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Belarusians protest for freedom

 March 27, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, March 27th.

Protesters demand freedom for Belarusians.More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


S-D-S-U on Friday announced water samples collected in the Exercise and Nutritional Sciences Annex building contained a low number of Legionella pneumophila bacterial cultures.

That bacteria can cause Legionnaires' disease.

It was found in the annex building, but not in the main E-N-S building.

Both buildings have been closed since February 13th, when it was discovered a professor had contracted Legionnaires' disease.

On March 7th, S-D-S-U confirmed that E-N-S professor Michael Buono died from the disease.

Both buildings are being disinfected.

A reopening date has not yet been set.


San diego county's unemployment rate remained at 3-point-7 percent last month… unchanged from January.

That's according to figures released Friday by the state employment development department.

Between January and February nearly 8,000 jobs were added.

The leisure and hospitality sector saw the largest increase in jobs.

February's unemployment rate was less than February 20-22's rate of 4-point-1 percent.


Calling all “foodies”... it’s San Diego Restaurant Week!

More than 200 restaurants and breweries across the county are participating, offering different deals.

This is the 20th year of San Diego Restaurant Week.

And this year, Poway based company Chef Works will donate 2 dollars per diner to Feeding San Diego up to 10 thousand dollars.

That will help fund the organization’s hunger relief and food rescue programs.

Restaurant Week runs through Sunday.


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


Belarusians in San Diego made their opposition to President Lukashenko’s support of Vladamir Putin loud and clear over the weekend, by holding a protest in Balboa Park.

Reporter Claire Strong spoke with one of the organizers.

“Do not give up. Do not be in depression. Just keep your hope and help each other.” That’s Dmitry Skorobogaty’s message to the people of Belarus, many of whom are too afraid to speak out against President Alexander Lukashenko. Saturday’s rally marked the 105th anniversary of the country’s independence, but it was also a chance to denounce Lukashenko’s cozy relationship with Russia and to demand freedom for Belarusains. Skorobogaty  who moved to San Diego 16 years ago - says they just want basic democratic rights. “We’re the people who want to live in a free country, who want to follow all democracy values. And who deserves a better life than we have right now.” Alexander Lukashenko - who’s re-election in 2020 sparked international outrage - has been in power for almost 30 years, making him Europe’s longest serving president. Claire Strong, KPBS News.


Unstable soil underneath Reynolds Elementary School in Oceanside closed the school and parents are learning where their children will be transferred at the end of this school year.

Students and staff will be filtered into three different schools: Libby, Del Rio, and Foussat Elementary.

Parents have until April 21st to choose a different school in the district.

In a meeting late last week, parents like Kathy Wheeler raised concerns about transportation.

“Asking all these kids to walk up big hill and down big bills, across busy streets, and offering no transportation is absolutely devastating, please, please, look into transportation.”   

Board clerk Mike Blessing came up short on a good solution.

“I dont have the answer for transportation for you. I'm going to ask you to stick with this as you select a school that works for you. I cannot promise that to you at all come August, it's just not feasible for us to do that. If we can get something going at the state level there’s maybe hope there.”

Blessing says transportation isn’t likely to be extended soon but the district will explore creative options with the support of parents.


In other education related news… the Cal State University system just introduced a new option for high school graduates who want a guaranteed acceptance after completing community college.

Education reporter M.G. Perez explains.

The Cal State program is called the Transfer Success Pathway …and will launch with this spring’s graduating high school Class of 2023. Graduated students can make an agreement with any of the C-S-U campuses …to finish their associate’s degree within three years, meet community college transfer requirements …and then receive a guaranteed acceptance. There will also be a mobile app for easy access to Cal State resources and counseling appointments from the first day of class starting next fall. April GROW-moe is Vice Chancellor of C-S-U Enrollment Services. “We really wanted to produce a portal that was flexible and met students wherever they are. So if they work and they wanted to look at their requirements at two o'clock in the morning, they're able to do that.” The new pathway program was prompted by a state law passed in 2021 designed to make college transfers in California easier. MGP KPBS News.


Coming up.... Arts reporter Beth Accomando tells us about the connections between San Diego Opera’s latest production and Star Wars. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


“So loca” means “so crazy…” but when you spell it S-E-W Loka… then it’s a lifestyle brand created in a San Diego neighborhood.

Reporter Kitty Alvarado introduces us to the woman behind it.

On a colorful street in Barrio Logan, you’ll find a little sewing shop called “SEW LOKA”… Sewing nat sound  Once the shop’s  roll up door goes up … you never know what fashion designer Claudia  Rodriguez Biezunski- is up to … Sewing nat sound On this day she’s recreating, you see everything made at the shop is made out of fabric that was once something else  … what she calls slow fashion This blanket is now trash because it has a hole like, how can we add like something cool so people could now be interested in it again? Sustainable fashion is something we hear a lot about Coming from a family where there was a lot of us, you know  I'm one of six kids, you know, it was really difficult for my mom to be able to like afford things,... we would go thrifting …  I would by jeans and cut them up and turn them into something else and so really like the cultural part of like recycling has always been one of my things When she moved to San Diego and just went for her dream … And Sew Loka the brand was born … I’ve always had that really punk rock style and all that everyone was like you’re so crazy you’re so crazy and so when we decided to open up the business we were like we should call it Sew Loka my husband was like that’s such a great idea she’s built a brand making one of a kind wearable art inspired by her rich cultural heritage and Chicano identity, a combination of Mexican and American people would kind of look at us a certain kind of way because we were speaking Spanish, … I struggled with that a lot  you know, … when I went to Guadalajara where my parents grew up I was like I’m Mexican and my cousins were like, you’re American and I was like what? and so that sense of not being able to belong right where you’re a pocha  And her best seller combines phrases with the Virgen de Guadalupe, she says the Catholic symbol was  everywhere growing up in the San Fernando Valley and resonates with people like her Even though some people might not be religious, they still utilize the Virgencita as like a cultural  image …and so for me putting phrases across , we have some that say morena, we have some that say Brown AF … putting it on a shirt, I want people to feel like yes, I'm Brown and you know, and I feel very proud of that She’s become quite the entrepreneur and  a collective that helps promote other female artists, and businesses and she even hosts her own  podcast Especially for me being a woman and a brown woman in business like how can we uplift each In October Nike came calling Nat sound That’s me, design school   drop out, I’m going to talk to a bunch of designers so how do you think I feel, I’m going to cry She says her life could have easily gone down the wrong path … if she hadn’t believed and worked hard to build her dream For me I feel sewing I feel like it saved my like … I was a troubled youth I was headed into like the wrong direction and … it gave me self worth because I could make things … and that made me feel special And she can now proudly say that crazy Chicana punk rocker from the Valley did good .. she credits everyone from her abuelita father, mother, brothers, sisters …but especially the Barrio Logan, a community that embraced her … who she compares to pieces of fabric because much like her art you're basically able to sew things together and keep them like strong, you know, and I think that that's a community right NAT SOUND SEWING … Kitty Alvarado KPBS News. Nat sound sewing.


San Diego Opera is showcasing modern operas and even a world premiere one, next month, but it’s also showcasing grand opera with its production of Puccini’s Tosca.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando takes us behind the scenes of this beloved classic, and introduces us to the Darth Vader of opera.

When Darth Vader first appears in Star Wars, John Williams’ score tells you everything you need to know…Well opera’s been doing the same thing for centuries. Close your eyes and listen to Puccini’s music in Tosca…You don’t have to see Scarpia enter, to know he’s just like Darth Vader. ALAN HICKS With the cape and the whole thing. Yes, exactly. And his minions that sort of push everybody aside and it's the first moment we see him and it is very much like Darth Vader. Alan Hicks is directing San Diego Opera’s production of Tosca. ALAN HICKS From the moment he walks in, you are afraid of him, and everyone on stage is afraid of him. And even the people who aren't afraid of him are still afraid of him. Baritone Greer Grimsley returns to sing the role of the corrupt head of police Scarpia. GREER GRIMSLEY You very seldom get an entrance like that…And I just make the most of it. And Hicks loves what Grimsley brings to the role. ALAN HICKS He’s very statuesque. And so he brings this physical presence to the role, this sort of ominous physical presence. But he also brings this very calculating -- some of his looks and some of his pensiveness on stage -- you really see into his brain and you see him calculating his next move. And that, from an acting standpoint, is just gold for Scarpia. It's a character we love to hate, says Grimsley. GREER GRIMSLEY He's a very educated man, and you would not expect someone to be as villainous as he is with as much education as he has. So somewhere there's a disconnect where he believes he's doing the right thing, which garners him a certain amount of privilege along the way. So the privilege is the parentheses around his permission to clean out the revolutionaries. He enjoys what he does, but he doesn't see it as villainous. And I think if you play any villain, bad guy as someone who is just a bad guy, then you lose a certain amount of interest. Tosca serves up melodrama on a compelling, larger than life scale. The story is set against political turmoil in Rome in 1800. We have a fiery diva named Tosca, her idealistic lover, and the sadistic Scarpia. Hicks describes Scarpia as a complex character. ALAN HICKS I feel like he truly is a believer that the papal state, the church state, is the righteous way, but he's also a human being, which means he has flaws. And that’s where Grimsley sees the timelessness of the story. GREER GRIMSLEY It's about the abuse of power, it's about the abuse of privilege. And it's been that way, and I've said that ever since I started doing the role, is that it's a cautionary tale for all of us, that when someone is in too much power politically and it's not necessarily the leader, a lot of times that the whole civilization or the whole society can go off a kilter. That might sound very familiar to those of us who have witnessed America’s political scene recently. But for Hicks it’s also important to keep the opera set in 1800 as Napoleon is bringing ideas of freedom and liberty to challenge an oppressive regime. But just because it’s set a long time ago, doesn’t mean it can’t resonate for a modern audience, says Hicks. ALAN HICKS One sovereign power encroaching on another, religious fervor, corruption in power, I think all of these things are common themes, so it's very easy to understand what's happening. There's no existentialism. It's pretty straightforward. Because it’s about very primal things like love, murder, betrayal, passion, rebellion. Just like Star Wars. I mean there’s a reason it’s called a space opera. So while you might not see Scarpia as Vader’s father, I see a distinct lineage and think that’s worth celebrating. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.


Beth also spoke to director Alan Hicks in more depth about the historical aspects of Tosca, and why they’re important to keep intact.

TAG: That was Beth Accomando speaking with Alan Hicks.

San Diego Opera’s Tosca opened on Saturday, and will have three more performances through next Sunday at the San Diego Civic Theatre.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Monday.

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Belarusians in San Diego made their opposition to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s support of Russian President Vladamir Putin loud and clear over the weekend, by holding a protest in Balboa Park. In other news, the Cal State University system just introduced a new option for high school graduates who want a guaranteed acceptance after completing community college. Plus, we hear about the connection between San Diego Opera’s latest production and Star Wars.