#125: Landlord from hell, digital docs, Kino strike, Roger Waters
Cars to return to Friedrichstraße
Dear 20 Percent,
Getting medical records from one doctor to another isn’t simple in Germany. E-mailing medical data like x-rays is more or less verboten because of hyper-complicated privacy rules. Which is why in 2022 doctors still fax or post bundles of paper around or just hand you a CD with your x-rays. Once I had to pick up a record from a hospital and bring it to a doctor because, silly me, I hadn’t saved the paper original in a folder at home.
The ridiculousness of the continued use of paper became clear during the pandemic when waiting rooms were dangerously overfilled with patients picking up or dropping off bits of paper — as least that was my impression.
And yet: change is afoot! Digitalisation is creeping into the German health system! Since the beginning of 2021, the quasi-public insurers, or Krankenkassen, have been piloting ePA (Electronic Patient Record), a system which enables all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists etc to view a patient’s records online. Sounds like a great leap forward. Early in 2021 I signed up for the service via my Krankenkasse. It wasn’t easy. Not only was it hard to understand how ePA worked, I had to leap through about a dozen verification steps (installing various apps, getting codes by post etc etc) to get the thing set up. At some point I just gave up. It’s not surprising that hardly anyone (556,000 out of 74 million Krankenkasse members) has signed up for the voluntary system.
Fast forward to 2022: health minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has made digitalisation a priority. Yesterday he told Handelsblatt that, once it’s properly rolls out 2024, ePA will no longer be voluntary but would be the default for all patients who didn’t opt out. The change will require a bunch of new legislation and some technical tweaks. But obviously it makes sense if you want to have as many people using ePA as possible.
Unfortunately, ePA could become the BER of digitalisation. According to surveys, one in five Germans say they don’t to want to use it. Half are worried about data privacy and who has access to their medical records. This being Germany, you can be sure ePA will be the subject to lawsuits and boycotts and widespread Querdenker-style paranoia.
If you ask me, the government needs to roll this thing out with a massive marketing campaign explaining that doctors having your records at their fingertips (as is the case in plenty of other countries) might one day save your life.
Rant over. More news below.
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Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, November 8
New cases in one day: 2,012 (1,410 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,978 (+13 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 201.9 (235.6 Friday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 11.8 (11.1 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 6.0% (6.2% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
No sun on Sonnenallee
Berlin landlords can be serious a**holes. Residents in a Neukölln apartment building got a nasty surprise on November 1 when a giant 700sqm ad banner was abruptly hung up, preventing any daylight from entering their windows. Tenant Sadie Weis told Tagesspiegel: “I have a 4 year old child who is asking me every morning where the light has gone.” Residents say the landlord posted a note about “renovations” but nothing about a banner. So far, apart from a scaffolding, there’s no sign of renovations. The banner was not approved by the Neuköqlln Bezirksamt, which tweeted on Saturday that it’s “on the case”. The advertiser, a company that sells refurbished electronics, has reportedly offered tenants financial compensation.
And no on a car-free Friedrichstraße
Cars will again be allowed on a brief stretch of Friedrichstraße beginning Nov. 23 after a court said local politicians lacked the authority to close the street to motorised traffic. The 500-metre stretch from Leipziger Straße to Unter den Linden has been closed to cars since August 2020 as part of a controversial trial and Berlin mobility and environment minister Bettina Jarasch (Die Grüne) still hopes to convert the area to a pedestrian zone. But a court said the city-state cannot legally keep the road car-free until a law is passed making it a permanent Fußgängerzone. Berlin could have appealed the decision but decided instead to acquiesce, according to RBB24.
Around 60-70 employees of the Yorck Gruppe arthouse cinema chain gathered in front of Delphi Lux cinema on Saturday to demand higher wages. The workers are demanding a starting hourly wage of €13.50. Currently, the starting wage at Yorck is €12.50, a mere 50 cents above Germany’s minimum wage, which was bumped up to €12 in October. Yorck was founded in 1978 and runs 14 cinemas and two outdoor screens in Berlin. Boss Christian Bräuer told taz that the group was still recovering from financial losses endured during the pandemic. Business had yet to return to pre-corona levels.
Cancel Roger Waters?
Berlin’s state antisemitism commissioner Samuel Salzborn has called for the cancellation of a Roger Waters concert in Berlin next May. Salzborn called the Englishman “one of the loudest voices in the music business spreading anti-Israel antisemitism.” The ex-Pink Floyd frontman has backed the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and expressed support for Palestinian rights for many years. In a recent Facebook post, Waters defended himself against accusations of antisemitism and said he was going ahead with his Germany tour.
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Baker of the year
Now that Bayern has deposed 1. FC Union from the top Bundesliga spot, we’ll have to make do with slightly less spectacular Berlin success stories: baker Christa Lutum was named Baker of the Year 2022 by trade publication Allgemeinen Bäcker Zeitung. Lutum runs an organic artisanal, mostly-spelt bakery in Giesebrechtstraße 22, Charlottenburg. She’s the first woman to be awarded the accolade.
Berlin has its very own Abbey Road: Hansa Studios, known as the Big Hall by the Wall, because of its proximity to the western side of the Berlin Wall near Potsdamer Platz. Since 1965, a vast number of stars, including many from the English-speaking world, recorded music in the ex-ballroom. We’re not just talking Bowie, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. Even Nancy Sinatra and Ice Cube worked at Hansa. Read up on the studio’s history or take the English tour here.
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These extra large advertisements should be banned. There are plenty of places in this world which provide a model for such a ban. The ads are tone deaf to the anti-capitalist origins of this city, bring no value (everyone knows who Google, Apple and AirBnB are) but are some weird form of corporate colonialization. ("This building is temporarily brought to you by Huawei.")
Seeing ads for AirBnB on the new Amazon tower particularly bothered me because not only do they contribute to the housing shortage in the city through their business model, but they build no housing, and yet they also buy huge advertisements to remind Berliners about...housing. Thank you AirBnB I am reminded about how your company is a parasite on the people of this city.
Having said that, until these large advertisements are banned, I am saddened that CLIT, TPG and Trem haven't done their work and taken ownership of these monstrosities.