Welcome to the weekend, and what a week it was. Many Kiwis will be still be recovering from the heartbreaking loss of the Cricket World Cup on Monday morning.

This weekend we take a look back at when Nasa first put men on the moon as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Here's some of the best pieces from our international premium syndicators this week for you to get stuck into this winter weekend.

Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than anybody knew

The employee monitoring the smoke alarm panel at Notre Dame Cathedral was just three days on the job when the red warning light flashed on the evening of April 15: "Feu." Fire.

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It was 6:18 on a Monday, the week before Easter. The employee radioed a church guard who was standing just a few feet from the altar. Go check for fire, the guard was told. He did and found nothing.

It took nearly 30 minutes before they realised their mistake: The guard had gone to the wrong building. The fire was in the attic of the cathedral, the famed latticework of ancient timbers known as "the forest."

Notre-Dame still stands only because firefighters decided to risk everything, a New York Times investigation has found.

Flames and smoke rise from the blaze as the spire starts to topple on Notre Dame cathedral. Photo / AP
Flames and smoke rise from the blaze as the spire starts to topple on Notre Dame cathedral. Photo / AP

Reading Boris Johnson: In his own words

In 2004, years before he was poised to become Britain's next prime minister, Boris Johnson published Seventy-Two Virgins.

The novel, which has sold more than 46,000 copies according to Nielsen Book Research, is a farce about a terrorist plot to assassinate America's president during a state visit to Britain, featuring a contest reminiscent of reality television, much talk of buxom women and occasional mocking of Britain's welfare policies.

Alex Marshall of the New York Times says this book, a Churchill biography and a book in verse about pushy parents reveal plenty about Johnson's personality.

Years before he looked poised to become Britain's next leader, he published a book Seventy-Two Virgins. Photo / AP
Years before he looked poised to become Britain's next leader, he published a book Seventy-Two Virgins. Photo / AP

Don't scoff at influencers. They're taking over the world

When the first TikTok star is elected president, I hope she will save some room in her Cabinet for older and more conventional bureaucrats, even if they don't have millions of followers, great hair or amazing dance moves.

I say "when," not "if," because I just spent three days at VidCon, the annual social media convention in Anaheim, hanging out with a few thousand current and future internet celebrities. And it's increasingly obvious to me that the teenagers and 20-somethings who have mastered these platforms — and who are often dismissed as shallow, preening narcissists by adults who don't know any better — are going to dominate not just internet culture or the entertainment industry but society as a whole.

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Kevin Roose of The New York Times looks at how as social media expands its cultural dominance, the people who can steer the online conversation will have an upper hand.

YouTube star Emma Chamberlain at VidCon. Photo / Getty Images
YouTube star Emma Chamberlain at VidCon. Photo / Getty Images

Six years after train exploded, deadly cargo still rolls through Canada

The blast from a fuel-loaded train derailment in Quebec on July 6, 2013 incinerated most of downtown Lac-Mégantic.

In a community of just 5600 people, 47 were killed.

The scale of the disaster shocked and outraged Canada, but also raised alarm in towns and cities across the country, where a growing number of trains, laden with oil, explosives and toxic chemicals, roll through urban centres day and night.

Not much has changed since that night in Lac-Mégantic, reports Ian Austen of the New York Times. Six years after the catastrophe, the core of the town remains a wasteland, with much of the once-vibrant downtown is a weed lot. And the carriages roll on.

Search teams looking through the rubble in the town centre of Lac-Megantic in the days following the crash. Photo / Getty Images
Search teams looking through the rubble in the town centre of Lac-Megantic in the days following the crash. Photo / Getty Images

Dragon dazed: Why China is grinding to a halt

China's growth fell to its slowest pace in nearly three decades, officials said Monday, as a resurgence of trade tensions with the United States and lingering financial problems take an increasing toll on one of the world's most vital economic engines.

Chinese officials said the economy grew 6.2 per cent between April and June compared with a year earlier. While such economic growth would be the envy of most of the world, it represented the slowest pace in China since the beginning of modern quarterly record-keeping in 1992. It marks a significant slowdown from earlier this year, when growth came in at 6.4 per cent, matching a 27-year low reached during the global financial crisis a decade ago.

A special report from the New York Times looks into what is dragging the Chinese economy down.

China's growth fell to its slowest pace in nearly three decades. Photo / Lam Yik Fei, The New York Times
China's growth fell to its slowest pace in nearly three decades. Photo / Lam Yik Fei, The New York Times

Jeffrey Epstein was a sex offender. The powerful welcomed him anyway

In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida prison, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Epstein was photographed at a "billionaire's dinner" attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

A page popped up on Harvard University's website lauding his accomplishments, and superlative-filled news releases described his lofty ambitions as he dedicated $10 million to charitable causes.

A special report from the New York Times reveals a strange thing happened when Jeffrey Epstein came back to New York City after being branded a sex offender: His reputation appeared to rise.

Though Epstein never attended Harvard, it became a recurring theme in his self-styled image. He made donations and mingled with its faculty, including the law professor Alan Dershowitz. Photo / Getty
Though Epstein never attended Harvard, it became a recurring theme in his self-styled image. He made donations and mingled with its faculty, including the law professor Alan Dershowitz. Photo / Getty

'The Town Hall of Hollywood': Inside the Netflix lobby

Dolly Parton recently held court there, big wig and all. Leonardo DiCaprio and John Kerry arrived at the same time last month. Cindy Crawford on the left, David Letterman on the right. And isn't that Beyoncé by the espresso bar?

Every era in Hollywood has a symbolic epicenter, a place that sums up everything, especially power and sometimes absurdity. Netflix's 4,780-square foot lobby is an icon of the Hollywood of today, with its tech money and displays of social justice and blurred lines between film and television.

The New York Times takes you inside the hottest see-and-be-seen spot in Hollywood: Netflix's first-floor waiting room.

The showpiece of Netflix's lobby, a giant video screen. Every day an entertainment's who's who passes through the lobby. Photo / Hunter Kerhart, The New York Times
The showpiece of Netflix's lobby, a giant video screen. Every day an entertainment's who's who passes through the lobby. Photo / Hunter Kerhart, The New York Times

A look inside the secretive world of Guantánamo Bay

Nearly two decades after it was opened to house terrorism suspects and enemy fighters picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan, the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, remains shrouded in secrecy.

The New York Times went on a four-day trip to the prison, put on by the US military, which upheld strict photography rules. Here's what the journalists saw.

A communal space for general population prisoners at the Camp 6 cellblock. Photo / Dough Mills, The New York Times
A communal space for general population prisoners at the Camp 6 cellblock. Photo / Dough Mills, The New York Times

Meet the Bosnian refugee taking on Elon Musk

The Bosnian refugee was 22 when his beat-up BMW, powered by an electric engine that he'd invented, beat billionaire Elon Musk's Tesla in a race. Nine years later, Mate Rimac is not only redefining the limits of what an electric car is capable of, but transforming the automotive industry itself.

The Times of London meet the petrolhead making electric cars supersexy and ask him about the day Harry drove Meghan in a Jag powered by his technology.

Mate Rimac is redefining the limits of electric cars. Photo / Facebook
Mate Rimac is redefining the limits of electric cars. Photo / Facebook

Ed Dwight was set to be the first black astronaut. Here's why it never happened

Two grand stories that America tells itself about the 1960s are the civil rights movement and the space race. They are mostly rendered as separate narratives, happening at the same time but on different courses. In the 5-foot-4 figure of Ed Dwight, they came together for a transitory moment.

Emily Ludoplh of The New York Times looks back on the extraordinary story of what might have been.

Ed Dwight during his time in the US Air Force. Photo / Courtesy of Ed Dwight via The New York Times
Ed Dwight during his time in the US Air Force. Photo / Courtesy of Ed Dwight via The New York Times

Three people lived in this village, until two were murdered

Thirty years ago, the village of Dobrusa had about 200 residents. At the start of this year, it had just three.

Then two were murdered.

And now there is just one: Grisa Muntean, a short, mustachioed farmer often found in a flat-cap, a checked shirt and a ripped pair of blue trousers held up by a drawstring.

"The loneliness kills you," Muntean told Patrick Kingsley of The New York Times.

Grisa Muntean, the last survivor of Dobrusa, a village in Moldova that was first settled in the 19th century, when the area was part of the Russian Empire. Photo / : Laetitia Vancon, New York Times
Grisa Muntean, the last survivor of Dobrusa, a village in Moldova that was first settled in the 19th century, when the area was part of the Russian Empire. Photo / : Laetitia Vancon, New York Times