Morning Update: Throwing Our Arms Around Paris

Notre Dame's catastrophic fire, Bernie Sanders' tax returns, Twitter's flawed approach to death threats. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, April 16.

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A massive fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caused catastrophic damage

The iconic building, one of the most identifiable landmarks in the Paris skyline, was engulfed in flames. Its spire collapsed as more than 400 firefighters battled the flames.

As the historic 295-foot spire fell to the ground, there were gasps of disbelief from those watching history burn.

The fire spread to one of the cathedral’s two towers, but firefighters saved both. Authorities said two-thirds of the cathedral’s roofing was destroyed.

As the flames burned on, baseless conspiracy theories spread across social media. Here are all the hoaxes the blaze inspired.

French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters, “We will rebuild Notre Dame because this is what the French expect, because this is what our history deserves.”

France 24 reported that nearly all of the cathedral’s artwork was removed and saved. The Crown of Thorns, said to have been worn by Jesus Christ before the crucifixion, and the tunic of St. Louis were both saved.

Less than 24 hours after the inferno, two French billionaires have pledged a total of 300 million euros ($339 million) to the cost of reconstruction. If that number surprises you, it shouldn’t: Notre Dame means a lot in the French imagination.

Just take a look at these heartbreaking photos of people watching the flames. This one got me:

Bernie Sanders’ last 10 years of tax returns show he’s now among the millionaires

The Vermont senator and presidential candidate frequently mentions that he’s familiar with living paycheck to paycheck. Now, newly-released tax returns show just how much Sanders’ profile has risen.

According to copies of the returns, Sanders earned more than $2.7 million from 2016 through 2018 — an income that puts him among the ranks of the "millionaires and billionaires" he has railed against for years.

Outside his annual salary from the US Senate, book contracts and sales account for the senator’s primary source of income.


President Donald Trump suggested using tanker jets to drop water on Notre Dame but French officials said that’s a really bad idea. Officials took the unusual step of swatting down the suggestion, saying deploying water drops “could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.”

A high school expelled a girl for kicking a boy who entered the girls’ bathroom to “protest” a trans student. The boy entered the girls' bathroom at the North Pole High School in Alaska as a form of "protest" after a transgender student took a selfie in the boys' bathroom. The girl, who was leaving the restroom, kicked him in the groin.

The 21-year-old accused of setting fire to three black Louisiana churches now faces hate crime charges. Authorities say Holden Matthews, the son of a sheriff’s deputy, burned three black churches to the ground and were investigating whether Norwegian black metal music influenced his actions.

Twitter left up Ilhan Omar death threats so authorities could investigate

The congresswoman said threats on her life have increased after President Trump tweeted a video juxtaposing images of the World Trade Center being hit with a clip of Omar saying, “Some people did something” in reference to the 9/11 attacks.

Twitter would’ve typically taken down the threatening tweets once they were reported, but a source tells us the company left them up to enable potential law enforcement collaboration.

Here’s the thing — the whole episode highlights Twitter’s flawed approach to dealing with death threats on its platform: Instead of reporting death threats to law enforcement as a policy, Twitter simply deletes them.

Billie Eilish meeting Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande at Coachella is just the cutest thing

Eilish is having a hell of a year dominating the charts, and this past weekend, she dominated Coachella.

She’s only 17 — so to put this in perspective, she would’ve been about 8 years old when Bieber’s “Baby” came out (!). Eilish is a longtime Bieber fan (“longtime” being relative here, I guess), so meeting him was a huge deal to her.

Her reaction to meeting her idols was adorable. Look at this photo:

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