Madeleine Schwartz

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Striking TotalEnergies workers protesting the French government's new pension plan outside a refinery, Gronfreville-l'Orcher, March 24, 2023. Lou Benoist/AFP/Getty Images

For every retiree in France, there are 1.7 people in the workforce. In 1970 the ratio was one to four. By 2100, the number is projected to be one to one. Ostensibly in response to this looming crunch, on March 16 President Emmanuel Macron used a constitutional lever to push through a pension reform plan that raises the basic retirement age from sixty-two to sixty-four. The fallout has been dramatic: millions of protestors of all ages and across unions, garbage fires on the streets of Paris, blocked highways, and alarming police violence during the protests.

Macron and his defenders have called the reform a necessity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jean-Luc Mélenchon addresses journalists on June 2 during a campaign stop in Poitiers with Yannick Nadesan of the Communist Party and the city’s Green party mayor, Léonore Moncond’huy.

Nathalie Cullell lives in a small French village of eight hundred people called La Cabanasse in the Pyrenees mountains, near the Spanish border. For some time, she’s been noticing that public services have been disappearing, one after the other. Schools are being closed, as are post offices. Her neighbors travel further to go to work. A cancer patient needing chemotherapy, she says, now needs to drive an hour and a half to the nearest big town, Perpignan.

In 2018, Cullell joined her local gilets jaunes movement. A news report from that time shows her standing by the side of the road, beating a barrel like a drum. …  Seguir leyendo »

How might we write about this election if it were happening anywhere but the United States? A former reality star who sought to claw his way out of debt ran for president in order to revive his brand and won despite millions more votes in favor of his opponent. His new rival is a familiar face with long ties to his party’s central organ; if elected, he would be the oldest president in the country’s history. The election will not be decided by the popular vote but by an antiquated system that privileges sparse and rural stretches of the country. Access to voting is unequal and patchy, a purposeful disparity upheld by the country’s increasingly right-wing judicial system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images. A man walking past the closed Air France counters following President Trump’s thirty-day ban on travel from Europe, John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City, March 12, 2020

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—I am a reluctant biker, but on Monday night I rode from downtown Brooklyn, where I live, to upper Manhattan, where my mother claimed to be having trouble downloading Skype. The road was empty. Two finance bros discussed going to “Nick’s aunt’s townhouse in South Beach.” A few joggers retreated into their AirPods. There were no children on the street.

The western length of Manhattan is lined with thousands of apartments worth millions of dollars, most of them built with big glass windows facing the river. I did not see a single face looking outside. At 34th Street, I craned my neck to try to see The Shed, the Michael Bloomberg-backed performing arts space inside a luxury mall.…  Seguir leyendo »

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel flanking Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the formation of Germany’s new coalition government, Berlin, March 14, 2018

A few months ago, on the train from Hanover to Berlin, I listened to what has become a familiar conversation in Germany. Two men in the bar car were discussing what they agreed were the troubles caused by refugees. There were the high costs of integration, they said, and crime was rampant.

Crime in Germany is actually at a twenty-five-year low and the German economy has been doing relatively well. Still, the two men traded complaints. At one point, they tried to draw me into their conversation. I introduced myself as an American journalist who preferred to be reading her book.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sean Gallup/Getty Images Supporters of Germany’s far-right AfD party holding a banner that reads, “Chancellor-Dictator Resignation Now!” on the day that Chancellor Angela Merkel was narrowly elected for a fourth term, Berlin, March 14, 2018

I spent the fall working at a wire service here in Berlin. When something newsworthy happened, I would often be dispatched to a street corner or subway entrance to ask people what they were thinking about. Usually, they were thinking about the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the far-right party that entered parliament for the first time in the elections this past September. What did it mean for Germany when, months after the election, the possible coalition government collapsed? “The AfD would gain in power.” What might happen if another so-called grand coalition between the center-left and center-right parties, Germany’s third since 2005, were to form?…  Seguir leyendo »

J. Scott Applewhite File/AP Images. Protesters with Planned Parenthood supporting the right to an abortion for “Jane Doe,” a pregnant minor being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children, Washington, D.C., December 21, 2017

At the core of the anti-abortion movement is the tenet that a fetus is a person whose rights need to be protected. This is how anti-abortion activists justify “heartbeat bills” restricting when women can terminate pregnancies and picketing clinics. The fetus, they argue, deserves the legal consideration due to any human being. Now, the Trump administration is taking this argument to an absurd and cruel extreme. A fetus in the United States requires the full protection and support of American law. As for its undocumented, adolescent mother—well, if she wants her rights, she should leave the country.

Last year, a teenage girl subsequently identified in court documents only as Jane Poe crossed into the United States and was caught by border authorities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Omer Messinger/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Stage crew covering the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) logo after a campaign event, Gendarmenmarkt Square, Berlin, September 22, 2017

A hush fell over the Willy Brandt Haus, the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), when the results of the German federal election were announced on Sunday. The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Germany’s far-right party, a party with members who have argued for shooting refugees and against German atonement for the Holocaust, received 12.6 percent of the vote. Its success came at the expense both of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which lost 8.6 percent of its seats, and the SPD, which, with 20.5 percent of the vote, saw its worst result since the end of World War II.…  Seguir leyendo »

A soldier in San José Guayabal, El Salvador, August 21, 2016. Monique Jaques

The small town of San José Guayabal is located in a region of dry, flat land about forty minutes north of San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital. Most of its 11,000 inhabitants work in farms, growing onions and corn, and it has little to distinguish itself from other places in the area. But in one sense, it is remarkably different than almost anywhere else in El Salvador: in recent years, it has apparently been largely free of violent crime.

The Salvadoran Civil War ended twenty-five years ago, when the right-wing military government entered a peace agreement with the leftist rebels it had been fighting since 1979.…  Seguir leyendo »