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San Diegans to count birds for national Christmas Bird Count

 December 28, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, December 28th.


Some San Diegans will be out counting birds this week, as part of the Christmas Bird Count.

More on the reasons behind this century-long tradition, next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


California Highway Patrol officers will be on the lookout for people driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol over the holiday weekend.

The annual “maximum enforcement period” runs tomorrow evening through Monday night.

According to the California Highway Patrol, last weekend, 20 people were killed in crashes, and C-H-P officers made more than 900 arrests for driving under the influence in the state.

During the last New Year's holiday, C-H-P officers made 570 D-U-I arrests.


San Diego's Monarch School for unhoused children is getting a major donation in the new year.

The Prebys Foundation has awarded a 250-thousand-dollar grant that will support Monarch’s High School students and alumni with programs that prepare them for internships, employment and post-secondary education.

The Monarch School is the only public K through 12 campus in the U-S developed to specifically serve unhoused students.

The Prebys Foundation is a supporter of KPBS.


SANDAG's C-E-O Hasan Ikhrata’s last day in the position is tomorrow.

He’s led the agency since 20-18.

During his term, more than one-billion-dollars in funds were awarded for projects throughout the county.

Coleen Clementson will lead the agency as interim C-E-O starting next month.

She’s currently the agency’s Deputy C-E-O.

Ikhrata gave his notice of resignation to the Board of Directors in July.


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


A century-long tradition that started as a bird hunt now helps track valuable bird sightings.

The Christmas Bird Count put on by the National Audubon Society covers the country.

Reporter Tania Thorne says the next birding events are being held nearby.

A Holiday tradition that started as a hunt evolved into a count that is still going strong 124 years later. Rather than hunting the birds, people around the country would go out and count them. Patti Langen is the compiler for the count happening this Friday in Oceanside. So in addition to being a fun hobby, it's great, the birds are always amazing. It also is good to know that you’re contributing to science. the data collected from the count helps track bird activity and migration. More information can be found on our website. TT KPBS News.


And speaking of checking out animals… some people on whale watching cruises have been treated to dramatic views recently of killer whales hunting off the San Diego coast.

At least two pods of the mammals have been roaming up and down the Southern California coast.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us why they’re here.

The killer whales that Californians are seeing lately reside south of us in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. That’s according to Bob Pitman, who spent most of his career with NOAA Fisheries in San Diego. These orcas are mammal specialists, which means they hunt dolphins, sea lions and some whales. Pitman says these days there’s more prey for orcas off the California coast. “We protect marine mammals now. After a couple centuries of whaling and indiscriminately killing marine mammals, we passed laws and we protect them now.” And as numbers of dolphins and whales are increasing, so are their predators, the killer whales. “Killer whale” became a common name for orcas because they were known to attack and devour whales. Alisa Schulman-Janiger, with the California killer whale project, says orcas are called the wolves of the sea because of the way they hunt whales. “Some will try to ram the whale. Some will try to grab the flippers and pull them down. Some will try to get on the head of the whale, and use their body weight to push the head underwater so it can’t breathe.” While the mammal eating killer whales are doing very well, the ones that specialize on eating fish are eating the same kind of fish that humans do. And they are doing less well. SOQ. 


Worldbeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park has been sharing music, art, dance and Black culture since 19-95.

This week it kicked off a week of events celebrating Kwanzaa.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando previews what’s ahead.

Kwanzaa is the annual holiday created in 1966 to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage. Sharing that history and those cultural connections is something Worldbeat Cultural Center does all year long so it provides the perfect place to celebrate Kwanzaa, says founder Makeda Cheatom. MAKEDA CHEATOM We’re sending you all the love that you can handle. Happy kwanzaa. Harambe. Harambe. Harambe. That means let’s band together as a people, as a whole…  and that’s what Kwanzaa gives us seven days so we can come and reaffirm our love and commitment to each other and have Imani faith. Kwanzaa is also closely tied to food and harvesting, which is essential to Cheatom. She grows the food she serves at WorldBeat and will be serving for Karamu. MAKEDA CHEATOM That’s the feast, and you got to have the feast. And we have black eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread, and all those good things that you should be eating. Each night will feature free vegan food plus guest speakers or performers. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.


Coming up.... In July, a New York hedge fund with a reputation for staff cuts bought the San Diego Union-Tribune. How could that impact democracy in San Diego County?

“The absence of information makes the democratic conversation locally almost nonexistent.” 

We’ll look back at that story from 20-23, just after the break.


Earlier this year, a New York hedge fund that owns more than 200 newspapers nationwide bought the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Investigative reporter Amita Sharma says those with questions about what will happen next, can look to newspapers in neighboring counties for answers.

Ambi of a Riverside musician singing lyrics “There’s something happening here…from For What it’s worth.” Sitting outside a sandwich shop, on a recent fall afternoon, Riverside resident Robbie Shorts says he’s a regular voter.  But he never reads the local newspaper, The  Press-Enterprise before fact, he does no research at all. “I always see the same names. If I see a new name, I won’t even look them up and just vote for the new name, why not?” Former Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge says the Press-Enterprise used to matter a lot more to residents. He recalls a time - more than a decade ago - when people in the community and elected officials read the local paper first thing in the morning. “I’d be surprised if anybody at city hall looks at The Press Enterprise now.” Today, the newsroom that once employed more than 100 journalists covering all of Riverside County is now down to a handful of reporters. In 2016, the New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital bought the Press-Enterprise. A significant number of those cuts have happened since then. “The watchdog function is not there…the information function is not there.” “We are an explicit example of the disappearance of local news.” This July, Alden acquired the San Diego Union-Tribune. There are already signs that the Union-Tribune is likely following in the footsteps of the Press-Enterprise and other Alden newspapers. Buyouts. Layoffs. Bare bones local coverage. Hours after Alden announced it bought the Union-Tribune, the company offered buyouts. Journalists left with decades of community memory of corruption cases, courts, public safety and politics. Loveridge says this leaves communities divorced from the give and take of formulating policy. And from democracy itself. “....In American politics, access is local, it's not at the state, it's not at the federal level, it’s at the local level. The absence of information makes the democratic conversation locally almost nonexistent.” The Orange County Register is another cautionary tale. Twenty years ago, the paper had hundreds of journalists covering San Diego’s neighbor to the north. Frank Mickadeit worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for the Register. He says its mission was to saturate the county with news coverage. ”....We had an investigative team and we just poured a lot of money and resources into every corner of journalism that existed and that we tried to invent, and it was exciting to be a part of that.” Alden bought the Register in 2016. Now, sources at the paper say one reporter has to cover as many as five big cities.  Consider a recent scandal in Anaheim’s city hall. Details didn’t come to light until the city released its own investigative report. “….And what's kind of scary about it is that we found out about Anaheim, but who knows how many other Anaheims are out there? We don't know and we may never know.” Lifelong Anaheim resident Cynthia Ward says now the public must grapple with the consequences. “When corruption goes unchecked, it means that money that should be coming into our communities is going into the pockets of special interests, which means our taxes have to go up to fill potholes and do the things that we count on, because that money has been siphoned off. So ultimately we pay. Mickadeit says the entire country, the very republic, is in trouble if local news coverage continues its downward slide. But he doesn’t begrudge Alden or other private equity firms for hollowing out newsrooms.  “....They do what they do, and it's like blaming a shark for doing what a shark does.” He says we’re all to blame for letting it happen. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

TAG: An Alden spokesperson did not make a company representative available for comment for this story.


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 Thursday.

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A century-long tradition that started as a bird hunt now helps track valuable bird sightings. The Christmas Bird Count put on by the National Audubon Society covers the country and the next birding events are being held in Oceanside Friday. In other news, some people on whale watching cruises have been treated to dramatic views of killer whales hunting off the San Diego coast. Plus, the Worldbeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park has been sharing music, art, dance and Black culture since 1995 and this week it’s hosting a week of events celebrating Kwanzaa.