#115: Another No. 1 ranking for Berlin
Plus a €200 billion bailout, Nazi symbols and club week
Dear 20 Percent,
Sometimes you read something, rub your eyes, put on another coffee and read it again: last week I stumbled across the UN E-Government Survey 2022, which ranks countries and cities on the quality of their online administrative services. Chapter 3 has a table — the Local Online Services Index (LOSi) — and at the top of the table: Berlin.
I don’t know which Berlin they’re talking about either but local media seem to have missed this event during the long weekend.
Berlin’s allround e-government score, which was based on 86 yes-no questions, was higher than 192 other big cities in the world. Of the five sub-categories, Berlin came first in “institutional framework”, “content provision” and “participation and engagement”. In both “services provision” and “technology”, we came a mere fourth.
Am I missing something? In June we reported that just 137 out of 575 government services were available online in Berlin. You still can’t even register your apartment online yet. The Berlin.de site looks like it was designed in 2008. And try e-mailing someone at the Bezirksamt.
When I tweeted about the UN ranking, someone commented: “The Kita Navigator is a travesty of human digital engineering”. But maybe that’s it — the survey just looked at what a city seems like it’s offering, not what it’s really offering, because so much of what’s promised on berlin.de is never fulfilled. Like being able to get an appointment. It’s so Berlin: the offerings look good but when you dig a little deeper you discover it’s actually more hollow than your average startup marketing director’s soul.
Am I being too harsh? After all, you’ll be able to change your official address online by next spring, or so they’ve promised. You’ll have to activate your eID first — national EU ID cards and the new residence permits contain a chip that will finally make possible many online services. Though activation probably requires two separate letters, one fax and an unnecessarily complex and difficult-to-type one-time password.
More news below!
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The Berlin corona stats for Saturday, October 1 (latest numbers available)
New cases in one day: 2,554 (1,654 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,834 (+4 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 289.6 (260.0 Friday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 10.9 (10.6 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.6% (3.7% Friday)
🟢Days FC Union Berlin has led the Bundesliga: 23
Source: Berlin’s corona page
€200 billion relief pack
At 4.30pm Tuesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) meets leaders of the 16 German states to hash out the details of a massive relief deal. Around €200 billion have been earmarked for the package, according to German media. Much of that will finance a natural gas price cap — an upper limit on what consumers have to pay for gas. A one-time payment of €300 for pensioners and other benefits recipients is reportedly in the mix. Wohngeld (housing benefit) will go up in January. The national successor to the €9 ticket will be discussed.
Heating, bread and peace
While Germans were celebrating 32 years of reunification on Monday and you were maybe waiting in line at a train station supermarket to buy butter, hundreds of leftwing activists — people with Antifa flags, old-school communists and everyone in-between — marched through central Berlin to criticise the government’s response to the energy and inflation crisis under the banner “Heating, bread and peace”. Some protesters called for nationalisation of the energy sector. Others demanded an end to the “cynical” supply of arms to Ukraine and called for peaceful relations with Russia and China.
Oops: Bakery Nazi crop circle image
Märkisches Landbrot, an organic bakery in Neukölln that’s been around since 1981, caught flak for printing a photo of a crop circle in the shape of the occult “black sun” symbol, a triple swastika used by the SS during the Third Reich. The photo appeared in the bakery’s annual calendar, which uses stock photos of crop circles. The one in question was shot in the English countryside. Journalist Oliver Rautenberg, who covers dodgy New Agers and anthrosophists, was the first to point out the image. The bakery said on Facebook it was “dismayed to discover” that it distributed “photographs and graphics with symbolism that was used during the Nazi era.”
Tag der Clubkultur all week
The “day of club culture” was launched by then-culture honcho Klaus Lederer (Die Linke) during the pandemic as a way to support the city’s rich nightlife and music scene, which had suffered immensely under the lockdowns. Forty clubs get €10,000 each to do something creative — and this year the “day” has become a week, that lasts through Sunday. From a different kind of strip club in Neukölln to a Freak De L’Afrique night in Charlottenburg, a Decolonoize night in Mitte, to the Arabs Do It Better fest in Kreuzberg, there’s something for every taste. The info.
On October 6, 2012 a group of refugees began setting up a protest camp on Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg. Around 70 refugees and 100 supporters had walked 600km from southern Germany to Berlin to protest conditions in refugee housing, poor treatment of asylum seekers and inhumane bureaucracy. Some staged hunger strikes. The occupation of Oranienplatz lasted through spring 2014 after activists signed an agreement with Integration Minister Dilek Kolayci (SPD) which guaranteed, among other things, fair legal treatment of their asylum applications.
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