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A stranded traveler in Castelnaudary. Photo: ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images

A showdown with rail workers is shaping up as a make-or-break moment for French president Emmanuel Macron, with “another wave of crippling transport stoppages” hitting France yesterday, per France 24. Rolling strikes are due to continue through June.

The backdrop: Macron is targeting France's state-owned railway company, citing job-for-life guarantees, automatic pay increases and early retirement as the sorts of “privileges” for economic insiders that need to be trimmed.

  • Why it matters: Because his proposal would only affect new hires, this particular fight is “more about symbols than substance for both sides,” the FT’s Anne-Sylvaine Chassany writes. But failure could scuttle Macron’s wider economic agenda, as a similar fight doomed Prime Minister Alain Juppé in the mid-1990s.
  • Where things stand: Public opinion on the strikes is narrowly in Macron’s favor. And while his popularity has slumped below 50%, Macron still commands a large parliamentary majority. As the Guardian notes, “the strikers believe momentum is on their side.”

Go deeper: Macron on how AI will shape the future, and threaten democracy.

Go deeper

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

Pay TV's bleak post-pandemic outlook

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the Pay-TV industry, and with the near-term future of live sports in question, there are no signs of it getting better in 2021.

Why it matters: The fraught Pay-TV landscape is forcing some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

2 hours ago - World

Biden sets his sights on China

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images  

The new administration's first few moves and statements on China suggest that President Biden may continue some of the Trump era's most assertive policies.

Why it matters: China's severe domestic repression, its dramatic rise as a technological superpower, and its increasingly aggressive actions around the globe mean that the world expects the American president to take action.