A weekly round-up of news stories that piqued our interest or made us scratch our heads.
Barack is back! Former US President Barack Obama is returning to Berlin on April 6, it was announced by the Democratic Foundation on Thursday. This will be his first official visit since he took part in a panel discussion with Chancellor Merkel during Kirchentag in spring 2017. Obama will be answering questions from over 300 emerging European leaders in a “town hall conversation” to discuss the future of Europe. And through the Obama Foundation, you can submit your own questions, and tell him something you’ve been burning to say… be it fan mail or expressing some leftover droning concerns. Still no guarantee it will be picked or he’ll read it though.
It’s fine how it is! Battling rent increases House renovations have been driving up rents throughout all of Germany for years, but now forces are in action to slow this down, according to a report from Monday. The Berliner Mieterverein (BMV) and the internet platform wenigermiete.de consider rent increases after modernization “unconstitutional” – stating that often renters don’t want these renovations at all, but have to pay anyways. The two organizations announced they’re supporting the complaint of one Berlin tenant against rent increases after modernization – submitted this Monday at the district court Tempelhof-Schöneberg – in hopes of setting precedent in a court of law. We’ll see if this works in making a dent in the problem, but for now, the fight goes on.
Raise your voice Battles against increasing living costs don’t just take place in the courts: Berlin’s first “tenant choir” gave its debut at a protest against rising rents on Saturday. The 20-member choir brought its harmonies to the “First Kreuzköllner Rudelsingen” demonstration, and were joined by 150 neighborhood Berliners who sung along to numbers like “Little Green Cactus” and “You’ll never walk alone”. Open to new members, the tenant choir will next appear on April 6 at the “Mietenwahnsinn-Demo“, gathering at Alexanderplatz.
Cleaning up the Spree with solar power The first solar-powered tourist boat will be launched by company Reederei Stern und Kreis this year, after concerns about pollution in the Spree caused by diesel-powered engines, it was announced on Saturday. Tour boats on Berlin’s waterways currently cause about 57 percent of the nitrogen oxides from boat traffic, according to a Senat report. This new move is set to make the Spree greener – not in colour, as diesel-engines and waste currently make it, but in sustainability.
Stimulants in the sewage New research into wastewater across Europe revealed Germany to be the continent’s biggest drug consumer for the year 2018, it was announced last Thursday. But within Germany (surprisingly), Berlin lags behind its fellow east German cities in the intoxication leaderboards. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Alcohol Addiction has analysed sewage systems in more than 70 European cities and towns and Berlin came 22nd for cocaine and placed a respectable fourth for MDMA usage (with Amsterdam clinching the top spot). Alas, Berlin was knocked on its ass as Erfurt, Chemnitz and Dresden placed top three for methamphetamine usage, taking Berlin down, but bringing up Germany overall for the number one spot.