Norte Dame Cathedral

On April 15, 2019, the Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, caught on fire. The centuries old building burned through the wooden roof. The fire was believed to be accidental.

The cathedral caught on fire at around 6 p.m., and around 500 firefighters spent nearly five hours fighting the fire.

The cause of the fire was believed to be an electric short-circuit in an elevator, and that a computer glitch may have a played a part by showing the fire in the wrong place. The flames were believed to have started at the base spire.

By 11 p.m., the cathedral had been preserved, that includes the two iconic bell towers, but two-thirds of the of the roof was gone. According to The New York Times, the French President Emmanuel Macron promised that the cathedral will be rebuilt.

After the fire was cleared from the cathedral, people from around the world assessed the damage of the cathedral and the many works of art it contained. The overall structure of the cathedral was still intact, except for the roof and spire. After all the bell towers survived the blazing fire, most of the bells are believed to have survived as well. The Emmanuel Bell, the cathedral’s main bell, and a 15th century relic, survived the fire.

Many of the paintings and other art works inside of the building had been rescued from the fire. The grand organ in the cathedral was intact, but was believed to have suffered water damage.

Since the fire, nearly $1 billion dollars has been raised to rebuild the cathedral. After the news broke about the donation, many people have had negative reactions worldwide to the amount of money raised, with some even saying that the money could be used to solve world social issues.

Officials had said that the $1 billion will most likely repair all damages to the cathedral, despite President Macron’s five-year promise, rebuilding the cathedral could take up to decades to repair.

Julian Assange arrested

By: Daniela Fernandez

On April 11, 2019, Julian Assange was arrested in London at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He was arrested for refusing to surrender to the court.

Assange is most well known for creating Wikileaks, which is a place where classified information can be illegally released for the world to know, according to NBC News.

According to CNN, Assange had been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 after seeking asylum there. He first seeked asylum there after being accused of rape in 2010, while in Sweden. On November 2, 2011, while in London, the High Court ruled that Julian Assange was to be extradited to Sweden for the accusations of rape against him.

Then on December 5, 2011, Assange petitioned the UK Supreme Court to have his extradition to Sweden revoked. On May 30, 2012, the UK Supreme Court came to a decision to finalize Assange’s extradition to Sweden.

A month later on June 19, 2012, Julian Assange applied for political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The UK then responded to this by stating that they can revoke Assange’s asylum and extradite him to Sweden. On August 16, 2012, Ecuador gave Assange asylum in their embassy, stating they were concerned about his human rights being violated by the UK extraditing him.

On August 13, 2015, Sweden dropped their case against Assange for sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion, because they had no more time to question him as their case had expired. Then on May 17, 2017, Assange’s rape charges were dropped by Sweden.

On July 27, 2018, the UK and Ecuador reported that they were talking about what was to be done about Assange. Then, on December 6, Assange denied the UK and Ecuador’s deal to let him go free.

Then, after many years of struggle between Ecuador and the UK, Julian Assange was removed from the embassy and arrested by the UK. Ecuador stated the reason for their decision was because Assange violated international conventions through Wikileaks. Wikileaks stated Ecuador violated international law by revoking his asylum.

What’s going on in West Papua?

Image via theguardian.com

If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ve probably seen an article or two about what’s going on in West Papua, Indonesia, but most articles don’t give you the full idea, and not many people know the intense situation which is going on. Anyway, let me give you some background here from indonesiamatters.com if you don’t already know.

So, in the 1800s, there was this island called “New Guinea.” The British took the East half, and the Dutch took the Western half, and then it became a part of the Dutch East Indies. Then, in the ’30s, the former colonies of the Dutch East Indies all became independent except for Western New Guinea. But, in 1952, the Dutch prepared the people, for independence, for this remaining colony, and by the ’60s, the parliament of that part of New Guinea (now called West Papua) was formed, and the country created a national anthem, flag, and national seal.

 

Flag of West Papua via freewestpapua.org

Everything seemed to be going well until in 1962 when the Indonesian government started invading West Papua, and tried to push out the Dutch who were staying in the country, taking care of it before its total independence. The Dutch forces successfully stopped the invasion, but then Indonesia went to the Soviet Union for support, and because of Cold War anxiety, the US government tried to help out the Dutch in West Papua.

In August, later that year, an agreement was reached, in New York, between the Netherlands and Indonesia, where the UN gains custody of West Papua until they hold a vote. But, when the vote actually happened in 1969, it was said to be heavily rigged by the Indonesian government, thus making West Papua a province of Indonesia (two provinces actually).

Via worldpoliticsreview.com

Now, according to a paper put out by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the people, culture, language, and just overall heritage of West Papua is vastly different from the rest of Indonesia, as they are a Melanesian people, more similar to the many different groups within the bordering country of Papua New Guinea, which is VASTLY different culturally and linguistically from the South East Asian culture of Indonesia. The government is said to be trying to force Indonesian culture on the people of West Papua.

This, to some, would be a reason to secede already, but why should we care? The main reason is the deep seeded oppression which is going on within the West Papua region, as  it is one of the longest running modern day illegal annexations/occupations.

There are intense reports of brutal torture as described by a study in 2015: torture seems to be the unofficial form of governance. It is said that the Indonesian regime is not reluctant to use killing, surveillance, and arbitrary arrest to control the illegally occupied West Papua.

An example of this is when graphic footage was leaked to YouTube in October 2010. There are two separate occurring events which were captured in this footage. The beginning shows eight highlanders forcibly stripped naked in front of two Indonesian army soldiers. And while interrogating these terrified Papuans, and calling them “monyet,” “anjing,” or “bajingan” (monkey, dog, bastard), the soldiers kicked their heads with their edged boots, and hit their heads using their helmets.

The soldiers demanded that they would confess to being members of the OPM, which is an independence movement with the overall goal of freeing West Papua from Indonesian control. The latter half of the footage displays two people, with one having a knife to their throat, and another being burnt on his bare skin by Indonesian army men, as so the men would confess the location of OPM weaponry near their town. It was very public, and many people were forced to bear witness.

This is said to be a very frequent occurrence in West Papua, according to that study. Along with that, terrible Indonesian policies which cause environmental damage such deforestation, severely undermines the foundation for West Papuan society and culture.

Via freewestpapua.org

So, it would be evident to say that independence would be a fair option for these oppressed people of West Papua, and that’s what they are trying to achieve now more than ever. According to theguardian.com other Pacific Islander countries, such as Vanuatu, have shown support for the struggle against the oppression. And according to UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) almost 2 million residents of West Papua have signed a petition (which could have had more signatures if it wasn’t heavily kept away by the Indonesian government), practically begging the UN for equal, and fair independence, and self determination for the West Papuan peoples.

Sadly, according to theguardian.com, the UN denied the petition after all that, and said that it damaged the territorial integrity of Indonesia. I believe this is a violation of equal rights, freedom, and the democracy on which the very principals the UN were supposedly founded on. Though maybe, in the future, brave governments such as Vanuatu may eventually speak out loud enough, and take action. I believe that it is the UN’s duty, as a global peacekeeper, to find, and create justice for the West Papuan peoples, as they deeply deserve it.

Oil spills – Part 3 in a multi-part series about the environment

According to Marineinsight.com, an oil spill is when there is a contamination in the ocean due to oil being spilled, because of a accident and/or an error made by a human. Oil spills come in many different sizes. Climateiknterpreter.org reports that there are about 20,000 oil spills each year. These range from being small and quickly contained, to very large and taking a while to contain.

During the Gulf War, in 1991, there were about 240 to 336 million gallons of oil spilt. This happened because Iraq opened the oil wells and pipelines. This is was the largest oil spill, caused on purpose, history has ever seen. This spill affected the coral ecosystem and local fisheries.

Another large oil spill was the Deepwater Horizon plant spill in 2010. As reported by Telegraph.co.uk, this spill happened in the Gulf of Mexico. There were about 210 million gallons of oil that ended up in the ocean. This spill flowed for over three months: April 20, 2010 to July 15, 2010. This became the largest accidental spill in the history of the petroleum industry. This spill killed 11 men that were working on the plant platform, and injured 17 others. The leak was stopped by capping the wellhead after it spilled around 4.9 million barrels of oil – crude to be exact. This meant that about 53,000 barrels escaped each day. This affected the the marine and wildlife habitats, as well as Gulf’s fishing and tourism industry.

If you have a small vessel, there is a checklist to go through to prevent small spills. The first thing would be, tighten bolts on the engine. The bolts can loosen due to shaking while the engine is being used. The next thing would be, replace cracked or worn lines and fittings before they get lose and fall out. There is also a checklist for filling up your vessel. The first thing is to avoid overflows when refueling; you should know what the capacity of your tank and nosing you should leave room for the fuel to expand. The next thing is to use an absorbent pad to catch any drips. For more information about this, please visit: Responde.restoration.noaa.gov

What is the future plan for Brexit?

By: Daniela Fernandez

What is Brexit? Brexit is the UK’s plan to separate themselves from the EU. The original plan was to exit the EU on March 29, 2019. Now, as this plan was rejected, the new deadline for Brexit is on April 12 if all goes well in negotiatios.

3 years ago, the UK voted for Brexit, and made Labour Party Representative, Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK. With the UK’s plan for Brexit the EU stated that the UK would lose all of their trade benefits with them because they would no longer be a part of the EU. This would include their now trade benefits, such as having no taxes on products from different EU countries. An upside for the UK, with separating from the EU, is that they will now be able to have their own trade deals with EU countries since they are not allowed to have these deals under the EU according to CNBC.

March 29 was the day where Parliament would vote for Brexit. After the votes were counted it was determined the Prime Minister May’s plan was rejected once again after 2 other plans had also been rejected, according to CNN. The first time the plan was rejected, only 202 people were for the plan and 432 against, on January 15. The second vote was on March 12, with 242 for May’s Brexit plan, and 391 against. Then on March 29, the number of people who voted for May’s plan in Parliament was 286 against 344 who opposed.

On April 12, Parliament will again vote on the new Brexit plan. There are 2 ways this vote can go. One way is that if the plan is accepted then the government will try to make a decision on how to continue, and call for an extension on their plan. If the plan is rejected then Brexit will most likely be canceled, and the UK will have many options such as holding a general election on the plan or to continue May’s Brexit deal and have negotiations with the EU.

With all of this back and forth about the plan the plan for Brexit is unclear in the future.

New Zealand Massacre

On March 15, 2019, an Australian man opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring 50 people. The shooter walked into the first mosque, Al Noor, where he started to live stream the attack on social media. The shooter claimed that he identified as a “white identity.”

That he killed these innocent people, all military style, with semi-automatic weapons, and assault rifles, are to be banned in New Zealand. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern made the decision because this was the worst mass shooting that had happened in the country’s history. Ardern said that the terrorist charged the killings to continue his attack, when he was interrupted by police.

39 people remain in the hospital, 11 who are in critical condition, and in intensive care units. A four-year-old girl, that is in critical condition, is to require multiple surgeries. Christchurch hospitals chief of surgery, Dr. Greg Robertson, said many of the victims will need multiple surgeries as well.

Ardern said that she will not say the killer’s name, “He obviously had a range of reasons for committing this atrocious terrorist attack. Lifting his profile was one of them. And that’s something that we can absolutely deny him.” Ardern met many of the families of the victims on Saturday, March 16. She said that authorities were working to ensure that the bodies could be identified quickly to allow proper Muslim burials.

Authorities in Australia and New Zealand have been asked why the suspect was not listed as a terrorist in the media watchlist. He was planning this attack for many years. The terrorist identified himself as member of a white supremacist group. It is believed that the terrorist was alone, but that there were at least two people helping him. The Christchurch police had two other people in custody, a man and a women, it was later confirmed that they were let go and didn’t have any connections on the attack.

People around the world were devastated about the attack and they couldn’t believe that people that were in a place of worship, that thought were safe, were killed. They were killed by someone who hated them, and for him to live stream the attack of killing innocent people from ages 3-70 was heartbreaking.

Many people were scared to attend the mosque and pray, but wonderful people ensured their safety, and while they prayed they stood behind them during prayer. Others also stood in front of mosque doors so that this will not happen again, in any other mosques in the U.K., U.S., etc., and that the Muslim citizens were be protected during prayer.

The news was devastating, and instead of saying “hopefully this doesn’t happen again, we need to make changes,” Jacinda Ardern made a change. She banned semi-automatic weapons so that something like this will never happen again. And that’s what a lot of countries need to do. Change starts with us.

Endangered animals – Part 2 in a multi-part series about the environment

A red panda (Ailurus fulgens) image taken from: https://www.mindfood.com/article/endangered-animal-day/

Have you ever wondered which animals are and aren’t endangered? The answer to that is very long.

Let’s start with what an endangered animal is before this article gets started. An endangered animal is, according to wonderopolis, an animal that is in danger of going extinct. There are sadly so many animals that are becoming endangered by humans. We are destroying their habitats, and their homes. How do you think you would feel if someone was taking away your home because they needed land to build apartments and cities for themselves?

The list of endangered animals goes on and on. From African wolf dogs, to green turtles, to many more. The list goes on and on, on the World Wildlife website about the different types of animals that are endangered.

The Amur leopard is one of the more critical animals. An Amur leopard is commonly found in a forest in Asia. These leopards are endangered because they are being taken for their gorgeous fur, of which is spotted. For more information about the Amur leopard, please visit: Mnzoo.com or World wildlife.com

Another animal that is in critical danger is the black rhino. A black rhino is going extinct because hunters are hunting them for their horns, which have an ivory color. This ivory color can be sold on the black market. As well as their horns, the rhinos habitat is slowly dwindling away. You can actually help these rhinos. You can raise awareness on World Rhino Day. Just by raising awareness of this issue can cause local donors to donate money for veterinary care. This money can also help to bring education of what hunting is doing to their population. The rhinos populations is already very small. For more information about the black rhino, please visit: Animalplanet.com

The Bornean orangutan is another of the of the more critically endangered animals. These orangutan’s habitat is becoming smaller and smaller due to deforestation and cleaning the land for plantations. The logging of trees is affecting the orangutans because they spend almost all of their time in the trees. Another thing is that the smoke of fires confusing them, which leads to them becoming very susceptible to death because their habitat is being burned down. You can help young infants that have been taking from their mother by adopting a little orangutan. It’s only $65 a year. Please visit Theorangutanproject.org for more information.

Lastly, the Cross River gorilla is critically endangered. There is about 300 individuals that remain. This gorilla is the most endangered African ape as of 2013. These gorillas are endangered because of hunters wanting to hunt and trade their meats. For more information, please visit: Birdlife.org

As you can see, all of these, and other animals, are endangered because of hunters and humans caring more about profits than these poor animals.

Flight 302 Ethiopian Airline crash

On Sunday, March 10, a tragedy occurred in Ethiopia that impacted 35 countries. A Sunday morning flight became a tragedy, within minutes, when a Boeing 737 Max 8, carrying 157 people en route to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed 6 minutes after takeoff from Bole International Airport, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing all 157 passengers and crew members onboard.

The plane took off at 8:38AM local time, and air traffic control lost contact with the flight at 8:44AM. The plane crashed in Bishoftu, a town 40 miles southeast from Ethiopia’s capital city. According to CNN, The victims came from 35 different nationalities from all over the world. Thirty-two Kenyans, seventeen Ethiopians, eighteen Canadians, eight Americans and seven French are just 5 of of the 35 different nationalities affected. The pilot of flight 302 informed controllers that the plane was having control problems before it crashed. The pilot also requested permission to return back to Bole Airport right after takeoff according to the Wall Street Journal.

This has been the second crash involving the 737 Max 8 plane in a span of 5 months. In October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in Indonesia, 12 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 on board.

Countries around the world including the US, Canada, China, Australia, India and 45 more countries have grounded the Boeing 737 Max. As of right now, the cause of the crash is still unclear. Ethiopian airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters at Bole International Airport, in Addis Ababa, “We cannot also attribute the cause to anything because we will have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation.”

The Monday following the fatal crash became a national day of mourning in Ethiopia. According to Al Jerreza, remains are still being identified and will take up to 6 months for all of them to be correctly identified. For 35 countries that lost a citizen, and more countries, this crash was heartbreaking to hear about.

Youth Climate Strike

By: Vivian S

The Youth Climate Strike, which happened on Friday, March 15th, was when, in over 40 countries, including the US, students walked out of school to raise awareness and fight against climate change.

The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, who protested outside the Swedish parliament and delivered a speech to the United Nations Climate Summit, and the short amount of time science says we have to fix our climate.

We have very few years left to transform our energy system and reduce greenhouse gasses until the damage is permanent. The website for the Youth Climate Strike US, https://www.youthclimatestrikeus.org/platform, says they are striking because world leaders have yet to acknowledge or prioritize this issue. They hope that by disrupting the normal flow of things, by not attending school, they can force governments to deal with climate change.

The strike was to demand that: The Green New Deal be put into effect, that there are no more new fossil fuel infrastructures, that the government make decisions based on the newest scientific evidence, that a national emergency be declared about climate change, that there is a comprehensive education on climate change for K-8, that wildlife is preserved, and that water remains clean.

The solutions they propose are: reforestation, the reduction of food waste, to make goals and benchmarks for the reduction of greenhouse gasses, to change the agriculture industry, to use more renewable energy, to stop fracking, and to stop mountaintop removal and mining.

We can only wait and see if this protest had any effect on the policies governments sign into laws, or if there will be any more strikes. But know this, I think these students will be heard, I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear of them.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a day we take every year to celebrate all the women in the world and their achievements. It’s also a day where people raise awareness of the bias women face, and fight for equality for all. Every year International Women’s Day takes place on March 8.

According to International Women’s Day, the first International Women’s Day took place on March 19, 1911. It was first celebrated by Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Denmark. This happened after an agreement made the previous year in Copenhagen after Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day.

On the last Sunday in February, 1913, women in Russia celebrated International Women’s Day to support peace before World War I started. In 1913 it was also decided to move International Women’s Day to March 8.

On March 8, 1914, in London, and other places across Europe, there were rallies to stop the war and unite all women. In London there was a rally from Bow to Trafalgar Square were people supported the women’s suffrage movement.

In 1917, the Czar of Russia granted women the right to vote. This happened after they put together a strike for “bread and peace” after over 2 million Russians were killed in World War I. The women kept striking for 4 more days. Many people opposed them, such as political leaders. The Czar forced the provisional Government to give women the right to vote.

The UN first started celebrating International Women’s Day in 1975. Then two years later, in December of 1977, the General Assembly officially created a resolution for a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. This resolution states that member states (countries that are part of the UN) can celebrate International Women’s Day on any day that works for them based on their cultures.

Today, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world in many different ways. The International Women’s Day website recommends many ways to celebrate the day by making a difference. They tell people to identify their goals, identify their audience, and then decide what you can do; just a few of the ways they suggest are their downloadable selfie cards, social cards, and posters. You can also order event packs, which help you run a women’s day event.

The International Women’s Day also tells readers about the #BalanceforBetter tag. Social media is a great way to spread awareness of inequalities and educate others. Something as simple as a Women’s Day filter on Snapchat can inspire others to learn and remind people of the day’s significance. If you want to make a difference, use tags including the #BalanceforBetter and #InternationalWomensDay tags, or simply spread the word.

Visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/HowToPlanIWD for more information.