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The Maastricht Diplomat

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A week of celebrations and tragedies

Another week has gone by full of positive and negative events from all around the world. So without further ado, let’s start:

First of all, it was time for the Super Bowl! An event that is as celebrated as it is criticized. The National Football League (NFL) has often been criticized for its racial discrimination and exclusion of Black players, though this year two Black quarterbacks were playing against each other for the first time in a Super Bowl, showing that there is progress to be seen. Another highlight of the Super Bowl was, of course, the notorious halftime show with Rihanna! Not only did she grace us with a long awaited return to live music performance, but she also surprised us with her baby bump of child #2. I have to be honest here, as a European, I usually only exclusively watch the artists' halftime show and not the game …

Besides the Super Bowl two other big celebrations happened this week.

On Tuesday, we once again celebrated the day of love, Valentine's day - some celebrated together with their very own special Valentine, others gathered with friends and of course, for many Tuesday was just like any other weekday. Did you do something special or did you just chill at home? Every year I am surprised by the holiday, but to all the singles out there: remember, love does not always have to be the romantic kind, so don't forget to celebrate your platonic relationships as well!

Maybe you even decided to spend your day in a totally non-romantic way and participated in the protest against police brutality here in Maastricht on Tuesday evening. If you want to find out more about the situation, read Ana’s article, that delves deep into the happenings of the last weekend, or watch this reportage, made by our very own Jonathan and Hadrian.

The Carnival festivities have started, not only in Maastricht but also in Brazil, where it was celebrated without any restrictions for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. You probably have seen the green, yellow and red flags everywhere in the city center and maybe you dressed up with your friends too? Anyway, a lot of students will use the next free week to travel or rest from university stress and those still in Maastricht will probably join the locals in their celebrations.

What else happened? Spain passed new laws allowing people over the age of 16 to legally change their registered gender without having to provide extensive medical reports. It is now easier for people to express their gender identity in front of the law. Furthermore, these laws will ban the practice of conversion therapies.

For people experiencing painful periods, a paid menstrual leave of up to five days has been introduced which is a great step forward, for reducing period stigma and period poverty. Affected workers are no longer put in a situation where they have to choose between going to work in pain or staying at home and missing out on their pay because of something outside of their control. It also acknowledges severe menstruation cramps as a serious issue.

Through this series of laws Spain also changes current abortion laws, making it more accessible for 16 and 17-year olds to have an abortion. Before, they needed parental consent to undergo the procedure. Now everyone is able to freely decide what to do with their own body.

Unfortunately, Sunday Summaries cannot always be full of good news.

After the earthquake two weeks ago Syria has been faced with another tragedy. In Damascus, airstrikes killed at least five people and wounded even more. A residential area was targeted. Allegedly, the Israeli military is behind this attack, but there has been no statement from them so far.

On the other side of the globe, New Zealand is currently in the midst of rebuilding efforts after being hit by the devastating cyclone Gabrielle. The government declared a national state of emergency. The cyclone caused great landslides and floods on the North Island and emergency services have not been able to fully cover the areas of destruction. New Zealanders are uniting in an effort to save everyone and everything they can. The prime minister describes the cyclone as “undoubtedly the biggest natural disaster that [they’ve] seen probably this century”. Though a lot of homes could not be contacted directly in the aftermath, there is hope that after restoring the damaged phone masts, a lot of missing people can be found and reunited with their families.

That was this Sunday’s weekly summary of worldwide events. Support your fellow students who may be affected by current disasters and don’t forget to take care of yourself!

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