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Biden expelling asylum-seeking families with young children to Tijuana after flights from Texas

SAN DIEGO — The Biden administration has flown roughly 2,000 asylum seekers — all families with children — from Texas to San Diego and expelled them from the United States to Mexico without giving them a chance to request protection. Tijuana has been receiving on average about 100 expelled people a day from the flights, according to the Mexican consulate in San Diego. Mexican immigration officials generally transport the families to migrant shelters. The primary shelter is currently filled with hundreds of parents and children. The flights, which have not received much attention since they sta...

Border Patrol agents rescue abandoned siblings, ages 5 and 6, at US-Mexico border

SAN DIEGO — Border Patrol agents rescued two children, a 5-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother, after they were abandoned along the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern San Diego County this week, officials said. About 3 p.m. Monday, the agents spotted a man and a woman walking with the two children just south of the border near the community of Jacumba Hot Springs. The agents observed as the man and woman "hoisted" the children over large boulders in an area near the side of a mountain where the border wall ends, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Jeff Stephenson said in a statement. When age...

The Beat Farmers, who rose from San Diego in 1983 to rock the world, celebrated on new/old double-album

SAN DIEGO — The Spring Valley Inn has never been mentioned in the same breath as The Troubadour in Los Angeles or The Marquee in London as a key musical incubator for young bands that went on to earn recording contracts and tour the world. But in 1983, the Spring Valley Inn was the launching pad for the Beat Farmers, one of the finest and most rollicking rock bands to come out of San Diego in any decade, before or since. The beloved dive bar's official capacity back then was all of 49, although the Beat Farmers' weekly weekend gigs there drew wall-to-wall, triple-digit crowds. One of those gig...

Sweethearts of 72 years hold hands, hug after a year of social distancing

SAN DIEGO — Every day, for more than two years, Francis “France” Doiron drove from his home in Chula Vista, California, to the nearby Birch Patrick Skilled Nursing Facility to visit with his wife, Roberta. He arrived each morning at 6:30 to greet her as she woke up and stayed until 6 p.m., when it was time for bed. Most days, the couple held hands and listened to their favorite songs. France, 95, visited his 92-year-old wife so frequently that staff sometimes thought he lived there too. But more than a year ago, the Birch Patrick, operated by Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, locked its doors ...

Another former executive in 'Fat Leonard' Navy scandal is extradited to San Diego

SAN DIEGO — Six years after being indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury, a Thai national has been extradited to face charges of conspiring to overcharge the U.S. Navy by more than $5 million as part of Leonard Glenn Francis' historic corruption scheme. Pornpun "Yin" Settaphakorn, 41, appeared in front of a San Diego judge for the first time Friday, pleading not guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and several charges of making false claims. According to the indictment, Settaphakorn oversaw the Thailand office of Singa...

Yes, the coronavirus mutates. No, that doesn’t spell doom for vaccines

SAN DIEGO — From South Africa to Brazil to California, the list of locations linked to new strains of the coronavirus is growing — and so are concerns that viral variants could undo the vaccine rollout. The worries come at a time when most Americans still haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine. That could change by the end of May, when President Joe Biden says there will be enough vaccine for all adults in the U.S. But by then, new and faster-spreading coronavirus strains will likely account for nearly all cases. Does that mean this whole effort is for naught? Not according to local researchers w...

San Diego Zoo vaccinates apes against COVID-19

Nine great apes at the San Diego Zoo are the first non-human primates to receive an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, zoo officials said Thursday. Four orangutans and five bonobos have been vaccinated so far, with the zoo planning to immunize another three bonobos and a gorilla soon. These species, along with chimpanzees, are the closest cousins to humans, placing them at risk of contracting a virus that has spread rapidly from person to person. Case in point: In mid-January, the zoo's Safari Park reported that its troop of eight gorillas developed COVID-19 after exposure to a keeper who had the ...

The new Britney Spears documentary is more about us than it is about her

You don't have to watch "Framing Britney Spears" to be happy that it's out there. Since debuting on FX and Hulu earlier this month, this "New York Times Presents" documentary — about Spears, her tumultuous relationship with fame, and the controversial legal conservatorship that started the #FreeBritney movement — has sparked a reckoning that was a long time coming. On Feb. 12, Spears' former boyfriend Justin Timberlake posted a statement on Instagram apologizing for his boorish public treatment of Spears after their breakup. Timberlake also apologized to Janet Jackson, who bore the sexist brun...

Man reunited with wallet lost in Antarctica 53 years ago

In October 1967, Navy meteorologist Paul Grisham shipped out to Antarctica, where he worked as a weather forecaster for a science station and airport on Ross Island. Thirteen months later, he returned to his family in sunny California, but his wallet never left. On Saturday, the now 91-year-old Grisham was reunited with his long-lost billfold, which was found behind a locker during the demolition of a building at McMurdo Station, the southernmost town on Earth. Inside the recovered wallet was Grisham's Navy ID, his driver's license, a tax withholding statement, a recipe for homemade Kahlua and...

Navy announces sweeping effort to address bias in its ranks

SAN DIEGO — Racial and gender biases and systemic inequality have a deleterious effect on military readiness, and the U.S. Navy is adopting dozens of recommendations to address it, the service announced Wednesday. The Navy released a comprehensive review of these issues by a task force launched amid last summer's racial justice protests. The task force's 56 recommendations span all aspects of the Navy's sprawling organization, from recruiting and promotion disparities to the names of ships that honor Confederates and white supremacists. It also recommends adding a fourth "core value" to the se...

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says he's running for California governor -- either in 2022 or in recall of Newsom

SAN DIEGO — Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer formally announced Monday that he is running for California governor, either in the regularly scheduled 2022 election or in a possible recall election of incumbent Gavin Newsom later this year. Faulconer, whose nearly seven-year run as San Diego mayor ended in December, has raised more than $1 million since establishing an exploratory committee for governor three weeks ago. A moderate Republican, Faulconer said in a Monday phone interview that his campaign will focus on restoring common sense to state government, returning children to school a...

Researcher explains why the pandemic's next few months could be the hardest

SAN DIEGO – The pandemic's toll has been staggering. But to UC San Diego's Natasha Martin, it hasn't been surprising. Martin, who holds a doctorate in mathematical biology from Oxford University, builds models that predict how various public health measures affect the spread of infectious diseases. It's a skill set she has used to study the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV. And now she's plying those same tools to forecast the impact of COVID-19 on San Diego County. What she sees on the horizon troubles her. Last Tuesday, Martin warned the region's Board of Supervisors that, based on her mo...

Students' mental health deteriorating during pandemic

SAN DIEGO – Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last March, psychiatric emergency visits at Rady Children's Hospital near San Diego have crept up as youths and teens struggle with virtual learning, social isolation and unstable home lives. "March through May, we had a spike, about a 5 percent to 7 percent increase in the kids coming to our emergency room," said Sandy Mueller, senior director of behavioral health services for Rady Children's Hospital. "That dipped down in May to June, when school let out. And then we saw a 7 percent increase to the present." In similar findings, a report release...

Syrian refugee family hopes end of travel ban reunites them with loved ones stuck overseas

SAN DIEGO – When the Alsidnawis sit down to breakfast, more important than any dish on the table are the screens that join them. Sometimes from a laptop and sometimes from family members' phones, the faces of 27-year-old Ahmad Alsidnawi, the family's only son, and 32-year-old Sami Labbad, the oldest daughter's husband, hover over the food. The two have been stuck overseas, waiting for years to reunite with their loved ones in El Cajon, California, a process complicated by the Trump administration's 2017 travel ban restricted visa processing for Syrians. Between fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2019, the...

American Legion removes post commander from national leadership role over Proud Boys affiliation

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — An American Legion post commander in Escondido has been removed by the veterans service organization from two national leadership roles after he bragged on social media about participating in a street brawl and joining the Proud Boys, the California state commander said. Photos shared on two social media accounts show J.B. Clark Post 149 Cmdr. Michael Sobczak, 56, wearing a Proud Boys jacket and marching along with other Proud Boys during a Dec. 12 pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., that turned violent. In a video shared on a personal Facebook account under the name “Mick...

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