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Jury Finds Navy SEAL Not Guilty Of Murdering Islamic State Prisoner And More Local News

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A military jury on Tuesday acquitted a decorated Navy SEAL of premeditated murder in the killing of a wounded Islamic State captive under his care in Iraq in 2017. Plus, a fifth child sick with E. coli possibly linked to the San Diego County Fair has been reported; the Airport Authority has announced a $500M funding pact with airlines for transit projects; and a growing enclave of millennials is choosing van life as an alternative to a 9-to-5 job and a mortgage.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Wednesday, July 3rd I'm Deb Welsh and you are listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up, a decorated navy seal acquitted in the murder case of a teen isis fighter in Iraq and what about those people who choose to live in their vehicles? Non Traditional living situations is I think just another, another piece of that trend that and more coming up right after the break.

Speaker 2: 00:30 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:33 Thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh, a navy jury, largely exonerated seal chief Eddie Gallagher, who was charged with seven more crimes from his time in Iraq in 2017 KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh has been covering the trial.

Speaker 3: 00:51 Gallagher was found not guilty of murdering a wounded detainee, attempted murder for shooting at civilians with his sniper rifle and impeding the investigation. Not guilty of all but the least a serious crime posing with a dead body on the battlefield, which carries a maximum sentence of four months in prison. Gallagher. His attorney called it an investigation that was out of control that targeted Gallagher from the beginning, the lead investigator for ensis Joe War Pinsky has only been a naval investigator for two and a half years before being handed a war crimes case of national significance. Though largely exonerated near the end of his 20 year career, Gallagher's still faces a reduction in rank if he is sentenced to time in the Brig. The jury is expected to decide that portion of his fate Wednesday morning for KPBS news. I'm Steve Walsh.

Speaker 1: 01:39 The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and its airline partners have reached a new 10 year agreement that could be a win win for everyone. KPBS is Sally Hicks that explains the new deal would give the airport authority the ability to contribute over a half billion dollars to help alleviate traffic congestion and ease access to San Diego International Airport. The contribution breaks down like this $350 million for on and potential off airport public transportation projects. An additional 165 million for mobility corridor improvements, which might include an inbound on airport access roadway adjacent to harbor drive that roadway if approved, would connect to Laurel Street directly to the airport, removing an estimated 45,000 cars per day from Harper drive. The agency is working with its regional partners like the port of San Diego, the military and Caltrans on the airports, potential transportation and transit connection improvements. Sally Hixson, KPBS news. Governor Gavin Newsom wanted the legislature to approve his plan for a wildfire fund by the end of next week. Now he's backing off that goal. Capitol public radio. Scott Rod has more

Speaker 3: 02:53 Newsome's plan calls for a $21 billion liability fund to help utility companies cover wildfire costs, but whether or not the legislature

Speaker 4: 03:00 will approve it before mid July, he says is an open ended question.

Speaker 5: 03:03 There's a sense of some urgency as we move into the summer months to get something done and do it in a comprehensive way. I've thought the approach we're taking is the best approach. Under the circumstances

Speaker 4: 03:14 rate payers in utilities would pay for the fund which would act as insurance for wildfire damages. If the California Public Utility Commission determines a company acted reasonably, even if its equipment started a fire, the fund would cover the cost of damages to be eligible for the fund. The state's three major utility companies must receive a safety certification from the state and invest a combined $5 billion in safety improvements in Sacramento. I'm Scott Rod,

Speaker 1: 03:40 the Mexican and US governments are harassing human rights workers along the border and that's according to a new report from Amnesty International KPV as reporter Max Rivlin Adler was there as a group gathered outside the federal building downtown Tuesday to protest the treatment.

Speaker 6: 03:57 Since the start of the Trump administration, human rights workers have noted a sharp uptake in harassment. This came to a head earlier this year when several lawyers and advocates were placed on a secret watch list and denied entry into Mexico. Human rights lawyer, Erica Pinero who works for the organization, although through a lotto was placed on the watch list, she says that separated her from her family and impacted her work.

Speaker 7: 04:20 When I finally was issued a visa and able to come back to Mexico was detained again, interrogated

Speaker 6: 04:26 the report says the Department of Homeland Security interrogated reporters and advocates as they crossed the border and asked them to give information about the movements and plans of asylum seekers. Lawyers fear that material can now be used to build human smuggling cases against groups providing asylum seekers with humanitarian aid Max, the Nadler k PBS news

Speaker 1: 04:47 last year, airy asters hereditary made the top 10 of kpps film, critic Bath Lycomato and his new film midsummer will be getting a slot on her 2019 list. When something is truly fresh and original, it can be difficult to find the words to describe it. That's the case with Arie Astor's midsummer, so I asked the director to describe it himself.

Speaker 8: 05:09 I would describe the movie as an operatic breakup movie and a fairy tale. I think if you walk into it expecting either of those things, you'll have some sense of what you're walking into.

Speaker 1: 05:22 Ah, that's a bit like walking into psycho and expecting a film about embezzling money. It doesn't quite prepare you for what Hitchcock delivers. Yes. Mid Summer is about a breakup and it does step into folklore to create, it's backdrop, but it's also an unnerving film about grief loss and a consummate communal experience. It's a delicious slow burn that looks to a group of young people who visit a kind of pagan, Swedish Colt, where the sun always shines and everyone's smiling, yet something feels off.

Speaker 5: 05:52 Tomorrow's a big day. Is it scary?

Speaker 1: 05:55 Yes, but not in any of the ways you might expect. The less you know about the film, the better. So let me just say that aster is a bold filmmaker with a knack for dark comedy and building a sense of dread. If you want unconventional horror delivered in a uniquely confident and gorgeous style, then this is the film for you. Beth luck. Amando KPBS news Midsomer opens today in select theaters. This week. New regulations went into effect for Douglas Scooters in San Diego. KPBS reporter Molina Spitzer went to mission beach to speak with residents and tourists about the changes.

Speaker 9: 06:31 See that

Speaker 1: 06:34 John Cole, a resident rollerblader here in mission beach, shakes his head after a scooter on the wrong side of the boardwalk, nearly collides with a bicycle. He says over the years, the boardwalk has changed dramatically and

Speaker 10: 06:46 not for the better. These electric scooters and bicycles, skateboards, and I've seen a lot of accidents, so I'd like to see them ban them simply because it's a broad walk. Ocean walk, the anxiety, it says it all shouldn't allow any motorized vehicles.

Speaker 1: 07:08 After hearing the concerns of residents like Cole City Council adopted scooter regulations, which went into effect on July 1st the rules require specific staging and parking areas for scooters and a speed limit of eight miles per hour in certain geo fenced areas including mission beach and downtown Malena Spitzer KPBS news. The California dream used to be a car and a house, but for some people today, the dream is a car that is your house. These are not people pushed by high risk to live in their cars. They are people who choose to live that way. They call it van life as part of our California dream collaboration, capitol public radio. Sammy k Yola goes in search of the van life community.

Speaker 9: 07:52 Okay,

Speaker 11: 07:55 so I hop in with this guy. He goes by the name Travis wild. We're in his shiny navy blue

Speaker 9: 08:01 dots, yeses above your head like this. Looks at a cool spot. Then I get back into potentially,

Speaker 11: 08:05 he's been living in this van for about three years. He's constantly looking for a new campsite to call home tonight. He rolls up on a rocky bank near the south Yuba river and lets his dog out.

Speaker 9: 08:15 Yes, you've got a lot of energy to get out. It was probably a little less than seven hours of driving to get here.

Speaker 11: 08:22 People in the van life share a big dream of living small and going places. It's taking off in California where rising housing costs and a sense of adventure are inspiring more and more people to go. Wheel's only. The first thing I notice about the inside of Travis's van is how comfortable and clean it is. Pretty simple. His walls are pine, the floor is bamboo. His bed is surrounded by bookshelves and a surfboard hangs from the ceiling. He shows me some space saving tricks like this hidden table that slides out from right here, just from under the bed and then continuing just all of this, the storage on the sides. Travis is part of a community that's choosing the nomadic lifestyle to save on rent, to live greener or just because it seems like fun, but there's a whole other set of people who are forced to live in their vehicles because they can't afford housing. Sometimes these two groups join forces to fight local bands on sleeping in cars. Those are popping up in places like San Diego and Berkeley. As more people go mobile, voluntary van dwellers say they know it's a privilege, but it's not always easy. Vehicle maintenance, Internet shortages and even finding a place to use the bathroom can be a struggle.

Speaker 12: 09:35 Well, there's always like these little kinks that are, at first it's like, oh, this is part of the adventure. And then you're like, oh, this is like, it's rainy and I have to stay inside here. Um, a little bit more than I would've liked to.

Speaker 11: 09:47 None of this stops van lifers from doing their thing. Gabrielle Lewine is a Grad student in psychology at the University of Southern California. She's research millennials. Their hopes and goals. She says some are rebelling against their parents dreams.

Speaker 13: 10:01 Millennials are just questioning whether that's worth it. You know, it's a very traditional thing to think about. The primary thing you need is a, is a roof over your head in the same way that millennials are to use the very trendy word of disrupting other kinds of marketplaces. Non Traditional living situations is I think just another, another piece of that trend.

Speaker 11: 10:21 Van dwellers tend to work remotely. They're artists, accountants and web developers. The lifestyle is even generating its own micro economy. Some travelers become social media influencers who make money by tagging gear companies on Instagram, others run van life websites and apps. I stopped by to see Josh Thompson. He's converting a van into a mobile home right now. Country Music plays as he measures out space for cabinets and other furniture.

Speaker 12: 10:47 So that'll be up here and this'll be like kind of storage area for um, extra bike space. And then also we're just like climbing deer and whatnot.

Speaker 11: 10:56 He's getting pretty good at building these. Sometimes he sells the band, but he's keeping this one for himself.

Speaker 12: 11:02 Like life's pretty short, you know, it's just a minimal living that allows you like the freedom to make choices of what you do with your time and what you do with your money.

Speaker 11: 11:13 Travis says the same thing, that it's about freedom that and the people he meets on the road,

Speaker 14: 11:18 it actually allows like face to face interactions, which are really important and becoming less and less common in today's world I guess is a big thing when you can chat online all you want, but like you'll really get to know somebody if you like, you know, I have a couple beers around a campfire and go on a hike and like that sort of thing. That's really the fun part.

Speaker 11: 11:40 I say goodbye as Travis starts boiling noodles on his countertop stove, so we'll get that guy. I notice a plank above the door scribbled with a dozen signatures from friends who have stood right here, but tomorrow, like hundreds of other California vagabonds he'll set out alone and Yuba city. I'm Sami K Yola. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. For more KPBS podcasts, go to k pbs.org/podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.