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Spoiler-Free Review Of 'Rise Of Skywalker' And More Local News

 December 19, 2019 at 3:00 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, December 19th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Star Wars, the rise of Skywalker opens in theaters today and we'll have a spoiler free review for you and we turn toward the Southern Rocky mountains to see just how much snow piles up any one year does not set the whole system into either, you know, crisis or into recovery. That more coming up right after the break. Speaker 1: 00:33 JJ Abrams, star Wars, the rise of Skywalker opens in theaters today and our star Wars nerd in residence and KPBS film critic Beth Huck Amando as this spoiler free reaction you grew up with George Lucas has star Wars movies like I did. Then that music conserve vivid memories and if you've been waiting with great hope and more than a little trepidation for the rise of Skywalker than let me say you can breathe a sigh of relief. JJ does not pull a charge jar on us. JJ Abrams helm, the force awakens and returns to direct the rise of Skywalker. Both films follow a safe but solid formula in his latest outing. He delivers a lot of fan service, some well done and some that just feels calculated. He gives us a film that brings the 40 plus years of cinematic storytelling to a mostly fun and entertaining conclusion. I'd like to sound more excited, but honestly, when I left the theater I just felt happily relieved. Speaker 1: 01:33 The problem is that Abrams doesn't really take risks. He loves big action scenes and has plenty of callbacks to the original films plus cameos that fans will love, but his films don't generate the excitement I feel every time I watched the empire strikes back or more recently, rogue one the Skywalker saga has come to an end, but I'm sure we'll be visiting that galaxy far, far away for a long time to come. Not like Amando KPBS news. San Diego Christian college has been put on probation and may lose its accreditation. Fiscal mismanagement is to blame if the problems aren't fixed. Students could face serious consequences. I new source investigative reporter, Jennifer Bowman has Speaker 2: 02:16 more a short term loan to pay bills, a faulty audit, an unapproved budget. Those are some of the issues and accrediting agency says San Diego. Christian college must fix in the next two years to get off probation. If that doesn't happen, the school students could lose federal financial aid. The college's new president, Kevin Carsine says he's committed to addressing the money problems. You know, we're going to own probation. In fact, I think we should wear it as a badge of, you know, this is an opportunity for us to grow. This is opportunity for us to become better to get there. Of course he says he's working to boost enrollment and increase fundraising for KPBS I my new source investigative reporter, Jennifer Bowman. Speaker 1: 02:55 I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS. Next fall, construction is expected to begin on new express lanes in each direction on interstate five KPBS has Prius either has more. Next fall construction is expected to begin on new express lanes in each direction on interstate five between Palomar airport road in Carlsbad and state route 78 in Oceanside, the lanes will be open to vehicles with two or more people, motorcycles, mass transit buses, and qualified clean air vehicles. Caltrans project manager, Arturo Jacopo says the $100 million project will reduce traffic. Speaker 3: 03:36 Well, the idea is for that express lace to be ah, fifth floor conditions. So in theory it should save time. Speaker 1: 03:42 The lanes are scheduled to be completed in 2022 and we'll give commuters access to 20 continuous miles of express lanes from the eight Oh five five split to state route 78 Prius. Sure. Either K PBS news. For years, San Diego's been lagging behind the national trend of increasing opioid deaths, but that as we hear from KPBS, as Tom fudge is starting to change, Speaker 4: 04:07 the San Diego County medical examiners office as the opioid epidemic can be seen here by the rise in fentanyl deaths. Newly released numbers show fentanyl overdose deaths in the San Diego region increased by 68% when comparing this year as mid year data with 2018 from January through June this year, there were 69 fentanyl desks compared to 41 in the first six months of last year. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 25 to 50 times stronger than heroin. It's lethal even in tiny doses. Tom fudge, KPBS news, Speaker 1: 04:46 go to the mission beach boardwalk. You'll see electric scooters go to the Pacific beach boardwalk and you'll see them there too, but at the San Diego city council voted this week to ban all motorized devices at city boardwalks. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman went out to see what people think about the move. Speaker 5: 05:04 A split city council voted five to four to prohibit the so called micro mobility devices along mission beach, Pacific beach mission Bay park and LA Jolla shores. People we talked to at the mission beach boardwalk. Say scooter riders are the problem. Speaker 3: 05:16 I'll take my chances on on mission Boulevard opposed to the chances with the scooters here. I don't know. They're just not courteous and they honestly, they don't care. Speaker 5: 05:24 That's Larry Lehmann, who lives in Lakeside. Matt [inaudible] lives in ocean beach. Speaker 3: 05:28 I think the scooters are great and places like North park or Hillcrest where most people use them for commuting or just quick trips. But here they're used for recreation and the people who are using them are using them very seriously. Sometimes they're drinking, sometimes they have small children. In tandem with a mom that I'm just scooters. Speaker 5: 05:45 Scooter company bird says it remains committed to micro mobility in San Diego. Lyme says they will wait to see how the company is impacted by a band. Matt Hoffman KPBS news, Speaker 1: 05:55 so much of the West water security wrapped up in snow. When it melts, it becomes drinking and irrigation water familiars throughout the region. A high snowpack lets farmers skiers and water managers breathe a sigh of relief while a low one can spell longterm trouble. Luke Runyon reports on what the upcoming winter might bring. Speaker 4: 06:15 The start of winter doesn't smell like fresh pine trees or burning logs in the fireplace for Brian Varella. It smells like melted crayons and I just put the wax red on the wax and Heron started tripping a little bit on there. Varella is waxing his skis. They're propped up on a wooden bench in his Fort Collins, Colorado garage. His work area is bordered by a string of multicolored Christmas lights. I'm not really thinking about anything except skis and snow and getting outside with my friends and that's it. Nice Zen centering Mona's definitely. Yeah. The thinking goes, if you wax it, the snow will come and Varella is hoping for a repeat of last winter, which was one of the most abundant for the Southern Rockies in the last decade. I'll admit this year I didn't put the stuff away. Um, I left most of my tools out. We actually skied into, uh, uh, July 4th, but at the start of each ski season, no one really knows how it will all shake out. Speaker 4: 07:16 I used to worry about it. I used to wonder, is it going to be a great snow year? Is it going to be a good snow year? Am I wasting my money going up in the mountains to play anymore? I don't worry about it. Varella says people in the recreational community have a selective memory when it comes to snow. They tend to only remember the good times and forget the years cut short by a lack of snow in the mountains. It's the opposite for those in charge of using that melted snow to keep faucets flowing in Arizona. Speaker 6: 07:44 It's visceral, right? Speaker 4: 07:47 Catherine Sorenson is in charge of Phoenix's water utility. The city gets more than 30% of its water from the Colorado river, which gets its start high up in snowy mountains Speaker 6: 07:57 because so much of what we do depends on, you know, the availability of water and hydrology that yeah, it's almost like a gut emotional reaction to both good years and bad years. Speaker 4: 08:10 Unlike Brian Varella Sorenson can rattle off the bad snow years with ease. 2002 2012 2013 and the most recent, the record setting, hot and dry winter of 2018 Speaker 6: 08:23 where are we? You know, hoping for good snow pack and when it's absent, sure, we get nervous. But again, that's why we plan methodically, uh, for worst case scenarios so that we are prepared come what may on the Colorado river watershed, Speaker 4: 08:38 any one year does not set the whole system into either, you know, crisis or into recovery. Jeff Lucas is a water researcher at the university of Colorado, Boulder. Whatever happens this winter high snow low or somewhere in between, he says it won't cause the Colorado river's biggest reservoirs to rise or fall in any dramatic way. That takes back to back years of extreme highs or lows. There's no good that comes from a low runoff year like 2018 but it's not the end of the world. Especially if you're lucky enough to have that followed with a high runoff, you're likely hadn't 2019 and if 2020 brings another high snowpack year, that doesn't mean the Colorado river is out of crisis mode. It just means we've kicked the can down the road because over the longterm Lucas says climate change is diminishing snowpack across the West and increasingly we're seeing unprecedented conditions relative to the last a hundred or 120 years of record. Like there's, there's an erosion of the value of the past as a guide to the future. Back in Brian Barella's garage, the newly waxed skis are fully cured. He picks up a plastic tool to scrape off the excess Speaker 7: 10:01 and there you have a home to ski. It looks pretty good. Can you make a prediction of whether it's going to be a good year or a bad year for snow or is it still too early to say? My prediction is this is going to be a fantastic year. We're off to a good start man. We're just going to keep that momentum going. Get as many people as we can. Excited about this. Speaker 4: 10:21 Ah, early winter optimism. I'm Luke Runyon in Fort Collins, Colorado. Speaker 1: 10:28 This story is part of ongoing Colorado river coverage in partnership with K U N UNC and Colorado supported by a Walton family foundation grant when California voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 some worried about the impact on teen use and emergency rooms and today's installment of our week long series, high hopes California's pot experiment KPBS reporter Claire triggers or examines how these concerns are panning out. Speaker 8: 10:56 San Diego has long been a favorite spot for tourists who come for it, surfing beaches and parks, but for the past couple of years tourists have also been coming for something else. Speaker 4: 11:09 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 11:09 legal marijuana and that has contributed to a bump in emergency room visits, says Dr. Richard Clark, an emergency physician and director of medical toxicology at UC San Diego Speaker 7: 11:22 tourists or visitors to California will often come in and want to try it because they can get it here so much easier than they can in their own, uh, geographical location and they won't have the experience that many local users have with it and may accidentally use too much. That's Speaker 1: 11:39 particularly true with edible marijuana like gummies or brownies that take longer to have an effect, which leads some people to eat too much. Of course, Clark says it's not just tourists who make this mistake. He sees plenty of locals too Speaker 7: 11:55 nail develop what looks like a bit of an anxiety reaction and their heart rate will be high and they will say, I don't feel right. They may be dizzy. And in a lot of distress, Speaker 1: 12:07 state data shows, since marijuana was legalized, emergency room visits for cannabis poisoning have gone up by 35% in San Diego County. At the same time, Clark and many other doctors don't see this as the health crisis. Many feared they aren't seeing a spike in serious pot related accidents or illnesses. Instead, it's mainly been a lot of people who simply need time for the drug to wear off. Speaker 7: 12:35 There's not a lot of specific treatment that we need to do for them, and a lot of times if we just watch them in a a nice, calm environment, they're better in an hour or two. Speaker 1: 12:47 However, while the risk of long lasting effects from a pot overdose might be overstated, the risk of becoming addicted is understated. Says dr Kai MacDonald, the medical director at lasting recovery, a San Diego addiction treatment center. When you take people who use cannabis daily and lock them in a hotel and ask them how they feel they have withdrawal symptoms, the risks are most pronounced among teens. He says not only is cannabis addiction a real condition, but research shows that in States where marijuana is legal, addiction Rose 25% among 12 to 17 year olds and studies have repeatedly shown marijuana has a negative impact on the development of teenagers. Brains. Addiction goes up in a very vulnerable subgroup. That's the best data we have. Cannabis legalization means that there's more out there. Data from San Diego County show that the percentage of youth treated for marijuana addiction increased by about 5% among adults who see County funded treatment. Marijuana is low on the list of the most popular drug of choice behind alcohol, heroin, and meth. The adult use numbers show why the public health focus should be on the harder drugs. Says Dalen young, the political director for the association of cannabis professionals. Speaker 7: 14:13 In any of those increased ER visits, there have been zero fatalities. Speaker 1: 14:18 He says the law should allow for places where people can go to safely ingest marijuana so they don't take too much and that matches advice from Richard Clark, the ER doctor. Speaker 7: 14:30 If you're going to try and edible, I think you need to start at a lower dose till you know what your reaction is going to be or to, you know how it makes you feel Speaker 1: 14:38 and then wait before trying more. But as long as San Diego continues to be a top tourist destination, Dr. Clark expects some people could spend part of their vacation in the and not just because they wiped out on a surfboard. [inaudible] PBS news. To see all the stories in our series, go to KPBS reporter Taryn Minto contributed to this report. That's it for San Diego news matters today. 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J.J. Abrams' “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opens in theaters today and our Star Wars nerd in residence and KPBS film critic Beth Accomando has a spoiler-free reaction. Plus, legal weed has led to a bump in emergency room visits, especially among tourists who took an edible. Doctors, however, say legalization hasn't led to the public health crisis some feared. And, as winter gets its start in the eyes of skiers, water managers and farmers turn toward the southern Rocky Mountains to see just how much snow piles up. Hear what this upcoming winter might bring.