#62: Cheap BVG, Russian demo, NFT fest, fertility app
And can't we all go topless?h
Some harmless schadenfreude this grim spring: Elon Musk reportedly was denied entrance to Berghain at the weekend, despite his claim on Twitter (of which Musk is now the biggest shareholder) that the word “peace” painted on the outside of the club annoyed him, so he decided not to enter. Okay.
I’m ambivalent about the guy. It’s hard not to be slightly awed by the non-stop Musk/Tesla show - take, for example, this impressive fly-through video of the interior of the new factory in Brandenburg.
Yet it’s also deeply satisfying when the world’s richest man can’t get into a Berlin club on account of his celebrity (or deep pockets). Berghain, you’ve still got it.
Real news below.
Hundreds of cars bearing Russian flags and slogans like “stop hating Russians” rolled Sunday from the Soviet Memorial in Treptow through the centre of town to Spandau. Soviet and Russian imperial flags (associated with the Russian far-right) were also spotted. The motorcade was held on the same day that news of alleged atrocities by Russian troops came out of Bucha, near Kyiv — the demo claimed to be against the discrimination experienced by the Russian-speaking community in Berlin, but was roundly condemned by everyone from the Ukrainian Ambassador (“motorcade of shame”) to populist tabloid BILD. Berlin mayor Fransiska Giffey said the motorcade fell under freedom of assembly but added that the driver of a car with the banned Z symbol faces criminal charges.
€9 travel card from May?
Germany’s transport ministry says there’s a good chance the “9-for-90” public transport ticket intended to provide temporary relief from high fuel prices for drivers could be implemented as early as May 1, according to tabloid Berliner Kurier, though its sister paper, the Berliner Zeitung, says June. “9-for-90” refers to €9 euros per month for three months (90(ish) days). In Berlin it’s likely the tickets will be valid on all transport in zones A, B and C. Yearly pass holders will receive refunds over the three months. As well-intentioned as the scheme is, it seems like a piecemeal, short-term solution to the structural dependency on fossil fuels, Russian or otherwise.
Ukrainians forced to leave Berlin
Many Ukrainian refugees are being forced to leave Berlin to limit the impact of the influx on Germany’s capital. The cost of supporting the refugees is supposed to be divided fairly among Germany’s 16 states but officials say Berlin, which is now officially housing 25,000 refugees, according to the Berliner Zeitung, will likely bear an unfair burden because of the numbers that arrive here. In just one example, 120 refugees in a Schöneberg hotel recently had to leave the facility after the city’s lease expired. Berlin has since built accommodation elsewhere and, in exchange for leaving the hotel, agreed to register the refugees, giving them access to social and labour benefits. However, they may be required to leave Berlin.
Topless sunbather sues district
Gabrielle Lebreton has filed a lawsuit against the district of Treptow-Köpenick, reports the taz, because she believes she was discriminated against for being topless in public. Last June, the French Berliner was visiting a kid’s wading pool in Plänterwald with her 6-year-old son together with a friend and his daughter. While the kids were playing, she lay topless on the grass. Park security told her to cover up her breasts. When Lebreton refused to put on a bra, they called the cops, who in turn shouted that she had to leave the park when she refused to put on more clothes. According to park rules, people are supposed to wear “typical swimwear” when using the wading pool. A local politician wants the rules re-written to say swimwear must cover “primary sexual organs”. Besides the lawsuit, Lebreton last year staged a topless protest and has launched an online petition demanding the right for women to be able to go topless everywhere that men can.
As we reported last week, the federal government wants to plan the extension of the A100 ring highway through Friedrichshain up to Storkower Straße. The decision was criticised by environmentalists and Green party politicians, but the local chapter of the opposition CDU said they favoured the project, saying the A100 should be kitted out with bike lanes and come with a plan to create more green spaces and reduce traffic in affected neighbourhoods. Hence, the “climate autobahn” — yup, a novel concept for me too.
20 Percent Berlin is fuelled by kebabs and cheap beer - courtesy of reader support on Patreon.
Berlin fertility platform funded
Tech in this city isn’t all dodgy delivery services or inscrutable AI. Take Levy Health, a digital platform that says it helps women who are trying to get pregnant to “decode their fertility” aka figure how they can increase their chances of having a baby. The female-led start-up just raised €2.5 million from angel investors. With declining fertility becoming an issue around the world, it seems like a business with rosy prospects.
The Berlin economy has bounced back from the corona crisis with confidence. The city-state’s GDP grew by 3.3 percent last year, according to the Berlin-Brandenburg statistics office. That’s faster than the country as a whole (2.8 percent). In 2020, the capital’s economy tanked by 3.8 percent, thanks to the pandemic.
See you Friday.