News from Berlin and Germany, 28th February 2024

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Another public transport strike announced

The trade union ver.di has called for warning strikes in local public transport throughout Germany this week. The first warning strikes take place in Brandenburg on Wednesday, February 28th. In Berlin, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) is on strike all day on Thursday, February 29th, and until 2 pm on Friday, March 1st. This will affect underground trains, buses, trams, and ferries. Most S-Bahns in Berlin and Germany are not affected. In parallel to the warning strikes, “Fridays For Future” (FFF) is organising numerous demonstrations against the climate crisis on March 1st. Source: rbb24

Deutsche Wohnen: data protection dispute continues

A legal dispute against the real estate group Deutsche Wohnen SE regarding a million-euro fine over a data protection breach has been brought back to court, as reported by the Berliner Zeitung. At the centre of the case are questions about what kind of data real estate companies are allowed to store on their tenants. Lawyers from Deutsche Wohnen, which has been part of the Vonovia real estate group since 2021, are getting ready for a lengthy legal process. Back in 2019, a similar case was issued against Deutsche Wohnen, eventually making its way to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Source: exberliner

Fast mobile phone network soon to be available on Berlin U-Bahns

After years of waiting, a fast mobile phone network is to be available on all Berlin underground lines this spring. The expansion of the mobile phone technology should be completed by the end of March. By January, already 90 per cent of underground routes had been equipped with 4G/LTE. Further work “to increase density and capacity” will then be carried out on the most recently upgraded sections by September. The mobile phone company Telefónica is responsible for the expansion of the technical infrastructure with an LTE network. The new and even faster 5G network should then be available nationwide by the end of 2025. Source: rbb24

Accusations of antisemitism after Berlinale awards ceremony

Following political statements on the Middle East conflict at the Berlinale awards ceremony, Berlin’s Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) has called for measures to be taken by the new Berlinale festival management to prevent relativization about Israel. Senator for Culture Joe Chialo (CDU) also wrote that “Culture should offer space for diverse political expressions of opinion, but this year’s Berlinale awards ceremony was characterised by self-righteous anti-Israeli propaganda that does not belong on Berlin’s stages.” Among the festival’s winners was “No Other Land,” a film about the expulsion of Palestinians in the West Bank. The documentary’s Palestinian director, Basel Adra, referred to the current armed conflict in the Gaza Strip in his acceptance speech, while his co-director, the Israeli journalist Yuval Abraham, spoke of “apartheid” in the West Bank. Source: tagesschau


Tesla: victory for democracy and nature conservation

The majority of citizens in Grünheide voted against Tesla’s expansion plans for its car factory. The turnout of over 70% shows that the issue is politically explosive, and the community has been deeply divided since the emergence of Elon Musk, explained Thomas Löb, state leader of the Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP) in Brandenburg. The outcome is not legally binding but is considered an important basis. The water board demanded that the municipal representatives vote on the development plan at the next meeting on 14 March as planned. Source: n-tv

Hesse Finanzamt and judicial trainees under investigation for racist party song

Students interning as judicial officers at the Finanzamt in Hesse were accused of singing a racist song at a party in the Rothenburger Study Centre for Financial Administration and Justice. According to other students, who were present at the party and later filed complaints, the song included the lyrics “Ausländer raus, Deutschland den Deutschen” (“Foreigners out, Germany for the Germans”). The public prosecutor’s office in Hesse has announced it opened an investigation on suspicion of “incitement of hatred.” The parliamentary secretary Miriam Dahlke (Greens) said that people training to become civil servants must “guarantee that they firmly stand for our free democratic basic order at all times.” Source: iamexpat

Cannabis in Germany: what is now allowed, what is not?

With the votes of the governing coalition, the Bundestag has decided to partially liberalise the use of cannabis in Germany. This means that from 1 April 2024 people of legal age in Germany will be allowed to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis. Hashish enthusiasts will also be able to grow three cannabis plants and store up to 50 grams of dried cannabis in their own home. However, commercial shops, such as those in some states in the USA, will not be allowed for the time being – even though this was envisaged at the beginning of the government’s deliberations. Source: dw

Digitalisation for the climate

Faster digitalisation could reduce Germany’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 73 million tonnes in 2030. This is the result of a study by the Bitkom association, which primarily represents companies from the technology sector. The authors looked at the areas of energy, building, industry, transport, and agriculture. The greatest potential lies in the energy sector with the building sector following in second place. However, other studies are less optimistic about the role of digitalization. The large-scale study “Digital Reset,” for example, takes into consideration the rebound effect: when efficiency improves, the use of the technology also increases, and energy usage rises. Source: taz

AfD soon to be “confirmed right-wing extremist”?

The entire AfD might soon be classified as “confirmed extremist.” So far, the AfD has only been listed as a so-called suspected case of right-wing extremism. But according to research by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a team from the Federal Office has been working on a new report for months. The newspaper relies on internal emails and notes from the domestic secret service. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution did not want to comment on the report. Source: tagesschau

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