Just A Normal German Wedding

You know, Germans with their big families and all?

Wedding

And their extended families? And those that extend from there? Like the Corleones? Only they’re actually Lebanese?

Criminal Arab clans are really big these days in Germany. Literally. So that’s why hundreds of German cops make sure to attend weddings and funerals with thousands of guests whenever “The Godfather of Berlin” or “El Presidente” and their crews get together for social events of this nature. Like yesterday in Mülheim. It helps keep the dialogue between the various Parallelgesellschaften (parallel societies) going or something.

Mahmoud Al-Zein ist kein Geringerer als der „Pate von Berlin“, eine der schillerndsten Figuren der arabischen Clans in Deutschland.

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Eco-Death Zone Idylle

Put back up the Berlin Wall again already. For nature’s sake.

Wall

Bombweed. Yum! Wild Thyme, Burdock and Evening Primrose shimmy through concrete and broken stone…

As part of our new series The Illustrated City, Ali Fitzgerald reveals Berlin’s hidden spaces, where the flora and fauna are wild – if you know where to look.

German Of The Day: Nichts klappt

That means nothing works. Or how about “failed State?” That means failed state. You know, like the failed city-state of Berlin?

Palmer

When the prominent Mayor of Tübingen Boris Palmer (Greens) has to come to Berlin for business he says to himself “Watch out, you are now leaving the functioning part of Germany.” He just can’t deal with the mix of crime, drug dealing and bitter poverty confronting him here on the street. “I don’t want to have these conditions in Tübingen,” he says.

Don’t worry. You never will. And you’re right, of course. Nothing works here in Berlin. But isn’t that the point? Oddly, for whatever the reason (decades of SPD-Green-Left Party mismanagement at city hall? Half the population being on welfare?) nobody in Berlin seems to care. And sheesh. In all fairness, this guy has clearly never been to an American city.

Berlin, ein „failed State“? Irgendwie schon, so Tübingens Oberbürgermeister Boris Palmer. Die Mischung aus Kriminalität, Drogenhandel und bitterer Armut auf der Straße verunsichere ihn als Baden-Württemberger nachhaltig.

The Future Looks C-C-Cold

In Germany. In the winter.

Cold

Thousands of people marched Saturday in Berlin to demand that Germany speed up its exit from coal-fired power plants, a day before the opening of a U.N. climate summit in neighboring Poland.

“Stop Coal!” is the rallying call today. “Stop nuclear power!” was yesterday. The Germans have already shut down their nuclear power industry due to an earthquake in Japan. Don’t ask.

Some of these demonstrators have clearly thought all of this through, however. That’s why they’re wearing those polar bear suits. “Somebody turn on the freakin’ heat already!” Will by the rallying cry of the future.

“The future is coal-free.”

German Is A Tough Language To Learn

Even if you’re, well, a German cop-to-be in Berlin.

Police

And the English language is at fault. Sort of.

Germany’s cops are bombarded with countless criticisms today, but this one definitely stands out – it emerged that police cadets in Berlin, many of whom have immigrant backgrounds (some 40 percent), have difficulty using… the German language.

Many cadets attending Berlin’s police academy have “fundamental difficulties” writing in German without spelling or punctuation errors, revealed Tanja Knapp, the newly appointed head of the institution. She said it was really disappointing to learn that these cadets are unable to produce written texts. And since after every stakeout or chase you have to write a report, that’s discouraging news.

Part of the problem is that too much emphasis is placed on learning English, Knapp said. Over the years, Berlin has evolved into a truly international city where English is sometimes spoken more frequently than German.

“Of course, it makes sense to be able to speak English to the capital’s many tourists,” Knapp said. “But if the basic required level of German is too low, then the focus should be on German.”

Berlins Polizeischüler sollen künftig weniger Englisch- und dafür mehr Deutschunterricht erhalten. Es gebe bei vielen Polizei-Azubis „grundsätzliche Schwierigkeiten“ mit der Sprache.

Let The Christmas Cheer Begin!

New fortified security measures at Berlin Christmas market.

Christmas

All week, workers have been installing 160 giant, square, lattice-work frames on the perimeter of Charlottenburg’s Breitscheidplatz, the site of the fatal attack.

Enormous sand-and-stone-filled bags have been lowered into each frame, which have all been bolted to the next to form a long row. Narrow access points have been protected with extra bollards.

During the market, private guards will patrol the grounds, joined by a heavy presence of uniformed and plainclothes police officers.

The Berlin Senate has said the elaborate €2.5 million ($2.9 million) installation will provide “unprecedented protection” against trucks weighing up to 40 tons.

This reminds me of German oddity 234. Germany is a country that now places the ugly security controls, bollards and heavily armed police it used to have on its national borders at Christmas markets and Volksfeste around the country instead.

To Rival Silicon Valley?

Good luck with that. Honest. It’s great that big industry finally wants to pump some money into Berlin again but keep your pants on already, Siemens.

Siemensstadt

The German engineering giant has unveiled plans to build a huge innovation campus in Berlin, harking back to its early days in the German capital and aiming to rival Silicon Valley in the United States.

Investment in a new campus to be called Siemensstadt 2.0 (Siemens City 2.0) will come in at €600 million ($680 million) on offices and residential accommodation, as well as laboratories and production plants, according to an agreement signed by Berlin Mayor Michael Müller and Siemens executive member Cedrik Neike on Wednesday.

The plan is to transform the historic Siemens site in Berlin-Spandau into a location for research and startup centers by 2030.

Der Weltkonzern baut in Berlin für 600 Millionen Euro seinen Zukunfts-Campus. Mit 2000 Wohnungen, Forschungslabors, Geschäften, Schulen und eigenem S-Bahn-Anschluss

Berlin Is The Place

The place where you don’t want thriving companies offering gainful employment and increasing property value in your neighborhood.

Gentrification

I get it. It’s about gentrification again. But the problem here isn’t the evil capitalist rich swooping in to speculate and force the poor out of their neighborhoods. The problem is a classic case of “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The German government in general and the Berlin government in particular have been “helping” German renters for decades in ways that have discouraged Germans from owning property of their own (the vast majority of Berliners pay rent). Then when reality finally strikes (supply and demand = rising rents) the same politicians can’t help these renters anymore and leave them high and dry with rents they can no longer afford to pay. Ain’t nothing new.

Kreuzberg has long been one of the most affordable areas of Berlin, making it a haven for students, immigrants, artists and activists, a hub of culture, night life and left-wing politics. But in a pattern repeated in similar neighborhoods in many of the world’s wealthiest cities, affluent people have moved in, too, in recent years, bringing with them the social tensions of gentrification.

“They push out the people who were here before.”

Godot Has Just Left The Building

A snap election in Hesse this weekend? Yeah, maybe. But didn’t we just have one in Bavaria?

Godot

The real German problem is more subtle… She is broken, Señor. Germany, I mean. And ain’t nobody gonna fix her until she gets, like, really broken.

Waiting for Germany today is like waiting for Godot. Nothing will get fixed: neither the eurozone, nor climate, nor migration. Comfy but angst-ridden, Germans will keep having fake domestic crises, while the rest of Europe tries to keep a lid on real ones. Eventually, those real ones will erupt. And then a continent could accidentally get lost. At that point, Germans will finally get a proper crisis. Maybe it’s just as well that they kept rehearsing now.

Vor dem Knall – In Hessen findet am Sonntag nicht irgendeine Landtagswahl statt. Es wird ein politisches Erdbeben geben, die Auswirkungen wird vor allem Berlin spüren. Die Frage ist nur noch, ob es zuerst die SPD oder die CDU erreicht. Die Große Koalition steht vor dem Ende, das Land vor einer Zeitenwende

This Wine Did Not Age Well

Old photos of an AfD representative posing on a bar with “Hitler wine” in the background have surfaced and the AfD is outraged.

Wine

The thing that disgusts them the most is that her photos were found on Myspace. There will be consequences.

Vor Jahren hat sich Jessica Bießmann in einer Küche fotografieren lassen. Im Hintergrund zu sehen: Ein Regal voller Weinflaschen mit verbotenen Motiven. Es sind Etiketten mit Bildern von Adolf Hitler, darunter steht “Sieg Heil” und “Führerwein”. Auch am Dienstag finden sich die umstrittenen Fotos noch auf der privaten Myspace-Seite der Politikerin. Die Berliner AfD erwägt nun Konsequenzen.

„Ich bedaure, dass es diese Fotos gibt.”