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Local family helps Russian relative escape war

 December 7, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, December 7th.
A North County family’s quest to help a Russian relative escape the war against Ukraine…More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Housing, immigration and the fentanyl crisis… all part of a packed agenda for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria as he visits Washington D-C.

His schedule included a meeting with U-S Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas … to discuss the migration challenges at the U-S-Mexico border.

Gloria also spoke at a national housing conference and told White House officials fentanyl should become a Schedule 1 drug.

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In an effort to combat homelessness, Mayor Gloria and City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera released a proposed framework yesterday to provide better protections for tenants.

It incorporates input gathered over the last month from residents, tenant advocates and rental housing providers.

The mayor has directed city staff and the City Attorney's Office to draft an amended ordinance to bring the framework before the City Council sometime next year.

If passed, it would offer renters more protection from wrongful evictions and create resources for renters and rental housing providers consistent with state law.

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With the holidays right around the corner, the shopping malls are getting crowded - and with the crowds come thieves.

So local crime prevention specialists are warning everyone to stay alert and be cautious of your surroundings.

Some tips the San Diego Sheriff’s Department is giving to help keep you safe include, shopping during the day when possible, shopping with someone, and don’t overload your arms with packages and bags.

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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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As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to rage… KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has the story of a North County family torn apart by the war – and kept apart by U-S immigration policy.

Russia’s war on Ukraine is personal for Bruce and Elena Talley…My wife is Russian, and this Russia’s unprovoked invasion in Ukraine has disturbed us greatly The Talleys live in Encinitas, but Elena still has family in Russia. She says they’re harassed because they’re against the war. If you talk to people, people call you traitor Then Elena’s brother, Sergei Sviderskii, got drafted by the Russian Army. She translated his words to us during a Zoom call. He said absolutely that was my decision from day one …that’s just No choice, that’s scary because  Russia I know will put me in prison. War to Ukraine never was a choice So he packed a small bag, kissed his mother goodbye and left the only home he’s ever known… planning to stay with his sister in America.  I never thought I … would be escaping The  journey would be perilous. Just to get to the Russian border took days.I saw 20 year old guys who are crossing the borders. They have white faces from stress and shock. Eventually, he met up with his brother in law Bruce in Mexico City. Their plan: To go to Tijuana  so Sergei could request asylum. He really wants to get political asylum, if he doesn’t get political asylum he’s in big trouble … he doesn’t … have a future in Russia Bruce Talley recorded their journey on his cell phone. BRUCE in car in Tijuana … I’m here with Sergei he’s about to cross the border and he’s going to apply for political asylum But he says they were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol before they could even reach the border.They immediately put a traffic cone in front of the car and the border patrol officer came over and asked for our documents so I handed our passports over He says they explained their situation to a supervisor. He told me that it was impossible to apply at the border for political asylum and this was a surprise to me. Their experience is not a surprise to immigration attorney Lola Zakharova, who specializes in civil rights and Russian immigration cases. She says she never advises clients to present themselves at the southern border  because of Title 42, a Trump-era rule that prevents people from seeking asylum at the border. You hear the stories of cartels controlling access to the border, people sometimes have to pay money to a coyote so it’s kind of a last resort,  people choose to present themselves at the border despite all the dangers which I think speaks to how desperate they are. Title 42 is set to be repealed on December 21st. But Sergei has already left Tijuana, because of a call from his mother saying she was having stroke symptoms. So this really upset Sergei he said I’m killing my mother, i’ve come here spent all my money I’ve been treated just the way I would be treated by Russia … and he decided that evening against my better judgment he decided he was going to leave. Sergei couldn’t go back to Russia, though. An arrest warrant has been issued against him. we’re in a very difficult situation He’s now in Central Asia. (more than a month has gone by and)The Talleys are now worried about Sergei and his mental state. Sister Elena he’s depressed he’s upset he doesn’t know what to do next She says when she talks to her brother now, he talks about maybe going back to Russia, even if it means arrest. It’s horrifying when I’m thinking he could still be in the war. He could still be in danger just because nobody will give him a chance. Now she just wants someone to help put the pieces of her family back together KA KPBS News.

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About FOUR in 10 small businesses were victims of cyberattacks last year … causing billions in damages.

KPBS’s Alexander Nguyen takes a look at the city of San Diego’s newly launched Cyber Lab that seeks to help small businesses and public agencies ward off cyber attacks.

The city of San Diego got nearly a million dollars from the Department of Homeland Security to set up a regional resource to combat cybercrime. Darren Bennet is the city’s chief information security officer. “If cybercrime was its own economy – world economy — it would be the third largest after the US and China.” He says it’s a huge problem … not only for government agencies … but also for small businesses. That’s why the cyber lab is here … to share resources and spot vulnerabilities. For more information about the resources available at the Regional Cyber Lab … visit san diego dot gov – slash cyber **dash** lab. AN/KPBS

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Barrio Logan residents may be getting relief from pungent odors coming from a biofuels plant on Newton Avenue.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

New Leaf Biofuel officials say a new activated carbon filter system is up and running and one resident says she’s noticed the difference. Maria Fernanda Corral lives across the street from the factory. Maria Fernanda Corral, Barrio Logan Resident “Today we’re very thankful that it’s a good day.  That way we can come out on the patio.  We can do our plants.  We can even sit for a little while or take sun.” That plant’s new system is designed to contain the pungent odors generated when the cooking oil is turned into diesel fuel. Neighbors have been complaining about the smell for more than a year and the company had until December 9th to fix the issue. Air quality regulators will inspect and track the situation at least through next spring. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Coming up.... A new report says Balboa Park will need a lot of upkeep to last in the future. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Balboa Park has been a part of San Diego for more than 150 years.

But a new report says if it’s going to be around for another 150, it needs a lot of work that will cost a lot of money.

Here’s KPBS reporter John Carroll.

Balboa Park is known as the crown jewel of San Diego… for good reason.  But the jewel is losing its lustre.  A new report from the Burnham Center for Community Advancement says deferred maintenance and updated facilities are just part of the challenge.  The report says nearly half-a-billion dollars is needed to bring the park up to snuff.  A big part of the challenge is how the park is managed - says Burnham Center CEO Tad Parzen. “The systems that drive the park are decades old… the infrastructure is aging, and what we built decades ago to serve the community and maintain the park… we’ve just outgrown it.” The report lists a number of suggestions on how to improve the park - including a cabinet level department in the city to manage it… so that’s it around for generations to come.  JC, KPBS News.

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Improvements in North Park are also underway.

Property owners this year approved a new tax on themselves to fund extra cleanups, landscaping and other improvements on streets and storefronts.

inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla explains.

CRYSTAL: North Park’s new tax will replace an expiring one, and it’ll be 29% higher. The affected properties run generally along University Avenue and 30th Street. Joe Wombacher, who lives within the area affected by the new tax, says he has noticed dirtier streets and gutters. So getting taxed for the maintenance is worth it. WOMBACHER: “I personally wouldn’t be opposed to a modest increase in taxes if they kept the streets clean.” CRYSTAL: The tax faced some opposition but ultimately passed with 60% support. Property owners’ votes were weighted based on the value of their properties. CRYSTAL: For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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Last month, PlayStation released ‘God of War Ragnarok’, an action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studio.

If you have played the game then you have probably killed San Diego stuntman Fernando Jay Huerto more than once.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has worked with Huerto on some of his 48-Hour Film Projects, and spoke to him about doing mo-cap or motion captive work for the video game.

That was Fernando Jay Huerto, speaking with KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando.

‘God of War Ragnarok’ became PlayStation's fastest selling game.

You can see Huerto's work on his youTube Channel, ‘Jabronie Pictures.’

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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 North County family helps a Russian relative escape the war against Ukraine. In other news, Barrio Logan residents may be getting relief from pungent odors coming from a biofuels plant on Newton Avenue. Plus, property owners in North Park this year approved a new tax on themselves to fund extra cleanups, landscaping and other improvements on streets and storefronts.