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Cybersecurity threat hits San Diego schools

 December 5, 2022 at 1:51 PM PST

S1: San Diego Unified , hit by a cybersecurity threat.

S2: These criminal groups could care less about what targets they are attacking. Ultimately , they are after money.

S1: I'm Maggie Perez with Maureen CAVANAUGH. Jade Heineman is off. This is KPBS midday edition. More trouble with showing in the city of San Diego. June.

S3: June. One of the mothers whose vehicle was towed last month told me that she just remains haunted by the fact that there are others like her who are still out there.

S1: An update on the sale of personal data collected by Chula Vista Police. On your mark , get set for Born to Run to the Ultimate Training Guide and solving the mystery of Irma Vep. That's ahead on Midday Edition. The San Diego Unified School District has been hit by a cybersecurity threat. That's according to Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson , who sent a message to parents and staff Friday. We know that immediately all district and staff passwords were changed. And today , the process continues of changing all student passwords. What we don't know is the extent of the data breach. The FBI and San Diego police are investigating. Joining me now is Doug Levin , a cybersecurity expert and the national director for the K12 Security Information Exchange. Doug , welcome to mid-day.

S2: Thank you for having me.

S1: Doug , you work with school districts across the country.

S2: Like San Diego has experienced in other districts all across the country. So whether that be from a data breach incident , a phishing attack , or protecting from ransomware actors , we provide our members with threat intelligence and best practices and advice to defend themselves.

S1: The San Diego Unified threat is the second cyber attack impacting California schools in just the past couple of months. L.A. Unified had its system held for ransom in September.

S2: They are not the Russian government per se , but in Russia they are almost professional in how they work and that they have very standard techniques for compromising their victims networks and extorting money from them. And this particular group has shown a penchant for targeting public school districts all across the country. So LAUSD is only one of their many victims , and they've attacked many other school districts ultimately thereafter , money. And what they have found is that school district , IT systems in general are relatively vulnerable and they are able to compromise those systems remotely , lock them up , and then attempt to extort the district for in some cases , quite large amounts of money. And this is a technique that works well enough for them and is able to fund their criminal operations.

S1: We have certainly seen hospitals and banks targeted by hackers before.

S2: There is no honor among thieves. Ultimately , they are after money , simply after money. And while we don't think of school districts as wealthy organizations , they manage quite a bit of money on an annual basis. The second thing I should note that they will target is data , a particularly personally identifiable information of data of people associated with a school district , whether that is teachers , whether that is parents or students themselves. And this is somewhat counterintuitive to folks , but the identity information of minors , of young children is actually more valuable on the so-called dark Web than for adults. And that's because these criminals can abuse the credit records of young children for years and years before someone realizes that an issue has arisen and and you're able to take steps to stop it. So , you know , interestingly , it is money. And if they can't monetize their attacks directly through extortion , they will steal all the data and try to sell that as well.

S1: I did speak with San Diego Unified Communications Director Maureen McGee this morning , and she told me the district has no additional comment on the current threat until the law enforcement investigation is complete. That said , Doug , how long can we expect an investigation like this to go on.

S2: In a situation like this if if indeed this is a situation , say , that was similar to what happened to LAUSD , where it was a criminal group who attacked the school district. It can take a matter of a week or two to evict that threat actor from the network to try to determine what it is they may have stolen and try to figure out a way to sort of make everyone whole. But hopefully , you know , we will hear an update from the district , you know , in the coming days or a week.

S1:

S2: I would strongly encourage those individuals to take advantage of second factor authentication or multifactor authentication if it is enabled. And then maybe even more importantly for individuals , if you use the same password that you use with the district , with other services to change those passwords as well and implement multifactor authentication on those accounts. Cyber criminals are known to seek out compromised credentials and then will try to reuse them against lots of different services to see if they're able to compromise them. And and reusing compromised account information is one of the most common ways that cybercriminals cause issues for individuals that leads to credit fraud , tax fraud , identity theft , etc.. So I would not wait. To hear more from the district to take those steps to protect that protect myself if I was a member of the school community.

S1: I've been speaking with Doug Levin , national director for the K-12 Security Information Exchange. Doug , thanks for being with us.

S2: My pleasure.

S4: Stories of two mothers and their children left on the street after their vehicles were towed were recently covered by local TV news. But what about the communities and public parks in which these vehicles stay for days or weeks ? Shouldn't the larger community have expectation that the city's laws will be enforced ? That's the dilemma city officials will take on when the policy of towing comes up early next year. And joining me is Lisa Halberstam with the Voice of San Diego. And , Lisa , welcome.

S3: Thanks for having me.

S4:

S3: For some of the reasons that you laid out during the intro. Vehicle code violations , though , can include things like expired registrations , outstanding parking tickets , violations for parking on public property for 72 hours or more. And these are offenses that often impact people who are living in vehicles. I do think it's worth noting that the city technically does have a ban on living in vehicles on the books , but it's not currently enforcing that as it's being challenged in court. And for a good portion of the pandemic , the city was not towing vehicles that people were obviously staying in. But this has shifted in more recent months.

S4: You report that a recent analysis found that most of the city's vehicle towing impacts the people who can least afford it. Yes.

S3: Yes. Last month , city auditors released a report that showed that city towing practices disproportionately impact low income people. The top two reasons that people are towed expired vehicle registrations and that 72 hour violation I talked about before , which are often aimed at people living in vehicles , were more likely to result in vehicles being auctioned off by the towing companies to try to recoup the costs associated with impounding them. So that means that people are losing their vehicles because they can't afford to pay impound fees and outstanding tickets before their vehicles are auctioned off.

S4: Now , tell us more about the recent highly publicized cases of families left with nowhere to go after their vehicles were towed. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. So last month , two mothers with school age sons who were parking in the Mission Bay Park area had the vehicles that they were staying in code for registration violations. Now , these two moms and their sons were , as you said , forced to spend an especially cold night sleeping outside after they basically pleaded with the police not to tow what were their makeshift homes. Their situation was captured in a video that went viral. And then the situation was covered by multiple news outlets. And it's really generated a lot of conversation among advocates and city officials.

S4: And as heartbreaking as that outcome was , city staff say the two mothers were offered shelter.

S3: But one of the mothers told me that the hot team officer who went to check to see if shelter was available ultimately found that there wasn't space for them that evening , which was something that had kind of been lost in some previous reporting. This is a common occurrence , though , that there isn't shelter available , especially at such a late hour. As I've written previously on Voice of San Diego , Morgan , in an average week and recent history , just over a third of city shelter referrals have resulted in someone getting a bed , which really speaks to the unmet need , even as the city has been adding a lot more shelter beds.

S4:

S3: And one of the mothers , Jun Cloninger , who I spoke with , said that she had previously tried to get into a safe parking lot. And actually , she and the other mother , she says , actually called the city's safe parking provider the day before they got towed. In hopes of securing spaces there. But they didn't hear back after they worked until after they were towed. And I think it's just a really important to note that there's not necessarily , you know , direct correspondence between the city police and the safe parking lots as there is when we often hear about I know I've talked about on the show before , when police officers offer shelter beds and sometimes they're able to directly refer folks. That didn't happen here. And by the time the. Homeless outreach team arrive to try to talk about potential solutions. And these two families had their belongings laying out and the toes were already in progress.

S4: Now , City Council member Stephen Whitburn plans to introduce a new policy on towing next year.

S3:

S4: And this doesn't directly address the issue of people living in their vehicles , though. Are other city agencies looking for solutions to towing the cars of the homeless ? Yeah.

S3: So after the story went viral , Housing commissioners discussed how the city could try to better avoid outcomes like this in the future. At a meeting last month , a couple of commissioners noted that tows like this seemed to really be counterproductive and actually make it harder to help unhoused people who have lost their vehicles. And there seemed to be general agreement among city appointed housing commissioners about this. But the outcome of any conversations that the agency may be having with the city about this is still really to be determined.

S4:

S3: They have received a lot of support from a Go Fund Me online fundraiser and the nonprofit Housing for the Homeless , which helped them to get their vehicles back. But June , one of the mothers whose vehicle was towed last month told me that she just remains haunted by the fact that there are others like her who are still out there and may be subject to the same sort of situation that she faced last month.

S4: I've been speaking with Lisa Halberstadt with the Voice of San Diego. Lisa , thank you.

S3: Thanks for having me.

S4: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Meg Perez in for Jade Heineman. Chula Vista officials claim a new policy bans the sale of data picked up by police surveillance tools. But privacy advocates warn most personal information could still lawfully be sold. KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma explains.

S5: For years , Chula Vista resident and activist Pedro Rios has advocated for stronger privacy protections in the city. Here he is last year speaking just steps away from city hall.

S6: We should have an expectation of privacy.

S2: We should not give up.

S6: On the expectation of privacy. Otherwise , we are.

S2: Undoing a fundamental principle.

S6: That the US Constitution.

S2: Affords us.

S5: His words resonated in this border city , called one of the most surveilled in the country. Rios and others were angry over revelations that Chula Vista Police had shared data collected from its license plate readers with federal immigration officials.

S2: We should be.

S6: In front of their door , in front of city council , calling out for the need to have these oversight.

S2: Mechanisms and to.

S6: Hold accountable not only the Chula Vista Police Department , but also city officials.

S5: In April , Rios joined a working group of residents , privacy advocates and tech experts. Their mission helped Chula Vista create new surveillance guidelines. The goal was to balance police use of surveillance tools like license plate readers and drones with protecting residents privacy rights. The group had high hopes. But last month , when the Chula Vista City Council ultimately passed a privacy protection policy , Rios was disappointed.

S2: For me , it's unclear exactly what the policy does.

S5: The policy suggests that Chula Vista personal information can't be sold.

S1:

S5: Albert Fox Kahn is executive director of the nonprofit New York based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

S1: This policy has a lot of details , but it also has a lot of loopholes.

S2: And from my reading , those exceptions.

S1: Swallow the rule.

S5: Kahn says exceptions in the policy include any information recorded in a place where people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That means any details captured in public places would not be covered , no matter how sensitive.

S2: Whether it's your.

S1: Geolocation data , your biometric data , your phone number , your email address. Much of the information that's covered by this policy is then simply exempted under that exception. Because a lot of the surveillance that is shared with vendors is recorded in public.

S5: Even worse , Khan says , the policy exempts information gathered from surveillance. That's part of an active criminal investigation. He says this is the policies weakest link.

S2: When you drive your car through the.

S1: City , the automated license plate reader could track you. When you're sitting.

S2: In your backyard , a drone could surveil you when.

S1: You're almost anywhere in public. You could be captured by the real time command center. All of these systems are monitoring people outside the home.

S5: Part of what spawned the push for a privacy policy was a contract Chula Vista signed with Motorola Solutions in 2020. That deal gave Motorola wide access to police surveillance data and allowed the tech conglomerate to profit from it. California privacy advocate Brian Hofer says the city's new policy does little to stop Chula Vista from entering into a similar contract again.

S2: It does not expressly prohibit the song.

S5: Hofer says it's also important to note that the Chula Vista City Council opted for a policy on privacy rights instead of a law. The resident working groups specifically asked for a law.

S2: The leadership of Chula Vista never had any desire to really take this seriously. If they really wanted to be accountable to the public and say , We think these things are truly important and they would give it the weight of law and they would hold themselves accountable by making these things enforceable.

S5: City Council members did not make themselves available to KPBS for an interview before this story was broadcast , but some said at a meeting last month that a new law would be premature.

S4: That story from KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma , who joins me now. And , Amita , welcome.

S5: It's good to speak with you , Maureen.

S4: As you say , this struggle over privacy and Chula Vista really got underway when information got out that state of the art surveillance equipment generated information. That could be used by Motorola. Is the contract allowing Motorola to use that information still in place ? Yes.

S5: The contract that you're referring to mine actually gives Motorola access to data collected by the city's automated license plate readers. It's drones and really other surveillance equipment. That data is then run through Chula Vista Police Department's real time operations center. That center basically functions as as a repository of information that gets assembled in one place and helps police solve crimes. So I'm just giving you a little bit of context here. The contract between Chula Vista and Motorola gives Motorola the right to use that data , that customer data gathered from that surveillance equipment in a way that that financially benefits the company. So what that means is Motorola can analyze that data , published that data , develop and improve commercial products based on that data and offers subscription services to that data.

S4:

S5: And the reason is because Chula Vista Borders Mexico. So , you know , the city of Chula Vista has its own surveillance tools. But because the city borders Mexico , that means the city's residents and people passing through are subjected to basically a giant network of monitoring by US Customs and Border Protection. And that network actually includes facial recognition technology , surveillance towers with cameras , radars , infrared sensors and blimps. And the federal government's own powerful drones and automated license plate readers. So they're basically two layers of drones and and Alpers that people in Chula Vista may encounter.

S4: Now , legally , no one really has an expectation of privacy in a public place.

S5: No one should have an expectation of privacy in a public place. But this city gets to decide how what gets picked up on people for that surveillance equipment. What data that gets picked up on people in those public places is used and whether it's sold.

S4:

S5: So if you hear city officials , police officials talk about this , they'll say public safety. You know , we're just trying to protect residents from crime. As for Chula Vista , his crime rate , it's basically it's all relative stats for for violent crime in the city. Murder , rape and robbery are below the national and state averages. And San Diego's as well.

S4:

S5: There's there's been a lot of back and forth in emails trying to set up a time to speak with him. And unfortunately , our schedules just couldn't align.

S4:

S5: You know , Chula Vista is a city of 277,000 people. It's hard to gauge just how deep a concern this is. According to city polling , the issue of surveillance and privacy isn't the top issue for residents there.

S4: Now , as you alluded to , the subtext to this surveillance and the protest against it in this South Bay City is immigration.

S5: When information came out that Chula Vista PD had been sharing data collected through his Alpers Automated license Plate readers. When that information came out and there was an uproar over it , the the police department announced that it was no longer turning that information over to the feds. That may have been one of the motivators to to rile people up and say , look , we we need a policy that protects people's privacy. And I think that's the larger issue people do not understand. They have no idea what's being gathered on them through these surveillance tools without their knowledge. And they don't know what's being done with that information. So these are the questions that Chula Vista is facing. But they're not the only city. San Diego recently passed its own privacy protection law. San Francisco has one. Oakland has one. There are dozens of cities across the country that are grappling with these issues and have passed laws as a result.

S4: I've been speaking with KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma. Amita , thanks.

S5: Thank you , Maureen.

S1: Christopher McDougall wrote his book Born to Run in 2009. After hearing about runners from Mexican tribes competing in an American ultramarathon , he followed them back to Mexico's Copper Canyon to find out how they ran so far , so effortlessly. He also wanted to understand why , as a runner himself , he suffered many injuries. McDougall has now published a sequel with co-author and running coach Erik Orton called Born to Run to the Ultimate Training Guide. McDougall and Fortune spoke with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon. Evans.

S5: Sir Christopher , Born to Run.

S3: To You is.

S5: An illustrated guide rather than purely narrative or reporting. What made you want to publish this as the follow up to.

S3:

S2: At the time I wrote Born to Run , I was running and breaking from a perspective of an injured X runner who had been sort of coached back to health by this traditional lifestyle and approach. But I didn't have enough miles on the vehicle to know if it really worked. And now , you know , 15 years later , I can look back and think , Oh yeah , yeah , that approach really worked. And I felt it was time to share with other people.

S5:

S2: If you change the way your body physically moves , you will change the way your body heals or avoids injury. And so many of us keep forgetting to listen to that , that wisdom , because we're always looking for a patch or a fix or a quick diet or a pair of shoes that will solve our problems for us. And as a Born to Run came out , a lot of people felt , okay , we'll just buy a minimal shoe and that will solve our problems. Then we'll run like ancient people. But I always said it's never about the shoes. It's about the running form. It's about how you move your body. That is the secret to running success.

S3: Can you take us back.

S5: To the first book and who. The.

S3: The.

S5: Tarahumara or Romany people.

S3:

S2: So , you know , the Mayans and the Aztecs fought back and largely disappeared. But the title man did the opposite. They just retreated deep into these canyons and remained in isolation ever since. So to this day , the robbery or armada is both called live a lifestyle that is really reminiscent of the way they have for hundreds of years. And that is a lifestyle based on running long distances through a really inhospitable terrain , which so startling for me when I when I heard about the double murder and got a chance to visit them , was seeing people who were like 78 years old , wearing thin little homemade sandals , running for 60 , 70 miles at a time. And I sort to ask myself , what are they doing different ? If running is bad for the body , if it's supposed to break down your knees , well , how come their knees are breaking down ? How come it's not bad for their bodies ? And that's what really opened my eyes to the potential that could be learned from the way they live.

S5: Eric , you're a coach and.

S3: You appeared in the first book as a character.

S2: And , you know , as Chris has alluded to , you know , running is a magic pill. And it can be a magic pill for a lot of reasons. And this is what's really built into Born to Run , too.

S5: And one thing in the first few pages of this new book is this idea of the run free feeling , which it seems like is more than just shoes or no shoes.

S2: I believe with running and with athleticism. Athleticism is awareness and we really wanted with everything we did in the book , there's always a component of really trying to get the runner , the athlete , to begin to feel what good is begin to feel good form and how good the body can feel when it eats the right types of food and how good running can be. And Chris is a perfect example. He's 15 years later from the original Born to Run , and he's a better runner today than he was back then.

S5: Eric In terms of what ? Is included in the guide sections of this book. How are you.

S3:

S2: I think the best start is to read through the book and its tiriti and read all the way through it and then maybe go back and reread the chapters that include the Free seven , which is the kind of the nuts and bolts of of the program and at the end , which is a 90 day program. So you're kind of going back and revisiting after reading through the whole book. And then I think it's really goes to kind of setting a day for yourself where you when are you going to start the 90 day program ? And maybe corral some of your buddies and your friends to all start at the same day. So you guys are all doing the same workouts beginning of the same day and have have a great camaraderie and teamwork that goes into the 90 day program.

S5:

S3:

S5: And bolts for someone who may want to get started or a runner who feels like they're frequently injured.

S2: Yeah , I think run form is kind of the big foundation. And in the book we talk about how we can really fix your run form in 5 minutes. And it's so easy to learn. And we do that by just simply standing in front of a wall , turning on the song Rock Lobster by the B-52's and running in place barefoot between the river at a party. Hello , Bella , buddy. Come on in. Why did you want to walk the dog ? And you run into the beat of the music , which gives you proper cadence. And this goes back to one of your original questions of learning to notice what it feels like in just doing that simple exercise. You're going to know how to strike the ground.

S5: And there's also.

S3: A playlist of other.

S5: Songs that also work in the book , right ? Yeah.

S2: Again , the idea is that Rock , Lobster or many other songs have the beat of the music is built on 180 beats per minute , which is kind of the golden standard for run cadence or frequency or how often we strike the ground when we run , the quicker and the closer we can get to 180 , the more healthy and the more proper foot placement we're going to have while we run , which will keep us really , really healthy.

S3: So I am a life long trail runner.

S5: And when I was training for my first ultra marathon , I had to Google.

S3: How to make some of the recipes.

S5: From the first book. But this book.

S3: Does have.

S5: Recipes in it. Eric , can you tell us.

S3:

S2: I think , you know , sometimes when we try to create these recipes that replace other things , they maybe don't taste as good. But that's what I'm really excited about. Not only are these really , really natural , but they actually taste good and so simple to make.

S5: So , Christopher , alongside the the practical training tips in the book , we also have dozens of stories.

S3: For example , we learn a little bit about.

S5: Jordan Marie brings three white horses. Daniel.

S3: Who painted a blood.

S5: Red handprint across her mouth when she ran in the 2019 Boston Marathon.

S2: But then when I would reach out for advice or counsel , like to Jordan , for instance , to ask about Native American running traditions. And then she would tell me her own personal story. And I thought , this has got to go in the book. It's got to be more than advice because these stories are so impactful and inspiring. Because what Jordan told me was she was a division one competitive collegiate athlete. She comes from Native American running royalty , her godfathers , Billy Mitchell's gold medals and 10,000 meters in the Olympics. So she comes from a competitive family , and yet there's always something lacking. And what she found was when she began running with purpose , when she began dipping into a Native American tradition of using running as a form of prayer for the first time in her life , she just felt that she was flying. She felt that her running meant more. She felt faster and freer. End of the story like that. That really educated me in how people can transform their own running from this kind of miserable thing they put themselves through because they eat too much Haagen-Dazs yesterday and instead make it something that feels good and purposeful and happy , and anything that feels joyful is going to put you on an upward spiral. It's to make you want to do it more and you get better at it , and you want to do it even more. With Jordan , what she wanted to do was point out the number of murdered and missing indigenous women. There are across the country that are not getting the proper law enforcement attention. So when she was running the Boston Marathon , she painted a blood red handprint across her mouth to indicate people who've been silenced by violence. And she said she has never run a race where she felt more emotional , more sad , but more soaring in her life.

S3: Thank you both so much.

S2: Julia , thank you. That was terrific. Yeah. Thanks , Julia. That was great.

S1: That was Christopher McDougall and Eric Orton , authors of Born to Run , too. Speaking with KPBS , arts producer Julia Dixon. Evans. Fortune and McDougall will hold a virtual event with Warwick Books at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

S4: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Meg Perez in Forged Heineman. Charles Ludlum's 1984 play The Mystery of Irma Vep serves up Ridiculous fun for the holidays at Diversionary Theater. The play has two actors playing 35 roles in a pop culture mash up. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO went behind the scenes of tech rehearsal last week to speak with diversionary theater artistic director Matt Mauro , who is also co-directing the play.

S5: Matt , this is the mystery of Irma Vep.

S6: Irma Vep is an idea. Irma Vep is based in part of our cultural heritage in film history. And Charles Ludlam , who is the playwright behind the Mystery of Irma Vep , loved classic films and he loved the classic film that introduced Irma Bap as a character. And so I think Irma Vep for the mystery of erm ABAP is really anyone. It's about revealing each other's identity. Irma VAP as a classic character , was Master of Disguise. She wasn't a vampire. Even though Map is an anagram for vampire. She was a master of disguise. And in Irma Vep , the two actors who play all of these roles have to be masters of disguises. And through the course of the story , each character learns more and more about each other and themselves. And so I think Irma VAP is really the sort of central idea behind the show that we can never truly know one another. And living with one another is about an effort to know one another.

S5: And one of the unique things about this play is there are 35 characters , but only two actors.

S6: First , you have to find the right two actors , which is a huge challenge. But we are so lucky that we have the incredible talents of Brian Banville and Luke Harvey Jacobs. They bring so much joy and so much talent and so much depth to each character and so much specificity that it's just it's a miracle to watch them transform from one character to the next within like 5 seconds.

S5: And what does this.

S3:

S6: It takes place between the two wars in an old Victorian home in northern England. But we really wanted to take a more sort of fun and avant garde view on the set. So we are taking the cabinet of Dr. Caligari , another historic classic horror film , and mashing it up with Pee wee's Playhouse and sort of spending it on its head. So everything is a little distorted and a little strange , and everything is done with a sense of joy and delight.

S5: Tell people a little bit about who Charles Ludlam was in this.

S3: Theater of kind of the. Ridiculous.

S5: Ridiculous.

S6: Charles Ludlam is a genius. He is sort of the forefather of queer theatre in our country. He was doing theatre in New York City , in the East and West Village between 1960 , the late 1960s , all the way to the late 1980s. And he found it the theatrical ridiculous company. And he wrote and directed and starred in multiple plays. A lot of those plays , especially in the sixties and early seventies , featured drag and when drag was illegal. So it was really counterculture what he was doing back then. Most of his plays are sort of sprawling epics with huge casts and Mystery of or Mbappe is a cast of two but has multiple characters. So he really took his epic theatre and sort of condensed it. But over the 30 years that he was working , he created a number of shows that went on to influence pop culture icons like John Waters , like Charles Busch. You know , people who are still working today like RuPaul. Charles Laughton was doing all of this before anyone really knew about it in the village of New York City. Unfortunately , we lost him in the HIV AIDS epidemic in the late eighties , but we're lucky enough that his works live on. And the mystery of all of that is his most produced work. And we're just so honored to bring him back to Diversionary Theatre and to do his work in a queer theatre. It feels like a gift. It feels so special to have his spirit and to have his words happening here at Diversionary Theatre , the third oldest queer theatre in the country.

S5: And in addition to a lot of characters crossing that stage , there's also kind of a lot of different.

S3: Genres and tropes and things that he.

S5: Riffs on in this.

S6: All of this is sort of mashed up and swirled into this delightful , macabre story that is outrageous and utterly hilarious.

S5:

S6: And , you know , we're still emerging from the pandemic right now and theater is still sort of finding its footing. And the mystery of Irma Vep is about very much about the joy of theater and connecting through the art of theater. And and , you know , I felt like that's what we all needed to be reminded of right now during this holiday season. The joy of connecting with one another , the joy of connecting with great art that brings you laughter and and and makes you realize that , you know , we're all more similar to one another than we think. And and I think that we all sort of need to feel a connection and sort of sisterhood right now.

S5: One of the things about diversity that's very nice is it has this intimate stage where you can literally be a couple of feet away from your performer.

S6: So you are literally in the actor's lap. And so that creates this really special bond and connection between the audience and the actor. And to have two virtuosic actors be able to change characters in a flash right in front of you. That is thrilling. I think that audience members , when they come to see the mystery of Irma , are going to be absolutely thrilled and have their socks knocked off just by watching these performances and watching these quick changes and watching these characters evolve.

S5: And for this particular play , you're co-directing.

S6: Alison Sprat Pierce and I have enjoyed a lovely , creative , fertile relationship long before this show. She's been on the diversionary stage many times and I've had the joy of directing her many times. And she is one of the funniest people that I know. And she also brings this wealth of skill when it comes to movement and physicality as well as language. And those are two things that I lack , frankly. And so she kind of picks up the slack there. And I think as a director , I'm really good in terms of story and theme and keeping those sort of things on track. So I think we complement each other really well in that way. Having someone there by your side , it feels really nice to have a partner to make those decisions and help guide the ship.

S5: All right. Well , thank you very much for talking about Irma Vep.

S6: It's my pleasure. Thanks , Beth.

S4: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Matt Morrow. Irma Vep runs through December 24th at Diversionary Theater in University Heights.

The San Diego Unified School District has been hit by a cybersecurity threat. Also, city officials face a dilemma on how city towing policies should handle people living in vehicles. Next, Chula Vista representatives claim a new policy bans the sale of data picked up by police surveillance tools. But privacy advocates warn most personal information could still lawfully be sold. And, the authors of a new book talk about running and their book “Born To Run 2: The Ultimate Training Guide.” Finally, Charles Ludlum’s 1984 play “The Mystery of Irma Vep” serves up ridiculous fun for the holidays at Diversionary Theatre.