Category Archives: Public Health/Safety

February 10, 2018

Why is India so filthy? | The Ugly Indian | TEDxBangalore (Video)

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. The Ugly Indian is an anonymous collective that does not talk to media, wants no publicity and works with the motto – Only Work No Talk. However, they made an exception for TEDxBangalore so that they could open up the question of why we as Indians are okay with filthy public spaces? The tragedy of the commons – can we change it to the victory of the commons?

February 2, 2018

L.A.’s homelessness surged 75% in six years. Here’s why the crisis has been decades in the making (Video)

People in Koreatown step outside their fancy condos to find tents, rotting food and human feces at their doorsteps. Buses and trains have become de facto shelters, and thousands of people sleep in fear and degradation.

Some of the poorest people in the city spend their days in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall, napping on flattened cardboard boxes.

On any given day, as many as 20 people take to the City Hall lawn, across the street from LAPD headquarters. They’re there to “escape the madness” in downtown streets, a 53-year-old homeless man named Lazarus said last week. At night, they fan out to doorways or deserted plazas to wait for daybreak.

The growth of a homeless day camp at the halls of civic power speaks to the breadth of Los Angeles’ burgeoning homelessness problem.

The number of those living in the streets and shelters of the city of L.A. and most of the county surged 75% — to roughly 55,000 from about 32,000 — in the last six years. (Including Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, which conduct their own homeless counts, the total is nearly 58,000.)

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Complete text and video linked here.

January 19, 2018

City of Oroville to Sue California For Lying About Dam Safety

The City of Oroville will file the first of what could be hundreds of lawsuits against the State of California for allegedly lying about known dangerous conditions at Oroville Dam.

With America’s tallest dam on the verge of collapse last Feb. 7, the Butte County Sheriff issued an emergency evacuation order affecting approximately 225,000 downstream residents. That was after they had been reassured for by state authorities that there was no risk of Oroville Dam’s failure after its main spillway collapse.

As a result of the spillway failures, mass evacuations, and near-catastrophic collapse of America’s tallest dam, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FECR) issued a mandatory order on February 21 demanding that the California Department of Water and Power (DWR) commission an independent forensic audit of the circumstances leading up to crisis and any continuing infrastructure safety and operating concerns.

Since the February incident, California’s Department of General Services, which manages government claims for state liability, has denied over 500 claims, including those of the City of Oroville. The total value of claims denied by the state for farmers and local government is about $1.2 billion.

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Complete text linked here.

January 12, 2018

Puerto Rico Orders Probe of Power Gear Stockpiled During Rebuild Effort

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló asks local Justice Department to investigate whether there was criminal intent to deprive island of critical power grid supplies.

Puerto Rico’s governor asked justice officials to investigate allegations that critical power grid supplies were stockpiled instead of put to use rebuilding the U.S. territory’s infrastructure following a devastating recent hurricane.

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Complete text linked here. [SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED]

December 3, 2017

Report: Officer safety put ahead of public safety at rally (Video)

“This represents a failure of one of government’s core functions — the protection of fundamental rights,” it said. “Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury, and death. Charlottesville preserved neither of those principles on Aug. 12, which has led to deep distrust of government within this community.”

Law enforcement failed to adequately plan for or respond to a violent white nationalist rally this summer in Virginia, leading to “deep distrust of government” in the Charlottesville community, an independent review released Friday found.

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy’s monthslong investigation found a lack of coordination between state and city police and a passive response by officials to the chaos. The report also found that police removed an officer from an area where a car plowed into counterprotesters and killed a woman and injured 19 others, leaving only a small sawhorse in place at the time.

“Supervisors devised a poorly conceived plan that under-equipped and misaligned hundreds of officers. Execution of that plan elevated officer safety over public safety,” the report found.

The City of Charlottesville also did not protect free expression on Aug. 12, the report said.

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Complete text and video linked here.

November 29, 2017

Homeless people defecating on LA streets fuels horror hepatitis outbreak, as city faulted (Video)

“Most of the local politicians are a bunch of phonies, they’re not interested in helping the homeless or they would’ve done it by now,” he said. “… They use the homeless to get more money for tax programs.”

An outbreak of hepatitis A is spreading through Los Angeles County after leaping from a large homeless contingent in San Diego, threatening thousands of people and fueling criticism that local officials have not done enough to contain the deadly liver disease.

Hundreds of cases have turned up in southern California as well as Michigan — but conditions in Los Angeles, where roughly 50,000 people live on the streets, have prompted deeper concerns.

Reports compiled by volunteer organizations have faulted city officials for not providing enough accessible toilets as the homeless population sharply increased by 23 percent this year.

In a prescient warning, a June 2017 report by a collection of nonprofits called the LA Central Providers Collaborative sounded the alarm about crowding and living conditions on Skid Row, citing the city’s own predictions about the increased risk for hepatitis A and other diseases.

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Complete text linked here.

November 12, 2017

Disneyland shuts down 2 cooling towers after Legionnaires’ disease sickens park visitors

The county health agency has also alerted healthcare providers to look out for Legionnaires’ disease in anyone who may have become ill after visiting Anaheim or Disneyland before Nov. 7.

Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people who had visited the Anaheim theme park, authorities said.

Twelve cases of the bacteria-caused illness were discovered about three weeks ago among people who had spent time in Anaheim and included nine people who had visited Disneyland in September before developing the illness, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Their ages ranged from 52 to 94.

The remaining three were Orange County residents who did not visit the park but lived or traveled in Anaheim.

Ten were hospitalized and one person “with additional health issues” died, according to health officials. That person did not visit Disneyland.

Legionnaires’ is a severe lung infection caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist. Authorities said they have not tied any other cases of Legionnaires’ to Anaheim since September.

“There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak,” the healthcare agency said in a statement.

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Complete text linked here.

October 19, 2017

FBI Investigates Puerto Rican Officials Distributing FEMA Aid Based On ‘Loyalty’ (Video)

The FBI San Juan Field Office announced Oct. 13 it had received “numerous” complaints that FEMA aid packages were mishandled and fraudulently distributed. The agency is investigating charges in six of the island’s 78 municipalities.

The FBI is investigating allegations that Puerto Rican officials are passing out Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplies based on “political loyalty,” according to Congressional letters sent to the head of each department.

Three GOP representatives and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico sent letters Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FEMA Administrator William Long requesting a briefing on Puerto Rican aid and recovery efforts by Oct. 23.

“With so many residents still in grave need of basic supplies, it is essential that assistance from the federal government is provided in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” the letters said. “The public’s confidence in the integrity of FEMA’s distribution of emergency supplies is also imperative.”

“Allegations that local elected officials are distributing life-sustaining FEMA emergency supplies based on political loyalty is deeply disturbing,” the representatives added. “Any persons misappropriating FEMA emergency supplies should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Complete text and video linked here.

October 15, 2017

California declares state of emergency over deadly hepatitis A outbreak

Federal health officials said last week that, even with the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the disease, California’s outbreak could last years.

California Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency Friday because of a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed at least 18 people in the state.

The declaration allows state health officials to buy additional doses of the hepatitis A vaccine to try to halt the outbreak, which is already the nation’s second largest in more than two decades.

“We have the capacity to use as much vaccine as we can get our hands on,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health.

The outbreak began in San Diego’s homeless community late last year, but has since spread outside the region. Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties are also now experiencing outbreaks.

So far, 581 people in California have been sickened with the liver virus, more than half of whom have ended up in the hospital. The virus is particularly dangerous, and can be fatal, for people who already have other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.

Federal health officials said last week that, even with the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the disease, California’s outbreak could last years.

“Vaccinating people at risk of exposure is the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of hepatitis A,” said California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Karen Smith.

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Complete text linked here.

October 9, 2017

California Hepatitis A Outbreak on Verge of Statewide Epidemic

The California hepatitis A outbreak is on the verge of reaching statewide epidemic status, as cases have spread through homeless tent cities from San Diego north to Sacramento.

California health officials have reported that at least 569 people have been infected with the hepatitis A liver disease and 17 have died since a San Diego County outbreak was first identified in November. Cases have migrated north to homeless populations in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Sacramento over the last 11 months.

Although local and state authorities have tried to underplay the risks and severity of the outbreak, the most recent annual totals for cases of hepatitis A in the United States was 1,390 in 2015, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). California only reported 179 cases during the same year.

The highly-contagious hepatitis A outbreak may have taken root because of the City of San Diego’s efforts in the run-up to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game held at Petco Park in July 2016 to push the homeless, and the rampant drug and prostitution trade among them, out of the downtown tourist venues. Those effort included locking public bathrooms and essentially relocating the homeless to the congested tent city encampments that stretch for blocks east of downtown near freeway onramps.

Another explanation may be the city’s decision to ban plastic bags, which deprived homeless people of an alternative means of disposing of human waste when bathrooms were not available.

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Complete text linked here.