#251: BVG strike coming? AfD firewall, AI cash, more jobs
Another ex-finance senator goes Nazi on us
Dear 20 Percent,
I’ve spent the week with my sick toddler while moving house so my brain feels like it’s been put in a juicer. Please excuse the lack of attempted wit and insight in this intro.
Instead, since my new local supermarket is an Aldi, I offer you an Aldi-Lidl-Netto lifehack onTik Tok: spread out your purchases on the conveyor to slow down and prevent the cashier from throwing them at you, allowing you to bag your groceries at a sane speed. I especially hate Aldi because of the lack of post-scan packing ramp.
Your food piles up on a tiny, metallic surface, giving you zero seconds to stuff it into your backpack like a bank robber stuffing wads of cash into a garbage bag. The checkout feels designed to induce stress in the shopper to keep things frantic, fast and profitable. I'm definitely going to try spacing out my groceries on my next trip.
And now, some news.
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Note from Andrew: Thanks to everyone who came out to Accidentally German Wednesday at Cosmic Comedy! It was a blast! The 20 Percent News Quiz will be back 8pm Feb. 7 at Comedy Cafe Berlin (tickets not yet available for reasons but soon)!
And now a BVG strike?
Reminder for those who missed the memo: the train strike, the longest in German history, continues through Monday, January 29. This includes the S-Bahn but not the BVG, which operates the U-Bahn, trams and buses. Berlin.de has more details in English. Meanwhile, BVG began negotiations on Wednesday with Verdi union reps over pay and working times. The union isn't happy with progress and says a strike is coming, without announcing any dates, raising the spectre of a possible double-strike involving both the S-Bahn and BVG. 😱
The next big anti-AfD demo
Last weekend, at least 100,000 Berliners took to the streets to oppose the right-wing AfD, following relevations about a secret extremist meeting to discuss mass “remigration” of foreigners. On Saturday, February 3, hundreds of organisations are calling on people to form a human chain around the Reichstag (home of the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag) under #wirsinddiebrandmauer (“We are the firewall”). “Firewall” is the term that mainstream politicians use when they promise they won’t form coalitions with the far right.
Another dodgy ex-finance senator
Thilo Sarrazin (formerly SPD) worked as Berlins’s finance senator (our local name for “minister”) in the early 2000s but then became known for his 2010 racist, anti-Muslim bestseller Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Abolishes Itself). The book was a shot in the arm for the current right-wing populist movement. Now it’s emerged that the finance minister before Sarrazin, Peter Kurth (formerly CDU), helped finance Castell Aurora, a right-wing, Identitarian house project in the Austrian town of Steyregg, according to the anti-fascist research orginsation Exif. The house is a popular meeting point for members of the European “New Right”. Kurth apparently transferred the cash in 2019 via a series of companies in order to remain anonymous. According to Der Spiegel, Kurth also may have invested in a far-right hang-out in the city of Chemnitz, too. The network of companies is being investigated for money laundering.
Investors shovel cash into AI design tool
Who says Berlin can’t do AI? Local start-up Kittl, a competitor to online design tool Canva, has scored a $36 million series B investment from California’s IVP as it rolls out new services, such as the world’s first text-to-graphic generative AI, which allows users to create flashy logos and vector graphics by entering a simple prompt. More on Tech.eu.
Wands Up, Minds Sharp!
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Recession? What recession? Even though Germany’s economy shrank by 0.3% last year, the Berlin job market held its own. Employment in the city grew by 1.6%, or 31,500 people. Of all the German states, only Hamburg created more jobs.
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