NOTRE-DAME ON FIRE

Monday April 15, 2019 will remain in the minds of Parisians and Catholics from all over the world for a long time. On this date a fire started in one of world’s most recognizable and important cathedrals, Notre-Dame. The flames spread quickly and soon the whole roof was burning. Despite immediate intervention of over 400 firefighters it took 9 hours to extinguish the fire. To everybody’s horror, the spire and the roof of the 850-years-old building was completely destroyed. Luckily some brave priests together with firefigters managed to rescue some of Catholic Church’s most precious relics including the crown of thorns worn by Jesus himself just before Crucifixion. Collection of funds for restoration of Notre-Dame (which translates as Our Lady) started the next day after the fire and hundreds of millions of euro have already been declared. The place was visited by about 13 million people and was one of Paris’s landmarks so it could come as a surprise that help comes not only from Catholics. Experts estimate it may take even 30 years to rebuild the cathedral but Emmanuel Macron is more optimistic and calls for an all-national effort to complete reconstruction within 5 years.

AN INDIAN STUDENT BURNT AFTER ACCUSING HEADMASTER OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

On March 27, 2019 Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a student 19-year-old student from Bangladesh, went to her school headmaster’s office after he had asked her to come. When she came the headmaster started touching her in an inappropriate manner but she ran away before it was too late. Unlike most victims of sexual assault in Bangladesh she did not keep this fact for herself but reported this to the police. The headmaster was arrested as a result but this did not end Nusrat’s problems. On April 6 she came to school again to take her final exams. At school of of female students asked he to come to the roof because, apparently, one of her friends was being beaten up. At the roof a group of people wearing burkas surrounded her and demanded her to withdraw her accusations against the headmaster. When she refused they doused her with kerosene and set her on fire, hoping the whole event would look like suicide. Miraculously, she managed to survive and gave a statement against the headmaster and the attackers in the ambulance. Unfortunately, sever burns caused her death soon after it.

POLLUTION EFFECTS YOU HAVEN’T (YET) CONSIDERED

It is common knowledge that polluted air negatively impacts our health, leads to hospital admissions and increased mortality. WHO links 7 million deaths worldwide annually to bad air. A 2018 US study covering 9360 cities found something less easily imaginable: polluted air apparently causes increased crime rates in categories such as manslaughter, rape, theft and assault. A recent (also 2018) UK study of London covering a two-year period over 600 electoral wards brought similar results. Such studies are of course correlations and – being aware of that – the British researchers went a step further: they examined specific districts in detail, for example following a high-content PM 2.5 cloud that (pushed by wind) moved over a certain area and matched it with police data on a daily basis. Results, simplified: wherever the cloud went, the crime went up. Scientists blame lower oxygen levels and pollution causing headaches, worse mental focus and less self-control. Any possible takeaways? You may want to consider yourself relatively fortunate for not having to spend hours at a time in Warsaw or Cracow city centres. Perhaps attending a school in Jeziorna (even if we do get a smog day every now and then) is the only reason for you not being as delinquent as you would have been somewhere less clean.

FOOTBALL WORLD CUP IS LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY

Following the biggest sport on Earth and didn’t see that one coming? Very likely you weren’t alone. France 2019 kicks off on June 7th with 24 teams playing 52 matches to determine the winner. It’s women football of course and, in case you didn’t know, the tournament is expected to be the most competitive one in history. The USA [where 1.7 million girls are registered with US Soccer] are looking to defend their title, but Germany, France (who will have the opportunity to repeat what their men’s team achieved in 1998 – win on home soil), Brazil, England and Japan will surely look to spoil the American party. An intriguing storyline is the first-ever Caribbean nation (Jamaica) qualifying for the tournament – perhaps not as much the fact that they qualified, but the identity of their sponsor. It’s none other than Cedella Marley (the daughter of Bob Marley), who came through and became the ambassador of the team through Bob Marley Foundation when the country’s football federation cut their funding 8 years ago. The gender inequality within the sport is best illustrated by World Cup prize money. France’s men’s team took USD 38 million for winning the tournament in 2018, while the winner this summer will collect USD 4 million (double the amount from 2015). In case you wondered: there are approximately 200,000 active girls playing organised football in Poland and no, we did not qualify for France 2019.

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