The protest in Paris was one of around 200 around the country on Thursday but only drew around 40,000 marchers.
It could be seen and heard from far away, as drums were banged and chants were sung, marchers made their way towards the historic Place de la Bastille.
The chants of “SMIC à €2,000” (minimum wage at €2,000) and “Rétraite à 60 ans” (retirement at 60 years old) were repeated over and over.
Originally Thursday’s inter-union protest – representing workers from several sectors – intended to demand higher wages amid the cost of living crisis, but the mobilisation quickly shifted to focus equally on denouncing plans by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to push through pension reform.
Protests occurred as the French government vowed on Thursday to push through the reform by the end of the winter.
Macron made raising the retirement age from its current level of 62 one of the key planks of his re-election campaign, arguing that the current system was unsustainable and too expensive.
But opposition parties have vowed to fight the government all the way.
“It’s the start of a social battle,” leading left-wing MP Alexis Corbiere from the France Unbowed (LFI) party told AFP as he took part in a protest march of tens of thousands in Paris. “My hope is that this is the starting point.”
While there were some notable absences from the march in Paris, namely the largest union in France, CFDT, those present were keen on making their voices heard, particularly in regard to their plans to continue protesting should Macron push on with his plan to raise the retirement age.
“There is nothing wrong with the system as it is,” said Fréderic Aubisse, a sewage operator in Paris and former head of the waste treatment union with CGT. For Aubisse, the problem of salaries and retirement are connected – he sees current salaries as too low and unattractive.
“We just need more people paying into the system,” the former union head said.
For waste treatment workers, the subject of retirement is particularly sensitive.
“We [waste treatment workers] already have a low life expectancy,” he added, explaining that pushing retirement back even further is not sustainable for people in his line of work. In Aubisse’s view, many would die before getting to enjoy any benefits of retirement.
According to Libération newspaper, waste treatment workers in France do have an excess mortality of 97 percent.
Aubisse said he has been fighting for at least thirty years to keep social protections from being eroded, and that he and members of his union would continue protesting.
“If it makes it through parliament, it will be too late. We must start taking action now.”
Another demonstrator, Dominique, who has been employed as cash register worker for Carrefour supermarkets for 35 years, said for her it would be “like 2019 again.”
Dominique was referring to the 2019-2020 pension reform strike – the longest industrial action in French modern history. The Carrefour worker said she would be prepared to go to such lengths once more.
“Many of us here today have painful, repetitive jobs. We cannot continue to the age of 65,” said Dominique.
With deficits spiralling and public debt at historic highs, Macron views pushing back the pension age as one of the only ways the state can raise revenues without increasing taxes.
He has made it clear he would not hesitate to call fresh elections if opposition parties voted down the government over the reform.
Maintaining the focus on salaries
Some protesters in Paris on Thursday remained firm in the original motive of the protest to focus on demanding higher wages. The inter-union group, largely represented by the union CGT, called for for salaries to be indexed at a rate of at least 10 percent for civil servants.
The government previously increased the rate by 3.5 percent, but unions said that this “falls short of the urgent need to raise all salaries” and “preserve living conditions of all.”
Whilst the strike on Thursday caused some disruption on public transport and rail services, around one in 10 teachers joined the action forcing many schools to close their doors.
Teachers – a well-represented group at Thursday’s protest in Paris – were adamant wages must increase further.
“[The government’s 3.5% increase] is not enough. It does not suffice,” said Clotilde, an elementary school teacher in the Paris region.
Wearing a sign on her back with the words “20 years in teaching, but still a salary of a student,” Clotilde said it is “extremely difficult to live in the Paris region as a teacher.”
For her, the government’s proposals did not adequately cover the costs of inflation, a sentiment which was echoed by fellow teacher Aina Tokarski.
Tokarski, a middle school teacher in Villejuif, also wore her sign on her person.
Tokarski explained that the start of the 2022 school year shook her – a young teacher, she saw several colleagues leave the profession, and she too considered making some changes, such as moving to a more affordable region in France.
“When I get to the grocery store, I look at the prices and just think to myself: this is not possible,” she said.
For her, the government has not raised salaries enough to combat the cost of living crisis.
In addition to rising costs, Tokarski worries about the conditions in the public school system generally. “The start of the school year really concerned me. We have teachers with upwards of 30 students per class. That is unattainable. It has been getting worse since the pandemic,” she said.
While it was not a focus of the protest, other public employees highlighted staff shortages as deeply concerning, and innately related to salaries.
Véronique, a speech and language pathologist who works for the public hospital system, said she was there to “defend our salaries.”
Wearing a white doctor’s coat, Véronique explained that low salaries have pushed several doctors in her sector to leave their jobs, adding that this shortage has led to wait-lists growing far too long:
“It is not right for a four-year-old child who cannot speak to have to wait at least a year or two years to see a specialist. We have to triage our patients now,” she said.
When asked if she had plans to protest again, Véronique gave an emphatic “Bien sûr” (of course).
Xavier Signac, a 48-year-old member of the UNSA union from southwest France, as he walked along with a flag in Paris told AFP: “It’s up to us to show our determination, to show that street protests still have some power.”
Chasing Horse charged with federal crimes in sex abuse probe | USA
A former “Dances With Wolves” actor accused of sexually abusing Indigenous women and girls for decades was charged with federal crimes Wednesday, adding to the growing list of criminal cases against Nathan Chasing Horse since his arrest last week in Nevada.
Chasing Horse, 46, now faces two counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday afternoon in Nevada U.S. District Court. Authorities have said Chasing Horse filmed sexual assaults.
The federal charges came hours after a state judge on Wednesday granted $300,000 bail to Chasing Horse, who has been in Las Vegas police custody since his Jan. 31 arrest near the home he shared with his five wives.
Earlier Wednesday, about two dozen of Chasing Horse’s relatives and friends had filed into a North Las Vegas courtroom in a show of support, hoping he would be released on bail. They cheered and celebrated the judge’s decision as they left the courthouse, waving signs that translate to “Justice for Chasing Horse.” Now, if he posts bail, he is likely to be taken into federal custody.
In state court, Chasing Horse is charged with eight felonies, including sexual assault, sex trafficking and child abuse. He has not entered a plea.
Canadian police in British Columbia confirmed this week they also are pursuing a criminal case against the former actor, who is known for his portrayal of Smiles A Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar-winning film. He is accused in a 2018 sexual assault in the British Columbia village of Keremeos near the Washington state border.
Authorities in Nevada have said his crimes date to the early 2000s and stretch across the United States and into Canada.
It wasn’t immediately clear how, if at all, the federal charges will affect Chasing Horse’s case in Clark County. His public defender, Kristy Holston, did not immediately respond Wednesday evening to a request for comment.
At his bail hearing Wednesday morning, Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney William Rowles told the judge that Chasing Horse should remain in custody because he was “grooming” girls to replace his older wives at the time of his arrest.
“There is evidence that this individual is still in the process of grooming young children to replace the others as they grow up,” Rowles said.
Nevada authorities have described Chasing Horse in more than a hundred pages of court documents as the leader of a cult known as The Circle, whose followers believed Chasing Horse, as a “medicine man,” could communicate with higher beings. Police said he abused that position to physically and sexually assault women and girls and take underage wives.
At its peak, Rowles said, The Circle had about 300 members.
Investigators and victims had been expected to speak in court Wednesday, because Nevada law requires prosecutors to show convincing evidence that a defendant should remain jailed as they await trial. But after delays in the proceedings, the judge heard only from Rowles, who requested $2 million bail, and Holston, who asked the judge to set bail at $50,000.
After the hearing, Holston told The Associated Press she also was happy with the judge’s decision and said she is looking forward to his next court date in North Las Vegas, currently scheduled for Feb. 22. At that hearing, a judge is expected to hear evidence in the case and decide whether Chasing Horse will stand trial.
“We’re really looking forward to the preliminary hearing in this case,” she said, “because it’s another public hearing where we will have an opportunity to point out the weaknesses in the state’s case.”
Rulon Pete, a representative of the victims and the executive director of the Las Vegas Indian Center, said they were disappointed with the judge’s decision. Some of the victims were in the courtroom Wednesday.
“What happened this morning was like a slap in the face,” Pete told The Associated Press.
Police have said they have identified at least six victims, including one who was 13 when she said she was abused, and another who said she was offered to Chasing Horse as a “gift” when she was 15.
Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation. In 2015, he was banished from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, following allegations of human trafficking.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition
Merkel receives UNESCO peace prize for welcoming refugees
The offices accorded to the former leader are in view of the Russian embassy, where since the Ukraine invasion in February Berliners regularly leave signs and flowers protesting the war.
Long called the world’s most powerful woman, Merkel these days has pulled back from the spotlight, working on her memoirs and enjoying the occasional television series, such as “The Crown”, which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s turbulent decades on the throne.
But in many quarters the broad German support she once enjoyed as a staunch defender of Western liberal values has curdled.
“One year on, the world is in flames, Russia invaded Ukraine, gas and petrol prices are through the roof and Germany fears the winter,” wrote Der Spiegel magazine’s Alexander Osang, a longtime Merkel confidant.
“Angela Merkel went from role model to culprit, from crisis-manager to crisis-causer.”
Invitation to Bucha
Germany’s first female chancellor has been accused of placating Russian President Vladimir Putin in the name of realpolitik, while deepening Germany’s energy dependence on Moscow — not least by backing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project even after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Hedwig Richter, modern history professor at Munich’s Bundeswehr University, said Merkel‘s loss of standing had been “exceptional”, representing a generation of political failings.
“Amorality is not the same thing as realpolitik,” Richter told AFP.
“The governments of the last 16 years thought it was realistic to place values such as human rights and climate protection last in politics. But now reality is striking back.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has laid the blame at Merkel‘s feet, in particular for a decision at a 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest not to admit his country to the alliance.
In April, he offered her a barbed invitation to Bucha, the site of an alleged massacre of Ukrainian civilians, “to see what the policy of concessions to Russia has led to in 14 years”.
Looming energy shortages due to Russian retaliation for Western sanctions have also soured the mood against Merkel at home.
In the public debate, “Merkel was tied up with this war and certainly to blame for the missing gas”, said Nico Fried, who covered Merkel during all four of her terms, in Stern magazine.
“The question is what remains of Merkel after 16 years, whether her historical portrait is already fading before it was even really framed.”
Just 23 percent of Germans would want Merkel back in power, according to a Civey institute poll in late November.
In this file photo taken on November 10, 2021 then outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then German Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz attend a press conference to present the annual report of the German Council of Economic Experts (Wirtschaftsweise) in Berlin. (Photo by Kay Nietfeld / POOL / AFP)
Richter said Merkel had “great achievements” including allowing in more than one million asylum seekers and standing as a beacon of “decency” and “democratic duty” when strongmen like Putin and Donald Trump were on the march.
But she said two key miscalculations would cast a long shadow.
“Firstly, the inability of the (German) republic to defend itself. And because this is closely linked to the fossil-fuel dependence on Russia, it threw a spotlight on destruction of the planet,” she said.
“The Merkel governments horribly neglected both these issues.”
Merkel, 68, has mounted a tentative counter-offensive, arguing that she acted in good conscience given the facts on the ground at the time.
She said she tried to use Nord Stream 2 as a bargaining chip to ensure Putin respected the 2015 Minsk accords aimed at stopping the fighting in Ukraine.
Merkel told Fried she pledged to US President Joe Biden last year that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the pipeline deal would be scrapped — a threat her successor Olaf Scholz made good on days before the war began.
Osang noted the irony that “Putin of all people, whom she has known so well and long, with all his tricks, lies, bragging” had muddied her reputation.
One of Merkel‘s lessons from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that it was “economic, more than democratic, deprivation” that led to the communist system’s collapse.
Osang said this had coloured her approach to trade with China and energy deals with Russia.
She said Scholz’s billions in spending to help Germans facing high gas prices were now justified.
“Not everyone is in a position to freeze for Ukraine,” she said.
Madonna lashes out against criticism: ‘Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny’ | Culture
No matter how many years go by, Madonna, 64, continues to be the subject of conversation. Whether it’s her music, her concerts or her constant physical changes, the queen of pop is still making headlines. But the artist has had enough and publicly burst out through her social media accounts. Her reaction came after her appearance at the Grammy Awards gala on Sunday became the object of controversy, criticism and even ridicule.
Madonna had been tasked with introducing the performance of the award-winning Sam Smith and Kim Petras, the first trans woman to win and perform at the awards. Madonna had described it as a “history-making moment,” but she ended up attracting all the attention to herself due to her looks.
“Instead of focusing on what I said in my speech which was about giving thanks for the fearlessness of artists like Sam and Kim – many people chose to only talk about close-up photos of me taken with a long lens camera by a press photographer that would distort anyone’s face!” she wrote in an Instagram post.
For the event, Madonna was wearing a black skirt and jacket, a white shirt, gloves and a tie, and her hair was made up into pigtails and braids. Many people commented on her surprising and sudden physical change, while others noted that in her Instagram Stories – short-lived posts that have already expired and cannot be seen again – the artist used photographic filters to refine and stylize her face.
“Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in. A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45. And feels the need to punish her if she continues to be strongwilled, hardworking and adventurous,” Madonna wrote on her Instagram account, where she has almost 19 million followers.
Thirty years ago, when Madonna was 33, she published S.E.X, an erotic book with explicit images of her naked, kissing men and women, in which she wrote about her sexual fantasies and shared her point of view on sexuality. “They called me a whore, a witch, a heretic and even a demon,” the artist recalled just a few weeks ago, when the 30th anniversary of the book’s release was observed.
During her speech at the Grammy Awards, even before the criticism began on social media, Madonna already anticipated what was going to happen: “This is what I learned after four decades in music: if they call you shocking, scandalous, troublesome, provocative, or dangerous, you are definitely on to something.”
In 2023 the artist is embarking on several musical projects, including a world tour that will take a look back at four decades in the music business and feature some of her greatest hits such as Like a Prayer or Material Girl. The project is taking up so much of her time that he has decided to cancel the biopic she was preparing about her life, which already had an actress to play the lead, Julia Garner.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition
UK towns with the most £1million-plus homes revealed
Singapore pulls plug on COVID tracking program • The Register
Mobilising Assam’s ‘hargila army’: how 10,000 women saved India’s rarest stork | Global development
5 fun online games to sharpen your UX design skills
QuadReal and Valor launch €3bn urban logistics JV
Top 7 AI Trends To Watch For In 2023
Technology4 days ago
Microsoft Contemplates Adding AI To Excel
Culture6 days ago
Five Of The Best Co-Working Spaces In Switzerland’s Big Cities
Global Affairs3 days ago
‘A different perspective’: the journalist reporting the Amazon through fresh eyes | Global development
Current1 week ago
What Tech Skills Does KPMG Look For In Its Consultants?
Culture6 days ago
The paradox of Diane Warren: The perennial Oscar nominee for romantic songs has never fallen in love | Culture
Culture4 days ago
Eight dead in weekend avalanches in Austria
Global Affairs4 days ago
‘We are the village’s shining stars’: hockey is giving India’s rural women new status | Global development
Global Affairs1 week ago
Radioactive capsule that fell off truck found in Australia | International