Tag Archives: San Francisco

Used Needles Littering San Francisco Streets As Heroin Crisis Grips NorCal

San Francisco residents are complaining about a record number of used and discarded syringes littering the streets, as a growing heroin epidemic grips Northern California.

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The city distributes nearly 5 million needles each year through various programs aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users who might otherwise share needles. 

The city distributes an estimated 400,000 syringes each month through various programs aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users. About 246,000 syringes are discarded through the city’s 13 syringe access and disposal sites. But thousands of the others end up on streets, in parks and other public areas… –AP

While syringes discarded in public areas have become a nationwide problem amid a growing opium crisis, the problem in population-dense San Francisco (about 50 square miles) is much more noticeable given the city’s growing homeless population. Last year there were 9,500 requests by residents for needle pick-ups by the city. So far this year, there have been 3,700 requests. 

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Despite the needles strewn around the city, San Francisco officials have no plans to change their needle program.

“Research shows that reducing access to clean syringes increases disease and does not improve the problem of needle litter,” said Barbara Garcia, director of the Department of Public Health.

In response to the problem, Mayor Mark Farrell has hired 10 workers to go around the city picking up needles. 

Meanwhile to the north, the coastal town of Eureka has been hit hard by the heroin epidemic which has spread throughout California’s rural north. 

While the state as a whole has one of the lowest overall opioid-related death rates in the country, a sharp rise in heroin use across the rural north in recent years has raised alarms. In Humboldt County, the opioid death rate is five times higher than the state average, rivaling the rates of states like Maine and Vermont that have received far more national attention. –NY Times

Eureka, with its sizeable homeless population, lack of affordable housing and a “changing, weakened economy that relies heavily on tourism” has been hit particularly hard. 

Intravenous drug use has been a persistent menace across rural California for decades, but longtime drug users who once sought methamphetamine — which is also often injected — are increasingly looking to score heroin or opioid pills instead. An astonishingly high rate of opioid prescription in Humboldt County has bred addiction, officials said, and the craving is increasingly sated by a growing market for heroin. –NYT

I’ve lost so many people to this,” said 46-year-old Stacy Cobine, a chronically homeless woman who has struggled with drug abuse.

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While Meth is still the drug of choice in Humboldt, Chief Deputy Coroner at the County Sheriff’s Department, Ernie Stewart, says he is certain that the county’s heroin-related overdoses are “way underreported,” and that meth and heroin abuse is affecting every type of person locally – not just the homeless. 

And with such heavy use of opioids comes the trash…

With the sharp increases in use and overdoses, syringe litter has become a significant flash point for the town’s middle-class residents, particularly because tourism is so important for Eureka and the surrounding region. The town’s homeless have borne the brunt of the blame and frustration. Many Eurekans described various shocking experiences, including witnessing injections on public streets. They worry that discarded syringes could threaten children and tourists playing in the area’s parks. –NYT

Like San Francisco, Humboldt distributes clean needles to drug users through the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction. Many residents blame the organization, founded in 2014 to combat the spread of hepatitis C, for the proliferation of needle litter. The exchange has given out close to one million clean syringes since 2017, while founder Brandie Wilson says her group gets around 94% of the used needles back. 

“Our Hep C and mental health and drug use and homeless and opioid use issues, all of those are so intertwined with being rural, and with a culture of silence,” she said. “No matter where I looked, there was no help. There was no help.

Another factor which many point to is the break-up of a major homeless encampment by Humboldt officials. 

The needle litter problem intensified two years ago when the town removed a homeless encampment along the Palco Marsh where somewhere between 250 and 400 homeless people had been sleeping.

City officials and health service workers had encouraged the town’s large homeless population for years to go there. The tent city, which was colloquially called Devil’s Playground, provided a place to sleep and to linger during the day, but it also saw severely unsanitary health conditions and, at times, violence. In 2016, the town decided to clear the camp to install a bike path along the water, and did not allow a new camp anywhere else. –NYT

And while Humboldt County does what it can, many are pointing a finger at the state of California for not taking enough action.

“The state is failing miserably, and you can quote me on that,” said Mr. Stewart, the deputy coroner. “The state is failing miserably across the board. They are not putting enough funding and resources toward rehabilitation.”

Mike McGuire, who represents several Northern California counties including Humboldt in the State Senate, said that government leaders needed to be more proactive about expanding resources in rural parts of the state. He said rural Californians are “desperate” for more assistance.

“Humboldt County is just a few hours up Highway 101,” he said, “but as an individual travels further north on the highway, it’s like you take a step back in time. We need to step up to the plate and provide rural counties with the tools they need to combat this crisis.”

We’re just trying to figure out how to keep people alive while we wait for more treatment up here,” said Wilson.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Drug Users Take Over Corridors Of San Francisco Civic Center BART Station

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Shocking video is calling attention to what’s going on in one of the busiest BART stations in the Bay Area: drug users blatantly shooting up out in the open as commuters walk by, others slumped along filthy corridors. Wilson Walker reports. (4/25/18)

It’s a gauntlet commuters walk through every morning at the Civic Center BART and Muni station. Regular commuter Shannon Gafford knows people have to see it to believe it. “One morning I said, ‘I got to pull out the camera and show my friends this. They’re not going to believe it,’” he said. And over the course of a week, Gafford documented his trip to work. His videos show dozens of people slumped along a hallway, open IV drug use, unconscious men and women, and piles of vomit on either side of the hallways.

Some may find the video shocking. Others may find it routine.

“Every day. Every morning. 5:30 to 6 o’clock. You can see there’s dozens of them. Needles everywhere. Crack, Heroin, it’s a real concern for our riders, and we appreciate that,” said BART spokesman Chris Filippi. “But what we have to do is make the most of the resources, the limited resources that we have.” BART, which has been pledging to address the problem, says it’s recruiting more community service officers, more than 30 new sworn officers and 20 new station cleaners. But will that be enough? “The situation in our BART stations is simply unacceptable,” said San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell. “Borders on disastrous.” This week, Farrell unveiled a $13 million plan to get needles – among other things – off of city streets. But the city’s jurisdiction ends when you head down those BART stairs. “I don’t care, at the end of the day, if now we have jurisdictional issues,” said Farrell. “As mayor, I want to get something done, and I want to make sure these BART stations are cleaned up.” While homeless services are offered to those in the city’s BART stations, Farrell says San Francisco police may be needed because BART admits it is simply overwhelmed by the crisis that has landed in its hallways. “We’re in the midst of national homelessness crisis, and we’re also in the middle of a drug crisis,” said Filippi. “Unfortunately, as a transit agency, we have limited resources and we’re not really equipped to deal with these social issues.”

So for now, the status quo is a daily commute through a human crisis that shows no end.

“You feel bad for these people in a way. I mean, because you are human, you see them,” said Gafford. “This isn’t going anywhere. It’s getting worse.”

Source: By Wilson Walker | KPIX5

San Francisco Moves to Open Voting to Illegal Aliens

San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Eric Mar says the political climate is right to grant illegal immigrants the right to vote.

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While even notoriously liberal San Francisco voters have rejected past efforts to grant voting privileges to illegals, Fox News reports that Mar thinks the backlash against Donald Trump will yield a strong turn-out of Latino and anti-Trump voters to the polls to pass his proposed charter amendment.

“With Donald Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant sentiments, there is a reaction from many of us who are disgusted by those politics,” Mar said, according to Fox News. “I think that’s going to ensure there is strong Latino turnout as well as other immigrant turnout.”

Mar’s amendment would grant illegal immigrants who have children in public schools the right to vote in school elections.

“The time is right for San Francisco to make history, to pave the way for immigrant parents to have a say in the policy decisions that impact their child’s education and who gets to sit on the Board of Education,” Mar added.

The proposed charter amendment is expected to go to the rules committee soon, according to the Fox report, and once it moves through committee, it can be presented to the full board of supervisors who will decide whether it will appear on the ballot. If it receives majority approval, the charter amendment will be on the same ballot as the presidential election on November 8.

San Francisco attempted to open voting to illegal immigrants with similar charter amendments in 2004 and 2010. Both efforts failed.

Now, however, with nearly one in three children in the San Francisco school system the child of immigrants and more than 3 million illegal immigrants in the state of California alone, advocates for the initiative are optimistic that the third attempt to open voting to illegals will be successful.

“With the anti-immigrant rhetoric from Donald Trump, it is more important than ever that we come together as San Franciscans to stand up for our immigrant communities and support their civic engagement,” California Assembly member David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who introduced a similar ballot initiative in 2010, said in a statement according to Fox.

It is a felony for non-citizens to vote in federal elections, but local elections often have more malleable rules.

by Caroline May | Breitbart News

How An Asian Country Beat Scotland To Become The World’s Best Whisky Maker


by Sonali Kohli

Famed international whiskey connoisseur Jim Murray releases his annual Whiskey Bible this month, and there’s something missing from the top five: a Scottish whiskey.

Instead, Japan’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 took title of World Whiskey of the Year, making it the first Japanese whiskey to earn the accolade. Yamazaki is the flagship single malt for Suntory, the company that bought Beam, Inc. earlier this year for $13.6 billion to become the world’s third-largest distiller.

Murray, who gave the whiskey 97.5 out of 100 points, wrote that the Yamazaki has a “‘nose of exquisite boldness’ and finish of ‘light, teasing spice.”

A brief history of Yamazaki Distillery explains its rapid ascent among whiskey connoisseurs: It was the first whisky distillery in Japan, built in 1923 after World War I and headed by Masataka Taketsuru (who later went on to found competitor Nikka Whisky). Taketsuru, who brought Scottish whisky making to Japan, was a student of the Scottish brew. He studied the University of Glasglow and visited distilleries around the country to learn how the Scottish make the drink.

 How did Japan learn the Scottish craft better than, for instance, American distilleries that have spent centuries trying to make a name in the business?
 

New York Magazine’s Jordana Rothman points to the youth of Japan’s whiskey industry, which she says makes it “less shacked to tradition.” Yamazaki also has the benefit of its mineral water which “is treasured enough to be bottled and sold on its own.” Its wood barrels, meanwhile, are made of a native oak, Mizunara, which Rothman writes “impart an almost ecclesiastic perfume you won’t find in any Scotch.”

Bill Murray’s character in the movie Lost in Translation would approve.