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News from Berlin and Germany, 20th January 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Black man assaulted by ticket inspectors

Abbéy Odunlami was in a hurry in December 2020. He was on his way by bike, but to get to his destination faster he bought a ticket and took the subway. There came a normal ticket check. But something happened. There are different versions, but one thing is certain: five minutes later Odunlami had his collarbone and two ribs broken. It was probably about the bike, but he was not sure, because of his German. The inspectors now claimed his other ticket was not valid, either. Nonetheless, he had the impression it was not about that, but about the fact he is black. Source: Berliner Zeitung

Berlin flathunters recommended to move to Cottbus

Berlin remains an Eldorado for landlords. The statisticians at ImmoScout24 have calculated an average of 174 responses in the city for an apartment offer in 2021. In Frankfurt am Main there were just 15. The ImmoScout24 experts see though an alternative option for heavily burdened tenants in medium-sized towns that are located further away from the metropolises. For Berlin, Cottbus – about 75 minutes away by train, could be that alternative. But, of course, this would be for those who are not firmly rooted in their “Kiez.” ImmoScout expects still a significant burden on tenants for Berlin within the next twelve months. Source: Spiegel



Police raid anti-AfD satirists

The Centre for Political Beauty (ZPS), by means of the “Flyerservice Hahn”, a fictional company that supposedly distributed flyers, shredded millions of AfD flyers instead of distributing them. Now the police have searched the premises of the initiative. The art activists drew then the map with the central question of art activism: what is still art, what is already activism, what is mere activism – and at what point are things punishable? When is artistic freedom perhaps even abused to transgress criminal law boundaries? The Berlin public prosecutor’s office has initiated investigations in response to a complaint. Source: br

Germany designates all neighbors as “high-risk”

With Austria being put on Germany´s travel warning list, all of its neighbors are now designated “high-risk”. The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark were already on that list. Anyone crossing the borders who has not been vaccinated or recently infected must go immediately into quarantine for 10 days. The isolation period can be shortened if a negative test is provided. Germany itself has recorded a new high in its seven-day incidence of new cases on Sunday: 515.7 new infections per 100,000 people per week, marking the first time the measure has exceeded 500 in the country. Source: dw

New government coalition discusses a strategy on fascism

How to deal with the AfD? “Fascists never stop being fascists. You don’t argue with them, history has shown,” says a line from a well-known song, “It’s all covered by artistic freedom.” But one thing seems to be clear for the “traffic light coalition”: the democratic parliamentary groups in the House of Representatives, as well as in the district councils, need a strategy on how to deal with the extreme right. It makes little sense for the democratic groups to constantly compete to see which is the best anti-fascist party. Unity sends a much stronger signal. Source: nd

German weapons exports hit record – roughly half to Egypt

Arms exports from Germany brought a record revenue in 2021, with just under half coming from Egypt. The agency responsible said the new “traffic light coalition” government wants tighter regulation. Preliminary figures from the Economic Affairs and Climate Action Ministry show that Germany exported arms worth almost €10 billion euros last year — 61% up, comparing to 2020. Also, almost €6 billion went to so-called third countries. Of those, by far the highest spender was Egypt, to which some €4.34 billion of goods — mainly air defense systems and maritime equipment — were exported. Source: dw

News from Berlin and Germany, 13th January 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Die Linke remembers Luxemburg and Liebknecht

On January 15, 103 years ago, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered. This was commemorated this year on January 9. The commemoration took place at the Socialists’ Memorial at the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery. “Die Linke” party’s federal leaders, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow and Janine Wissler, also took part in the silent commemoration. Such event is still important for the Left, said Klaus Lederer (“die Linke”). “Karl and Rosa were some of those at the time who were quite critical of Russian revolutionaries.” The two had stood up for democratic socialism and were murdered because of it, Lederer added. Source: rbb

Berlin introduces stricter Corona rules immediately, but Brandenburg still waits.

According to Berlin’s health senator Ulrike Gote (die Grüne), the 2G-plus regulation for restaurants agreed by the federal and state governments should come this week. The rapid implementation also applies to the simplified quarantine rules also agreed by the federal and state governments, she said. The implementation of the agreements of the Conference of Minister Presidents on the tightening of the Corona measures is also on the agenda in Brandenburg. The national government will also discuss on Tuesday how it will implement the measures. However, the decisions are not to be taken until a week later. Source: rbb



No time to lose

In the coalition agreement, there are only three sentences under the term “cycling”, and one of these refers to pedestrians. According to a survey by the state development bank KfW, two thirds of regular car users could imagine cycling more often. For that, the respondents would like to see better public transport connections, more cycle paths, secure parking facilities and some would also like to have an e-bike so that they can cover longer distances more easily and quickly. It is therefore time for new political framework conditions once transport plays a decisive role in achieving climate protection goals. Source: nd

Corona protests: the orchestrated rage

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Germany on Monday against the Corona policy. In Freiberg in Saxony, the protests have been getting more and more aggressive for months. It has become a German hotspot of protest. Currently, because of the high infection figures, a maximum of ten people are currently allowed to gather in Saxony. However, the demonstrators have turned the ban into a cat-and-mouse game with the police. Local citizens, against such protests, are worried about personal relationship, too. One of them said: “The normal way of getting along with each other is no longer practiced.” Source: dw

A sad record: 80,000 daily COVID infections in Germany

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Germany has more than 80,000 daily new coronavirus cases. More exactly, 80,430 new COVID cases to the Robert Koch Institute, which surpasses the previous record of 76,414 cases recorded on November 26. There is still some considerable regional variation across the country, with the state of Bremen posting the highest incidence rate: 1,296.8. Berlin has the second-highest incidence rate, although significantly lower at 856.4. Saxony – the state that until recently had the highest incidence values in the whole country – has currently the lowest incidence rate: 239.5. Source: iamexpat

News from Berlin and Germany, 6th January 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Alleged racist attack on two children

In Berlin, in a fast-food restaurant, a man came up to two boys, a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old, and punched them, apparently for racist reasons. He then fled the scene, getting in the car and simply taking away. Both children complained about having a headache after the incident. The younger one was even taken to hospital for outpatient treatment. Since a racist motive for the assault could not be confirmed, the State Office of Criminal Investigation has therefore taken over the investigation, the police added. Source: welt

3G-rules will also apply on railway station platforms

From January 5 onwards, the “3G-rule” will also apply on railway platforms in Berlin. The Berlin Senate has extended such rules accordingly with the current Corona Ordinance. The checks are still to be carried out on a random basis. According to the Senate, the 3G obligation only applies on the platforms of S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains, but not in the other parts of the stations and also not at bus and tram stations. The rules are likely to be particularly problematic for homeless people seeking refuge from the cold in underground and suburban railway stations. Source: welt


Corona measures opponents mobilise

Protest against government restrictions in the fight against Corona goes on in 2022. There were actions in several German cities – with a total of several tens of thousands of participants. In Rostock, for instance, some people tried to change the demonstration route and break through police barriers. This was prevented using “simple physical force” and batons, according to the police. There were also sporadic counter-demonstrations. In Dresden and in Leipzig, the police acted against supposedly unauthorised assemblies at several locations. Police in Magdeburg reported police chains being broken, bottles being thrown at officers and pyrotechnics being used. Source: dw

Germany’s arms exports rise to record level

The former federal government of the CDU/CSU and SPD approved arms exports worth almost five billion euros in its last nine days in office. This brings the total amount of export permits in the current year to a record 9.04 billion euros. Egypt is by far the number one recipient country. The country is criticized for human rights violations and its involvement in the conflicts in Yemen and Libya. It is worth reporting that the Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) informed the Bundestag only one day before Olaf Scholz was elected chancellor – but without specifying the value of the exports. Source: spiegel

Pensions remain low thanks to the FDP

According to a survey by ARD-Deutschlandtrends, around 70 percent of Germans do not trust the new federal government to secure their pensions. This unease is confirmed by the federal government’s answer to a question from the Left Party in the Bundestag over the weekend, according to which a third of workers in Germany currently face a gross pension of less than 1,300 euros a month after 45 years of full-time work. Meanwhile, the Social Welfare Association of Germany (Sozialverband Deutschland, SoVD) and the Left Party sharply criticise some of the pension policy plans of the traffic light coalition. Source: nd

News from Berlin and Germany, 10th December 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Remembering Amadeu Antonio – murdered by skinheads

Amadeu Antonio was 27 years old when he arrived in Eberswalde in 1987 together with 100 contract workers from Angola. On 25 November 1990, on his way home, he was surrounded by skinheads and kicked into a coma. The 6th of December marks the 31st anniversary of his death. In an interview with Augusto Jone Munjunga, who came to the GDR as a contract worker and currently runs the Palanca cultural association, talks about how stressful the situation then was, considering racism. He also talks about walking alone in Berlin, or how much Eberswalde has changed. Source: taz

Residents of H48 fight to save their homes

H48, a complex of three buildings at Hermannstraße 48 (Neukölln), stands in front of a grandiose old factory building. Today 140 people live and work there. A community has grown there together – so much that they decided to buy the property and run it collectively. One person disagreed – and this was the landlord. At the beginning of this year, residents received a letter saying that the building was being sold to a Hermannshof 48 Grundbesitzgesellschaft mbH. Speculators are not interested in renting, but it could be worth a fortune as luxury lofts or office space – such as with Yorck59, 15 years ago. Source: exBerliner



AfD win chair of the Interior Committee

The traffic light coallition could have prevented the AfD from chairing the Interior Committee. The committee chairs are distributed in several rounds according to faction strength. However, because the Greens promised Anton Hofreiter a committee chairmanship as a substitute for the denied post of Minister of Agriculture, they surprisingly chose the less radiant Europe Committee instead of Home Affairs. Hofreiter is to chair this committee in future. The AfD laughed up their sleeves and then gladly took the interior committee. In later allocation rounds, the AfD still secured the chair for health and development cooperation. Source: taz

Nuclear phase-out is still not guaranteed

In an interview with Matthias Eickhoff, political scientist, and activist against atomic power, he affirms basically the nuclear phase-out is not yet secured, and uranium enrichment in Germany should be terminated. He points out there are many issues are still open. Among them, “(…) huge gaps in the nuclear phase-out law, which was passed after the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima.” Regarding the “traffic light coalition”, he remembers the crucial ministries will be run by the Greens. “As environment minister, Steffi Lemke must quickly draw up a decommissioning roadmap. And Robert Habeck, as the responsible Minister of Economics, must enforce an export ban on enriched uranium, fuel elements and uranium waste.” Source: taz

Apparent assassination plans against Saxon Prime Minister

After threats against Saxony’s head of government Michael Kretschmer in a Telegram chat group, the police and public prosecutor’s office in Dresden are investigating the case. According to the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) of Saxony, the group “Dresden Offlinevernetzung” and its members are suspected of a criminal offence. The Central Office for Extremism in Saxony of the General Public Prosecutor’s Office in Dresden is currently investigating which criminal charges come into question. The 103 members of the group were united by their opposition to vaccinations, the state, and the current Corona policy. Source: dw

News from Berlin and Germany, 3rd December 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Muslims and migrants most discriminated against

Nearly half of Berliners experience discrimination, especially in the workplace. Muslims, people with migration experience, and those on low incomes are by far the most affected. This is the result of the Berlin Monitor 2021, presented by the University of Leipzig and the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences. The survey reveals also that only six per cent of those affected seek advice from a representative. In contrast, every third person does nothing after being discriminated against. One in five avoids “such situations” and another five per cent change their place of residence or their way of life. Source: migazin

New protests from the Left against possible Senate participation

Internal resistance is forming in Berlin’s Left Party (“die LINKE”) against a possible participation in a Red-Green-Red coalition. For this, the platform “For a left opposition in Berlin” should go online using the Hashtag: “#NeinzumKoalitionsvertrag“. The call was initiated by parts of the Neukölln left. The background to the criticism is the announcement of the negotiated coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party. Although there were also votes in 2016 rejecting participation in a government, this time the frustration and anger about the results of the negotiations seem to be somewhat greater. Source: nd



COVID and the German Constitutional ’emergency brake’ measures

The “emergency brake” measures from the German government were deemed constitutional by a top court. The restrictions were imposed automatically if infection rates passed certain levels. The court handed down two rulings, one regarding curfews and contact restrictions, the other regarding school closures. Both rulings dismissed complaints against the measures that had been lodged with the court. Many of the complaints were made by parliamentarians from the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), one of the three parties in the incoming coalition government. Its leader Christian Lindner was among the complainants. The “emergency brake” was put in place as the country fought its third wave of the pandemic. Source: dw

Millions for railways flowed into trunk roads and airlines

The outgoing government set itself great goals in transport policy. The railways were to enter a completely new era: more passengers, more punctuality, more efficient trains. This is what the Federal Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer (CSU), signalled at the time. But the reality is different. In an audit report, the Federal Court of Auditors now makes it clear that the inspectors view the situation extremely critically. A state like Germany can no longer afford the current conditions at its own railway company, says Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller. The report also reveals compliance problems in the supervisory board of Deutsche Bahn. Source: Süddeutsche

Climate movement expected to radicalize

As the climate crisis progresses and there is a lack of political reaction, it is to be expected a small number of disappointed climate activists might go underground. Before that, however, the climate movement will become broadly radicalised, not only demonstrating and blocking, but also destroying whatever comes. Political scientist Frauke Höntzsch from the University of Augsburg also considers the radicalisation of the climate protest movements in general to be “a realistic scenario”. There are for instance local groups of Fridays for Future, which are increasingly pushing the movement to focus on civil disobedience beyond the school strike. Source: taz