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    Council backs hosting of 35th America's Cup in San Diego
    by Staff and contribution
    Aug 21, 2014 | 1407 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Sailor competitors turn about during a run in San Diego on an America’s Cup practice day in 2011.     PHOTO BY SFGATE.COM
    Sailor competitors turn about during a run in San Diego on an America’s Cup practice day in 2011. PHOTO BY SFGATE.COM
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    City Council on Aug. 7 passed a resolution brought forward by District 2 Councilman Ed Harris in support of San Diego hosting the 35th America’s Cup to be held in the summer of 2017. The Unified Port District of San Diego submitted a proposal to the America’s Cup Event Authority to host the race, and on July 8, San Diego achieved finalist status. San Diego, in the running against Bermuda for the host city selection, hosted the America’s Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995. A final decision on the venue is expected before the end of the year. “San Diego already has the infrastructure in place for the America’s Cup, and we know what it takes to host this event,” Harris said. “This breathtaking spectator sport would be a boost to our economy, and we could once again showcase America’s Finest City to the world at this international sporting event.” “The City of San Diego’s support and partnership are essential as we pursue the opportunity to host the 35th America’s Cup,” said Unified Port District of San Diego chairman Bob Nelson. “San Diego is a ‘can do’ region, with a sailing tradition as strong as anywhere you can find, and we have unrivaled experience in coming together to host major special events. Our collaborative regional approach gives our destination a strong advantage in this competitive process.” Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who represented City Council District 2 for nearly two full terms before being elected mayor, agreed. “San Diego hasn’t hosted an America’s Cup in nearly 20 years, and bringing it back to San Diego could be great for our city,” he said. “This would be a phenomenal opportunity to showcase San Diego to the rest of the world.” The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport and is the pinnacle of the sport of sailing. The port district’s proposal calls for sailing in north San Diego Bay, unlike previous America’s Cup races held off the coast of San Diego.
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    Three local facilities play crucial role in Ebola fight
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 21, 2014 | 757 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The fruit bat is said to be a common carrier of the Ebola virus.
    The fruit bat is said to be a common carrier of the Ebola virus.
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    The consensus among local scientists and scholars who recently weighed in on experimental drug use in the treatment of two Ebola-infected Americans is that, under the circumstances, it was morally the right call. “In this case, what’s unusual is that the proper treatment is a new one, had not been tried on humans in any way,” said Michael Kalichman, a professor and director of the UCSD Research Ethics Program, who noted extensive drug trials with animals is standard practice in first combating disease outbreaks like those from Ebola. Kalichman pointed out that the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which protects public health through regulation of food and drugs including vaccines and biopharmaceuticals, has an “escape clause” when it comes to using experimental drugs on humans. “It’s FDA’s compassionate use policy,” he said, “which states that an (untested) drug can jump over hurdles and be used sooner in people on the assumption that trying it couldn’t make the patient any worse.” Kalichman said the moral dilemma of using experimental drugs on Americans is that, if it makes them worse or is fatal, the decision to use it at all will be challenged. “Our goal is to try and choose the least bad, and that’s not always easy,” he said, adding, “This is a tough situation ethically precisely because the choices you have are all bad.” Kalichman said the international community will also question on whom the experimental vaccine was used. “They’ll be asking: Why were two of the first people to get the vaccine from the United States rather than from Africa?” he said. Ebola virus disease is an illness of humans and other primates fueled by an Ebolavirus. The disease, spread by contact with bodily fluids of infected people, is primarily prevalent in remote Central and West African villages. Symptoms of Ebola virus disease, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure, though 8 to 10 days is most likely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that it suspected or confirmed 2,240 cases as of Aug. 19, with 1,229 fatalities. An Ebola virus disease epidemic is ongoing in West Africa, notably Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It is the most severe Ebola outbreak in terms of the number of human cases and fatalities since the discovery of the virus in 1976. Typical outbreaks are reportedly 90 percent fatal; the current outbreak has resulted in a fatality rate of 60 percent. Missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, the only two Americans known to be stricken with Ebola, were reportedly infected while caring for Ebola patients in Monrovia. Brantly was released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Aug. 21 after a course of experimental drug treatment; Writebol was released from the facility on Aug. 19. Mapp Biopharmaceutical, a Sorrento Valley biotech firm, manufactures ZMapp, the experimental drug administered to the two. Shipments of the drug and an untested vaccine are reportedly on the way to Liberia. Earlier this year, Mapp became part of a consortium working to create a "cocktail" of drugs to treat Ebola. The group of 15 institutions, lead by the Scripps Research Institute, was funded for $28 million over five years by the National Institutes of Health. Erica Ollman Saphire, professor of the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science at Scripps, said using an experimental drug to fight Ebola may have been the only logical choice. “You might be willing to take a chance on putting it into people infected with the Ebola virus if it has some minor side effects,” she said, adding, “What else are you going to do if they are infected with the Ebola virus other than give them fluids and Tylenol and hope for the best?” Ollman Saphire said an even broader ethical question with treating Ebola victims with experimental drugs might be: Whom do you choose to give them to if there’s not enough to go around? Ollman Saphire, who is researching the role proteins play in the fight against Ebola, said Mapp's antibody cocktail “works well in animal models.” Noting Ebola is still “not under control,” she said she is nonetheless encouraged that the battle against it will succeed. She noted that, unlike HIV, the Ebola virus does not remain in the victim's genome after infection. She also noted that Ebola symptoms appear much more rapidly than those of HIV, which can incubate for 10 to 20 years. “Once you’re cleared of the disease,” she said,” you’re clean.” “There may be some good news here in the long term,” Kalichman concluded, “that [ZMapp] may be a treatment that will be useful, though in the short term it’s been a challenge and stressful to figure out what to do. It’s easy to say they made the right decision if it worked out well. But if it doesn’t work out well — you can’t know that in advance.”
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    5-year ban on Children's Pool access during pupping season endorsed
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 16, 2014 | 10494 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    La Jolla's Children's Pool figures in the relationship between marine life and recreational users – again. COURTESY PHOTO
    La Jolla's Children's Pool figures in the relationship between marine life and recreational users – again. COURTESY PHOTO
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    Overriding objections by beach-access proponents, the California Coastal Commission Aug. 14 unanimously endorsed a five-year ban on people accessing La Jolla’s Children’s Pool from Dec. 15 to May 15 to afford greater protection to harbor seals during their pupping season. It was the latest twist in a series of back-and-forth developments over several years defining the relationship between seals and human recreational users — swimmers, fisherman, divers, et cetera — who access the ocean via the protected pocket beach. Paid for by La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps and created as a safe wading area for children, the pool was deeded to the city in 1931. During the 1990s, the manmade breakwater became increasingly overrun by seals, who turned the pool into a haul-out site and a rookery. In 1997, the pool was closed to human contact by the county health department because of high bacteria counts from seal waste buildup in its shallow waters. Signs there continue to warn that water contact could pose a serious health risk. In rendering their decision, coastal commissioners argued the city of San Diego’s shared-use policy allowing both species year-round access at the pool has failed. “It hasn’t worked out in terms of what we’ve seen in the videos and the testimony (of seal harassment) we’ve heard,” said Commissioner Dayna Bochco, who added, “If more people acted reasonably, we wouldn’t be here again today.” Noting she couldn’t imagine Scripps being happy with seal harassment at her pool, Bochco said “this isn’t a permanent closure of a beach, just five months out of the year.” Bochco added some might misinterpret the commission’s mission to promote “maximum” beach access as promoting “absolute” access. “We are not mandated to do that,” Bochco said. “We’re allowed to control the access to the beach in a reasonable way.” First District Councilwoman and Council president pro tem Sherri Lightner spoke out against Children’s Pool's seasonal closure. “The community has never supported a seasonal beach closure and is not in favor of this one,” said Lightner, adding, “It’s premature to permanently close this beach.” Pointing out seals are not “threatened or endangered,” Lightner characterized seasonally closing Children’s Pool as “a very dangerous and unusual precedent.” The councilwoman said the ideal solution “is one of shared use, with no unnecessary restrictions placed on the beach or ocean users.” Describing the proposed seasonal beach closure as “regulation overkill,” and declaring that arguments in favor of beach closure were not “fact-based” or “data-driven,” Lightner concluded, “There’s been no consideration for what long-term, unintended consequences might result from this proposal.” Spokespersons for groups on both sides of the issue offered testimony for and against seasonal beach closure. “A civilization is judged by the way it treats its animals,” testified former County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, who previously represented La Jolla, quoting Indian nationalist leader Mohandas Gandhi. She added a five-month restriction on human contact at the beach “isn’t going to be too impactful, reduces seal harassment and maintains the viewing experience for locals and tourists alike.” Others saw the seasonal beach closure as an infringement on rights guaranteed by the state Constitution. “The city’s been a bad steward for the Children’s Pool, breaking their promises to the people of San Diego in letting this pool go to ruin,” argued Ken Hunrichs of Friends of the Children’s Pool. “A (public) trust and a coastal resource has been ruined in the name of so-called wildlife protection.” Hunrichs said shared use at the pool hasn’t worked “because it is not being allowed to work.” Describing the pool as “a children’s playground,” Hunrichs argued that Children’s Pool beach “ought to remain open year-round.” Free-diver Ryan Sweeney characterized the decadelong battle over shared use at Children’s Pool as a “long and tortured soap opera.” Insisting that the Marine Life Protection Act has closed 70 percent of La Jolla to fishing, Sweeney said the pool is “smack-dab in the middle of the remaining 30 percent left open. “Why isn’t there a pinniped management plan?” Sweeney asked. “When will this problem end? When will the city take responsibility and do something about it?” In its unanimously passed motion, coastal commissioners attached conditions to seasonal beach closure. When the measure sunsets in five years, the city of San Diego was directed to return with updates on the feasibility of providing Americans With Disabilities (ADA) access at the pool's beach and the evaluation of possible methods for cleansing the pool’s seal waste-contaminated sand and water.
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    Robin Williams: La Jolla, like everywhere else, held a special place in his heart
    by MARTIN JONES WESTLIN
    Aug 13, 2014 | 6902 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Robin Williams buddies up with Rudy Garcia-Tolson from the San Diego Challenged Athletes Foundation, which Williams supported with his time and talent for 11 years.    COURTESY PHOTO
    Robin Williams buddies up with Rudy Garcia-Tolson from the San Diego Challenged Athletes Foundation, which Williams supported with his time and talent for 11 years. COURTESY PHOTO
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    Everything everybody's said and continues to say about the late Robin Williams is true: He was a comedic genius, and his performance acumen is possibly unmatched in the annals of modern entertainment. Arguably, the late Jonathan Winters could only scratch his head at the news that he was Williams' idol – while Winters' cacophonous routines were hilarious, Williams took 'em into his corner of outer space, turning thousands of itinerant characters on a dime and challenging audiences to keep up, often within an inch of their lives. Too, too seriously damn funny. Williams, 63, died Aug. 11 in his Marin County home with a belt around his neck and a colossal open sore on his heart. Acquaintances had said he was in a funk about what appeared to be a sagging career (TV series canceled, movie straight to DVD); his wife has since revealed that he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and the turns of events could well have weighed into the depths of his obsessions. The unimaginable death of a centuries-old soul like his can't help but have touched millions around the world, notably those at the San Diego Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which supports the physically compromised in their pursuit of active lifestyles through physical fitness and athletics. The group's message wasn't lost on the philanthropic Williams, an inveterate cyclist who attended every one of the CAF's triathlon challenges at La Jolla Cove between 1998 and 2008 (and who many years before had cut some of his comedic teeth at La Jolla's The Comedy Store). His introduction to the group came unceremoniously enough at an Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco, where he met triathlete Scott Tinley and his wife Virginia, now CAF executive director. “Absolutely,” he reportedly said amid the Tinleys' invitation to the La Jolla event, where he would meet and participate with then 8-year-old Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a double above-knee amputee. Garcia-Tolson swam his portion of the event; Scott Tinley ran, and Williams biked. “One thing Robin always said,” according to CAF marketing manager Jenna Novotny, “was that Rudy was not a challenged athlete. 'Rudy,' he said, 'will kick anybody's butt out there. Now, a 300-pound man trying to squeeze into Spandex: That's a challenged athlete!' “That was Robin's personality,” Novotny explained. “A lot of times, people don't know how to react to someone with a disability. But he put everyone at comfort and everyone at ease. He was there to make everyone laugh, and he was as inspired by the athletes and bystanders as everyone at the event was of him.” Williams would later invite comics Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey to the event, thus breaking out some star-power PR. “He was very important,” Novotny said, “in bringing light to our organization and what we do.” (For more on the group, see challengedathletes.org.) The Cove and La Jolla, Novotny added, are in no danger of losing the event, notable in this era of budget cuts and the fractiousness that can accompany them (La Jolla came within hours of postponing its fireworks display this year amid just such a flap). This year's gathering is set for Sunday, Oct. 19, with Irvine-based Aspen Medical Products its sponsor. If the unthinkable were to happen, Williams would likely have scrambled for his life to save the day – but not as a token celeb whose millions could conceivably evaporate the red tape. His colossal performance style betrays a man who felt life's twists and turns with every fiber of his being, and the triathlon was surely worth the effort. The public mind is that much more aware of itself for having embraced his essence, and La Jolla is that much better a community for having experienced his decency. Godspeed, Robin, and thanks for everything.
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    Rady donates $120 million to namesake hospital for childhood disease studies institution
    Aug 04, 2014 | 15373 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The 449-bed Rady Children's hospital is the largest children's hospital in the state.
    The 449-bed Rady Children's hospital is the largest children's hospital in the state.
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    Ernest Rady, whose namesake hospital is the largest pediatric facility in the state and has a satellite location in La Jolla, has donated $120 million toward establishment of a genomics institute at the hospital, declaring tongue in cheek that he'd had more fun earning the money than earmarking it. The Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute will assemble scientists, researchers and physicians to work on treatments for childhood diseases based on each patient's genetic profile. The bulk of the clinical personnel will come from the UCSD Health System. “This is the beginning,” Rady said in a statement, asking others to establish grants and endowments toward the goal. The donation announcement was made by hospital board chairman David Hale at a news conference, wit Rady attending. In a related development, Rady's board of trustees pledged $40 million to help fund the center. “The commitment Ernest Rady and the board has made is truly transformative,” said Dr. Donald Kearns, president of the hospital, in a statement. “This Institute and gift will secure Rady Children’s' place at the leading edge of research, discovery and innovation into childhood disease and injury.” Kearns added that the hopes the facility sets “national and international standards for pediatric care.” The institute will be housed in two facilities, one on Frost Street adjacent to the 449-bed hospital and the other in the Torrey Pines area among other research institutes. The genome, or the genetic material of an organism, determines the characteristics of a parented offspring. Certain alterations in the genomic sequence result is superficial attributes such as eye color and hair density; others are linked to predictors of disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and sickle-cell disease. Without adequate treatment, many people with the bleeding disorder hemophilia die before they reach adulthood. The average IQ of a child with the chromosomal disorder Down syndrome is 50. Rady, one of San Diego's most widely known philanthropists, is a self-made billionaire, a financial services director and a developer of commercial and residential real estate. His company American Assets, which he founded in 1967, gave $60 million in a $220 million campaign for new construction and patient programs at Rady Children's, which ended in 2011. He also donated $30 million to programs at UCSD in 2003. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native, 77, holds a law degree from the University of Manitoba. He and his wife Evelyne have three children. Rady's donation matches the non-bequest record $120 million that Irwin and Joan Jacobs gave the San Diego Symphony in February of 2002 – and at Monday's announcement, Rady quipped that he'd “had a hell of a lot more fun making it than I am giving it away.” Gabriel Haddad, Rady hospital physician in chief, pointed out that he hopes $120 million is only the start of donations and bequests. "I think we want to build something that will be self-sustaining, ultimately,” Haddad said, “but at the beginning we need a boost like the one that we have today.” – Staff and contribution
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