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Surveying the damage on Kleber Avenue in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron has visited the graffiti-stained Arc de Triomphe, called for urgent talks and postponed a trip to Serbia after what are being called the worst riots to hit Paris since 1968. Paris' mayor says up to $4.5 million in damage was done on Saturday alone. An elderly woman in Marseille was killed after being hit by a tear gas canister at her window.

Why it matters: Sophie Pedder, the Economist's Paris bureau chief, explains that while "Macron has faced down waves of strikes and street protests since his election 18 months ago ... this one is very different."

  • "The gilet jaunes (yellow vests) movement began as a protest by those who drive long distances to work against higher green taxes on diesel. But it has since captured a far broader anger against Macron."
  • "Protestors represent France’s squeezed middle: incomes are too high for full welfare benefits, but too low to make ends meet. They are angry at Macron’s early tax cuts for the better-off, and a perception that he is indifferent to ordinary people’s concerns."
  • "Most gilets jaunes, manning blockades on roundabouts across provincial France, are peaceful. Over the past three weekends, the numbers have dropped: from 280,000 countrywide to 136,000 on Saturday. But as the figures have fallen, the violence has intensified."

What to watch: "This is the first real political crisis of Macron’s presidency. The power vested by the constitution in the French presidency makes him both the focus of inflated hopes, and of all anger. During his election campaign Macron was himself the leader of a (peaceful) political insurrection. ... Now the rebellion is against him. ... How he handles it will probably determine his presidency."

Go deeper

56 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.