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#14: Strikes, taxes, Köpi, Sisyphos
...and the coalition talks.
three weeks after the super-election, coalition talks are slowly shaping shape on the national and city levels. Nationally, the centre-left SPD, the ecological Greens and the pro-business FDP announced on Friday their intention to enter official coalition negotiations - following days of “exploratory talks”. Stuff the three parties say they already agree on: a €12 miniumum wage and massive investment in electromobility. And maybe legalising weed. The FDP succcessfully blocked a speed limit on the Autobahn, surprise, surprise.
The prospects of such an Ampel (traffic light) coalition are fading in Berlin as we speak. While likely mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) had been flirting with the same constellation locally, it now looks like we’re heading for a repeat of the last legistlative term: SPD-Die Grünen-Die Linke aka R2G (red, red, green). Which means what? More bike lanes built at an excrutiating pace? Certainly. The really interesting part will be how the new Berlin government attempts to get a grip on rising rents after both the spectacular failure of Berlin rent cap law last spring and the overwelming support Berliners showed for the referendum to expropriate corporate landlords on election day. Giffey’s a centrist, but the Greens and Die Linke can be expected to pressure her to do something drastic about the cost of housing.
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Maurice & Andrew
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, October 15
Fully vaccinated: 65.6% (65.3% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 699 (667 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 3,663 (+8 over Tuesday)
🟡 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 84.7.4 (79.4 Tuesday)
🟢 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 2.7 (1.9 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 9.4% (8.9% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
Following recent strikes at schools and hospitals, retail employees went on strike Thursday morning, with around 500 workers from Berlin and Brandenburg gathering at Breitscheidplatz in Charlottenburg. Service industry union ver.di is demanding 4.5% more pay plus €45 extra per month - as well as a minium hourly wage of €12.50 for the 141,000 Berliners and 78,000 Brandenburgers who earn their keep in retail. In other strike news: Taz reports that plain clothes police showed up at a protest event by the 350 workers laid off by Gorillas grocery delivery service after they held strikes for better conditions. It turns out the cops had been assigned to investigate alleged connections between Gorillas workers and left-wing extremists. Lol.
A really nasty Twitter thing
This week, German social media was largely consumed by an affair that had it all: hate speech, death threats, racism, stupidity. On Sunday Sarah-Lee Heinrich, 20, was elected leader of the Green party’s youth wing. Offensive tweets Heinrich had posted as a 13 and 14-year-old resurfaced. Stuff like typing “Heil” beneath an image of a swastika or calling Germany’s “white majority society” disgusting. Heinrich, who is black, has since apologised. That prevented neither criticism in the mainsteam media nor a barage of online abuse. By mid-week Heinrich had resigned from her new job - thanks to murder threats. Read up on the whole sordid affair here.
Köpi campers evicted
Two thousand police officers equipped with riot gear, a tractor, armoured cars and battering rams carried out the eviction of people living in the trailer settlement next to the famous Köpi squat house on the border of Mitte and Kreuzberg. Residents put up resistance, but by Friday afternoon cops were removing the last stragglers. The police said they removed 37 people from the property and made 21 arrests - but were accused by some on social media for having acted “brutally”. The Köpi building and the camp have different agreements with the property’s owners - meaning the house can stay for now. The squat’s history goes back to 1990.
Taxes! Taxes! Taxes!
Reminder: The deadline for your 2020 tax declaration (Steuererklärung) is October 31. If you’re an employee - an Angestellte(r) - filing your taxes isn’t always mandatory but usually you’ll get a refund if you do file. If you’re a freelancer or business owner, filing by Halloween is mandatory. Failure to do so can result in fines. Clueless about taxes in Germany? Here’s a decent explainer in English.
3 things this weekend
Trans-Europ-Express at Deutsches Technik Museum. For trainspotters and Kraftwerk fans, this is a once in a lifetime chance to tour the interior of the legendary, luxury TEE train that once sped across post-war Western Europe. Deets and three further dates in October here. Thanks to @Bloodyromcom for the tip.
Zombies! Werewolves! Viruses! From October 17-24, there’s an international orgy of genre movies, from splatter flicks to thrillers, at the Fantasy Film Festival in the Kulturbrauerei. Most movies either in English or with English subtitles.
Techno club Sisyphos is throwing its first non-stop weekend party in forever. “Entenspass ohne Ticket” (duck fun without a ticket) requires no pre-booking. Starts Friday 10pm, ends Monday 8am.
That’s all for now, dear readers. See you Tuesday.