#86: Deepfake, less school, non-binary rights
A 101-year-old camp guard is sentenced
Dear 20 Percenters,
This just in: a 101 year-old man who worked as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg just north of Berlin has been sentenced to five years in prison for aiding and abetting the murder of more than 3,500 inmates between 1942 and 1945.
The convicted man is the oldest person to have ever been tried for a Nazi-era crime. The former West Germany mainly focused on hunting down commanders and more senior officials responsible for the vast machinery of the Holocaust. Most concentration and death camp guards went to their graves unprosecuted. Recently, however, prosecutors have cast their net wider.
The man sentenced today, Josef S., was in his early twenties at the time of the crimes. But there is not and should not be a statute of limitations for crimes committed under regimes such as Nazi Germany.
Despite all its shortcomings when it comes to tackling persistent anti-semitism and racism today, Germany’s insistence on putting the last surviving perpetrators on trial has to be praised. The fact that Germany has transformed into a country that still cares deeply about justice after all these decades gives me some hope in these bleak times.
More news below!
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The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, June 28
Received booster: 62.5% (62.5% Friday)
New cases in one day: 4,181 (2,885 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,640 (+1 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 430.5 (434.6 Friday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 7.1 (5.6 Friday)
🟢 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 3.4% (2.2% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Berlin mayor meets with deep fake
It looks like mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) was duped into a video conference with an AI-generated deepfake of Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko. Fifteen minutes into the conversation that took place on Friday, Giffey became suspicious when the person claiming to be Klitschko brought up the subject of Ukrainian refugees cheating the German state of benefits. Later into the talk he asked whether Berlin could support his city in the preparations for Christopher Street Day. CSD during a war? Unlikely. A moment later — nearly 30 minutes into the meeting — the connection broke off. The mayors of Budapest, Vienna and Madrid were similarly fooled into talking to the Klitschko simulation. AI experts suspect the calls are part of Russian efforts to sow confusion in Western Europe.
Teacher shortage = shorter lessons
Despite efforts under Giffey’s city government to improve working conditions for teachers, schools just aren’t attracting enough classroom personnel. The Grundschule am Kollwitzplatz (an elementary school) has come up with an emergency solution: periods will be shortened from 45 to 40 minutes and school will begin at 8:30am instead of 8am. As a parent who has suffered many an early school run in winter darkness, I can only welcome the latter. Why not just bump it up to 9 o’clock?
Deutsche Bahn pays compensation to non-binary Berliner
The German rail operator has been ordered by a Frankfurt-am-Main court to pay a non-binary trans person from Berlin €1,000 in compensation for discrimination during the company’s online registration process. Plaintiff René_ Rain Hornstein objected to being asked to select “male” or “female” during DB’s sign-up process. “Why should I have to say what my gender is when I want to pay for a product?” The selected gender is later shown on booking confirmations, invoices and tickets, appears in newsletters and automated emails as a form of address. The company was ordered to add a gender-neutral option. The judge said the ruling would strengthen the rights of transgender and non-binary people.
Travel unicorn stocks up on cash
Airport chaos in Germany and around Europe caused by staff shortages hasn’t scared investors away from the travel sector. Berlin booking app (and unicorn) Omio has raised $80 million in a fresh round of funding to help finance its rebound after losing tens of millions of euros due to cancellations during the pandemic. Sales have bounced back this year and overground travel (trains and coaches) is playing a greater role than before corona, Naren Shaam, Omio’s CEO and founder, told Sifted.
More woes for delivery riders
Several soon-to-be former riders of Street Fleet contacted us about missing income and health insurance payments — and about how it’s closing its doors July 31. The company has now mostly caught up in the payments — it provides contract riders to Berlin delivery services, including the rightly maligned Gorillas, and was leftover from defunct food delivery service foodpanda. Street Fleet’s problems are a sign of bigger problems in the food delivery sector as people return to in-person shopping following corona. Media reports have said Gorillas itself is likely to be bought buy a rival as investors are now wary of startup investments, especially unprofitable ones like Gorillas — and it’s reportedly running out of cash.
Solar delivery boat
Deutsche Post says that by autumn it will begin trial operation of a solar-powered boat that will deliver small packages from Westhafen to distribution points up and down the Spree River. The long-term goal of the research project, in cooperation with the Technical University, is the deployment of autonomous electric delivery cargo vessels.
The tallest hill within Berlin is Arkenberge on the northern fringe of the city. The manmade mound of rubble and landfill waste rises to a majestic 120.7m above sea level, 60cm higher than the better known Teufelsberg. The highest natural hill is Großer Müggelberg (114.7m) in the southeast — and in my opinion, it’s actually worth a day trip.