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Biologist's experience helps with research of deafness

 December 6, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, December 6th.

A local biologist’s own experience helps him understand the science of deafness.

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

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Governor Newsom says he’s fed up with high gas prices at the pumps while oil companies make record profits.

MONDAY state lawmakers answered the governor’s call in a special legislative session.

The proposed law would set a maximum profit margin that oil companies could make per gallon… and would impose a penalty if oil companies exceed that amount.

Officials with the Western States Petroleum Association say that is a tax on oil companies that will drive prices higher.

They say gas prices are driven by market forces.

Lawmakers likely won't begin deliberations on the proposal until January.

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Dozens of old San Diego trolley cars are headed to South America.

For the last decade, M-T-S has been sending old trolley cars to Mendoza, Argentina to help expand trolley services out there.

It started in 20-12 with first-generation trolleys, and now nearly all of M-T-S’s second-generation trolleys are on their way to a second life.

Officials in Mendoza say the first-generation trolleys are still running great, and they’ve kept their signature red paint job.

They will be getting 39 more trolleys when this shipment arrives.

Argentina is covering the costs of dismantling and shipping the trolley cars to Mendoza.

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The teams playing in the 43rd Holiday Bowl game this month have officially been announced.

The University of Oregon will be taking on the University of North Carolina at Petco Park.

The Bowl game will be the first football game ever played at Petco Park.

The game is on Wednesday, December 28th.

It will be the first Holiday Bowl played since the pandemic started.

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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.

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At the Salk Institute, there is one researcher who is able to see himself in the genetic science he does.

KPBS sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge has this story about a biologist whose own experience gives him a deep understanding of the science, and the culture, of deafness.

Uri Manor wears more than one hat at the Salk Institute. He is a specialist in microscopic photography and he showed me a hallway near his office that is lined with his photos of cells. One photo shows so-called hair cells that inhabit the inner ear and vibrate with sound, sending signals to the auditory nerve. Problems with those cells can cause deafness. And that is what Manor, a cell biologist, studies in his lab. “You can imagine then that if just a little mistake or a little alteration in the instructions in the DNA on how to construct that hair can cause it to have a different enough shape that it no longer functions properly.” Uri Manor has been profoundly hard of hearing since birth. He has never been able to hear properly without hearing aids, something his parents realized when he was 2 years old and still could not talk. Though he is not deaf, he knows what it’s like. “As someone who has hearing aids, I kind of go back and forth between the two worlds, between deaf and hearing because when I turn my hearing aids off it’s over. I don’t hear you anymore so I kinda know what that’s like.” Deafness and impaired hearing take many forms. We all lose hearing with age. Loud music and our noisy mechanized society damage hearing. Manor inherited, from his normally hearing parents, the genes for profound congenital hearing loss. A member of Manor’s lab, research scientist David Rosenberg, lost his hearing in one ear. He remembers then it happened in college “I was sitting for a physics exam and hear this very loud ringing coming from my head, from my ear. And it was the first symptom of a vestibular schwannoma.” That means a tumor developed on his auditory nerve. It was surgically removed, but by that time he had basically lost his hearing in his right ear. He remembers talking with the surgeon after the tumor was removed, and the doctor snapped his fingers next to his ear. “And I think at the time I had some residual hearing. So when he did that test, I was like, ‘Yeah, I can hear it a little bit.’ He said, ‘Good’  and then walked away. So that kinda left this impression on me that was… Oh, I’m fine. But the reality was that I wasn’t fine.” Rosenberg and Manor are now writing a grant proposal to fund research that could find a way to prevent the growth or even shrink those tumors, by implanting in people a working copy of a crucial gene. Hello!  (baby makes happy sounds) I’ve never seen that face before A viral video shows a woman holding her deaf baby who has had its cochlear implant turned on for the first time, allowing it to hear its mother’s voice. The baby smiles. Manor, the father of four kids, says seeing this video or one like it made him cry. But some other people were moved in a different way. He says reactions to it on social media included some who called it cultural genocide. It’s a common term that suggests efforts to “cure” deafness are undermining a community that has its own language and ways. The California Association for the Deaf didn’t respond to my effort to get them to comment. Manor says sign language, the technology, the culture and community… “For many of them it’s been a life saver. They join the deaf community and then they have this whole word of technology, and language and people who understand them. And many of them feel like this idea of curing or even calling them disabled is offensive.” Manor says he’s become care to day he is not trying to cure deafness, he’s trying to give people the “option” to be able to hear. Babies these days don’t have to wait until they’re two for their parents to realize they are functionally deaf. Tests are done on newborns. “I have pictures of  my daughters in the hospital waring special headphones that can measure whether their ears are working properly.” He says the gene mutations that cause deafness are recessive, which means kids have to get them from both parents for them to have bad hearing. Manor says his kids, all four of them, have normal hearing. SOQ.

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Facing staffing shortages, the city of San Diego’s ambulance provider, FALCK, is offering sign-on bonuses.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman says the incentive comes ahead of an expected busy season for hospitals.

Our goal is try and fill all of the openings as soon as possible we’ve been doing that as soon as we started Falck San Diego’s managing director Jeff Behm says he knows staffing levels aren’t what they promised.. It’s impacting response times so they are upping their game to attract new paramedics in the city of San Diego. 50-thousand dollar sign on bonuses are being offered for new paramedics.. It would be spread out over three years and is larger than the 15,000 dollar bonus offered by their competitor American Medical Response. Jeff Behm, Falck San Diego Managing Director It’s a competition because there’s a limited pool especially in the immediate area around San Diego so we looked at that and said we need to increase this to get people to come to falck Behm says they need around 30 paramedics to ease the burden on current employees who are under mandatory overtime. MH KPBS News.

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The San Diego Police Department started enforcing the sidewalk vendor ordinance this past weekend.

So, how did it go?

KPBS reporter Melissa Mae went down to the Gaslamp District to get an update.

MM: Since 2019, the Gaslamp District was dealing with up to 60 hot dog vendors crowding the sidewalks of San Diego’s historic district. MM: The San Diego Police Department started enforcing the sidewalk vendor ordinance over the weekend. MM: Michael Trimble is the executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association and says businesses saw fewer vendors on the street. MT  “This is not the end of enforcement. This is just the beginning. The free ride for illegal vending is over in the Gaslamp and the police department is going to continue to enforce every weekend moving forward.” MM: We asked the San Diego Police Department how many citations were issued over the weekend. “They said they didn't have a number yet." Melissa Mae KPBS News.  

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Coming up.... Two authors talk about why they wrote a training guide on running. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.

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New research out of San Diego finds there's a critical link between islands and the oceans that surround them.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson spoke with one of the authors.

A Scripps Institution of Oceanography report suggests biologists should change the way they think about island habitats. San Diego researcher Stuart Sandin is a co-author.  He says above water and below water habitats should be viewed as linked ecosystems, not separate ones.  Sandin says Seabirds are just one of the connector species that tie the two together. Stuart Sandin, Scripps Institution of Oceanography “Where the population of seabirds is small, the connection is small.  And if the population is large, we may see a lot more connectivity of these nutrients going from land to sea.” Sandin says managing them as connected ecosystems will help island habitats thrive.  The findings are published in the current edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Christopher McDougall wrote the book, "Born to Run" in 2009 after hearing about runners from Mexican tribes competing in an American ultra-marathon.

He followed them back to Mexico's Copper Canyon to find out how they ran so far, so effortlessly.

He also wanted to understand why as a runner himself he suffered many injuries.

McDougall has now published a sequel with co-author and running coach Eric Orton, called "Born To Run 2: The Ultimate Training Guide."

McDougall and Orton spoke with KPBS Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans about their book.

Here’s their conversation.

That was Eric Orton and Christopher McDougall, authors of "Born to Run 2," speaking with KPBS Arts producer Julia Dixon Evans.

They are holding a virtual event with Warwick's Books at 4 p-m today.

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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 day.

A local biologist's own experience gives him a deep understanding of the science and culture of deafness. In other news, the city of San Diego's ambulance provider, Falck, is offering sign-on bonuses as it faces staffing shortages ahead of an expected busy season for hospitals.