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Visa applications for Afghans

 October 17, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

GOOD MORNING, I’M JOHN CARROLL IN FOR DEBBIE CRUZ….IT’S MONDAY, OCTOBER 17TH.

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THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS CHANGING HOW IT PROCESSES VISA APPLICATIONS FOR AFGHANS.

MORE ON THAT NEXT. BUT FIRST... LET’S DO THE HEADLINES….

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THE AUDITORS AT SANDAG ARE AGAIN FLAGGING ITS SPENDING… THIS TIME, QUESTIONING THE AGENCY’S VENDOR CONTRACTS.

THE LATEST SANDAG AUDIT FOUND POOR RECORDKEEPING, MINIMAL TRAINING AND HEFTY BUMPS TO THE AGENCY’S CONTRACTS OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS.

ONE VENDOR RECEIVED A 20-MILLION-DOLLAR INCREASE … THAT’S OVER 400-PERCENT MORE THAN ITS ORIGINAL CONTRACTS.

AUDITORS SAY IT APPEARS SOME CONTRACTORS ARE BEING DISPROPORTIONATELY PREFERRED FOR WORK… THOUGH THEY STRESSED THEY DIDN’T FIND ANY FRAUD OR INTENTIONAL WRONGDOING.

SANDAG MANAGEMENT WILL PUT TOGETHER A PLAN TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS.

THE VENDORS ARE NOT IDENTIFIED IN THE REPORT.

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STATE OFFICIALS ARE KEEPING AN EYE ON THE OUTBREAKS THAT HAVE KEPT THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS HOME FROM SCHOOL LAST WEEK.

THE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SAYS PRELIMINARY TESTS ARE POSITIVE FOR INFLUENZA TYPE-A.

COUNTY OFFICIALS SAY THE OUTBREAKS ARE NOTICEABLE AT THE HIGH SCHOOLS BECAUSE THEY MONITOR ATTENDANCE.

BUT THEY SAY THE FLU IS ALREADY SPREADING QUICKLY IN THE COMMUNITY… AND GOING TO GET WORSE.

THEY ARE URGING EVERYONE TO GET THEIR FLU SHOT, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE MOST VULNERABLE.

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TICKETS FOR BLINK-1-82’S REUNION TOUR NEXT YEAR GO ON SALE TODAY.

THE TOUR WILL FEATURE THE BAND’S LINEUP WITH MARK HOPPUS, TRAVIS BARKER AND GUITARIST AND VOCALIST TOM DELONGE RETURNING.

IT’S THE FIRST TIME THE TRIO WILL BE TOGETHER SINCE 20-15.

THE BAND WAS FORMED IN POWAY IN 19-92.

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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 BIDEN ADMINISTRATION THIS MONTH [OCTOBER] IS CHANGING HOW IT PROCESSES VISA APPLICATIONS FOR PEOPLE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF AFGHANS ARE TRYING TO GET PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN THE U-S.

MANY ASSISTED AMERICAN TROOPS DURING THE WAR.

SOME HAVE BEEN WAITING YEARS FOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO APPROVE THEIR APPLICATIONS.

DESIREE DIORIO REPORTS FOR THE AMERICAN HOMEFRONT PROJECT.

"RESETTLEMENT AGENCIES ACROSS THE U.S. HAVE BEEN INUNDATED SINCE THE CHAOTIC WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN LAST YEAR. THE INTEGRATED REFUGEE & IMMIGRANT SERVICE IN CONNECTICUT IS HELPING MORE THAN 500 AFGHANS NAVIGATE THE IMMIGRATION SYSTEM. ONE OF THEM IS ABDUL. WE’RE WITHHOLDING HIS FULL NAME TO PROTECT HIS FAMILY IN AFGHANISTAN. SPEAKING THROUGH A TRANSLATOR IN THE COURTYARD OF THE RESETTLEMENT AGENCY, HE TELLS A COMPLICATED STORY OF TWO FAILED VISA APPLICATIONS. HE SAYS HE’S ANXIOUS FOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO APPROVE HIS THIRD ONE. “I HAVE SERVED THE AMERICANS IN AFGHANISTAN AND I WOULD LOVE TO SERVE THE AMERICANS IN THIS COUNTRY, TOO.” ABDUL IS HERE ON HUMANITARIAN PAROLE. BUT THAT’S A TEMPORARY PROGRAM, AND ABDUL’S WILL EXPIRE NEXT AUGUST. HE APPLIED FOR A SPECIAL IMMIGRANT VISA, OR SIV, SO HE CAN STAY IN THE U.S. PERMANENTLY. BUT HE'S STRUGGLING TO MEET STATE DEPARTMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCUMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT CAN PROVE HE WORKED WITH THE U.S.MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS - EMPLOYERS HE LOST TOUCH WITH YEARS AGO. “BUT THEY’RE NOT RESPONDING MOST OF THEM. IT’S NO ANSWERS. PEOPLE HAVE CHANGED, NUMBERS HAVE CHANGED.” LAUREN PETERSON IS ONE OF THE LAWYERS WORKING ON ABDUL’S CASE. SHE SAYS MANY OF HER CLIENTS TELL THE SAME STORY ABOUT THEIR RUSH TO LEAVE AFGHANISTAN: “THEY'RE DESTROYING DOCUMENTS. THEY'RE WIPING THEIR PHONES CLEAN. THE LAST THING THEY WANT IS TO GO THROUGH A TALIBAN CHECKPOINT AND HAVE ANY EVIDENCE THAT THEY WORKED FOR ANYONE ASSOCIATED WITH THE WEST.” FOR APPLICANTS WHO DO HAVE THEIR DOCUMENTS, PETERSON SAYS IT TAKES AN AVERAGE OF 19 MONTHS FOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO APPROVE AN SIV. THAT LEAVES AFGHANS LIKE ABDUL IN LIMBO, BECAUSE THEIR TEMPORARY PAROLE CAN EXPIRE SOONER TO TRY TO ADDRESS THE BACKLOG, THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION HAS ANNOUNCED MAJOR CHANGES TO THE IMMIGRATION PROCESS. IN OCTOBER, THE U.S. WILL STOP ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR TEMPORARY HUMANITARIAN PAROLE. WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON KARINE JEAN-PIERRE SAYS THAT WILL ALLOW THE GOVERNMENT TO CONCENTRATE ITS RESOURCES ON PERMANENT VISAS. “WE ARE ADOPTING A NEW MODEL WHERE AFGHAN ARRIVALS WILL TRAVEL DIRECTLY TO THE COMMUNITIES WHERE THEY WILL BE MOVING WITH THE HELP OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT ORGANIZATIONS, WITHOUT A SAFE-HAVEN STOPOVER IN THE UNITED STATES.” ADVOCATES CRITICIZE ENDING TEMPORARY HUMANITARIAN PAROLE, ARGUING THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD OFFER AS MANY OPPORTUNITIES AS POSSIBLE FOR AFGHANS TO ESCAPE. MEANWHILE, A BIPARTISAN BILL IN CONGRESS WOULD OVERHAUL THE IMMIGRATION PROCESS FURTHER. CONNECTICUT SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL IS A COSPONSOR OF THE AFGHAN ADJUSTMENT ACT, WHICH HE SAYS GIVES REFUGEES OPTIONS BEYOND HUMANITARIAN PAROLE OR SIV STATUS. “THEY CAN APPLY FOR PERMANENT LEGAL RESIDENCY, IN OTHER WORDS, GREEN CARDS, WHICH IS A THIRD STATUS THAT CUTS THROUGH A LOT OF THE RED TAPE.” IT’S NOT A NEW CONCEPT - THE U.S. MADE SIMILAR ACCOMMODATIONS FOR REFUGEES AFTER THE WARS IN VIETNAM AND IRAQ. PETERSON, THE IMMIGRATION LAWYER, SAYS THE NEW LAW WOULD HELP. “BEING ABLE TO JUST PUT IN YOUR GREEN CARD APPLICATION, WHICH IS RELATIVELY STRAIGHTFORWARD, THAT WOULD BE A HUGE RELIEF. AND THEN IT WOULD DEFINITELY REDUCE SOME OF THE BOTTLENECK IN THE SIV QUEUE.” THE BILL HAS SUPPORT FROM A VOCAL CONSTITUENCY OF VETERANS WHO SAY THE U.S. IS OBLIGATED TO HELP THE AFGHANS WHO ASSISTED DURING THE WAR. BUT IT’S NOT CLEAR WHEN, OR IF, CONGRESS WILL VOTE ON IT. I’M DESIREE DIORIO, ON LONG ISLAND."

THIS REPORT WAS PRODUCED BY THE AMERICAN HOME FRONT 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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SAN DIEGO’S HILLCREST NEIGHBORHOOD IS DEBATING WHETHER TO CREATE AN LGBTQ HISTORICAL DISTRICT.

KPBS METRO REPORTER ANDREW BOWEN SAYS SOME GAY BUSINESS AND NONPROFIT LEADERS ARE AGAINST THE IDEA.

AB: San Diego's Planning Department is preparing to update Hillcrest's zoning to allow for more high-density housing. Alongside that process, the city is also proposing an LGBTQ historical district that would put restrictions on changing or redeveloping the buildings in the neighborhood's core. Brian Jennings is co-owner of the gay bar #1 on Fifth Avenue, which would be in the proposed historic district. BJ: A historic district is a well-intentioned effort to save the walls of certain businesses, however it does nothing to save the businesses within those walls. And for most LGBT people, that's the most crucial part. AB: Many Hillcrest businesses prefer an LGBTQ cultural district, which would aim to protect gay businesses but not historic buildings. The City Council is expected to take up the proposal next summer or fall. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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THERE ARE SEVEN STATEWIDE PROPOSITIONS ON YOUR BALLOT THIS FALL.

WITH THE DETAILS YOU NEED TO CAST AN INFORMED VOTE, HERE’S ALEXEI KOSEFF [UH-LEX-EE CAW-SEFF] WITH YOUR “PROP IN A MINUTE” EXPLAINER FROM CALMATTERS.

"Proposition 1 would make the freedom to choose an abortion a Constitutional right in California. Right now, abortion is legal in California for any reason before a fetus is viable at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. And state courts have said the right to privacy in California’s constitution also applies to abortion. But since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, advocates want more explicit protections for abortion rights. Prop 1 would also add the right to choose or refuse contraceptives to the state constitution. Critics say the measure is written so broadly that it would allow late-term abortions, beyond the current 24-week point of viability. Proponents reject that interpretation of the language. So vote “yes” if you want California to add a fundamental right to abortion to the state constitution. Vote “no” if you don't. In Sacramento, I’m Alexei Koseff." 

TAG: YOU CAN FIND EXPLAINERS ON ALL OF THIS YEAR’S BALLOT PROPOSITIONS AT KPBS-DOT-ORG-SLASH-VOTER-HUB.

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COMING UP.... SAN DIEGO ZOO RESEARCHERS HAVE CLONED AN ENDANGERED HORSE. WE’LL HAVE THAT STORY AND MORE, JUST AFTER THE BREAK.

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A LARGE ACQUISITION IN THE GROCERY BUSINESS WILL CHANGE THE OWNERSHIP OF MANY SAN DIEGO STORES.

KPBS REPORTER THOMAS FUDGE TALKS ABOUT THE PLANS FOR KROGER TO BUY OUT ALBERTSONS.

The Kroger buyout will affect Albertson's stores in San Diego as well as Vons, which Albertson's took over Though we're not sure what the impact will be.  KPBS business commentator Miro Copic, the founder of Bottom Line Marketing, says the acquisition would put Kroger in a dominant position. "Kroger then becomes the largest supermarket chain and is really going to become more competitive with Walmart, which is the number one chain in terms of revenues from selling groceries." The CEO of Kroger says the merger will bring a corporate cost savings that he claims will be passed onto consumers. Kroger's acquisition of Albertson's still needs to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission. SOQ.  

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A BARRIO LOGAN BIOFUELS COMPANY SAYS REGULATORS ARE ALLOWING THEM TO INSTALL ODOR CONTROL SYSTEMS AT ITS BARRIO LOGAN FACILITY.

COMMUNITY ADVOCATES ARE OPTIMISTIC BUT SAY THEY WILL WORK WITH THE COMMUNITY UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS FIXED.

‘NEW-LEAF-BIOFUELS’ TURNS USED COOKING OIL INTO DIESEL FUEL AND RESIDENTS SAY THE PROCESS CREATES A VOMIT INDUCING SMELL.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COALITION’S NICHOLAS PAUL SAYS:

“The processes that caused the noxious odors should stop until the odor control system is in place.  And it unfair that the community continues to be exposed to these noxious odors and unhealthy emissions.”   

THE COMPANY HAS UNTIL NEXT MONTH TO INSTALL THE SYSTEMS.

NEIGHBORS HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SMELL FOR MORE THAN 10 MONTHS.

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SAN DIEGO ZOO RESEARCHERS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY CLONED AN ENDANGERED HORSE THAT COULD BE A KEY TO REBUILDING ITS SPECIES.

KPBS ENVIRONMENT REPORTER ERIK ANDERSON HAS DETAILS.

The Przewalski’s horse is the only wild horse left in the world and the species is in trouble.  A small captive population keeps the species from going extinct, but time has diminished the horse’s genetic diversity.  Oliver Ryder is the zoo’s director of Conservation Genetics. He says the San Diego clone could help. Oliver Ryder, Director of Conservation Genetics “We are restoring genetic variation. Turning back the clock or reversing the process of the loss of genetic variation.” Ryder says Kurt was cloned from a skin sample stored in the frozen zoo in 1980.  His genetic material isn’t represented in the current population, and there are high hopes for the future.  Right now the animal is being socialized so he can eventually breed with the Przewalski’s herd at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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THE NEW MUSEUM IN THE HEART OF CHICANO PARK IS NOW OPEN… BREATHING LIFE INTO THE HISTORIC LAND UNDER THE I-5 FREEWAY IN BARRIO LOGAN.

KPBS EDUCATION REPORTER M.G. PEREZ HAS THE STORY AS HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH DRAWS TO A CLOSE…

The historic murals on the highway pillars now surround the new Chicano Park Museum in Barrio Logan. It’s 11-thousand square feet of space to honor residents who started their fight for the park in April 1970 demanding the city keep a promise to preserve the space instead of building on it. The museum’s first art exhibit pays tribute to that fight. Rigoberto Reyes is on the Museum board and says it provides identity for his marginalized community.  “We’ve been called everything from Spanish Americans..to wetbacks to Hispanics and Latinos and the brands could go on forever. The Chicano Park Museum is free for anyone under 18…and open Friday through Sunday for now. MGP 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 JOHN CARROLL. DEBBIE CRUZ WILL BE BACK TOMORROW. THANKS FOR LISTENING AND HAVE A GREAT DAY.

The Biden administration is changing how it processes visa applications for people from Afghanistan. In other news, a large acquisition in the grocery business will change the ownership of many San Diego stores. Plus, San Diego Zoo researchers have successfully cloned an endangered horse that could be a key to rebuilding its species.