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Training veterans through archeological work

 September 26, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, September 26th>>>>Veterans are learning job skills through ar-chae-o-log-i-cal work

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

Today and tomorrow are expected to be the hottest days in the current heat wave.

The highest temps are expected in San Diego County’s eastern desert areas where an excessive heat warning is in effect until 11 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).

The hot spell will bring highs topping out in the mid-80s along the coast, the mid-90s to around 100 degrees in the inland valleys and the upper 90s to 110 in the deserts.

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It’s been about three weeks since the newest COVID-19 booster arrived in San Diego.

The booster gives more protection against the pandemic’s newest variants

But, not many people have gotten it yet

Health officials report that about 72-thousand doses went out as of late last week.

Denise Foster is the county’s chief nursing officer–

CLIP: That’s countywide so given we have 3.3 million people, we have a little bit to go 

Those 12 and older are eligible for the new pfizer booster, with those 18 and over are eligible for the moderna version.

It’s available at pharmacies, health providers, clinics and even pop up vaccination sites..

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Coming up this week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider on Tuesday declaring homelessness in the county a public health emergency.

The proposal is being put forth by supervisors nathan fletcher and nora vargas.

They say it would prioritize solving homelessness.

and would further bring the county, cities, community stakeholders and resources together to address the issue.

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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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The Army Corps of Engineers is probably best known for its work on waterways. Think locks, dams, and levees. But those projects also unearth many historical artifacts the Corps must document and maintain. In some cities, the Corps is pairing that archaeological work with job training for veterans. From St. Louis, Eric Schmid reports for the American Homefront Project

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"[– ambi open in VCP… rubbing on a document –Lab technician Richard Schmitt is hard at work… carefully rubbing away some old adhesive on a set of 35 year old documents. 

“You can kind of see it… I don’t know. Just sticky.”

Schmitt, a navy veteran, bounced through a few jobs before landing here at the Veterans Curation Program where today he’s cleaning the field notes from a Army Corps project in Pennsylvania.

“The document’s… **crinkle** This used to be a lot dirtier so I just took off all the mud that was loose.” RUSTLE SOUND

Elsewhere in the small office in Downtown St. Louis other veterans, like Chris Miller, rustle through bags filled with small artifacts.

“A lot of what people would just call rocks… a lot of rocks.”– ambi pops: scale, pencil, computer typing and camera click.

There are rare objects too … like arrowheads and pottery shards. AMBI: SCALE SOUND Every artifact is weighed, labeled, cataloged in a computer database and eventually photographed. AMBI: CLICK CLICK It’s vital work says Sharon Knobbe (keh-NO-bee), an anthropologist with the St. Louis district of the Army Corps of Engineers. And the Corps has turned to former service members to do it. Twice a year, Knobbe’s lab brings in a new set of vets to serve as paid lab technicians.

“We want to provide job skills for veterans, while they rehabilitate these at risk army corps of engineers collections. It’s kind of a two-fold deal.”

Now, you might be wondering, what part of working with rocks translates into job skills? Lab technician Miller says the work focuses on records management, which applies beyond archeology.

“There are other jobs outside of this that deal with archives, collections of some sort… Coming from an infantry background, I never thought this was possible for a grunt basically. It’s not what we were taught.”

He served 10 years in the Army, including three deployments to Iraq and one to South Korea.More recently, he says he’s worked as a truck driver and on river barges but his body can’t handle those roles anymore.In the lab he’s doing less physical work and gets coached on things like resumes, cover letters, interviews and networking…

“Before this, I’ve never dealt with a resume or anything. I’ve always been in high turnover jobs, so you just go in, apply and start working.”

Schmitt also appreciates this attention on career development and he says it’s something he wishes he had sooner after serving 6 years as a boatswain’s (BOW-sen) mate in the navy.

“And then when I got out I was just in California, no family… I was more focused on finding what I was passionate about, which is a good thing, but I wasn’t focused on a long-term plan.”

Schmitt says the attention he’s getting now keeps him locked on his goal of going into cybersecurity after he finishes up school at Lindenwood University. Knobbe, who manages the nationwide Veterans Curation Program, says it has seen more than 700 vets since it started in 2009… and more than 90 percent of them have landed full-time jobs or continued to further education afterward.

“You have people who turn out to be chefs, they have people who start their own business, or go on to work on a museum or archives, but it’s not necessarily archeology.”

St. Louis is one of the corps’ four locations that does this work with veterans. The others are in Georgia, Virginia and California… And temporary locations pop-up too. Right now they’re at universities in Arkansas and Texas.

I’m Eric Schmid in St. Louis."

TAG: This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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A new study says California’s high electricity rates unfairly hurt the poor and the report urges regulators to reconsider how they charge for power. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

JUICE 1 (sea) soq :51

Half to two thirds of the cost of a kilowatt of electricity in California is unrelated to the actual cost of that power.  A new report commissioned by the non-partisan group Next-10 found San Diego Gas and Electric customers paid an average of 786 dollars a year in 2019 on this hidden tax.  U-C Berkeley researcher Severin Borenstein says consumers should not be charged for some of those costs on their electric bill.  

“Most of these costs that we’ve added into electricity bills are things we generally think of as public goods, whether it's mitigating wildfire danger, or subsidizing rooftop solar, or subsidizing low income bills all of those things in other contexts we generally pay for in the state budget.”

Borenstein says there is also concern that high electricity rates will discourage people from making decisions, crucial to slowing climate change.  That includes buying electric vehicles.

Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Imperial County’s use of psychiatric holds may be violating state law. inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman has more.

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"BOWMAN: In California, a person having a mental health crisis can be held against their will for up to 72 hours.

But an inewsource investigation found in Imperial County, officials have exceeded that time in over a thousand cases in the past decade … holding people in ill-equipped facilities and without a formal hearing that’s required by law.

Kim Pederson is a senior attorney at Disability Rights California.

PEDERSON: “The longer people stay in emergency departments, they’re not in a place that is suited to address the crisis that they’re in.”

The practice is known as stacked or serial holds … and the county has continued to use them despite being warned by consultants about possible civil rights violations.

Michelle Doty Cabrera runs the County Behavioral Health Directors Association. She says officials are struggling to find long-term beds.

CABRERA: “They’re very concerned that if they release the hold, allow the person to walk out those doors, that the outcome could be death.”

BOWMAN: Imperial County denied using serial holds despite its own data and refused multiple requests for interviews. For KPBS, I’m investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman."

TAG: This story was reported with the help of USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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The man accusing the chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party of sexual assault has come forward. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen has more.

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AB: Oscar Rendon, a 23-year-old community college student, filed a lawsuit this week against Will Rodriguez-Kennedy. The lawsuit alleges Rodriguez-Kennedy took Rendon home in August 2021 after a night of heavy drinking and had sex with him while he was too intoxicated to consent. Rodriguez-Kennedy has been on leave from his position atop the local Democratic since the allegation first came to light in May. He held a press conference Friday in which he repeated his denial of the accusations. And he played a roughly five-minute audio recording of the sex act in question, saying it proves Rendon was sober enough to consent to sex. The San Diego County District Attorney’s office said last week they would not file criminal charges against Rodriguez-Kennedy. You can read more on this story at KPBS-dot-org. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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Coming up.... Using tiny robots to deliver drugs… We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Tiny robots in your body, delivering drugs to the place they’re needed most. It’s called direct drug delivery and it’s happening now in a lab at UC San Diego. KPBS Science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has more.

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The microscopic robots are made from algae and they swim through the lung fluids of mice. They are delivering antibiotics that are packed into nanoparticles on the robot’s body. Their target is bacteria that causes a deadly form of pneumonia. UCSD nanoengineer Liangfang Zhang says the results of the experiment have been remarkable. He says infected mice that were treated conventionally died within days. 

“But when we loaded the drugs into our formulation – the nanoparticle and the algae system – we found that all the animals survived. We achieved a remarkable 100 percent survival rate from the study

Anyone who has swallowed an aspirin knows one very conventional way of delivering drugs. The medication is ingested and is carried throughout the body. UCSD’S Joe Wang, a nanoengineer and a pioneer in microrobotics, says it's a passive, inefficient system.

“Compared to normal drug delivery which is passive, now it’s active. You have the movement to the target. It has really improved the efficiency of the therapeutic action.”

Direct drug delivery  comes in many forms. Pills can have microrobots embedded in them. SOQ. 

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Love is in the air at a new independent bookstore in North Park.

KPBS Penner Fellow Julianna Domingo takes us there

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Named after the popular romance trope, Meet Cute is one of only a handful of independent bookstores in the country dedicated entirely to romance books. 

“..a physical storefront is really a place for communities to gather and that is something that the romance community looks for.”

Owner Becca Title is a lifelong reader of the genre. She quit practicing law to open this cozy bookstore in San Diego.

“…This is our wall of contemporary romance.”

 Some tables are dedicated to books by LGBTQ and Latinx authors to highlight those often underrepresented in the genre. 

“When you have just a general bookstore, we’re all fighting for space on shelves.”

That’s Susan Lee, a local romance author. She says specialized bookstores are important because romance books don’t have to compete with other genres, which creates more opportunity for representation.

And what draws readers to romance? 

For Title, it’s all about the promise of a happy ending. 

“I personally prefer not to be put through the emotional wringer just to end up sad in the end. There’s enough of that for me in the world.. so I think it’s a hopeful genre. I think that’s something that’s valuable especially now.”

Julianna Domingo, KPBS News.

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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.

The Army Corps of Engineers is pairing archaeological work with job training for veterans. Then, a UC San Diego lab is experimenting with tiny robots that can deliver drugs inside your body to the place they’re needed most. And, a new independent book store in North Park dedicated to romance books.