#73: Free BVG ticket, demonstrations halted, Eurovision
Plus parking getting more expensive because cars are too cheap.
Hello 20 Percent!
We get e-mail here regularly. Usually we’re accused of taking the wrong side in some polarizing issue but one common theme also often arises: Reporting positive news. I try to keep it in my mind as I collect articles for the newsletter, though I’m not always successful.
But I have some good news this week: It’s Eurovision Song Contest weekend. I have no idea who dragged me into this wonderfully awful ritual but I owe them almost as much as whoever it was that turned me on to Spaghetti Eis. Corona robbed us of ESC 2020 and last year just didn’t quite feel right.
For the uninitiated, ESC is a contest where European (and a few non-European) countries battle using pop music, which is really how all conflicts should be settled. It’s mostly kitsch (Abba, that Swedish band your parents listen to, started their career at the 1974 ESC). But after each national entry performs, countries vote to pick the annual winner in a drawn-out process that uncovers historic disputes and alliances.
If you watch with friends, you’ll be surprised who emerges as a hobby historian, telling everyone why Italy only awards Denmark 1 point — “Oh that’s because of the wooden shoe disaster of 1638! The Italians will never forgive them!” I made up the wooden shoe disaster because I’m not a hobby historian but trust me, your buddy Harald will be.
It will be televised on from 9pm Saturday online, on ARD or possibly a bar near you.
That’s all for now: Check out our new sponsor for expat banking services below and if you’re looking for comedy Tuesday, I can recommend Crazy Stupid Berlin!
Have a good weekend, y’all!
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, May 13
Received booster: 60.9% (60.8% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 2,470 (2,797 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,544 (+19 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 356.7 (350 Tuesday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 8.5 (10.3 Tuesday)
🟡Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.5% (4.7% Tuesday, turned from green to yellow)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
The zero-euro ticket that isn’t really
Current and new holders of annual public transport passes in Berlin may be given the months of June, July and August for free in a bid to offset a corona-related drop in annual ticket sales. At first glance, the free ticket seems designed to replace the €9 public transport ticket that will be good for all public transport anywhere in Germany as well as Deutsche Bahn’s regional trains during the same months. But it’s not: the special marketing ticket would only be valid in Berlin in zones A and B, not even C because, according to the Berliner Zeitung, Brandenburg doesn’t want to be part of the scheme. So to have any fun with the €9 ticket that has now replaced Spargel in the obsessive German psyche, you’d still have to buy the €9 ticket. Berlin politicians have an odd knack for good ideas that aren’t.
Parking rates going up
Hourly parking rates in Berlin’s 56 pay-to-park districts will increase by €1 per hour, most likely in the third quarter, as the city-state’s new government finally makes good on a promise to ratchet up pressure on car owners, according to RBB. The top per-hour rate would then be €4. Public employees who work on a shift schedule (ergo: law enforcement folk, firemen and healthcare workers) can apply for an exemption. We’d explain how but it’s German bureaucracy and we assume if it applies to you, you already know.
Police prohibit Nakba demonstrations
Berlin police have rejected applications for five separate Nakba Day demonstrations this weekend and said it would prohibit any planned substitute demonstrations out of fears of violence, anti-semitic statements and glorification of violence. The five demonstrations were to have taken place in Neukölln and Kreuzberg on Saturday and Mitte on Sunday as part of Nakba Day, the day after Israel was founded on May 14, 1948. A Berlin administrative court upheld the decision, saying organizers hadn’t undertaken any effective measures to keep anti-Israeli or anti-semitic organizations away from the protests, according to Tagesspiegel.
The Berlin fuzz eject people from high-crime areas as part of their toolkit to fight high crime rates — if the person refuses to leave or comes back, they can then be arrested. Just how many people did they eject (known as a Platzverweis) from where last year? Morgenpost knows:
Görlitzer Park 2,722 (2020: 2,900)
Kottbusser Tor 1,700 (2020: 1,150)
Warschauer Brücke 754 (2020: 1,242)
Alexanderplatz 266 (2020: 717)
Bonus factoid: Berlin has seven official high-crime areas where cops can stop and search people for no reason, which seems like an invitation to racial profiling. We used to have 19 high-crime areas.
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