Dear 20 Percent,
I felt mighty melancholic when I read that Berlin’s ageing techno scene had applied for UNESCO intangible world heritage status. The fact that the defining cultural movement of Berlin’s Trente Glorieuses now feels it needs UN protection fills me with deep nostalgia for the pounding bass drums of the three heady decades between the fall of the Wall and the onslaught of the coronavirus on Berlin nightlife (more on that below). Okay, I only experienced two of those decades, but they were fantastic. That said, I really hope they get recognised by UNESCO. It would give clubs more clout in city politics and make it harder to close them down. However, Berlin should share the honour with Detroit, which actually gave birth to techno in the mid-1980s, before it spread here just in time for 1989, triggering the post-Wall nightlife explosion.
The news follows!
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The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, December 7
Fully vaccinated: 69.7% (69.4% Friday)
New cases in one day: +2,614 (2,539 Friday)
Total deaths: 3,867 ( (+18 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 336.8 (360.7 Friday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 4.7 (4.5 Friday)
🔴 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 22.3% (21% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
Angie’s last day at work
Tuesday is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s (CDU) final day in office before Olaf Scholz (SPD) is voted in by members of the Bundestag Wednesday. In her last podcast, Merkel appealed one more time to unvaccinated people to get a corona jab as the best way to protect themselves and break the fourth wave. As ex-chancellor, Merkel gets an office with nine taxpayer-funded employees but it’s anyone’s guess what she’ll do with her time. Speculations range from cooking potato soup in her house in Brandenburg to becoming UN Secretary General.
New gov ready to go
Meanwhile, the SPD, Greens and FDP have signed an agreement cementing the first three-way national government in post-war German history. The full list of ministers is out. Olaf Scholz’s cabinet posts are divvied up equally between men and women. Women will head the foreign ministry (Annalena Baerbock, Greens), defence ministry (Christine Lambrecht, SPD) and interior ministry (Nancy Faeser, SPD). Cem Özdemir (Greens), as Minister of Food and Agriculture, will be the country’s first cabinet member of Turkish descent. Scholz has chosen Karl Lauterbach (SPD), an outspoken voice during the pandemic and actual professor of epidemiology, as his health minister. Lauterbach has been the target of frequent online attacks by rabid anti-vaxxers.
And the Berlin coalition?
The city-state’s new government is coming together too. Both the center-left SPD and environmental Die Grüne have approved the coalition agreement, which includes appointing Franziska Giffey (SPD) mayor. All eyes are now on leftists Die Linke. Parties can either approve a coalition agreement or ask its members to vote on it and while the SPD and Die Grüne opted for the former, Die Linke went for the latter. The voting should wrap up Dec. 17 but expect some fireworks - more than a handful of members are irked that the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. referendum has been handed to a committee for review rather than implemented. The referendum passed in September’s election and would force corporate landlords to divest large swaths of their portfolios to our city-state. Celeb Linke politician Klaus Lederer told Tagesspiegel he would back yet another referendum if the new government doesn’t implement the original.
New rules from Wednesday
The latest round of city corona regulations for food and drink venues kick in tomorrow. Not only is the 2G (vaccinated or recovered) requirement in place, dancing in clubs is verboten and so is standing while drinking at a bar or Christmas market. Politicians hope to prevent mingling and viral transmission between strangers. Some clubs aren’t bothering to open. About Blank, for example, says it’s going into “solidarity lockdown” for at least four weekends. Outgoing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) explained it thus: “We will formulate this so that disorderly contacts in the gastronomy sector are avoided, but food and drink in restaurants continue to be possible.” Sounds like an enforcement nightmare for the people working in these places.
3G affecting BVG, too
Since the November 24 introduction of 3G (vaccination, recovered or tested) in workplaces, the S-Bahn, Deutsche Bahn and now BVG says that staff are calling in sick more - meaning reduced service on some bus routes and trains (like DB’s BER airport express). Train staff across Germany have complained that they have are now responsible for ensuring passengers are complying with 3G. Transport workers have been subjected to physical attacks from passengers refusing to wear masks.
Google’s Brandenburg plans binned
For years the search giant has been hoping to build a new data centre in the Berlin region. According to broadcaster RBB, Google had its eyes on an industrial lot in Neuenhagen east of the city, but the Strausberg Erkner water board vetoed the project, saying there wasn’t enough groundwater in the region to serve Google’s needs. The water board also voted to start rationing water for 170,000 area residents. The nearby Tesla factory expected to open any day has come under fire from environmentalists for its projected exorbitant water needs.
Er, another Gorillas story
We don’t have a personal beef with the delivery app. Really. But they keep shooting themselves in the foot. This time it’s bed bugs in one of their warehouses. The vermin were discoverd in a routine inspection last week in the Muskauer Straße operation in Kreuzberg. The warehouse has been shut down. “Improvements are coming and we plan to resume operations as soon as possible,” a Gorillas spokesperson said.
On December 10, 1921, Wahlberliner Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in quantum theory and his discovery of the photoelectric effect. At the time he was director of Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, a position he held until the Nazis took power in 1933 - after which Einstein handed in his German passport and left the country for good.
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Hi Maurice, I think you're wrong about Christine Lambrecht being the first woman to lead the defense ministry. Before her, it was Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, from 2019, and even before Ursula von der Leyen, from 2013.