#121: Immigrant point system, Ukrainian school, Friedrichstraße failure, pot by mail
Climate activists attack a very expensive Monet in Potsdam
On Sunday, two climate activists, a woman and a man belonging to the “Last Generation” group, chucked some runny mashed potatoes at a $111 million Claude Monet painting in the Barberini Museum in Potsdam. Evidently, they were inspired by the tomato soup attack on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London.
“People are starving. People are freezing. We’re in a climate disaster, and all you’re scared of is tomato soup or mashed potatos on a painting,” yelled the woman with an intense Germanic earnestness and one hand superglued to the wall, as museum-goers walked by, hardly noticing.
“You know what I’m afraid of: that we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050!”
As was the case with “Sunflowers”, Monet’s “Grainstacks” was protected by glass and the work wasn’t damaged. The museum is stepping up security.
I’m not totally opposed to this kind of activism — I once took part in an XR blockade of Potsdamer Platz — but stunts like these alienate most people, many of whom might be sympathetic to the cause. It’s not immediately obvious what a famous painting has to do with climate change. And, as always, the message gets lost in an angry debate about the activists’ tactics rather than, duh, the climate crisis.
In September finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) — I know, I know, not everyone’s favourite politician — made an interesting point: “You can’t only demonstrate for climate protection, you also have to assemble and install climate protection.”
What he meant was that we desperately need more technicians to install climate-friendly solar panels and heat pumps. Less exciting than glueing yourself to the street or a painting— but maybe at least as impactful. So, how about it? Anyone up for a new career as a Photovoltaik Installateur? I’m considering it.
P.S. Since I’ll likely remain a freelance journalist and newsletter-writer, I’m going to unsubtly refer to our Patreon, where it’s easy to support the work Andrew and I put into this newsletter every Tuesday and Friday. Much love to the 122 people currently helping this thing fly!
Berlin corona and other stats for Tuesday, October 25
New cases in one day: 3,632 (3,304 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,895 (+9 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 402 (415.6 Friday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 17.9 (21.1 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 6.9% (5.1% Friday)
🟢Days FC Union Berlin has led the Männer-Bundesliga: 38
Source: Berlin’s corona page
On Saturday, some 80,000 people assembled around the Siegessäule in solidarity with the ongoing protests by women in Iran. The demo attracted busloads of people from across Europe. Meanwhile, the foreign ministry has warned German citizens, especially people with dual German-Iranian citizenship, from travelling to Iran, because they risk being “arbitrarily arrested, interrogated and sentenced to long prison terms.”
Immigration point system
German business needs more skilled workers. Urgently. And so the government has revealed details of a new point system to make it easier for skilled workers from outside the EU to settle in Germany. It’s called the Chancenkarte (“opportunity card”) and it’s not unlike Canada’s point system. The new scheme is intended for people whose qualifications aren’t officially accepted in Germany and will allow them to enter to the country before signing an employment contract. Contenders will get “points” based on the following: A degree or professional qualification recognised by a state body in their home country; at least two years of professional experience; German proficiency or a previous stay in Germany. The law also foresees an opportunity to do a two-week on-the-job trial.
Economy minister Robert Habeck said: “In addition to the legal changes, we want to set up comprehensive accompanying measures for the immigration process, from the recruitment of foreign skilled workers, to visa procedures and initial integration in Germany.”
Sounds promising, right? Now just work on the service culture — and let people speak English — at the Berlin immigration office and we’ve got progress!
A one-of-a-kind school for Ukrainian refugee children opened last week. At the “German-Ukrainian encounter school” — with locations in Kreuzberg and Steglitz — kids receive lessons based on the curricula from both countries and in both languages. They’ll be able to get school-leaving certificates from both states. Meanwhile, Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) warned that Berlin had surpassed its capacity to care for Ukrainian refugees — and a rising number of refugees from the Middle East reaching the city. Berlin was the initial registration point for 340,000 Ukrainians that entered Germany since the start of the war. About 100,000 now live here. Giffey appealed to other German states to take in more refugees. So far, 1.01 million Ukrainians have registered in Germany.
Another setback for Berlin’s feeble attempts to reduce traffic: the closure of a 500m stretch of Friedrichsstraße in Mitte to cars has be deemed illegal by a Berlin court. The judge said the street must re-open to automobiles within two weeks. A local businesswoman involved in the “Save Friedrichstraße” campaign fought the closure in court, arguing that the Senat didn’t have sufficient grounds to create a pedestrian zone. Apparently, under German law, wanting to create a more pleasant street for pedestrians isn’t a good enough reason. The authorities can only create a pedestrian zone in response to a serious road safety problem — which wasn’t the case in Friedrichstraße. I don’t get it, Germany: does someone have get run over by an SUV before you can make changes to a street? That said, the trial project was poorly executed (those hideous yellow bike lanes!) and probably doomed from the start. An analysis of cell phone data found that fewer people were visting Friedrichstraße.
Germany is famous for its flourishing small and medium-sized family businesses, but maybe not this kind. A mom-pop-kid operation in Berlin sent thousands of envelopes of illegal cannabis to clients across the country, Tagesspiegel reports. They and two helpers now face criminal charges. The mail order operation was run by a couple (both 63) and their 31-year-old son. Police say the family shipped 60,000 orders obtained in the dark web, a total of 600kg of weed, worth approximately €4.8 million. The German government says it will permit the regulated sale of cannabis next year.
On October 27, 1806 Napoleon marched triumphantly through the Brandenburg Gate. Following crushing defeats by the French at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, the Prussian army was unable to defend Berlin. French troops had entered the city via Kottbusser Tor and Hallesches Tor on October 23, so the emperor’s entrance through the Brandenburg Gate was a staged spectacle more than anything else. The women of Berlin were ordered to wave white hankerchiefs as Napoleon passed. The Quadriga, the sculpture on the gate, was shipped to Paris, where it remained until 1809, when the French finally withdrew from Berlin.
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