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Migrants face aggression from Mexico’s military

 October 19, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, October 19th.

Migrants say they’re dealing with harassment from the Mexican military, while waiting to enter the United States.

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

One of San Diego’s congress members is being urged to take action on the ongoing violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, members of the group “Jewish Voice for Peace” visited the Kearny Mesa office of Representative Sara Jacobs with this message.

“We’re asking her to support a resolution that her colleagues are supporting in Congress for a cease fire and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

That’s Shalem Aboody-Lopez speaking on behalf of “Jewish Voices for Peace.”

NPR reports the Palestinian Health Ministry estimates 35-hundred people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli airstrikes since the Hamas attack in Southern Israel.

The situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories will be the focus for President Joe Biden tonight.

He’s scheduled to give a national address from the White House following his trip to Israel.

Start time is 5 p-m Pacific.

KPBS will carry the speech live on all of our platforms.

Hot weather will stick around, at least for one more day in parts of San Diego County.

A heat advisory remains in effect for local valley regions until 8 p-m.

That includes communities like Escondido, San Marcos, El Cajon, and La Mesa.

The National Weather Service in San Diego is forecasting high temperatures ranging from 93-to-101.Forecasters say Friday is also going to be warm, with gradual cooling expected this weekend.

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

In Tijuana, Mexican National Guard troops were caught on tape trying to illegally raid a migrant shelter.

Border reporter Gustavo Solis says this is an example of Mexico’s increased aggression against migrants.

Video from the Border Line Crisis Center’s security camera shows uniformed soldiers armed with long rifles trying to force their way inside the shelter. This happened around midnight on October 11.

“They were demanding the female residents – it’s women and children here – to open up the shelter gate and let them in …

Nicole Ramos is a director with Al Orto Lado, a nonprofit that organizes legal workshops at the shelter.

(cont)They were accusing them of hiding undocumented persons.”

Judith Carbera is the migrant shelter’s co-director. She says many of the soldiers wore masks and refused to identify themselves. They had no search warrant. She says this raid violates Mexican law.

“They are not allowed to do migratory checkpoints in places where humanitarian aid is being provided.”

The Mexican National Guard did not respond to questions about their involvement in the raid.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

Defense related spending in San Diego County grew this year, despite a net decline in jobs.Military reporter Andrew Dyer has more on a new report on the region’s second largest industry.

An annual report by researchers at  UC San Diego shows government spending on the military and veterans affairs continued to bolster the region’s economy in 2023.with more than 350,000 jobs and $56 billion dollars.

Mark Balmert, a retired admiral and CEO of the non-profit San Diego military advisory council, says the annual report educates lawmakers and the public about just how key the military is to the region.

“We want people to understand that there’s a lot of good that comes from being a military town.”

 The report also says local spending is up and should continue to rise as more ships are built and stationed here.

Andrew Dyer, kpbs news.

Chula Vista this week moved forward with plans to install a new network of license plate readers.

KPBS South Bay reporter Kori Suzuki says it is the latest city to expand use of this controversial technology.

On Tuesday, the Chula Vista City Council voted to purchase a powerful system of 150 license plate readers.

The city plans to buy the cameras from Flock Safety, a surveillance company that’s drawn criticism for the amount of data it collects.

Police said the readers would help them track stolen vehicles.

Privacy advocates warned that Chula Vista authorities have a record of misusing that information. Pedro Rios is a local activist who served on the city’s technology and privacy task force.

“CVPD had shared that information [...] about vulnerable communities to Border Patrol, to ICE and to HSI so in fact vulnerable communities are indeed impacted when there is negligence about the misuse of surveillance technology.”

Kori Suzuki, KPBS News.

In 1961, hundreds of black and white protesters known as “freedom riders” were imprisoned for riding together on segregated buses.

At just 13, Hezekiah Watkins became the youngest among them – by accident.

Watkins spoke about his experience last night at USD.

KPBS reporter Katie Hyson has more.

Hezekiah Watkins and his friend Troy were 13 when they heard the Freedom Riders were coming to their city. Jackson, Mississippi.

We began a little jingle. The Freedom Riders coming to Jackson.

Not happy because we wanted to join the Freedom Riders.

We just want to see them and maybe touch one. 

But when they arrived at the bus station, it was empty. They began playing. Shoving each other as they walked.

And Troy pushed me. And I landed inside of the bus station. So I spot this sign across the ceiling. ‘White only.’  

Before I could back completely out, this officer hit me on my shoulder.

Mistaken for a Freedom Rider, Watkins was placed on death row at Parchman Prison with no due process. He was released 11 days later at the orders of president John F Kennedy.

Watkins says that experience pushed him to become an activist. He’s proud of the 109 times he’s been arrested.

Katie Hyson, KPBS News.

Coming up.... last year Twitter was bought by Elon Musk and later its name was changed to ‘X’.

Scientists who have made it their media platform of choice have started to wonder if there was something better.

"I don’t have strong opinions on Elon Musk. My opinion is that Twitter is worse since he took over. My user experience is worse.”

We’ll hear from San Diego scientists who say changes to the platform have made it more difficult to share research for the benefit of science.

That story and more, just after the break.

For the better part of two decades, Twitter has been an important hub for scientists to share ideas and keep up with each other’s work.

Last year billionaire Elon Musk bought the social media platform.

Now, many scientists have fled the platform and no longer see it as the best place to be.

Sci-Tech reporter Thomas Fudge has this story of Twitter and what it’s become.

There have been a lot of changes at Twitter. In fact yer not even supposed to call it that. It’s been renamed and rebranded as X, the name favored by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and world’s richest man. 

Despite the changes, it’s still widely used and valued by scientists. But they are seeing a lot less of what they used to like. 

“What I like is seeing, like I told you, the latest and greatest academic vigorous discussion. Links to new things. Education. I’m seeing less of that.”

Aaron Goodman is a cancer physician and researcher at UC San Diego who says he’s seeing a lot more what he calls BS on his platform feed. Polarizing content and stuff that looks like it came from bots. 

“I don’t have strong opinions on Elon Musk. My opinion is Twitter is worse since Elon Musk took over. My user experience is worse.”

He’s not alone. Miguel Reina-Campos is a postdoctoral fellow and immunologist also at UCSD. He says the platform used to be democratic and accessible.  But things changed after Musk began letting people pay to promote their content and to receive the Blue Check, formerly a Twitter guarantee that a content source was legitimate.  

“So when you change that core, underlying rule of the system, then everything starts shifting again to a point where now you’re not seeing things you are interested in. You’re seeing things that people have paid for.”

In another controversial move, Musk allowed Donald Trump back on the platform. Trump had been banned after the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Earlier this year, National Public Radio and KPBS stopped posting on Twitter after Musk called NPR state-affiliated media. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Rebecca Lee is a journalism professor at San Diego State. She says Musk’s political views tend toward conspiracy theories. And Musk’s content preferences were clear when he began laying off staff.

“He fired a lot of people and a lot of those people were working on the content moderation issues. Trying to take down disinformation and shut down trolls and bot accounts, and all of that went out the window.”

Lee says in its glory days, Twitter was a forum scientists could use to “get out from behind the walls of their peer-reviewed journals.” And they still do that. But faith in the platform has diminished.

The best evidence of the departure of Scientists from X came in an article in the journal Nature this August. The survey showed about 7% left the site altogether. And nearly half have recently joined competitors like Bluesky or Threads. 

Uri Manor is a San Diego cell biologist at UC San Diego. He says he doesn’t discount the criticisms of the platform and he agrees with some. But he has a caveat. 

Somehow people seem to think that these other sites are going to be better, because maybe they are not run by Elon or Mark Zuckerberg. And I’m very skeptical. I’m very skeptical that it’s their fault that these places can suck sometimes.”

Biologist Reina-Campos is dismayed by the new management and their apparent tweaks to the algorithms. But he’s still using it. 

“I haven’t found anything as good as Twitter yet.”

“That’s the link to the paper. Someone can read this paper and clearly see my opinion. And here’s engagement. Thank God this is….(fade)

Aaron Goodman shows me his X feed with its posted studies and comments. Virtually all of the scientists I spoke to for this story are still using X.  Though they agree it isn’t what it used to be.

If the cost to scientists is a degraded social media platform, the cost to Elon Musk is also considerable. He bought Twitter in 2022 for 44 billion dollars. He admitted in a post last month that it’s now worth considerably less. Thomas Fudge, KPBS News.

KPBS is exploring public art in an ongoing series that you can find at KPBS-dot-org and on our YouTube page.

For our latest story, Katie Hyson peels back the layers of a South Park mural.

A three-story Burmese monk towers over Ivy Street. There’s no signature on the mural. But the red hues and thick black lines are reminiscent of Obama’s hope poster and the Obey Giant sticker. A clue that it was painted by famous street artist Shepard Fairey.

He painted it in 2010. And said it was a better experience than the police harassment he received when he lived here in the late 90s and early 2000s.

He was literally almost on probation for putting up stickers.

That’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego senior director Jenna Jacobs. She says the monk is one of the only remaining murals from a 2010 exhibition on art and urban landscape.

She says it helped pave a way for street artists to be seen as legitimate.

In the decades-plus that it’s been since that show happened, a lot has happened commercially and in pop . . . language . . .  to have artists that previously would never have shown in a museum space, many of them you do see them now at galleries, famous galleries.

Street art opens up an often elitist, costly world. It gives marginalized artists a way to show their work, and art viewers a way to see it for free. Like the protests of Burmese monks against the military dictatorship of Myanmar, Fairey saw street art as nonviolent protest. A way to cause people to question the systems under which they live.

Katie Hyson, KPBS News.

San Diego Wave F-C is waiting for the NWSL playoffs to begin.In the meantime, some top players are being called up by their national teams.

For the U-S Women, that includes Wave stars Alex Morgan, Naomi Girma and Jaedyn Shaw.

The three players will compete in a couple of friendlies scheduled with Colombia this month.

One of those matches will be held in San Diego at Snapdragon Stadium on October 29th.Four other Wave players will play for their respective national teams in the days ahead.

That’s it for the podcast today.

As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org.

Join us tomorrow for the top local news stories, plus KPBS Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando will have her review of the new documentary – “The Pigeon Tunnel.”

I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Mexican National Guard troops were caught on tape trying to illegally raid a migrant shelter. Also, local scientists voice displeasure with the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. And, muralist Shepard Fairey’s public art contribution to South Park.