#46: Olaf+Joe, 800K Ausländer, BVG, Tesla
And a new way to get your paracetamol.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has taken a beating over the last few weeks for his invisibility or, when he did appear, his questionable wardrobe choices and his spinelessness in the Russia-Ukraine stand-off. Germany was mocked for sending nothing more than 5,000 helmets to Ukraine and blocking the transfer of old East German howitzers from Estonia to Kyiv. The New York Times and everyone else questioned Germany’s reliability as an ally.
Scholz emerged from hibernation on Monday for a face-saving visit to the White House. He promised during a press conference with President Biden that if Russia invaded Ukraine, they would “act together. We will not be taking different steps. And they will be very, very hard to Russia.” Biden got more concrete and said an invasion would lead to the blocking of the controversial Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
When reporters pushed Scholz on Nordstream 2, though, he refused to even mention the pipeline by name. You just want to shake the man: just because your SPD comrade and former chancellor Gerhard Schröder is up to his eyeballs in Russian gas and was even just nominated to join Gazprom’s board of directors, doesn’t mean you’re not the boss now. Besides, the voters aren’t impressed, Olaf. A CDU/CSU (Union) comeback is already in full swing (German voters are regularly asked how they would vote if the election were that day, with the most recent results 👇).
I shudder at the thought of how else Scholz will continue to dither if Russian tanks really do roll into Ukraine.
The Berlin news is below!
The Berlin corona stats for Monday, February 8
Fully vaccinated: 75.6% (75.4% Friday)
Received booster: 55.4% (54.8% Friday)
New cases in one day: +9,578 (13,317 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,140 (+7 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1,640.4 (1,803.4 Friday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 25.2 (23.5 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 17.5% (17.6% Friday)
No more 2G for retail?
On Monday, Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) said Berlin would drop the 2G rule (vaxxed or recovered) for non-essential retail next week and replace it with an all-round FFP2 mask requirement. The idea is to relieve staff from the burden of checking shoppers’ vaccination status. Makes sense. But why announce the change this week and wait until next week to implement it? God only knows.
36.6% have a “migration background”
Last year, the city’s population grew by 5,000, according to official stats just out. Of the 3,775,480 registered Berliners, 1.4 million have an “immigration background”, including 400,000 people from EU countries. Included in the 1.4 million are 570,000 Germans with “foreign roots”, reports Tagesspiegel. “German with foreign roots” means you were born outside of Germany or at least one of your parents was born elsewhere. Berlin is also home to 811,000 regular Ausländer, the most ever. If my calculations are correct we should change our name to 21 Percent.
Nicer ticket checkers?
The BVG says ticket checkers on the U-Bahn, both inhouse and outsourced ones, have been wearing blue vests since November and said they caught just as many fare dodgers as the ones in plain clothes had. The vests are supposed to create a more professional, friendlier impression. The move was in response to widespread reports of racist, ageist or just generally thuggish behaviour. As we reported in January, American academic Abbéy Odunlami was almost killed by ticket checkers two years ago and is still awaiting the findings of an internal BVG investigation. Let’s hope some better selection/training of staff is on the agenda, too.
Tesla court hearing, plant opening postponed again
“We’re not in a desert.” That’s how Elon Musk dismissed a reporter’s question about the ongoing groundwater problem at the new Tesla factory last year. Musk’s fourth electric car plant is basically ready to go, but it looks like the delay of a court hearing scheduled for February 11 will mean the state environment agency could delay the final approval to start producing cars. The environmentalists who filed the legal complaint say Tesla shouldn’t have received permission to source its water from the Eggersdorf waterworks, because they say the factory’s demands would overwelm the utility, resulting in water shortages. The hearing was delayed because one of the plaintiffs has fallen seriously ill, Berliner Zeitung reported.
Bike delivery for meds
First there was restaurant delivery. Then groceries. And now meds. Cure this week will become at least the third pharmaceutical delivery service in the Hauptstadt, meaning you’ll no longer have to leave the WG for a hungover trip to the Apotheke. Cure’s bilingual app promises 30-minute free delivery of 3,000 over-the-counter pharmacy products, starting Wednesday. Once Germany’s new digital e-Rezept system is up and running in March, Cure says it will deliver prescription drugs as well. The company is hiring riders and promises they’ll have proper contracts and won’t be treated like crap, unlike at some other delivery app start-ups who like to, ahem, ape each other.
The Berlinale is back!
The first Berlinale tickets went on sale at 10am this morning and new batches become available every day at 10am till the end of the fest. Cinemaniacs are probably hoovering up everything they can get their hands on. If you can’t get into the Berlinale, despair not: there’s always Berlin Critic’s Week, which kicks off at Kino Hackesche Höfe Wednesday and runs through February 17. Get a taste of the festival vibe plus some seriously intellectual discussion about some seriously challenging arthouse flicks from around the world.
On February 7, 1882 the Stadtbahn, the elevated East-West railway running straight through the centre of town, opened. Initially, the route ran from Charlottenburg to Jannowitzbrücke. It later linked up to the Ringbahn and eventually formed the East-West S-Bahn axis we know today. (Thanks to Katja Hoyer)
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