#233: Right-wing cops, hack at the Natural History Museum, maglev costs, illegal parking
Plus a fresh Knifecrab comic and weekend events!
I’ve been in Cologne on business the last three days and I’m amazed at how different German cities can feel. The first thought is always the same: Oh, that’s what buildings look like without crappy graffiti, followed by more nuanced observations.
Like they have Spätis here but they’re called Kiosks and they’re somehow … nice. Like mini-Edekas. There’s no benches out front but gaggles of young people hover near the doorways late at night.
They also have something Berlin does not, which has always bewildered me: Neighborhood bars that are over a century old and are always packed. They’re usually linked to some brewery and serve the same, dependable mostly meat-based meals (goulash, sausages and here a gouda/Brötchen combination that they call a half-chicken).
When I used to work in offices I was always stumped as to why there is no real afterwork bar (pub?) culture in Berlin like I experienced in other cities (in the US, London, Paris). Maybe it’s because up until a decade ago, nobody really worked in Berlin.
Sure, there’s Eckkneipen and Max and Moritz in Kreuzberg or Schusterjunge in Prenzlauer Berg but they just aren’t that prevalent or that packed. Like you can’t go there after work, bump into somenone you know and decide to stay for dinner. In the several I’ve supped in here, you get a feeling like you’re connected to the area’s past — not that past, the one that came before and after.
After another half-chicken tonight, I’ll be back in the Hauptstadt tomorrow.
Have a good weekend and visit this issue’s sponsor, insurer Getsafe!
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Did two cops ignore right-wing crime?
The right-wing dog whistles are coming from inside the police department. A high-ranking Berlin police official in the office responsible for political crimes reportedly sandbagged the investigations of 300 right-wing crimes, mostly from 2020 and 2021, tabloid BZ reported. Cops are now investigating the official as well as one of their underlings for obstruction of justice after a change in command at the office — known officially as Kommissariat 533 — uncovered the ignored cases. Some of the alleged crimes had been assigned to investigators who no longer work in the precinct. The investigation follows accusations that similar investigations of right-wing attacks in Neukölln were willfully ignored for years — not only by police but also the local prosecutor’s office.
Maglev cost explosion!
After gaining international attention for the idea of a Disneyworld-esque magnetic levitation railway through central Berlin, Dirk Stettner, the conservative CDU politician behind the plan, admitted it would likely cost more than his original €80 million estimate — Tagesspiegel says it would likely be upwards of €250 million (the German government says maglevs cost up to €25 million per km while maglev maker Max Bögl says it’s twice that). Berlin’s own auditor says the plan is illegal anyway because Stettner wants to take the cash from €5 billion that will be borrowed to battle climate change. The problem: Germany’s top court recently ruled that climate funds like the €5 billion are unconstitutional because they don’t battle an immediately pressing problem (just the eventual end of an inhabitable Earth).
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Hackers hobble hundreds at Naturkundemuseum
Up to 450 researchers at our Natural History Museum have been unable to access their professional e-mails and vital research information following a hacker attack mid-October, according to Tagesspiegel. A group of hackers known to police entered and encrypted the museum’s IT system on October 12, which administrators then shut down to prohibit further harm. It’s still offline. Federal and local officials are working to gauge the damage but don’t yet know if they’ll be able to decode the encryption without meeting the hackers’ ransom demands. The problem, one expert said, is that while the city-state’s own systems are increasingly safe, public research institutes and universities are left to fend for themselves (in what is really a digital desert).
Parking cars on the street used to be illegal in (West) Germany. Imagine! From 1944 to 1966, car owners had to rent a private parking spot in (West) Berlin if they wanted to keep a car in the city. A Bremen businessman in 1957 got tired of parking his delivery truck in its spot so he left it on the street overnight and launched a nine-year legal battle, according to taz. Germany’s top court eventually allowed parking on public streets based on laws governing public spaces — anyone is allowed access as long as they don’t infringe on the public good. And since the government had been promoting cars as a public good, it only made sense to the court that parking them on public streets was a public good. 🤮
Some weekend event picks from our new partner newsletter, the weekend guide The Next Day Berlin:
Friday, 24.11, 8:30 pm. Gretchen, Obentrautstraße 19-21, Kreuzberg. Ticket: €28.50€.
Imagined orchestra blending diverse musical influences into electronic-acoustic compositions, featuring guest musicians, field recordings and intricate drums. Evokes emotions through contrasts. It could be a perfect soundtrack for Inception or The Grand Budapest Hotel. 🎧 The Dream is to Forget
Saturday, 25.11, 6-10 pm. Zenner, Alt-Treptow 15, Treptower Park. Ticket: €8.16.
You can dance and skate at the Zenner skating rink. DJs Alison Swing and Longhair will be on the decks, making it the event to have a fun time with friends. You can rent skates at the rink.
Saturday, 25.11, 8 pm. Passionskirche, Marheinekepl. 1, Kreuzberg. Tickets: €36.75.
The sweet ambient pop of Devendra Banhart's new album, 🎧 'Flying Wig,' has the power to warm our hearts during these challenging times. The album is melancholic but not hopeless. You’ll like it if you appreciate synths and the pulsating heartbeat of the bass.
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Winter-proof yourself & your stuff with these essential Berlin winter tips
Wear layers (to strip off in the hot ubahn).
Learn how to spot black ice.
Lüften lüften lüften.
Become a Sauna Person, it helps.
Drink ALL the Glühwein.*
*Get the Schuss.
Vitamin D pills!!!!!
Go see a play (with English subtitles).
Invest in a sun lamp and / or prayer?
Make sure you’ve got liability insurance.
Liability insurance covers the financial costs if you accidentally cause damage, either winter-specific or otherwise, to someone else, their property or their assets.
Stay safe this winter with Getsafe.