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COVID-19 update with Dr. Eric Topol

 June 22, 2022 at 1:43 PM PDT

S1: What you need to know about COVID 19 vaccines and variants.
S2: It's very likely we'll see another significant variant and that vaccine protection for young children would be really helpful.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. Analysis of what's ahead for November's election.
S2: If we have a low turnout November election , just like we had a fairly low turnout primary in June , we're going to have electorate skewed towards older voters , towards more affluent voters.
S1: And here , how the Port of San Diego is working to reduce air pollution. Plus , we'll tell you about a new center for Chicano art and culture. That's ahead on Midday Edition. After a year and a half of waiting , San Diego parents are now able to seek out COVID vaccinations for their children , aged six months to five years. The long awaited eligibility for younger children comes after the CDC issued approval for the age group over the weekend. At the same time , the county this week reported a seven day low in cases as hospitalizations continue to drop. Yet despite the promising signs , health officials are wary of a jump in cases over the summer as eager Americans seek to travel and gather in droves. Joining me once again with a COVID update is Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. And Dr. Topol , welcome back to the program.
S2: Thanks , Gene. Always good to be with you.
S1: So this is the last major age group to be granted approval for the vaccine.
S2: It's not getting enough of the sense of its importance because the children age six months to five years have had a lot of trouble during the American way. There was a big jump in hospitalizations. And the problem is that American that was the beginning of this year. The big surge or worse we've had that be a one variant is so different than the variants that we're seeing now on the rise , so-called be a four and five. So that's why it's important to get the kids vaccinated , because the infections that many of them had are not adequately protected , nor are the problems that lie ahead. It's very likely we'll see another significant variant in the months ahead , as you alluded to in the summer , late summer or fall or even later than that. And that vaccine protection now that it's available for young children would be really helpful.
S2: Moderna , which is a two dose vaccine , or Pfizer , which is three doses. I think the two dose is preferable. I mean , who wants to put a young child through an extra shot ? But nonetheless , they protect about 50% or more from infection. But more importantly is the protection from hospitalizations , serious outcomes. And so the same type of side effects that we see in adults with a sore arm and some fatigue , these are the common side effects that lasts a day or two , but there aren't any cases , serious side effects that have been seen in the testing and even all the way up through age 11 , the chance of anything serious , like myocarditis. It just hasn't been seen. And that's why I think it's really a safe alternative and why parents should be very supportive of it.
S1: And as you mentioned , Omicron is still the dominant COVID strain.
S2: We heard just today Moderna has tested there be a one American booster against the be four and five and has seen some reasonable antibody production. So that's a bit encouraging. We're expecting to see a booster going through both Moderna and Pfizer , the FDA , by September. And so it's very likely that sometime in the fall we'll have access to those boosters. But again , due to emphasize , we still don't know whether the booster , which has been a one alma crime , is going to hold up. Well , against the variants that we'll be seeing already now , 35% of the country are the cases are bay four and five , and it's quite a bit different. So it remains to be seen how effective that booster is going to be.
S2: Just yesterday , it looks like the prescriptions have soared with Paxil , which goes along with the fact that we are having a lot of cases under the radar that are not through the traditional PCR central testing and report it. And so part of it is getting the test in the real world and it's holding up very well. In fact , all the people that took Paxil it in the report yesterday , less than 1% wound up in the hospital. And that's what you'd expect of it. It's been shown to give a very strong protection against hospitalizations and deaths. And so right now for people that have infections , this is our backup plan. And fortunately , it's pretty widely available certainly in San Diego County. So whereas a couple of months ago , it was hard to come by. Right now most of our pharmacies are stocked and that hasn't been a problem overall for access.
S1: Breakthrough COVID reinfection has been a major concern recently.
S2: And what they showed with over 30,000 of these reinfections that there was a worse outcome than in people who had only one infection , so that the multiple hits and then three infections worse than two , like a dose response type of pattern. The point is that up until now , we had really thought that reinfections. Well , so what ? You have immunity. You shouldn't have much of a problem. But what we're seeing are lingering effects that suggest from this one large report that this is a problem and we need to avoid reinfections. The problem is that the variants were confronting. Now these other types of variant are the most immune , invasive and transmissible from the in the whole pandemic. And so the chance of reinfection is much higher. And we're learning that at the same time that there's a liability of having these reinfections and we're not doing the things we know that could help prevent reinfection.
S2: We know there's a lot of virus out there from the wastewater pattern and it's also becoming more bay four and five , which are worrisome variants because of their hyper contagiousness and their immune escape. But we aren't seeing a rise in hospitalizations , which is good. We have seen that in Portugal and now in the U.K. So we're probably going to be confronting that in the weeks ahead because Bay four and five aren't dominant yet. They're just getting going. And when they get over 50% and 70 , 80% here in San Diego , we'll probably see a bump in hospitalizations. Hopefully it won't be severe , but we have to expect there's going to be a problem ahead because this variant is not something that we would welcome at all.
S2: There was about a 50% reduction or more of infection , at least in the early going of the first few months. And importantly , because they are cellular immunity , children's T-cell immunity , which is often not strong , particularly against al-Muqrin , that is , the vaccine helps to fight all variants to a significant extent. And that's why it's really important whether children have had ourcrowd or not getting vaccinated will give an important layer of protection for them.
S1: I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. Dr. Topol , as always , thank you again for speaking with us today.
S2: Thank you.
S3: Primary elections typically result in a low turnout of voters. And this June's California primary was no exception. But what about November ? Our gubernatorial race may not generate much excitement , but nationwide majorities in both the House and Senate could hang in the balance. A new UC San Diego survey tries to take the temperature of voters in California determining who intends to vote in November and what hot button issues will bring people to the polls. Joining me is that KAZU , professor and co-director at the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at UC San Diego. And Thad , welcome to the program.
S2: Thanks so much for having me , Maureen.
S3: Now , this survey is called Looking Ahead to November.
S2: There are some really close races for second place right now. And remember , with the top two primary , the top two candidates , regardless of their party , get through. And one thing we saw in this poll is that who gets to that second place could really matter in races like the insurance commissioner , where if the Republican who's in second right now makes it through , it looks like he'll have a huge electoral hurdle to clear to challenge the Democratic incumbent , Ricardo Lara , in the fall. But if a Democratic challenger , Assembly member named Mark Levine gets through that , he could pose a really close , tight threat to that incumbent. So the final results from June could really set the stage for November.
S3: Now , you surveyed Californians about how likely they are to vote in November.
S2: So if you asked Republicans , will they definitely vote , 78% said they will definitely vote Democrats , if you ask them , 73%. All right. So there's a five point enthusiasm gap between the two parties that could spell trouble for Democrats if they don't get their base mobilized looking ahead toward November. But it's really independents who are on the fence. Only 46% of independents , when we asked them at the beginning of the survey whether they're going to vote , said that they would definitely vote in November.
S2: Across age and across income. So if you look at the income groups that the least affluent Californians , those making less than 25,000 , just over half say they're likely to vote. And then it gets bigger and bigger with every group , one third of Californians making 150,000 or more. 93% say they'll definitely vote. So unless we can really turn that around , this , you know , community groups , campaigns , the registrar of voters can really do that outreach , that bill that all Californians know about this election and its stakes. We're going to see a real skew in terms of the affluent. Similarly with age. Not that many young voters are tuned into this election and it stakes right now. But as you get up to the older categories , especially senior citizens and so again , if we have a low turnout November election , just like we had a fairly low turnout primary in June , we're going to have an electorate skewed towards older voters , towards more affluent voters , and it'll be a little bit less reflective of the racial and ethnic diversity of California.
S3: You conducted two survey experiments to determine which issues have the potential to motivate people to vote.
S2: And then we conducted an experiment in which we randomly divided our sample in half. So we get demographically similar , politically similar groups of voters. And half of them read a Newsweek article about the possibility of a national ban on abortion , which Mitch McConnell was was discussing for the Senate. And then the other half would read a Newsweek article written at the same time about potential for war with Russia on the conflict in Ukraine. So the question was , after they heard those those two messages , did did either or both of these messages really motivate voters to turn out ? And what we found is the group that really changed the most , moving from about 46% overall of independents , said that they would definitely vote. When we asked them at the beginning of the survey , after reading these articles , either article , independents rose to 70% after reading of the abortion rights , 60% after reading about war. There are a lot of people who are sitting on the fence about turning out in November , especially those who aren't tied to a major party who want to vote once they read about the stakes of this election.
S3: This is somewhat connected to what you just told us. A California constitutional amendment to protect the right to abortion has been approved by the state Senate. It moves to the Assembly.
S2: So I think. Democrats are rightly recognizing that it matters not just what everything that they're doing in in Sacramento to protect reproductive rights for Californians and people traveling from other states. But they also want this to be the signature issue that voters think about when they vote in November. Right. Rather than inflation rather than gas prices , they want to remind people of these of these potentially bigger stakes of the election. And if the first proposition they see on their ballot is about protecting access to abortions , that will cue them to think about that issue , to be more likely to turn out Democrats hope , and to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot. That's a political strategy.
S3: What kind of ballot will we be facing this November ? Is it going to be one of these enormous ones with the lots of state propositions ? Absolutely.
S2: This is California. We are going to see some big , big , expensive fights that are already leading to advertisements about things like gaming and the expansion of online gaming. Is that going to hurt tribal gaming ? We're going to see things in health care. We're going to see a fight over minimum wage. They're going to be , again , hundreds of millions of dollars of ads aired that will remind people of the ballot propositions. And California has battleground congressional districts up and down the state. And here in San Diego , in North County , in the 49th Congressional District , that could determine who controls Congress for the next two years.
S3: Turnout in this primary was particularly low , even nearing the record low set in 2014.
S2: Right. And in California right now , we're this one party state , right. Where Republicans have not won a single statewide office since 2010. And so when when you're thinking about the election here , it doesn't seem to click for many Californians until it's part of the November story , part of the national story of controlled Congress. I think turnout has a potential to be much higher and in particularly more representative of that broader electorate , with more of Californians who are struggling economically , more younger Californians , more the demographic groups that represent the future , they can be brought into the electorate if people focus on the issues that matters to them. That is the message of this Yankelovich Center survey.
S3: I've been speaking with UC San Diego political science professor Fankhauser that. Thank you so much.
S2: Thanks for having me , Maureen.
S3: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Hyneman. We're learning more about pollution sources from the Port of San Diego that are affecting people's health. KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman says the new information has left port commissioners split on how to prioritize emission reducing projects.
S2: The port of San Diego's cargo terminals near National City and Barrio Logan are constantly moving cars , lumber , cement and even fresh food. So it's no surprise that a health risk assessment puts those two communities ahead of Coronado and downtown for cancer causing diesel emissions. Here's Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos. I think it's the trickiest thing that we've dealt with since I've been on the commission with the most serious implications. When you talk about public health , obviously the source of the port's pollution , rail operations , ocean vessels , cargo handling equipment and of course , semi-trucks. The noisy big rigs have been the target of complaints for years , but the assessment revealed port trucks actually make up just 8% of the risk in National City and 4% in Barrio Logan. What this risk assessment also is telling us is that the emphasis on the trucking is much smaller than perhaps this commission may have thought it was. Commissioner Frank , your task in hopes that this revelation can help prioritize where to cut emissions. Board chair Dan Malcolm says he wants the most bang for his buck. Now that we have some information , I think that we need to proceed holistically and strategically and look at where we can place our dollars. The port does have a plan to cut emissions. The Maritime Clean Air Strategy or and Cass outlines reducing emissions from trucks to boats and even cargo haulers. Officials say if the impasse is followed , the cancer risk for National City , Barrio Logan and Coronado can be cut almost in half by 2030. But now there are concerns about a piece of the plan involving electric trucks. My problem is that I think some of the goals in here are really not feasible. The truck transition plan calls for 40% of port truck trips to be electric by 2026 and all of them that way. By 2030 , officials would spend up to $18 million to help carriers transition. But some wonder if it's actually worth it , especially with the port's own data showing that their trucks are a much smaller risk than originally thought. It is a source of emissions , for sure , but where do we get the biggest bang for the buck and where can we have the biggest impact ? Cargo handling equipment. Yep. Cargo handling equipment represents the highest cancer risk to Barrio Logan and Coronado. But even so , Commissioner Michael Zakat says state mandates for transitioning semi-trucks to electric are already coming and it doesn't hurt to start. Especially when they know that trucks are part of the emission problem. If we don't do anything with trucks , the percentage contribution is going to go up with trucks. I mean , that's just math , right ? Some of the port's biggest tenants and the trucking industry are pushing back. Truckers argue electric semis are expensive and there isn't widespread charging infrastructure. Tenants are worried that if truckers are required to buy electric , it won't be financially feasible for them to pick up in San Diego anymore. Sara marsh , with produce giant dole , worries that the company would take a hit.
S4: All of this has a direct and serious impact to us as a tenant if we are unable to distribute our product from the port. There's no reason for Dole to call San Diego home.
S2: Marsh says Dole is behind the port's environmental goals , but they would rather see the agency focusing on high emitting cargo equipment. The company has already electrified a quarter of its cargo fleet. Advocates want commissioners to stay the course and stick with the goals outlined in the Clean Air Strategy that includes the truck transition plan. It doesn't mean the zero emission vehicle thing is the end all be all solution , but it's definitely a major part of it. And what's something that we can and it's an opportunity we have. We can't let it go. Franco Garcia is with the Environmental Health Coalition. What we don't want to end up with is that , you know , we're essentially pushing the can down the road and the port is already making investments. A new electric tugboat is scheduled to begin operations next year and all electric cranes are set to replace their polluting counterparts.
S3: Joining me is KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman. And , Matt , welcome.
S2: Hey , Maureen.
S2: And it's not just because of the port. I mean , you have Interstate five , Interstate 15 going through there. A lot of other heavy truck traffic , a lot of heavy industrial areas. You know , you have all those shipbuilders down there. But when it. Comes to port activities now the port is looking at. There are two cargo terminals , National City and 10th Avenue. And we know that National City in Barrio Logan , they're at the highest risk for diesel fumes , that cancer causing diesel emissions. But the question is , where are those coming from ? And that's sort of what we learned here. Right.
S3: Right. This new information finds that the pollution from port trucks only makes up about 8% of the health risk in National City and 4% in Barrio Logan.
S2: And the port use data from 2019 and their updated health risk assessment. And it kind of breaks down in two different ways. So National City and downtown , their highest risk in terms of emissions coming from port activities is rail. Then you look at Barrio Logan and Coronado and it changes a lot. The biggest risk in terms of emissions there is cargo handling equipment.
S3: So our port commissioner is considering then switching priorities from truck electrification to fixing other polluters at the port.
S2: I think there's definitely a discussion over where can they get the most bang for their buck. We heard this come up a lot. We know as part of the port's maritime clean air strategy that they have this truck transition plan. And then part of that plan calls for the port spending up to $18 million to help with these carriers electrify their trucks. Now , some of them are saying , well , now that we have this updated health risk assessment , trucks seem to be a smaller part of the problem. And if we address things like cargo handling equipment , we can have bigger impacts on those communities with the dollars that we have.
S2: Now , there are a lot of grants that are available out there. And when we talk about this truck transition plan , that's why port officials are saying , let's go for some of this grant money now while it's still there and while we can , you know , get in on the ground floor , so to speak.
S2: Now , the truck transition plan , it's a goal. And the goal that they've set is by 2026 , to have 40% of truck trips be electric. And we're talking about truck trips. We're not talking about 40% of electric trucks. They're looking at the trucks that make some of the most trips. And then by 2030 , they would want all those trucks to be electric. But it's it's not a mandate. It's a goal. And some of the commissioners talked about , you know , they want to work with with some of their big port tenants to say , how can we get to this goal ? It's not a mandate , but we're hearing a lot of people talking about it like a mandate. And we heard from Port Commissioner Michael Zakat. He just doesn't understand some of this opposition to something that's not a mandate on the port , saying that they want to work with their partners. I don't know how anybody could be violently opposed to that. What what is that ? I just I that that strikes me as odd. So so what's the alternative ? Do nothing.
S3: And my question would be , then , what kinds of trucks are these long haul trucks or short haul trucks that will be electrified ? And and does that make a difference when you talk about available infrastructure for electrified trucks ? Yes.
S2: And yes , we're talking about short haul trucks and we're talking about long haul trucks , like , for instance , Dole , one of the ports biggest tenants. They have , you know , a lot of long haul truckers , I think 55% , they said , are long haul going nationwide where they ship in some of these bananas. But part of what the port staff looked at was , you know , it's going to be hard to have 40% of all trucks be electric. And how do we guaranteeing that these trucks are coming to our port ? So what they did was they identified at least for that 40% goal. They identified trucks that regularly make trips in here. And they said , if we can electrify those , we get more bang for our buck because we know that they're coming here.
S3: Now , you mentioned the Dole Corporation. They are apparently putting pressure on the port to switch priorities away from electrifying trucks. Are any other big port tenants doing the same thing ? Yes.
S2: Now we're seeing this coming from the port , calls them their two anchor tenants , two of their biggest tenants. So we have Dole and then there's Patria Automotive Services. So we're seeing this interesting dynamic where the ports biggest tenants are putting pressure on the commissioners , saying , we don't we don't like this idea , even though we know that there are some state mandates that are coming eventually.
S3: On the other side , we heard from the Environmental Health Coalition's Franco Garcia in your report. And what does he mean when he says he wants to stick with the truck plan ? Because , quote , it's an opportunity we have.
S2: There's been a lot of talk about electrifying trucks at the port. Staff have been working on this for years and they put a lot of hours into this truck transition plan. It's something that previous port commissioners were talking about it. You know , his biggest fear is that the commissioners are going to kick the can down the road here , you know , sort of see this this new health risk assessment and say , well , trucks. Seem like our trucks make up a big piece of the problem , so maybe we just push that aside and they're saying , no , don't do that. Let's let's tackle it now.
S2: I see some problems with this truck transition plan. So they're going to get another sort of updated version that comes back to them. We don't know exactly when that is , but it sounds like that could be as early as next month.
S3: I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt , thank you.
S2: Thanks , Maureen.
S1: Starting tomorrow , San Diego's sidewalk vendors will face new rules that have been controversial. KPBS big City Heights reporter Jacob Eyre has reactions to the new rules.
S5: San Diego's sidewalk vending ordinance will change how , when and where street vendors can operate. District two Councilmember Jen Campbell led the push for the new rules. She says they strike a balance of improving health and safety and providing economic opportunities for the vendors.
S3: Because there became so many vendors and it became a problem of finding enough space for the public to be able to enjoy the open spaces , the parks and the beaches.
S5: While the new rules will be fully enforced at Balboa Park and in the Gaslamp District , there are going to be limits in San Diego's beach communities. That's because the California Coastal Commission must review the ordinance before it can fully take effect in those areas. So far , the item hasn't made it on their agenda. That worries Ocean Beach Main Street Association's Danny Knox.
S2: Because really , it's robbed our community of our beach front.
S5: She says they've seen vendors take over the middle of sidewalks and parking lots and in a few cases the police have had to get involved.
S6: I mean , there are people who say , well , I'll never go down there anymore. I don't take my kids down there. That's not. Right.
S5: Right. Jennie Santos is a street vendor who does henna tattoo art. She says she's not totally sure what the changes will mean for business , but understands the need for some rules. She says some situations were getting out of hand in places like Mission Beach and Balboa Park.
S4: People are paying other people to save their spots and leaving up their tents overnight. So they're letting they're paying homeless people to sleep in certain areas there. Yeah , they're changing their stuff down like it's getting a little wild.
S5: She barber Isaiah , who asked for his last name not to be used , says he feels the extra rules are punishment for people who are trying to make a livable wage.
S7: I don't know. I feel like when you are already taking people that don't hardly have much and you try to impose all of these different things on them , it kind of is kind of counterproductive is like on the one hand you're saying , hey , we're allowing street vendors to go out and do free enterprise , but then you create a whole bunch of rules that kind of make it difficult.
S5: Mission Beach business owner Matt Gardner says public spaces in some brick and mortar stores like his own have taken a toll from the lack of street vendor regulations , where.
S2: Most of the problem is here in Mission Beach. And we are affected probably the worst in all of San Diego. It is right in front of my my door. I roll at my door every single day and I see this hundreds of canopies and people selling stuff right in front of our faces. Some of the same stuff that we sell.
S5: And Mike Trimble of the Gaslamp Quarter Association says the ordinance should bring some relief. If it's enforced properly.
S2: On any given weekend in the last , I would say 6 to 8 months , we could have either between 40 and 60 hotdog vendors on fifth , sixth and Fourth Avenue. So the entire Gaslamp Quarter has got just an over proliferation of these unregulated hotdog vendors.
S5: Campbell says the first year of the ordinance will be like a trial run.
S3: There will be a report to the city council and every year it can be fixed and changed. Just as when we passed the law , we changed the permit fee from $236 down to $38 because it seemed that that would be more fair for the vendors.
S5: The street vending ordinance takes effect June 22nd. Santos , the hand vendor , says people may test the enforcement.
S4: It sounds like a lot of vendors are going to plan on just vending anyway and setting up and just getting the warning and then seeing if they get a fine or like what happens. But I don't think people are really planning to stop because again , a lot of people that's like their livelihood and that's all they are getting money from. And it doesn't sound like people are ready to stop.
S5: But not stopping could cost a vendor hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines and impounded equipment if they keep breaking the rules. Jacob Baer , KPBS News.
S1: We have more information about the new rules and where vendors can learn about them on our Web site at KPBS dot org.
S3: Scientists at UC San Diego are leading what they call the biggest community science project ever on animal communication. Dogs are touching buttons or sound boards with their paws or nose , allowing them to communicate to humans words , thoughts and maybe even sentences. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has the story.
S2: Thanks to people attending a colloquium at UC San Diego mingle in an outdoor plaza , they've come to recognize the animal communication project. The event is catered , but not with any dog food. Too bad for us. Ian Miller , who you could argue were guest of honor. Taylor Arco is Miller's owner.
S4: She uses attention , words like scriptures or love you a lot. And she also likes to ask for walk. And she never lets us forget when it's time to eat. So eat.
S2: Arco was talking about the buttons. Her dog , Miller , pushes on a soundboard on the floor to tell humans what's on her mind. The soundboard has an array of buttons set into plastic tiles that owners can arrange however they want. The buttons say things like Play outside , eat and scriptures which are scratchy , caresses the dogs like. Miller's a husky collie mix , who Taylor says , uses 31 words. She has about 240,000 followers on Instagram.
S4: Our goal was never to hear a certain word count or a certain number of followers. Our goal was just to improve her quality of life. So , so long as she has a need to communicate will continue.
S2: Arco is one of 1200 people in 47 countries expected to provide data about their dogs ability to communicate. The Science Project is led by UC San Diego cognitive scientist Federico Rossano. He says studying cognition in animals helps us understand what is uniquely human thinking and what is shared with other creatures. We try to see whether they can learn symbols and B , once you teach them this , what do what kind of use do they make of this tools , basically ? So do you start seeing things like what a child would do , which is once you get to 40 , 50 words , you start putting them together into sentences. Can dogs form sentences based on the evidence he's seen so far ? Rossano gives a qualified yes. It's his working hypothesis. For example , Bunny , the most famous. But this one I would study would say things like dog one cat down to basically say , I want the cat sitting up there to calm down. And so would literally just push all this buttons one after the other. Ah , Bunny , the famous talking dog. She's a sheep doodle in Washington State with millions of Tik-tok followers. In one very well-known video , Bunny tells her owners something is wrong. She presses the buttons for mad.
S2: Bunny responds by pressing the button that says Paw.
S4: In your Paul. Let me see your pa.
S2: Her owner finds a small wooden spike of a fox tail stuck in Bunny's left paw. Rossano says there is a risk in studying animal intelligence , and that's over interpretation , which means seeing what you want to see in an animal's behavior. Leo Trottier is CEO of Fluent Pet , the company that makes the sound boards Bunny and many other dogs use. Speaking of over interpretation , Trottier cites the famous example of Hans , the horse who people thought could do math. You'd ask him , What's three plus seven ? And he'd stamp his foot ten times. People soon realized that his owner or the audience would exhale and adopt a satisfied expression when Hans reached the correct answer. That led to a thing that's called the clever Hans effect , where its animals pay attention to settle cues that we might not even recognize that we're giving off in order to provide us with the answers that we might want to see. Federico Rossano says avoiding over interpretation depends on more data and careful analysis. He adds that this research could lead to benefits for dogs and for humans. What if a dog that works in law enforcement could inspect luggage and tell you smell gun or smell explosive ? That kind of communication could bring our age old symbiotic relationship with dogs to a whole new level. Thomas Fudge , KPBS News.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. On Saturday , the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture opened in Riverside , famous for the comedy duo Cheech and Chong. Cheech Marin is an avid collector of Chicano art , and the museum known as the Cheech is the first major museum dedicated to Chicano art. With over 61,000 square feet of gallery space , there is plenty of room to showcase special themed exhibitions and retrospectives of notable Chicano artists , as well as works from Marin's extensive collection. Here's what Cheech Marin had to say on Saturday at the museum's grand opening.
S2: My heart is swelling at this point , man. This is a dream that I never dared dream , having a museum dedicated to Chicano art. It's the very first one in the world , and you should be very proud.
S1: One of the first exhibitions on View is a retrospective of works from local border artists. The Dilatory Brothers and Museumgoers are also greeted by a commissioned two story lenticular sculpture by the brothers as they enter the new space. Iron ore and Hammocks. De La Torre spoke with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans about the Cheech. Here's their conversation.
S8: So the Cheech has been in the making for a long time. What was it like to be there for the grand opening this weekend ? I know. Let's start with you.
S2: Well , it's it was fruition after being involved with this project for so many years. I mean , originally it started with the National Latino Center for the Smithsonian , and then Cheech picked it up from there. So it's dovetailed. Well , we're thrilled.
S8: And how about you ? Hammocks.
S2: Well , it's a pretty gigantic honor for us to to be the first exhibition for the museum , a brand new museum and a brand new wing of the Smithsonian , too. So it's it's a double edged effort here that brought this to fruition , and we feel very , very honored.
S2: So we've been really busy this year. Some old installations that we have not installed in a decade. So it's been really interesting to pull out old work and how we feel. You know , you sort of get to look at how you feel about the work you made 20 years ago or ten years ago. And it's a it's a strange feeling seeing your career sort of displayed like that.
S8: You've also installed a two story sculpture. It's lenticular. So the image changes as you move around it. Tell us about this one. Yeah.
S2: Yeah. When the when the architects first approached us about the possibility of installing a permanent piece to the museum , they had decided to open up an atrium because the museum , you might know , used to be the central library in Riverside. So it's got library style floors. So when they opened this atrium , it magically became a museum. And he gave us the opportunity to make a two story high lenticular piece. The lenticular piece that we decided to make is a match to a plastic deity called Liquid Maybe. And I can tell you more about the lenticular process. Yeah. So the titular process is a an old technology that uses a plastic lens or acrylic lens that has little lines in it. And then you take two images and cut half of it out to meet the same lines and interlaced another image. And with that lens , what it does is it acts like a prison where you can see one image and as you move it sideways , you'll see the other image. Hmm.
S8: Hmm.
S2: He was interested in it. He was taping Nash Bridges up in San Francisco , living in San Francisco. And we drove our VW bus up there with the piece , assembled it in his living room , and he said , Oh , great , I'll take it. And then we proceeded to go out to lunch and found him to be very , very affable , very , very , you know , interestingly , a very funny guy.
S2: Artwork , almost every piece has an angle that's humorous. We see humorous as the hook and bring it draws you in and helps you take your guard down and and be more in the moment. I think that's part of our personality. And it's interesting , you know , because when we first came to the States or introduction to Cheech Marin was through his records with Cheech and Chong , the big Bambu. And the first the first weeks that we're here in the States , we were hitting them with our cousins , and that was the introduction to in direct introduction to Chicano culture to for us.
S8: So your work has been shown in galleries and museums across the world.
S2: So it is unique in that in that way and in the way that it's going to redefine what all of these different surnames mean. Because the Mexican-American , you know , Mexicans , parts of the country don't use the word Chicano , particularly there's third generation Mexican in Chicago , for instance. So it'll be really interesting to see how this this museum sort of brought in some of these definitions and becomes the inclusive museum.
S8: So a lot of San Diegans may know you from the huge , colorful installation in the Downtown Library's main elevator.
S2: The library downtown is one of my favorite ones because it was a sweet opportunity that we were given the elevator shaft to engage and we decided to make a series of boxes , sort of like dioramas , as you go up in the elevator that they can tell a little bit of a story about ascending through and through learning and knowledge. And that was the first time that we installed lenticular skin in a public art space. We also have a large , still lenticular and another public sculpture of the San Isidro Public Library. A little out of the way , but it's worth visiting , too.
S8: And you both are cross-border artists , and you work in the San Diego border region.
S2: So yes , we are completely cross-border. Later on today , we're both going to work in the studio and I think that is crossing the border. And the reality is that we live crossing the border back and forth is probably the most important thing that fits our work. Just as we see ourselves as border artists , probably it's the most comfortable that we wear in terms of all definitions because we're also glass artists and many people know us for our blood glass sculpture. So out of all of them , I think that's the one that describes as the best , because the border informs our work quite a bit. It is the ability to see the other place as other and other words as it's like a fish tank. You're you're looking at it from from the other side. And I think it's a way to see your own culture that you're living in with a different perspective.
S1: That was local artist Einar and Hammocks DeLaughter speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon. Evans. The Dilatory Brothers work is on View at the newly opened Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture , the Riverside Art Museum.

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The last major age group to be vaccinated against COVID-19 - children ages 6 months to 5 years old – are now getting their shots. How significant is this in the fight against the virus? Then, primary elections often result in a low turnout of voters and this June’s California primary was no exception. But what about November? A new UC San Diego survey tries to take the temperature of voters in California. And, we’re learning more about pollution sources from the Port of San Diego that are affecting people’s health. But the new information has left port commissioners split on how to prioritize emission-reduction projects. Next, reaction to the new rules about where sidewalk vendors can now operate in Balboa Park and downtown San Diego. And, Scientists at UC San Diego are leading what they call the biggest community science project ever, on animal communication. Dogs are touching buttons on soundboards with their paws or nose, allowing them to communicate to humans--- words, thoughts – and maybe even sentences. Finally, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture is now open in Riverside. One of its first exhibitions on view is a retrospective of works from local border artists, brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre.