On today's BradCast you'll be outraged, saddened, amused, inspired and may even learn a thing or two --- or your money back! [Audio link for show is posted below.]
First up today: I'm thankful the French didn't listen to Donald Trump's terrible firefighting advice as the iconic, 850-year old Notre Dame was engulfed in flames in the heart of Paris on Monday, and very happy to see that firefighters were able to save most of the cathedral's historic stone structure and many of its artifacts, and gratified to hear that French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild it (somehow) in five years, and delighted to hear that, as of this afternoon, some $700 million had been raised for the project. But there's something about that last part that really sticks in my craw.
Specifically, the fact that, as CNN reported early on Tuesday: "France's three wealthiest families are coming to the rescue of a national icon, spearheading a fundraising drive to rebuild Notre Dame that has topped $700 million." The families and a number of huge corporations that joined them to top that number, are each multi-billionaires. For example, the Pinault family, which "generously" donated $113 million to the effort, is said to be worth some $37.3 billion. To put that it terms easier to understand, it's the equivalent of someone who is worth just $37,000 giving $113 to the charitable effort. While it's appreciated --- and $113 is a fair amount of money for someone with just $37,000 in savings, it's not really much money at all for someone with the type of obscene net worth enjoyed by the Pinaults. Still, we're happy to see it, even if the glowing public relations they are enjoying is far more than appropriate here.
But, making matters a bit more maddening? The world's fourth-largest oil and gas giant, TOTAL SA, which is based in Paris, has also pledged $113 million to the rebuilding effort. Last year, the company raked in a profit of $13.6 billion. That was up 28% from the previous year. At the same time, when Macron attempted, to institute a new tax on diesel gasoline last year, citizen protesters took to the streets in the so-called Yellow Vest movement protests to successfully force Macron, among other things, to reverse a .26 cents per gallon tax hike which might have otherwise raised nearly $4.2 billion. (The revenue from the ill-considered gas tax, while clumsily advertised as a carbon tax, of sorts, to help curb climate change, was not earmarked for clean energy projects, but to help pay off French debt instead.) But where were the billionaires then? Why wasn't TOTAL asked to cover the $4.2 billion instead of rank and file citizenry, when the company could have paid the entire $4.2 billion itself and still walked away with a cool $10 billion or so in profit to spare last year? Particularly since it is the reckless use of their products which are endangering not just a cathedral in Paris, but the entirety of human civilization?
The rich folks who are contributing to rebuild Notre Dame are getting a lot of good press today for their quick "charitable" efforts. That good press is greatly overstated as compared to what they actually deserve, as I discuss (or, perhaps, rant) in detail on today's program.
In other related and under-reported news of note, former Republican Governor William Weld announces he is taking on Trump in the 2020 GOP Presidential primary, Democratic Presidential hopefully Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced she will stop all new leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands on her first day in office if elected, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced similar, and the Washington State legislature, under the leadership of Democratic Presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee, has not only passed a measure to move the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, they've also adopted a "public option" healthcare insurance plan that will be made available to all residents.
And, speaking of healthcare and Sanders, a clip from the Vermont Senator's town hall on Fox "News" Monday night has gone viral, in which the Fox crowd is seen and heard going wild in support of his proposed single-payer, Medicare-for-All universal coverage proposal. Trump has a sad.
Next up, several maddening stories of the real world effects of Trump's unspeakably cruel immigration policies, including ICE's deportation last week of a man whose U.S. Military wife was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and whose 12-year old, U.S. citizen daughter was left parentless in Phoenix (that story, at least, has a happy ending for now), and the 11-year old El Salvadoran girl in Houston who has been denied asylum and ordered deported without her family, despite gangs that have, reportedly, been systematically killing her family members after a relative witnessed a murder and testified in court.
Of particular note here is Houston's heroic Police Chief Art Acevedo who has loudly stood up for the child and taken on those elected officials and random Twitter wingnuts alike who support the Administration's monstrous policies that separate children from their parents. "Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well," Chief Acevedo observed. "You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! ... I am glad to be on the right side of history," he said after several impassioned pleas against the cruelty. "Not this chief, not this Nation, not this time!," he declared last year as the Trump Administration was caging children by the thousands.
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on the swarm of tornadoes (41 of them!) which devastated areas from Texas to Delaware and killed nine over the weekend; more on a number of the 2020 candidates stepping up their climate change proposals; and on Trump's new Interior Secretary, "formerly" an oil and gas lobbyist, already facing probes by the Interior Department's Inspector General...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)