On Friday morning, three dozen people gathered outside the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development in Berlin to demand a permanent end to German funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The protest was organised by the Deutsch-Israelische-Gesellschaft, which is funded in part by the German foreign ministry. The DIG president, Volker Beck, a former Green Party member of the Bundestag, gave an interview to journalists from Die Welt. Another organiser was handing out laminated placards.
The common law doctrine of joint enterprise allows for the conviction of ‘secondary parties’ to a crime committed by another, ‘principal’ offender: both the getaway driver and the man who points the shotgun in the teller’s face are guilty of bank robbery. In April 2022, the civil liberties organisation Liberty, acting on behalf of the campaigning organisation JENGbA, took the Crown Prosecution Service to court, arguing that in practice the doctrine is racist – a view supported by a large body of academic research. In February the CPS began a pilot scheme monitoring joint enterprise prosecutions for homicide and attempted homicide in six regions, including London, the North West and the West Midlands. The results were released in September.
Night train services in Europe, especially the west, have declined sharply in the last two decades. As short-haul flights boomed, sleeper carriages were allowed to age out of use without being replaced. All connections between Germany and France, Denmark and the Netherlands were cut in 2014, and in 2016 Deutsche Bahn quit the industry all together, selling its remaining sleeper carriages to the Austrian state railway company ÖBB. Since then, though, there has been something of a comeback: a ‘Nachtzugboom’, as a recent Die Zeit podcast put it.
South Africa has for some years been subject to scheduled power cuts as a way of dealing with a lack of electricity generation capacity. The ‘load shedding’ is staggered across the country to spread the burden, and the extent of it varies according to national demand, as well as with changes in the power supply caused by both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance in the country’s ageing, mainly coal-fuelled power stations.
The elections held in September 2021 for the Berlin Abgeordnetenhaus, the state parliament, were marred by administrative problems at nearly a tenth of polling stations. There were shortages of ballot papers, unusually long queues to vote and ballots delivered to the wrong locations. Some voters were turned away, or offered only ballot papers for the federal elections taking place the same day (in which Olaf Scholz was elected as chancellor). After a long investigation, the state constitutional court ruled last November that the state election would have to be repeated. The date was set for 12 February.
The arrests of the so-called ‘Reichsbürger’ plotters highlights the serious and longstanding problem of organised and committed far-right activists in the German police and security services. But the country has also been slow to acknowledge more mundane, everyday forms of police racism. It is still unclear why Dortmund police shot and killed Mouhamed D., a 16-year-old asylum seeker from Senegal who was experiencing a mental health crisis in August this year. Two officers were recently charged over the death of a mentally ill man in Mannheim in May.
A scare story in Bild about poor people overrunning exclusive holiday destinations such as the North Sea island of Sylt ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Hamburg punk band Trümmer Youth released ‘Chaostage auf Sylt’ (‘Down with the bourgeoisie/On Sylt now anarchy rules/Off to the chaos days on Sylt’).
On 24 April 1932 around three hundred ramblers, mostly from Manchester, took part in a mass trespass of private land at Kinder Scout in the Peak District, organised by the British Workers’ Sports Federation (a Communist Party affiliate). ‘Weekends are all that the majority of working lads and girls have to look forward to and live for,’ the Manchester secretary of the BWSF, Bernard Rothman, wrote in the Worker Sportsman a few weeks before. ‘In winter it is [football], but in summer we all go Open Air Mad.’
The plague first came to Marseille on a ship from Spain in 588, forty-seven years after the disease’s appearance in the Eastern Mediterranean marked the beginning of the first pandemic.
The German elections have serious implications for the climate, housing and healthcare. There are major differences between the parties though the campaign materials aren’t always clear about what these are. ‘Berlin: ready for more,’ says a poster for the CDU’s mayoral candidate, Kai Wegner. (More what?) ‘There has never been more to do … let’s grab the future,’ the FDP urges. ‘Olaf Scholz, chancellor for Germany,’ the SPD flatly declares.