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A ‘safe’ phase out for masks in school

 February 9, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, February 9th

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phasing out school masking

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Santa Ana winds and record-breaking high temperatures are expected in San Diego over the next few days. The National weather service says the high winds and hot temperatures will increase wildfire danger, but it’ll all be over by monday when things cool off again.

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The process to create a new San Diego commission on police practices has been slow moving.

Commissioners are stepping down and can’t be replaced because the city council has yet to approve a process for doing so.

Commission chair Brandon Hilpert sent a letter to the San Diego city council, urging them to allow for new commissioners to be seated immediately. He says there’s not enough commissioners to keep up with a growing caseload.

Typically in an average year we’ll close about 60 cases. And that includes everything from individuals complaining they were arrested when they shouldn’t have been, officer involved shootings, in custody deaths. So the number on average is 60 a year, last year in the fiscal year 21 we closed about 125.” (19s)

Rules on appointing new commission members may not be approved by the city council until January 2023

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Micro businesses, like those offering pet sitting and cleaning services, in San Diego county could be eligible for pandemic aid money. County Supervisors unanimously approved almost 3 point 9 million dollars on Tuesday to help more than 1500 microbusinesses. The program is partially funded by the state. To qualify, businesses must have earned less than $50,000 in 2019, be the owner's primary source of income, and have five or fewer employees.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

By this time next week California's mask mandate will be gone.. governor newsom says it’s due to lower covid case counts.

kpbs health reporter matt hoffman says now there’s a renewed focus on phasing out masking in schools --

Next week California’s blanket indoor mask mandate will be gone.. But the governor says those not vaccinated will still have to wear them inside public places. The face covering requirement will also stay in place for schools --

Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor

I think we need to plan for the next phases and steps

San Diego County supervisors adopted a motion Tuesday from Chair Nathan Fletcher directing county staff to work with the state to help change masking rules in schools--

Fletcher

To develop a safe and responsible path to phase out the mask requirements for k-12 students.

Los Angeles County officials have decided to keep the indoor mask mandate past the 15th -- San Diego County Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten indicated that would not be the case here, and says officials will follow state guidance.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County Health Officer

We would resume actions that were occurring prior to when that mandate was put into place

MH KPBS News.

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DJI Technology is the company that makes most of the surveillance drones used by the Chula Vista Police Department. And it’s again in the news for ties to the Chinese government. KPBS’s Amita Sharma says new reporting reveals investors with direct connections to Beijing are funding DJI.

The Pentagon has said DJI drones may pose a national security risk and the Department of Homeland Security claims DJI gave critical U.S. infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government. Now, the Washington Post has reported that four entities either run or owned by the Chinese government have invested in DJI.

Jim Lewis, of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the news only confirms his suspicions.

“ We know the Chinese love surveillance and are engaged in massive collection of intelligence against Americans. But we also know there's a Chinese law that says any company that's asked to cooperate in providing intelligence has no choice and must do so.

Lewis says DJI indisputably makes great drones BUT those who use them can’t be sure who is watching, leaving police agencies like Chula Vista PD with only one choice.

“Well, unfortunately, they need to replace their drones. They need to swap out the DJI drones. And it's expensive. It could take a while.”

Chula Vista has eight DJI drones that it uses to respond to 9-11 calls. Mayor Mary Salas didn’t respond to a request for comment. In a statement, DJI said the Chinese government has not invested in the company. It also said shareholders, other than the founders, don’t participate in DJI’s management and operation. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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2021 was the deadliest year on record for migrants crossing the border according to Customs and Border Protection. In Imperial County, migrants continue to drown in the All-American Canal.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis explains why there’s been more drownings, and who is trying to do something about it.

Everything John Hunter thought he knew about illegal immigration changed when he went on a night-time ridealong with Border Patrol agents in 2000.

They used night vision goggles to spot a group of migrants on the U.S. side of the border. Hunter still remembers the rush when they moved in on the group.

“We saw these guys, we went down and busted them. They were six little ladies sitting there on the ground and they had their purses out. I’m going I don’t feel like such a stud. Here I am busting someone who looks like my mother or grandmother or sister’s cook. It’s not a manly thing to do you know.”

Hunter is a staunch Republican, the brother & uncle of former San Diego congressmen Duncan Hunter Sr. & Jr. Until that night, his image of people who cross illegally were bad hombres and macho muchachos – as he called them. But that’s not what he saw. He saw poor people trying to survive. Women and children fleeing violence.

Soon after, he began leaving water bottles along the border’s rugged mountains and treacherous desert.

Then he focused his attention on the All-American Canal. in Imperial County. Where more than 550 migrants had drowned to death while crossing the border, since at least the 1990s.

He looked into who was drowning and found the same thing.

“These are not the cartels. These are not the guys you read about – the macho muchachos. These are just ordinary people, they can’t make a living, they’re trying to survive.”

The All-American Canal is an 82-mile waterway that runs along the U.S. border as it carries water from the Colorado River to Southern California. It is managed by the Imperial Irrigation District.

The canal is notoriously deadly for migrants trying to cross the border illegally. It is 200 feet wide and about 20 feet deep in some areas. Most of it is lined with steep concrete.

CBP Agent John Mendoza explains why the canal is deceptively dangerous.

“A lot don’t know the threats that the water has. What may appear to be calm on the top may not be so on the bottom. There is a lot of strong current and undertows that could take someone very easily underneath on the water.

In 2010, John and his wife Laura, led efforts to install 1,000 safety buoys and ladders along the canal. It was an uphill battle. Some irrigation district board members and staff thought the safety measures would make it too easy for people to cross the border illegally.

Former irrigation district Board Member Michael Abatti supported Hunter’s proposal. But he faced pushback from his own agency.

“There was some arrogance on some of the staff. They said what are you going to do? Just build a bridge so they can come across. I said I wasn’t asking to build a bridge but it definitely wasn’t meant to be the end of the road for a lot of people.”

But then 60 minutes came to town and did an expose on the canal deaths. After that, the irrigation district agreed to install 103 buoys along the canal – one every half mile on the east side and one every mile on the west side.

And the buoys made a difference. The number of drownings decreased. Border Patrol agents say the buoys actually help them rescue migrants in the canal.

“If we have to apprehend a group or have to rescue a group of individuals that may be struggling in the water we can use the buoy lines as a reference.

However, the irrigation district has not increased the number of safety buoys along the canal since 2010. And data shows that the drowning deaths are increasing – particularly in the western part of the canal that has fewer buoy lines.

Irrigation district officials declined a KPBS interview request. A spokesperson says the agency has installed 40 warning signs along the canal in recent years. In addition to more than 1,300 signs that had already been installed.

Still, 47 migrants have drowned in the canal since 2015 – 14 of them last year.

Hunter says it’s time to add more buoys.

“Right, the data indicates that they’re drowning close to Mexicali or close to Winterhaven where there aren’t the buoys. It’s pretty common sense.

Abatti agrees with Hunter but he does not think the current irrigation district board will prioritize this issue.

“It’s not acceptable. I think we can do better. I wish they’d do better. If you don’t like the buoy system, try something else. Try something. They are not trying anything and that is what’s frustrating today.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

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Coming up.... A world-famous Harlem Globetrotter was in Barrio Logan yesterday, with a message for students. Also, the San Diego International Jewish Film Festival opens today. We’ll have those stories next, just after the break.

Female athletes from San Diego State University filed the first class action lawsuit of its kind against the school, –claiming it violated federal law on gender equality in education.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has more.

SEVENTEEN FEMALE ATHLETES SAY FOR THE LAST DECADE SDSU HAS TREATED THEIR FEMALE ATHLETES DIFFERENTLY BY DEPRIVING THEM AND OTHER WOMEN ATHLETES OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIPS. AMONG THEM IS MADISON FISK, A FORMER MEMBER OF THE SDSU WOMEN’S ROWING TEAM.

We commit so much of our lives to our sport the same way the male athletes do we’re no different

SHE AND THE OTHER ATHLETES ACCUSE THE UNIVERSITY OF VIOLATING TITLE IX, THE FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAW THAT BANS DISCRIMINATION IN SCHOOLS OR SCHOOL PROGRAMS BASED ON SEX. THEY ARE SUING SDSU FOR $1.2 MILLION. IT’S THE FIRST TITLE IX LAWSUIT THAT SEEKS MONETARY COMPENSATION.

When our team was cut, that was a slap in the face, that was really a wake up call.

MOST OF THE STUDENTS IN THE LAWSUIT ARE FROM THE ROWING TEAM THAT WAS CUT AFTER THE 20-21 SEASON.

This was hard not just for myself but to see all these women that dedicate so much of their lives of their lives completely stripped of their opportunities.

IN A LETTER, THE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR JOHN DAVID WICKER CITED FINANCIAL ISSUES BROUGHT ON BY THE PANDEMIC AS PART OF THE REASON FOR CUTTING THE TEAM… AND THAT THEY HAD TOO MANY FEMALE ATHLETES TO COMPLY WITH THE LAW.

ARTHUR BRYANT, WHO REPRESENTS THE ATHLETES SAYS THIS EXCUSE TO CUT THE TEAM DOESN’T FLY. AND SAYS THE PROOF IS EASY TO FIND IN THE FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS THEY MUST FILE WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The most compelling thing was actually the information filed with the information it filed with the federal government showing that it is violating Title IX and depriving women of equal athletic opportunity, it’s stunning.

SDSU DECLINED AN INTERVIEW BUT SENT US A STATEMENT DENYING THE ALLEGATIONS. IT SAYS THEY ARE “DISAPPOINTED BY THE INCOMPLETE PICTURE PRESENTED BY THE PLAINTIFFS’ LAWYERS ABOUT THE SUPPORT AND SUCCESSES OF SDSU’S FEMALE STUDENT ATHLETES AND ALWAYS PUT STUDENTS FIRST.”

What’s incredible about that statement is it ends by saying we have always put our students first, in this area, SDSU has always put its female students second

MADISON SAYS, IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN THE MONEY.

I just want us to be the last ones, I don’t want anyone else stripped of their opportunities

KITTY ALVARADO KPBS NEWS

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One of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters visited the monarch school in barrio logan yesterday. He brought a message of hope to students who are dealing with homelessness.

kpbs education reporter m.g. perez was there

Julian “Zeus” McClurkin is a 6 foot-8 forward for the Harlem Globetrotters. He’s got signature moves and a signature message he carries to students around the world to stop bullying. His visit to the Monarch School, Tuesday, included the A-B-Cs of defeating the bullies with Action...Bravery…and Compassion.

“kid's attention span can be kind of short, but if we can use that attention and use this basketball…I think it’s very pivotal and we can stop behaviors we don’t want in the future.”

The Monarch School offers students an education, emotional support, and life skills to help them overcome the challenges of homelessness. MGP KPBS News

The San Diego International Jewish Film Festival returns today, in person and online, to showcase more than two dozen films from around the world.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando has this preview.

Film festivals at their best are adventures that take you on journeys into uncharted regions. The San Diego International Jewish Film Festival has been providing such discoveries for more than three decades. It specializes in unearthing nuggets of history. Take the documentary Song Searcher. It focuses on the discovery of decades-old wax cylinders-- long thought destroyed-- that contained Yiddish music.

CLIP Music

The fragile wax cylinders were created by musician and scholar Myshay Beregovsky, who traveled across the Ukraine in the early 1900s to record traditional Jewish music.

CLIP More music

Festival chair Christina Fink was thrilled when this film was submitted to the selection committee. CHRISTINA FINK When it comes to the film about a new story, a new discovery, a new piece of history, in my opinion, and in film selections committee, this really brings it to another level and really brings it in an exciting way to the public so that they can learn and enjoy independent cinema. These cinematic and historical discoveries can once again take place in person says Fink.

CHRISTINA FINK So we have stepped forward with a hybrid festival and every film will be shown in our Garfield, which has not only amazing technology, but they've really ramped up all the filtration for health, health and covet standards. And then every film is online.

This year, a pair of films explore Yiddish culture. In addition to "Song Searcher" is the documentary, "Who Will Remain?" which looks to poet Avrom Sutzkever. Christa Whitney is one of the co-directors.

CHRISTA WHITNEY Yiddish culture is something that there weren't a lot of documents online. Nowadays people think everything is on Google, everything is online, and things that are not Googleable are considered not to exist by some people. But of course, that's not true.

Fellow co-director Emily Felder described her involvement in “Who Will Remain?”

EMILY FELDER: I studied anthropology at the University of Massachusetts and I knew that I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, but I really wanted a foundation in social sciences and humanities. So I was incredibly drawn to historical archaeology and visual ethnography, which basically means how we access the past and how we reconstruct historical narratives with objects and landscapes in the present.

Connecting the past and the present is what many of the films at the festival do. Sometimes that connection is simply to remind us about events that might be unfamiliar. Fascinating true stories are the basis for dramas ranging from Plan A about Holocaust survivors plotting to poison Germans…

CLIP I want my revenge, I deserve it.

To Persian Lessons, about a concentration camp inmate who pretends to be Persian to avoid execution.

CLIP I am Persian…

Then he must make up a fake language when the commandant demands to be taught Farsi.

CLIP The word for bread is radj…

Conversation has always been a key part of the festival and Fink says that has been reimagined for this year at the Jewish Community Center.

CHRISTINA FINK: We have part of the JCC set up as an old school salon where there's this beautiful art gallery right across from the Garfield. And the JCC has put some nicely spaced, comfortable furniture in there. And we're hoping that people will come out of the theater with the desire to talk about films and take a few minutes to meet friends and colleagues in there. And I will add you have to be vaccinated and masked to go in the JCC. So if you can brave it through the elements of our new normal, we hope you'll stay and chat a while.

A passport to diverse cinematic adventures from around the globe awaits audiences online and in person for this year’s San Diego International Jewish Film Festival.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

San Diego International Jewish Film Festival will be in person and online through February 20th.

That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org and back here on the podcast tomorrow. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to ask the state Department of Public Health for a "safe and responsible path" toward phasing out pandemic-related mask requirements for school children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Meanwhile, 2021 was the deadliest year for migrants trying to cross the U.S. Mexico border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Plus, the San Diego International Jewish Film Festival returns as an in-person and online event.