Refugee camp set on Fire as Paris suffers terror attacks

Photo of Calais fires from Twitter

The refugee camp known as “the jungle,” in the French port of Calais, was set on fire Friday night just hours after a series of coordinated attacks rocked Paris, leaving over 120 dead and hundreds injured.

Local authorities have not confirmed yet a connection between the two events, but the coincidence has prompted speculation that the fires were set as revenge, despite a lack of proof.

Sherlock Holmes’ response to coincidence is worth recalling: “The universe is rarely so lazy”

Organizations on the ground have said on social media that the damage had been caused by a small fire that got out of control. According to unconfirmed reports around 40 makeshift homes were destroyed, but no refugees sustained any injuries.

At least 15 refugees have lost their lives in Calais since the end of June while trying to make their way through the undersea passage into the United Kingdom. Some 6,000 people are living in the “jungle.” Most of them are fleeing conflict-hit zones in the Middle East and Africa.

The situation in Calais is part of the current refugee crisis across Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration, 773,244 refugees have reached Europe’s shores so far this year, while a total of 3,423 people have either died or gone missing.

Refugees in Calais in a vigil of solidarity with Paris this morning

The beat goes on…

Smoking rates in America the lowest in more than 50 years — but…

But smoking is increasingly a problem of the poor.

That’s according to newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that the percentage of adults who smoke cigarettes has continued to decline…21 percent of Americans smoked regularly in 2005 (about 45 million people), and in 2014 that number was down to 17 percent (about 40 million people):

It’s a remarkable shift. In 1964, when the surgeon general first began a public health campaign on cigarettes, nearly half of the adult population smoked.

But thanks to tobacco taxes, smoking bans, and public awareness campaigns, cigarette use has been on a downward trajectory for decades.

This major public health success story hasn’t been a total victory, either. Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the US, contributing to some 480,000 early deaths and more than $300 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses every year. The push to eradicate smoking has been especially slow going among poorer Americans.

Generally speaking, poorer Americans smoke at higher rates than wealthier Americans. The CDC shows this by looking at the relationship between insurance coverage and cigarette use.

People insured by Medicaid or those who are uninsured tend to be poorer, on average. In 2014, 29.1 percent of Medicaid recipients and 27.9 percent of the uninsured smoked. By contrast, only 12.9 percent of those with private insurance smoked.

Relatedly, education also makes a difference: Of adults with a graduate degree, only about 5 percent smoke. Meanwhile, about 25 percent of those who haven’t graduated high school smoke.

Of course, there are no smoking bans at Tea Party cell meetings.

Duke Energy asks for $1000/day penalty for solar panels on N.Carolina church

Church members cutting green ribbons to celebrate their solar panelsRodriguez/News&Record

When environmental advocates started selling cheap solar power to a church in Greensboro, N.C., five months ago, they did it to test the state’s ban on non-utility providers of renewable energy. But now the state’s largest utility, Duke Energy, is fighting back.

Not even a David vs Goliath — since Duke Energy owns most of the weasel legislators and commissioners in the state — they own the governor, too.

As state regulators review the controversial case, the battle lines are clearly drawn. Advocates at North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN) and members of Faith Community Church support policy change. Duke Energy has responded by asking regulators to impose a stiff financial penalty against NC WARN that could threaten to shut down the organization.

“The stakes are high,” said Jim Warren, executive director of NC WARN, a small nonprofit dedicated to tackling climate change by promoting renewable energy. Referring to Duke Energy, Warren said, “they certainly don’t want competition.”…

North Carolina is one of four states with limitations on third-party sales. Earlier this year legislators proposed a bill allowing third-party solar providers in the state, but it failed to get out of committee. Seeing this case as an opportunity, SolarCity and other solar proponents including North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light have filed in support of NC WARN’s position…

“The law is clear in North Carolina,” said company spokesman Randy Wheeless. If you want to sell power in the state, that makes you a utility and subject to all the regulations that come with that role. That’s why Duke has proposed regulators impose a $1,000 fine on NC WARN for every day its solar panels are connected to the grid…

If NC WARN loses the case, it has already agreed to donate the 20-panel solar array to Faith Community so the non-denomenational, largely African-American church would continue to benefit from solar power.

Ain’t exactly a parade of faith-based conservative in North Carolina lining up to defend a mostly Black church. Especially when that church is challenging a very profitable state utility. And their current specialty is polluting the state’s waters.