Women chat inside a shelter for migrants in Tijuana, Mexico
They are part of a caravan of migrants from Central American who crossed through Mexico to the border with the U.S. where they will present themselves to U.S. immigration and seek asylum because of increased violence in Central America.
Photo – David Maung
April 25, 2018
Tijuana, Mexico

If you’re like me, you feel like yelling “not a good time!” at the folks who organized the high-profile caravan of hundreds of Central American asylum-seekers and migrants hoping to be accepted into the United States. The caravan has become a prominent punching bag for the president and his allies.

But as one organizer tells our Maya Srikrishnan in this week’s VOSD Border Report, one motivation for traveling together as they did “is for safety of the migrants so they can organize themselves, help each other, protect each other, for food, safety — so they aren’t vulnerable to all those assaults that happen in Mexico. Then, because they are safer, that collective power gives them an opportunity to come out of the shadows and talk about their experiences.”

Check out our video and slideshow coverage of the caravan.

The Border Report explores the nation’s history of accepting (or not accepting) refugees, and it updates you on how the caravan is doing. Keep in mind that Mexico itself can, and does, accept asylum seekers. However, some refugees fear that the violence they left in Central America will follow them to Mexico.

Also in the Border Report: The California National Guard will soon report for duty at the border, more Latinos are seeking work with the Border Patrol and more.

• The vice president was in Imperial County yesterday to visit the border. He claimed the caravan members are being exploited by “open-border political activists and an agenda-driven media.”(L.A. Times, City News Service)

Trouble at North County Hospital

With its gleaming new building and huge patient rooms, North County’s Palomar Medical Center may seem like a paradise for patients. But the truth is more complicated.

“A series of government surveys prompted by a botched surgery more than one year ago have steadily revealed a series of problems, ranging from drug theft to lax incident reporting, at Palomar Medical Center Escondido and its downtown Escondido campus,” the U-T reports. “What started with an examination of the nearly $1 billion hospital’s surgical services has gradually put the entire facility under the regulatory microscope, leading to a few firings, layoffs of top executives and organizational changes as inland North County’s largest medical provider struggles to prove that it meets requirements for Medicare participation.”

Inside Salk Institute’s Harassment Imbroglio

Science Magazine examines the sexual harassment claims that are roiling the Salk Institute, where leading cancer scientist Inder Verma is on administrative leave following questions from reporters about his treatment of women.

“In reports stretching from 1976 to 2016, women allege, variously, that he grabbed their breasts, pinched their buttocks, forcibly kissed them, propositioned them, and repeatedly commented on their physical attributes in professional settings. The allegations come from a Salk lab technician, a postdoctoral researcher, other Salk staffers and faculty, and women outside of the institute, including a potential faculty recruit.”

Amazingly, “the allegations reported to Science are not as egregious as some examples of harassment in the scientific world.” Also, the magazine reports that “many women who worked with Verma at Salk say he treated them with respect.”

Five older women agreed to speak to the magazine about Verma’s alleged harassment; they let their names be used. But three younger women only spoke anonymously, “fearing repercussions to their careers.”

Three decades ago, UC San Diego was a leader in addressing sexual violence, the L.A. Times reports. This year, the university’s trailblazing Sexual Assault Resource Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Over the 2016-2017 school year, the center “served 184 clients, held educational programs for more than 16,000 people and trained nearly 1,200 staff, faculty and student workers in ways to prevent sexual assault.”

A Long Haul for Calif. House Reps

Serving in Congress may seem like a fairly cushy job, especially considering the benefits like nice pensions and the likelihood that you’ll land a job once your term is up. But, as the L.A. Times reports, plenty of travel is required, especially when you live in California.

“For most members, weekly commuting is now a routine of congressional life. It’s an aspect of the job that many Americans have come to expect from their representatives, but one that many lawmakers aren’t fully prepared for,” the paper says.

The story includes comments from local Rep. Juan Vargas, who describes a tiring commute to visit his family and ventures into humblebrag territory: “Honestly, I don’t mind it. I’m here fighting for the things I believe in.”

Fact-Checking Two California Claims

PolitiFact/Capital Public Radio are out with a couple California fact checks, and they’re both doozies.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s claim via a TV commercial that he was “the first to take on the National Rifle Association and win” is false.

Others who fought off the organization include Senator Dianne Feinstein, the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and even Antonio Villaraigosa, a Newsom rival to become governor and another former L.A. mayor.

A Newsom spokesman offered a weak justification for the claim and said “when you’re trying to convey a series of ideas in 30 seconds, you’re limited by the format.”

• The fact-checkers also bestow a “Mostly False” verdict on a bizarre claim by the organization known as Oath Keepers, which is screaming that “California State Assembly bill would BAN the Bible!”

The legislation, which passed the state Assembly and is now being considered by the state Senate, bans advertising for paid services that offer “to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

The truth: “While the odds are remote, some legal scholars said the law as written could lead to issues… If the law had any impact at all, it would be on those occasions when a Bible is sold in conjunction with a program to change someone’s sexual orientation. This is a point where legal scholars differ.”

Nextdoor Brings Out the Worst and Weirdest

The popular neighborhood news website Nextdoor is a menace, writes a contributor to the L.A. Times. Yes, he writes, “Nextdoor has some amusing low-level griping, missing pets and used furniture for sale.” But “Nextdoor’s popular posts all come from the ‘Crime & Safety” section, where the rule is not merely that ‘if it bleeds it leads.’ It also leads if it’s a fuzzy image from a Ring doorbell security camera that, if you squint, is vaguely in the shape of a meth-addled rapist.”

He adds: “Last time I looked at Nextdoor, it attempted to scare me with ‘Black Audi no license plates scoping the hood again.’ My neighbors can somehow make an Audi seem frightening.”

My neighborhood has a section on NextDoor. There’s plenty of chatter about “Crime & Safety,” including the helpful (reports of seemingly rampant car burglaries) and the not-so-helpful (a report of a passerby who made “a threatening gesture toward my dog”).

There are also posts by the inappropriately alarmed, like a user who expressed concern after watching a truck pick up those inescapable dockless scooters.

A scurrilous thief? Nah. People pick up the scooters to charge them overnight before they are set out on the streets the next day.

Quick News Hits: A View to a … View

60 Minutes profiled a San Diego scientist in an in-depth story about CRISPR, the gene-editing technique revolutionizing the biomedical field.

Marco Polo Cortes, a “former San Diego City Hall lobbyist who admitted funneling campaign contributions from a Mexican tycoon to candidates in the 2012 mayor’s race, was sentenced to four months in prison Monday.” (U-T)

Mommmmm! Just take the picture already! (Vintage San Diego via Facebook)

Yesterday’s Morning Report noted a few of San Diego’s quirky neighborhood names. Our readers chimed in with some explanations.

Normal Heights refers not to the normality of its residents but instead the existence back in the day of a “Normal School” nearby — a school for teachers. And University Heights, which is not near a university, refers to a planned outpost of the University of Southern California that never materialized.

These neighborhoods don’t have especially imaginative names, but at least they aren’t the North County city of Vista, whose name simply means “View.” Not a Chula Vista (pretty view), a Monte Vista (mountain view) or a Linda Vista (pretty view). Just… view. Sheesh.

The only worse thing would be a place called Vista View (view view). Oh hello, actual street in Poway! To borrow the real name of a tiny road in Clairemont: Oi Vay.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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