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Paris authorities to remove scaffolding from collapsed spire of Notre-Dame cathedral

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Paris authorities will begin the delicate task of removing scaffolding from the collapsed spire of Notre-Dame cathedral in coming weeks after a devastating fire in April, a charity said Monday.

The 850-year-old church’s spire was clad in scaffolding when it came crashing during the huge blaze on April 15.

The cathedral’s roof was also destroyed in the inferno, although the vast majority of the most-sacred artefacts and valuable items inside were saved.

Shortly after the fire, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to complete a painstaking renovation of the gothic masterpiece within five years.

But that cannot begin until “essential” work takes place to secure the structure, the Notre-Dame Foundation charity said in a statement.

“One of the most complex aspects of the work at the moment is removing the scaffolding, which includes 50,000 tubes which reached over 800 degrees Celcius (1472 degrees Fahrenheit)” during the fire, charity head Christophe-Charles Rousselot told AFP.

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“A similar structure will be installed, as well as cranes, in order to start cutting down (the scaffolding) in very delicate conditions,” the charity statement said.

Dismantling the scaffolding is expected to take four months, Rousselot said.

Notre-Dame hosted its first mass after the inferno earlier this month, with priests and worshippers donning hard hats to protect themselves against possible falling debris.

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Wealthy donors have handed over millions of euros to restore the church, including French luxury goods rivals Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault, who have pledged 200 and 100 million euros ($228 million and $114 million) respectively.

The full amount needed to restore the cathedral is not yet known, the Notre-Dame Foundation said.


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In rebuke to Trump, US Congress blocks Saudi arms sales

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The US House voted Wednesday to block $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other allies, a rebuke of Donald Trump that will likely lead to a veto by the president.

Lawmakers, many of whom are outraged with the kingdom over Riyadh's role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, approved three resolutions that would prevent the controversial sales announced under emergency measures earlier this year by Trump.

The resolutions blocking the sales have already cleared the US Senate, and now go to the White House, where Trump is expected to issue a veto, the third of his presidency.

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Six officials at Southwest Key, nonprofit running migrant child shelters, earned more than $1 million in 2017

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The Texas-based group's former chief executive made $3.6 million that year.

Six high-ranking employees at a nonprofit organization housing thousands of migrant children for the federal government made at least $1 million for their work in 2017, according to tax filings released Tuesday.

The tax records show that Juan Sanchez, founder of Southwest Key Programs, the Texas-based nonprofit, earned $3.6 million in total compensation that year, which The Washington Post reported last week. They also showed that other prominent employees — including the group’s chief financial officer, who earned more than $2.4 million — were earning substantial, seven-figure salaries at the nonprofit.

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‘Pure and simple evil’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika destroy Trump’s ‘racist and illegal’ taunts against Omar

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski warned that President Donald Trump's attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) were both illegal and racist -- as well as an incitement to violence.

The "Morning Joe" co-hosts were appalled by the crowd's reaction -- chanting "send her back" -- to Trump attacks at a Greensboro, North Carolina, rally.

"Republicans shamed themselves by not calling racism, racism," Scarborough said. "I saw some people actually write columns that used to be respected trying to excuse the president's language and saying it's not racist, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that Donald Trump oversees that enforces laws against discrimination, specifically outlined such language that the president used last night and that his crowd used last night as an example of bias."

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