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Frontwave Credit Union and Marine Corps contract in question

 May 20, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, May 20th.


A call for the U-S Department of Defense to review a contract between Frontwave Credit Union and the Marine Corps. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A new aid program aims to help struggling families feed their children during summer break.

California SUN Bucks, also known as Summer-EBT, offers 40-dollars per eligible child for families to use toward groceries during each summer month.

Children who receive free or reduced-price school meals or are enrolled with Cal-Fresh, Cal-WORKs, or Medi-Cal will automatically be enrolled in the program.

Brenda Tellez is a parent in the county.

“It is really important for me because especially with all the prices going up and everything and low pay and hardly any jobs or with me that my kids have autism so I have to be available for them, so this is a big help to have available for us.”

SUN Bucks cards will be mailed directly to eligible households with a one-time lump sum of 120-dollars per child.


The county's unemployment rate was down last month, compared to March.

The rate decreased nearly half a percentage point to 4-point-1-percent.

In March, the revised rate was 4-point-4-percent.

And San Diego County is still performing better than the state, which is seeing 4-point-8-percent unemployment.

But, the county’s rate is still higher now than what it was a year ago, when it was only 3-point-2-percent.


We’re starting the new work week with more “May Grey” weather.

Today (Monday) is expected to be cloudy for most of the day.

Temperatures in the inland and coastal areas will be in the 60s, in the mountains, temps will be in the mid 50s, and in the deserts, it’ll be in the mid 80s.

Similar temperatures are expected throughout the week, with sunny skies during most afternoons.


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


Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling for the U-S Department of Defense to review a contract between Oceanside-based Frontwave Credit Union and the Marine Corps.

Investigative reporter Scott Rodd has the details.

Frontwave has an exclusive arrangement with the Marine Corps that goes back decades. A KPBS investigation found Marine recruits who come through boot camp in San Diego are funneled into the credit union. It also found that Frontwave collects millions in overdraft fees every year …  much of which comes from young people serving their country. Members of Congress took notice…and Senator Elizabeth Warren spearheaded an investigation. Here’s what she told KPBS in a recent interview. WARREN-1 “We were concerned that young Marine recruits are just plain being cheated by this credit union…This is just one more example of a financial institution homing in on young vulnerable service members.” Frontwave sent an 8-page letter to lawmakers that answered some of their questions. But Warren is demanding more detailed answers…and is now calling on the Department of Defense to get involved. In a statement, she said the DOD should quote “review its agreement with Frontwave to make sure that service members are not being ripped off.” Frontwave CEO Bill Birnie declined to comment. SOC.


Governor Newsom's revised budget plan includes cuts impacting some of the state's youngest and most vulnerable children.

Reporter Tania Thorne explains what that means for San Diego.

San Diego Unified was ahead of the game in 2021 when the governor announced the rollout of universal transitional kindergarten. But now the state budget cuts $550 million meant to help school districts upgrade their facilities for TK classrooms. Shana Hazan is president of the San Diego Unified School Board. We aren't going to be able to open up as many new Tk classrooms as we were hoping next year. But we will still be providing free full day. Tk, at for 4 year olds at all of our schools. Hazan says San Diego Unified will use its general fund to support the facilities 4 year olds need, like bathrooms inside their classrooms. But not all school districts are able to do that. The governor’s revision also cuts into the emergency child care bridge program for foster children. When an emergency foster placement is made, the new caregiver often needs access to childcare right away. Darryl Chairez is a part of the San Diego YMCA’s Foster Care Bridge Program.  if there's less money, families may be able unlikely to take these kids on because they know there's childcare is gonna be paid for. and it's going to come out of their own pocket. He says the cut could deepen the trauma of foster children already in a vulnerable place. Details on the finalized budget are expected in late June. TT KPBS News.


The Port of San Diego is fighting an invasive seaweed in the San Diego Bay.

Reporter Melissa Mae tells us why it’s such a concern.

MM: Caulerpa prolifera looks like normal seaweed. But it’s actually a highly invasive algae. It was first discovered in the Coronado Cays last fall. MM: Eileen Maher is the Port of San Diego’s Director of Environmental Conservation. EM “It will come in and take over all the native habitat if left unchecked. So we had to declare a local emergency. It’s helping us find federal and state funding to attack this algae as soon as possible.”  MM: The Port says Caulerpa is a popular plant for saltwater aquariums… and it might have gotten into the bay because someone emptied their aquarium into a storm drain or gutter… leading down to the ocean. Melissa Mae KPBS News.  

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Neuroscientists say humans are hardwired to understand the feelings and needs of others.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about a place where those neural networks are examined… and where they teach doctors how to skillfully use them when they deal with patients.

It looks like a dance party but it is fellowship training at the Sanford Institute for Empathy and compassion at UC San Diego. The folks out on the floor of this second floor conference room are medical professionals, and the goal is to teach them empathy and team building, through dance. Institute director Bill Mobley says a primary part of the training is to understand the other. To be comfortable enough to see the other. To be non-judgemental enough to see the other. And this desire to feel another person’s pain or comfort isn’t just in the lessons we learn. Mobley says we’re hard-wired to feel them. It’s in the brain. We know it’s in the brain. Empathy and compassion are as much a part of brain function as listening and hearing and vision. And motor function. It’s in the brain. It’s right there for us to understand and explore. He says the brain has different neural circuits that engender empathy, the sharing of feelings, and compassion, where we act on our feelings. Scientists have yet to learn how those circuits are connected. SOQ.


The summer Olympics are just a couple months away.

And this year, there are five athletes from Baja California.

Border reporter Gustavo Solis says that’s a record.

“Una, dos, tres – Somos Baja (applause) When it comes to sports, Baja knows how to party. Hundreds of young athletes from Baja California cheer on three of the five locals who have already qualified for the Olympics.  They’re in a packed auditorium at Tijuana’s Olympic Training Center with strobe lights, electronic dance music, and even hype videos. Baja’s best young athletes put on live performances and even a fashion show. Picture martial artists doing front flips on the runway, Ping-Pong players hitting balls into the cheering crowd. Even surfers waving at the crowd with a surfboard under their arm. Even Baja California’s Governor Marina del Pilar got in on the action – showing up to the event in the same Baja California track suit that most of the athletes wore. “Porque son ustedes, cada uno de ustedes Jovenes atletas, lo que major representa a nuestra tierra.” You represent the best that Baja California has to offer – the governor told the young athletes who are part of the state’s Olympic training pipeline. Every year, coaches hold workshops in schools throughout the state and identify the most promising athletes. “A los mejores deportistas de Baja California que se encuentran aqui reunidos en estos momentos” applause While the track suit governor got her fair share of applause, the real stars of the show were the Olympic athletes. Groups of children surrounding them hoping to get a selfie with a star. It was a surreal experience for gymnast Natalia Escalera. “Yo fui esa nina que pedia las fotos …” She used to be that little girl asking for photos – she says. Continuted “… y ahora que soy yo que tengo que darlas y to eso la verdad que me emociono demasiado.” The 21-year-old from Ensenada has been training for the Olympics since she was 8 years old. She sacrificed a normal childhood – couldn’t go to regular school with her friends and had a strict diet most of her life. “Estory muy emocionada de poder llevar un pedasito de Baja California a otro pais.” Now she’s just excited to represent her little part of Baja California in the Olympics. That’s something the other Baja Olympians are especially proud of – to represent Mexico on the world’s stage. “Y siempre es bonito decir, miren mi pais tambien tiene cosas importantes. Tambien Podemos ser grandes. Encontces es muy indo.” That’s Alexa Moreno – one of Mexico’s most decorated gymnasts. She says it’s wonderful to show what Mexico has to offer – that Mexico can also produce world-class talent. The 29-year-old lives in Baja’s capital Mexicali. She’s been traveling to Texas to train with American gymnast Simone Biles. “Al final, lo mas importante no es no caer, si no volver a levantante.” Her advice to Baja’s young athletes – the important thing isn’t to avoid mistakes, it’s to pick yourself up and try it again and again and again. The third Olympian is rower Alexis Lopez. He’s from a small town that most people couldn’t point to on a map. “Yo soy de San Felipe. Un pueblo de maximo 20,000 abitantes.” San Felipe is a town of at most 20,000 people tucked away along the Gulf of California. It’s mostly known as a quaint little fishing village – and now, home to an Olympic rower. Lopez most recently won a Gold Medal at the 2023 Pan American games in Chile. “Todo es possible. Si tu tienes tu dedicacion y enfocado en eso.” His message to young athletes – everything is possible with the right dedication and focus. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News.


San Diego's B Street Pier is currently hosting a bit of Mexican maritime history.

Video journalist Matthew Bowler tells us about the arrival of the A-R-M Cuauhtémoc.

Another overcast morning in San Diego Bay. One of the United States Navy’s modern amphibious transport docks leaves the bay. But on its way out the sleek vessel passes by a ship that seems to be in the wrong time. Sailors stand atop the rigging way up each mast. This is Mexico’s only tall ship, the A-R-M Cuauhtémoc. The period-correct replica ship was built in 1982 and sails the world helping to train Mexican Naval Academy cadets and sharing Mexican goodwill. The Mexican Consul General in San Diego, Alicia Kerber Palma says the ship’s mission is one in contrast to what is too often at the forefront of our turbulent world. Alicia Kerber Palma Mexican Cónsul General You can see many conflicts all around the world. Having this boat giving the message of good faith of peace of collaboration is very important MATTHEW BOWLER KPBS NEWS.

TAG: The Cuauhtémoc will be open to visitors today (Monday) from 10 a-m to 8 p-m, free of charge.


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

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling for the U.S. Department of Defense to review a contract between Oceanside-based Frontwave Credit Union and the Marine Corps. In other news, Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised budget plan includes cuts impacting some of the state's youngest and most vulnerable children. Plus, the summer Olympics are just a couple months away and this year there are five athletes from Baja California. That’s a record.