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News from Berlin and Germany, 8th December 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


08/12/2022

NEWS FROM BERLIN

“I’m starting over in Berlin”: Ukrainian queer refugees meet in Hellersdorf.

There is a new centre for queer refugees from Ukraine in Marzahn-Hellersdorf. The “Green House” wants to be a place for everyone—and it lives up to this motto. A children’s club, a neighbourhood meeting place for senior citizens, a dance school, and now also a queer centre for Ukrainian refugees. In Kherson, Maryna Usmanova was head of the influential NGO “The Other,” which campaigns for LGBTI rights. In Berlin, she has to start from scratch. The centre is supported by Quarteera, an association of Russian-speaking queer people. Quarteera supports queer refugees from both Russia and Ukraine, but there have been no conflicts between them. Source: tagesspiegel

Last Generation wants to block streets in Berlin again soon

Motorists will soon have to expect road blockades again in Berlin and it is likely that there will be noticeably more disruptions to road traffic. After a break of several days, Last Generation has announced it will continue its actions early next week. “We are going to the veins of society where it needs to flow,” said Henning Jeschke, one of the activists. “There will be interruptions at all corners and ends,” affirmed the 22-year-old. This includes not only roads and motorways, but also airports. “We will not let prison sentences stop us from fighting for a good future,” stressed Joel Schmitt, another activist. Source: bz

Full speed to the perfect election

Rolfdieter Bohm, who has been a public prosecutor and a judge, is responsible now for six constituencies: Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg 1 to 6. Bohm’s responsibility is all the greater. He is one of twelve so-called “district electoral officers.” This means he must ensure a flawless repeat election on 12 February and make sure that his district office does not collapse under the pressure. The 2,000 employees in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg must achieve in just three months what they would otherwise have a whole year to do. Several challenges come up such as changes in the candidates list: in the district, some have moved away, and two have died. Source: rbb24

Homophobic and transphobic offences reach record high

The number of crimes against LGBTI+ and other queer people registered by the police in Berlin has continued to rise. This is according to the figures of the new “Monitoring Report on Transphobic and Homophobic Violence,” which the Senate Department for Justice, Diversity and Anti-Discrimination presented last Monday. 456 cases were recorded last year; in 2020 there were 377. According to the report, insults are by far the most common offence, accounting for almost half of all cases (48.5 per cent). Almost a third (28.7 per cent) involved bodily harm, and one tenth (9.6 per cent) involved grievous bodily harm. Source: rbb24

NEWS FROM GERMANY

Is the Bundeswehr operational?

Only for two days of intense fighting—that’s all the ammunition the Bundeswehr is supposed to have. Alarming headlines appeared in German media over the past few days about the state of the local military. The figure apparently leaked out from anonymous sources. If true (which cannot be confirmed as it is a state secret), German ammunition stocks are far below the standards expected by NATO, requiring each member country to have a 30-day supply of ammunition. According to defence experts, Germany would have to invest 20 to 30 billion euros just to make up this deficit. Source: dw

Not everyone is welcome

The war in Ukraine has united European countries in recent months. According to a recent study by the Technical University Dresden and the Mercator Foundation, however, support for Ukraine is declining in the public opinion of the EU population. The study also shows the desire to control and limit immigration is strong across Europe, at 55 percent. Countries like Sweden, which have long been the poster child for European openness, are among the frontrunners. Reservations are particularly strong about migrants from predominantly Muslim countries. The conclusion of the study is therefore not very flattering for the EU, despite its solidarity with Ukraine. Source: taz

Raid against planned coup d’état

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office accuses about 50 men and women of having formed a terrorist organisation in order to eliminate the constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Germany and to establish a state modelled on the German Reich of 1871. However, the group did not get very far. Special police forces stormed the homes of the accused, executed 25 arrest warrants and began extensive searches. The security authorities consider the group to be extremely dangerous, especially because active and former Bundeswehr soldiers with special training are among the accused. Leading investigators describe today’s operation against the group as unprecedented: “This is beyond all dimensions in terms of scope.” Source: tagesschau

News from Berlin and Germany, 1st December 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


01/12/2022

NEWS IN BERLIN

Second-class refugees

It is a remarkable justification Berlin’s Senator of the Interior gives for why she wants to deport about 600 refugees from Moldova before Christmas: “We need the accommodation.” says Iris Spranger (SPD). The Senate is expecting many refugees from Ukraine and “we have to accommodate them.” With this, Spranger has reignited a debate, not widely reported, held shortly after Russia’s first attack on Ukraine: are there first, second and third class refugees, recognisable by the way the state deals with them? This attitude has infuriated her coalition partners, the Left and the Greens. Source: taz

Election and Referendum on the same day?

The fight against climate catastrophe is one of the most important issues of our time. A Berlin referendum, which would see Berlin carbon neutral by 2030, should be given all the attention it can get. It must therefore take place parallel to the rerun of the parliamentary elections being held on the 12 February. If postponed to after the repeat election, proponents worry about failing to reach the 25 percent quorum required. In view of the challenge posed by the climate crisis, the Senate and the state election administration must face up to this task. Source: taz

Berlin streets with colonial names to be renamed

Adolf Lüderitz and Gustav Nachtigal are considered pioneers of German colonialism. In Berlin-Wedding, a street and a square are named after them. Years of protests are now bearing fruit: they are to be renamed. The new names no longer celebrate the perpetrators, but the resistance fighters. The former Nachtigalplatz will become Manga-Bell-Platz, named in honour of the Duala royal couple who fought against German colonial rule in Cameroon. Lüderitz Street will be named after Cornelius Fredericks, a resistance fighter against German colonial rule in Namibia. On Friday, the new street signs are to be unveiled in the presence of the Cameroonian and Namibian ambassadors. Source: migazin

 

NEWS IN GERMANY

Chelsea Manning: whistleblower launches autobiography in Hamburg

Chelsea Manning is one of the most famous whistleblowers: she published 750,000 confidential documents of the US military. For this act she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. After serving seven years, Barack Obama finally pardoned her. Now she has written her autobiography titled “README.txt”. In Hamburg, at the release of her book, the internet expert reflected that war has changed, as we see with the conflict in Ukraine. She went on to say “I have more access to information today as a private person than I had back then as a data specialist for the United States Army. We live in an absolute information age.” Source: ndr

19 degrees – Germany freezes at the workplace

“EnSikuMaV” is the abbreviation for a lengthy German phrase translating to: the “Ordinance on Securing the Energy Supply via Measures Effective in the Short Term”. Since 1 September, and until 28 February, the whole country has been turning down the heating to save energy. And because the energy supply is threatened by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the lack of Gazprom gas, measures such heating to a maximum room temperature of 19 degrees in offices in public buildings have become reality. But it turns out 19 degrees in offices can cause problems related to health risks in the long run and productivity. Source: dw

Immigration by points

The German government wants to attract more workers from abroad and a new concept is supposed to help: a points system is supposed to take more into account than just education. There will also be opportunities for migrants without recognised qualifications. According to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), there were 1.8 million vacancies in the third quarter of this year. “Without more skilled workers, we will not make progress in terms of economic policy” summed up Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) on Wednesday. Source: sz

49-euro ticket likely in May

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) announced the 49-euro ticket, the likely successor of the 9-euro ticket, may be delayed until May 2023. Oliver Wolff, VDV´s chief, said that administrative preparations were the cause for the delay, mostly related to the reorganisation of the VDV tariff system. There are also some uncertainties about how exactly the ticket will be financed. The leader of the Railway and Transport Union (EVG), Martin Burkert, stressed that six months after the “Deutschlandticket” is launched, the federal government much calculate the cost incurred and provide additional funds to federal states if necessary. Source: iamexpat

News from Berlin and Germany, 24th November 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


24/11/2022

NEWS FROM BERLIN

Different election dates and loss of democracy

The ‘Berlin 2030 Climate Neutral’ alliance reacts with incomprehension to the statement of the administration of the interior on the separation of the Berlin elections and the referendum. The initiators of the referendum continue to assume that the two votes will happen on the same date. Thilo Cablitz, spokesperson for the Senator of the Interior, so far only cites supply chain problems with ballot papers as the reason for the separate votes. Already in October, however, Election Commissioner Prof. Dr. Stephan Bröchler made it clear he assumed that the referendum and the election would be combined. He had also already ordered the paper for the election. Source: klimaneustart

Lanterns for expropriation

“Investors, beware, the neighborhood dragon is awake:” a song written for this performance resounds through the streets. The 8th “resistance lantern procession against displacement,” organized by the Bizim Kiez initiative, took place on last Saturday evening. Despite the freezing cold 500 adults and children took part in the demonstration, according to the police. The parade under this year’s motto “Geht’s noch?!” traditionally takes place around St. Martin’s Day. Many children waved lanterns attached to ropes through the air. Meanwhile, their parents held up illuminated signs that read, for example, “Vote out Giffey and Geisel.” Source: taz

“Extinction Rebellion” blocks Adidas store in Berlin

Police forces broke up an action by climate activists in front of the Adidas flagship store in Berlin-Charlottenburg last Saturday. No people were injured, according to the police. The protesters allegedly obstructed customers entering the shop and pasted posters. However, the adhesive was water-soluble, so there was no damage to the property. The police relocated the activists to another venue nearby. The group later dispersed. “Extinction Rebellion” were protesting against Adidas’s sponsorship of the Qatar World Cup, one day before the start of the competition. Source: Tagesspiegel

Insufficient protection against harmful dust in Tesla factory

The Brandenburg Ministry of Health has reported problems with occupational safety at Tesla in Grünheide. During inspections of occupational safety at the factory, the authorities found deficiencies. This is revealed in a 2021 report by the Ministry of Health. According to the report, employees of the State Office for Occupational Safety, Consumer Protection and Health (LAVG) repeatedly found during inspections indoors work at the factory was being conducted without appropriate dust protection measures. In September, it came to light that the Tesla factory had been operating without a functioning fire alarm system. Tesla says it is working to remedy this issue. Source: rbb24

NEWS FROM GERMANY

Deutsche Bahn must cancel train journeys

Deutsche Bahn is experiencing an extreme increase in train cancellations due to staff shortages. This mainly affects the state-owned company’s regional lines. From July to September alone, 18,676 journeys could not take place because of a lack of staff—in the same period last year, the number was 6,935. This is according to an answer from the Federal Ministry of Transport to a written question from the Left parliamentary group in the Bundestag. For Bernd Riexinger (Die Linke), the high number of train cancellations is evidence of a structural problem: the railway’s plans to increase staffing levels are not enough. He demands better working conditions. Source: Spiegel

Bars all over Germany boycott 2022 World Cup in Qatar

For 27 years, Cologne’s cult pub “Lotta” has stood for electrifying football moments. When the home team 1.FC Köln scores the decisive goal in injury time, the whole bar explodes. So quite a lot must have happened for co-owner Peter Zimmermann, a passionate football fan, to come to a decision that many pub owners in Germany are making: the TV will stay off in protest during the entire football World Cup in Qatar. “We want to send a signal against this thoroughly corrupt FIFA system, where it’s really all about money, and human rights and football culture don’t matter at all,” Zimmermann says. Source: dw

Gas price brake from January

The federal government has drafted a law for subsidizing gas for private households and businesses starting from January, not from March as previously planned. The payment is to be made retroactively based on the relief amount determined for the month of March. This approach is also planned for the electricity price brake. With these measures, the federal government wants to react to the sharply increased energy prices, which have been exacerbated by the Ukraine war, among other things. Billions of euros are to be invested to cushion the burden on private households and businesses. Source: taz

Ralf Wohlleben must return to prison

Ralf Wohlleben was the man who supported the National Socialist Underground (NSU). He provided the right-wing radical gang with the weapons for nine murders of migrants. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2018—for aiding and abetting murder. But shortly after the verdict, he was released: he had already served almost two thirds of his ten years in prison. He was able to enjoy his freedom for five years. Now, however, he must go to prison again because the Federal Supreme Court has determined that Wohlleben continues to pose a risk to the security of the Federal Republic of Germany. Source: sz

News from Berlin and Germany, 17th November 2022

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany


17/11/2022

NEWS FROM BERLIN

Nursing strike starts in Lichtenberg

Staff shortages, wage disputes and the looming election campaign: Berlin’s health service is facing turbulent months. On the last days, with the support of ver.di at the Sana hospital in Lichtenberg, nursing staff have stopped work. According to the union, the nursing staff should receive at least 150 euros more basic salary per month as well as new shift bonuses. A tough round of collective bargaining is underway not only at Sana-Klinikum. The doctors at Charité, who are members of the Marburger Bund, are also demanding a wage increase and more reliable shift work. Source: Tagesspiegel

Election to the Berlin House of Representatives must be repeated

After electoral breakdowns and massive organizational problems during the elections in Berlin on 26 September 2021, the Berlin Constitutional Court has declared the elections for the House of Representatives and the district councils invalid. They will thus have to be repeated. The Constitutional Court had already considered such a repetition of the elections to the House of Representatives at an oral hearing on 28 September this year and justified this on the grounds of serious electoral errors. According to the new state election commissioner, Stephan Bröchler, the most likely date is 12 February. Source: Spiegel

Good climate for referendum

For a long time, many doubted that the supporters for radically more climate protection in Berlin would manage to gather enough signatures for a referendum. But exactly 261,968 signatures were collected within the past four months, said Jessamine Davis, spokesperson for the initiative Klimaneustart Berlin. “This is an incredible number”, she added. Werner Graf (“die Grünen”) was also pleased with the large number of votes collected. Nevertheless, according to Graf, the Greens will not support the draft bill of the Climate Start initiative, which will be put to a vote. This stipulates that Berlin must be climate neutral by 2030. Source: taz

 

 

NEWS FROM GERMANY

Can it get worse?

On 10 November 2022, a new and still little-noticed law was discussed in the Bundestag. On the surface, it is supposed to speed up asylum procedures and legal action – in fact, it will make it even harder for refugees to sue for their rights in court. PRO ASYL demands the abolition of the disadvantageous special asylum procedure law. Among other issues, it can be that, during the hearing, which is considered to be the heart of the asylum procedure, the persons concerned often have to talk about stressful and shameful experiences, for example, if they have been raped. Source: proasyl

Hanau victims allegedly mocked

Last week, the fire alarm went off during the Hanau enquiry committee in the state parliament, and everyone left the building. The issue was that an exit was closed in the Landtag. Many from the group which left the building laughed. The episode speaks of a disrespectful incident without a minimum of sensitivity. It was an allusion to the escape door in the Arena Bar. There, Hamza Kurtovic and Said Nesar Hashemi were killed, and several people were seriously injured. After the alarm episode in the latter days, those who were there, including the CDU parliamentary group, rejected the accusations of being discourteous. Source: fr

Majority of Germans want to boycott Qatar World Cup

An online survey has revealed 65 percent of Germans support a public screening boycott of the 2022 men’s World Cup, which is about to begin in Qatar. Over the weekend in Germany, football fans attended the penultimate weekend of the nationwide Bundesliga competition to demonstrate their opposition to Qatar hosting the quadrennial competition. Most notably, Hertha BSC fans in Berlin brandished a sign reading “15.000 dead for 5.760 minutes of football. Shame on you!” Fans also had pride flags. Also, on Tuesday evening, Qatar’s World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman made blatant homophobic comments, which has made the situation even more tense. Source: iamexpat

Something is moving on the left again

Health should not be organized according to profit logic. The increased prices for food, which should be “subsidised”. And the climate movement bloc was demanding a faster switch to renewable energies. All these problems and concerns have one thing in common: they need money. It is therefore only logical that the city’s left movement, in an alliance of more than 50 groups, took to the streets on Saturday, united behind the slogan: “Redistribute. From top to bottom.” Around 7,000 took part. Source: taz

Union blocks Hartz IV reform

The CDU and CSU made it clear they would not approve the “citizen’s income” bill from the traffic light coalition (“die Ampel”) in the Bundesrat. This plan did not receive the necessary majority in the state chamber, this week. Immediately after the meeting, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) declared that the federal government has nonetheless decided to appeal to the mediation committee. The CDU and CSU once again emphasized what matters to them: they demand changes at the Job Centres such as lowering the limit of €60,000 on private assets, which was raised during the corona pandemic. Source: jW

 

News from Berlin and Germany, 10th November 2022

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany


10/11/2022

NEWS FROM BERLIN

Sensors in the underground tunnel

Once a neighboring high-rise construction project had a negative impact on the tunnel, one track had to be closed at the Alexanderplatz underground station. Now it has become known that not only the U2 is under observation, but also the two other underground lines in this part of Mitte are being monitored. Sensors in the area reported the structure with the U2 station was moving. Such movement can lead to cracks in the structure. What about the U5 and U8? So far, no critical settlements or heave have been detected on the U5. This also applies to the measuring system at the U8 station Jannowitzbrücke. Source: Berliner Zeitung

Bundestag election to be repeated in 431 constituencies in Berlin

Due to numerous glitches in the elections in Berlin in September 2021, the Bundestag election is to be repeated in 431 of around 2,300 voting districts. This has been proposed by the parliament’s electoral review committee. The parliament’s approval is considered certain. Berlin has already set a date for the repeat election in February 2023. Recently, however, an expert report by the Senate’s internal administration revealed reservations – according to this report, the authority is convinced that the decision on the repeat election would first have to be confirmed by the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. Source: rbb

9-Euro Social Ticket until the end of 2023

The Senate decided to reduce the sales price for the Berlin social ticket from 27.50 euros per month to 9 euros from 1 January 2023 to 31 March 2023, following a proposal by Social Affairs Senator Katja Kipping. “All Berliners with a Berlin pass will benefit from the 9-euro social ticket. This is a concrete and noticeable relief for people with little money who are particularly affected by the crisis. We, the Left Party, have been campaigning for this for a long time.°, explained the chairpersons of the Left Party in Berlin, Anne Helm and Carsten Schatz, as well as the spokesperson for mobility policy, Kristian Ronneburg. Source: Linksfraktion Berlin

Flat evictions in Berlin have not decreased

In Berlin, the number of flat evictions has remained almost stable despite calls for judicial leniency – for the current year there are even indications that it could be higher. Actual evictions have only been fully recorded statistically since the fourth quarter of 2019. At that time, 594 Berlin flats were evicted following a judgement. In the first half of 2022, 914 flats are now already affected. Last month, Senator Lena Kreck and Social Affairs Senator Katja Kipping (both Left Party) publicly called for a moratorium on evictions in October. The German Judges’ Association rejected the appeal as inadmissible political influence. Source: tagesspiegel

 

 

NEWS FROM GERMANY

Gas price brake may come sooner

The federal and state governments have reached an agreement on the gas and electricity price brake. Gas prices are to be at twelve cents per kilowatt hour, electricity prices at 40 cents, said Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). This will now be implemented together with other regulations. The resolution paper of the federal-state summit states the gas price brake will be “introduced on 1 March 2023” as proposed by the Gas Price Commission. However, “a retroactive effect to 1 February 2023 is being sought”. Agreements were also reached on the financing of the 49-Euro-Ticket and the support of the States and Municipalities in providing for refugees. Source: dw

Online retailer wants to take over 47 Galeria locations – Cottbus shop on list

The online retailer Buero.de wants to take over 47 branches of the department stores’ chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof in Germany, says its managing director, Markus Schön. The prospective buyer has made a corresponding offer to the insolvency administrator. The Cottbus branch is the only one from Brandenburg on the list of 47 locations. Currently it is not foreseeable when a transaction might take place. In any case, Buero.de is quickly ready to act. Should Buero.de win the bid to buy 47 Galeria shops, they would no longer be run under that name. Source: rbb

Lindner wants fracking in Germany, and geologists are for it

Finance Minister Christian Lindner is tired with the talking about extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants. What the FDP leader is suddenly keen on, however: fracking gas “made in Germany”. According to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Resources, Germany has 2.3 trillion cubic metres of shale gas, the fourth largest resource within the EU after France, Spain and Romania. And Lindner´s party is not alone in its initiative: the Professional Association of German Geoscientists also advocates German fracked gas. On the other side, parties such as SPD and environmentalists criticize the alternative. Source: Berliner Zeitung

Mehr Demokratie” welcomes lowering of voting age at state level

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the sixth federal state in which 16- and 17-year-olds are now allowed to vote for the state parliament. In April, the Green-Black-governed state of Baden-Württemberg passed a corresponding constitutional amendment. “In NRW, the CDU and the Greens have written the voting age of 16 into the coalition agreement.” In Berlin, too, a constitutional amendment is pending, but it is now delayed by the rerun of the elections. The association “Mehr Demokratie” in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, welcomes this measure as a correct and necessary step and calls for a reform also on the federal level. Source: mehr demokatie