#2: Lights that shine
Corona stats, Bahn strikes, crime news, lights, Gorillas without a zookeeper and a primer on the SPD Berlin's role in the September election.
Don’t use hand gestures for the job you have, use hand gestures for the job you want. Franziska Giffey (SPD), who lost her spot in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet over a plagarism scandal, imitating the chancellor.
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Some Berlin corona stats for September 3:
Fully vaccinated: 65.3% (64.9% Tuesday)
New cases: 533 (586 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 3,595 (+2)
🔴 7-day incidence: 83.8 (72.2 Tuesday)
🟡 Development of the 7-day incidence in one week: +1.7% (+4% Tuesday)
🟢 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.4% (4.8% Tuesday)
Berlin’s corona information page
Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the GDL train drivers’ union have yet to reach an agreement, with GDL labeling a new DB counter offer as “poisonous”. Get ready for another strike hitting the Ringbahn after this one ends Tuesday. The strike is ostensibly about the length of a proposed 3.8% raise (GDL wants to negotiate again in 28 months, DB 36) but it’s really about a power battle between the smaller GDL and the larger EVG unions at DB. DB would prefer to deal with just a single union and is often accused by the GDL of using negotiations to elbow it out.
Two Stolpersteine for Black Berliners
Two brass stumbling blocks were laid August 29 to commemorate Ferdinand Allen and Martha Ndumbe, who were murdered by the Nazi government in 1941 and 1945, respectively. Allen was murdered in a special facility in Bamberg and Ndumbe in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. If you don’t know: Stolpersteine are plaques on European sidewalks that commemorate the final residences of victims of the Nazi regime.
Let there be light!
The 17th Festival of Lights starts today. I’ve always felt it’s just people marvelling at the invention of electricity but friends say it’s much more: They love seeing what bright lights artists shine at the city’s landmarks after dark. A map of events and locations is here. Even though I’m a grinch about the thing, I’ll post a picture or two to my Insta too.
The PR-embarrassment that is the Gorillas delivery service is heading to labor court next week, according to a workers’ collective. Limited contracts are a cornerstone of Gorillas labor policy. The collective claims management are attempting to force out workers who wanted to form a works council by just not re-upping their contracts. A works council represents employee rights and has broad powers under German co-determination laws. The collective says Gorillas brass made some legal missteps in the non-renewal and, judging by the company’s brief history, their claims seem credible.
Some crime stuff
One of four assailants who dressed up as BSR garbage men and robbed an armored car in broad daylight on Kudamm Feb. 19 confessed in court to the crime - the group absconded with €648,500(!). Muhammed R. said his coke habit likely led to his downfall. DNA on one of the guard’s uniforms pointed to the suspect, already sentenced to a year in jail for illegal street racing. In court he reportedly said he may have wiped his runny nose on the uniform, leaving his DNA (🤢). The confession is part of a deal that will reduce what could be another 15 years to at-most 7.5 years. He didn’t rat out his co-conspirators.
Also: Dresden prosecutors have charged six members of the Remmo crime family with the Hollywood-style cat burglary at the Grünes Gewölbe museum in November. Charges include theft and arson. They stole 21 pieces of jewelry worth €113,800 - less profitable than an armored car robbery. Two of the six are already in jail for their role in the theft of a giant million-dollar gold coin from the Bode-Museum in Berlin.
Longish read: Berlin election update
As the New York Times this week pointed out, German elections are boring affairs, because the natives are a middle-of-the-road kinda people. But the natives also like to say Berlin isn’t Germany and the campaign for the Abgeordnetenhaus (Berlin’s state parliament) is a bit more exciting, thanks to the left-leaning SPD’s top candidate, Franziska Giffey. The 43-year-old last month led her party in quashing two key pieces of legislation for the city-state’s leftwing SPD/Die Grüne/Die Linke coalition government. An addition to a mobility law that would have de-emphasized cars, removed parking spots and suggested a London-style city toll for passenger vehicles. Most blamed the SPD for the update's failure but the SPD blamed the environmental Die Grüne. Next, the SPD quashed an update of construction regulations that would have pushed green roofs and accelerated building permits. The SPD blamed the Die Linke-led building department
Shots fired (right at her coalition partners)!
Giffey’s also against the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen referendum on the Sept. 26 ballot. It would ask politicians to force major corporate landlords to sell a signficiant portion of their stock to the capital city. “For me, expropriation is a red line,” she told RBB. Giffey wants to lead the city in what many suspect is a Germany coalition, named after the symbolic colors of the conservative CDU (black), SPD (red) and business-friendly FDP (yellow), the same colors as the German flag. According to the latest poll, Giffey’s SPD is Berlin’s strongest party and would lead any coalition, making her the third consecutive SPD mayor (and also head of the state of Berlin) in the past 20 years. The Germany coalition would have a thin 50 percent majority according to the poll. The Tagesspiegel labeled the Germany coalition a coalition for those outside the Ringbahn.
Without question, Giffey’s campaigning is bold, but also either refreshing or terrifying depending on your political leanings. Es bleibt spannend, which is German for “exciting”, though Germans use the word “exciting” like they do “spicy”.
Have a good weekend.