#95: Gas shortage, bike thefts, police shooting
And Eric Honecker was in custody 22 years ago.
Hello 20 Percent!
Berlin this week decided to quit lighting up 200 public buildings at night (think Brandenburger Tor, city hall, the Siegessäule and Schloss Charlottenburg) in the face of a looming winter energy crisis. The only exception (to answer someone’s question on Twitter) will be during the annual Festival of Lights, where artists will light up some of the city’s most-famous buildings from October 7 to 16.
Germany is facing a possible gas shortage this winter if Russia shuts off deliveries in response to sanctions imposed against it for its invasion of Ukraine. Just this week Russia-owned Gazprom cut the amount of gas flowing through the Nordstream pipeline to Germany to 20 percent of its capacity (we had nothing to do with it, I swear). Gazprom says the reduction is due to maintenance but probably not even Gazprom believes that explanation.
Back in December, Germany got about 32 percent of its gas from Russia, making the former Soviet republic Germany’s biggest supplier, according to newswire Reuters. If gas supplies dwindle, our living rooms may not only grow colder and some power generation suffer, Germany’s industrial base could be in trouble (many factories rely on natural gas). Politicians are scrambling to find alternatives such as expanding capacity at coal-fired powerplants, delaying the phase-out of nuclear energy and speeding the construction of facilities for importing liquified gas from abroad.
Politicians ignored warnings for years that dependence on Russian natural resources could become problematic — even I thought the warnings were overdone. I (and politicians) thought any conflict with Russia would surely be years if not decades away. All the while it was right around the corner.
Sorry about the heavy intro, we just wanted to make sure everyone was up to speed. Have a good weekend!
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, July 29
Received booster: 62.9% (62.9% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 2,697 (3,866 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,708 (+17 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 409.8 (415.4 Tuesday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 18.1 (14.5 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 7.6% (6.6% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Berlin (still) growing
It’s not just tourists making the city seem fuller — Berlin grew by 13,400 people in 2021 as the number of births outpaced deaths for the first time since 2017 and the number of people moving here exceeded those deciding to leave, the state statistics office said Thursday. And, as we reported in a previous newsletter, the number of people without a German passport in Berlin continues to grow — 93,222 people moved to Germany’s capital from outside Germany last year compared with 67,740 who left for foreign shores. The city-state of Berlin had 3,677,400 residents in 2021, which is still below the record 4.2 million in 1933.
Space for refugees running low
The Senat this weekend will open a tent to house 900 refugees at the former Tegel airport after Berlin ran out of room to house people — primarily Ukrainians — fleeing conflicts in their home countries. Berlin will also put more people in existing facilities and possibly end a practice of allowing friends of refugees to stay with them, according to the Morgenpost. It’s also considering renting rooms in hostels. A reported increase in the number of refugees isn’t the only problem — some refugees have refused to leave Berlin and other German states are also running low on beds. Here’s Berlin’s page for those arriving from Ukraine.
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Police shoot man thrown out of hospital
Berlin police Wednesday shot a former patient of the St. Hedwig’s Hospital in Mitte after he was ejected for drug use, the Polizei said. The man was acting erratically outside the hospital and threw bottles at two officers called to the scene. Police said he then attacked both with a broken bottle, forcing them to shoot him in the legs. He was transported to another hospital for treatment but his life was never in danger.
Bike thefts up
After corona led to fewer stolen bikes, the thieves are back with a vengeance — in the first half of this year bike thefts are up 30 percent over 2021, according to Tagesspiegel. Crooks rode off with 12,392 bikes in the first six months of the year, though that’s still below the 12,887 taken in the first half of 2019, the last year before the pandemic. Pankow has the most bike thefts followed by Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Mitte. If your bike is taken, you can check the Fahrraddatenbank (impounded-bike database) to see if the cops have found it.
Erich Honecker, the former leader of East Germany, was arrested in Berlin on July 29 in 1990 on charges of treason, abuse of office and corruption. The charges were later dismissed on health grounds and Honecker was allowed to flee to Chile to join his family. He died in Santiago on May 29, 1994.
Weekend event ideas:
Silent Green (Wedding) is one of those places friends talk about and you add to your list but you never seem to check out. Tonight’s your chance with a headphone concert and picnic, which is a great way to pass the time until the clubs open. Doors are at 5pm, the concert with jazzy pop from Levin König and dreamy folk from Juno Lee starts at 7pm. The €20 ticket includes dinner from MARS restaurant.
If you’re spending the money on organic food, it’s sometimes nice to see where it comes from (and kids always love animals). The Biohof Brodowin sorta grew alongside Berlin and they offer tours of their farm/ranch north of Berlin every Saturday at 11am. Tickets are €3 for everyone over 16 and though it’s in German, ask nicely and they’ll give you some English.
American football is gaining ground in Europe and especially Germany. Our own Berlin Thunder play the Cologne Centurions Saturday at Jahn Sportpark in Prenzlauer Berg. Tickets are pricey though: €26.05 for the regular fan.