see what's going on behind the scenes and this show kind of, um, uncovers that a little bit. And the fact that it's, um, a black focus event, it makes it even more special for people who are able to see themselves, not only in the work, but in the, in the creative force behind it. So it's, I think it's a very, uh, inspiring event from, from what I've heard and from what I've seen. So,

Speaker 10: (43:09)

And what have you found most rewarding about putting this event on

Speaker 11: (43:12)

Just like, just like I said before, just seeing the response of, of the folks who come into the building and see us all here and doing our thing. It's just, um, when they're happy, I'm happy because I feel like all the work, all those long hours are put into it worth, worth, worth worthwhile. Even if you don't buy anything, just to know that folks are excited and happy with what they're seeing, um, inspires me to continue on because it's very hard to do. It's a lot of hours, it's a lot of literal back breaking work. That's all I can really say is they, their, their excitement inspires me. Yeah. And that's, that's what I get out of. It, it, it gives me the energy to keep going for in and making this show even larger.

Speaker 10: (43:58)

All right. Well thank you.

Speaker 11: (43:59)

Oh, thank you.

Speaker 1: (44:01)

That was Beth. Amando speaking with Keith and Jones. Black comics day takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the world. Be cultural center in Balboa park and is free for all ages.

In a rare bipartisan move on Capitol Hill, Democrat Mike Levin and Republican Darrell Issa have re-introduced legislation on removing spent nuclear waste from San Onofre. Next, families with children under 5 will have to wait a while longer for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to be available for small children. An explanation of the decision. Then, what should California do with its estimated $20 Billion budget surplus? Last year some of that surplus was returned in the form of stimulus checks for some Californians. And, a fourth grade High Tech elementary teacher was placed on administrative leave last week after reading a piece from a Harlem Renaissance poet that included an offensive word as part of a lesson. Later, California’s mask mandates will be lifted again this week in many places, but they’ll remain in congregate settings like immigrant detention centers where COVID-19 is still spreading. Finally, Black Comix Day returns this weekend at the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park after a pandemic hiatus.