26 September 2008

Watch out for the tram

The city is renovating its fleet of trams. The vehicles are made by Bombardier (with headquarters in Berlin) and each one costs €3 million. If all goes according to plan, the city hopes to buy another 206 trams by the end of next year. That is, a total of €618 MILLION!!! I’m not sure where the money’s coming from or if they can afford it but now the graffiti artists will be able to reach their destination in comfort. Nor will they have to fumble around for loose change – the new trams will be fitted with ticket machines that accept bank notes and cash cards. Big screens inside will display the next five stops, rather like inside the S-Bahn.

Power to the workers

All the federal Euros in Europe, however, are no match for the might of the formidable German unions. Doctors and hospital workers brought the city centre to a standstill, by marching on the Brandenburg Gate. Traffic was diverted, traffic jams brought about frayed nerve endings and public transport was disrupted. Commuters had a hard time getting home. What was their gripe? Not enough money, of course (not just higher salaries but more spending on health services together with reform of the health system). As is the norm in cases like these, the ones in a position to change things are not the ones affected by industrial action.

Let justice be done

Berliner Zeitung has an interesting feature in its Berlin pages. A front page column (“Diese Woche im Gericht”) lists interesting cases appearing in the Criminal Court. An outline of the charges is given together with Court number, time and address. No names are mentioned but for anyone keeping an eye on local events, it must be obvious who is being referred to. If you have nothing better to do on a wet and cold Thursday morning, you can sit in the public gallery in the warm and watch someone’s dirty laundry being aired in public. Anyone hoping their brush with the law can be hushed up in the neighbourhood has another thing coming. They will not only have to pay the price for their criminal activity in the law courts but also have to face public censure from the community at large. It is this second aspect that is perhaps a more effective deterrent against crime than a fine or custodial sentence.

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Squeaky Door by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.