When French President (and ex-investment banker) Macron decided to cut taxes for the super-rich and make up the shortfall by taxing diesel fuel (widespread in poor rural areas) but not private jet fuel, he put the already-precarious French treasury into an even more precarious state.
In Paris on Saturday, police fired water cannons and tear gas on protesters who gathered to mark one year since the anti-government "yellow vest" demonstrations of 2018.
The gilets jaunes/yellow vests protest movement mobilized in France over a slate of grievances, led by President Macron's plan to meet emissions targets by punishing poor and a rural people, while dealing out massive favors to the country's wealthy elites. As the movement spread around the world, it took on different characters: sometimes lefty, sometimes right-wing, sometimes explicitly racist.
The Notre Dame fire is a global tragedy, and it's also raising complicated questions about our present moment, including trenchant inquiries into which church fires merit global outpourings and whose sacred sites get mourned when they are destroyed.
Hundreds of yellow vest protesters marched in Dublin yesterday; like the French gilets jaunes who inspired them, the Irish yellow vests marched for a wide variety of causes, with no unified set of demands: the 2008 banker bailout (arguably the worst in the world since the Irish government has explicitly warned the banks it wouldn't guarantee their reckless loans, but still paid them off when the bubble burst); the continuing and ghastly revelations of scandals in the Church (including the forced-labor camps that unwed mothers were condemned to, and the scandal that the of storage tanks contained secret mass graves filled with the remains of infants); the spiraling costs of housing in Ireland; and the heel-dragging by the Irish government on legalizing marijuana.
From a distance, it's hard to understand the nuance of the mass "gilets jaunes" protests that rocked France; with one in five French people identifying as a yellow vest and more vests marching in Basra, Baghdad and Alberta (and with Egypt's autocrats pre-emptive cracking down on the sale of yellow vests ahead of elections), it's clearly a complicated and fast-spreading phenomenon.