Six months ago, almost to the day, Andrew and I, a little shell-shocked from the shutdown of the latest English-language experiment at a German media outlet (the Berliner Zeitung, if you must know) and our subsequent layoff, figured we might as well continue where we left off, trying to explain Berlin politics, corona rules and city life to internationals as succinctly as possible. And with a dash of snark — Andrew moonlights as a comedian.
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The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, February 22
Fully vaccinated: 76.3% (76.2% Friday)
Received booster: 57.4% (57.1% Friday)
New cases in one day: +8 244(6,686 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,217 (+12 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1,079.1 (977.1 Friday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 20.6 (23.8 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 14.1% (15% Friday)
Medieval road destroyed
An 800-year-old wooden street discovered by construction in January at Molkenmarkt in Mitte has since been removed in what the Berliner Zeitung dubbed a “chainsaw massacre”. Members of the Berlin Historical Society are enraged and wrote a letter to Berlin Culture Minister Klaus Lederer (Linke) for allowing the removal of the street without any public discussion. Medieval Berlin was so thoroughly destroyed in wartime Berlin - and before - that a string of ancient logs are of archeological and cultural significance. Even if so much hadn’t been destroyed the logs seem more important than just kindling.
Storm Bibi no biggie
After Ylenia, Zeynep and Antonia caused serious upheaval in Berlin and across the region, a weaker weather system dubbed Bibi is blowing through Tuesday, with gusts up to 55kph expected, according to the DWD German weather experts. The worst should be over for now, they said. The recent storms disrupted transport and felled trees across the city. Berlin firefighters were deployed a record 4,000 times to deal with the damage.
Suspects in racist attack identified
Two weeks after 17-year-old Dilan Sözeri, a German of Turkish origin, was brutally assaulted and subjected to racist abuse on a tram Greifswalder Straße in Prenzlauzer Berg, police have identified all six suspected attackers, according to Berlin’s deputy police chief Marco Langner. He said the police are assessing “very good video footage” from inside the tram. Initially, the police and Berlin media falsely claimed the attack, which landed her in the hospital, was triggered by Sözeri’s refusal to wear a mask. On Sunday, hundreds of people attended a solidarity rally under the slogan “Don’t look away” near the site of the attack.
Cops eye climate protesters
But the racist attack wan’t all Lagner talked about. The police boss said he thought climate protestors known for blocking highways (“Uprising of the last generation”) would further radicalise and begin to target critical infrastructure (indeed, they moved to the Hamburg harbor recently). A new workgroup - “Asphalt” is its name - is now monitoring the activists. Politicians wanted to charge the activists for the emergency responses to their protests but there is apparently no legal basis. Hence, the city-state is now looking into amending one of my favourite German words - the Polizeibenutzungsgebührenordung, or police fee-setting regulation, to make it possible to bill activists in future. In my book, that feels like a slippery slope. Isn’t dealing with protests a core function of the police?
Illegal rave out East
Berlin’s still Berlin. Police broke up an illegal party with more than 500 guests in a derelict transformer substation near S-Bahnhof Wuhlheide after questioning a group of youths at the station early Sunday morning. The Polizei took down the details of 350 people and handed out fines for drug offenses.
Tesla gets a works council
It’s well known that Elon Musk is no friend to organised labour, but unionists have managed to schedule the election of a works council or Betriebsrat to represent the interests workers at the new Tesla factory in Brandenburg without a hitch. Currently the electric car plant has around 2,300 employees. Now they just have to open the factory, which still hasn’t received the final go-ahead from the Brandenburg state environment agency.
A Blitz 2022 festival guide
February. Corona turns two. More than ever, you’re probably fantasising about getting off your head and thrashing your body around in sheer ecstasy to your music of preference. Good news: festivals are back! Here’s a list of 12 this year. For every taste.
May 20-22. Punk & Disorderly. No further description needed. Astra Kulturhaus in Friedrichshain.
May 26-29. Desertfest. Stoner, heavy metal, lots of hair. Arena Berlin.
May 28. İç İçe Festival. New Turkish sounds. Festsaal Kreuzberg.
June 9-12. Wurzelfestival. Forest spirits, trance techno, juggling, you get the idea. Somewhere in Brandenburg.
June 9-12. Melt. Eastern Germany’s original giant indie-fest in the spectacular Ferropolis, a former stripmine.
July 14-18. Feel Festival. All types of tunes. A focus on tolerance and anti-discrimination. And there’s a lake! No English website so far, unfortunatey
June 10-12. Tempelhof Sounds. Massive indie fest at our favourite old airport.
June 29-July 3. Fusion. A legend among legends. And, no, you’re not getting in unless you know someone. Tix all gone.
June 30-July 2 or July 7-9. Splash! Hip hop, grime, big international acts and a choice of two weekends. Like Melt, out in Ferropolis.
July 22-24. Nation of Gowanda. Raver classic just outside Berlin.
August 5-6. Jenseits von Millionen. Truly indie fest out in the Lausitz region. Non-profit fest run by volunteers. Proceeds donated to charity. No English site yet.
September 24-25. Lollapalooza. Giant corporate thing in the Olympic Stadium. Line-up yet to be announced.
Another sign of Berlin’s indemic poverty? The capital city has the lowest level of home ownership among the 16 German states. In 2018 (latest stats), just 17.4% of Berliners were owner-occupiers. Tiny Saarland on the French border led the pack with 64.7%.
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