#142: Bavaria v. Berlin, Christian Lindner, demos, solar unicorn
Did a queer magazine insult a dead Pope?
Dear 20% Berlin,
Every time Berlin acts like a toddler, the rest of Germany — at least the more conservative parts — piles on the capital and craps all over it. Usually it’s the Bavarians.
Now it’s the combination of our chaotic New Year’s Eve and our chaotic local election do-over next month that is enraging our Alpine brethren.
Markus Söder, head of the CSU, the Bavarian version of the CDU, said last week: “Berlin’s unfortunately developing into a chaos-city — beginning with the political leadership, that can neither organise elections nor guarantee the safety of its citizens.” CSU general secretary Martin Huber tweeted: “Berlin gets billions a year and spends this money on non-gendered toilets and election gifts”.
This is about money, naturally. Whenever the capital misbehaves, the Lederhosen gang down south demands an end to the Länderfinanzausgleich, the system under which tax revenues are redistributed to the less financially stable German states — like Berlin. Richer states — like Bavaria — are net contributors.
Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) punched back: “If 145 chaotic people [referring to the arrests made on NYE] screw up in a metropolis of almost four million people, you can't conclude that all the other inhabitants here are also chaotic.”
“I don't give Mr. Söder advice, either,” she added.
Berlin receives €3.6bn through the redistribution programme, more than any other state, and it’s true that sometimes we do come across at Germany’s basket case. But one has to keep in mind: Berlin was thoroughly destroyed in the war and remained divided for decades during the Cold War. Big Berlin companies fled to the west of the country. Like industrial giant Siemens — which set up shop in Munich (ergo, Bavaria).
Besides, Bavaria wasn’t always rich. It benefited itself from the Länderfinanzausgleich — for 37 years.
More news below!
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Finance minister in bed with bank?
German finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) is facing an investigation over a possible conflict of interest, according to Tagesspiegel. The attorney general’s office is concerned that he appeared in a promotional video for BBBank, the very bank that loaned him €1.65 million in January 2021 and another €450,000 last June — both apparently connected to the purchase and renovation of his Berlin villa. The three-minute video was showed at the bank’s 100th birthday party — while Lindner was already finance minister. Before he took on his cabinet post, Lindner had accepted other paid jobs at the bank.
“Lützi” solidarity demo in F’hain
Several hundred people demonstrated in Friedrichshain on Monday evening against the razing of Lützerath, a village in western Germany, to expand a giant open-pit coal mine. Activists are squatting in the village in North-Rhine Westphalia and police are expected to evict them shortly. Banners at the Berlin demo read: “Defend free spaces: Solidarity with Lützerath” or “Expropriate RWE: Excavator to scrap metal” — referring to the mine’s operator and the mammoth machines that eat away at the Earth. The government has allowed RWE to continue mining the extremely dirty, climate-damaging fuel through 2030 as Germany weans itself from Russian gas. And this just in: once again, “Last Generation” activists blocked an off-ramp and glued themselves to the tarmac on Berlin’s A100 this morning. No sign they’ll give up any time soon.
Berlin’s solar unicorn
Another way to fight climate change: local solar power company Enpal raked in another €215m in financing, according to tech.eu, just weeks after attracting an €855m investment. Enpal is now valued at €2.25 bln. The firm offers homeowners photovoltaic rental packages to run their houses on solar at low cost. “Fighting climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century”, said Enpal founder and CEO Mario Kohle.
LGBTQ site investigated for Pope article
Here’s another way to waste taxpayer money: Berlin police are investigating the online magazine queer.de in connection with a critical article on the deceased (Bavarian) Joseph Ratzinger aka Pope Benedict XVI, taz reports. Someone reported the magazine via the police’s “online precinct” for “denigration of the memory of the deceased.” Under German law, insulting the dead can be a crime. Only relatives of the deceased can file for charges, though. The article in question described the ex-Pope as “one of the biggest anti-queer agitators”. Queer.de publisher Micha Schulze told taz: “Queer-hostile groups and individuals have been trying to intimidate our editorial staff with criminal charges — or by threatening to file charges — for some time.” , Jörg Reichel, head of the journalist union DJU, called on the police to drop the charges.
Burning cars used to be as Berlin as Spätis, cliche Berghain jokes and complaining incessantly. There was once even a map! But that seems to be changing: Last year, 578 became victim to arson, 130 fewer vehicles than in 2021, according to RBB24. The arson is often billed as protest against the bourgeoisie but it’s usually just good old-fashioned fire bugging. Only 30 cases from last year are being investigated as a political statement. Most of the cars are collateral damage — only 116 were actually set on fire, down from 146 in 2021.
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