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White House ready to roll out COVID vaccines for kids

 October 20, 2021 at 3:20 PM PDT

Speaker 1: (00:00)

San Diego prepares for a COVID vaccine rollout for kids

Speaker 2: (00:05)

Vaccinations for kids ages five to 11. We are right around the corner from

Speaker 1: (00:10)

I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS midday edition, An update on the reform proposals at the county law enforcement review board.

Speaker 3: (00:29)

We certainly haven't lived up to the spirit of why we were created in 19,

Speaker 1: (00:35)

Uh, Navy report addresses failures, and fighting the bone on Rashard ship fire, and a San Diego author uses poetry and legend to explore war and revolution. That's ahead on midday edition

Speaker 1: (01:02)

Healthcare centers around San Diego are preparing for another rollout of COVID vaccines. The Biden administration announced today that it's coordinating a plan for making child vaccines available when they receive authorization. That approval is expected in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, booster vaccines for Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are expected to be given federal approval this week, KPBS health report, and Matt Hoffman looked into the preparations for the new vaccine rollout and Matt welcome. Hey Maureen, one doctor that we spoke with said the Madonna and J and J booster shots could be available in San Diego by the end of this week. Is that what you were hearing?

Speaker 2: (01:46)

Uh, in short, yes, that is what we're hearing. And we know that the FDA advisory panel has given their recommendation. Uh, we know that the CDC panel is meeting as well this week. Um, and so if that goes down, you know, the CDC panel grants they're okay. Like the FDA panel, then the CDC, uh, can act on that as soon as, you know, as soon as that happens, the CDC director can go ahead and say, yes, we're going to do this. And usually that happens pretty quick. So once that CDC advisory panel, uh, gives their recommendation, we, uh, historically during this pandemic, we seen a very quick reaction from the CDC. So potentially as early as the end of this week,

Speaker 1: (02:21)

Our hospitals and healthcare facilities going to contact people for booster shots,

Speaker 2: (02:26)

Uh, I would say yes and no we've heard from some patients, uh, that there, uh, like when Pfizer had their approval process a few weeks ago, um, those boosters have already been going out in arms, uh, that some people are getting emails like, uh, cancer patients and things like that. People with underlying conditions, um, saying, Hey, you know, if you want, you can come in with your booster shot. Uh, we know that, uh, Kaiser San Diego has been doing things like that, but, uh, there's a variety of options for people to go. They can go to a pharmacy, they can go to one of those county sites. It's usually at like some sort of a community center, um, or you can reach out to healthcare providers and, uh, places like are vaccinating Kaiser patients. Um, and also, uh, non-Kaiser patients. Um, the one thing that's different about this one, you know, no mass vaccination sites this time. Uh, so, uh, in most of the cases you have to make an appointment ahead of time.

Speaker 1: (03:12)

Now are the booster shots, are they still only being advised for seniors and people with underlying conditions?

Speaker 2: (03:18)

So, uh, for this, we have to look to what the CDC said for the, uh, Pfizer shots that was a few weeks ago. And they okayed those, uh, for people 65 and older, uh, people over 18 with underlying medical conditions and those 18 and over working in high-risk settings, that's like healthcare, but also not limited to things like grocery store workers. Um, so we know that that's sort of a baseline that we have and talking with experts, um, they're sort of predicting that it's going to be the same rollout for boosters, for Madrona and J and J. So likely those same groups, 65 and older those with underlying medical conditions and those working in high risk settings. But we won't know until the end of the week.

Speaker 1: (03:56)

Now, if you get a booster shot, is that added to your proof of vaccination card? What kind of documentation do you get?

Speaker 2: (04:04)

Yeah, that, that's actually a really good question. And I've talked to a lot of doctors about this and even the county when they were pushing for people to go out there and get their Pfizer boosters, uh, keep in mind too. Like when the county did that, they said, you know, we want you to go out and get your booster shot. If you've had Pfizer, they want you to get Pfizer. If you had maternity, they want you to get Madonna. Um, and some people had to wait a little bit longer J and J and Medina, but that should be coming out here soon. In terms of the documentation, they're asking you to bring your vaccination card and you'll get like another sticker or another stamp on there. Um, also something to note too, the definition for fully vaccinated is still completing, you know, either the one series J and J or the two series Madonna and Pfizer. So the booster does not affect fully vaccinated. You know, some people need that for their work, uh, with mandates and things like that. Uh, so this is obviously just optional at this time.

Speaker 1: (04:53)

Now you mentioned the Pfizer booster that's been available for some time. How's that rollout been going? You know,

Speaker 2: (04:58)

We reached out to county officials and they said, uh, 89,000 doses of Pfizer booster, uh, at least had been administered here in San Diego county. Um, and we know that there's 2.2 million San Diego NS that are fully vaccinated. So, uh, when you hear that number 90,000, I mean, maybe it might seem a little small keep in mind. It's only been around for a few weeks. It's not something that's mandatory. Uh, but yeah, that's where the number is right now, 90,000 also, Maureen, something for people to keep in mind if they're thinking about going and getting a booster shot, whether it be Pfizer Madrona or J and J officials are asking that you get that shot, uh, at least six months after your original doses.

Speaker 1: (05:36)

Now today's news, the white house says it's making plans for the rollout of COVID vaccines for children ages five to 11, a CDC advisory panel will meet November 2nd to decide on approval. What is the general outline of this rollout plan?

Speaker 2: (05:53)

This is really big news. You know, we've been hearing a lot, a lot about, uh, vaccinations for kids ages five to 11. Um, and we understand that we are right around the corner from that, uh, yeah, today, the white house and, uh, some of their staff basically they're saying that they are ready to get shots in arms. Uh, they say that they have plenty of supply to vaccinate every child in the U S uh, ages five through 11. Um, and they say that, uh, just, just to kind of put it in context right now, in terms of unvaccinated people that, that are eligible. So we're not talking about kids, there's about 65 million Americans that are still not vaccinated, but that five through 11, that represents about 28 million Americans, the white house says

Speaker 1: (06:33)

Where will kids be able to get their

Speaker 2: (06:34)

Shots? So the white house is working with children's hospitals, working with state and local governments to set up sites. They say they want to make it really easy and convenient. So, um, you know, you'll be able to go to pharmacies, they're saying thousands of local pharmacies, uh, community health centers, rural health centers. Um, also I mentioned those children's hospitals. Um, so there's going to be a lot of places for kids to get it now. Obviously they need their parental consent to get it. Um, so we'll see, um, once this comes out, if the kids are going to be lining up to get vaccinated,

Speaker 1: (07:05)

Should we expect to hear more specifics from San Diego county about the vaccine rollout for children?

Speaker 2: (07:10)

I think the answer on that is yes. Um, usually when these things happen, uh, county health officials will hold a news conference, a news briefing, sort of letting people know here's where you can get this shot. Here's everything that you need to bring. So I think there's definitely more to come on this now. Uh, will we be seeing, uh, you know, some of these, uh, super stations as we were talking about before, um, that sort of remains unclear, um, and maybe, you know, as we've seen with some of the, uh, younger kids, like those who are in high school, uh, eligible for the Pfizer shot, uh, we've seen a lot of sites that have been there right at schools. So I wouldn't be surprised if we see, uh, some of these sites at schools where parents can just sort of either sign a permission, slip, like giving their permission or bringing their kids there to get their shots. So I think that there's definitely more to come here.

Speaker 1: (07:53)

I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (07:58)

Thanks Maureen.

Speaker 4: (08:02)

A pair of recent Navy reports point to multiple failures in the July, 2020 fire that destroyed the USS bottom. Rashard at Navy base San Diego. The contents of the reports were the subject of a Navy press conference this morning, which found that as smoke billowed in the air for five days, failed equipment and training stood in the way of extinguishing the flames. Joining us with details on the report is KPBS military reporter, Steve Walsh, Steve, welcome.

Speaker 5: (08:32)

Hi Jane. There was not only a report that came out today, uh, or rather a press conference, but, um, but there were two reports that came out today that really looked at, uh, the, not just what happened on the day of the fire, but, uh, looked at historically at Navy fires, dating all the way back to 2008. Wow.

Speaker 4: (08:53)

So without getting into the full findings of recent reports, can you summarize what conclusions were made?

Speaker 5: (08:59)

So what they found is that there were, the Navy had several systemic failures here that they're vulnerable to inside threats, like, like arson, Admiral bill, a lesser. It was the vice chief of Naval operations says that despite the Navy's assertion, that this was arson, he sees that the loss of the bottom or shard as preventable and wholly unacceptable, he said there were, there were just a series of failures. The entities didn't cooperate. There was the, just both reports pointed this situation where there was just chaos, the day of the fire, you had several sailors going into investigate and seeing a fire and then coming back and reporting rather than actually grabbing equipment and trying to fight the fire. Uh, the Navy, the Navy says that, uh, the equipment on board, the USS Bonam Rashard, that was there to fight fires was never actually used. Um, they did that.

Speaker 5: (09:54)

The sailors didn't understand a sprinkler system that was there on board and, and how that was, how that could have helped. Now they w this, the bottom Rashard was in, uh, was in San Diego for an extended maintenance period. So not, they didn't have a full crew on board. They only had about 138 sailors out of the 1000 crew members that are normally on board. The USO is bond number shard. Um, one of the admirals, um, uh, Scott Conn said that, um, the Navy is really good at fighting fires at sea. When you have a full compliment, everybody is drilled up and trained. They have all of their equipment and all the command in place, but it's during these times of transitions where they're in, in dock import and not everybody's aboard, this is when they've seen, not just at this time, but, but a series of fires happen all the way. Dating back to 2008,

Speaker 4: (10:48)

You re, you went through the widespread failures and protocols and equipment. Uh, but besides the initial act of arson, does the report place more blame with the rank and file troops or the commanding officers in charge?

Speaker 5: (11:02)

Well, if it's all the way down the line, I mean, the report points to things such as, um, the commanders on board, the USS Bonam, Rashard didn't even call in the fire, uh, and call in firefighters. It was the dispatcher who was monitoring the radio chatter of the USS bottom we're and heard some talk of fire. And the dispatcher was the person who actually called the fire department there. And then once the firefighters arrived, nobody led them to the fire or even showed them the best way to get inside the ship, which created a whole series of delays. Uh, it, it took them upwards of an hour to really sort of start to get their act together. And by that time, the fire had really started to spread, but I mean, the failures just keep, keep going. Um, at one point, um, the report says that, um, commanders on the ground Naval commanders, uh, were frustrated that the San Diego fire department wasn't going back into the ship to try to fight the fires. They didn't feel it was safe. And they told them if they weren't going to go in, they could leave. And apparently for the, for a time, uh, San Diego firefighters did pull out and they left, which of course just did nothing more than, uh, create, uh, more delays in this fire, into the burning peer side for, for almost five days

Speaker 4: (12:21)

And the fire suppression system on the ship, wasn't working

Speaker 5: (12:26)

Parts of it. You know, it, parts of it were not working parts of it. We're not a, well-maintained the, um, parts of it were disabled because of, uh, because of the maintenance, but on top of all of that, even the systems that were working and were available to sailors, they weren't used because people were not adequately trained. Okay.

Speaker 4: (12:45)

Uh, reports of the fire were found to be falsified. How so?

Speaker 5: (12:50)

Um, well, I believe what you're referring to is that, um, some of the, um, fire equipment was, was listed as, uh, as working when in fact it had not been tested, uh, it had been signed off on, even though it had not been working at the time.

Speaker 4: (13:07)

So what kind of disciplinary action can be expected moving forward?

Speaker 5: (13:12)

So we already have, of course, uh, semen rhyme, Sawyer maze. He's a, he's a, low-level a sailor who is charged with arson and that's a separate criminal investigation. His attorney, I talked to him this morning and he maintains that, that his client did not set the fire, but, um, the report goes into 36 officers that are going to be referred for further action, including the captain of the ship and various commanders. We don't, that could go all the way to court's marshal if they, if they find that that level of wrongdoing was involved. Um, though I will tell you two of the high ranking officers that are mentioned in the report, including the head of Naval surface forces, Pacific vice Admiral, Richard Brown, and the leader of Navy region, Southwest rear Admiral, Betty, uh, Bovela. Both of them have already retired. So it's a question of like how they will be held accountable. Um,

Speaker 4: (14:08)

All right. I know you will be following this story. I've been speaking with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh. Steve, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks.

Speaker 6: (14:18)


Speaker 1: (14:32)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade. Heinemann a package of proposed changes to the access and authority of the San Diego county law enforcement review board is moving forward. That changes were approved by the board. Last week. The reforms include allowing the board to expand to the medical workers and county jails, and to allow a qualified board representative to attend death scene investigations, supporters of the changes say they will help the review board accomplish its mission of investigating in custody deaths and accusations of misconduct. Joining me is the executive officer of the county law enforcement review board or clerk, Paul Parker, and Paul. Welcome,

Speaker 3: (15:17)

Thank you very much for this opportunity. Now

Speaker 1: (15:19)

You submitted this package of proposals to the board, and they've been called the biggest changes proposed to clubs since its beginnings 30 years ago. Why did you take this step?

Speaker 3: (15:30)

Maureen? I looked at the current state of law enforcement and community relations, not just in San Diego, but in the country. When we were created 30 years ago, the whole purpose was to have a transparent and independent oversight entity looking at the actions of sworn members of the Sheriff's department and probation department. Over the years that transparency has been reduced, almost eliminated, actually eliminated by some case law changes and statutory changes. And therefore our independence also comes into question when we can not be as transparent as we were formed to be.

Speaker 1: (16:09)

Can you tell us the way in custody, death investigations are now conducted by clerk and what constraints that you're under

Speaker 3: (16:17)

Right now, when an in custody death occurs, the Sheriff's department or probation department notifies us rather quickly, they give us the general circumstances, as far as the name of the person who died and where they died. And then at that point, we wait several months for their completed investigation. It could be upwards of a year in some cases or more. Once we then received the documentation that far after the death, we simply review what they have presented to us and opine that way as to whether or not any policies were violated, whether any laws were violated, whether there's anything that we could recommend that they do differently,

Speaker 1: (16:57)

You have no independent investigation going on, no routine access to autopsies and no oversight over the medical staff.

Speaker 3: (17:06)

We currently do not do any independent analysis of the death investigations because we're simply waiting for the materials from the respective departments. And most of the time that's the Sheriff's department. The whole purpose of making this specific request is to be independent, to do an independent analysis, to be present, to obtain this information, and then also review the information that's provided to us at a later time in reference to the medical staff. We have no jurisdiction over those that provide medical care or mental health care to the inmates in custody. So we believe we're not getting the big picture of the deaths that are occurring in custody without the ability to look at the care provided by medical staff and opine whether or not standard of care was appropriate.

Speaker 1: (17:50)

In your opinion, under the existing rules, has clerked been able to fulfill its mission of oversight over county law enforcement?

Speaker 3: (17:58)

I would say no. I would say we, because we lack the transparency and because we lack that independent nature, or we're simply waiting to review documentation, we certainly haven't lived up to the spirit of why we were created in 1990.

Speaker 1: (18:16)

The proposed changes to clerk require new legislation

Speaker 3: (18:20)

To increase the transparency of clerk and civilian oversight in the state of California. We believe the only way to do that is through new legislation. We are hamstrung from court decisions that happened in 2003, 2006 and 2008. And thus far, I don't believe that anyone's moved forward with attempting to increase the transparency of civilian oversight, which is exactly what we're trying to do.

Speaker 1: (18:44)

Can you give us an idea of what those court decisions, how they hampered your investigation?

Speaker 3: (18:50)

Yes. Prior to 2003, our club meetings where we discussed the cases were held in public or investigative reports or public documents and released to the public. We also were able to identify deputies by name in public. In 2003, our meetings became closed. We couldn't discuss anything about a case in public. Our investigative reports subsequently, and a couple of years later, we're also restricted. We simply now can only release a highly redacted version of the rationale that we use to come up with our findings on each allegation. And no one knows no member of the public, no complainant, no family members of those who have died. Note the exact content of the conversations that clergy members have, or the exact content of the thoroughness of many of the investigations that are not desperately needed. No one knows because it's behind closed doors.

Speaker 1: (19:49)

Now your proposed reform has passed their first hurdle by getting approval from the clerk board. What other approvals do they need?

Speaker 3: (19:56)

Depends on which ones we're talking about. Go increase the transparency. I must work with county staff at the office of strategic and intergovernmental affairs to identify legislation or to begin to draft legislation that the board of supervisors would be put before the board of supervisors to support moving forward, having jurisdiction over the medical and mental health folks, I'll be working with county staff basically to draft a letter to the board of supervisors, requesting a change to our, to our administrative code, the charter, our rules and regulations to allow for us to have that jurisdiction. And then at that point, we will also meet with the respective labor unions of the folks that are, that would be impacted as far as the response to death scenes and sealing of medical examiner reports on the behalf of the Sheriff's department, those are policy recommendations, and we simply forwarded those to the, to the sheriff department and are waiting for a response as to whether or not the Sheriff's department is going to allow for us to go to death scenes and whether the Sheriff's is going to allow for them to not routinely seal information from the public on certain in custody deaths.

Speaker 1: (21:03)

Now, before joining clerk, you worked not only as a police officer for several years, but you also led clerk a few years ago before returning last year. Police officers in general have not always been terribly supportive of law enforcement review boards. So what made you decide to return to Clara and what made you decide to propose these changes?

Speaker 3: (21:26)

The return to club was a fairly easy decision because there had been some changes at the county level. There have been some national dialogues that it started, obviously after the George Floyd incident, after the George Ford murder, it was an opportunity to increase the conversation, to improve the conversation between law enforcement and the community here in San Diego county. So that's why I came back, looking at it from, from that perspective and to make these proposals, in my opinion, will dramatically increase the transparency and hopefully will contribute to the public's trust in what is going on at the law enforcement level. That's why we're here to be transparent, to be independent, and to facilitate that communication between law enforcement and the community to hopefully assist in improving whatever practices may need to be improved and ultimately attempting to assist law enforcement with preventing deaths.

Speaker 1: (22:22)

I've been speaking with the executive officer of the county law enforcement review board, Paul Parker, and Paul, thank you so much.

Speaker 3: (22:30)

And thank you again for the opportunity.

Speaker 4: (22:38)

Let them breathe has become known nationally for its fight against mask mandates and other COVID restrictions. In schools. The north San Diego county group has collected thousands of dollars in donations to fund their efforts. Now they're targeting vaccine requirements, but who's actually behind this organization. KPBS reporter, Tanya thorn takes a closer look,

Speaker 7: (23:01)

Let them breathe has become well known for disrupting school board meetings, its logo and unmasked and bright smiling face. Emoji has popped up in school, board meetings and protests across the region. They are fighting to end a student mask mandates testing and quarantine protocols in schools they've gained national attention. And so far raised more than $150,000 in donations through their go-fund me

Speaker 8: (23:28)

Over 30,000 parents that are concerned about the effects of, uh, masking on their kids' mental health, their physical health, their social development, and also their academic progress.

Speaker 7: (23:40)

The founder Sharon Mckeeman lives in north county before she found the national spotlight. She was a blogger artist and mother now with interviews or radio show merchandise sales and lawsuits, let them breathe has become like a full-time job, but Mckeeman wouldn't share if she was getting a salary along with the donations on GoFund me Mckeeman is raising money for let them breathe by selling merchandise. She says the money will go to her lawsuit against the state to end student mask mandates.

Speaker 8: (24:10)

And unfortunately, legal action is not cheap. And so to bring these issues before a judge and, and to have them settled in a court, instead of just kind of the chaos of public opinion is it's expensive.

Speaker 7: (24:24)

Let them breathe has requested that the state be required to pay their attorney's fees. If they win their lawsuit, if they win, Mckeeman says she would use the money to fund her next legal battle on her website. Mckeeman describes herself as a quote, author, educator, artists, photographer, and homeschooling mama, which has prompted her opponents to question whether her kids go to school, but Mckeeman explains that they do

Speaker 8: (24:50)

All my kids are in the public school system. There have been portions of time where they weren't a charter. They were still in a publicly funded classroom every week, but they are home with me a couple of days a week. So I did learn about homeschooling

Speaker 7: (25:04)

BS verified that all four of McKesson's children attend in-person schools in north county. She says masking and restrictions took a mental toll on her kids and has heard the same from parents across the country.

Speaker 8: (25:17)

We're hearing from parents, with kids who have epilepsy that are hearing impaired, uh, uh, kids that are English language learners. And, and they're struggling to, to learn the English language when they can't see their teachers mouths. Uh, we're hearing about anxiety, depression,

Speaker 7: (25:32)

Mckeeman site studies that same masks harm children's physical and mental health, but some medical experts questioned the validity of those studies. Lizette ma a family psychologist says

Speaker 9: (25:44)

Not have one kid in the last 21 months that have said, I am still upset that afterwards during NASC yes, it's uncomfortable. It's knowing it's is not the issue. The issue is everything else that got stripped from everybody and all that additional stressors that be,

Speaker 7: (26:02)

And many parents do want masks and vaccine requirements. Kristin beer is the admin for parents for P U S D a group in Poway who has told school officials. They support masks

Speaker 10: (26:15)

And letting know that like, yes, the people outside are loud, um, are intimidating, but there are lots of us out there who appreciate when they make those hard decisions. And when they stand up to those people and make the right decisions for the right reasons.

Speaker 7: (26:32)

Now Mckeeman is looking to expand in July. She filed paperwork with the state to make, let them breathe a nonprofit in response to KPBS question, she declined, disclose details about its expenses. And she started a new group to fight vaccine mandates in schools

Speaker 8: (26:50)

And choose that is an initiative from that same community, but it will have a separate, uh, it already has a separate fundraiser for legal action to oppose a forced COVID vaccines for six

Speaker 7: (27:04)

Last week, the group announced a lawsuit against San Diego unified for its vaccine mandate. It's go fund me has raised more than $33,000 so far, Tonya thorn KPBS news.

Speaker 1: (27:27)

Julian is a popular destination this time of year to see the leaves, turn color, and pick up some of that famous apple pie. But this year, Julian has another claim to fame. It's been named an official dark sky community, just the second one in California after Borrego Springs, after a lengthy preparation, including enacting new outdoor lighting ordinances. Julian received the designation from the international dark sky association. The result now nighttime visitors can gaze at a clearer vision of the heavens. In may. I spoke with Lisa will physics and astronomy professor at San Diego city college and resident astronomer at the fleet science center. Here's that interview. Now, can you try to describe the difference between looking up at the night sky and San Diego with what it looks like and Julia, now that it's a dark sky community,

Speaker 11: (28:22)

When you go outside at night in a large metropolitan area like San Diego, the light pollution washes out the faintest stars in the sky. So if you and I were to go outside tonight, weather cooperating and look up at the sky, we would see, um, a couple of dozen, several dozen of the brightest stars of the sky, but we'd be losing out on the fainter details, uh, the Milky way going across the sky, the fainter stars that build up the constellations. And it's just, it's a very different experience. You're almost overwhelmed by the number of stars there are because we're just not used to seeing that many from a city. And that's what having a designated dark sky community like Julian will make available to people.

Speaker 1: (29:05)

Now getting that dark sky designation is quite a process. So what did Julian have to do to get that?

Speaker 11: (29:12)

Well, Julian hope to follow in the footsteps of Borrego Springs, which is the other community in California that has their dark sky designation. Um, and they saw what Borrego Springs did, but they had to go even further because it turns out that San Diego county has been kind of lagging behind the times in terms of lighting ordinances. So they had to work with the county to get lighting ordinances approved, but also that sometimes fixing light pollution can be kind of simple, like making sure the light is directed where you want it to I'm changing the color of the lights from the sort of bright blue led lights that we're all getting used to, to the warmer colors that don't scatter as much in the nighttime sky and cause air glow. So, um, that's how they worked to try to make their sky darker.

Speaker 1: (30:00)

I ask you just a little bit more about what light pollution, how it affects our ability to see the stars, because going out in the city at night, looking up the sky is beautiful. I mean, it, it's pretty, you see some stars, but when you go to a dark sky community or you go out some rural places, it's a whole different experience, isn't it?

Speaker 11: (30:22)

It really is. And I think it's a statement about how few people actually get that experience anymore. If you remember, there were several years ago, there was that large power outage over all of Southern California. And I had students, you know, contact me saying, I I'd never seen the sky like that. We should schedule a power outage like this once a month, when you go outside at night, a light pollution affects your ability to see the sky in a couple of different ways. Uh, first of all, there's just the glare, uh, bright lights, uh, don't ever let your eyes get dark adapted. Um, and what I mean by that is that your eyes can see better. The longer you're outside in the dark. It takes about 15 minutes for your eyes to get truly dark adapted. So if you're in a place with a lot of clutter of lights, your eyes never get truly dark adapted so that you can see the Patros stars in the sky.

Speaker 11: (31:09)

But the bigger problem in large metropolitan areas like San Diego is a sky glow where the lights of the city, uh, the light gets scattered in the air above the city and it causes what we see as light domes in the distance. And so, you know how, if you're coming into a large city, you can see the sky get brighter in the direction of the city before you ever see any of the buildings in the city. That's over us all the time in a large metropolitan area. And it just makes the fainter stars invisible to us. So we really only see about the couple of brightest stars in the sky. If you're really truly surrounded by light pollution is

Speaker 1: (31:47)

Dark sky, uh, going to help astronomers at Palomar or other observatories.

Speaker 11: (31:53)

Well, it certainly doesn't hurt when you're at a observatory and you look out at the horizon, you can see the light domes above cities in the distance. And so any city that makes an effort to decrease the light pollution will be a help to the professional observatories of the area. Uh, so in San Diego county, we have a Palomar, we have a Mount Laguna observatory, and any efforts will help that, uh, the astronomers at those facilities see the night sky better.

Speaker 1: (32:22)

What about amateur sky gazers do you expect this will increase visitors to Julian?

Speaker 11: (32:26)

Well, we certainly hope so because if you've never had a chance to see a truly dark sky, it's amazing. Most people who live in a city have never seen the Milky way itself, uh, studies have shown that up to 99% of people living in the United States, don't actually see a truly natural nighttime sky because we all live in cities are close enough to cities that their light pollution is changing. The sky that we see

Speaker 1: (32:51)

Now, you're the fleets resident astronomer and are involved with the local astronomy on tap group. Do you foresee holding events and Julian in the future because of this new dark sky designation

Speaker 11: (33:03)

I would love to. And, uh, you know, Julian already has, uh, people up there dedicated to bringing astronomy to the public, like with their, uh, their star party that they have done and will continue to do. And so, yeah, I'm looking forward to going up there and, uh, experiencing the night sky. I don't say that I can't quite do from here in San Diego.

Speaker 1: (33:26)

And do you need to bring a telescope or can you really see things with your naked eye if you're out in that dark sky community?

Speaker 11: (33:33)

So many things that you can see with the naked eye when you're outside and get dark adapted under a truly dark sky star light can be bright enough for you to see by, you know, and that's just not something we ever experienced in this

Speaker 1: (33:46)

Now that both Julian and Borrego Springs are official dark sky communities. And as a Borrego park is a dark sky park. Is there any chance we're about to see a whole sort of dark sky region in San Diego county?

Speaker 11: (34:01)

You know, I would really love that and there's not just because of preserving the night sky for all of us to experience, but light pollution is incredibly impactful. It wastes energy because a lot of that light is not necessary. It's not being directed into the places where the light is wanted. Um, it impacts wildlife and, um, health. And so I would love to see a greater movement towards understanding light pollution as the problem that it is.

Speaker 1: (34:30)

I have been speaking with Lisa will she's physics and astronomy professor at San Diego city college and resident astronomer at the fleet science center. Lisa, thank you very much.

Speaker 11: (34:41)

Thank you.

Speaker 6: (34:42)


Speaker 4: (34:53)

You're listening to KPBS mid-day edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Cavenaugh, San Diego author. All Rihanna bar was born in Shiraz, Iran, and grew up during the throes of the Iran, Iraq war. She moved to the United States at the age of 14. She has dedicated her life to refugees of war torn and conflict lane borders, including our own border, where she collaborates with musicians, dancers, and poets. She had her writing published in Vogue, the guardian Newsweek and more her debut novel. A girl called roomy came out in late September. It's the story of a family in post revolution, Iran, Ari haunted, her spoke with KPBS arts, calendar editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans about the book. Here's

Speaker 12: (35:37)

That interview. Ari. Why did you want to write this book and tell this story of Kamia who we soon learn is the girl called roomy?

Speaker 13: (35:47)

Well, as you mentioned, I was born in Shiraz, Iran, and that's the city of poets and wine. So this book has a bit of a love letter to my hometown. And also what happened when I was six years old, when women of Iran lost their right to sing in public or dance or ride a bicycle and freedom of expression became curtailed in dissonance for punished on there, that Islamic Republic that had just taken root. And, uh, this Saddam Hussein took advantage of this internal turmoil and attacked Iran and started a war that lasted eight years and destroyed countless lives. So we were being attacked from outside, but also from within, there was an actual war and people were so on the edge that they would have a heart attack when the door would slam. I wanted to, to bring it back kind of a element.

Speaker 13: (36:47)

What happens when, uh, your, a whole region is thrown into the crucible of oppression and war and what happens to relationships. But I also wanted to talk about a story of childhood friendships and family bonds, and, uh, at a deeper level, the omnipresent yearning for liberation from suffering. So for that, that book weaves in the 12th century, Persian mistake and poet ATARs conference of the birds, which is an allegory for special attainment. And our, our, uh, protagonist gets to get drawn into this mythic tale and tap into the mystical realm that sustains her through terrible circumstances.

Speaker 12: (37:37)

And I want to talk about structure. The book beautifully moves through multiple voices, as well as in parallel cities, across parallel timelines. And it said an post-revolution around in 1981, and then in 2009, but like you said, connecting it all is, is poetry and legends and this almost other worldly storyteller, Baba moshed tell me why these threads are important to you.

Speaker 13: (38:05)

Yeah. First and foremost, when I sat down to write this book, I wanted to present a compelling story, but I also wanted to bring the plights of refugees and what happens to people who have to leave everything that is precious to them behind and come been thrown into this unfamiliar circumstance where every cell of your being wants to go home. But also, uh, you'll do anything you can not to go home, not to go back to where you escaped from, because home is no longer home. So, um, when the oppression and the wars are happening, there was a war on our coping mechanisms because there was a war on our pastimes. Our favorite pastimes became a crime playing cards by gamma and music then saying, so we had two choices, one to take risks that could end our freedom or life, or to become resourceful in how we brought in joy to our lives. And with many of us relied like me relied on this whole saving power of poetry and storytelling. And I choose to chose to do both small and large acts of defiance against the injustice against women. And me also, um, tapping into the cushion of 900 year old myths that, that helped us survive those dark days.

Speaker 12: (39:40)

And you tell us more about the book's main character. Kamia

Speaker 13: (39:45)

The Kimia is a nine-year-old girl in the beginning. And then later she is a, a woman in her mid thirties in San Diego when she's nine, she is in Iran and the revolution has just taken place where she can play with her best friend. Who's a boy. And she ends up getting into a lot of trouble with him and a lot of adventures. And she taps into this mythic tale and, uh, and learns about how to navigate life as terrible things are happening around you. She gets connected to a sanctuary within herself, but then that everything just shatters right before she moves to the us. And she has to reinvent herself and become who she is. And as Panadol

Speaker 12: (40:40)

Kamia and her brother are man's stories in particular, they don't shy away from the darkness there sometimes raw and gruesome depictions of torture or self-harm. Can you talk a little bit about this choice and what the reality is for children who experienced war?

Speaker 13: (41:01)

Yes. As an adult, I work with, uh, children at war refugees, asylum seekers, who've been through tremendous amount of torture and violence, including being a former ISIS sex lives and women who've been through so much, uh, crossing the border, being assaulted, et cetera. And when this trauma becomes so all encompassing, when you can't move through, you have to find ways to cope. And for my main character self-harm is a way that she's able to, to keep her emotions from overwhelming her, because she's so afraid of feeling everything that she's holding inside from all the trauma that she has received. And for. So that's for, Kamia for who's the protagonist for her brother. He has an entirely different set of, uh, trauma and, um, met also similar because they're in the same environment in the same crucible together. So he, um, he smokes pot a lot just to be able to, to cope with what, what is happening, what has happened to him, and just tries to not think about the past and keep staying in the present the bay the best way he,

Speaker 12: (42:33)

There's a big motif in the book about the idea of free will, but also of destiny. And I really love the way adult Kamia meditates around her own reactions and the way this is such a powerful piece of the storyteller's message to what he says about choice. Can you tell us a little bit about that freewill?

Speaker 13: (42:56)

Uh, so that's like a big philosophical question, whether we have free will or is it all written in the big book of life for us? And, um, and that's something that, um, this storyteller is able to convey to nine and 10 year olds in a, in a beautiful way. I work where they can kind of understand the difference with between choice and, and, uh, and destiny and, and keep con contemplating on it. So the, the, a storyteller tells them that, um, these questions have to keep simmering in the fire of life for them in the fire of their, their being before they come to fruition. And there's no clear answers that, that, uh, and I chose that for a reason to, to keep that open ended for, for the, for the reader to see what they resonate to at the moment.

Speaker 12: (44:03)

I've been speaking to RA Hona VAR, who is out with her first novel, a girl called roomy and who will appear at mysterious galaxy with three other local authors on Sunday at 11:00 AM. Thank you, Ari.

Speaker 13: (44:17)

Thank you so much, Julia, for having me.