#239: Citizenship law delayed, did a wolf attack?, rents going up
Have we mentioned our Christmas party enough?
Hello fellow foreign-born Berliners!
Sometimes when you’re used as a pawn in a political chess game, politicians sacrifice you for a better shot at the king and checkmate. Ergo, winning.
And sometimes they just throw you out there because they’re out of ideas. This week, it’s the latter.
A new citizenship law that will allow dual-citizenship as well as lowering the time in-country to as few as three years from eight for naturalization was removed from the Bundestag’s agenda amid a spat between coalition partners. It could have potentially become law Jan. 1.
But the business-friendly FDP was against a suggestion by the center-left SPD that people who rely on government support through no fault of their own — the disabled, for example, or single mothers — could take advantage of the new law, according to Tagesspiegel. Only those who support themselves independently, the FDP says, should benefit, kiboshing any hope of the law moving forward this year.
The SPD says the delay is just a minor hurdle and hopes the law will be passed by April but there is a mid-sized “but” hanging in the air: The FDP Monday will launch a member survey of whether they want their party to continue running Germany in a coalition with the SPD and environmentalist Greens.
The survey is non-binding — party brass can ignore it but they want it complete before a party strategy meeting Jan. 6. If the FDP decides to leave the government, politicians would have far more to worry about then our pet law. The party is polling horribly since head honcho Christian Lindner became Germany’s finance minister.
Have a good weekend anyway!
PS: One way to help your weekend get better is to come to the hilarious 20% News Quiz Saturday night at 9.30pm at Comedy Cafe Berlin followed by the 20% Berlin Christmas party. Tickets are €10 for the show or just stop by for drinks starting at 10.30pm or so (Patreon supporters/paid subscribers get a drink on us!). You can catch both the News Quiz and the improv show before for 25% off by using the code 7P9GVZXJ.
And please check out this issue’s sponsor, power utility Ostrom.
Hamas members arrested in Berlin
Three members of Palestinian terrorist group Hamas were arrested Thursday in Berlin amid allegations they wanted to fill an underground weapons cache for planned attacks against Jewish sites in Europe, according to rbb24. The men had been looking for weapons to hide in the armory, which was built recently but whose location remains a secret. The three men were Lebanese, Egyptian and Dutch and were helped by a fourth Lebanese man in Rotterdam, who was also arrested. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said they were shocked by the plans but also reassured that Germany’s security officials were able to foil the plot.
Wolves are really, really back (maybe)
Brandenburg, that leafy state that fully surrounds Berlin, may be wilder than we thought: A 47-year-old man was admitted to hospital Wednesday night after tangling with what might have been a wolf, according to Die Welt. The man was walking his dog in a forest in southern Brandenburg when the dog was attacked by what the victim said was a German shepherd with unique coloration. The man was severely injured while trying to defend his dog but was able to retreat to his car. Wild animal experts are looking at DNA from his wounds to determine if it was a wolf or just a German shepherd with a negligent owner.
Even the government is raising your rent
But things are also getting wild here in Berlin where even our public housing companies are starting to raise rents. Our previous government had forced the city-state’s own property companies to freeze rents in 2021 at the level of a rent cap that was overturned by Germany’s highest court. But the new government lifted the freeze, effective Jan. 1, and the companies are now bumping up rents to match increases they weren’t allowed to make since 2021, according to Tagesspiegel (paywall), often by more than €100/month. The Berliner Mieterverein renters’ association told the paper it was irresponsible of the new government to unilaterally lift all protections at once, which does seem like an unwise move from our elected officials. The number of flats affected as well as the average increase per lease/month at the various publicly owned landlords:
Gewobag: 4,270 / €36.48
Degewo: 4,000 / €29-€32
Howoge: 3,500 / €20.70
Gesobau: 3,081 / €29-€30
WBM: 2,700 / €29-€32
Stadt und Land: 1,393 / €29-€32
Everyone is sick at (and of) the BVG
And of course Berlin’s biggest wilderness is not Tierpark or the Grunewald but rather our public transport and you’re not imagining things: It has gotten wilder in recent weeks. You can thank corona and those near-forgotten ailments, colds and the flu. The BVG public transport authority currently has 6% to 8% more employees out sick than normally, according to taz, and health officials say corona cases have tripled in recent weeks. The result: cancelled, late and over-filled subways, buses and trams. The problems, BVG says, aren’t related to a worker-shortage — driving a subway is a sought-after job in Berlin. But they’re not helping either.
On this day in 1995, European politicians voted to call the then-planned new pan-European currency the “euro”. Some things are so pervasive that you forget someone first had to come up with the name. Like, Berlin. It was just always Berlin, right?
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