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Sunday, August 19, 2007


It's the middle of the silly season, what better time to restart the Berlin-Splitter series? Odd stuff from Germany's capital.

You'd think at least the Federal Construction Ministry would get it right - but no, their nice new building in the Invalidenstraße (inauguration year: 1999) is full of problems ranging from insufficient fire protection, ineffective air conditioning and instable structural elements. So the ministry is being repaired at a cost of €25 million (of which nearly €7 million are being spent on "planning and damage management" - nice work when you can get it). At least some of the costs are covered by insurance, but taxpayers will no doubt be stumping up somewhere along the line.

Meanwhile, the former city morgue near the Berlin-Hauptbahnhof is being demolished (to make way for an Aldi supermarket). While they've remembered to remove any remaining bodies, it looks like the pathologists forgot to remove large numbers of - partly confidential files - on old cases, which were only discovered by workers who were swinging through the place with a wrecking machine. Demolition work has now been stopped so that any remaining files can be removed.

Want to pay Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel a visit? The security guards who are normally posted in front of her private residence in Mitte opposite the Pergamon Museum are going on strike on August 20th for two hours. Also affected will be the Ausländerbehörde, where workers will be striking between 11am and 1pm.

Silly season news: a politician from Spandau wants to ban the sale of GDR souvenirs at popular tourist locations such as the Brandenburg Gate or Checkpoint Charlie. "All GDR symbols should be forbidden, because they're anti-constituitonal" is the opinion of one Kai Wegner, CDU member of the Bundestag. It's not likely this suggestion will ever make it into law though.

Something which will be forbidden though: smoking. The ban, which has already come into force in some parts of Germany, comes into effect in Berlin on January 1, 2008. However, the powers-that-be claim they won't have the powers to enforce it in any meaningful way. It will be interesting to see whether the German's general respect of the law will withstand the addictive pull of nicotine.

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