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EPA Carries out Trump Threat, Cites San Francisco for Water Pollution Linked to Homeless Crisis
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited San Francisco for violating the Clean Water Act by allowing used needles to spill into the ocean. The violation notice executes a threat Trump laid out a few weeks ago and ratchets up California's environmental policies feud with the White House, according to the AP.
A couple of weeks ago Trump claimed that waste from storm drains, especially needles, near San Francisco's homeless encampments was running into the ocean. The city officials disputed Trump's inaccurate claim that water pollution was linked to the city's homeless crisis. Yet, without citing evidence of Trump's claim or Trump's threat, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler accused the city of improperly discharging waste into the bay, as The Guardian reported.
Instead, the EPA's letter, which is addressed to Harlan Kelly, Jr., general manager of the city's Public Utilities Commission, states that the city's sewage and storm water systems have failed to trap pollutants like heavy metals and bacteria, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The letter said that the data showed "it discharging approximately one and a half billion gallons of combined sewage annually onto beaches and other sensitive areas, including areas where recreation takes place," according to The Guardian.
"The failure to properly operate and maintain the city's sewage collection and treatment facilities" caused force main and pump station failures "that have diverted substantial volumes of raw and partially-treated sewage to flow across beaches and into the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean," the letter said.
The letter is the last step in a feud with California that has seen the state file more than 50 lawsuits opposing Trump initiatives on the environment, immigration and health care, according to the AP. Last week, Wheeler sent a letter to California's Gov. Gavin Newsom alleging that waste left by the homeless in big cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles was improperly handled.
The EPA's letter to San Francisco drew quick condemnation and rebuttal from the city's Mayor London Breed.
"The notice of violation flies in the face of years of good faith discussions convened between the city and the EPA," said Breed said in a statement, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. "The notice of violation issued today contained a series of mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and falsehoods, and is the latest example of the Trump administration's attack on our city and our state."
The wave of letters sent from the EPA suggest that the administration is trying to cast California as a failed liberal-agenda. In response, the city attorney Dennis Herrera submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the EPA "for records related to these unwarranted attacks on San Francisco," as The Guardian reported.
"These attacks on San Francisco are a politically motivated ploy," Herrera said in a statement, according to The Guardian. "The Trump administration is ignoring facts and misusing the EPA to attack people it disagrees with."
The alleged violations in the letter include at least seven failures of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to comply with requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, part of the Clean Water Act. In addition to not meeting pollution standards, the agency is not maintaining its sewer and wastewater systems, adequately keeping records, and providing public notice when people may be exposed to pollution, the letter says, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Michael Carlin, deputy general manger of the the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, said the city was in full compliance with the terms of its discharge permits under the Clean Water Act and there was no threat to public health or the environment.
"I don't quite understand the point they're trying to make here," said Carlin to the San Francisco Chronicle.
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'How Dare You Put Our Lives at Risk': Pennsylvania Democrat Brian Sims Rips GOP Members for 'Coverup' of Positive COVID-19 Tests
Brian Sims, a Democratic representative in the Pennsylvania legislature, ranted in a Facebook Live video that went viral about the hypocrisy of Republican lawmakers who are pushing to reopen the state even though one of their members had a positive COVID-19 test.
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In another reversal of Obama-era regulations, the Trump administration is having the National Park Service rescind a 2015 order that protected bears and wolves within protected lands.
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By Linda Lacina
World Health Organization officials today announced the launch of the WHO Foundation, a legally separate body that will help expand the agency's donor base and allow it to take donations from the general public.
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Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
By Nicholas Joyce
The coronavirus has resulted in stress, anxiety and fear – symptoms that might motivate a person to see a therapist. Because of social distancing, however, in-person sessions are less possible. For many, this has raised the prospect of online therapy. For clients in need of warmth and reassurance, could this work? Studies and my experience suggests it does.
Telehealth Versus Traditional Therapy<p><a href="https://www.cigna.com/hcpemails/telehealth/telehealth-flyer.pdf" target="_blank">Private insurance companies</a> like Cigna and Aetna, have come around; they now provide coverage for what they see as a "legitimate" service. And <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-wells-2019-consumer-survey-finds-majority-of-consumers-open-to-telehealth-adoption-continues-to-grow-300906438.html" target="_blank">surveys show</a> consumers are receptive to telehealth counseling: no driving to an appointment, no searching for a parking space, no worries about childcare while they're away, no need to switch providers if they move, and no problem if the specialist happens to be far away.</p><p>Online therapy opens doors for clients who wouldn't otherwise seek help, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/empirical-examination-of-the-influence-of-personality-gender-role-conflict-and-self-stigma-on-attitudes-and-intentions-to-seek-online-counseling-in-college-students/oclc/941976505" target="_blank">particularly patients</a> who feel stigmatized by therapy or intimidated by a stranger sitting across the room from them. Often, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295" target="_blank">people open up</a> more easily in telehealth sessions. Firsthand accounts have detailed <a href="https://www.romper.com/p/i-tried-online-therapy-for-a-month-this-is-what-happened-13630" target="_blank">positive experiences from consumers</a>.</p>
Overcoming Prejudices About Online Counseling<p>Now COVID-19 is forcing most traditional psychotherapists to adapt their practice to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/expressive-trauma-integration/202003/covid-19-etherapy-in-times-isolation" target="_blank">online counseling</a>. After experiencing the medium, they are <a href="https://www.wecounsel.com/blog/why-every-therapist-in-private-practice-needs-a-telehealth-option/" target="_blank">overcoming their prejudices</a>. Many will convert some or all of their caseloads to telehealth after the pandemic ends. Most of our clients seem to be good with it: responding to a satisfaction survey, 85% of USF students strongly or somewhat agreed their telehealth experience was comparable to an in-person visit.</p><p>All this allows a continuity of care for clients that before was impossible; there is, however, a caveat. Because of the coronavirus, some of my clients at USF who live out-of-state have moved back home. That means, legally, I can no longer serve them. Even though they are still USF students, my license is valid only in Florida.</p><p>For telehealth to work effectively, our national system of licensing and regulation law needs to adapt. Although the federal government temporarily halted HIPAA regulations to promote telehealth during this time, not all states are allowing out-of-state practice. The coronavirus may not be here forever, but spring break and Christmas holidays always will. We need seamless telehealth across state lines.</p>
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As many parts of the planet continue to open their doors after pandemic closures, a new pest is expected to make its way into the world. After spending more than a decade underground, millions of cicadas are expected to emerge in regions of the southeastern U.S.
Kevin Frayer / Stringer / Getty Images
By Jessica Corbett
Even after the world's largest economies adopted the landmark Paris agreement to tackle the climate crisis in late 2015, governments continued to pour $77 billion a year in public finance into propping up the fossil fuel industry, according to a report released Wednesday.
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Twenty-three states and Washington, DC launched a suit Wednesday to stop the Trump administration rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.
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