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Notre-Dame cathedral ‘still at risk of collapse’ after fire

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Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris is still at risk of collapse after being gutted by a fire in April, with more stonework falling during the recent heatwave in the French capital, the government said on Wednesday.

France’s culture ministry insisted that the urgent need to make the cathedral safe had dictated the pace of the works, following criticism that it had ignored the risks of lead poisoning.

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Work to secure the cathedral was suspended on July 25 to allow for decontamination of the lead that had spread during the fire. The work should resume next week.

The culture ministry said that in the aftermath of the fire all work on the cathedral had been aimed at avoiding its collapse, and had not yet involved any kind of restoration.

“There were recently new falls of stones from the nave vaults due to the heatwave,” it said.

“It is only the urgency linked to the persistent risk of a collapse that justifies the rhythm of work undertaken” since the fire.

French investigative news site Mediapart published a report this week accusing the ministry of repeatedly ignoring warnings by labour inspectors about the dangers posed by the lead until the works were finally suspended on July 25.

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But the ministry rejected Mediapart’s allegations that it had failed to pay attention to the risks encountered by workers on the site.

“All the state services involved at the site have made the health of the workers the absolute priority, above all other consideration,” it said.

President Emmanuel Macron has set an ambitious target of five years for the restoration to be finished. But the ministry said restoration work would not even begin until next year.

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“The first restoration works will not take place — at the very earliest — before the first half of 2020,” it said.

Hundreds of tonnes of lead in the roof and steeple melted during the April 15 blaze that nearly destroyed the gothic masterpiece, with winds spreading the particles well beyond the church’s grounds.

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Paris prosecutors said in June that a poorly stubbed-out cigarette or an electrical fault could have started the fire and opened an investigation into criminal negligence, without targeting any individual.

 


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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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