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#17: Cringe, tram deaths, homophobia, pornfest
Oh yeah, and the newly elected Bundestag convened today...
Hey 20 Percent,
While the German internet is flustered about “cringe” being voted youth word of 2021 30 years late, the real world is awash with serious news. One such story that not many people are paying attention to in Berlin is the humanitarian crisis happening right now in Belarus and Poland, where refugees trapped on the border between the two countries are dying of cold. Around 6,000, mostly from Iraq and Syria, have made it across Poland and into Germany in the past few months. Refugee shelters in Brandenburg are filling up. And the backlash is already here: A neo-Nazi group tried to form a militia to patrol the border but was broken up by the police.
A few politicians are warning of a repeat of the 2015-2016 crisis, when more than a million migrants entered Germany - sparking Willkommenskultur but at the same time bolstering support for the racist AfD. Immigration was hardly on the agenda during the September election. Expect the issue to make a major comeback. Probable chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will have his work cut out for him when he finally takes the reins from Angela Merkel some time towards the end of the year.
The news is below!
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, October 26
Fully vaccinated: 66.3% (66.1% Friday)
New cases in one day: 995 (713 Friday)
Total deaths: 3,677 (+6 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 118.7 (113.7 Friday)
🟢 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 3.6 (3.2 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 9.7% (9.4% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
Younger, more diverse Bundestag
Less grey hair in parliament! The freshly elected lower house, the Bundestag, met for the first time Tuesday morning, with 27% of MPs under 40. The youngest is 23-year-old Emilia Fester (Die Grünen). The oldest is 80-year-old Alexander Gauland (AfD). The share of female MPs rose from 31% to 35%. One of them is Awet Tesfaiesus (Die Grünen), the first black and female Bundestag member.
Two die in tram accident
In depressing local news: Late Saturday night an Uber driver and one of his passengers were killed after being hit by a tram in Lichtenberg, reports Berliner Zeitung. Two more passengers were injured. Witnesses said the driver turned right on a red light and failed to see the approaching streetcar.
Gay couple threatened with pistol
A 40-year-old man was kissing and embracing his boyfriend outside of Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station last Thursday when a group of young men approached, according to police. One of them pulled out a firearm and held it against the 40-year-old’s head. The young men laughed and left the scene. Several incidents of homophobic hate have been reported on the streets of Berlin’s historical gay neighbourhood this year. Matthias Steuckardt, chairman of the local CDU chapter and former head of the Lesbians and Gays in the Union (LSU), condemned the homophobic attack and called for a consistent strategy to fight crime in Schöneberg's “rainbow neighborhood”.
Meanwhile, the streets of Berlin won’t be rid of the pesky rental scooters anytime soon, because the city is now home to a “double unicorn” in the sector. Berlin-based Tier has sucked up another US$200 million (€170 million) in an investment round led by Japan’s Softbank, with cash injections also coming from Mubadala Capital (Abu Dhabi), M&G Investments (UK) and Mountain Partners (Switzerland). The company is now valued at over US$2 billion (a single unicorn is worth $1 billion, though wouldn’t a double unicorn just be a … cow?).
The Berlin economy is bouncing back from corona according to the IHK’s (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) autumn report (pdf). A survey of 1,000 local firms found that the "business climate index” sprung to 125. The index bottomed out at 65 in the depths of the pandemic last year. The IHK said it found an upbeat mood in the digital economy and industry, while hospitality was still suffering from a slump in tourism as well as a worker shortage.
Women only sauna day in Neukölln
After a long corona-closure, the sauna at Stadtbad Neukölln has reopened with complicated German hours: Sat-Sun 11am-3pm and 4pm-8pm, Tues to Fri 9.30am-1pm, 2pm-5.30pm, 6.30pm-10pm. Monday is women-only day: 12.30pm-4.30pm, 5.30-9.30pm. The pool is always reserved for female swimmers on Mondays.
Not any old porn festival
The one-of-a-kind Porn Film Festival Berlin opens it doors for the 16th time at Moviemento in Kreuzberg tonight! For those who have never attended: expect a buffet of erotic movies from around the world that explore the genre from a queer, feminist or political perspective. Loads of (skin) flicks in English or with English subtitles. But are you really there for the plot? Here’s the full schedule. The festival runs through October 31. Below is the trailer of Russian opening film Autlo (Outlaw).
Probably not related to the Pornfest, but someone’s been putting doctored stickers featuring Berlin’s trademark bear in sexual positions, drinking beer or smoking joints on city buses. Check ‘em out here.
That’s it for now. See you Friday.