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Protecting abortion access in California

 June 22, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, June 22nd.>>>>

Protecting abortion access in California

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

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COVID vaccinations for kids six months to 5 years old are officially underway in San Diego.. Hundreds of parents have made appointments at Rady Children’s hospital. 5 year old Valentino was among the first kids to get vaccinated on Tuesday. His mom Lisa Moser says they’ve been looking forward to this day–

“We knew for our family it was right because valentino has asthma

Rady’s vaccine clinic is by appointment only. Reservations for Rady and elsewhere in the county can be booked at my-turn-dot-ca-dot-g-o-v.

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You may soon see a bus driving on the shoulder of a freeway in the South Bay. But don’t worry, they won’t be breaking the law, it’s part of a pilot project that started yesterday (Tuesday). The project allows south bay rapid buses to use certain freeway shoulders during peak travel times to bypass traffic. Buses will only use the freeway shoulders if traffic is going slower than 35 miles per hour, and they’ll only travel at that speed when using them. It will also only be during commute times, Monday through Friday from 5 to 9am and from 3 to 7pm. Once the pilot project is complete, data about travel times, on-time performance, speeds, and feedback from riders and drivers will be reviewed and potentially used in future planning projects.

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San Diego’s new regulations for street vendors go into effect today (Wednesday.) Yesterday (tuesday), the city started issuing permits to the vendors. Food vendors also need to have a county health permit and food handler card. The new rules set parameters for when and where street vendors can set up.

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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.

As the Supreme Court mulls over an abortion case that could overturn Roe versus Wade… state lawmakers are taking action to ensure California women have access to the medical procedure. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has more on that effort… and what it could mean for the November election.

California lawmakers are not waiting to see what happens to Roe versus Wade. They’ve already begun passing legislation to protect abortion rights… including a proposed constitutional amendment.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego is the author of several of those bills… including the amendment.

S-C-A 10, the Reproductive Privacy Act, reads in part “that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions.”

Atkins says the right to abortion must be spelled out in the constitution to guarantee it.

SCA 10 1A: So we want to enshrine in the California constitution that we have the right to abortion not just privacy as we have defined it in the past for the last 50 years

SCA 10 has already been passed by the state senate and is making its way through the assembly. But as a Constitutional amendment, it must also go before the voters on the November ballot.

The California Family Council, a group opposed to abortion rights, has called SCA 10 “extreme and deadly.” They’re planning a March for Life rally at the state capitol on Wednesday. KA, KPBS News.

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Cal Fire responds to thousands of wildfires every year, often at great risk to those on the front lines but the state agency is under fire for how it is spending money. But an investigation by the California Newsroom, a public media collaboration, found Cal Fire is fumbling key aspects of its fire prevention and forest management. The agency is also responsible for preventing catastrophic fire damage and that includes clearing brush from forest floors and setting controlled burns to reduce vegetation. Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature set aside a historic amount of money for this, about one-point-five billion dollars. Randol White talked to CapRadio's Scott Rodd about the investigation and its findings.

That's CapRadio politics reporter Scott Rodd speaking with anchor Randol White.

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The San Diego City Council is considering new rules about the city’s surveillance technology… But as KPBS reporter Jacob Aere tells us, the council made some late changes to the proposal this week after pressure from the police department.

San Diego Police Chief Nisleit told the City Council Monday that the new proposed ordinance regulating surveillance technology would force the agency to stop working with other law enforcement on joint task forces.

“Anything that reduces relationships with state-local or local and federal partners is not wise.”

Supporters of the ordinance disagreed. They said the new rules already made allowances for security interests and task force work involving other law enforcement agencies.

But in a 5-to-4 vote, the city council sided with Police Chief Nisleit and exempted officers on task forces from the new surveillance rules. The amended ordinance will go before the city council again next month. JA, KPBS News.

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Coming up.... What local scientists are calling the biggest community science project on animal communication EVER. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

People swimming in the ocean this summer can expect relatively clean water. The state got good grades in Heal the Bay’s annual water quality report card. More than 90 percent of beaches got an A- grade during the summer months. Heal the Bay’s Luke Ginger says swimmers can stay safe if they choose the right beach.

"At a big wide open beach where there are no obstructions like a seawall or landmass blocking the beach from the ocean. Those places there are waves and currents that are continuously flushing contaminants away from the shoreline. The water’s always moving so if you pour something into the water there, you’ll see it’s quickly moved into a different area.”

Winter grades were slightly lower across the board. That’s because rain tends to flush contaminants out of urban areas and into the ocean, raising chances a beach will be posted for pollution.

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Scientists at UC San Diego are leading what they call the biggest EVER community science project on animal communication. They’re having dogs hit buttons on a soundboard to communicate to humans with words, thoughts, and maybe even full sentences. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has more.

Guests at a Colloquium at UC San Diego mingle in the outdoor plaza. The event is catered but not with any dog food. Too bad for Osky and Mila, who you could argue were guests of honor. Taylor Arco is Mila’s owner.

“She uses attention words like scritches and ‘love you’ a lot. She also likes to ask for ‘walk’ and she never lets us forget when it’s time to eat. So ‘eat’”

Arco is talking about the buttons her dog Mila pushes on a soundboard, on the floor, to tell humans what’s on her mind. The soundboard has an array of buttons set into plastic tiles that owners can arrange however they want. The buttons say things like play, outside, eat and scritches, which are scratchy caresses that dogs like. Mila is a husky-collie mix, who Taylor says uses 31 words. She has about 240,000 followers on Instagram.

So our goal was never to hit a certain word count or a certain number of followers. Our goal was just to improve her quality of life. So, so long as she has a need to communicate or a need for new words, we’ll continue.”

Arco is one of 12 hundred people, in 47 countries, expected to provide data about their dogs’ ability to communicate. This science project is led by UC San Diego cognitive scientist Federico Rossano. He says studying cognition in animals helps us understand what is uniquely human thinking, and what is shared with other creatures.

And giving dogs a talking soundboard?

We try to see whether, A, they can learn symbols like, for example human children could, and B, once you teach them this, what kind of use do they make of these tools. Do you start seeing them do what a human child would do, which is when you get to 40-50 words you start putting them together into sentences.

Can dogs form sentences? Based on the evidence he’s seen so far, Rossano gives a qualified “yes.” It’s his working hypothesis.

So for example, Bunny, the most famous participant in our study would say things like ‘Dog want cat down.’ Saying I want the cat that is sitting up there to come down. And would literally push all those buttons, one after the others.”

Ah… Bunny! The famous talking dog. She’s a sheepadoodle in Washington state with millions of tik-tok followers. In one very well-known video Bunny tells her owner something is wrong. She presses the buttons for ‘mad’ and then ‘ouch.’

“Where ouch?”

Bunny responds by pressing the button that says paw.

“Paw…. In your paw?”

After which her owner finds the small wooden spike of a foxtail stuck in Bunny’s left paw.

Rossano says there’s a risk in studying animal intelligence, and that’s overinterpretation, which means seeing what you want to see in an animal's behavior.

Leo Trottier is CEO of Fluent Pet, the company that makes the soundboards Bunny and many other dogs use. Speaking of overinterpretation, Trottier cites the famous example of Hans the horse, who people thought could do math. You’d ask him what’s 3 plus 7 and he'd stamp his foot ten times. People soon realized that his owner, or the audience, would exhale or adopt a satisfied expression when Hans reached the correct answer.

“That led to what is called the Clever Hans Effect. Where animals pay attention to subtle cues that we might not even recognize the we’re giving off in order to provide us with the answers we might want to see.”

Rossano says answers to overinterpretation depend on more data and careful interpretation. For example, he says dogs have to be able to repeat the same request if they see the human doesn’t respond the first time.

He adds that this research could lead to benefits for humans and for dogs. What if a dog that works in law enforcement could inspect luggage and tell you, ‘Smell gun’ or ‘smell explosive’?

One of the dog owners in the UC San Diego study, Alli Straus, said she wishes her dog, Osky, could do what Bunny does, and tell her when it hurts.

“To get him to press ouch or press help, or press hurt, sad, because, you know, I don’t want him to suffer. I don’t want him to be in pain.”

That kind of communication could bring our age-old symbiotic relationship with dogs to a new level. SOQ.

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Along with COVID vaccinations and other healthcare, the County of San Diego is now offering parents help with their children’s health through literacy. Yesterday (Tuesday), the county launched its HOORAY FOR READING program, featuring a website and resources at the County’s 33 libraries to encourage young children to read. Doctor Kelly Motadel is the County Child Health Officer.

“pediatricians have known for a long time how important reading is to the development of the brain. We want kids to be invested in reading. Reading from a young age helps you seek more information. It helps develop your quest for knowledge and so throughout their lives we want them to have that experience.”

Medical data shows a child’s brain is 90-percent developed by the age of 5. For reading resources go to HOORAY FOR READING-DOT-org

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

State lawmakers are taking action to protect abortion access in California. Meanwhile, a California Newsroom investigation reveals Cal Fire is fumbling key aspects of its fire prevention and forest management responsibilities. Plus, scientists at UC San Diego are leading what they call the biggest community science project ever, on animal communication.