Life & Style wRap: Hitler’s statue, Diana’s photo, a dying lagoon
Missed lifestyle stories this week? Here's a quick run-down.

MANILA, Philippines – In case you missed them, here are lifestyle news that made the rounds on the week of December 31 to January 5:

A statue of Hitler now stands in a Holocaust site in Warsaw, Poland 

PRAYING FOR FORGIVENESS? Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's statue by Maurizio Cattelan in Warsaw, Poland. Screen grab from YouTube (afpfr)

The last place you’d expect to find a statue of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is in a Holocaust site in Warsaw, yet that is exactly where Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan installed his wax statue of the dictator.

The statue depicts Hitler kneeling as if in prayer, with a child’s body and wearing a grey suit. The statue faces away from the street such that only its back is visible. Most passers-by don’t see its face. Nevertheless, it has sparked outrage among residents of Warsaw with Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich declaring it “lacking in sensitivity.”

Cattelan installed the statue at the invitation of Warsaw’s Centre for Contemporary Art. Despite this, Rabbi Schudrich still thinks the statue has no place in the old Holocaust site: “When it comes to showing the figure of Hitler, we have an extra special responsibility to be sensitive to those who suffered because of what Hitler created, to Holocaust survivors, to non-Jewish survivors, to those who didn’t survive.”

Hear what Warsaw residents have to say about the statue here: 

Half a million Jews were imprisoned near the area where the statue has stood since November 2012, an area called the Warsaw Ghetto. A hundred thousand died in the area due to starvation, disease and executions. 

Wikipedia scares its voluntary editors and contributors away with strict measures

TOO STRICT TO BE COOL? Wikipedia may just be losing its edge. Image from the Wikipedia Facebook page

Wikipedia was once celebrated as a bastion of online knowledge for the people and by the people, with content created by anyone who wants to share knowledge and an editing option that empowers people to improve content.

But ever since the website began clamping down on incompetent contributors, the number of good contributors has also been dwindling. A study led by Aaron Halfaker of the University of Minnesota shows that as compared to the 56,000 “collaborators” or voluntary editors in 2007, the number has fallen to 35,000 at the end of 2012. The study attributes this decline to the new strict measures Wikipedia has implemented to control the quality of entries and the algorithmic tools used to reject contributions.

Ironically, this goes against Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’s goal of making the site more open to new contributors. But researchers say this won’t happen if Wikipedia continues being too strict. They declare that “Wikipedia has changed from ‘the encyclopedia that anyone can edit’ to ‘the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit’.”

A ‘forbidden’ photo of Princess Diana to be up for auction in the States

TEENAGE FRIENDS. A teenage Princess Diana with Adam Russell, the great-grandson of former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Photo courtesy of The Caren Archive 

The best way to make something desirable is to make it forbidden. Nothing proves this more than a previously unpublished photo of Princess Diana of Wales found in the photo archives of a London tabloid to be auctioned off in the United States later this month.

The photo shows a teenage Diana on vacation, smiling at a camera with her head on the lap of a young man reading a book. What makes the photo so scandalous is the fact that it is dated 2 days after the announcement of Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles.

The tabloid editors, deciding publishing the photo was too risky, scribbled on the photo: “Not to be published.” Bobby Livingstone of RR Auctions, the group behind the auction of the photo, says that these 4 scribbled words ensure that the photo will sell for much more than it would’ve done without them. 

40,000 Dutch take a dip in ice-cold waters to celebrate New Year


If the rest of the world likes to keep warm from the bitingly cold January air on New Year’s Eve, the Dutch take a dip in their freezing waters.

A record number of 40,000 people all over the Netherlands plunged into cold waters across 102 dip venues nationwide with a resort in The Hague being the main spot. Many of the bathers sported Santa hats and wore orange swimwear in honor of the national color.

There was much screaming and laughter as they gamely submerged themselves into waters as cold as 8 degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit).

How the 2016 Rio Olympics can save a dying lagoon

VIVA BRASIL! All eyes are on Rio de Janeiro as they prepare to host the 2016 Olympics. Image from the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Facebook page

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is still 3 years away but it is already doing some good to some parts of the Brazilian capital.

One such benefactor is the Marapendi Lagoon, a foul-smelling body of water that has become a dumping site for unfiltered sewage flowing from nearby upscale condominiums. Because of the upcoming Olympics, the government has pledged to clean up the pollution, committing approximately US$300-M for the two-year project slated to start early next year. The local government of the lagoon’s municipality has also promised to build 4 sewage treatment stations to clean out the nearby rivers. The project is estimated to cost US$68-M.

But government officials and citizens have their work cut out for them. Experts say that the waste from the lagoon can fill Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium 7 times over. Four tons of fish died in the lagoon last December due to the pollution and heatwave; it has also affected the livelihood and health of residents of the nearby communities.

But the residents who consider the lagoon their “lifeline” still cherish a hope that the lagoon can be brought back to life, not just for the Olympics, but for future generations of Brazilians. –

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