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San Diegans react to the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein

 October 2, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, October second.


San Diegans remember Senator Dianne Feinstein. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


This week is Banned Book Week.

It draws national attention to censorship efforts.

Libraries and organizations throughout the county are holding events to educate the community about the negative effects of censorship.

Here is Rene Tarver with the North San Diego County Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

“What banned books are about, what options people have… The opposition to this is a well organized machine… We wanna not be reactionary, We want an educated community and we want the community to know how they can fight back.”

The week of events comes shortly after Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that forbids ‘book bans’ in schools, and prohibits school boards from banning instructional materials.


Voter information pamphlets are on their way to registered voters for the upcoming November 7th special election.

Pamphlets are being sent to voters in the Fourth Supervisorial District, City of Chula Vista, Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District.

The pamphlet has election information including voting options, election deadlines and candidate statements.

The pamphlets will also be online, at s-d-vote-dot-com.

Ballots will begin arriving in the mail next week.


San Diego's M-T-S transit service says it's bringing back its Free Ride Day on Wednesday.

People will be able to ride M-T-S buses and trolleys for free that day.

Same goes for Coaster and Sprinter trains covering parts of North County.

Free Ride Day is the same day as California’s Clean Air Day, where residents across the state are encouraged to take steps to reduce emissions and improve air quality.


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


Senator Dianne Feinstein died on Thursday.

She was the longest serving female senator in U-S history.

Reporter M.G. Perez spoke to community members about Senator Feinstein’s life and legacy.

Senator Feinstein was known as a champion for many marginalized communities. On social issues she was a fierce ally of the LGBTQ-plus community …San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando Lopez says her replacement must continue her legacy. “we’re looking at an attack on voting rights, an attack on reproductive rights, an attack on communities of color and the LGBT community…we really need someone right now who can represent all of California, all of America so that our freedoms and democracy are protected.” …that includes California’s Hispanic community…Roberto Alcantar is Board President of Southwestern College…“she had a presence here in San Diego with a local office …that showed me the dedication she had for our community whether that was border related issues, education whether it was supporting some of the most marginalized communities she was there.” MGP KPBS News.

TAG: Governor Gavin Newsom will appoint a temporary replacement to fill Feinstein’s Senate seat.


San Diego scientists are advancing an effort to turn plants into allies in the battle to slow global warming.

Researchers at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies are working to turn the world’s major crops into carbon-capture superheroes.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

“Here you can see a fully grown pennycress plant.” Wolfgang Busch holds up a transparent pot full of pennycress roots.  He’s leading the effort to figure out how plants with deep root systems can help slow global warming. Wolfgang Busch, Salk Institute for Biological Studies “so plants are the world record holders in getting carbon dioxide out of the air that causes the greenhouse effect and thereby climate change.  And they grow everywhere.” And some plants are particularly efficient at transforming that carbon into stems, leaves, and roots. The root systems have the attention of researchers who see this trait as a key to getting carbon out of the air and stored in the ground. “Now the deeper you put that carbon into the root system the slower the decomposition gets.   So, carbon that is below 30 centimeters. Below a foot in the soil is much, much more stable, will hang around much longer in the soil.  So, by putting more and more of the root material deeper, you know deeper soil areas, will allow this carbon to stay there and the soil to store the carbon longer.” Busch says researchers have already identified more than 100 genes that guide the creation of  deep and robust root systems.  They hope to either breed those traits into crops, or use modern gene splicing technology to give those abilities to the most commonly grown plants. “If you just take five major crops, the most prevalent crops and you would pool the growth area it would cover the whole subcontinent of India. That’s so much soil being covered by these plants and even if plant will do very little on its own the massive scale of agriculture can make a dramatic impact.” The harnessing plants initiative was an idea germinated by Salk researcher Joanne Chory.  She thinks new and improved plants can increase crop yields, boost soil quality and scrub carbon out of the air. Joanne Chory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies “I think we could take out ten gigatons by this method.  That’s not the whole amount we need to take out every year, but we could make a big contribution to the whole.” 10 gigatons is about a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans put into the air each year.  One particular plant of interest is Typha, cattails.  The plant is robust and produces a prodigious amount of seeds. Todd Michael, Salk Institute for Biological Studies “It's one of the three species that grows almost in all wetlands.  And when you find it as a primary species in some of the wetlands here that were interested in storing.” Michael handles a mature cattail plant with a tightly wound ball of roots. “And the roots grow so fast.  This is an amazing plant.  It’s like a machine sucking up nutrients.” He says the plant is one of the best at moving carbon into a corked molecule known as suberin.  Michael is trying to isolate the genetic characteristics that allow cattails to do that and the hope is those abilities can be transferred to other plants. They grab onto the surrounding substrate and they build.  So, they are basically building land. 12:59:35 “And you can see that they’re sort of tight.  And this is actually what’s capturing the carbon and this becomes oxygen free.” And sealing out the oxygen keeps the roots from decomposing.  It essentially locks the carbon inside the root ball.  Two years of sequencing Typha genomes has pointed researchers in encouraging directions, but the goal of an army of plants fighting global warming remains decades away. “There are a lot of recent events that suggest that we need to be moving fast. And some of the solutions that we’re talking about are ten, twenty years out.  But we need to be working on them now because this is really what technology is really about. Right? We need to be working on every angle.  So not just carbon scrubbers but how do we use plants.  We need to cut down on emissions. All of these solutions come together.” The idea’s promise has attracted plenty of supporters. Energy companies like the  Hess Corporation and Sempra Energy are investing money.  So is the Bezos Earth Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  All hope to leverage their investments into strategies that will keep the planet from heating up. Erik Anderson KPBS News.


A study shows that roadkills of deer and coyotes have fallen in California over the past seven years.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge explains why that’s bad news for wildlife.

The annual report by the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis shows that roadkills of California’s native deer, the mule deer, have dropped annually by ten percent. And that doesn’t mean Californians are becoming more careful drivers. Center director Fraser Shilling says those stats are a strong indication that mule deer populations are dropping. He says their roadkill data is consistent with other estimates of deer populations. And if it’s really true that deer are going down by ten percent per year, then we have a serious ecological and social problem. This is an iconic species for California. People love them. You lose deer yer going to lose Mountain Lion yer gonna lose Grey Wolf. He says climate change is a factor in mule deer declines. And tens of thousands of deer are also killed in car collisions every year. Shilling says probably more than are killed by deer hunters. Soq. 


Coming up.... Our KPBS arts reporter takes us behind the scenes of the world premiere of “Sumo.”

“The primary intention is not to teach people about the sport. it is to illuminate humanity inside of this sport.”

We’ll have that story, just after the break.


La Jolla Playhouse recently launched the world premiere of “Sumo.”

The play is set in an elite sumo training facility in Tokyo, where six men practice, live together, and ultimately fight each other.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando takes us behind the scenes to learn more about this traditional Japanese sport.

Sumo is a battle of giants with its origin dating back some two thousand years to a legendary clash of gods over the fate of Japan. It’s a sport steeped in culture and tradition, says Japanese American playwright Lisa Sanaye Dring. LISA SANAYE DRING … I was so entranced by the idea or the feeling of a sport being so powerful and so ferocious and so wild and then also so restrained and so filled with ceremony and honor. Sumo chant in rehearsal room JAMES YAEGASHI It comes from mythology, right, of the Japanese sort of Shinto mythology of the gods. James Yaegashi serves as the play’s fight choreographer as well as cultural and martial arts advisor. JAMES YAEGASHI …so a lot of the rituals that we see in the dohyo, which is the ring, are abstractions of basically showing the opponent that you are unarmed, which is of course, why they only have basically a mawashi, which is a glorified loincloth, so to speak, and they're naked otherwise, you can completely see and they spread their arms, they show that they've got nothing. And it's just a sheer competition of strength and technique and will. Set in an elite training facility, the play highlights the massive physical strength of the wrestlers. LISA SANAYE DRING …Sometimes there is a ton, like a literal ton of power when you do the math on two bodies hitting each other like that… LISA SANAYE DRING …and so that is hopefully what we are portraying to the audience of how strong these men are. Sanaye Dring wanted to create a space where Asian men could have lead roles and where the topic would not be racism or victimization. LISA SANAYE DRING … And so in this play it leads with, oh, that's not the conversation here. We are not having to prove our masculinity, not me, but the men on stage and the people on stage are not having to prove their masculinity because it's not challenged, which I feel like in many conversations in the theater right now, whiteness is assaulting some parts of Asianness and it's tricky. [00:04:46.26] … What is it to enter in a place of strength and be like look how beautiful we can be together? The play is about strength, with the sumo ring as an omnipresent reminder of what’s driving the characters. LISA SANAYE DRING …I wanted to tell the story of someone who is rising to power inside of a structured hierarchy, who is also challenging that hierarchy and then is also so changed by the system which he is in, that he doesn't know who he is at the end of it. [00:01:33.08]  … And so it made me think about what an athlete is, what a devotional practice is, and how you give your whole self to it… So it's like, what is it to completely revolutionize your mindset from being an entity unto oneself into a part of this machine? And that's also Japanese culture. Which is why Yaegashi’s input was key. He grew up in Japan but also lives in the US, and he knows the traditions of sumo. JAMES YAEGASHI …First and foremost, I'm interested in trying to capture sort of iconic images of what we see as sumo. But then, in addition to that, there's sort of the theatrical element, right, of how do we then make these images, these rituals or movements, interesting in a theatrical setting? Yaegashi’s fight choreography involved intense physical training for the actors before they could begin to develop fighting styles that could reflect their characters. At the same time this had to reflect the rules and rituals of sumo. LISA SANAYE DRING …It's not a bar fight. A sumo wrestling match is not that. And so I think in any sport there looks like a dance involved, even if it's a dance of besting one another. Audiences do not need to know anything about sumo before coming to the play but they might leave with a greater appreciation of an ancient Japanese sport. LISA SANAYE DRING …But the primary intention is not to teach people about the sport. It is to illuminate humanity inside of this sport. Sanaye Dring’s play does that in a bold new way and with a sense of physical power that Asian men do not often have on the American stage. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

TAG: Sumo runs through October 22nd at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Forum.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. It’s been fun hosting the podcast this week with you all. My colleague John Carroll will be hosting the rest of the week, until Debbie Cruz is back. Join John tomorrow for the day’s top stories, plus, a story about how artists created the giant mosaic at La Jolla Shores. I’m Matt Hoffman.Thanks for listening and have a great Monday.

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San Diegans are remembering Senator Dianne Feinstein’s life and legacy. In other news, San Diego scientists are advancing an effort to turn plants into allies in the battle to slow global warming. Plus, KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando takes us behind the scenes of the world premiere of “Sumo.”