The Next Giant Leap For Womankind

Peeing standing up. And people like you said it couldn’t be done.

Urinals

The future will be taking place right here in Berlin, too. If Berlin’s breathtakingly progressive left-wing coalition government can succeed in pushing their zukunfstweisend (forward-thinking, groundbreaking) “toilet concept” through, that is.

It’s a common problem when you’re out and about. Nature calls – but the queue for the ladies is bladder-testingly slow to advance. Meanwhile your male companion waltzes in and out with what often feels like unfair speed. Now, the Berlin city authorities plan to address the issue of gender equality in public toilets, as they seek to redevelop the city’s conveniences. All locations that currently have a male-only “pissoir” (public urinal facility) should only exist in combination with unisex toilets, a 99-page city strategy paper called “the toilet concept” concludes.

Today the urinals, tomorrow the, I dunno, jock straps. Womankind marches on.

Hat das rot-grüne Berlin keine anderen Probleme?

German Air Farce Ready For Action

Only one of Germany’s eight way-over-budget Airbus A400M military transport planes is working at the moment, if working is the proper word for a military transport plane that will never actually be used anywhere anyway. Jeepers. That’s like, I dunno, less than half or something.

A400M

Germany’s defense minister Ursula von der Leyen apparently discovered this problem single handedly after the A400M she had taken for a visit to Lithuania broke down there.

Meanwhile… Countless aircraft belonging to German Billigflieger (budget airlines) loaded with countless tons of German tourists don’t seem to be having any technical problems whatsoever. Their number will be increasing dramatically this summer. You just got to set your priorities right these days, I guess.

Zum Sommer wächst das Angebot der Billigflieger an deutschen Flughäfen kräftig.

Another Year Closes

But Berlin’s “new” airport doors won’t. So that’s why the grand opening will have to be put off again for another year.

Doors

For now, I mean. Hey, when one door closes another one opens. And when when one door doesn’t close… Whatever.

Statt 80 Prozent Ende 2016 sind de facto nur 20 Prozent in Ordnung. Ein ordnungsgemäßes Funktionieren der Türen ist jedoch insbesondere für die fehlerfreie Entrauchung wichtig.

PS: You just wait, Hamburg. You’re going to have to.

Dial M For Merkel

And something tells me there was a lot of heavy breathing during this telephone conversation, too.

Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made an uncexpected telephone call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that nobody wants to comment about officially.

Bild newspaper reported on Monday that Tsipras had called Merkel as well as Euro group head Jeroen Dijsselbloem to try to convince them of the need for more help for Greece and for the need for an emergency meeting of EU leaders this week.

Bild said the reason for the call is that the Greek government has run out of money

“It’s on fire and there’s no water there to put out the fire. The situation is more than dramatic.”

L’Etat, C’est You

Or at least the national deficit is all yours, my German friends (and mine – I live and pay taxes here, too).

Debt

But there’s good news, at least. Sort of. It’s only going to get worse!

It’s a paradoxical situation: The economy is braving the euro crisis, tax revenue is making the coffers ring and the German state still goes further into debt. The public sector deficit climbed to 30 billion euros during the first nine months this year. First and foremost the federal government, but also social security and other benefits have gone into the red.

And economists fear that this is just the beginning. Billions of new burdens have been tucked away in the coalition agreement just signed between the Union and the SPD. Tax, social insurance and other contribution increases are right around the corner.

Hey, you voted this coalition government into office, Germany. Oh, that’s right. You didn’t.

Trotz guter Konjunktur und steigender Steuereinnahmen macht Deutschland Milliarden neue Schulden. Jetzt befürchten Ökonomen: Das wird die Bürger teuer zu stehen kommen – und zwar schon bald.

I Love You, You Big Dummy

Come to Berlin Country! Come to where the City Tax is!

City Tax

The city of Berlin loves youz tourists, honest it does. Sort of. In fact, the local yokel politicians here love youz guys so much that they feel the pressing need to show you just how much that is. And it’s a full 15 percent more than any of you out there were expecting. And that’s 15 percent more for getting absolutely nothing in return!

That’s right. Starting next month you will be permitted to pay an additional 15 percent City Tax on top of your hotel room bill here, at no extra cost to them and absolutely not free of charge for you! Now that’s what I call big City Tax hospitality!

I love you, you big dummy. You big dumb tourist. Book your flight to Berlin now!

“Es ist absolut nicht rechtssicher und wird ein bürokratisches Verwaltungsmonster sein.”

Der Spiegel: Republicans End Amerika As We Know It

Uh, that’s bad, right?

Republicans

America’s Republicans have emerged again as a crazed mob. The conservatives have stubbornly voted for the shutdown and against their own leadership. In doing so, they are only thinking of their own careers and not about their party.

Wow. That’s kind of touching. I honestly had no idea that Der Spiegel was so concerned about the Republican Party up until now.

Amerikas Republikaner erscheinen mal wieder wie ein wildgewordener Haufen. Die Konservativen stimmen stur für den Shutdown und gegen die eigene Führung. Dabei denken sie nur an ihre Karriere und nicht an die Partei.

Where’s The Money?

Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Altmaier, will now be shutting down 14 German climate protection programs due to cost conerns, not that anyone here who can do any arithmetic will take much notice or much less care.

Climate Change

Funding for something called Elektromobilität (electromobility) will be cut first, soon to be followed by funding cuts for Stromspeichern (energy storage technology) with the other cuts soon to follow. Billions of a vital natural resource are missing, it seems (they call them “euros” here), this because European CO2 emmission rights certificate trading just ain’t bringing in the cash it’s supposed to do.

Do I detect pattern here? Why is it that the so-called real world is always getting in the way of those way cool dream world plans that so many folks out there want to make come true so really, really, really bad? Who is behind this, anyway? It just has to be a conspiracy (again).

Demnach sollten die Projekte ursprünglich aus dem Energie- und Klimafonds der Bundesregierung finanziert werden. Dort klaffe jedoch eine Milliardenlücke, weil der europäische CO2-Zertifikatehandel nicht genug Geld in die Kasse spüle.

Poor But Sexy But Inter-State Fiscally Adjusted

Berlin is.

Waste

Here’s a new German word for you: Länderfinanzausgleich. In a nutshell, this means that wealthy German states like Bavaria and Hesse (so-called donor states) are obligated to subsidize poor but sometimes sexy German states like Berlin and Bremen (so-called recipient states) because, well, hell if I know why.

This is also known as “inter-state fiscal adjustment” here. You know, good old fashioned Umverteilung (redistribution of somebody else’s money) or subsidies, if you prefer.

Anyways, Bavaria and Hesse, for one (or two), are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it (or give it) anymore and are bringing an action before the German Verfassungsgericht (Supreme Court) claiming that this type of thing is constitutionally imbalanced and needs to be done away with – at least when it comes to Berlin because the Berlin city/state government consists of a worthless bunch of lazy and wasteful bums who are completely out of control when it comes to spending and would never think of stopping their spending if they aren’t forced to, which is, well, a pretty accurate analysis of the situation here.

This will probably go nowhere, however, because Germans are big fans of something they like to call Solidarität (no English equivalent that I can find other than maybe “supporting lazy and wasteful and sometimes sexy bums”).

“Das Gesamtsystem leidet unter einer zu weitgehenden Nivellierung der Länderfinanzkraft, die den politisch Verantwortlichen eines Landes das Eigeninteresse nimmt, Maßnahmen zur Stärkung der originären Steuerkraft zu ergreifen.”

“Where Is the Tax Money?”

Here are some recent Desertec headlines – with the stress here on desert (as in to desert a sinking ship):

Bosch quits Desertec

Spain Delays Signing Onto Desertec Sahara Solar Project

Siemens to pull out of Desertec initiative

Algeria puts off decision on Desertec solar project

Desertec’s Promise of Solar Power for Europe Fades

As recently as three years ago, many thought that it was only a matter of time before solar thermal plants in North Africa supplied a significant portion of Europe’s energy needs. But Desertec has hit a road block. Industrial backers are jumping ship, political will is tepid and a key pilot project has suddenly stalled.

…The reasons for the political hesitance are clear. Renewable energy projects remain more expensive than traditional fossil fuel plants and tend to require government subsidies.

“Everybody is staring at each other and nobody moves. In this deadly, sometimes embarrassing silence, everybody is praising the project. And then silence again.”